Creation and a logical faith
I don't have much faith in logic as a solution to the world's problems, but I do want a logical faith. I don't demand that my faith correspond to "scientific logic" as presently conceived, but I do expect it to be consistent throughout.
I am speaking here of the interior logic of Scripture and doctrine, of course. I want to believe what the Bible teaches, but I also want that belief to be logical—I don't want to believe "cunningly devised fables" (2 Peter 1:16, KJV).*
I refuse to believe any "Christian doctrine" I can't support to my satisfaction from the Bible. However, I also refuse to give up any biblically supported Christian doctrine, even if it is unpopular or called "unscientific." To do so would be illogical.
I have a friend, a campus chaplain at my state university, who has an illogical faith, even though he thinks it will help him reach logical young college students. He believes, he says, in the existence of God, in Jesus Christ as his Saviour, in the virgin birth, in an afterlife— but he does not believe in Creation. In my eyes, this renders his faith illogical nonsense.
Many supposedly logical Christians share this chaplain's illogical faith. I would like to explain why it is biblically and doctrinally illogical to not believe that God created life on earth in six literal days."
I am assuming, as the basis of discussion, that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, given to us through words chosen by men, but doctrinally inerrant in the original autograph. If it is not, if it is merely the human speculations of godly writers, then we have no logical or authoritative basis for faith and doctrine, whatever we believe.
Here's the problem: Many Christian doctrines are based partly on texts which also clearly, unmistakably say that God created us. Whether they say so or not, the texts assume that Creation happened in six days—the Bible writers had no other theories on the topic. Thus, logically, if God did not create us as the Bible says He did, then these texts, wrong in one part, may well be wrong in any other part. How can we argue that a phrase identifying Jesus as Saviour is inspired, but the next phrase, identifying Him as Creator, is mere legend? Such an arbitrary approach to inspiration is illogical self-deception.
Examine the following statements and the supporting texts. If these Scripture passages are accepted as authentic and inspired support for doctrine and faith, then as a Christian, I have no other logical alternative but to affirm the validity of their implication that Genesis 1 is a God-inspired and true account of God's creation of life on earth in six days.
If God did not create us, we have no logical ground for belief that Jesus is the Messiah, the Saviour, and the Son of God:
"This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ... I am the LORD your Holy One, Israel's Creator, your King" (Isaiah 43:14, 15).
"Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" (John 1:3).
"Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live" (1 Corinthians 8:6; see also Hebrews 1:13, Colossians 1:1520, 1 Peter 1:1820).
If God did not create us, we have no logical ground for belief in the return of Christ and the end of evil:
"Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Revelation 14:7, KJV).
"'Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.... the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more'" (Isaiah 65:1719).
"Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world"'" (Matthew 25:34).
If God did not create us, we have no logical ground for belief in the Ten Commandments as the law of God:
"For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy" (Exodus 20:11).
If God did not create us, we have no logical ground for belief in the sanctity of marriage:
"'Haven't you read,' he replied, 'that at the beginning the Creator "made them male and female," and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh"? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate'" (Matthew 19:46).
If God did not create us, we have no logical ground for belief in being born again, in regeneration:
"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator" (Colossians 3:9, 10).
If God did not create us, we have no logical ground for belief in life as a gift of God:
"When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth" (Psalm 104:29, 30).
If God did not create us, we have no logical ground for belief in the revelation of God to the world through nature:
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).
"First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this "coming" he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.' But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water. By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men" (2 Peter 3:37; see also Isaiah 41:1720).
If God did not create us, we have no logical ground for belief in the existence of God as ruler of the universe:
"'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being'" (Revelation 4:11).
If God did not create us, we have no logical ground for belief in the omniscience of God:
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13).
If we don't believe that life was created on earth in six days, as Genesis 1 teaches, then it is of course illogical to believe that Adam and Eve ever sinned, as Genesis 3 teaches. If we evolved, even by "theistic evolution" or "by design," then death has always existed on earth. God, if there is one, becomes a God of "tooth and claw," offering us "survival of the fittest" rather than "salvation by faith." If death has always existed, then death did not enter the world as a result of sin. Therefore, if we evolved, there can be no such thing as sin that leads to death, so there is no need of a Saviour from that sin, but we also have no reason to hope for an end to death. If Christ is identified as the Creator by John and Paul but they were wrong, then we have no ground for hope that they were right when they wrote that He died for our sins, was resurrected, ascended to His Father, and is coming back to save us and recreate what He originally created.
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (1 Corinthians 15:19, KJV).
I don't think we can have it both ways. If we accept that God created the world the way the Bible teaches it, then it is logical to look for His return. If we do not accept Creation, then faith in Christ is mere wishful thinking, the Body of Christ a mere social club.
Ed Christian (Ph.D., University of Nebraska) teaches English and the Bible as Literature at Kutztown University. This essay is adapted from one of his Old Testament Literature handouts. His postal address: Department of English; Kutztown University; Kutztown, Pennsylvania 19530; U.S.A. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Bible passages marked KJV are from the King James Version; all others are quoted from the New International Version.
Notes and references
** I specify "life on earth" because I agree with Richard Davidson that the Hebrew text of Genesis 1 demands a six-day creation of life, but suggests that God created the "unformed and unfilled" world and the universe in the timeless ages before the creation of life here. See Davidson, "In the Beginning: How to Interpret Genesis I," Dialogue 6:3 (1994), pp. 9-12.