November 12, 2013

Heart and Soul: Theology

There is not a great deal of interest in creation among Adventists,” the Adventist Book Center manager told me. I was stunned. After all, she would know. She sold books to Adventists. She knew what they bought.

Why Buy Creation?

But why would books on creation not sell? Perhaps because, even though we are surrounded by evolutionary thinking in mainline media, academia, and even some religious bodies, Adventists have long ago settled on the veracity of the biblical account of creation. After all, every seventh day we stop our busy lives to worship the Creator on the Sabbath. The very name of our denomination is a proclamation of our unshakable belief in creation!

The Seventh-day Adventist membership at large does not need to be convinced about the veracity of creation. This may help explain the low level of interest in books on this topic. Of course, reality is a bit more complex. One needs only to peruse the blogs and overhear the lectures of some who bear the Adventist label to find a significant range of views on creation.

Time for More

Notwithstanding our confidence in the Bible’s creation account, belief in the six-day creation week has for too long been merely one of the 28 fundamental beliefs. It has not received our full attention, and we are the poorer for it. The end-time call by the second angel of Revelation to worship the Creator (Rev. 14:7) is directed to all of us.

Long after evolution is forgotten, creation will dominate the thinking of the redeemed throughout eternity! The vehicle of creation draws us closer and closer to our Creator and Redeemer that we may the better experience what Adam and Eve found in Eden’s garden of delight. As Ellen White wrote, there “the laws and operations of nature, which have engaged men’s study for six thousand years, were opened to their minds by the infinite Framer and Upholder of all. . . . On every leaf of the forest or stone of the mountains, in every shining star, in earth and air and sky, God’s name was written. The order and harmony of creation spoke to them of infinite wisdom and power.” Adhering to that order, “they would be constantly gaining new treasures of knowledge, discovering fresh springs of happiness, and obtaining clearer and yet clearer conceptions of the immeasurable, unfailing love of God.”1

The Hebrew word for the creation of the world (bara’, Gen. 1:1) has no English equivalent. It has been said that only the Hebrew language has this particular term, which describes an act only God is capable of, “creating out of nothing.” It happens, however, that my Hungarian mother tongue also has such a word
(teremt), identical in meaning to bara’.

Science and bara’

Creating matter out of nothing violates the first law of thermodynamics, which states that the energy/matter content of the universe is constant. But the Lord is not confined to the three dimensions of the universe. In creating, He simply introduces new matter into it.

As to the true nature of matter, nuclear physicists are still struggling to comprehend how energy becomes matter. Their latest hope rests on the newly discovered “Higgs boson” as the subatomic particle that will complete the puzzle. We also still cannot explain the fundamental nature of positive or negative charges, magnetism, or gravity. When it comes to human knowledge, we still “see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12, KJV).

The Bible teaches that the Lord placed our world into a preexisting universe. Unfortunately, the English translation, “heavens” (Hebrew, shamayim), in Genesis 1:1 is subject to significant misunderstanding, leading some to conclude that the entire universe was created on day one of Creation. However, shamayim here is the Hebrew word for the visible heavens, the sky, or the atmosphere. As some translations put it: “In the beginning God created the sky and the earth” (Gen. 1:1, NCV).2

The printed version of the chromosomal sequence, using a conventional font size, takes up 1,000 pages of single-spaced lines.

The Solar System

It is entirely possible that on day one of the Creation the Lord created not only the earth but the entire solar system, with an unignited sun holding eight planets and some 150 moons in orbit. Then on the fourth day the Lord ignited the sun, illuminating the earth, moon, and planets. Isaiah’s comment that the Lord did not create the earth in vain, but formed it to be inhabited (see Isa. 45:18), provokes reflection on the “earthlike” planets—Mercury, Venus, Mars—all of which appear to be barren and lifeless. And what, we may ask, are the large gaseous planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune—surrounded by numerous planet-sized moons, doing out there?

Our Creator never does anything “in vain.” Sanctified speculation on now uninhabitable neighboring planets may draw inspiration from the Lord’s original plans for our own. Once our unfallen earth had become covered with replicas of the Garden of Eden,3 it would have necessitated the expansion of humanity to neighboring planets. The Creator would probably have then converted these into livable places in the full view of onlooking humanity, so that we too could have shouted for joy!

The gaseous compositions of Jupiter and Saturn hint that they may be unignited, miniature suns. The moons of the outer planets would require additional light and energy to support human existence. Therefore, with Jupiter and Saturn becoming small suns, in the unfallen earth we would have enjoyed not one but perhaps three suns in the sky.

It is inconceivable that on the pre-Flood world anyone looking up could have been blinded by the sun. Genesis 1:7 states that originally the upper atmosphere contained a water canopy that must have acted as a disperser of sunlight, suggesting that there may have been no shadows on the pre-Flood earth.

With the water canopy in place, possibly the light intensity of the uniformly lit blue sky would have varied during the day, starting out slightly pinkish, then turning brighter and brighter blue, reaching its peak at noon. Then, in the afternoon, the process would have reversed, with the blue sky becoming less bright, and finally turning uniformly pinkish at sunset. During moonless nights fewer stars may have been visible.

On the sixth day of the Creation, when everything was accomplished, “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31, KJV). This was not the first time the Lord created a world and populated it with living beings. There may be untold numbers, perhaps billions, of other created worlds floating in the universe. Had the Lord simply repeated what He had done so many times before, there may not have been a need for this final quality control. That the Creator carefully examined all of His creation on earth suggests that He had presented Himself with something new, something unique, to review!

At the same time, we must be compatible with the rest of the universe, capable of interacting with other created nonhumans and even learning their language. Since the universe has been around a long time before our appearance, we will have a lot of catching up to do in the new earth.

Focused Wonder: Escherichia coli

The creation of the sun, earth, and the planets shows the Creator’s might. But the formation of millions of living organisms, from amoebas to the zebra, declare His indescribably inventive genius and compassionate care. All organisms were created to fill a designated place in the rich tapestry of the biosphere’s ecosystem. Contrary to evolutionary assertions about the “survival of the fittest,” no organism can exist alone. As Ellen White observed, “There is nothing, save the
selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself. No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers to some other life.”4

Biology, the study of life, has played a compelling role in science since the middle of the twentieth century. And the information explosion regarding life processes brings an increased appreciation of the intricate sophistication of living matter.

Much biological knowledge has been garnered from the study of the model organism Escherichia coli. This bacterium is a normal resident of the human colon. It assists in the digestive process and provides us with the B-complex vitamin biotin. Some rogue strains of E. coli with noxious properties have given this organism a bad reputation. But working with harmless laboratory strains of E. coli for decades, I was drawn into the sophisticated miniature world of the bacterial cell.

E. coli is an automated self-replicating nano (mini) factory. Its product inventory rivals the world’s largest chemical manufacturers (DuPont, etc.). Its single chromosome consists of two circular intertwined DNA molecules, each consisting of 4.6 million nucleotides. Inspecting the chromosome’s nucleotide sequence, its genetic information, one sees a seemingly endless run of four nucleotides, abbreviated as A, G, T, and C. The printed version of the chromosomal sequence, using a conventional font size, takes up 1,000 pages of single-spaced lines.

E. coli has in excess of 4,000 different proteins, and the chromosome’s genetic information tells the cell how and when to synthesize these compounds. Most of the 4,000 proteins work to promote individual chemical reactions.

The substances E. coli manufactures include coenzyme Q, or ubiquinone, a substance that helps the cell’s growth in the presence of air. Through nine years of studying the biosynthesis of coenzyme Q, my laboratory was able to pinpoint the exact location of the ubiD gene on the chromosome of E. coli.5 This gene involved a sequence of 1,491 nucleotides. A change of a single nucleotide inactivated the ubiD protein.

This small detail illustrates the extent of specificity and complexity required for the life processes of this microscopic organism. The totality of information on E. coli is now so enormous that it can be stored only in databases such as “Ecocyc.”6

E. coli represents but an insignificant fraction of all living organisms. Science’s vast database on this microorganism is but a drop in an ocean of all biological facts, known and unknown. Our great Creator is the inventor and implementer of all biology. The exceptions are all the noxious and toxic entities that are the result of corrupting and parasitizing God’s good creation by an enemy, Satan (see Matt. 13:28). Biology too bears the scars of the great controversy.


Conscientious and intelligent minds may find reasons for faith in our great Creator by being more sensitive to the beauties and wonders of existence. In our innermost being we may magnify the Lord for His greatness and goodness. Thinking and acting thus gives us practice for eternity, as this will be the joyous privilege of the redeemed forever.

  1. Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets(Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1890),p. 51.
  2. Scriptures credited to NCV are quoted from The Holy Bible, New Century Version, copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
  3. Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903), p. 22.
  4.  Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages(Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898),p. 20.
  5. H. Zhang and G. T. Javor, “Identification of the ubiD Gene on the Escherichia coli Chromosome,” Journal of Bacteriology 182 (2000): 6243-6246.