October 24, 2012

Origins: Beliefs Have Implications, Part 2

Herbert Spencer, a brilliant non-Christian scientist who died in 1903, discovered what is referred to as “categories of the knowable.” He determined that everything that exists fits into one of five categories: time, force, action, space, and matter. His finding was hailed as a massive cataloging of realities.

Everything that Spencer discovered is in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning” (time) “God” (force) “created” (action) “the heavens” (space) and “the earth” (matter). The Bible says that God created everything, and in saying that, the Bible gives us all the categories that exist. Rather than stumble at the miraculous reality of this statement, we can be awed by its power and inclusiveness.

My most recent column contained a summary of the 2012 Geoscience Research Institute Field Conference on Faith and Science. The sessions modeled both faith in the Bible and respect for science. The reliability of Bible teachings about creation and origins was highlighted, while remaining cognizant of the limits of science and biblical queries that remain under study.

2012 1530 page17Beliefs Matter
While science may have discrepancies with Scripture, and while there are admitted dilemmas about creation that puzzle believers and unbelievers alike, the Genesis account is clear about the origins of this world and human beings. This belief is integral to who we are, how we live, and the providential manner in which God has worked in our past and present. It is equally integral to the eternal future promised to believers.

Here are three take-away affirmations about creation and origins:

1. Biblical creation is foundational and reliable. Seventh-day Adventists believe: (1) in a God who created the world in a recent creation week consisting of six literal consecutive days; (2) in a God who rested on the Sabbath, the seventh, final day of the week; and (3) that the earth was deluged by a universal, catastrophic flood. These beliefs are Bible-based and fundamental to the church. Correspondingly, every believer is encouraged to become acquainted with the basic scriptural, scientific, and philosophical reasons we believe what we believe about origins, and help to live them and share them.

2. Science may be helpful in understanding origins, but the Bible is the ultimate authority. The revelation of God in Scripture supersedes all other sources of information and knowledge. If we want to understand origins, how the universe and everything in it came into existence, we have to look to the Bible, not science, for ultimate authority. In the Bible God speaks from a factual basis versus a theoretical one.

3. There is no merging of creation and evolution models. The contrast between the biblical creation account and evolution is unavoidable: 1. Bible: God is Creator of all things. Evolution: Natural random chance processes account for the existence of all things. 2. Bible: The world was created in a literal six-day period. Evolution: The world evolved over millions of years. 3. Bible: Creation is completed (Gen. 2:3). Evolution: The creative process is ongoing. 4. Bible: Abundance and variety of life appeared suddenly. Evolution: Life gradually developed from primitive, lower forms of organic life. 5. Bible: Humanity was created from the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7). Evolution: Humanity evolved from other forms of life.

Ellen White provides this helpful insight: “The precepts and principles of religion are the first steps in the acquisition of knowledge, and lie at the very foundation of true education. Knowledge and science must be vitalized by the Spirit of God in order to serve the noblest purposes. The Christian alone can make the right use of knowledge. . . . The attributes of God, as seen in His created works, can be appreciated only as we have a knowledge of the Creator” (Christian Education, p. 32).

In summary, our beliefs about creation and the origin of the world matter. Creation truth is interrelated with salvation truth. God created everything by speaking it into existence. This same God loves us and has revealed Himself to us in His Word. He has revealed to us how to live, how to relate to Him, and how to obtain eternal life. He is worthy of our trust for creation and redemption. 

Delbert W. Baker is a general vice president of the General Conference. This article was published October 25, 2012.