Christians sidelining the Creator?1
Published: 22 July 2014 (GMT+10)
The primacy of God is unequivocally set forth in the first chapter of Genesis, where the word, “God” or equivalents are used forty times.
If you spent a couple of hours in the centre of your local town or city, asking passers-by, ‘How did the Earth begin?’ and, ‘Where did life come from?’ you would receive a variety of responses, no doubt. Among those prepared to give a serious answer, many would confidently claim that it was through some sort of evolutionary process—though if you pressed them further they would be very hazy on the details! What is sad, but true, is that few people these days would assert unashamedly, “In the beginning, God created …”
If you think about it, the difference between these two views is in a Person. Either, everything exists (and that includes you and me) through a wholly unknown process—unguided evolution—or through a holy unknown process—the act of God in Creation.2 From this it follows that any fudging on the Genesis account of Creation, where the plain meaning of the words is avoided, is in danger of distancing God the Creator from what He has made.
The doctrine of Creation begins with God—His name is among the very first few words of the Bible. This being the case, the true Christian (who seeks wholly to love God; see Deut. 6:5, Mark 12:30) should be immediately suspicious of any theology of Creation that starts with man rather than God; the opinions of fallible men instead of the Word of the omniscient God.
God’s qualities, His various attributes and characteristics are clearly seen through the things He has made; so says the Apostle Paul (Rom. 1:20). A consideration of Creation leads to the inescapable conclusion that the One responsible is a God of immense power, unfathomable knowledge and amazing benevolence—He is a great God and a good God! To deny this is inexcusable, indeed foolish (Psalm 53:1). With this in mind, Christians should be wary of any scheme, however well-intentioned or plausible it might appear, where the Bible’s teaching merely serves as an afterthought; if, for instance, it is relegated to a marginal note, with man’s speculations occupying pride of place. Rather, our doctrine of Creation must, first and foremost, exalt God as the Creator.
God at the centre
When asked, “Which is the greatest commandment?”, Jesus replied:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
The Bible is unashamedly God-centred. We were made for His glory (Isaiah 43:7); He leads us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3); we are to seek first His kingdom (Matthew 6:33); and pray above all that His name would be hallowed (Matthew 6:9). In Scripture, the primacy of God is unequivocally set forth from the first chapter of Genesis, where the word, ‘God’ or equivalent3 is used forty times. God created (v. 1), God said (v. 3), God saw (v. 4), God separated (v. 4), God called (v. 5), God made (v. 7) and God blessed (v. 28). So striking is this, that it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Genesis 1 is not so much an account of the Creation as it is an account of God the Creator. The many compromise views of Genesis 1 tend to push God into the background, or else He is barely in view at all. This is particularly true of ‘theistic evolution’, which maintains that natural processes are sufficient to bring forth people. Rather, the text of this divine prologue emphatically keeps God in the foreground, indeed at the very centre of all that is being described.
The Bible’s uncompromising emphasis on God’s centrality is for good reason: ever since the Fall, man has been drawn towards idolatry, the worship of that which has been created rather than the Creator. It follows from this that any teaching that detracts from the glory of God in creation will tend to promote idolatry—including creation stories such as the big bang and Darwinian evolution which focus upon the power of ‘Nature’ rather than the power of God.
According to the Bible, God created the universe in all its vastness and complexity simply through His Word. Since God is spirit (John 4:24) He obviously did not speak with a physical mouth; His word here is synonymous with His will. We might say that God willed the universe to be and it was (Revelation 4:11). He did not require billions of years to do this and nor did He need to use an evolutionary process of trial and error to get it right. Indeed, only a perfect, flawless creation, ‘right first time’ could possibly be worthy of the utterly transcendent God of the Bible.
The claim of some theistic evolutionists, that Darwinian evolution is elegant, thereby glorifying God, is a violation of common sense, if not bordering on blasphemy.
Survival of the fittest—an elegant process?
It is sometimes argued by theistic evolutionists that the Darwinian process is elegant and therefore points to the glory of God. For example, BioLogos founder Francis Collins opined,
“Seeking to populate this otherwise sterile universe with living creatures, God chose the elegant mechanism of evolution to create microbes, plants, and animals of all sorts. Most remarkably, God intentionally chose the same mechanism to give rise to special creatures who would have intelligence, a knowledge of right and wrong, free will, and a desire to seek fellowship with Him. . . this perspective makes it possible for the scientist-believer to be intellectually fulfilled and spiritually alive, both worshipping God and using the tools of science to uncover some of the awesome mysteries of His creation.”4
That Collins can believe such things boggles the mind. How could a process of natural selection, based on millions of years of death, disease and predation, ‘nature red in tooth and claw’, the elimination of the weak, and survival of only the fittest possibly be “elegant”? How can such a cruel, wasteful process involving such pain and suffering possibly glorify God? This point was not lost on Charles Darwin;5 indeed it is much emphasised by evolutionary apologists to this day, notably Richard Dawkins.
In a similar vein, Denis Alexander, Emeritus Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, argues that billions of years are needed for planets to form and life to evolve:
“ … the universe needs to be this old … in order for elements such as carbon and oxygen, essential for life, to be formed … just as the heavier elements, the stars, and their orbiting planets need billions of years to come into being, so complex life needs billions of years in order to evolve. It takes about 3.8 billion years … to make a human being.”6
But what sort of god needs billions of years to achieve his purposes? Certainly not the God of the Bible. The Creator God of Genesis is unlimited and has total mastery over His creation. He can do all things and His purposes cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2). Nothing is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27) and for Him all things are possible (Luke 1:37). Such is His sovereignty that even a sparrow will not fall to the ground unless he wills it (Matthew 10:29).
If it is accepted that God is not truly omnipotent one must wonder whether He really has the means to fulfil His promises. If He needed billions of years to create, how will He raise the billions of dead on the last day? Indeed, did He really, literally raise Christ? What did Jesus mean when He claimed to have received all power and authority? (Matthew 28:18). How can the Christian press forward without fear if his Lord has only limited power to sustain him? (Matthew 10:28).
Guardians of truth
The supreme manifestation of God is found in His Son who is His image (Colossians 1:15), the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His being (Hebrews 1:3). As the perfect expression or Word of God, the Son flawlessly reflects God’s nature in all He is and all He does. It is therefore theologically inadmissible that the Son, through whom all things were created (Colossians 1:16), could produce anything that did not, in every way, testify to a God of boundless love, inexpressible beauty, matchless wisdom and limitless power. Indeed, were we to have beheld the original untainted creation we would, like the twenty-four elders of the fourth chapter of Revelation, surely find ourselves prostrate before heaven’s throne crying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things,” (Revelation 4:11).
Revelation 22:19 warns of the seriousness of people attempting to water down God’s prophetic word in that book, by “taking away from the words”. Indeed it is dangerous either to add to, or take from, any clear teaching of the Bible—it being the perfect revelation from Almighty God. The late Henry Morris (author of numerous creationist books) pointed out that this biblical warning concerns not merely the thoughts, but the very words, of Scripture; furthermore, that God is intent on guarding His Word against man’s attempts to violate it (see Psalm 12:6-7, 2 Peter 3:16).7
In these days of rampant compromise with evolution and other secular philosophies, the truth matters! God calls all Christians to stand up for biblical truth and to act as guardians of the faith (Jude 1:3). May He help each of us to be true to His Holy Word.
References and notes
- An expanded version of the lead article, It’s all about the Creator, in Prayer News, CMI (UK/Europe), July 2014. Return to text.
- Words in italics courtesy of AF Green, lecture at CMI’s Unmasking Fables, Promoting Truth conference, April 2013; subtitled DVDs will be available shortly. Return to text.
- That is the personal pronouns, His/He/Us/Our. Return to text.
- Collins, F., The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Free Press, New York, 2006, p. 200–201. Return to text.
- Indeed, in a letter to his good friend, the botanist Joseph D. Hooker (13 July 1856), Charles Darwin wrote: “What a book a Devil’s Chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature.” Return to text.
- Spencer, N. and Alexander, D., Rescuing Darwin: God and Evolution in Britain Today, Theos, 2009; theosthinktank.co.uk. Return to text.
- Morris, H., Diluting the Word of God, Days of Praise, www.icr.org, 3 March 2014. Return to text.
I appreciated this article very much. In particular the strong use of biblical references to support any statements made.
I feel that the issue we face from society, as Christians, is not just Genesis 1-11, but the whole notion of an Intelligent, Sovereign and Personal GOD who has communicated His special Wisdom & Knowledge to us through The Scriptures (which some may regard as ancient religious text).
We live in an Age which prides itself as being dispassionate, non-superstitious and scientific in its approach to understanding the world.
Therefore, how do we explain all the phenomena of powers & principalities, and of spiritual host of wickedness (Eph 6:10-12, 2 Cr 10: 4-5) in a meaningful way and with an irresistible logic that people can understand and not dismiss as hearsay, myth or fable (2 Pt 1:14-21) – because it is His revelation of TRUTH that enables us to see the actual reality of our World.
The major questions of every human heart are: Where have we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? What happens to us when we die? Is there a God? and What is He like?
Hosea declares that Yahweh GOD has written for us the Deep Things of His Law, but they were counted as Strange (Hs 8:12) Daniel confessed that "We have not understood His TRUTH!" (Dn 9: 6-13)
Isaiah stated, that according to God’s Law & Testimony all Truth is revealed (Is 8:16-20)
Solomon said, Yahweh God has made everything beautiful in its own time. And He has put Eternity in our hearts, except a man cannot find out the work that God does from beginning to end. For whatever He does shall be for ever. Nothing can be added to it nor taken away from it. Therefore we must learn to respect Him, for He requires us to give an account of what He has done. (Ecc 3: 10-15; Pv 30: 5-6)
My first reaction is that this is a brilliant article for those who believe that narrative parts of the Bible are real events and who desire clear, understandable, organised evidence for same. This article builds my faith in the Biblical record. So as it solidifies my belief in God's work in our origins in the past, it lifts me up to trust him in the present, and I am built up to look forward with hope and trust in God into the future. I hope that others have a similar reaction to this article.
From the perspective of a nonbeliever who as once religious, the lack of support for Genesis is from the book's heavy mysticism. The book is hard to embrace with a literal rendering.
Religion, to be highly successful, must evolve to be alluring to the largest possible percentage of the population. In an open and free society no religion leaning on a literal rending of its holy book will be hugely successful.
I view literalists as people who have roped a train. They slowly get dragged forward by the movement of the train and they lack the ability to halt progress. As they are dragged they are slowly shredded of their literal interpretations.
The only requirement for the above process is an open society that is heavily laced with free speech. Only closed societies have any hope of cementing literal renderings of their holy books.
I would strongly disagree that Genesis is "hard to embrace with a literal rendering." To me, it makes the most sense to read it in a straight forward manner - as those for whom it was originally written would have done.
We would never change the Bible's message in order to make it attractive to people. God doesn't change and nor does His truth (Hebrews 13:8).
Rather than being "slowly shredded of my literal interpretations" I become more and more convinced, by the day, that the Bible is true and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the saviour of the world. At the same time, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that the theory of evolution is scientifically, philosophically and morally bankrupt.
I find it strange that you should refer to "free speech". This is one of the blessings of our Christian heritage and something secularists in the UK appear to be working overtime to remove.
Christians who support either theistic evolution or other schemes which accept long geological ages are often extraordinarily ignorant of Young Earth Creationism. I have just finished 'Darwin's Doubt' by Intelligent Design advocate Stephen Meyer. As the book engages with theistic evolution (criticising the writings of Francis Collins) I was hoping he would have something to say on YEC. He does. One sentence, on page 401. Here it is: "The Moran [a blogging evolutionist] strategy centred on tarring scientists and science journalists who publicized ENCODE and its implications with the brush of 'intelligent design creationism' - an all too familiar conflation of intelligent design with a very different idea, the biblical literalism of young-earth creationism." That's all there is!
"In the beginning, God ....." implies that God existed before time and space, which further implies that God created time and space. To suggest that, once God created time and space, He is now, somehow, constrained by His own creation is a ludicrous suggestion. Therefore, a belief in theistic evolution or long-ages is illogical, as God cannot possibly be constrained by time and space, as we are, but acts outside of time and space and is capable of anything, including creating the earth and universe and everything in it within six days as His word said He did.
This last Saturday, I tried to engage a Christian in the topic of creation. This individual is very active in church, counsels people via the help line, gives faithfully to the work of the church, and talks about Christ when the opportunity is open. However, when I tried to start a conversation about Genesis, creation, and the foundation of faith, the conversation ended. This individual had nothing to say. It was awkward.
I am saddened by the fact that Christians would accept evolution or even parts of it, as we have just read in the above article. We read in Romans chapter one the way man will go; it reads, Romans 1:18, God's anger is revealed from heaven against every ungodly and immoral thing people do as they try to suppress the truth by their immoral living. Or as the King James puts it "in unrighteousness". These ungodly people do know there is a God but will not admit to [it], because of the righteous demands this requires of them, or else they are blind, physically and spiritually, again as Romans says, Romans 1:19-24.
I believe that Scripture is better at expressing my thoughts than I am. John
Excellent Article. Thank you for share this information.
Indeed God is (in) the centre of the whole creation and should be worshipped, not man nor nature.
Unfortunately theistic evolutionists are like the builders who rejected the stone that became the head stone of the corner (i.e. Jesus Christ (Psalm 118:22, Matthew 21:42, 1 Peter 2:6)), by likewise rejecting the literal and true meaning of Genesis which forms the corner stone of the whole Bible.
If you sideline Christ, He will sideline you:
"And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Mat 7:23 ASV).
Fine article! It is very important to understand the true meaning of Genesis. It is astonishing that Francis Collins does not see that evolution from microbes to man totally lacks a mechanism at the molecular level. Thanks to CMI! We are publishing with your help Creation Magazine in Finnish. The 13th 'Luominen' magazine just came out.
Great to read a technically and logically sound article which also so explicitly glorifies God as our Creator! Very uplifting. Thanks.
It is indeed dangerous to take away from or add to God's Word as John warns us in Revelation 22:19. Unfortunately many of these liberal "scholars" who make this compromised stuff up and build their opinions on sand and their own "scholarship" seem too proud to admit to being wrong. They need to repent and believe God's Word which is accurate in all it touches on. Jesus has dire warnings to those who lead others astray which they would do well to take note of.
Any scientific "fact" which does not fit in with Scripture is wrong. Trying to fit the mythology of long ages and evolution into the Genesis account is really a non-Christian act, if you think about it - even worse, blasphemous. God has told us how He created-in six days, resting on the seventh. If this is what Jesus believes how dare any fool say He was only speaking to His time or did not know what He was talking about. It is evolution these"scholars" should question, not God. Jesus God the Son is the Creator, He proved His control over nature by His miracles, recorded in the New Testament.
We are given an overview of history from the beginning of creation six thousand years ago to the end of time and beginning of eternity in Revelation. All prophesies made by the prophets have materialised, or will do so in the future. We Christians are engaged in warfare - spiritual - and the victory is ours despite the continuing skirmishes the devil wages. We need to be aware of this.
The earliest of questions posed to Eve by Satan began: "Did God really.....?"
It is such a short speculative and rebellious step from that question to one beginning "Is God really......?"