My son, Rogan, is 3 months out from being born. And if it were the case that I did not believe in an omnibenevolent (all-good) creator of the universe, I think I would avidly avoid broaching the subject of how the universe began. I could, in different words no doubt, tell my child when he was old enough to hear it, that all of matter purposelessly materialized by unguided and largely unknown processes, where over millions of years of agonizing nothingness, through death and despair, protoplasmic, vertebrate hominids made an appearance and over millennia of Darwinian selection, he was finally born to an ultimately and objectively meaningless existence, where he will live only briefly and die as he was born—for nothing—without objective purpose or meaning. It is a conversation I am fortunate to avoid; as it happens, I do believe in an omnibenevolent creator of the universe and as a Christian, so should you. The church should believe that some finite time ago, God spoke the universe into existence.
But why is the doctrine of creation so important? Could a well meaning Christian believe that the universe always existed or devise some other non-divine account of the origin of literally everything? The answer is, quite simply, no. Let me suggest to you three fundamental reasons as to why a Christian must believe that God is the creator of all things seen, and unseen, spatiotemporal and heavenly. (1) A universe without creation is necessarily devoid of purpose and meaning. Moreover, a Christian is called to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls and, important in this case here, minds. So (2) A universe without creation is simply not feasible. Lastly, (3) the Bible tells us so. I submit to you that these three reasons present the Christian with no alternative understanding of how the universe began, either God was the creator of the universe or Christianity is false. Let me now flesh out each point.
A universe without creation is necessarily devoid of purpose and meaning
You may be wondering how one can come to the conclusion that God creating the universe is necessary for purpose and meaning. Let me explain. If it is true that the origin of the universe was brought about by unguided processes, or that it has always existed, then us human beings, who live upon a distant pale blue dot in the corner of a galaxy as small as a speck of sand in comparison to the infiniteness of the universe, are no different than a common housefly. We both were born over millennia of primitive selection, through the rape and rapine of the weak, and our thoughts and feelings are no more or less important or meaningful than the feelings of an ant crushed underfoot. If, on the other hand, we were purposefully brought into existence by a creator who knows us and loves us, we can affirm what our hearts know to be true, that we are here on this planet for a reason. We can know that what we do in this life matters and has purpose.[bra_blockquote align=’left’] If it is true that the origin of the universe was brought about by unguided processes, or that it has always existed, then us human beings, who live upon a distant pale blue dot in the corner of a galaxy as small as a speck of sand in comparison to the infiniteness of the universe, are no different than a common housefly.[/bra_blockquote]
A Christian simply cannot be a Christian and believe that life is devoid of meaning. As Christians, we are called to be praying as Jesus requested, for his kingdom that is in heaven to be so on earth. We are called to be forces for the things we pray for too. The helpless should know mercy because we have brought them to God’s son. The broken should know healing for we have brought them to our savior who was broken. The thirsty and hungry should find water and food in our hands and we are called to let violence tremble at how big Love can get. This glorifies God, and that, above all else, is our meaning and our purpose.
A universe without creation is simply not feasible.
Irrespective of the fact that an uncreated universe is devoid of meaning, it is also an extremely unreasonable conclusion. It reminds me of a conversation I once had with a non-Christian friend of mine. I remember him defiantly suggesting that the universe has always existed, so there is simply no need for God or his creative prowess. So I took my friends cell phone from across the table and asked him, “If I told you I would give you this cell phone back after an infinite amount of time, would you ever receive your phone back?” [bra_blockquote align=’right’]…if the universe never began because it extends infinitely into the past, how could we possibly have ever arrived at this present moment?[/bra_blockquote]He gave a moment’s pause and then answered, “Well, no, I guess I would never get it.” The trap was sprung and he was now captive to logic. I explained to him that if the universe never began because it extends infinitely into the past, how could we possibly have ever arrived at this present moment? This argument and more like it have roots in the work of the early Church apologist, Thomas Aquinas.
One of the most powerful and enduring arguments for the existence of God has long been what’s come to be known as “the cosmological argument.” It essentially can be broken down to the following syllogism:
- Everything that begins to exist, has a cause
- The Universe began to exist
- Therefore the universe has a cause
Suffice it to say that this argument has become one of the most compelling arguments in the philosophy of religion as I do not intend on laying out all the arguments in favor of these premises here. But some of the conclusions that are borne out of the above syllogism are that the creator of the universe is not made of matter nor is He within space, and that He is both extremely powerful and personal (At this point, Thomas Aquinas would say, “and we call this God.”). (For more a more scholarly discussion on these premises, check out William Lane Craig’s work at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/in-defense-of-the-kalam-cosmological-argument.)
The Bible tells us so
If you read my previous posts on Scripture, you’ll know that this is really the most important for the Church. The Bible is a fundamental guiding light for Christians and its voice on this matter is definitive and unanimous. It proclaims God as creator of the universe from the very beginning of the Bible and innumerably throughout:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?’ declares the LORD.” Isaiah 66:1, 2
“All things were made by him, and without him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:3
“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:3
“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11[bra_blockquote align=’left’]This King of all Kings, made the cross his throne as he died so that all he created could be unfettered from sin and be made free to join his Kingdom. It is this God whom we worship who has made the Church his bride and has endowed us with purpose and who makes all things meaningful.[/bra_blockquote]If you take the Bible seriously, and if you’re a Christian then you should, you must affirm that God created all things. And the Creator of all things saw it fit to live among us and assume all the weakness of humankind. This King of all Kings, made the cross his throne as he died so that all he created could be unfettered from sin and be made free to join his Kingdom. It is this God whom we worship who has made the Church his bride and has endowed us with purpose and who makes all things meaningful.
Therefore, it is because we are created, that we ought to live like we were created. Live with purpose, love with meaning, and die with hope.
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As usual: very well said. Plainly spoken but elegant enough to not oversimplify.
Your conclusion, and third point, with the Scriptures is ironic to me. I find that my *mind*, when following truth, seems to always end up realizing the same truth it sought out was already written in the Scriptures. Which happens to also be the place that provoked my question in the first place!
In regards to your invitation to suggest doctrines to continue the series with: http://creeksidebiblechurch.org/scriptureasvital2/#comment-636
I agree, Spencer. I think it is important for Christians to start with scripture. But it is quite amazing that we can start from outside of it and find that we are again drawn to the conclusions it made millenia ago! (Psalm 19:1a: The Heavens proclaim the glory of God…” And I will definitely write something more specific to your question about scripture.
Great, I’m looking forward to it!
Matt, I stumbled upon this blog post (http://lifehacker.com/why-having-purpose-is-the-secret-to-a-longer-healthier-1056314530) and it made me think of your above words. Everyone needs a purpose, but only in the doctrine of creation do we find our real purpose. I also love that you pointed to the story of redemption offering our lives the same meaningfulness. Good post!
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