Monday, July 03, 2006

"Maker of Heaven and Earth"

When reading this portion of the Creed, one immediately thinks of the first verse in the Bible, which declares, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." The remainder of chapter one and the first half of chapter two proceed to discuss God's creative acts.

Much discussion of God as Creator nowadays revolves around debates about the age of the earth, whether the concepts of divine creation and Darwinian evolution can be reconciled, and the relationship between science and religion. I have opinions on those issues, about which both many Christians and many scientists sometimes are guilty of making statements that go beyond their areas of expertise, but for this discussion I want to focus on a couple of different questions -- one that should be thought about before discussions of science begin, and the other a consideration of the implications of divine creation.

There are some Christians who both believe that Scripture is divine revelation from God and accurate in all that it teaches who also believe that the Bible is not inconsistent with Darwinian evolution. Again, I am not going to debate that point today. What I will say is that, regardless of the relationship between faith and current scientific viewpoints, philosophical naturalism is not consistent with Christian belief. Naturalism, simply put, is the belief that nature is all there is. Thus, there is no God and no soul. There is only nature.

Of course, nature is the subject matter of science. Nature is what scientists study. However, some scientists are guilty of folding the philosophical definition of naturalism into the meaning of the scientific method and, by extension, the definition of science itself. That confluence should not be allowed to stand without debate. It is one thing to say that nature is what scientists study. It is something quite different to say that what scientists study is all there is. That supposition is both unproven and unprovable empirically, as it outside the realm of what scientists study.

Just as some Christians may be guilty of arrogance in making statements about scientific matters about which they have no knowledge, some scientists may be guilty of an intellectual and philosophical arrogance that claims that nothing is beyond their realm. As to whether God, either by a sudden act of creation or by a guiding hand on what we would otherwise regard as natural processes, created all that there is, the scientist really has no ultimate answers. That is not to say that there are no answers; they just cannot be found conclusively by means of the scientific method.

Christians have faith that God created all that exists, and we find ample evidence in the order, complexity, and beauty of the universe in support of that faith. The question of creation, however, is not merely an intellectual one. Along with the notion that God created comes the thought that God created for a purpose, and that ultimately what God knows about both our lives and his purposes creates accountability for us, as well as the realization that the One who made us best understands how we should live. That accountability and submission to God's wisdom and purposes, which are ultimately sources of joy for those who accept them, are also the ultimate reasons for much -- some would say all -- unbelief. The first sins in the garden were committed in response to a claim that Adam and Eve could be like God, and ever since humanity has desired to have things our own way.

God, as our Creator, has the ultimate say about what our lives should be. To live in the light of his purposes brings freedom and joy. Resisting Him is both temporally and eternally destructive.

This is the latest in my series of posts on the Apostle's Creed. For my previous post, which includes links to all of the others, see here.

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