In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
- Genesis 1:1
I think, without overstating the case, this one verse, this one sentence, is probably the most controversial and divisive statement in our culture and perhaps in all of history. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The irony is that we seldom stop and reflect on the implications of this foundational belief about God and the whole of creation, even though many churches and/or denominations regularly confess this claim as a part of worship. From the traditional Apostles Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…”, and from the Nicene Creed: “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible…”
If we believe that our God is the Creator of all that is, that changes everything we think we know about the nature of creation, of reality, of existence, and purpose. What Christians must wrestle with today are the big questions of how we see and interpret the world in which we live. The earliest scientists and astronomers came from within Christianity because they believed the physical world could be discovered and understood because it had been created by God. Moreover, men like Johannes Kepler or Sir Isaac Newton believed that creation itself would point toward God and teach us more about Him. They were correct.
Although almost all education came through the Church, the theological and philosophical conflicts around the Reformation elevated human speculations and discoveries, in some ways supplanting Christian teaching, particularly amid the deep conflict between Church leaders. Thus, the great gains in knowledge were too great a temptation, and as science became its own discipline, philosophically minded men began to see the world in purely naturalistic terms. It is the serpent’s promise in paradise echoing across the space and time, “you can be like God, knowing good and evil.” Today, all science and medicine depend upon philosophical theories that reject the possibility of any sort of supernatural or divine Being. These are the intellectual ancestors of modernity.
The reason we want to think about the attributes and/or qualities of God is because so many aspects of our society have degenerated into chaos, and we can see what happens when we deny God. Even as we are expected to keep our religious beliefs private, our God is still the Creator of all that has ever existed. It is His breath and His life that sustains the universe. How can we really understand anything and possess accurate knowledge about creation, without the One Who created it?
Years ago, the small car I had after college developed a glitch of some sort. The engine would rev, and the car would speed up, then immediately die. When it happened, I could steer the car, but I couldn’t control the speed. Once it died, it could not be restarted. The first time it happened, it was towed to a shop and repaired. It happened again, and it was towed to the shop again. Then it happened again, and again, and again… The fuel injector was replaced. The catalytic converter was replaced. The computer that ran the car was replaced. I cannot now remember everything that was done to the care, but after a significant amount of money had been billed to my dad (because I was much younger and not all the apron strings had been cut), we were assured everything was good to go. So, my young son and I headed to a family occasion in the town where I grew up, 200 miles from where we were living, and about halfway there… Stranded on the side of a busy highway, a cousin in a nearby town came and picked us up. The car was towed to the dealer in the town, patched up for pick up, and before my dad got the car back to his house, it did it again. At this point, several thousand dollars had been invested, and a family event seriously inconvenienced. The car was towed to the local dealer, whom my dad knew personally. On Monday morning, they called the engineers in Michigan, who looked at all the notes and repairs, and then sent a $9 valve overnight to replace the one that was sticking.
Sometimes, I think our knowledge is like that – vast, complex, difficult, and not well understood or applied. It doesn’t matter how much we know if we don’t know how to use our knowledge or understand what it means. We have medical science without God for bodies designed by God. We have (near hysterical) climate science based on computer models for a planet the Word spoke into being. We have philosophers who can deconstruct all knowledge and meaning for human beings created to be God’s image. We have wars and despots and dreams of global government for a creation in which the Spirit brought (and still brings) order and reveals all truth.
I think the question for us is, ‘what do we really believe?’ Can we not recognize the inherent conflict in wanting Christian laws and values without wanting the God in Whom all value and righteousness originates? Is that not fundamentally hypocritical to want to live a Christian life without taking seriously the One from Whom all life springs?
Researchers are working already to find ways to manipulate the human genome to create “augmented human beings,” meaning enhanced with biotechnology – the binding of nanobots to human DNA and joining artificial intelligence to the human brain. China is experimenting with enhanced soldiers, but then, in September 2022, an Executive Order was issued instructing multiple branches of government to work together to create “Cyborg Warriors” by 2050.* Other researchers already have developed the means to splice genes in hopes of eradicating diseases, although the knowledge is being evaluated for its potential to make “designer children” according to the parents’ wishes. The most contentious issue of the day is this experimentation with hormones, medications, and surgeries on our children, mutilating them and rendering them sterile, necessitating lifelong medical care. There are no limits to human hubris.
Yet, we are no match for our Divine Creator. Do you know that, in a single cell zygote formed with one sperm and one egg, not only does the parents’ DNA meld into a cell that contains their child’s skin color, sex, hair and eye color, and everything their child will become, but also included in that single cell are all plans to build every biological system necessary for life: cardio, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, neurological, gastro, and more? The human body contains multiple systems that must work in conjunction to keep a person alive. Think about that. Why do teeth never show up in the ears – or just one part of the teeth, enamel on the ears, for example? And how does an ear never end up where the nose should be, or an eyeball turn up on a shoulder? How does a single cell instruct the layers of skin to grow on the outside of the body and not on the inside? The plans for forming a specific human body – not a giraffe or an oak tree – are all present in the single cell formed at conception. The plans for the many sub-systems are contained in a single cell… There are countless ways for a body to die, but only one way for it to live. And all of that information, as well as every plan for each system development are contained in the single cell zygote formed at conception.**
Human beings are living, breathing miracles of astounding complexity, and we are dangerously arrogant in assuming we can experiment with human life in the ways that are becoming increasingly possible. Now would be a good time to remember that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
King David lived around 3,000 years ago, and even then, he recognized what we find so hard to accept in this generation. “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16)
So many of us in the Christian community are afraid of the turn the nation has taken. We’ve entered a “brave new world” beyond Huxley’s wildest imagination, and there are no boundaries, no rules, just unmoored, irrational want and demand.
You need to know that your God is greater than all of this. He created the heavens and the earths, to the ends of the universe, to the plans for the human in the single cell. We possess a great deal of power – and apparently willingness – to harm one another, but human beings do not possess more power than God. We cannot even understand Him, cannot conquer Him, and cannot conform Him to our own will. Moreover, He is ever-present and inescapable. For those who believe, this should be the source of our greatest confidence. For those who do not believe, who refuse to believe, their circumstances are unchanged. As the Apostle Paul told the Areopagus, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:27).
Our greatest service to the generations to come is to believe that God is Who He said He is. God is Who He has revealed Himself to be. He created the heavens and the earth, and He likewise has saved and continues to save all that belongs to Him. A man once told me he didn’t think God was interested in the details and minutia of our lives, that it was ridiculous to believe He knew how many hairs are on our heads. I thought the man was wrong then. When I think about a single zygote, it occurs to me that we have no idea how vast and incomprehensible is God’s knowledge – what He does or does not know. I know this: all the knowledge of all human beings all piled together would not compare to the boundless expanse of God’s knowledge. Just think… He knows everything that each one of us knows – our thoughts, our dreams, our shames, our failures. We make a mistake when we underestimate God.
All that exists, has ever existed, and will ever come into being – seen and unseen – are created by God. In the end, God will prevail on behalf of His creation, on your behalf. Do not be afraid, and do not doubt. Believe and you will see.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau