In my pamphlet God the Creator I briefly answer the following question:
What are some broad essentials of the Biblical doctrine of creation?
In my answer I listed the following six points. I will list the points below and expand on them, below. But first, what am I trying to do here?
One thing that Christians who accept evolution have often neglected to do is explain how our understanding of origins fits with the remainder of Christian doctrine. We may hold differing doctrines, we may hold variations on standard doctrines, or we may have our own understanding of how these elements of our belief fit in. Possibly because these explanations seem so obvious to us, we don’t take the time to explain the details. For example, for many Christians the idea of physical death prior to the fall (Genesis 3) is simply inconceivable. They’ve never entertained the thought. Old earth creationists, ruin and restoration creationists, and theistic evolutionists all share the belief that there was physical death before the fall, though ruin and restoration creationists believe such death came after the fall of Satan from heaven.
In the next several entries I intend to talk doctrinally. My own doctrine of salvation and the fall is relatively orthodox (especially for me! :-)). I will discuss the Biblical evidence for these doctrines, and also relate the explanations of the various schools of thought as much as possible.
(Bolded text is from the pamphlet. The remainder is my current brief commentary.)
- God is the creator of everything (Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Psalm 104:24, Hebrews 1:2, Romans 11:33-36)
God as an absentee landlord is not consistent with the Biblical view of God or of humanity. The Bible writers universally consider God to be continually present and active in the world he created. They also do not exempt anything from creation.An additional text on this topic is found in Isaiah 45:7: “I form the light and create darkness, I make well being, and create disaster. I, YHWH, do all these things.” There has been some considerable debate about the translation of the word I have rendered “disaster.” It can also be rendered “evil.” But the point actually remains the same. In terms of the structure of the poetry here, God takes responsibility for the entire range of results in his creation. God is not afraid to take responsibility for his own work.
- God creates by simple command so His word is certain (Psalm 33:6-9)
This passage also reinforces the previous. All of everything was created by God, and he accomplishes his word by simple command. Many take this to mean that God cannot use mechanisms, that creation must occur instantaneously as the result of God’s command. This would, however, contradict Genesis 1 & 2 on the creation of humanity. In Genesis 1:26-27 God simply creates, as he does everything, by speaking, yet in Genesis 2:7, God forms man from the dust and then breathes life into him. The process differs in two descriptions of the same event.The key issues here is that God is absolutely in command. What exists, exists because God wills it and commands it. He can, as he does, command natural laws, and those continue to accomplish his will. Because God doesn’t need to be concerned with dividing his attention, he can be fully attentive to everything at once. One point here that a Christian evolutionist such as myself must deal with is that God was and is present in every moment of the process of evolution; we see the creator in his creation.
- God put personal care into creation (Genesis 2:4b-25)Three major stories of creation tell different stories about God’s relationship to his creation. Genesis 1:1-2:4a tells the story of command and power; Genesis 2:4b-25 tells the story of personal involvement, and Psalm 104 tells the story of continuous care. This aspect of creation is easy for all of us to miss. We can get so involved in arguing God’s power or God’s method that we neglect to actually hear the main point of all these stories–how God relates to us.
- Human beings were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), they were good (Genesis 1:31), and later they fell from that state (Genesis 3) This is a key element of the story for a Christian theistic evolutionist who believes in the atonement, as I do. Humanity must begin in moral innocence, have the opportunity to be in an obedient relationship to God, and then fall away from that state. This does not mean that they had to live in some sort of modern paradise, or a technologically advanced society. This state of moral innocence could occur with only the simplest of language and bone tools, for example. But an essential story of the Biblical story from the Christian perspective is humanity’s need for redemption and the sacrifice of Jesus in providing it.I’ll save my supporting arguments for their own entry when I’ll have time and space to deal with this key issue.
- God created wisely (Psalm 104:24, Proverbs 8:22-31)The fourth creation story (Proverbs 8:22-31) connects to the third (Psalm 104) in claiming that God’s creation is wise. What this means is very interesting, but I think at a minimum it means that we can derive valuable information about God from what he has created, how he creates, and how he continues to create. God reveals himself in action.
- God continuously cares for His creation (Psalm 104, Acts 17:26-29)Again, God didn’t start the machine and leave it running. The laws we observe are God’s will made manifest. That divine will is so consistent that it (the natural world) can be studied scientifically. Methodological naturalism is simply a stance on studying things in the best way available for their category of information.
My next several entries in this series will deal with these elements one at a time.