In the previous study we discussed the doctrine of creation as taught in the Bible. Now we must consider how the Christian world departed from the plain truth of a literal creation.
1. What was the attitude of New Testament writers toward creation?
"All things were made by him [Christy" (John 1:3).
"From the beginning of the creation God made them" (Mark 10:6).
"For by him were all things created" (Col. 1:16).
"God, who created all things by Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:9).
2. What relationship does the Bible reveal as existing between Christ and created things?
"By him all things consist" (Col. 1:17), or hold together.
"Upholding all things by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:3).
Christ not only brought the universe into existence but continues to maintain it. Modern physics has shown that material substance is merely a manifestation of energy. This correlates perfectly with the scriptural statements. The power that holds all things together is the same power that was necessary to produce them in the beginning. Note the expression "the word of his power." In the Greek the term logos is used, meaning an outflow, or emanation, of power.
Deism, which was popular in the eighteenth century, and is still held by many scientifically-minded men, supposes that when God created matter, He endowed it with properties whereby it could continue to perform the work originally commanded. But the Bible does not support this view. The material universe, according to the Bible, is upheld and maintained by the Word, the Logos, the outflowing of divine power from the throne of God. Just as an electric light ceases to glow when cut off from the source of power, so material substance would cease to act, in fact, cease to exist, were the stream of divine power cut off for one instant.
We must be careful in this study not to get the idea that the Word, meaning Christ in person, is actually present everywhere in nature. Such a viewpoint would be pantheism. In fact, many of the great pagan religions of the world are founded on exactly this premise, that God and nature are one. We must be careful to recognize the distinction between the Word, Christ, the personal Being, and the outflow of power by which He manifests Himself through the whole universe.
So little is given in the Bible regarding the relationship existing between the three persons of the Godhead that we must be careful not to speculate unduly. However, from the statement in Genesis 1:2 that the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, we are led to conclude that He was the active agent in creation. If so, He is doubtless also the active agent in maintaining the universe. Speculation on the interrelationships in the Trinity is, however, rather fruitless.
3. What control does God declare that He has over nature?
In Isaiah 48:3 God declares His ability to foretell events. This would be impossible unless He had full and complete control over natural forces and over the powers of men. In verse 7 He declares that He creates, or brings to pass, new things in order to prove His superiority over heathen gods.
4. Against what did Paul warn the early church?
"Oppositions of science falsely so called" (1 Tim. 6:20).
In Paul's day Greek philosophy was a type of naturalism. This attributed all natural phenomena to inherent forces within matter itself. It denied the existence of a Supreme Being such as was taught by the Bible. All natural forces were self-operating, by means of inherent elements within themselves.
In the fifth century A.D. the Christian theologian Augustine introduced into Christianity an interpretation of creation borrowed from Greek philosophy. When he spoke of creation he affirmed that it did not take place instantly, or in a short time; rather, he declared that we must believe that God created the original germs of life with potentialities for infinite development. Throughout long ages of time these original germs, or seeds, as he called them, have continued their progressively upward development until they have reached the complexity of organization that is seen in the world today.
This interpretation of creation has been called a thorough-going theistic evolution by competent authorities. (For further details see the writer's New Diluvialism, p. 2.)
This position has been the orthodox view of the Catholic Church during practically all of its history, and is today quite widely accepted by Catholic and Protestant theologians alike.
5. What scientific apostasy was foretold by Peter?
In 2 Peter 3 is foretold the modern revolt against literal creation and the Flood. The basis for this is the doctrine that "all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (verse 4). The Bible says that "the works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Heb. 4:3). But modern skeptics say that everything has been going on the same from the beginning of the creation. Thus the earth and its life would be the result of slow, natural processes. The theory of uniformity, proposed in 1785 by James Hutton, of Scotland, and expanded into scientific geology by the English geologist Sir Charles Lye11 in 1830, has become the background for popular geological interpretation. The result is that scientists of today "willingly are ignorant" of the Flood. They "deliberately ignore this fact" (2 Peter 3:5, R.S.V.).
Uniformitarianism, however, not only is an unproved hypothesis but is unprovable. It is impossible, upon the observations of 150 years or less, to prove that present known forces have been in operation in a uniform manner for billions of years. The yardstick of present-day geological knowledge is too short for measuring such vast expanses of time. Not only so, but the whole scheme of uniformitarianism is based on the deistic theology, and denies the power of God to create or destroy or alter by means of His infinite powers. It is absolutely out of harniony with the teaching of the Bible with regard to His complete and continuous action through the things He has created.
6. Is it possible to harmonize the findings of science with the simple Bible teaching in regard to creation and the Flood?
The position of the modern creationist is perfectly consistent with all known principles of philosophy and science. He believes in the following:
a. That all material substance was brought into existence by the fiat of the Creator; therefore matter is not regarded as having an independent existence of inherent properties by which it performs its activities; the phenomena of nature are subject to the control of the Supreme Being at all times and in all their manifestations.
b. That the organization of the physical features of the earth and the creation of life upon it were accomplished in six literal days; accordingly, the theories of cosmic and biological evolution through long ages of time are not acceptable.
c. That confusion and degeneracy among plants, animals, and man came as a result of the advent of sin into the world, and through the influence of Satan and his agents.
d. That the pristine earth was destroyed by one great overwhelming catastrophe, the Flood, or Deluge, of Genesis 6, 7, and 8, and that this Flood was the direct or indirect cause of most of the major geological features of the earth.
e. That since the Flood there have been many minor changes in the surface of the earth, with resulting changes in climate and ecological conditions, and that these have been simultaneous with certain changes in the structure and behavior of plants and animals; in this way there have been distributed over the face of the earth the present array of "species" of plants and animals.
On these points the creationist maintains that his views are exactly as scientific as those of the evolutionist. He contends that the theories of evolutionary progress are not sufficiently supported by scientific evidence to make them conclusive. Therefore, he accepts the Genesis record of creation and the Flood at its face value as an inspired historical record, and upon this assumption he proceeds to array the facts of science in harmony with the literal interpretation of this record. All supposedly scientific "evidences" contrary to this literal viewpoint are regarded as speculative assumptions that are not proved.
In our next studies we shall give a brief outline of the main lines of evidence that support the Bible teachings regarding a literal creation and the Flood.