Certain "progressive creationists" have been accusing me of believing that the universe never had a beginning—that time, space, and matter have always existed in some form.
That is not only wrong—it is false! It can't be merely a misinterpretation of something I have written. It can hardly be anything but a deliberate misrepresentation. I have stressed repeatedly—in numerous books and articles—the basic truth that Genesis 1:1 is the divine record of the absolute beginning of time, space, and matter.
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Time itself, according to this most profound (yet simple) of all declarations, had a beginning. Space (i.e., "the heaven") and matter ("the earth") began simultaneously with time. Before that beginning, there was nothing—that is, nothing except God!
At this point, human reason must defer completely to faith in God. The skeptical philosopher may feign intellectual curiosity in asking the believer: "But who made God?" A naïve child can ask the same question, of course. We cannot comprehend with our minds the concept of an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, God, but there is certainly no better answer to the problem, and we can comprehend it intuitively with our hearts.
Such a God is an adequate uncaused First Cause to explain the existence of the universe; but nothing else is. By the universal scientific principle of cause-and-effect, the existence of personalities and moral values in the universe requires a Personal, Moral Being as their Cause. That's God!
Not only did God create the universe of time, space, and matter, He did it instantaneously, by His own omnipotence and spoken will. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. . . . For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast" (Psalm 33:6,9).
Note also God's statement to the prophet Isaiah. "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together" (Isaiah 48:13). There was no gradual evolution of the stars and galaxies, nor of the solar system and its planets. They all stood up together when God spoke them into being. God did extend His many creative works over a six-day period. But each time He spoke, the commanded action followed immediately. For example, "God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit . . . and it was so" (Genesis 1:11).
The reason His work was spread over six days was to serve as a pattern for man's work week later on. This definitive truth was actually placed in His Ten Commandments, written in stone directly by God Himself. "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: . . . . For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is" (Exodus 20:9,11). All Ten Commandments, including this, were on "tables of stone, written with the finger of God" (Exodus 31:18). It is dangerously presumptive for anyone—including Christian progressive creationists—to claim that these plain words really mean that God was creating everything during billions of years and therefore we should work six days out of seven! That would be an obvious non sequitur.
But this is just what many such Christians are at least implying—especially those educated at Harvard Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary, or many other such American and European temples to the unknown God. They may speak knowingly about parallel cosmogonies on the Sumerian tablets and so forth, but the fact is that the Genesis record was given by divine inspiration, most likely through the antediluvian patriarchs and then eventually compiled and edited by Moses into its present form. It thus precedes all these Near-Eastern cosmogonic myths, which are at best mere corruptions of the straightforward, original, true account in Genesis.
The latter was indirectly confirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ, who, as Creator, was there when it happened! Note especially Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9; Luke 17:26-27; also II Peter 3:4-6.
Not only were all things created by divine fiat, essentially instantaneously, they were also pronounced by God, after it was all completed, to be "very good" (Genesis 1:31). Therefore, there can be no fossil remnants of that creation period which speak of suffering and death.
This is surely the greatest heresy of progressive creationism. To accept the geological ages with their multi-billion year testimony (all the fossils, which are used to identify the various ages, speak eloquently of suffering and death) is in effect accusing God of wanton cruelty. It even compromises the gospel, which requires the substitutionary suffering and death of Christ as the awful wages of sin.
I am not charging individual progressive creationists with heresy, of course. One can perhaps sincerely (though unjustifiably) interpret the creation days to be ages. But the geological ages with their billions of fossils are a problem! To accuse God of causing all this long before sin entered the world—that's something that seems very close to heresy, if not blasphemy. "By man came death" (I Corinthians 15:21), the Bible says.
In any case, I trust the above repetition of many previous expositions of mine will make it very clear that I believe (along with most other Biblical literalists) that the universe has not existed forever. It had a wonderful beginning, created instantaneously by the omnipotent God several thousand years ago.
There are some evolutionists who do believe in an infinitely old universe, holding usually to some form of the steady state theory, and I have referred to them occasionally, not as believers in creation but as opponents of the big bang theory. The latter concept is held by most evolutionists and, unfortunately, accepted also by many progressive creationists, who think that Genesis 1:1 refers to the assumed big bang.
It does not, of course. Only a very small minority of cosmologists and astrophysicists believe in God at all. Most physicists and cosmologists now believe that the primeval space-time universe evolved via a quantum fluctuation out of nothing. As far as matter is concerned, however, they are still at a loss as to what to believe about that.
Where did matter come from? . . . The best theories of the origin of the universe still fail to explain how it managed not to turn up empty.1
As far as the origin of life is concerned, they haven't a clue there either.
Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organised themselves into the first living cell.2
The hope that life may have evolved somewhere else than on Earth has spawned a comprehensive, but futile, search by radio telescopes.
None of these searches has detected a bona fide signal from an E.T. intelligence.3
Evolutionists seem pathetically eager to find some way of accounting for the universe and its life forms without resorting to God and creation. But they must inevitably fail, and some at least sense that they will fail.
In our attempts to understand the nature of the universe, theorists must often admit to reaching a possible dead end—a question that we may never satisfactorily answer.4
It is obvious that Genesis 1:1 is a satisfactory answer, but our atheistic physicists and astronomers keep trying since they feel they must find an answer that does not involve God. I can understand their motivation, but it is really distressing that some creationists—no matter how progressive they think themselves to be, still think that God would use the big bang and the geological ages to create, refusing to take His account of creation literally.
Well, the universe has not existed from eternity past, but it will exist eternally in the future. There was a beginning, but there will be no end.
"Praise ye Him, sun and moon: praise Him, all ye stars of light. . . . for He commanded, and they were created. He hath also established them for ever and ever: He hath made a decree which shall not pass" (Psalm 148:3,5-6).
Even the earth and its atmospheric heavens will continue forever, once they have been made new again.
". . . The new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord. . . ." (Isaiah 66:22).
The present "Heaven and earth shall pass away," of course (Matthew 24:35), for all the age-long effects of sin must be purged away (such as the fossils, for example), but then God will "make all things new" again (Revelation 21:5). Peter says that we can then "look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (II Peter 3:13).
And there, in the holy city on the new earth, "His servants shall serve Him: And they shall see His face; . . . and they shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 22:3-5).
- James M. Cline. "The Origin of Matter," American Scientist (Vol. 92, March-April 2004), p. 148. Cline is Professor of Physics at McGill University.
- Paul Davies. "Born Lucky," New Scientist (Vol. 179. July 12, 2003), p. 32.
- Richard A. Kerr. "No Din of Alien Chatter in our Neighborhood," Science (Vol. 303. February 20, 2004), p. 1133.
- James M. Cline, op. cit., p. 156.