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Originally published in Creation 13, no 1 (December 1990): 46-47.
Thirty years ago it was my experience as a new Christian on a university campus to begin my study of the relationship between God’s Word, the Bible, and modern scientific concepts of the origin of life.
Turning my attention to Genesis 1:11, I felt that somehow God used processes through long periods of time as He does today in His providential rule of this world to bring fruit trees into existence.
God actually commanded the earth to bring forth, not seeds, but the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind whose seed was in itself.I was willing to believe that God could create the seeds from which trees would grow, but on closer study of this verse I discovered an amazing truth—God actually commanded the earth to bring forth, not seeds, but the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind whose seed was in itself.
In other words, God created full-grown trees suddenly, laden with fruit. He did create seeds, but they were inside the fruits hanging from full-grown trees. This is a spectacular aspect of the doctrine of creation, as God brought our fantastic world of living things into existence.
How can we be sure that this was indeed God’s method? Because in every other place in the Bible where God reveals His method of creation, this is the procedure He employed. The human race, for example, could have been directed by God through millions of years of gradual development from the animal kingdom to its present form, although the process would have demanded a series of miracles to counteract the obvious downward pull of the second law of thermodynamics (or law of increasing decay), which is the basic and universal process we see in our present world.
Or, God could have created a baby boy and waited 20 to 30 years for him to attain full maturity to begin human history. But again an endless series of miracles would have been required for this boy to attain normal adulthood without the help of human parents.
But you might say that God could have created a mother to take care of the baby. That is true, but where would she have come from? In other words, the obvious answer to this problem of the logical point for the commencement of the great cycle of living organisms is the adult. And so God created Adam suddenly, as an adult, and Eve suddenly, as an adult—by purely supernatural methods not observable in our present world. God’s creative plan introduced adult human beings fully capable of bringing forth their own children and caring for them as today.
The Bible, then, does shed light on the question of which came first, the hen or the egg. Obviously God created the hen first, capable of laying her own eggs and hatching them. And thus the cycle of life began with the adult: full-grown fruit trees, adult animals, Adam and Eve.
To our modern mind such concepts are incredible, except for the fact that the Creator God has visited this planet in the person of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Creator of the world, to demonstrate to us in small measure the methods that He did use in creating the world of living things. The Gospel according to John reminds us in its first chapter, verse 3, that Christ is the Creator, that ‘all things were made by him’, that ‘without him was not any thing made that was made’.
The second chapter of John relates the first miracle that Christ performed on earth as the means for unveiling some of His glory as Creator-God. What did Christ do in His first miracle? He suddenly transformed about 600 litres of water into delicious wine, normally an end product of a long series of biologic processes of enormous complexity under present conditions in this world as we know them.
Christ bypassed all the normal processes by which grape juice is brought into existence: the planting of a vine, the drawing of the water into the fruits of the vine, gradual formation of juice which, when the grapes are ripened and picked, is squeezed out and then made available for men to drink. Christ dispensed with vines and grapes and all processes, creating wine directly from water.
In fact, every miracle Christ performed was basically on this pattern. He created some 5,000 full-grown dried fishes and thousands of barley loaves with an appearance superficially of having a history of growth that they did not possess. Every diseased, crippled, leprous body Jesus ever healed suddenly and supernaturally took upon it the appearance of preceding health that it did not have. Christ’s intent was not to deceive men, but to show them a basic fact concerning this universe—namely, that the Creator and Sustainer of all things is not bound to processes of nature as we see them today.
The resurrection of Lazarus is a special case in point, for Christ suddenly transformed a rotting corpse into a living and healthy man by processes that can only be understood by faith in the power of an omnipotent God.
It is highly instructive, therefore, for the Christian to turn to Genesis 1, which he accepts as a record of the creative acts of Jesus Christ in the light of John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, and Hebrews 1:2, and to recognize that the manner by which living things were brought into existence in the beginning finds its analogy in the miraculous works of Jesus Christ the Creator, who visited this planet 2,000 years ago. He showed men that He indeed was fully capable of doing the things that Moses described by the Holy Spirit concerning the week of Creation.
Thus Jesus Christ Himself sets for us the pattern of all creation, and we may therefore understand, at least in part, the mystery of the methods that God on occasion has chosen to use in the realm of miracle.
The very fact that miracle is rare in earth history is the guarantee of its sign value, its shock value, to awaken us from the lethargy of our uniformitarian experience of normal processes of nature. In order to protect the uniqueness and shock value of the miracles of Jesus, God prevented John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, from performing any miracles at all. According to John 10:41, ‘John did no miracle…’. Why? Lest the very multiplication of miracles should detract from the uniqueness of the work and power and claims of Jesus.
And thus the fact that God is not creating things today should not be interpreted as God’s weakness or God’s inability to do what Genesis 1 tells us He did at the beginning, because the Bible itself assures us in Genesis 2:1-3 that creation, as a distinct method of God in reference to this world, was finished.
From that kind of work God rested, and from that moment to this we live in a world that is being preserved, not recreated—not added to, but simply preserved according to the well-known first law of thermodynamics. This law tells us that the total amount of mass-energy in the universe remains constant through the conservation of mass-energy, a law that God Himself formed and upholds by the Word of His power. What a wonderful God, who not only has done all these things, but has condescended for our learning to reveal them in His Word.