ON CREATION OF THE WORLD
A French scientist was traveling in the desert of North Africa and sat outside his tent in the cool of evening, talking with his young Bedouin guide about religion. "Nobody," said the Frenchman, "Can know for certain that there is a God."
The lad pointed to a smooth stretch of sand across which went a track of footprints. "When I see those footprints in the sand", he said, " I know for certain that some man has passed this way."
He pointed to the fading colors of a glorious sunset in the west, and then overhead to the dark blue sky in which great stars were appearing one by one. "And when I see the sun, moon, and the starry heavens in their beauty, I know for certain that The Creator has passed this way. They are the footprints of Allah." The Bedouin was right, we can know, even without revelation, that God exists, and that the world is the work of His Hands.
The very first pages of the Bible tell us about the creation of the world. That God, at the beginning of time, created heaven and earth. Earth was still an empty waste, and darkness hung over the deep; but already over its waters, brooded the Spirit of God.
God said, "Let there be light," and the light began. God saw the light and found it to be good, etc. (Gen. Chapters I and II)
That is the simple, brief, but beautiful revelation of the creation of the world. Harnack, a German rationalist, who spent years studying the first Chapter of the Bible, says that the account in its majesty and simplicity is not unworthy of God.
There are some really great problems in the account of creation; e.g. there is the question of evolution which will be treated in a later sermon. There is the problem of explaining how light was created on the first day and yet the sun, moon, and stars were not created until the fourth day. Biblical scholars have mulled over these questions for centuries.
Moses is the author of the first five books of the Bible. His account is a popular narrative and not a technical, scientific textbook. The purpose of the sacred writer was not to teach the physical sciences but the truths necessary for salvation. The Bible is a book of religion, not a textbook of science. Its main purpose is, "TO TEACH US HOW TO GO TO HEAVEN AND NOT HOW THE HEAVENS GO."
If Moses had taught abstract science, the Jews would not have understood him. Supposing that Moses had written the story of creation in the language of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and of what we know about the atom, the Jews would have sarcastically said, "These men are full of new wine," and with one gesture would have rejected the entire Bible. Suppose a railway timetable – to take a parallel case – were written in the language of the Observatory, of what use would it have been to ordinary man waiting for a train?
The account of Moses sets up a negative guiding principle for the scientist. All that can be justly demanded is that the scientist refrain from contradicting the following truths of faith: that God created all things out of nothing, that God created in the beginning of time, that God is the Sole Creator of the universe, and that He created all things good. The scientist then may not defend such propositions as the following: matter is eternal; matter and energy are the sole principles of the universe; the world originated by mere chance. In all other scientific matters, he holds such conclusions as the facts warrant.
The ancient Hebrews had a saying: "God spoke ten times and the world was created." Strictly speaking, to create means to make out of nothing. In the words of that noble Machabean mother who saw her sons killed before her very eyes: "I know not how you were formed in my womb; for I neither gave you breath, nor soul, nor life, neither did I frame the limbs of each one of you. But the Creator of the world, that formed the nativity of man and that found out the origin of all. Look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them, and consider that God made them out of nothing, and mankind also."
The practical spiritual lesson for us to draw from the story of the creation of the world is that we, too, are creatures of God, and we are beings of His infinite creative genius, and thus, we are utterly dependent upon Him and that, therefore; we owe Him our last ounce of love, devotion, and gratitude.