|This is an opinion article from a user of WikiChristian.|
Last year Time Magazine ran an article called “Science Versus God”
You’ve probably heard people say that science has somehow shown us that God can’t possibly exist
Or that the stories about the creation of the universe in the Bible are ridiculous – and so, by implication, being a Christian is ridiculous
When you learn about biology, physics or geology, especially in high school or university, all sorts of questions start to come to the surface
“How did the universe begin?”
“How does the story in the Bible fit into this?”
“Where does God fit into this?”
These are questions I’ve asked myself before
And these are probably questions that you’ve asked yourself as well
Last week all of the guys at youth group were given Bibles
I’m guessing that quite a few will have a look at theirs, and some will probably start reading at the beginning, opening up to the first chapter and reading these beautiful words
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
But reading this is going to generate some questions
The passage seems to be saying that the universe was created in 6 days
Scientists tells us that the world has developed over billions of years
How do we reconcile these contradictions?
And each one of us has to work through these sort of questions and decide what we believe
Some people say: “Well, I believe exactly what the Bible says, and so the scientists must be wrong”
There are plenty of Christians who choose this option
Other people say: “Well, clearly the Bible must be wrong and the scientists right”
There are plenty of people who choose this option
But there’s also a third option: “Both are correct”
It can sound crazy can’t it
But that’s what I believe – I think they are both right
I don’t think we have to have an “either / or” attitude
If you want, you can trust both science and the Bible
I think its all about perspective
You’ll see on the overhead an image of a woman’s silhouette that’s rotating
Take a few seconds to look at it
Without saying anything, think about the direction that the woman is spinning
Now close your eyes
Is she spinning clockwise?
Or is she spinning anti-clockwise?
Keeping your eyes closed, put up your hand if you think she is spinning anti-clockwise
If your hand is in the air, keep it there and everyone open their eyes
Isn’t that interesting
There appears to be some disagreement
For the record, I’m sure its spinning clockwise
But if I turn my head horizontally left, it becomes anti-clockwise
It might be the opposite for you though
Isn’t that weird?
It’s a very strange phenomenon
But it all has to with our perception – how our brain interprets the information that it’s receiving
Some people have brains that are sure the image is turning anti-clockwise
Some have brains that are sure the image is turning clockwise
Those who see it anti-clockwise can’t possibly believe that anyone could see it clockwise
Those who see it clockwise can’t possibly believe that anyone could see it anti-clockwise
Perception - It’s a strange thing
It’s the same for what we’ve read earlier in Genesis in the Bible
How do we perceive what we are reading
When we reading Genesis, were you asking the questions: “How?” and “What?”
Or were you asking “Why?” and “Who?”
Were you reading as you might read a science book?
Or were you reading as you might read poetry?
The Bible consists of 66 books, the first one was probably written around 1,000 BC, the last one was probably written about 100 AD
Some of the books give us historical facts and dates
Some of the books contain poetry
For example: Psalm 96:12
- Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;
Does that sound like history or science?
I can’t remember the last time I heard a tree sing
It’s obviously poetry isn’t it?
Now look at Luke 2:1
- At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He travelled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.
Now this doesn’t sound like poetry to me
It has a lot detailed, specific information
It sounds to me much more like a biography; like a history book
It’s easy to see that different parts of the Bible are written differently
How we perceive and read Genesis 1 alters what we learn from it
Maybe Genesis 1 is scientific – plenty of Christians look at it this way – and if that’s how you read the passage, that’s okay
But maybe it isn’t scientific – that’s my personal opinion – but even it isn’t scientific, I still believe that it’s God’s word that is communicating to us something about God and his world
In the second half of tonight’s talk we’re going to look at Genesis 1 not as a scientific article that answers “What” and “How”, but as a passage that uses the language of imagery to paint a portrait that begins to answer the questions: “Who” and “Why”
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
God created space and the earth
Most people 3,000 years ago thought that the world was created by hundreds of gods, some good, some bad
People in ancient Egypt believed that the sun was a god
People of ancient Babylon believed the moon was a god
But the first line in Genesis tells us that “God created the heavens and the earth”
The One God created everything
He created the greater light – the sun – there was no sun-god
He created the lesser light – the moon – there was no moon-god
Even today some people believe in river spirit gods and animal spirit gods and other nature gods
A few years ago Nicole and I were travelling in England and we decided to visit an ancient druid burial ground in an large empty field late one afternoon
Now in England there are quite a few people who consider themselves witches or wizards and believe in spells and nature gods, so we weren’t completely surprised to find a family that seemed to be setting up camp for the night in the burial tomb itself
Trying to be polite I said the father of the family, “It’s beautiful countryside isn’t it”
His reply: “I am mother earth!”
Needless to say, Nicole and I made a quick exit, not wanting to end as a news item – “Australian tourists sacrificed in bizarre witch ritual”
So, even today Genesis 1 can still teach us about some important truths
There is no such thing as an earth goddess
There is no such thing as a tree spirit god
The earth is a lump of stone that God has created
Trees are made up a complex bunch of cells and carbon compounds that God has created
At the other end of the scale is the atheist who says that there is no God
That the universe just happened
Genesis 1 challenges that view
There is a God
Even if the universe has formed over billions of years, and life on earth has slowly evolved over millions and millions of years, there is a God who was behind it all
God made it all happen
As you read the passage in Genesis 1, something stands out that keeps getting repeated
“And God saw that it was good”
Look at the world around us
How good is a beautiful sunset?!
How good is a towering mountain range?!
How good is thundering waterfall?!
When we look at the world around us, there is so much good that we can see
God created a good world
Genesis doesn’t say a perfect world without earthquakes or storms or fires
But it does so a “good world”
And looking around, that is what we see so often – a good world!
And that’s why it is so sad when we see it being destroyed by human greed
It’s sad to lose something that is so good
This goodness that we can see around us is a reflection on God
If God was bad, then he wouldn’t have created a good world would he?
Genesis 1 suggests that God is good
He is a good God!
It also says that God created humans in his image – men and women – created in God’s image
We are made in the image of the “good” God
Think about the good things we can see in people
The love of a mother for her child
The generosity of a stranger who sees someone in need
The kind words of friend
If humans are created in the image of the good God, then the good things in humans are reflections of the good things in God
The God who created the universe is also a God who is full of love
A God who is generous
A God who is kind
Genesis is telling something incredible about God
He is a good God!
My parents recently bought a block of land which contained on old house that was falling apart
They then arranged to have it knocked down
They hired a builder and had a nice new house built
Then they started painting the house and putting furniture in it
Then they sold their old house and moved into the new one
Finally my dad retired
It’s easy to see in this story that my parents had a plan
Their purpose was to live in a smaller house that my mum and dad could retire into now that all of us kids had moved out of home
But to achieve this purpose, they needed a plan with some semblance of order
It wasn’t a disordered process; but everything was done in steps to achieve their purpose
In Genesis 1, I think something similar is happening
The image painted in Genesis 1 is an image of a universe that was created in an orderly fashion
Light was created on day 1
Space and the earth were created on day 2
Plants were created on day 3
It wasn’t just a haphazard, disordered make-it-up as you go job
There was planning and purpose behind it
God has a purpose for his creation
That purpose seemed to be reached on day 7 – rest
Genesis 2:2 says
- On the 7th day God rested from all his work
But if we look around at the world today, do we see a world at rest? A world in peace? A world that is completely good?
We don’t see that do we?
So what went wrong?
Sin came into the world
It's the sinful and evil things that people do that have tainted God's good creation
All of us know that we aren't perfect
Every time we are greedy, jealous, selfish - every time we do things our way instead of God's way - that's sin
This sin has really damaged God's creation
But God has a plan to restore it
And restoring creation includes restoring us - his people
He wants to restore us to reflect his image once again - his image of goodness
Remember Genesis 1:27 - "God created humans in his image"
I simply want to end by reading another passage in the Bible
In this passage, Jesus is called "The Word"
This beautiful opening to John's Gospel talks about how God has sent his Son Jesus into this damaged creation to restore us to our original purpose - to be made in the image of God, and live with God in a good creation
- In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
Return to Genesis 1