The canyon and the panda
Wandering through a Christian bookshop, I glanced at a calendar. Familiar words from the book of Isaiah caught my eye, superimposed on a picture of a beautiful canyon: ‘The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth.’ Another page with a ‘creation passage’ showed a beautiful giant panda.
Similar combinations of Bible texts and glorious pictures of ‘nature’ adorn countless Christian calendars and posters. The take-away message is clearly meant to be, ‘God made this’—whether canyon or panda. In one sense, however, things are not that simple.
The Bible clearly teaches that the heavens, the earth, and all they contain were made during the six days of Creation Week (Exodus 20:8–11). But was the panda in the photo made in Creation Week? Obviously not. The first of some ancestral kind were created at that time, with plan and purpose. The highly complex molecular machinery of which they were constructed, by the infinitely intelligent Designer, included the machinery by which they were to ‘multiply and fill the earth’—i.e. reproduce— ‘after their kinds’.
The programmed instructions for this were written on the DNA within the first population of that kind. Today’s panda was therefore not directly created in the same way as its first ancestors, though it is the eventual consequence of that original creative act. In fact, today’s pandas would only contain a subset of the original information of their ancestral kind, marred further by accumulated genetic copying mistakes (mutations).
Of course, God is still involved in everything that happens, including the ‘natural laws’ of reproduction. The God of Abraham is not some deistic notion of a watchmaker who started things off, then left them to their own devices. Scientific ‘law’ is merely a description of His normative action (cf.Col. 1:17), miracles are His non-normative actions. But the point here is that without further explanation a misleading view of the world can result.
Similarly, many small children are taught that ‘God made me’. But unless this is more fully explained through the ‘glasses’ of a robust Biblical worldview, the risk is that when the child later learns about the ‘natural’ laws and processes of reproduction, he comes to see these as the ‘real’ explanation in substitution for the idea of God as his Creator.
A canyon, too, is the consequence of ‘natural’ processes such as the way fluids erode rock. God did not ‘make’ it in the sense of the other things made in Creation Week. Whatever geological structures were created in those sensational six days, the massive power of the Genesis Flood, responsible for kilometres of sediment containing trillions of dead things all over the world, would have destroyed them. Today’s canyons and the like are the consequences, not so much of God’s creative design, but of the forces He unleashed in divine judgment on sin at the time of Noah. Dr Tas Walker’s article on coal Coal: memorial to the Flood [in this issue] gives us some insight into the awesome power of this global cataclysm.
Creation magazine aims to help Christians constantly see the world as it really is—through the lens of Bible history. A simplistic ‘God made this’ is not only inadequate in the ways discussed here, but the even starker reality is that everything around us is not the world which God made, or at least not the way He first made it. It has been marred by a real, historical Curse on all creation (Genesis 3, Romans 8:19–22). This universal change came about because of a real, historical rebellion by a real, historical Adam. And because of this, God sent His real, historical Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the real world of space and time, to bear our sins on the Cross.
May God use this issue, through you, its readers (and those you encourage to also subscribe), to keep showing many the real truth about history, so that they may become a part of God’s family, and thus secure their eternal future.