In the beginning, God created . . . Genesis 1:1
Created – Today I received an email announcement for “Creation 2010 Supercamp.” The advertisement said, “5 Fantastic Days. 14 Speakers. 20 Sessions.” Even the meals are included. But what caught my attention was the second headline. It read “Battle for the Bible.” Oops! Just a minute. Are these promoters suggesting that the issue over creation either makes or breaks the truth of the Bible? That seems to be the general idea among those who believe the Bible teaches a literal, seven day creation. Some seem to think that if they cannot prove the Bible is true on this point, then the entire biblical witness falls.
I am quite sure that the speakers will have plenty of geological, astronomical, mathematical and historical evidence. But I am not so sure that it would make any difference at all to Moses or the children of Israel. In my mind, the biggest issue of creation theory is not the scientific evidence. It is the lack of exegetical awareness. No one who first heard the Torah recounting of God’s creative activity would have worried about “Big Bang” implications or the age of the earth or the fossil record or any of the other scientific issues. Why? Because the Genesis account is an apologetic against other ancient cosmogonies. It is not a book about astrophysics. The purpose of the biblical record is to guide us to a communal and personal relationship with the Creator, not to tell us how God created. Contemporary debates about creation tend to ignore this, and as a consequence, attempt to force-fit the biblical text into an empirical scientific worldview. This is just another example of the shift to a Greek understanding of the world, in the largest possible scale.
Does the truth of Scripture rest on an argument about creationism? Does the legacy of the prophets, the history of Israel, the life of Yeshua, the resurrection and the witness of the apostles depend on an argument about the age of the Grand Canyon? The problem here once again pushes us toward a definition of truth. If we are Greek in our thinking, we will want the “one right answer,” the one that fits the requirement of correct calculation. In other words, we will define the playing field according to mathematics, the fundamental language of science. But that ignores entirely the Hebrew idea of personal, faithful reliability, where the playing field is not about numerical accuracy but rather about relationship trustworthiness. As long as believers accept the Greek rules of the game, the debates will continue. The real argument is not about the “facts.” It is about the epistemological assumptions that determine what we call the facts.
“In the beginning, God created” is a declaration of relationship. The sovereign, unique, royal, unopposed God acted in such a way that everything else came into being. This declaration establishes the relationship between God and all creation. He is supreme. He is not part of the creation. He is the only agent responsible for its being. And He loves what He made. Strain your telescopes and see if you find that anywhere in the heavens!
Topical Index: creationism, created, epistemology, Genesis 1:1