GOD'S RELATION TO THE UNIVERSE
There are various ideas concerning the relation of God to this universe of ours. By way of contrast between these false ideas and the teaching of Scripture, let us note:
I. GOD IS SEPARATE IN BEING FROM THE UNIVERSE.
Everywhere in Scripture God is distinguished from His creation. He is a pure spirit, while all created things and beings are at least partly material with the exception of the angels, both good and evil. God is infinite; all created things are finite. God is eternal, having existed from everlasting. This is not true of anything else. God is immutable. Nothing else is immutable. God is omnipresent; nothing else is. Nor does anything else possess God's attributes of omnipotence and omniscience.
The Scriptures, therefore, refute pantheism, which is defined by Strong as "that method of thought which conceives of the universe as the development of one intelligent and voluntary, yet impersonal substance, which reaches consciousness only in man. It, therefore, identifies God, not with each individual object in the universe, but with the totality of things" (Systematic Theology, p. 55).
II. GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE
1. THE FACT.
This is declared in the first verse of the Bible. The Scripture, therefore, denies that the universe was created by an evil spirit as the Manicheans taught. It also denies the emanation theory, which holds with pantheism that God is of the same substance as the universe; and that the universe is the result of successive emanations from His being. Spontaneous generation, the view of atheistic evolutionists, is also denied. Moreover we have here a denial of the eternity of matter. Let it be noted that the author understands Gen. 1:1 as referring to the whole universe with its billions of stars. He can not agree with those, such as George McCready Price* and Harold W. Clark,** who think that this passage alludes to nothing more than the earth and its surrounding atmosphere or, at most to our solar system. The view of these two worthy and scholarly men is rejected on Biblical grounds. Unless "heaven" is used in Gen. 1:1 in a sense radically different from that in which it is used in many other passages, it includes all the stars. See Gen. 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; Ex. 32:13; Deut. 10:22; 2 Kings 23:5; Isa. 13:10; Jer. 33:22; Nah. 3:16. It is true, according to Gen. 1:8, that God identified Heaven with the firmament, above which there were waters (Gen. 1.7); but note that God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven," which lights manifestly included the stars (Gen. 1:14-17). Evidently, then, "firmament" must have included both a lower and upper expanse.
Today, as never before, there is full explicit, and emphatic agreement between the Bible and sound scientific thinking concerning the necessity of a real supernatural creation of the universe. Scientists have found the universe to be like a gigantic clock that is slowly running down or an immense lump of coal that is leisurely burning up. Matter is being converted into heat and other form of energy and is being dissipated. Thus a leveling off process is going on throughout the universe, resulting in what scientists call "entropy", which is defined as "the unavailability of energy for doing work."*** All of this has been expressed very effectively by Barnett as follows: "All the phenomena of nature, visible and invisible, within the atom and in outer space, indicate that the substance and energy of the universe are inexorably diffusing like vapor through the insatiable void. The sun is slowly but surely burning out, the stars are dying embers and everywhere in the cosmos heat is turning to cold, matter is dissolving into radiation, and energy is being dissipated into empty space. The universe is thus progressing toward an ultimate 'heat-death' or, as technically defined, a condition of 'maximum entropy.' When the universe reaches this state some billions of years from now, all processes of nature
will cease. All space will be the same temperature. No energy can be used because all of it will be uniformly distributed through the cosmos. There will be no light, no life, no warmth- nothing but perpetual and irrevocable stagnation" (The Universe and Dr. Einstein, p. 100). As an application of this to the point under discussion, the words of Handrich are again appropriate: "If the universe must come to an end, then it is finite; and it cannot be both finite and eternal. If energy transformations had been going on from eternity, then the static, lifeless state of maximum entropy would have been reached eternal ages ago. So the universe must have had a beginning" (ibid, p. 47). Now that the universe in the beginning was not created by a natural process, but by supernatural power, is shown by these further words from Barnett: "Nothing in all inanimate nature can be unmistakably identified as a pure creative process. At one time, for example, it was thought that the mysterious cosmic rays which continually bombard the earth from outer space might be by-products of some process of atomic creation. But there is greater support for the opposite view that they are by-products of atomic annihilation. Everything visible in nature or established in theory, suggests that the universe is implacably progressing toward final darkness and decay" (ibid, p. 100). Then Handrich points out that even if cosmic rays are by-products of a creative process, this very fact shows that not all energy is being thus reconverted into matter; since cosmic rays represent a portion of energy that is being wasted.* Therefore, even if this theory of perpetual creation were true, entropy would still prevail. Unless it can be shown that all expended energy is being reconverted into matter, then this universe is not self-sustaining. If it is not self-sustaining, then it was not brought into existence by natural forces. And even if it should be found that there is a total reconversion of all energy into matter, and this should be taken as evidence that all matter has been created out of energy by a natural process; there would still remain the question that can have but one sensible answer: How did the energy come into existence in the first place? Thus scientific evidence for a supernatural creation is complete and unanswerable.
When was the beginning mentioned in the first verse of
Genesis? Was it on the first day of creation week? The language of the passage will allow this view, and some worthy men of science advocate it. However the language of the passage does not demand this view, but will readily allow any space of time that might have transpired between the origin of the universe and the fitting of the earth for man's abode. Let us be careful to distinguish between Biblical facts and our own theories about them. When the language of the Bible will readily admit of more than one interpretation, it is an evil thing for us to become so dogmatic about our own understanding of it that we must think of those who differ with us as denying the Bible. *
In saying that the language of Gen. 1:1, while not demanding it, will yet allow a lapse of time between the first two verses, the author is not affirming any of the following: (1) The age of rocks or fossils as advocated by uniformitarian geology. The author wholly rejects uniformitarian geology in favor of catastrophism and new deluvialism.** (2) The accuracy of any of the forty methods by which scientists have tried to determine the age of the earth.*** (3) That there was any life on the earth- plant, animal, or human-
* "The modern scientific age challenges us as Christians to be receptive to new truth as it is discovered. The leaders of our faith counsel us to make certain that a new idea is truth before we hasten to adopt it. Our reason tells us to examine with great care any new teaching that appears to displace the old line of thought in which we have been trained, until we have weighed it and found it satisfactory. We must avoid the two rocks of gullibility on the one hand and the ostrich-like attitude of some who deliberately close their eyes to new truth" (Gedney, in Modern Science and Christian Faith, p. 71).
** For criticism of the theories of uniformitarian geologists, see: Evolutionary Geology (Price); Genesis Vindicated (Price), p. 230; Common Sense Geology (Price); How Did the World Begin (Price), p. 56; That You Might Believe (Morris), p. 58; Everyday Science for the Christian (Handrich), p. 69; Beyond the Atom (De Vris), p. 79; and The New Deluvialism (Clark).
Note: We do not agree with the author concerning a possible time gap between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2. Such a gap of time, which many suggest could be billions of years, it seems would be taught or at least mentioned somewhere in the Bible. The silence on such an enormous "gap" of time makes this theory unfounded, and we believe, only a way in which to reconcile "modern science" with the Bible. If God is capable of creating all of earth's systems and all living things in five literal days, He certainly is able to create the material universe in one day.
or that there was a catastrophic ruin of original creation prior to the six days of Gen. 1.*
3. THE MANNER.
(1) By Fiat.
By this we mean that God spoke the universe into existence. The following passages teach this quite clearly:
"By the word of Jehovah were the heaves made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Psa. 33:6).
"Through faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God" (Heb. 11:3).
"What is seen hath not been made out of things which appear" (Heb. 11:3).
When God had called the materials of the universe into existence, He fashioned them according to His will. But He began without anything. He alone is eternal. All other things have sprung from His creative hand.
4. THE ORIGINAL FORM OF MATTER.
In the second verse of Genesis (interpreted in the light of v. 9) we find the earth covered with water and the atmosphere so saturated with vapor that the light of the sun could not reach the earth. The author can think of only three possible views concerning the reason for this condition: (1) That it was the condition of the earth at its origin. (2) That it had resulted from the ruin of original creation. (3) That it was a condition that had developed through the operation of natural forces subsequent to the origin of earth. This third view is elucidated in the
following quotation: "It is generally believed that in an early stage the earth was quite hot, possibly much hotter than the boiling point of water. If so, there could have been no oceans as the heat would have evaporated all the free water and the earth would have been completely covered with dense clouds right down to its surface (Stoner, in Modern Science and Christian Faith, p. 35).
Was all the matter in the universe created in one mass and then separated by violent expulsive power? An affirmative answer to this question provides a natural explanation of two noteworthy facts: (1) Distant galaxies or "island universes" seem to be speeding away from us with velocities proportional to their distances from us, so that if they "were traced backward, they would appear to have originated from one place at one time."* (2) The universe is littered with a debris of matter such as one should expect to result from a universal explosion. This debris exists today in three forms: (A) Comets, the number of which in our solar system is estimated to be 17,500,000.** (B) Meteors, which are so numerous that "it is estimated that the earth encounters thousands of millions . . . each day, and that the sun encounters as many as a trillion a second."*** (C) Individual atoms, constituting about one-third of all the matter of the universe, "dispersed in a condition of almost inconceivable tenuity of one atom per cubic inch.****
The language of Gen. 1:1 does not forbid the idea that God used natural forces in a secondary manner to bring the earth into the condition described in the next verse. The same Hebrew word (bara) is used in Psa. 89:47, where it is affirmed that God "made all men." Here the word admits of the use of the natural laws of generation. We know two things: (1) The universe was created by supernatural power. (2) Natural law now operates in the universe. The question is, at what point in the past did the operation of supernatural creative power give way to the operation of natural processes? "Genesis states a creation of
* Modern Science and Christian Faith, pp. 28,30.
** New Descriptive Astronomy (Steele), p. 188.
**** Allen (Modern Science and Christian Faith, p. 127).
Note: Natural laws are never implied with reference to creation week. If fact, natural laws as so-called, are still the miraculous working of Christ, Who is said to hold all things together by His power, and that by Him "all things consist". Who is able to discern what is "natural" law as opposed to spiritual power in an ongoing miraculous state?
III. GOD FITTED THE EARTH FOR MAN'S ABODE
This was the work of the six days listed in Gen. 1. Ex. 20:11 is manifestly speaking of this rather than the original creation when it says: "For in six days the Lord God made heaven and earth . . ." The word for "made" is not "bara," but "asah." This latter word is used more than fifteen hundred times, and it has many meanings; but it is not once translated "create." Thus it is not alluding to what God did in Gen. 1:1. This gives another reason for separating the original creation from the work of the six days.
1. THE LENGTH OF THESE "DAYS."
The author believes that these "days" were ordinary days of approximately twenty-four hours each. This is the manifest meaning of both Moses and the Holy Spirit. The day-age theory would never have arisen had it not been for a desire on the part of some to accommodate the Genesis account to the "ages" advocated by uniformitarian geology. The absurdity of this theory can be seen by the fact that it involves the presence of vegetation for thousands of years during the "third day" without the benefit of the direct rays of the sun. "Moreover, this theory can never make the periods of creation fit the scheme of geological 'ages' even if the 'days' of Genesis are stretched out to any length whatever; for the Biblical record has to be 'doctored' or changed in various ways to make it fit these 'ages,' even when the days are stretched out to make them correspond. The glaring inconsistencies that have always remained between the Genesis record and the geological 'ages,' even when such men as Hugh Miller, Gladstone, and Louis Agassiz had used their procrustean methods upon them, made thousands of scoffing infidels during the later nineteenth century; and these inconsistencies will always stare us in the face, and ought to warn us that we are taking shameful liberties with the Word of God."*
The record of this is found in Gen. 1:3,4. The supposition that this light was produced by earth-glow, or from ionized air, or from phosphorus, or that it was supernaturally created at this time, is both unfounded and unnecessary. C. I. Scofield says very correctly here: "Neither here nor in verse 14-18 is an original creative act implied. A different word is used. The sense is, made to appear; made visible. The sun and moon were created 'in the beginning.' The 'light,' of course, came from the sun, but the vapor diffused the light. Later the sun appeared in an unclouded sky" (Scofield Bible). The appearance of light at this time was made possible, no doubt, by the precipitation of much of the moisture that had completely saturated the air. For one to say that this could not have been accomplished in an ordinary day, even by natural means, is for him to presume to be omniscient.
3. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EXPANSE.
Vs. 6-8. The Hebrew word, "raqia," used seventeen times and always translated "firmament" in the King James Version, means "expanse." The excess of vapor that still remained in the air after the work of the first day, was on the second day caused to rise to form clouds; which allowed increased light, no doubt, but did not yet permit the orb of the sun to become visible. As remarked before, the Bible alludes to both a lower and an upper "firmament." See especially v. 14 and Psa. 19:1-6.
4. DRY LAND MADE TO APPEAR
*Genesis Vindicated (Price), p. 13. For further discussion of "days" of Gen. 1, see Modern Science and the Genesis Record (Rimmer), p. 17.
accomplished evidently by the elevation of land masses, or by the depression of sea areas, or by both. Perhaps many, if not the hills and mountains of the antediluvian world were thrust up at this time. If the earth formerly had been very hot, as most scientists believe, then the forming of a solid outer crust may have caused a build-up of internal pressure sufficient to uplift continents, hills, and mountains. However scientific facts seem to indicate that continents were not as extensive then as now. Perhaps before the deluge much of the present land area was occupied by swamps, inland seas, and waterways. The waterways of that era may have been the "geosynclines" so well-known to geology. There may have been much volcanic activity in connection with the elevation of land masses.
5. THE MAKING OF VEGETATION AND TREES.
Vs. 11-13. See also Gen. 2:5. This also was done on the third day. A creative act is not affirmed here. Because of this fact some have imagined that vegetation and trees sprang from seeds that had been preserved in the ground through a supposed cataclysm that had reduced the original creation to the condition described in verse 2. But such a notion cannot be made to harmonize with the declaration of Gen. 2:5 to the effect that God made "every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew." One evident reason God used this method in the making of vegetation is that the uplifted land masses had become dry very quickly and there had been no rain. The ground, therefore, was not in suitable condition for the production of vegetation from seeds.
6. SUN, MOON, AND STARS MADE TO APPEAR.
Vs. 14-18. This was the work of the fourth day. We have noted already that we have not here the creation of these bodies, but merely the full appearance of them. Clouds were cleared from the sky so that for the first time the heavenly orbs shone upon the earth in all their glory.
7. FISH, SEA-MONSTERS, AND FOWLS CREATED.
Vs. 20-23. Verse 21 shows clearly that we have here on the fourth day another creative act. The water brought forth forms of life only after God created them. This is fatal to the notion of reconciling evolution with the Bible. So also is the statement that each form of life was to bring forth "after his kind." However "kind" here evidently is used in a broader sense than "species" as it is used by many today. But we know that the term "kind" need not mean anything broader than "family" as used in biology.
Vs. 24-25. The use of the expression "living creature" in verse 24 shows that we have here a creative act as in verse 21.
Vs. 26-27. The Hebrew "bara" is used three times in verse 27, showing unmistakably that the human race was divinely created and not evolved. We shall note man's creation more in detail in the next chapter.
IV. GOD NOW PRESERVES THE UNIVERSE
God exerts continuous power, by means of which He maintains the existence of the things He has created according to the nature He imparted to them. The Scripture teaching on the infinity and supremacy of God is sufficient to convince us that God alone is self-existent and immutable, and that the universe, therefore, must be supported and sustained by power that is not inherent. It is as we should expect, then, when we find the Scripture making the following statements:
"Thou art Jehovah, even thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things that are thereon, the seas and all that is in them, and thou preservest them all (Neh. 9:6).
"O Jehovah, thou preservest man and beast" (Psa. 36:6).
"In him we live and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
"He is before all things, and in him all things consist"- held together, "derive their perpetuity"- Dargan (Col. 1:17).
". . . upholding all things by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:3).
It was probably to preservation that Jesus referred in part at least, when He said: "My Father worketh even until now" (John 5:17). The rest of God on the seventh day of creative week was not total cessation of activity, but only of His direct creative work.
V. GOD CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE
We find from the Scripture that God is not only the creator and preserver of the universe, but the controller of it. He did not create the universe and then abandon it. He now actively governs every part and every activity in the universe. This teaching is involved in the declaration that God "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph. 1:11).
The doctrine of God's control of the universe does not deny the reality of second causes. It merely shows God as the first cause and the creator of all second causes. God arranged second causes so that they would fulfill His will. Physical laws are real. They prevail in all cases, except where God sets them aside in His miraculous acts. Vapor rises, rain falls, and the wind blows according to certain laws. But God ordained those laws, and He now sustains all things according to their original nature and His intention for them, so that it is really God that causes the vapor to rise, the rain to fall, and the wind to blow. To deny the existence of law is foolish. To represent law as operating independent of God is infidelity.
God's control does not stop with the impersonal forces of the universe; it extends to and comprehends all the actions of men. This is shown by the following Scriptures. Ex. 12:36; Psa. 33:14,15; Prov. 19:21; 20:24; 21:1; Jer. 10:23; Dan. 4:35; Isa. 44:28; Ex. 9:12; Psa. 76:10; Prov. 16:4; John 12:37,39,40; Acts 4:27,28.
It will be seen that the above control of men includes their evil acts as well as their good ones. God's control of the evil acts of men may be divided into four kinds:
Gen. 20:6; 31:24; Psa. 139:3; 76:10.
It is under the head of God's permissive will or control that 1 Sam. 18:10 belongs. Here we are told that "an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul." It is thus that we are to understand God's hardening and blinding of sinners, as in Ex. 9:12; Rom. 9:18; John 12:40. It is also to this head that we are to refer Acts 4:27,28, which has to do with the crucifixion of Christ. God ordained that Christ should die on the Cross, but He merely withheld His restraining power and permitted the crucifiers to follow their own natural enmity against Christ. In 2 Sam. 24:1 and 1 Chron. 21:1, we see proof of the fact that sometimes in the Bible the things which God allows others to accomplish are ascribed to Him. In 2 Sam. 24:1 it is said that God moved David to number Israel, while in 1 Chron. 21:1 the same thing is ascribed to Satan.
The doctrine of God's control of the universe refutes deism, which teaches that God created the universe and then withdrew from it; leaving it to operate independently of His direction.
The following quotations may help to explain God's relation to sin. "That men's sins proceed from themselves; that in sinning they perform this or that action, is from God, who divideth the darkness according to His pleasure" (Augustine). "God is not the causative force, but the directing force in the sins of man. Men are in rebellion against God, but they are not out from under His control. God's decrees are not the necessitating cause of the sins of man, but the foredetermined and prescribed boundings and directings of men's sinful acts" (C. D. Cole, Baptist Examiner, March 1, 1932). "The wishes of sin are the wishes of man; man is guilty; man is to be blamed, but the All-wise God prevents those wishes from producing actions indiscriminately. He compels those wishes to take a certain divinely narrowed course. The floods of iniquity are from the hearts of men, but they are not allowed to cover the land; they are shut up to the channel of God's sovereign appointment, and men unwittingly are thus held in bounds, so that not one iota of God's purpose shall fail. He brings the floods of the ungodly into the channel of His providence to turn the mill of His purpose" (P. W. Heward).