I believe in a Creator God
I was standing outside the principal's office. My mother, a faithful Seventh-day Adventist, was inside, pleading my case for Sabbath exemption with the principal, the school inspector, and senior teachers. As a fifth grader, I was anxiously waiting for the verdict. The issue was important to me. I wanted to be faithful to God and His truth. God was the most significant person in my life. Would my faithfulness to Him get in the way of my studies?
I had waited almost an hour when the door abruptly opened, and the principal came out. A big man, he stared at me, and fired a series of questions that left me speechless. “What is this thing about believing in God? Where is He anyway? Don't you know that Yuri Gagarin, the Russian astronaut, went up in space and announced that he did not find God? There is no God! And you want to believe such fairy tales? Cut that out; we are not going back to the dark ages again!”
I didn't really know how to respond to the principal. I thought to myself how easy it would be if God just wrote a startling message across the skies that all the world could see and believe, and so that all the skeptics could be silenced.
Since that experience in Yugoslavia, I have been keenly interested in issues arising from the controversy between the creationist and the evolutionary models of origins. In recent years, numerous articles have been published, often in scientific literature, with a good deal of vitriol toward those considering creation as a legitimate model for the origin of life. Creation continues to be deemed by many as not only unscientific but also as a direct threat to science. Even Time magazine recently published a debate between Dawkins and Collins pitting God against science.1
How did science get to such a state that it feels threatened even by the very idea of God? To be sure, a number of creationist promoters have employed similar tactics of vitriol and ridicule directed against evolutionists. In the heat of the battle, it seems that both camps have forgotten something very basic. Reality can not be altered by our opinions about it! We must approach truth with humility, seeking to discover it and appreciate it.
It is not entirely clear just why and how neo-Darwinists arrived at the utter unacceptability of God. It has, however, effectively become a dogma that cannot even be questioned. Any attempt at rational discourse on the subject is immediately dismissed as not only un-scientific but also anti-scientific. The rationale seems to be that if God were to exist, then we could not be sure that He is not interfering with our actions, experiments, or even thoughts. This theophobia implies a view of God as a petty, capricious manipulator. The orthodox Darwinists carry this view even further, seeing the concept of God as a threat to sanity itself, rendering all rational thought unlikely. This view is perhaps best demonstrated by the title of Dawkins' recent book The God Delusion.2
If both camps remain locked in this power struggle, then the most likely outcome will be sharper polarization, and both science and religion will ultimately suffer losses. For all the finger-pointing at the past excesses of religion, there is no shortage of relatively recent examples of crimes against humanity perpetrated by atheistic ideologies, striving toward the inexorable upward evolutionary thrust proposed by Darwinism. Unfortunately, religion has also amply demonstrated its capability to persecute anyone it chooses to disagree with, sometimes even legitimate scientists. Retrogressing to such approaches does not vindicate either God or creation. It only demonstrates that religion has become malignant, yet again.
Survival of the fittest?
Regardless of the initial ideological or conceptual framework, when we seek to control the views of other people, we tend to slide toward the same willingness to alienate, ridicule, marginalize, or persecute them. Our collective human addiction to power and control tends to subvert every ideology and conceptual framework that we can conceivably devise. Sometimes, the more extreme our plight, the more desperately we seek to gain power and regain control. It is a seductive falsehood, a philosophical trap whose comfort we eagerly seek, that with sufficient power any and all problems can be easily overcome. If the final outcome follows essentially the same destructive script, does it really matter that we started with the concept of “survival of the fittest” rather than “God is on our side!”? Are we doomed to a continuing rehearsal of the same ugly show regardless of the mantra being chanted?
Superficially, the concept of “survival of the fittest” seems obvious, almost beyond question. The strong and healthy thrive, while the weak and sick die. Natural selection at work! By all appearances it seems self-evident. As one of the two pillars of the evolutionary doctrine, alongside chance, natural selection is rarely questioned. How has this postulate been tested, however? Anyone who is bold enough to wonder about this is regarded as lacking wisdom, frequently even by the devoutly religious. From the point of view of individual organisms it seems difficult to even imagine alternatives. Implicitly, this concept represents an ongoing unremitting struggle by all living organisms for resources such as space, food, or mates.
If, however, we begin to consider networks of individual organisms, then new issues arise. For example, let us entertain a relatively simple thought experiment incorporating a struggle over a single issue. Consider a building in which every brick, stone, or beam was in a constant struggle to be on top. How stable could such a structure possibly be? How long would it stand? Who in his or her right mind would ever wish to enter it? Similarly, if our bodies were composed of cells that were in a constant struggle against one another, rather than networking with one another, our existence would not be possible. Have we as a human race bought into the “survival of the fittest” concept, explicitly or implicitly, even though it is fundamentally flawed? If so, can any social structure we develop with such flawed principles reliably stand? If not, what alternatives are there?
What kind of God?
Perhaps such questions can not be satisfactorily dealt with until we begin to consider not merely the idea of God, but also the kind of God that might be possible. My desperate hoping and grasping for more clout in dealing with the confrontational school principal was not rewarded as I wished. At the time, it seemed to me that God was neglecting a splendid opportunity to settle all questions once and for all. Why didn't He? He could have written across the sky in plain Yugoslavian so that anyone could read it: “Sabbath is the day of rest, and you, yes you, the school principal bothering Danilo, are wrong!” The thought made me feel so vindicated, justified, empowered, and … yes, oh yes, on top!
As I rehearsed fantasies like these, the words of Jesus, admonishing those who wish to be first seemed strangely discordant. (See Mark 10:43, 44.) In fact, it seemed to me that He, like a good parent, was merely telling us to “play nice”–an admonition particularly perplexing since the other people were clearly not “playing nice.” Is it possible that He was trying to point to issues more profound, via a different paradigm of success than we commonly envisage? If there are competing paradigms, how do we determine which is better?
Power and control
It seems that our attraction for “survival of the fittest” devolves upon our attachment to ideologies of power and control. What if our view of reality is distorted by such perceived or even unconscious desires? What if we all actually serve the concepts we hold dear–complete with their strengths and weaknesses, merits and fallacies? How would we distinguish between concepts that liberate or elevate and concepts that burden or trap? If we consider a variety of number systems, for example, it quickly becomes clear that they are not all equally easy to work with. Under the Roman numeral system, dependent largely on definition, and without an adequate place-value principle, it was a major undertaking to conduct even some of the basic arithmetic operations. Competitions were held for the purpose of finding talented individuals capable of multiplying or dividing two numbers quickly and correctly. Now, our children learn these operations in the early grades of elementary school. What made the difference? A number system with a complete set of place-value rules. Similarly, would laboring under a poorly chosen paradigm not be burdensome? Perhaps in this context Christ's words–“‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest'” (Matthew 11:28, NKJV)–gain a whole new level of significance. Could our preoccupation with power and control be leading us into difficulties, not to mention temptations?
My late father had a watch that he passed on to me. Unfortunately, it stopped running several years ago. I now have several options. I could attempt to resolve the problem through application of some power in the form of a nice little hammer, judiciously tapping in all the likely places. After some time, I might conclude that more power is called for in the form of a bigger hammer. Since I have a very superficial understanding of the structure and functioning of watches and no skill whatsoever with regard to watch repairs, chances are that my ever-increasing dependence on power will only further complicate the problem rather than solve it.
Clearly, the reliance on mere power to solve complex problems can be very destructive. The reason is obvious: the more complicated the problem, the more essential are understanding and skill to resolve it. This explains why God in Christ came to restore what was broken rather than seek to impose His authority, His will, or His rights. “‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many'” (Mark 10:45, NKJV). Consistent with His life, so also in His sacrifice, His focus was on what was needed as expressed by the words, “‘not as I will, but as You will'” (Matthew 26:39, NKJV). Service for the benefit of others is the only approach that works! We do not become heroes or even saints by recognizing this profound truth; we merely gain a chance for sanity.
Power vs. service
Recognizing that the universe was created with the implicit incorporation of the principle of service rather than the principle of “survival of the fittest” also presents us with an entirely different view of God. If the alternatives to service simply cannot work, then God cannot be a capricious, manipulative dictator. In fact, the best evidence against such characterizations is that the accusations are even possible. If God was in fact vengeful, unforgiving, exacting, and severe then how could such accusations ever have been made? Anyone likely to raise them would have been at the very least pre-empted in some way. After all, a dictator relaxes his grip at his own peril.
Instead, far from being concerned about His own good, God in Christ came to serve humanity. Seeing God in this light stimulates all thought and every desire to understand. And, in the final analysis, isn't this basic desire to understand, this joy of learning, coupled with freedom of inquiry, at the foundation of all genuine science?
The concepts about reality that we have embraced and hold dear determine not only how we see the question of origins but also how we are capable of perceiving God. The concepts we treasure will in large measure determine the paradigms we employ to rationalize the universe we live in. Clearly, all paradigms do not work equally well. Some burden while others liberate. We can choose a paradigm underwritten by power ideology or one based upon the principles of service motivated by love. In one case, we may ultimately wonder why nature should even be understandable. In the other, we will delight in every new day with its revelations of deeper insights inspired from the source of light and love. What an awesome choice!
Danilo Boskovic (Ph.D., Queen's University) teaches biochemistry at the School of Medicine, Loma Linda University. His mailing address: Mortensen Hall 207, Loma Linda, California 92350, U.S.A. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- “God vs. Science,” Time, November 13, 2006.
- Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006).