Wednesday, August 08, 2012

In The Beginning . . . How?

By George W. Sarris

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth!
That is not a very controversial statement among Christians. Whether they believe in Special Creation or some kind of Theistic Evolution, most sincere Christians agree that God did it. The controversy, of course, revolves around questions relating to how He did it. Did He create by divine fiat? Or, did He use the mechanism of evolution to bring the universe and all of its complexities into being?
I have discussed this issue on numerous occasions with friends I consider sincere, dedicated, thoughtful Christians who disagree with me – and often with one another – on the “how” question. Most of those discussions have been civil dialogues where we have been free to state our cases clearly and challenge one another directly. Perhaps the most amazing outcome from these conversations is that we are still friends!
That said, I should mention that my view is that God created all that exists out of nothing by direct action – I’m a Special Creationist.
My primary reason for holding that position is that Special Creation is the view most consistent with a plain reading of Scripture.
The clearest explanation of what the text says – and the view that is most consistent with God’s nature as the all-powerful, sovereign Creator – is that God spoke, and what He spoke came into existence.
God said, “Let the land produce vegetation – and it was so. The land produced vegetation . . . God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures – So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems . . . God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds – And it was so. . . . God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
As has been said by many who disagree, the Bible is not a scientific textbook. It does not give detailed information about how God created the universe or the organisms that populate our planet. However, the text does place definite limits on what can be considered compatible views. And, a very important limiting statement relating to the creation/evolution issue is that the plants, fish, and land animals God brought into existence were created and reproduce “according to their kinds.” 
The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. . . . God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind . . . God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.
Evolution by definition assumes that one kind eventually develops into a different kind . . . and that, to me, eliminates it as a possibility.
What About Hybrids?
Charles Darwin believed that certain animal hybrids – whether occurring in nature or artificially created as a result of laboratory experiments – were evidence to support his theory that one kind of animal can gradually develop into another kind of animal.
Granted, there are some interesting hybrid animals. And, it is clear from observation that there is a great deal of variation within the organisms God created. But, an examination of the evidence actually confirms the fact that there are also very definite limits to reproduction beyond which animals cannot pass.
There are hybrids between different subspecies within a species – for example, a Bengal Tiger and a Siberian Tiger. There are also hybrids between different species within the same genus – for example, a cross between a lion and a tiger. However, no hybrids between different orders have ever been observed in nature or created in a laboratory.
The real problem with hybrids, however, is the fact that the ones that do occur cannot reproduce . . . that’s why they are “hybrids.”
One of the most common hybrid animals is a mule. Mules are a cross between a male donkey and a female horse. They have been used extensively for thousands of years for farming and the transportation of agricultural products. However, mules are unable to produce other mules. There are no recorded cases in their entire history of fertile mule stallions. A few female mules have produced offspring, but only by going backward and mating with a purebred horse or donkey.
liger is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger (if it’s a cross between a male tiger and a female lion, it’s called a tiglon.) As is the case with mules, known male ligers have all been sterile.
zorse is a cross between a male zebra and female horse. A zeedonk is a cross between a male zebra and female donkey. And, a zony is a cross between a male zebra and female pony. But, once again, as in the cases of mules, ligers, and tiglons, these equine combinations are unable to produce like offspring. Rather than supporting the idea of evolutionary development from one animal kind into another, these hybrids actually confirm the fact that there are very definite limits to reproduction within the various kinds that God originally created.
Expert Designs
As in any area of study, there are facts, and there are interpretations of those facts. Because various living organisms have similar structures, the argument is made that one must have gradually developed over time into the other. A completely different explanation, however, and one that rings true with our observations of how things actually work in the real world, is that the similar structures were designed specifically for similar purposes.
If we were to apply evolutionary presuppositions to the vehicles we see around us, we might be tempted to suggest that, because they all have wheels, what began as a unicycle, slowly evolved into a bicycle, then a tricycle, later a VW Bug, a Fiat Spider, a Chevrolet Corvette, a Cadillac limousine and eventually a BMW, which, according to its current advertising slogan, is the “Ultimate Driving Machine!” At certain critical points, offshoots evolved into airplanes, trucks and boats.
One could also conclude from the evidence that each type of vehicle was purposely designed by intelligent designers who understood that it was wise to use similar parts to perform similar functions. The key to understanding the truth about designs in automobiles is the realization that complex mechanisms don't just "happen".
The Expert Designer
Have you ever wondered why things that exist naturally only vaguely resemble our designed machines? The wings of a bird, for example, are very different from the wings of an airplane. The eye of an eagle only remotely resembles the lens of a Nikon camera. I began to understand the answer to that question a number of years ago when I walked into a museum and read a sign that spoke volumes about the degree of complexity in the natural world.
The sign noted that the difference between what is found in nature and what is man-made is seen most clearly when each is placed under a microscope. The closer you look at what is man-made, the more you see its imperfections. The closer you look at something in nature, the more impressed you are with its intricate complexity!
Things in nature look so different because our man-made machines are of such inferior quality! I can imagine a conversation between two hummingbirds looking at a new, sophisticated helicopter.
It’s big . . . and it does fly – although it’s definitely clumsy. But, hey, I’d give it an ‘A’ for effort! 
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. How did He do it? My bet is Special Creation.  What do you think?
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John said...

Thanks for the invitation to comment. I've followed your blog with great interest on judgment/hell. I like where you've been with it and where you're going with your ideas.

These days, I'm leaning more toward evolution based on DNA studies. Francis Collins's lectures have been pretty persuasive. And I think that God could intervene over time through evolution. Sounds similar to what some call that punctuated equilibrium. Not sure if that's my view, but it seems to fit.

Now, what about plain readings of Scripture? You've done a lot of work to understand what Gehenna was, and I'm positive most evangelicals will assert you are not reading the Bible plainly. But you and I both know the importance of historical and cultural context. It seems the same works with the creation poem in Genesis.

I just finished reading The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton. His hermeneutical key is the poem is a cosmic temple inauguration ceremony script. The poem is about function, not material. It ceremonially turns a "building" into God's temple, and he takes up his rest in the temple as the sovereign deity. There are striking parallels to other ancient texts doing the same thing.

This is a must-read book. It changed everything for me, and it's the plainest reading I've heard yet. He makes a strong case that his is the most "literal" reading, and it opens up the possibility that scientific truth and biblical truth have never been in conflict. I call it the truth vs. truth problem.

Sorry for the epistle. I've been thinking quite a lot about this lately. I have to say, I have no response to the "according to their kinds" critique. I'll have to keep thinking about that. Peace!

George W. Sarris said...


Thanks for your comments. I'll have to take a look at the book you mentioned.

For me, the critical issues have been the "according to their kinds" which I mentioned, and the genealogies which seem to limit the time frame for evolution. I'm aware that there can certainly be gaps in the genealogies, but the magnitude of the gap between what the text indicates and the time frame for evolution seems much too large.

Anyway, thanks for your encouragement and good thoughts.

God bless,


Liger said...

this is one of my favorite animal. but i still didn't had the chanse to see it in real life