In the second of the three posts about creation I argued that naturalism is the default view of reality in our post-Christian secular culture. Even for people who do believe in God, they live their lives functionally as Deists. Even if God is there, he’s not terribly relevant to life. The pervasive naturalism of our culture makes this easy to do. But why is naturalism such a threat, and how is the doctrine of creation the answer?
I believe most Christians are functionally naturalists, in that we tend to see the natural world much as our secular neighbors do. This is nothing new because since the Fall human beings have always been inclined to see reality as if they were God and he was not, the heart of Satan’s temptation to Adam and Eve. So from the very beginning God has had to establish his bone fides, if you will, that he is God and we are not! It seems absurd to have to argue that we are not God, or that we have to be continually reminded of that. Isn’t it kind of obvious that we are finite in every way? Obvious that we are fragile in so many ways, and finally mortal? Of course! But the, “You will be like God” temptation is a great one, and at the heart of all human misery.
Thus God had to get the point quickly, so we read the very first words of God’s revelation to his creatures, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God as Creator is foundational to the Christian life. He is affirmed as the creator or maker of the universe continually throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, the contrast is often made to idols which are literally nothing, just human creations. In the New Testament, we learn of Jesus, the Logos, and his role in creation. John tells us:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
And Paul expands on this in Colossians 1:
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Pretty comprehensive, wouldn’t you say? The absolute centrality of God as Creator to our faith is why Satan works so assiduously to get human beings to deny or ignore it. Since the Enlightenment, naturalism is the point of the spear in Satan’s toolbox to undermine our faith in God as Creator. If he can get us to buy into that no matter how subtly (we can say God is the Creator, but see the world as if it is independent of his sovereign, providential control), then we are that much closer to dethroning God from his rightful place in our lives, and replacing him with ourselves. Not good.
A simple example comes from C.S. Lewis, and something I’d never considered until I read it. For Christians there should be no distinction between the natural and the supernatural. The material world is infused with God’s presence, as Scripture affirms. Lewis pointed out that Mary’s conception by the Holy Spirit was no more miraculous than any woman’s conceiving. Is not a new being’s creation utterly miraculous? Are we really supposed to believe the process of creating a new life is solely “natural”? No divine assistance required?
Another example is a simple tree. We look at a tree, any tree, and tend to think that it exists and grows because of the seed that it came from, and the soil and sun and water. While that’s certainly true, that’s only part of the story. The tree exists and grows because of God! He animates all existence. As Paul says above, through Jesus “all things hold together.”
One more example will suffice, especially since we moved to Florida this summer and experienced the first Hurricane to directly hit the Tampa area since 1921. Such things are often referred to as “natural disasters,” as if God, if he exists as all, is a bystander. My Christian brother or sister, there is no such thing as a “natural” disaster! God is the sovereign Lord of all creation, and nothing, not a hurricane, a tsunami, earthquake, or sparrow falling to the ground, happens without God’s providential ordaining of it. Such a God is worthy of our worship, our lives, and our trust.