Rooted 2: Creation

Rooted 2: Creation –How did we get here and what’s this world all about?

For Starters

  1. How do you think this world and life on this planet got started?
  2. Is this world as good as it can be? Why do you think there is mess, pain, suffering, evil?

We are going to look at the big question “Where did everything come from?” Now, you will immediately realise that this is a very ambitious project for one session in our mini-course. So, we are not going to be able to deal with every question in detail or answer every objection to the Christian viewpoint. However:

  1. You are welcome to come back with your questions and challenges. We’ll try to answer them to the best of our ability. If we don’t know the answer, we will admit that but we’ll also try to find out.
  2. Some Christians including a number of top scientists have taken time to research, think about and respond with answers to some of the big questions. You may not always agree with them and they may not always agree with each other but we are happy to point you towards some further reading that will help you think things through further. We believe that careful investigation is important. We are not expected to hang up our brains at the door when we enter the building called faith!

A Look at the Bible

We’re going to go right back to the very beginning of the Bible to see how it all kicks off.

Read Genesis 1: 1-31

  1. Identify any words/phrases that stand out or are repeated often
  2. Make a table listing out what is created on each day of the week.
  3. What does God do in order to create things?

So, we start with a statement that the God we met in part 1, the God who is eternal, sovereign, loving, just and good made this World. We should not be surprised then to see that both the process by which he made the World and the end result will reflect his character.

We see a God who is all powerful, who only needs to speak the word and things come into existence. This God cares about order and beauty. He creates in stages, he orders and categories, separating light from dark, land from water etc. He is a life giving God who causes the earth to team with life, causing creatures to multiple and fill the earth. The good and perfect God looks on at his creation and declares that it is good.

In Genesis chapter 2 we see that the God who is Love cares about his creation. He makes man in his own image and says that it is not good for man to be alone. The Trinitarian God made us to relate and so he makes both man and woman to love, care for and help each other. We look around and see a world that is beautiful, ordered and good because it was made by a good, sovereign God.

But at this stage we may still have some big questions, in particular:

  1. How can we be sure that this World was made by a creator God and is not simply here by chance?
  2. If God is good and this world was made good, then why is there so much wrong with it? Why is there so much mess, cruelty and suffering?

Let’s take each of those questions in turn.

1. God or chance?

 

Now at this point there will also be some related questions about whether the world as we know it came about over a literal 7, 24 hour day week or whether it evolved over millions of years. Some Christians believe that Genesis 1 uses figuratively language and that God used the processes of evolution to create. Other Christians including many scientists are happy to treat Genesis as referring to a literal week and believe that what we know scientifically about origins does fit with this when understood properly. Personally I think that the second option makes best sense both of what the bible says and what we know about God and the World. But that is perhaps a discussion for another day.

The key thing at the moment is this: “Is there really an eternal God behind the existence of the Universe?” And when we ask that question, we realise that we cannot escape the sense that there must be something more than this. Even the best efforts to explain the existence of the World fall down without recognising this. There’s the famous unattributed story of the conversation between two people. One insists that the earth is carried on the back of a giant turtle. “But what carries the turtle” asks his friend? “Another turtle” comes the reply. “What about that turtle, what supports it.” “Another turtle, obviously!” He is told and so the frustrating conversation goes on until the first man declares “It’s Turtles all the way down.”

This is the problem. There must be a foundation, there must be something that has caused this world to come into existence. Everyone believes in something eternal, otherwise where does time and space come from? We either believe that the Universe itself is eternal or that it had a beginning, call it The Big Bang or creation or whatever. If so, then behind that start point must be aa greater cause, something eternal, something infinite.

So we have a choice. We either believe in something eternal that is personal or impersonal but we always end up believing that there is something eternal. The Bible reveals to us that God is real, eternal and personal.

2. What about suffering and evil

 

The second big question recognises that whilst there is so much beauty and order in creation, there is also suffering, cruelty, corruption, murder, war, sickness and death. If God is good and perfect and he made and declared his creation to be perfect, why are there so many signs that it is not? For most of us this is not a theoretical question we face the reality of this mess and pain in our own families.

So we have to take account of the fact that the Bible describes this world as both created good and fallen. Paul, one of the early church leaders says that when sin came into the world, death came with it.[1] As we will see in the next session, death is described as the just penalty for human sin (rebellion against God).   Death affects all of creation; we live in a dying world. Paul says that “all creation was subjected to God’s curse.”[2]

This means that the simple answer to “Why is there evil and suffering?” is “because of us.” It is we as the human race that has brought this upon ourselves and upon the whole of the earth.

Now, for the moment, this is a short answer to a big question and this may seem inadequate at present. However, this is not because we are going to duck the question. Rather, in the next session, we will go into this in more detail. We will find out what it means to be human and made in the image of God. We will also discover what sin is and why it is so serious.

But we will not leave it there because the story does not end with the bad news. There is good news ahead. The Christian Gospel is all about the solution to the problem of sin. In part 3 we will find out why Jesus is our only hope. What is more, we will go on in part 4 to see that this hope is not just for us but for the whole of creation.

Paul puts it this way:

“the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”[3]

A look at ourselves

  1. What examples of goodness and beauty do you see in the world around you?
  2. In what ways have you experienced the pain and frustration of living in a “fallen world”?

Now Go To Part 3

 

 

[1] Romans 5:12

[2] Romans 8:20.

[3] Romans 8:21 (New Living Translation).

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