“I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.”

The ancient creed begins in this way for a reason. A rich and robust understanding of creation is foundational to Christian faith and practice.

However, creation has become a controversial topic in our culture. Simply consider this: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you consider the topic of creation? If you are like most moderns, the first issue that arises is the creation versus evolution debate. Unfortunately, many people assume that belief in divine creation and the theory of evolution are incompatible. They approach the debate like a zero-sum game, assuming that either creation is true or evolution is true.

All Creation Sings: A Theology of Creation

All Creation Sings: A Theology of Creation (montage by J Fowler)

But this is a reactionary response. It reduces the discussion to the mechanics of creation rather than the meaning of creation. It limits the topic to either physics or metaphysics. Owen Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and of the History of Science at Harvard University and a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, refuses to reduce the issue in this way. Gingerich believes “that the universe has been created with intention and purpose, and that this belief does not interfere with the scientific enterprise.”[1] The reason: science works well in the domain of physics, but it possesses no authority in the field of metaphysics. He writes,

Science works within a constrained framework in creating its brilliant picture of nature. But reality goes much deeper than this. Scientists work with physics, but (perhaps unwittingly) they also have a broader system of beliefs, metaphysics, a term that literally means “beyond physics.”[2]

Put simply, science is uniquely suited to explain how things work (efficient causes), though not necessarily why they work (final causes).[3] Science and religion are not necessarily at odds. They are more compatible than our popular culture lets on. Thus, we waste our time if the topic of evolution versus creation consumes our attention when it comes to our attempts to construct a robust theology of creation. Focus on the debate obscures what the Bible actually teaches.

And the Bible teaches that belief in divine creation is a matter of faith. Creation itself may point to God but it doesn’t prove God. Like a piece of art silently speaks of its creator, so God’s divine artistry in creation teaches us of God: “The heavens declare the glory of God, the earth declares his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). It stands as a mute witness of glory for those with eyes to see (see Psalm 19:3-4). As Pascal observed, there is enough evidence of God’s existence in creation for those who want to believe; there will never be enough evidence for those who do not want to believe. It is for this reason that we confess the words of the ancient creed as a matter of faith: “I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.” The author of Hebrews concurs: “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

Gingerich expresses this faith in the context of his scientific work: “I am personally persuaded that a superintelligent Creator exists beyond and within the cosmos, and that the rich context of congeniality shown by our universe, permitting and encouraging the existence of self-conscious life, is part of the Creator’s design and purpose.” (39)

The main question concerning creation is not the how question, but the why creation. The sacred scriptures do not address the topic of how – the mechanics of creation – but they are clear about the why, that is, the meaning of creation. Creation reveals truths about God, truths that are obscured by focusing solely on the modern debate between creation and evolution – a debate that generally allows no middle way.

Put more boldly: An unbiblical view of creation will lead us to wrong living. Our theology affects our practice. Only a robust view of creation guides us in how we should live in God’s world. A robust view keeps us from two errors: (1) Discarding creation as irrelevant to God’s saving purpose (e.g. God is only out to save souls and deliver us from this evil world) or, (2) Capitulating to modern materialism and concluding that matter is all that matters.

Since Christians are generally not prone to embrace materialism (matter is all that matters), the common Christian response is often to seek to escape the world rather than to affirm it and seek its transformation. One example of this is found in the popular hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” in which the poet proclaims, “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” A robust view of creation does not lead to this world-denying conclusion, but rather results in full and joyous participation in creation. Things do not become dimmer, but rather, they become clearer in light of God’s truth concerning creation.

This is nowhere more evident than in Psalm 104.

Psalm 104 is a celebration of creation. It begins and ends with a summons to praise. In many ways it is the counterpart to Genesis 1 – the creation account – in which the refrain is constantly repeated: creation is “good, good, good, good, good, good… indeed, it is very good.” Praise is the appropriate response because creation reveals that God is truly great and overwhelmingly good (Psalm 104:1).

Creation reveals God’s sovereignty over space, time, and matter. It is God’s creation, after all. The psalmist portrays the Lord as a royal figure clothed in honor and majesty, shrouded in light, reigning over all creation (Psalm 104:1b-2a). As a manifestation of sovereignty, this king has built a most resplendent residence in the heavens (Psalm 104:2a-4).

The cosmos is God’s cosmic temple. In the opening and closing chapters of the Bible, no physical temple exists. Instead, the whole created order is God’s place of residence. Creation is God’s holy habitation. God’s desire is that God’s glory would pervade all creation, in order that God may be “all in all.” Through sin, we alienate ourselves from God’s original intent for creation. We pervert the purpose of creation, not because creation is sinful – it is good – but because we are.

In the Genesis account, God’s creation proceeds from chaos to cosmos. Shape, form, and boundaries are created in order to sustain life. The psalmist celebrates God’s shaping of creation. By God’s divine word, God has created boundaries to those things which threaten the flourishing of life (Psalm 104:5-9). “Not only has Yahweh bounded the waters, whose chaotic forces traditionally threaten to extinguish life, he has also channeled them to promote life.”[4] These limits exist because the Lord reigns. In other words, life in this world depends on the reign of God.

God’s world is ordered to sustain life. Psalm 104:10-23 recount God’s provision for many diverse creatures. God provides necessities such as food and water to sustain life and materials for the earth’s inhabitants to create suitable habitats…  – (To read the complete article go to TheoCenTriC.com)

[Source: TheoCenTriC.com – Thank you Rich!]

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[1] Owen Gingerich, God’s Universe (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006), 7.

[2] Gingerich, God’s Universe, 6.

[3] Gingerich, God’s Universe, 95.

[4] Craig C. Broyles, Psalms: New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 399.

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