Monday, July 10, 2017

God, Patience, and Creation

Introduction

One of the challenges skeptics raise against God as the Creator is the idea that He took entirely too long to create: God is inefficient and wasteful with time, if He did, indeed, take 13+ billion years to create the universe. Why did God take so long to create the universe when He could have created it in just a few days or even a couple microseconds? This challenge is necessarily dependent upon the idea that God has absolutely no possible reason for spending 13+ billion years to create. Thus, if it can be shown that God did have a reason for taking the time that He did, then the challenge is defeated. My goal in this post is to not only defeat the challenge, but to show that there is an answer that is not just possible but is more likely than not within the Christian worldview.


The Patience of God

I posit that the purpose is that God wanted to ensure that people would see that His Word, written thousands of years ago, actually does apply to us on a personal and existential (not just a distant) scale today.
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."- 2 Peter 3:9
Patience is a virtue; it is also one of the Fruits of the Spirit (Galations 5:22). God is patient. Just as Proverbs (6:6) encourages us to look at the ant for it teaches us something about hard work, so too Paul encourages us to look at the creation for it teaches us something about the attributes of God (Romans 1:20). Patience is, no doubt, one of the divine attributes that are "clearly seen from what has been made" when we see the time it took for our universe to get from the moment of creation to its present state. When scientists investigate the heavens and the earth they discover their history is one of patience, punctuated by numerous moments of deliberate, delicate, and dynamic activity. Why would God take so long to create? Why not just "poof" everything into existence in the necessary form? To display the extent of one of His divine attributes: patience.

The Human Temptation

Further, this is a guard against human pride, thinking that we are as patient as our Creator. Engineers, artists, project managers, scientists, architects, and many others have projects that span the time of weeks, months, years, and even decades. They can be patient for that amount of time as they see the final product take shape. For those who's projects take months and years, the temptation to compare their patience of years and decades to God's patience of merely days (on the view that God created the universe in six 24-hour days) and see their patience as superior is overwhelming. However, God took billions of years of active involvement (not laziness, disinterest, or inefficency) in the creation of our universe and planet. This time span is orders of magnitude greater than what any human or even generations of humans could dedicate to any project. The comparison is simply not possible. The patience of God is beyond what we could even imagine, and He has given us proof of His patience in His acts of creation.

"Crowned With Glory And Honor"

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor."- Psalm 8:3-5
God was patient with the universe He created because its combination of attributes uniquely could accomplish numerous purposes He had for His creation, yet He was aggressive in actively working through the universe's laws and processes (which He put in place) to see the purposes fulfilled as soon as the universe that He created possibly could. One of those purposes is the redemption of as many of his Image Bearers as would freely choose to recognize their sinfulness and need of Jesus Christ. God patiently spent 13+ billion years preparing a world where we could come freely into a salvific relationship with Him; that is the value He places on us; that is what it means to be "crowned with glory and honor."

Conclusion

Given the cases from Scripture for the value God places on patience and humanity and for looking to God's acts (creation) to understand His purposes and attributes and the case from God's creation for a necessarily time-consuming and precisely detailed series of processes to create our world, not only has the challenge been defeated by mere possibility; it has been shown that the answer is more plausible, evidentially, than not within the Christian worldview. The more I investigate the history of the creation of our world, the more I see the patience, the love, and the wisdom of our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ. I believe the psalmist expressed this awe and wonder best:
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech; they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."- Psalm 19:1-4a

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11 comments:

  1. Question: We find dinosaurs with cancer in the fossil record. who is responsible for death and suffering if man came thousands of years later? Seems like you're trying to say that man is responsible, but that's not possible if he wasn't even created yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DustinMClayton,
      Thanks for that excellent question. To get some clarification, do you think that all suffering is necessarily evil?

      Delete
  2. Sir, the question isn't "is suffering evil". suffering and death are not evil, they are the byproduct of evil.

    Read Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned", Romans 8,etc. Creation is broken because of sin, not the other way around.

    -Didn't you hear, at the beginning He created them male and female? (Sexual differences do not come about for millions of years in theistic evolution.)
    -It is impossible to marry evolution (beyond variation/microevolution) and the Bible. Everything is backwards. The gap theory and the day age theory are poposterious and unsupportable.
    -God literally wrote six days on the 10 commandments. Jesus quoted Genesis as literal.
    -when you buy into millions of years and the isogesic nature of your proposal, you have to reshape the entire story of the Bible. The creation, the global flood, why we need a savior, who is responsible for death and suffering, so on and so forth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DustinMClayton,
      It sounds like you may want to investigate my positions a bit further before offering a critique of what you think my positions are. There are quite a few strawmen in that last reply. I recommend that you check out my Science and Faith page at the top of the blog. If you still have concerns with my actual views, please leave a comment on the applicable post.

      Delete
  3. You asked if suffering was evil and how that perrains to thr article and I answered appropriately. Being dismissive and telling me to read other materials is not necessary, it's actually evasive. I do not mean to be disrespectful, but you are writing an article explaining that God took millions of years to create and how that reflects His patience. This brings me back to my original question. Was there death and suffering before man's fall?

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  4. Dustin,
    I apologize. The answer you gave demonstrated several misunderstandings of my views, which I have addressed elsewhere. The articles I pointed you to are written by me, and I invited you to post further questions to those specific articles. I'm not being evasive, rather I am encouraging you to properly understand my views then ask questions on the appropriate posts. I affirm there was animal death before the fall. If you wish to challenge my biblical, theological, philosophical, and scientific reasons for holding such a view, I encourage you to post a comment to one of these articles so that other readers may see your challenges in the context of the appropriate articles:

    http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/cartoons-animal-death-and-theology.html
    http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/is-animal-death-really-evil.html
    http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2015/04/book-review-peril-in-paradise.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for your prompt reply. If you believe that death, cancer, disease, and suffering were established by God and were not the result of man's sin, you have made God responsible. This is why theistic evolutionary models fail and why they are so dangerous. No where in scripture is millions of years proposed, it is a quite obviously contrary to God's Word. Again I must ask you to explain Romans 5 and Romans 8 for clarity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please note that I am not a theistic evolutionist. If you are looking for a thorough answer to your question, please see this post:

      http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2015/04/book-review-peril-in-paradise.html

      I respectfully ask that if you have further questions regarding animal death before the Fall, please comment on that article or either of the other two I gave above.

      Delete
  6. Than you for sharing those links, I read each of them. They did explain your prespective, but failed to use supportive scriptures. I mentioned that God specifically names 6 days of creation in the 10 commandments and again says that when He mad them at the beginning they were male and female. I haven't heard a valid response to any of these arguments on this post or any other. It appears to me that you have your philosophical perspective from Hugh Ross and not the Word of God. That's why you are being so evasive, and failing to clarify any of your beliefs that are counter-scripture. GOD did not take millions of years to create. He was very clear in Genesis, Exodus,Romans, etc about our origin. You are placing death and suffering and disease on God, not mans sin. That's heritical. Suffering isn't evil, it's the byproduct of evil, i.e. man's sin. I do like and agree with many things on your blog, but this is so counter to thr clear teaching of the Bible that it disappoints me greatly.

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  7. "The ongoing process of building Reasons to Believe's (RTB) model for humanity's origin begins with identification of all relevant Bible passages that describe God's creative work in bringing humans into existence, as well as those passages that recount early human history. Once all relevant Scripture is collated, sound exegetical techniques help form the most plausible interpretations (although for some passages several plausible interpretations exist). Using the historical-grammatical method, the origins passages are examined side by side with other relevant passages. All passages that deal with humanity's creation can then be integrated to form a comprehensive picture. The biblical scenario for humanity's origin and spread is then recast in scientific terms."- Hugh Ross (from the book "Who Was Adam").

    This process applies to the entire RTB creation model. Here are two more posts that are important to understand:

    http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2014/06/mans-fallible-ideas-vs-gods-infallible.html
    http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/are-nature-and-scripture-compatible.html

    I would also recommend reading this one on what a heresy actually is. Once you have read it, if you still think the OEC view is heretical, please post a comment on that article about which essential of the faith you believe OEC necessarily denies and how you believe that denial is accomplished.

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  8. Third link for the above comment:
    https://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/zombies-of-christianity.html

    ReplyDelete

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