Sunday, June 21, 2009
Father's Day and Darwin versus Genesis One verse Three
"And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light."
That is the third verse of chapter one in Genesis.
Gen 1:3 וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִ֣י א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר׃
I do not know of any particular controversy concerning Genesis 1:3. This language is straightforward and uncontroversial. But it is nevertheless strange language were the Genesis account authored by shepards and priests as a part of a creation myth. Why would they even conceive of light being formed before any sources of light had been made? Man would have said that God created the Sun and the Moon and the stars. But God asserts that He made light before having created any stars or the Sun.
Now that we know that light appears to have traveled in space for millions of years and that God asserts a week of creation somewhere in the vicinity of 7,000 years ago, it is of great interest that God made light first. The fact that He made light first opens up possibilities for what was done with that light and, since a God capable of creating all things does not do things for no reason, this tells us that He deliberately created light first and therefore had specific purposes for that light. He created light aside from the source stars and Sun. This points us farther into the scripture but today this is where we end.
Because today is Father's Day I say Happy Father's Day to all dads everywhere! My biological father passed away, but my Father God still remains. I am blessed to have six children and three grandchildren. I have taught them that God is their ultimate Father and I am just the guy in between. They really belong to Him and not to me and to teach them and guide them and help them find their way is my responsibility as well as my pleasure.
Many of you claim that I do not understand evolution, but in fact I do. I just do not believe in evolution. I have often tried to get commenters to disprove my fundamental allegations concerning the paucity of evidence for evolution and they usually either try to take the conversation elsewhere, answer the question with a question or simply accuse me of not understanding or being too dumb to comprehend evolution. Students of logic cannot possibly be impressed.
Conversely, commenters make outlandish claims about God and I could simply tell them that they do not understand the Bible. But I am actually going to take this opportunity to present an overview and an umbrella response to many specific accusations rather than just tell you that you are ignorant or stupid as is often done to me. Here we go -
1) God created everything and everyone, therefore He has ownership of and responsibility for the Universe. He created a set of natural laws that are logical and can be studied and used by mankind. He put in place a law for man's behavior and man broke the law. God has the right to punish man as He see fit. If a painter buys a canvas, a brush, and a set of paints and produces a painting, he then has the right to display it or sell it or rip it to shreds as he sees fit. It belongs to him.
2) God loves everyone. We will see as we go through Genesis that at the end of creation God says that it was good. That includes mankind. God made a spectacular Universe that is fine-tuned to allow for an Earth upon which we live and from which we can observe the Universe and try to understand it and how things work.
3) God is just. God invented right and wrong. God Himself is love and truth and light, but He made a Universe for mankind in which wrong could be chosen so that man could choose to obey God or choose to disobey Him. Adam and Eve had only one rule but unfortunately they decided to break it. A just God therefore had to punish them and the punishment had to be just. No man has the right or the intellect or the information necessary to be able to claim that God's penalty for sin is unjust. If you are not capable of creating the Universe then you do not have the perspective to know what is right and what is wrong. God has that perspective and knowledge.
4) God is merciful. God knew that mankind, having sinned, would be passing on sin down through subsequent generations. So when Adam and Eve sinned, God made changes to all of his created beings both animal and plant so that the world would not be any longer a glorious garden of peace and joy, but all of creation would be in a struggle to survive. This struggle would be instructive to mankind so that if man would be wise he would realize his need for the Creator to eventually redeem him from the struggle and restore him to a joyful relationship in the company of God.
5) God is judge. As Judge of the Universe, which He created and owns, God has the right to make covenants (legal contracts) with any and all of His creatures. God has made several agreements with mankind, all of which they have broken. The first covenant with Adam was broken and sin and death came to the world. God then made a second covenant with Adam and Eve in which they were required to make sacrifices for sin and have belief in God and follow his ways. Undoubtedly Adam and Eve learned a code of behavior from God that they passed on to their descendants. But over the years most of mankind denied God and did as they pleased until mankind in general was so evil that God decided to destroy the world that was in existence and the civilization of man with a world-wide flood, saving basic kinds of animals plus the one remaining believing family, that of Noah.
God then made agreements with Noah, with Abraham, with Isaac, with Moses and the children of Israel and with Joshua. Many of these agreements were complex with laws that were specific to that culture and that time.
6) God's covenant with Israel was more than a belief system. Many commenters take a part of the Books of the Law and accuse God of being mean or inconsistent, But the fact is that the Law was given to the portion of mankind who was willing to follow God. Those who were against God were in rebellion and legally liable for any punishment God would choose. Nevertheless God made provision for unbelievers to change their minds and join His people.
Many of the provisions of the Law were actually the legal code for a nation. Some were instructions specific for warfare, some were moral and ethical codes, some were sanitary laws. In a time in which there were no means of refrigeration and that cooking methods were primitive, prohibitions against pork (prone to salmonella poisoning) and shellfish (that spoil in many seasons easily and threaten health) and various animals prone to be scavengers were provisions meant to protect the health of the people of that day and not God deciding to be arbitrary.
7) God's covenant with Israel was broken and replaced. The Jews did not keep the Law and for many centuries their tendency to defy or ignore God or to simply pay lip service to God is thematic in prophetic literature and led to their nation, once rich and powerful, to be split and conquered and almost eliminated. God warned His people that there would be an end to these days of rebellion and hypocrisy but that He would make a way through a new covenant to bring a new and lasting solution to mankind. God told the Jews they would be conquered and carried away to other lands, and they were. God allowed the devout among the captives to rebuild the walls and the temple in Jerusalem and be a nation again, but a nation prone to be ruled by others. He warned that the temple would be destroyed and the days of The Law would come to an end. These things did happen.
8) Jesus Christ is the New Covenant. Jesus was the Lamb of God, the sacrifice worthy to pay the ultimate price for all of mankind and enact a new covenant. God offers salvation through belief in Christ via faith. If accepted, a man is legally declared free from the Law, his sins are cleansed by the blood of Christ and furthermore there is a literal change in which the spirit within a man is joined with God's spirit. If you receive Christ, you are changed on the inside and not just a criminal with a pardon. You are declared righteous and made different. The old Judaism of sacrifices and offerings was replaced with one sacrifice and offering, Christ.
Jesus died on a cross in Jerusalem and, at that time, the sun was darkened unexpectedly, and some people who had died were reported to have risen from their graves. The massive veil, which surrounded the Holy of Holies in the Temple and separated the presence of God from those in the Temple, that veil ripped from the top down and the Holy of Holies was exposed. But there was no longer any presence of God there, He had abandoned the Temple for the old covenant was gone and a new one in place. As predicted, the Temple itself was completely destroyed within one generation of the crucifixion of Christ in 70 AD as the Romans burned and tore it down stone-by-stone as they killed almost the entire Jewish population of Jerusalem.
Judaism as established by the Mosaic covenant was ended when Christ died and rose again, and God made sure to put an exclamation point on this by having the Temple completely destroyed.
The old Law was no longer in effect. Today you will find no Jews who keep the Law and do the sacrifices and offerings as laid out in the Books of the Law. After Christ rose from the dead, some Jews followed the new Way of Christ and some adhered to the old ways...until the Temple was destroyed.
9) God's Law is Love. We are told in the New Testament that the old laws and ordinances were nailed to the cross with Christ. We are told that the Old Testament is "for our learning" but that our law now is that of love. If we follow the ways of Christ we will seek to obey God by loving others. Loving others means making the effort to not simply adhere to a set of instructions but to proactively seek to do good. Certainly knowing the Ten Commandments and the history of the human race as told in scripture helps us know and understand God and to define love. There are OT books that have much wisdom, such as the Book of Proverbs, and yet Christians do not seek to obey a written set of instructions, they seek to be led by God by a combination of God's leading within our spirits and the wisdom gained by reading and knowing the Bible and understanding which portions are written TO Christians and which are written FOR us.
10) The Bible must be studied and believed to be understood. You must understand the context of each book, sometimes a specific portion of the book. You need to know who wrote the book, to whom it was written and how it fits into the sum of the Bible. Yes, in one place the Bible may tell you to go to war and kill every man and woman and even animal in one area and, in another place, turn your cheek when you are struck. In context these are not confusing but to the outsider looking in it seems like God keeps changing His mind. But it is man and the legal agreements between man and God that have changed, not God.
Example: People are shocked to know that Adam and Eve's sons and daughters married each other but God did not prohibit this behavior at that time and genetically it was not unwise. But by the time Moses was giving the Law to the Jews, relationships between brother and sister and aunts and uncles and so on were now prohibited and genetically this also makes sense, because degradation in the DNA of mankind meant that intermarriage of close relatives would be asking for mutations.
The most common marriage in the history of mankind is between cousins. Now we know enough about genetics to understand that in these times cousin marriage can present some inherent dangers to the offspring. But this was not so in Mosaic times nor was it so in the time of Christ.
The culture of man has also changed. In Mosaic times men were becoming more likely to gather together into bigger and bigger cities and the percentage of those devoted to agriculture and animal herding was beginning to shrink. Now very few of us do what virtually everyone did in the time of Abraham, which was either to plant crops, raise animals, or both.
11) Man has changed, God has adjusted. God has remained a loving father who has adjusted His relationship with mankind over the years just as human fathers do with their children. When my children were very young I had very few rules and allowed very few freedoms. When they got older I worked hard to add both rules and responsibilities as they became more sophisticated and capable. Over the years I relaxed rules and gave over responsibilities to them, having worked on "putting the box inside the kid instead of putting the kid inside a box" during their childhood days.
Now there are four kids that live with us, three of them 21 years old or older and one about to enter his senior year of high school. Needless to say if we had to have an involved set of rules for these kids to obey there would be lots of hassle and grief and conflict. But we have raised our kids to be in agreement with us fundamentally and they respect our position as parents and providers. My kids let me know where they are going and what they are doing and I have almost no rules or prohibitions, giving them free reign because I love them and trust them and they are old enough to be responsible in large measure for themselves. They live here in order to finish their schooling and Debbie and I are glad to provide a launching pad for their lives. We are now in a state of mutual respect and concern for one another.
Because of this, having adult kids living at home is a pleasure rather than a burden.
God has such a relationship with me. We have a trust and love relationship. He has not burdened me with long lists of laws but trusts my judgment and expects that I will make the effort to do as He would do. Like the relationship between me and my kids, my God has given me the foundational absolutes to live by and the freedom to live out my life without a boom hovering over me waiting to be lowered.
12) You can therefore understand in one of two ways. You can read all of this from the outside looking in, understand that God is a Father and a judge and the owner of the Universe and comprehend that He has made legal and binding contracts with man that mankind has broken. You can comprehend that God's mercy has led Him to continue to offer new contracts and new ways for mankind to be redeemed until such time as He could offer a final and all-inclusive one-size-fits-all agreement in which He does all the work and all we need to do is accept. You can understand that from the outside looking in. Or, you could accept the offer and be on the inside looking out.
I have got to tell you, the view is a LOT better from in here!!!!!
God, thank you for creating all things and giving me life and a chance to live and love and know my Creator God! I am thankful I had a human father who loved me and a Heavenly Father who loves me still. He is your Father, too. I hope that, if you do not know Him, that you someday take the opportunity to do so.