What Difference Does Creation Make?

October 26, 2015

Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli is a good basic Christian apologetics book. It provides twenty arguments for the existence of God, and as their subtitle says hundreds of answers to crucial questions. They have a footnote in the book on the importance of belief in creation.* What difference does it make to us if we believe in creation or not?

It makes a difference in our concept of God. If God is the creator of the universe, then certain things must follow. God is omnipotent, that is, he is all powerful or infinitely powerful. That last statement — infinitely powerful — needs to sink into modern minds. He must also be omniscient and infinitely wise. To create the universe includes its design, laws, and structures. Scientists are beginning to realize how many parameters must be just so for life to exist. God is also a great artist. We see tremendous beauty in the world around us. God must also be generous. God is all-sufficient. He had no necessity to create. Creation is a gift.

It makes a difference in our view of nature. Science grew up in the theistic West, not the pantheistic East. The reasons are simple. The Judeo-Christian view of God means that the universe is intelligible and orderly. We can observe, experiment, and understand. This view of creation also means that the universe is real. You may be taking that for granted, but Hinduism teaches that the world around us is an illusion perceived by an unenlightened consciousness. The Bible’s view of creation also means that the material world is good. Yes, there is moral evil in it, but the material world is to be enjoyed with thanksgiving being the creation of a good God.

It makes a difference in our concept of what it means to be human. If we are God’s creation, we owe our existence to him. We have no rights over against God; God has rights over us. That’s a humbling position, which is why human beings sometimes resist it. But this view of ourselves also means that our lives have meaning and purpose. If everything has evolved by blind chance, then there is no absolute meaning. Further, if God is our creator, then we owe God everything. Nothing is our own. We are obligated to use everything that we have in a way that will glorify him.

As Kreeft and Tacelli write, “No idea in the history of human thought has ever made more difference than the idea of Creation.”*

*Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 105–106.


The Problem of the Fourth Day

September 18, 2015

The fourth day of creation in Genesis 1 raises a question. How do you have day and night before you have the sun and moon? Howard J. Van Till in his book, The Fourth Day, would basically say that you can’t. As an astronomer, he begins with natural processes and concludes that Genesis 1 is not to be taken literally. Instead, Van Till thinks the chapter is a literary picture of God as a craftsman going about his work week. He believes that God is the creator, but he can’t take Genesis 1 literally.

Others suggest that the sun and moon were created on Day 1. That what is happening on Day 4 is the appearance of the sun and moon from the vantage point of the earth’s surface and their appointment to the task of marking seasons, days, and years. The NLT captures this interpretation: “Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years” (Genesis 1:14, NLT). Questions arise as to how natural this translation is, and whether the approach violates the overall symmetry of the account.

I have to admit I was troubled by this question as a young man. But I wonder whether we are buying into a presupposition of natural processes that is not fair to the narrative. God is the one who begins the natural processes, but he does so by supernatural act. What do I mean by this?

Umberto Cassuto, a Jewish commentator, approaches the question like this:

… so throughout those first three days God caused light to shine upon the earth from some other source without recourse to the sun; but when He created the luminaries He handed over to them the task of separation, that is, He commanded that the one should serve by day and the others should serve at night, and thus they would all become signs for distinguishing the two periods of time.1

Others have made this same suggestion. There is nothing unreasonable about this interpretation (except to materialists and the media) once you begin with an omnipotent God. The question then becomes somewhat like complaining that Jesus didn’t use vineyards in turning water into wine. But that is the point. He didn’t use natural processes; he performed a miracle. God created the natural processes and an orderly creation, so that science is possible. But he started with a supernatural act.

Is our too small of view of the omnipotence of God the problem of the fourth day?

1Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis: from Adam to Noah, p. 38.