Christian Theology: God


People have wondered about God since time began.  Our earliest art is 15,000 years old, and depicts the worship of animals and the gods.  No society in history has been without religion.  Atheism is a recent phenomenon and a difficult position to defend.  We must search every possible sphere where God could exist, and then claim with confidence that he does not.  Few of us are bold, or so omniscient.

While the vast majority of the human race believes in the existence of God or gods, we differ widely in defining the character of deity.  Who is God?  What difference does his existence make in our lives today?

How do we know that God exists?

Every child asks the question: where did God come from?  Who hasn't stared at the clouds by day or the stars by night and wondered what lies beyond.  Where did the world come from?  What lies beyond the incomprehensibly vast universe?  If there is a God, who made him?  If someone made him, how can God be God?

If creation, a Creator

The most popular and commonsense answer to the question of God's existence is to suggest that creation requires a Creator.  If there is no God, where did the universe come from?  We all experience something called "causality"—for every effect, there seems to be a prior cause.  The paper you're reading is the result of the typing I'm doing right now.  If something exists, someone or something else caused its existence.  Who or what, then, caused the world?

This approach is called the cosmological argument for God's existence, as it works from the cosmos to its cause.  Aristotle was among the first to argue that motion implies a mover, causation a First Cause.  In the Middle Ages, the great Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas used this logic to explain and defend belief in the God of the Bible.  Stated in contemporary terms, if the universe began as a Big Bang, who caused the Bang?  If life began as a cell floating in a pool of water, where did the cell and water come from?  If there is a cosmos, there must be a Creator.

Not everyone is convinced, however.  Some think that the universe works as a cycle, from Big Bang to collapse to another Big Bang, and so on.  Others say that it has always been what it is now, no God required.  Some argue with the logic of this approach: if everything which exists requires a cause, and God exists, he requires a cause.  But if someone or something made God, who made that someone or something?  And the argument goes on.

Note as well that arguing from creation to Creator doesn't tell us much about the character of that creator.  He/she/them/it may be impersonal or personal, benevolent or cruel.  You could look at a beautiful sunset and think of God as beautiful, or you could travel to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and think of him as cruel.  This approach certainly does not prove that Jesus is the Son of God, or that the Bible is his word.  But for many people, the existence of the cosmos is at least strong evidence for the existence of a Creator.

From design to designer

If you kicked over a rock in the street, you'd not be surprised at such a random occurrence.  If you stepped on a watch, however, you'd assume the existence of a watchmaker.  You would not believe that the hands, gears, face, and strap all happened to fall together at the same place and time.  Isn't the world infinitely more designed than a watch?

A second way to argue for God's existence is to reason from the design we find in the world to a Designer.  This is the teleological approach, from the Greek word "telos" for "end" or "design."  Illustrations exist all across the created order.  For instance, to spell "collagen" (a protein in your body) requires only that you organize all eight letters in the right order.  To create collagen, on the other hand, requires that you organize 1,055 amino acids in the proper order.  Such an event occurs spontaneously in nature, but the odds of its random occurrence are one in ten followed by 259 zeroes, a number larger than the amount of atoms in the universe.  In the face of such design, isn't it plausible to assume a Designer?

Again, not everyone is convinced.  Some people see Darwinian evolution as explaining the complexity of the world--survival of the fittest required that organisms adapt, making them more complex as their circumstances demanded.  And we have to admit that this approach does not tell us much about the nature of the Designer--is he as responsible for hurricanes as for collagen?

From morals to morality

Where did you get your sense of right and wrong?  From your parents, or your church, or your society, you say.  Where did they get theirs?  And so on, and so on.  At the beginning of the process, there must have been a moral God who created the morality we see every day in life.

This is the third argument for God's existence.  It comes closer to the God of the Bible, in that it tells us something about the character of the God whose existence we are trying to prove.  But critics still aren't convinced.  Some argue that morality is the result of evolution, as people and groups learned that survival is enhanced by ethical behavior.  Others question our logic: just because "God" creates within us a sense of morality is no guarantee that the deity possesses such character personally, or that this deity is subject to it.  And people differ so widely in their moral standards that it is difficult to argue for a single cause.

And so, once again we find evidence for God's existence, but not proof.

From perfection to existence

The fourth argument for God's existence is a real puzzler.  It is based on something called a "syllogism," a logical progression which works from major premise and minor premise to conclusion.  For example, if your major premise is that it is raining outside, and your minor premise is that you are standing outside, your conclusion is that you're getting wet.

Now let's apply this approach to God.  Major premise: God is perfect.  By common consensus, he/she/it must be the greatest being which can be conceived, or else something or someone else is greater than God.

Minor premise: perfection requires existence.  Many attributes are necessary to divine perfection: love, power, omniscience, and so on.  Among all these attributes existence is required as well.  Otherwise he is missing an attribute, and is not perfect.

Conclusion: God exists.  This rational approach is known as the ontological argument, from the Greek word for "being."  It has been much debated in the centuries since it was first developed.  It may prove God's existence, or it may prove nothing at all.  At the very least it shows that the concept of God's existence possesses logical and rational merit.

Assuming that God exists

How does the Bible argue for the existence of God?  It doesn't: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen 1:1).  Nowhere does Scripture come close to abstract, rational argumentation for God's existence.  God's word assumes that its readers accept the fact that God is.

This is understandable.  The question in the biblical era was not if there is a God, but which God(s) we should serve.  Polytheism (belief in many gods) was the norm, accepting the existence of territorial gods ruling various elements and/or geographies.  It would have been a foolish waste of effort to argue for God's existence in a world which assumed him in every experience of life.

What if you don't know

"Agnosticism" doesn't deny the existence of God as does atheism.  Rather, this approach states either that we cannot know if he exists (called "hard" agnosticism) or that the person doesn't know if he exists ("soft" agnosticism).  The latter is subjective; the former is objective.  Hard agnosticism argues that we cannot know of God's existence in the same way that we cannot know if life exists on a planet beyond our sight.  This would perhaps be true if he did not make himself known to us.  Christianity is all about the claim that he did.

Note that agnostics usually live as if they were atheists.  I've never known people who aren't sure about God's existence to go to church anyway, worship, read the Bible, or pray much.  Agnostics are most often practical atheists.

So where did God come from?  He is self-caused and self-existing, or else whatever "made" him is more God than he is.  How do we know he exists?  In the same way we know the sun exists on a cloudy day.  Not because we see it, but because we see everything else in its light.  We know that God exists because he has made himself known to us, in his word and ultimately in his Son.

In the meanwhile, it shouldn't trouble us that we cannot prove his existence.  Your relationship with God, like every other relationship, requires a commitment which transcends the evidence.  If you wait until you're sure you should go on a date with someone, you'll never go on that date.  If you wait until you're sure you should attend a certain college, you'll never go to college.  If my wife and I waited until we were sure we would be good parents, we'd never have had our sons.

Of course, in relational decisions it's good to examine the evidence.  You don't want to go to a college which doesn't have your major, or take a job you know you'll hate.  We've examined the evidence for God's existence from creation, design, morality, and logic, and found it to be very strong.  But you must then step beyond evidence into experience.  When you do, your experience will validate your commitment.

In other words, the best way to know if God exists is to meet him for yourself.

What is God like?

We can know what God is like because he has revealed himself to us, in his world and in his word.  You can learn about a painter from her painting.  In the same way, the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork (Psalm 19:1).

Learning from the world

God's creation teaches us that he is majestic, even omnipotent.  For instance, consider the size of the universe visible to our telescopes from Earth.  To cross it, you would need to travel on a spaceship moving at the speed of light (186,232 miles per second) for 4.5 billion years.  And yet the Bible says that God measures all of that with the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40:12).  Now, what's your problem?

From creation we learn that God is also interested in the smallest details of life.  Consider the period at the end of the last sentence--it would contain 7.5 trillion carbon atoms (that's 7,500,000,000,000).  If he cares about the sparrows, doesn't he care about you (Matthew 6:26)?

And from the world we learn that God values diversity.  Have you ever met a person who looks exactly like you?  Even identical twins have differences which are obvious to their family and close friends.  There are 17,500 different species of orchids in the world, and 13 species of fruit flies.  God made you as you are, and loves your uniqueness.

Learning from the word

The Bible tells us more about the nature and character of God than a brief introduction to theology could possibly explore, but we can at least survey the essential facts.  Theologians speak of God as transcendent and immanent.  Transcendence refers to the fact that he cannot be described fully by human concepts.  He is self-sufficient and exists apart from his creation.  All our efforts to understand and describe him will be inadequate and insufficient.

In fact, we must usually use analogies which are limited at best.  For instance, we say that God is all-knowing, but we have no real concept of what his infinite intelligence must be like.  We say that he is "love," but we have no human experience of perfect love.  We describe him as a Father, but must never attribute the failings of human fathers to him.

The good news is that this transcendent Deity is also immanent, personally present and related to his creation.  He has revealed himself to us through his word in ways we cannot understand fully but can nonetheless accept and trust.  The following is a brief list of these attributes.

God is alive, the living God (Exodus 3:14).  His life is eternal, different from that of every other living being.  His life does not depend on anything or anyone outside himself.

He is Spirit (John 4:24).  The Hebrew ru'ach means "breath," "wind," and "the life principle in a human being."  The Greek pneuma means "life-giving power."  God as Spirit is the source of all life.

God is Person, acting in all ways as a person does.  He has personality and will, and makes decisions.  He is self-determining in all ways, dependent upon nothing in his creation.

God is eternal (Genesis 1:1; Exodus 3:14; Hebrews 13:8; John 1:1).  He has existed before time began, and he will exist after time ends.  C. S. Lewis says that if we think of time as a line on a page, we must think of God as the page.

God is holy (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8).  "Holy" means "separate" or "distinct."  He is different from all others, perfect in every way (Mathew 5:48).

He is love (1 John 4:8).  He loves unconditionally and fully, a fact proven in the gift of his Son for us (John 3:16).  His love is steadfast and unwavering (Deuteronomy 7:9).

God is righteous, and can do only what is right (Psalm 19:7-9; Jeremiah 9:24; Genesis 18:25).  You can trust him to act always with integrity.

God is just and punishes sin.  The wages of all sin is death (Romans 6:23), for sin will be punished by the holy Lord (Deut. 7:10; Psalm 58:11; Rom. 12:19).

He always tells the truth (1 Samuel 15:29) and never lies (Titus 1:2).  His word is always trustworthy and true (John 17:17, 19).

God is faithful to his people in all ways (1 Thessalonians 5:24; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 1:18-22; 2 Timothy 2:13; 1 Peter 4:19).

God acts in grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), offering his love to all who will receive it (Exodus 34:6).  He wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and none to perish (2 Peter 3:9).

What about other gods?

Do these attributes of God make him different from the gods of other religions?  What about the Muslim view of God?  How do Buddhists and Hindus see the biblical God?  What are the similarities and differences?

While this discussion would fill a semester-long world religions course, we can at least discuss the basics.  Monotheism, belief in one true God, is unusual in the history of religion.  Polytheism (many gods) is much more common, as ancient people typically associated a deity with a particular element or event in the world.  They identified the "gods" of the sun and moon, the weather, the land and sea, and so on.  The declaration that there is only one God was radical and history-making (Deuteronomy 6:4).

The so-called Abrahamic faiths are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  All three are descendants from Abraham in various ways: Abraham was the father of Isaac and the Jewish people, from whom came Christianity; and he was the father of Ishmael, through whom Muslims trace their roots.  These are the three great monotheistic faiths of human history.  All agree that there is only one God, and that he is an eternal Person.

Judaism would agree with our list of attributes for God, and would differ only when we claim that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God and his fullest revelation.  Every attribute of God the Father taught in the New Testament can be found in the Old Testament as well.

Islam agrees that God is one, and that he acts in his creation and reveals himself to us.  Muslims believe that Jews and Christians corrupted his earlier revelation, so he had to give his word to us again, this time through the prophet Mohammed (A.D. 570-632).  The result was the Qur'an (literally "the Reading").

Muslims emphasize the sovereignty and other-ness of God, and the fact that his will must always be done.  "Allah wills it" is a common phrase in Islam.  ("Allah" is simply the Arabic name for "God," and is not used uniquely by Muslims.  For instance, Arab Christians use this word for the Christian God as well.)

Hindus and Buddhists do not share our belief in one transcendent, personal God.  Hindus recognize thousands of gods, local deities who preside over various elements and events, but no all-encompassing Lord.  Buddhists do not venerate "God" as such, but seek enlightenment ("Nirvana") through union with the universe.  (Some Buddhists now see the Buddha as a divine figure, though he denied the existence of a personal deity.)

The basic difference between Christianity and the other religions of the world is the concept of grace.  As we will see in the chapter on Christology (doctrine of Christ), religions are our attempt to come up to God, enlightenment, Nirvana, or whatever spiritual goal we seek to fulfill.  Muslims obey the Qur'an; Jews keep the Torah (the Law); Buddhists live by the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path; Hindus practice various ascetic disciplines.  Each seeks through human effort to climb to the divine or eternal.

Christianity is God coming down to us.  Because of our sin, we could not get to him (Romans 3:23; 6:23), so he came to us.  His perfect, eternal Son became one of us so we could be one with him.  The difference between Christianity and the world religions is the difference between grace and grades, between divine forgiveness and human effort.

Can we believe in miracles today?

Most dictionaries consider a "miracle" to be an event or action which apparently contradicts scientific laws as we understand them.  Sometimes we experience a miracle of coincidence, where highly improbable but not impossible events occur (a friend calls you unexpectedly, just when you most needed to hear from her).  Other miracles are actual violation of physical laws (a friend calls you on a telephone which is disconnected).

Both kinds occurred often in the biblical record.  Moses, Joshua, Samson, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Peter, and Paul all experienced and initiated them.  And Jesus' miracles were crucial to his ministry.  They validated his Messiahship (Mt 11:4-5), showed that he was from God (Jn 5:36; 14:11), and were intended to lead to saving faith (Jn 20:30-31).

Yet miracles themselves may not convince those who witness them (cf. Jn 15:24; Lk 16:31).  At issue is our worldview.  As J. S. Mill said in 1843, "If we do not already believe in supernatural agencies, no miracle can prove to us their existence."  Either we didn't see what we thought we saw, or there's another explanation than the miraculous.  Many have taken such skeptical positions.

Benedict Spinoza (died 1677) argued that it is impossible for natural laws to be changed.  If an event appears to be a miracle, this is only because we have not yet found the natural explanation.  Isaac Newton agreed that time and space have an absolute fixed character, so that miracles by definition are impossible.  David Hume added that we cannot prove any cause and effect, much less the cause of so-called miracles.  He believed that we should test all reported events in the light of our personal experience.  If you have not experienced the miraculous, you cannot trust the testimony of another to its veracity.

Ernst Troelsch, the famous historian, took Hume's position a step further: no writer of history should include a reported experience which does not occur today.  If people no longer walk on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus didn't, either.  Karl Marx added the conviction that miracles are supernaturalistic wishes, nothing more.

You may be surprised to find that some Christians are likewise skeptical of the miraculous, though for different reasons.  Some believe that miracles ended with the early church.  Others maintain that miracles no longer occur, as the need for them in establishing revelation is now past.

The logic of the miraculous

Are there answers to the above skeptics?  Absolutely.  Most critics decide that the miraculous is by definition impossible, though they have no empirical or rational reasons to do so.  Many point to their own lack of experience with miracles as reason to debunk the category itself.  But could a man living in a warm climate believe in ice?  Should we trust the experience of a person who denies that such experience is possible?

Science works with probability, not absolute logical proof.  Those who seek incontrovertible evidence for the miraculous demand a standard they could not fulfill with their own truth claims.  For instance, when experimenters measure light in one way, they determine that it travels as waves; measured in other ways, it appears to travel as particles.  Both cannot be true, but neither can be disproved or proved.  Niels Bohr called this phenomenon the "principle of complementarity."  Aristotle would call it a contradiction.

Newton saw the universe as a machine incapable of behavior outside the parameters of natural laws.  After Einstein, this analytical era in science has come to an end.  We now know that to observe or measure something is to alter it.  Predictability is less possible, and antisupernaturalistic presuppositions are less defensible.  Even Albert Einstein stated, "I think of the comprehensibility of the world as a miracle."

It all comes to worldview.  If God created and designed the universe, he possesses the freedom to alter it as he wishes.  He may act according to "laws" we discern within its operations, or he may not.  What is a miracle to us is not to him.  The laptop on which I am writing these words obeys none of the laws within which my father's manual typewriter operated.  But its "miraculous" abilities are nonetheless obvious.


How should we judge a claim to the miraculous today?  First, we accept the biblical worldview with its insistence that God created all that exists and is free to act within his creation as he pleases.  Second, we determine that the event in question cannot be explained on the basis of natural causes alone.  Third, we test the reliability of the sources claiming that a miracle has occurred (see Hume's standards, question #17).

Fourth, we use probability theory: given the evidence at hand, is it more probable on objective grounds that a miracle has occurred, or that it has not?  Finally, we approach faith as a personal relationship.  All relationships must be experienced to be "proven," and are self-validating.  You cannot explain a sunset to a blind person.  Or your salvation to someone who refuses the faith.  To either, such is a miracle.  And they're right.

What about sovereignty and freedom?

One of the most common questions people ask about the doctrine of God has to do with his sovereignty and our freedom.  If God knows the future, are we free to choose?  Does he determine who goes to heaven and who goes to hell?

Again, this is a much larger issue than we have space to address fully, but we can at least sketch the options.  "Calvinism" (from John Calvin, a 16th century reformer) typically teaches that God determines who will be saved (the "elect") and who will be lost.  Calvinists focus on passages such as John 15:16, "You did not choose me, but I chose you" and Romans 9:18, "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."  Presbyterians come from this theological tradition.

"Arminianism" (from Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch pastor of the 16th and 17th centuries) emphasizes the freedom of humanity and the inclusive love of God.  They point to 2 Peter 3:9, which says that God "is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance," and 1 Timothy 2:4, which says that God "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."  Methodists are descendants of this theological perspective.

Three facts may help us understand this issue better.  One: foreknowledge is not the same thing as determination.  The fact that God knows the future doesn't mean that he always chooses it.  Someone might be watching you read these words right now, but they probably didn't make you read them.  The fact that God is watching you read this paper doesn't mean that he made you pick it up.  God is not bound by time, so that he can watch you eat breakfast tomorrow in what we call "today," but that doesn't mean that he chose your cereal.

Two: divine sovereignty and human freedom are both taught in Scripture.  When we find apparently contradictory facts in the Bible, such as the divinity and humanity of Jesus or the fact that God is three and one, we must accept both statements as true.  We cannot reconcile them in our finite, fallen minds, but that fact makes them no less true or valuable.

Three: the Bible is practical, not speculative.  It doesn't tell us everything we would like to know, but everything we must.  It doesn't tell us what happened to the dinosaurs, or how old the earth is.  It doesn't resolve the logical dilemma of sovereignty and freedom, but it does tell us to serve our sovereign God with our every decision and action.  The practical consequence of the debate is that we must each choose to follow Jesus today.

What should we believe about creation?

It may surprise you to know that 90% of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive right now.  Around 400 B.C., Hippocrates pioneered the belief that physical diseases have natural causes, and looked for their solutions not in the pagan religions of the day but in approaches which birthed the "science" of medicine.  But the Western world would wait nearly 20 centuries for Leonardo da Vinci and Nicolaus Copernicus to break significant new ground in scientific investigation.  Francis Bacon (died 1626) and his laws of investigation are considered by many to herald the beginning of what is now known as the "scientific movement."

As a result, the "scientific" world view did not exist when the Christian movement began.  We may feel a scientific need to know what happened to the dinosaurs, but those in the biblical era did not.  No conflict between science and faith was possible.

To the contrary, Christianity did more to prepare for the later scientific revolution than any other religious world view.  In the first century, conventional wisdom was highly mythological and superstitious.  No one would think to investigate the makeup of water, for instance, because the gods could change its composition tomorrow.  The science we call geography was risky, as we don't want to anger the deities responsible for their respective land areas.  The gospel was incredible good news that the world is created and ordered by a benevolent God.

Greek rationalism and Christian confidence in an ordered creation would eventually make the scientific movement possible.  In the medieval era, the Church dominated the progress of knowledge, arguing for an earth-centered view of the universe which made the Church central.  We are all familiar with the tragic rejection of Galileo's theories which followed.  Under Newton's influence, "scientists" began to see the universe as a machine governed by laws of mechanistic causality.  God was no longer needed to explain the laws of physical experience.  When Darwin pioneered evolutionary theory, a Creator became unnecessary for explaining the origins of life as we know it.  The result was a heightened dualism between science and faith, reason and religion.

Fortunately, dynamics within the science/faith relationship have changed dramatically in recent generations.  Einstein's theories of relativity showed the universe to be far less mechanistic and predictable than Newton thought.  Problems with Darwin's assumptions (see question #21) made atheistic evolution less tenable.

And Christians have increasingly accepted the fact that the Bible was not intended to be a science textbook.  While we believe that God's word speaks with authority and truth to every subject it addresses, we also know that it was not written to define the age of the earth or size of the universe.  It tells us what we need to know to follow Jesus, not all we would like to know about the world he created.  So long as scientific declarations do not contradict intentional biblical truth, there can be no conflict between the two.  All truth is indeed God's truth.

A biblical approach to creation

Let's apply this mindset to the question of creation.  What did the biblical authors actually tell us about our origins?  First, God created all that is (Gen 1:1) and pronounced it good (v. 31).  Second, he created life in the sea and birds in the air (vs. 20-21), living creatures on land (v. 24) and mankind in his image to "rule" all the life he created (v. 26).

Third, God created the universe in six "days," the Hebrew word for a defined period of time.  These were not necessarily 24-hour days marked by sunrise and sunset.  In fact, while "there was evening, and there was morning" each "day," God didn't create the sun and the moon until the fourth "day."  Some of the ancient rabbis thought Genesis meant that God created the universe in six literal days; others believed he created in six acts with undetermined periods of time between them; still others argued that he created in six "eons" or "ages."  Genesis doesn't specify, because the answer is of no practical significance to our lives.

When did he create the universe?  Again, Genesis doesn't say.  If I could tell you precisely how old the universe is, would such information change your life today?  However, some have told us more than the Bible says.  For instance, in the 1650s, an Irish archbishop named James Ussher added up the biblical genealogies and decided that God made the world in the year 4004 B.C.  His dating system was printed in the margin of the first Scofield Study Bible (published in 1909), so that generations of Bible students believed the Bible "teaches" that the world is 6,000 years old.

While current geological estimates place our planet at 4.5 billion years of age, "young earth" theorists, influenced by biblical genealogies and other interpretations, aren't so sure.  Some use "Flood Geology" to claim that the pressures caused by Noah's flood made the earth appear far older than it is.  Others claim that God created the universe six to ten millenia ago, but made the world to appear older than it is.  Still others argue for a "gap" between Genesis 1:1 (when God first made the universe) and verse 2 (when he remade it, presumably after Satan's "fall," a few millenia ago).  None of these theories are necessitated by the biblical data.


What should we believe about creation?  That God did it.  How long ago?  In how many days?  Apparently we don't need to know, or we would.  His word tells us all that is essential for living in his will.  Where it is silent, it is best if we take the hint.

What about evolution?

Several pejoratives are popular these days.  "Liberal," for instance, means by definition to be tolerant or generous.  But in Christian theology, it usually depreciates a person's belief in biblical authority or lack thereof.  "Secular" means to be connected with the world.  Given that God called his creation "very good" (Gen 1:31), this shouldn't be a bad thing.  But it is.  And "evolutionist," from a word meaning to develop, has itself evolved to the top (or bottom) of things not to be.  Why is this?  Why does the subject matter?

Evolutionary problems

Charles Darwin's evolutionary principles are really very simple: creatures procreate more offspring than can survive; this offspring possesses enormous variety; there is a struggle for existence due to overpopulation; because of their variety, some of the offspring are more fit for survival than others; these capacities for survival become naturally selected and inherited.

As an example, a hundred years ago there were small-winged moths and large-winged moths in England.  The small-winged moths couldn't fly above the pollution generated by the factories of the day, so they died out.  The large-winged moths could, and survived.  Today there are only large-winged moths in England.  Here we find "microevolution" at work—adaptation within a biological set, genus, or species.  People are taller and less hairy than they used to be.  Horses are larger; most dogs are smaller.  Nothing in the Bible teaches that God didn't make the world so that it would adapt to its changing environment.

The difficulty arises when Darwin's principles are applied across biblical categories—from apes to people, fish to birds, and so on.  This is called "macroevolution."  And it leads to problems, both with the evidence and with Scripture.

The fossil record contains no so-called "missing links" from one biblical category to another.  The old Neanderthal Man, Piltdown Man, and so on are no longer representative of the best theories.  Darwin said the fossil record would demonstrate increasingly simple organisms as we move backward in time, but it does not.  Paleontological evidence shows us adaptation within biblical categories, but not across them.  Advocates for macroevolution now posit "spontaneous mutatory jumps" across the biblical categories, but without empirical evidence for their assumptions.  Such a theory is of course contrary to the clear record of Genesis.  The biblical accounts of creation are not written as myths or legends or symbols, but as straight-forward narrative (see question #7).

It is clear that both macroevolution and biblical creationism are built on faith principles.  I believe that both God's revelation and the best empirical evidence confirm the fact that God created life as Genesis says he did.  He made birds, and fish, and us.

You didn't happen to be

So know this: you are here on purpose.  You are not an accident, or the coincidence of random chaos.  God made you, intentionally, for a reason.

You are the greatest miracle you know.  Your body consists of 206 bones, wrapped with 650 muscles and seven miles of nerve fibers.  Your eyes possess 100 million receptors, and your ears 24,000 fibers.  Your heart beats 36,000,000 times every year and sends blood pumping through more than 60,000 miles of veins, arteries, and tubing.

Your brain contains 13,000,000,000 nerve cells.  Picture the possible number of interconnections in your brain this way: the number of atoms in the universe is 1 followed by 100 zeroes.  The number of different patterns possible in your brain is 1 followed by over 800 zeros.  And your unconscious brain database, that which your unconscious brain knows and stores, outweighs your conscious brain on an order exceeding 10 million to one.  You literally cannot imagine how remarkable you are.

Now glance at the matter and energy God has made.  Imagine a wall with hundreds of dials.  Each must be at exactly the right setting for carbon-based life to emerge in a suburb of the Milky Way.  If the cosmic expansion of the universe had first been a fraction less, it would have imploded billions of years ago; a fraction more intense, and galaxies could not have formed.  The odds of our universe's existence and design occurring by random chance would not be accepted by any gambler, anywhere on earth.

Picture a comet.  Its vapor trail can be more than 10,000 miles long. But capture and bottle that "tail," and you discover that the amount of vapor actually present in your bottle is less than one cubic inch of space.  Imagine traveling across the sky at the speed of light.  You would fly for 4.5 billion years to reach the edges of the universe we can see through telescopes today.  Yet the Bible says that God measures all of that with the palm of his hand (Is 40:12).  The creation reveals a remarkable Creator.


President Theodore Roosevelt and his good friend, the naturalist William Beebe, would on occasion stay at Roosevelt's family home.  They would go out on its lawn at night.  They would search the skies until they found the faint spot of light behind the lower lefthand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus.  Then they would remember together the words:

    That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda.

    It is as large as our Milky Way.

    It is one of a hundred million galaxies.

    It consists of one hundred billion suns,

    Each larger than our sun.

Then President Roosevelt would grin at Mr. Beebe and say, "Now I think we are small enough.  Let's go to bed."  Are we small enough to go to God?