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Posts Tagged ‘Creation’

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void…

One of the things I love about how God created the world is that He both created from nothing, spoke things straight into existence, – and also formed things.  This is something true of God.  He is abundantly powerful, and everything has its source in Him.  He is the Alpha.  And also, He is a God of life, of living and growing and progressing and moving.  He is the Omega, both Beginning and End.  He is the eternal I AM, but He created a world of experience – not just existence.

When God created the world, He began a story.  When God created Adam, Adam was fully formed and when God breathed into him the breath of life, that is when Adam became a living being.  But God started with Adam a dominion, a mandate, a command, a purpose.  That purpose is being unfurled still, across the generations, covenant to covenant.  Each life is like this, too.  God forms us in our mothers’ wombs.  He begins our stories, and we don’t come into this life “finished” or complete.  Our purposes are yet unfulfilled.

I don’t always like it, that God takes time.  That God begins with seeds that must sprout and grow and blossom before they bear fruit – that is hard for me to wait on.  But it is beautiful.  It is glorious in that we get to partake of imitating God, of acting and producing.

These thoughts coalesced as I thought about Pope Francis’s recent comments about the nature of evolution.  I don’t know the intent of his comments; I’m pretty sure I disagree with some parts of them.  Maybe he was pointing out that even evolution and the big bang don’t have an explanation for the beginning of things.  But the concept of evolution: that things once started do tend to develop – this is not inconsistent with what we know of God.  He starts things that change.  “He created beings and allowed them to develop according to the internal laws that He gave to each one, so that they were able to develop and to arrive and [sic] their fullness of being,” said Pope Francis, “… [God is] the Creator who gives being to all things.”

I don’t believe God started the world with the Big Bang.  I don’t believe He started humanity from a single-celled organism in a primal soup.  Maybe, though, the appeal is for all of us, evolutionist or creationist, to recognize this truth about our world as God has set us in it: that we’re progressing towards the end of the story.  And, as Pope Francis went on to say, “Therefore the scientist, and above all the Christian scientist*, must adopt the approach of posing questions regarding the future of humanity and of the earth, and, of being free and responsible, helping to prepare it and preserve it, to eliminate risks to the environment of both a natural and human nature. But, at the same time, the scientist must be motivated by the confidence that nature hides, in her evolutionary** mechanisms, potentialities for intelligence and freedom to discover and realise, to achieve the development that is in the plan of the Creator. So, while limited, the action of humanity is part of God’s power and is able to build a world suited to his dual corporal and spiritual life; to build a human world for all human beings and not for a group or a class of privileged persons. This hope and trust in God, the Creator of nature, and in the capacity of the human spirit can offer the researcher a new energy and profound serenity…”

To God be all glory.

*I suggest this applies to humans, to Christians, and to Christian scientists; it is not exclusive to researchers (see Genesis 1:28)

**I am not sure whether in the context, the term “evolutionary” is exclusively referring to the scientific theory of evolution.  I am inspired only by the aspect of evolution in this definition: “any process of formation or growth; development”.

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There’s only two rules worth following, advises Captain Jack Sparrow.  “What a man can do, and what a man can’t do.”  From a position of logic, this is a good concept to grasp.  Certainly civilized people (as opposed to Pirates) recognize that what a man can do should be restrained by what a man ought to do.  It is also not always possible to know exactly what a man can and cannot do.  Wisdom does not demand that you rise or sink to the expectations of possibility when those expectations are not aligned with reality.  And Christians must allow that despite what man cannot do, there are some things God can do anyway. 
 
Christians are quite frequently discussing what God can do.  Some even believe He can do anything.  Omnipotence is not without its limitations.  Those boundaries are merely excluded from affecting the power involved. 
 
In the issue of Creation, many Christians (whose theology is based on philosophy, and not on Scripture) profess belief in a God who could do anything.  He could create in six seconds, six days, or six trillion years.  And in the question of power, He could. 
 
Where we run into problems is when we add a word and say that God could have created in any amount of time.  This is impossible, and I will tell you why. 
 
I believe in a God who cannot lie.  And this God, the one God, can communicate to His creatures (whose understanding He created for this purpose) clearly.  He did communicate to us, in the Bible.  That’s the only way we know who this God is in the first place.  If we’re going to throw out the Bible, we might as well toss God away with it.  What God says in the Bible is that He created in six days.  It is not difficult to understand this from the passages.  If that was not what He meant, then God had a failure of communication.  Remember.  Lying is something God cannot do. 
 
The only timeline, therefore, in which God could have created, is that which He told us: six days. 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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Over the past decade or so, several scientists, authors, and speakers have joined forces to promote their observations that indicate life originated with a designer. Cells are just too complicated, they say, to have arisen by chance. Spontaneous generation, disproven centuries ago, remains the naturalist’s only option for the origin of biological life. Yet the odds against even a simple single-celled organism arising by chance are astronomical. The molecules have to line up all at once to form proteins, which have to line up quickly into the cells. DNA is a complex code for building life: made up of simple proteins, the series communicates a baffling level of information. Intelligent Design usually rests their case for an original designer at this point, picking back up after life has begun to debate Darwinism’s explanation for the variety of life we witness on earth.

But they could take the matter farther. Even if the remotest of far-fetched chances (this is before mutation or natural selection or heredity can have any impact on the process) came true and all the chemicals and molecules lined up, the language DNA writes still had to come from somewhere. It has no meaning without an Author. That age-old question, “Why?” asked by every two year old since humanity began, remains: both inside science and in the realm of philosophy.

According to the theory of evolution, mutations and natural selection account for increasing complexity and increasing variety among living creatures. (Evolutionists have precious little to explain the acquisition of new information in the DNA; all observable speciation, mutation, and variation consists of loss of information, reduced parameters for variety in future generations.) Evolutionists usually posit that all life arose from a single simple organism (which found sufficient nourishment, reproduced, and gave us the definition of life as we know it). Intelligent Design scientists point out that among the known species, there are many examples of features too complex, too perfectly adapted to be attributed to chance. The advent of each of these mechanisms would have been almost as miraculous as the first life, according to the mathematics. Take vision, wings, migration instinct, sex. Some creatures demonstrate irreducible complexity: all the new parts have to be present and perfect immediately to be functional. In some cases, the slightest difference means death for the creature in whom the feature was derived, and we know that dead creatures don’t pass their genes to future generations.

Complexity, information, and observed natural processes and their limitations are the data. Statistical probabilities are the analyses. Impossible is a logical conclusion. But life exists whether we can explain it or not. So some, purely on scientific grounds, conclude that there may be a designer. If we include this intelligence in the list of natural phenomenon; in other words, accept it as an observable* part of our world, humans can keep studying this marvelous, orderly world, drawing conclusions allowing for design and occasional if not constant intervention by a creative and powerful force.

*Scientists observe evidence for design in other fields (outside of ‘natural science’) all the time. Forensic science, for example, searches for clues that will tell an investigator whether a crime was committed. We not only judge whether there was intelligence, but degrees of intelligence using science. Consider archaeology. We may find a rustic clay pot, or a ziggurat aligned with constellations. Both represent intelligence, but of varying degrees.

Nor does it take a scientist to observe evidence for design. You are walking on the beach. Lying in the sand is a watch. With its gears and correspondence to what you call and measure as time, you conclude that the watch was designed, intelligently. Here most people explain our conclusions using a contrast with something “obviously” not designed, like the sand on the beach. The casual observer can see nothing about the form of the sand that stands out, that indicates someone intentionally smoothed it out and drew in ripples. In fact, we can even explain the tiny size of the particles, their smoothness, and the ripples by natural, consistent, observable events.

Here’s where I differ. Just as we have no explanation (using forces exclusive of a designer) for life, so science cannot explain the origin or structure of these tiny rocks. Under a microscope these crystals and substances reveal a mastery of molecular architecture. Each different rock is functional and unique from other kinds of rock. We’re taught that everything is composed of atoms, those busy bits whirling and attracting and repulsing with a reliability that we need every moment. What keeps the atoms together? What gives them weight? Why are there so many different substances? Even if “naturalists” are right, and the universe began with a big bang, what exploded, why and how? Where did the “what” come from, or the energy for the explosion? Why are there laws, and why are they repeatable? Taking our illustration of the sand, how did it get in the sea to be beaten into fragments, smoothed along a beach, and shaped by the waves breaking on the shore? Why do waves break, and how?

I argue that there is no such thing as naturalism without a designer, because every bit of nature is inexplicable without a designer. The laws of the universe represent order and harmony and intelligence. A cell may be more complex than a grain of sand, but only as the ziggurat is to a clay pot. Both are designed. And everything “natural” is so elegantly structured that its aesthetic far outweighs the clumsy pot made by man.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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“When we exited the museum, walking out into the green trees that line the banks of the Brandywine River, I noticed that the world seemed a different place. The colors appeared to be deeper and perhaps brighter than before. The random ambiguity of the branches of the trees seemed to be pointing to some hidden meaning in life. I began to realize that those few hours of intently looking at the paintings had refocused our eyes, had refreshed our vision.   So I encourage you to go the web sites of artists like Makoto Fujimura and Sandra Bowden, open your eye making them available to be refocused so that you can turn and see the world around you in a fresh way. Even as great literarture [sic] teaches us to listen to the world, great art encourages us to look at the world with new eyes.” – by Michael Card
 
What have you seen today?
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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Outside the clear glass door comprising one wall of our kitchen, a landscape speaking of the fading embers of autumn diffused its horizon against pale strata of clouds.  No painting I have ever seen captured the ponderous life of such a morning.  Nor would an artist seek to inscribe its beauty, for the attraction is in the air that drifts between undecided worlds of color, texture, light, and rest.  As if worn out by the vital radiance of her early days, the autumn sways along in a stupor, ready for the peaceful hibernation of winter. 

 

Trees mostly bereft of leaves presided over their slain children, today still without a waft of chilling air to stir their brittle stems.  Dun grass furled its verdant banners, blades shriveled to hide in the dust until the birth of spring.  A front might have been gusting through the reaches of heaven, but stalled in its mission, the blown dunes of cloud hung where its power left them, each its own statement on the threadbare blue sky.  Light captured from tangent rays was diverted between the layers, promising the pink of dawn then the subtle gold of dusk, finally covering the whole scene in a vague grey shadow. 

 

Not cheerful or motivating; as George MacDonald would say, not pretty, but beautiful.  Afraid to release the grandeur of its parent mountains, the dwindling hills on which my house is set would rather be slowly consumed by the tedium of the plains, creeping like the slow tide towards our door.  I would sit in the yard, sit and pray, undistracted by irrepressible beauty, for the day is not for walking or doing.  Its lure would capture me. 

 

What cloaks itself in a nature like this?  Quest-calling by its disguise, perhaps the founded waiting is the source of its captivation: in-between-ness, as though retreating to no reality at all in complacent anticipation of crisis and glory.  Perception demands I see that the courage and triumph is born of the staid prudence of these hours.  Seas do not withstand tempests without concealing beneath, their unheeded depths. 

 

JRR Tolkien penned two verses suited by this day, this mood, this verity: “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.  The old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost.  From the ashes a fire shall be woken; a light from the shadows shall spring.  Renewed shall be blade that was broken; the crownless again shall be king.”  Perhaps a day like this speaks of an exiled king.  Tolkien asked of his poem, what king?  George MacDonald took a twin scene from the northwest coast of Scotland and asked, “What chief?”  What epic story do the silent rocks evoke? 

 

If I had joined the tale of the day, would I have glimpsed as the sun rose, the carven head of the fallen king coroneted by prophetic gold-flowered vines, the piercing promise of hope before a bleak pilgrimage? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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