I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
In past Trinity Sunday sermons I have emphasized the unique character of God as three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This unique character is the foundation for our salvation. It is because God is three persons in one that He can be the God St. John describes when he said, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." Unfortunately for many people today this important truth is gradually being undermined along with every other truth announced to us in the Bible. The fact that God the Son died on the cross to save us from our sins and that God the Holy Spirit brings that faith into our hearts through the Word is preceded by another important fact: God the Father is Almighty, and He is "Maker of heaven and earth." These important truths cannot be separated from one another without everything we believe in falling apart.
When I was a little boy, we used to visit my grandmother who lived next to a railroad track. Several times a day the train would come thundering through the little town rattling the windows and everything in grandma’s house. For all of us the train was a startling, if not shocking experience. But grandma was used to it. She was so used to it that the roaring train didn’t even wake her up in the night. By the end of our usual week-long visit we were all used to the trains.
In 1860 Thomas Huxley publicly presented Darwin’s theory of evolution at a famous debate in England. There he argued that given enough time anything can happen. He argued that six eternal monkeys, typing on six eternal typewriters with an unlimited amount of paper would eventually be able to type out a Shakespeare sonnet or even the 23rd Psalm. It was the most improbably thing anyone could ever imagine. But this was a time when people were growing tired of God, the Bible and the Church. They were looking for any excuse to get rid of God, and the ideas of evolution, improbable as they seemed, provided the best way to do that. Since then the "roaring train" of evolution has been rattling the windows of culture on a regular basis. It is so regular – presented at every level of elementary, high school, and college education, not to mention every nature program on television – that we’ve grown used to it. The impact has been profound, causing many people to doubt the Bible and to turn away from God, and to depreciate the gift of life itself.
As we listen to the opening chapter of the Bible we are challenged to think about some important questions: Where did we come from? And, Why are we here? The answers to these questions will determine how we live now and how we will live in eternity.
1. Where Did We Come From?
The Bible begins with this important statement: "In the beginning God…" We shouldn’t go any further without considering this profound truth. God is eternal, without beginning or end. He was there first, and then came the creation. He is different from the creation. God’s first act of love and grace was to create the universe. First comes His Word, "Let there be light…" and then follows the physical reality. The Bible presents us with the view that the world is beautifully organized and designed by God. God is the designer of the physical laws of nature that give us the beautiful colors of visible light, the useful spectrum of radio waves, or powerful radiation. God created the dry land and the water, that incredibly important molecule upon which almost all life is totally dependent. God created the living plants that grow and reproduce according to their own kind. He placed the stars in the sky that move with precise mathematical rhythms and can be used to measure times, seasons, months and years. God created the fish of the sea and the beasts and the cattle. All of these were created with that amazing capacity to reproduce themselves according to their own kind. Finally God created human beings, the crowning achievement of His creation. The Bible says that we came from God. The Bible says we were designed according to His Word.
Evolution proposes that there is no design in the universe. All things that exist are the result of accidental interactions of matter. Ultimately evolution teaches that the material things, the matter and energy of the universe are eternal in and of themselves. There is no way to prove this, but we are told to accept this on the unquestionable authority of science. We are told this is not religious dogma. This is science. Evolutionists will admit that sometimes our world looks like it was designed, but in the bigger scheme of things all is chaos. We just happen to be that extremely rare accident that could result if six eternal monkeys were given enough time to play on six eternal typewriters. Where does evolution say we came from? We came from matter? How did we come into being? By many, many fortuitous accidents.
2. Why Are We Here?
In Genesis 1.26 we are introduced to the purpose of our life according to creation. We are created in the image of God. This means that though we are made from earthly matter we also have a soul and a spiritual, intellectual and moral likeness to God. We are created to be in a relationship of love with Him, with one another, and with His creation. Carl Linnaeus, the great Lutheran biologist and creationist, categorized all living things and gave them descriptive names. He named humans homo sapiens. This means "man" who is "wise." God gave us the capacity to think, design, and organize. We are capable of understanding our Creator and His creation. With this understanding God also created the ability and the need for love. This is reflected in the beautiful little lullaby, Tell Me Why?
Tell me why the stars do shine.
Tell me why the ivy twines.
Tell me why the sky’s so blue.
Tell me why I love you.
Because God made the stars that shine.
Because God made the ivy twine.
Because God made the sky so blue.
Because God made you, that’s why I love you.
The ultimate purpose of God’s creation is love. It is to give, as God has given to us.
What is our purpose according to the view of evolution? Answer: There is no purpose. All is an accident. To look for a purpose implies that there is some higher reality beyond matter. According to evolution the only purpose in life is to live and produce offspring. Evolution is a mindless, mechanical process. It teaches us to bow down to nothing except ourselves. There is no good; there is no evil. There is only life. Live it as you please. One of the most popular books recently published by an evolutionist was titled The Selfish Gene. In it he provides the scientific rationale for "selfishness." Evolution in reality provides a naturalistic explanation for stealing, adultery, murder and other behaviors that God condemns, behaviors that are the polar opposite of His purpose. G.K. Chesterton argued that evolution not only destroys religion, it destroys reason itself. It destroys man.
3. What About a Compromise? Could the Bible and Evolution Be True at the Same Time?
Could God have used evolution to create the world? This is called Theistic Evolution. It was an idea first proposed by Christians who were caught off guard by the thundering railroad of evolutionary theory. But today the idea is suggested as much by evolutionists themselves. They are frightened by the reality of the evolutionary world view that life is meaningless and purposeless. Maybe God used evolution to create?
This question is like others such as: "Could God create a rock so big He couldn’t lift it?" Or, "Could God make a circular triangle?" Or, "Could God make two and two equal six?" We could ask endless paradoxical questions like that for which there is no answer. The better question is, "Did God use evolution to create?" When we say that God is "Almighty," we mean that God can do anything He desires. Does He desire design or chaos? Does He desire love or selfishness? Does He desire life or death?
The Bible describes a sudden, miraculous appearance of all things framed by the Word of God in stages of six ordinary days. There are multiple contradictions with evolution here:
The days are ordinary, not eons of time needed for life to evolve. They are tagged with the phrase "evening and morning." In Exodus 20 God indicates that the days of creation are the same as the ordinary days of the week. In Psalm 90.4 the Bible does say that to God "a thousand years is like yesterday when it is past." But this simply explains the miraculous and eternal existence of God, not the length of a day in the creation.
God says that everything reproduces according to its own kind. There are certainly variations of plants and animals within a "kind." But the Bible is very clear: Plants do not turn into animals and animals do not turn into humans.
Everything that God created was very good (Genesis 1.31). It was not poorly or inadequately formed with the idea that it would get better and better on its own.
Adam and Eve are created in the image of God. In Genesis 2.20 God says that there was not an animal that was comparable or compatible for man. If God used evolution to create then we are faced with a very difficult thing to understand: Did God actually wait for humans to evolve from animals and then place into two of these animals His image? Or did the image of God somehow evolve as well? Would God have told Adam, "your mother and father were animals, but now you’re different, you’re a man"?
Lastly, evolution depends on the deaths of many plants and animals as the weaker and ineffective life forms fail to adapt to their environment. Only the strong survive and continue to evolve. But the Bible tells us that death came into the world through sin after man was created by God. (Romans 5.12).
Sometimes people say the creation account should be interpreted figuratively. In different places the Bible does present God’s truth to us in figures of speech such as the parables of Jesus. But in those cases it always gives us a clear indication that this is figurative language. Genesis is not this kind of writing. To interpret this creation account as mythology and not history casts a pall of doubt over the entire Bible. If Adam and Eve were not real people, then what about Noah? Was Abraham a story character? What about King David? What about Jesus? If the Bible is not real on page one, when does it become real?
The miraculous creation of the world is the truth. It is God’s first great act of grace and love. It teaches us to understand that the purpose of life is to love God and one another.
During this past week I spent some time answering questions from our sixth grade class about creation and evolution. One boy asked a very profound question. "Why did God make so many stars? Why is the universe so vast?" I turned to the marker board and wrote one word: "Glory!" The Bible says, "the heavens declare the glory of God." Creation is a gift of God. Whether we look to the vast reaches of space or to the smallest molecules and atoms of the universe, we see the handiwork of God. We also see that God made it all for us, and we are made for Him. In a way Genesis does teach a form of evolution – It appears in chapter three when Adam and Eve disobey God and selfishly attempt to replace God with themselves. Following Satan’s lie, they hoped to evolve into something better. But that choice only plunged them into sin and death. Jesus came to tear away this veil of selfish sin. Jesus came to restore the relationship between the Creator and His creation. Amen.
Pastor Michael P. Walther
Trinity Sunday, May 22, 2005
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1300 Belt Line Road, Collinsville, Illinois, 62234
618-344-3151 / fax 618-344-3378
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Michael P. Walther, Copyright, 2005
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