Recently there was a biblical discussion between several men from two totally opposite camps of belief. Both claim to hold to God’s Word and both claim to desire the truth above all else, however both cannot be correct. When dealing with the subject of whether or not God created the universe, there is really no division among professing Christians. All those claiming to be followers of Jesus Christ would join arms here, yet the separation occurs as soon as the discussion moves beyond this point. This recent panel conversation was no exception.
Some in the group expressed their belief in a literal six-day creation around six thousand years ago. The others clung tightly to a long-earth view, stating that the Bible leaves plenty of room for the common evolutionary belief of billions of years along with death and suffering as the major agent used by God. What was most interesting was not how quickly some abandoned the Word of God to make their points, nor how much the long-age spokesmen thought they were honoring God. What was most amazing was how blindly those who purported the old universe doctrine claimed to be neither evolutionary, nor hold to any teachings majorly different than those who aligned themselves with a literal reading of Genesis 1-11.
It Does Matter: Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist and self-proclaimed day-age Christian, was one such guest. He is either ignorant in his assertions or disingenuous when stating that he is not an evolutionist at any level. He also said he really believes no differently than Ken Ham, who was also on the panel and unashamedly holds to a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. If it weren’t so sad, it would almost be funny. Although Hugh Ross claimed no major differences in belief, there are actually about 10 billion of them. After Dr. Ross’ proclamations, two others from the panel joined in, making similar statements. After pitching his tent on the same side as Hugh Ross, Sean McDowell, son of Josh McDowell, smiled and boldly proclaimed that it really doesn’t matter how God made the universe as long as we believe that He did. Sean said he chooses instead to focus on how much God loves us and has a purpose and plan for our lives. Even though Sean and others say it doesn’t matter, there could be nothing further from the truth. It really does matter when and how God created the universe.
Sean McDowell’s Log Cabin: As an intro after a commercial break, TBN (the host channel of the creation discussion) played a clip of Sean McDowell talking to the camera as he stands inside a beautifully decorated log cabin. The point of the video is to reveal how obvious it is that the universe has a designer, but Sean makes an unfortunate mistake. Paraphrasing his video monologue, Sean asks the viewer to pretend he stumbles upon a cabin after walking through the woods. The door is unlocked and the viewer chooses to enter. Looking around, the hiker notices his favorite foods are on the dinner table and everything inside is perfectly prepared for his tastes. Sean then moves to strike, pulling the analogy together by asking, “What can we deduce from the cabin being filled with everything that suits us?” He then explains that we should conclude that the cabin must be designed for the hiker. And just as the cabin is intentionally built for him, so it is with the universe. Everything in this world and universe fit perfectly to provide all that we need in a way that reveals a master designer. While this might be an adequate intelligent design argument, there are a few things Sean has left out. More will be said about this in a little bit.
Analogies: Just as it is with other analogies, Sean has a starting point or belief system and his starting point is what dictates the analogy. Although analogies are good tools for making points, they often times also reveal the speaker’s own presupposed philosophies. It’s also worth noting that no analogy can completely cover all tenants of a person’s belief system.
Ray Comfort’s Airplane and Parachute: Another analogy given by Ray Comfort unfortunately also missed the mark even though he is someone who has consistently held to a literal reading of Genesis 1 and believes the earth to be around six thousand years old. Ray routinely uses an airplane flight to show the importance of the Gospel of God. Although a good analogy in demonstrating the necessity of putting on Christ (like a parachute) for the right reasons, the story falls short when used in conjunction with the importance of whether or not creation happened just as Genesis 1 plainly spells it out.
An Unnecessary Contrast: Ray began his wrap-up of the two hour panel discussion by saying that although the conversation of how God created is an important one, if you were on a plane that was broken and ready to crash, you would not turn to the stewardess handing you a parachute to ask her the age of the plane. Instead you would gladly put on the parachute to save your life. Again, while on the surface this might sound reasonable, the decision to contrast creation and the Gospel actually does more harm than good.
Here’s why: Ray’s comments separate the method of creation and the method of salvation, yet fail to consider that both reveal the character of the same God. In actuality, neither the Gospel nor creation are the center of the Christian life. Granted, the Gospel is the good, rather the great news of God’s amazing act to buy back all who will come to Him, and without it we would have no hope of eternal life. But in reality, God Himself is the center; God Himself, revealed in Jesus Christ, is our life. His character is what matters most, and His character is demonstrated and revealed in all He says and does.
An Old Plane and an Old Parachute: Since much of this post is filled with other people’s analogies, I’d like to use a couple of my own. Let’s say the stewardess tells the passenger the plane is old, really old and that’s why it’s going down. What if the parachute and the plane are the same age? What if, as you’re free falling with your chute carefully strapped to your body, then pull the rip cord only to see moths fly out along with dust and only scraps of silk cloth remaining? In your mind you’re thinking, “I guess the age of the plane really does matter.”
The Incompetent Maker: What if the plane isn’t in disrepair due to its age? Perhaps the maker and maintainer of the plane are at fault. Maybe this person, although very intelligent, wasn’t quite smart enough to make and maintain the vehicle to last very long in the sky. What if the person was basically incompetent? Then what if the one who made and maintained the plane was also the one who supplied the parachute? (This is probably the most closely related analogy to the God who created the universe and also is the Savior of mankind.) If the plane is going down, then one who made and maintained it did not do as good of a job as he could have. If this is the case, then if he also packed and supplied the parachute, would there perhaps be a little trepidation in putting it on? Let’s say you’re tumbling through the sky, pull the cord, and the cord breaks off. You then reach for the backup cord and there is none. Finally, with only seconds before impact, you try to manually open the chute only to discover it is not packed correctly by the maker of the plane.
You see, there are serious implications connecting the plane’s age, the method and competence of the plane’s construction and maintenance, and the parachute inside. The Maker’s character is the heart of matter. If the plane goes down, then one must ask why did it fall in the first place. The answer will inevitably lead back to the maker of the aircraft. There is perhaps one more basic answer to the failure of the plane.
The Disturbed Designer: There is also one more thing to consider. Perhaps the designer of the plane is not incompetent at all. Maybe he is simply disturbed. Maybe he purposely designed the plane to crash. This has definite implications when strapping on the parachute. If this is true, then most likely the chute itself would be sabotaged for all unsuspecting passengers.
The Cabin’s Creator: Analogies can also be used to reveal the errors in Sean McDowell’s cabin. If, as Sean says, it doesn’t matter how God made the universe and if God is the builder in his cabin story, then it actually does matter. Although this planet is amazing, there are all kinds of dangerous things that seem to raise questions. We have natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, etc. as well as poisonous creatures and plants, and the list goes on. So saying that there is a wonderful cabin filled with all your favorite foods is less than an accurate view of the world around us. To make it more fair, let’s say the hiker walks into the cabin and begins eating the food only to get food poisoning. He then goes into the bathroom and trips on a broken tile. Then washing up, the traveler discovers there is only ice cold water and the towels are inundated with lice. If this were the case, the person might begin wondering about the competence and intentions of the one who made and prepared the cabin.
IT REALLY DOES MATTER HOW THE CABIN WAS MADE.
The Creation/ Salvation Connection: Interestingly, regardless of an old earth or young earth, many from both camps would agree that Jesus died and raised in three literal days and is the only way to Heaven. Yet those that cling to billions of years fail to see that the character of God is inextricably entwined with both creation and salvation. They are eternally linked. Why? Because God is responsible for both. To say it doesn’t matter how God created is like saying it doesn’t matter how God provided salvation. It matters. His character is revealed in both. The Living God created life by His Word, not through death, and the God of love chose to die for sinners because sin, not God, brought death. God brings life. If a business builds its success by murdering people, does it really matter whether or not it gives money to orphans and widows? No matter how you spin it, if God’s character is directly connected with death as the ultimate agent of life, He is the author of death. Yet according to His own Word, death is said to be the last enemy of God. 1 Corinthians 15:26.
But death brought life in Christ, didn’t it? Yes and no. Yes, Jesus chose to die for the sins of the world. “For He has made [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. But if Jesus would have stayed dead, we would have no hope at all, so it’s not merely His death, but His resurrection that brings men life. In the same chapter of 1 Corinthians, the Holy Spirit, through Paul, writes, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:14. Yes, Jesus laid down His life and this led to eternal life to all those who turn to Him, but His death would not have been necessary if sin had never been allowed to intrude into God’s perfect creation.
If death would have been God’s original “thumb print” on creation, then why use death as Adam and Eve’s judgment? After all, creatures would have been dying and evolving for millions of years before Adam and Eve sinned. So Adam and Eve were seeing creatures killing each other and dying of cancer, etc. Then God tells them if they eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that they’ll die just like everything else is already dying??? Then later Jesus comes to die for the sins of the world, the sins that brought death upon mankind; the same death that God had already used for millions of years in all other creatures to help them evolve. This makes no sense! Sadly, confusion, at best, is all we are left with when man’s ideas are mingled with the Word of God.
The Whole Counsel of God: It’s clear the Lord has given the saints different giftings and areas of ministry that serve the whole Body of Christ, but one thing is certain. We are all to grow in the complete understanding of the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13). This growth takes the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of the truth, and the humble, wholehearted study of God’s Word. We all must be careful not to let the focus of any ministry overshadow the whole of Scripture. We must proclaim more than a message. May we never forget to declare the whole counsel of God!
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:23,27 and 28.