For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
There has been much discussion about the amount and quality of the "natural" revelation God has displayed in the universe He created. Much has been discovered about the processes and functioning of our world--so much that some have suggested that these facts of science must be used to "interpret" the written text of Scripture.
What is the rightful place of the "things that are made" in our understanding of God's truth?
The written words of Scripture are inspired, and it is clear from passages like Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:18-20 that God created the universe to "speak," "declare," and "show" much of His nature. It follows then that the creation itself would make "clearly seen" that which can be understood about the Creator--unless there is a willing rebellion against that truth (Romans 1:21-25).
The creation declares and speaks of God's glory, but the "law of the Lord is perfect…the testimony of the Lord is sure....The statutes of the Lord are right" (Psalm 19:7-8). Created things tell us something about the nature of God, but the revealed words define, clarify, limit, and command. The writings (the Scriptures) are that which is inspired (God-breathed, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Natural revelation, therefore, provides only limited insight into truth. Final authority rests in the written revelation that God "breathed" into a living record (1 Peter 1:23) that "shall not pass away" (Mark 13:31). We can only understand the events of creation by revelation, not by discovery. Science cannot duplicate or comprehend creation. Man can merely steward that which is preserved by the Creator in His patient mercy (2 Peter 3:8-9).
What we speak and teach about the creation, we speak and teach about the Savior.
Jesus Christ is clearly both Creator and Savior. Such passages as John 1:1-14, Colossians 1:16-19, and Hebrews 1:1-3 manifestly declare that Jesus, the Word made flesh, is none other than our Lord and Creator. What is revealed to us about the nature of the Creator teaches us about the nature of the Savior. The Gospel points us to "worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Revelation 14:7).
The doctrine of creation cannot be separated from the doctrine of salvation. Only the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator could accomplish the work of redemption on Calvary, implementing an eternal reconciliation of all things to the immutable will and purpose of the Creator-Redeemer.
Since Scripture reveals that the creation demonstrates the nature of the Creator, the inextricably bound attributes of the Father, Son, and Spirit cannot be in conflict with the message of the created things. Nor can the message of the gospel conflict with the message discovered in the creation. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2)--either by word or by action.
Creation issues are foundational to a biblical worldview.
The gospel we present must include "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). The secular worldview is in direct opposition to a Creator. It knows and acknowledges nothing of the need for eternal redemption. It speaks only of self-centered appeasement. Naturalism at its core is atheistic, and the thrust of evolutionary theory is to tell the story of our origins without God.
We then who have been given the high privilege of being "ambassadors for Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:20) must ensure that our teachings about the creation, the Dominion Mandate, the fall of man, and the plan of redemption are as accurate as our human minds can portray, guided by and submitted to the revealed words of our Creator.
* Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris III, H. 2009. Natural Revelation. Acts & Facts. 38 (7): 22.