10/6/02, P20A

“His Handiwork”
Psalm 19: 1

"The heavens are declaring the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork."
Psalm 19: 1

World Communion Sunday, with the expectation of a shortened sermonette, is probably not the best time to open up such a broad and controversial topic such as the Creation of the world; however, our Psalter reading calls us to deal with this core doctrine of Christianity. We might observe that if God could not "fling the stars into space," He certainly could not make His presence real to us through our global participation in sacramental worship. Logically, if there is a God then He could have created this world; and likewise, if there is a God He can minister to our hearts in sacred worship. If not, then we may look somewhat foolish.

The Good News is that God is real! Not just because we say so, but because nearly everyone who has ever lived, and who is now alive, says it's so. Of course some folks also demand objective evidence and we can say with increasing confidence that, although God seems to have covered His tracks well in order to defy absolute proof, and to therefore require faith from us, there is increasing evidence that He is real and that He did step out on nothing and form the universe, and us.

If we could walk outside and look up into the sky and see Him, and perhaps hear a booming voice, we would not need a nickel's worth of faith to believe in Him; yet, that absolute proof would suddenly short-circuit the entire foundation of religious faith. The God who created us has established within us a need to experience Him through the subjective experience of faith. Indeed, the element of miniscule doubt keeps our freedom alive for we can still feel that we are not robots being shoved around by a fearsome force. Unknowing also keeps us guessing, and keeps up our interest. Those who constantly challenge the certainty of our faith help to keep our faith alive. Sunday School kids learn to almost take for granted a benevolent God of mercy and forgiveness; but, when they get to high school and hear other perspectives which include that God may not even exist and that He possibly did not create the world, then our children of faith are forced to dig into their faith system a little deeper. At least, that's the effect that the teaching of evolution in public schools had on me. Of course, in the 60's we also received, from many of our teachers, who were believers, the idea that God could have had a hand in creation. Most of us probably still believe that all of the theories should be presented in public school science classes, and in any open and fair discussion of creation, and that the longstanding ban on offering the viewpoint of religion is closed minded.

Although the Cobb County School Board has been the focus of the most recent media blitz, they are not the only school system that is grappling with the issue of how to teach the creation of the universe. It is a question that is sweeping the world. Did God design this wonderful planet, and its marvelous inhabitants, or did it just happen by random chance? Darwin was right in noticing that there is a remarkable evolutionary appearance in creation; however, he was wrong in jumping to the conclusion that this could have happened by random chance and the survival of the fittest. Science has shown that there has not been enough time on our relatively young planet for life to have evolved. Many scientists doubt if intricate aspects of the human body, such as hemoglobin, could have ever evolved by random.

There is a recent book out that contains articles by forty Ph.D. scientists and academics that explain why they believe in a Divine Creator. Their studies are based on: mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, medical research, and psychology. (On the Seventh Day, John F. Ashton, ed., Master Books, 2002) There are many sides of the issues of creation that calls for science teachers to mention the full spectrum of possibilities. Just as Charles Darwin noticed remarkable similarities between species in his studies on the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, so we can reasonably assume that when we find a mechanical object washed up on the beach, such as a camera, or computer, that some intelligent being engineered and built that object. Looking at humanity, it is reasonable to assume that there had to have been a Creator.

I see very little contradiction between Creationism and Evolution. It seems to me that God's creative power has utilized a process that we have named evolution to bring us to where we are today. The days of the six day creation story in Genesis are not twenty-four hour days in the Hebrew language, but are epochs, long periods of time that could have lasted for millions of years. Many of the theories of secular evolution agree with the beautiful Biblical account of creation, as found in the first book of our Bible, and as expressed so beautifully by the Psalmist in today's lection. Some of my friends say that an omniscient God could have created the world in just six days, 144 hours, and He could have, but scientific measurements, such as carbon dating and astronomy, tend to point toward vast geological ages during which Divine Creation occurred. For example, my interest in the history of writing has led me to understand that there were intelligent humans who painted hieroglyphic stories on cave walls 35,000 years ago. Our family saw some of these cave paintings in New Mexico. Independently of each other the Egyptians and Incas developed alphabets, seven thousand years ago, based on sign language. Many of us have touched the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum. Our Old Testament has given the world the beautiful story of Creation, which originally was told by pre-scientific humans about all that they could comprehend, just a few thousand years ago. Yet, even with our great advancements, we could not understand the facts even if God were to reveal them to us today. The farther out into space we peek, and the more closely we are able to understand microscope slides, the more questions we seem to have.

I hope it does not sound like too much of an oversimplification to remind ourselves that only in Glory will we be able to understand Divine Mysteries completely. Our kneeling at the Lord's Table this morning might be as close to comprehending His Handiwork that we will ever get to on this side of heaven. The Spirit says Come!

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

10/6/02, P20A