In the Beginning

Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Have you ever noticed that some school textbooks use certain passages of the Bible in support of what they are teaching--but never Genesis 1:1?! For example, some history (as well as sociology, anthropology and archaeology) textbooks will use the later chapters of Genesis in support of what has been discovered about man's early cultures. Rarely, however, do you find the opening chapters of Genesis even mentioned, except as an example of early legend or myth. Because the content of these chapters flies smack in the face of what modern man wants to believe today, this part of the Bible is brushed aside as being unscientific and untrue. Creation is out of the question and a God who creates is an unthinkable concept!

In spite of attacks by the unbeliever and the ridicule of the skeptics, the first verse in the Bible still stands as the most clear, concise and beautiful statement of "how it all began." And there has never been a better, or more logical or reasonable explanation of what is, than Genesis 1:1. No hypothesis, philosophy or religion has come up with a more feasible alternative. Throughout man's history various ideas have been proposed--and "pushed." From ancient Babylon's "Enuma Elish" (a polytheistic creation epic, characterized by the grotesque, the mythological and the absurd), to modern science's concept of eternal matter, man has attempted to explain the nagging question of origins in ways other than the biblical account. However, when all the differing theories are "laid on the table," there is no opinion or option which can claim more evidence or require less faith than to believe the simple scriptural statement: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

These first few words of the Bible are priceless in content and importance. They not only contain the truth of the doctrine of creation, but they have stood as a bulwark against all kinds of error and heresy. Many different false concepts of God and nature are refuted in this first statement of Scripture. First of all, quite obviously, atheism is refuted. The belief that God does not exist cannot be true if "In the beginning God" is true. The Bible does not attempt to argue philosophically for the existence of God; it assumes His existence from the start.

It is interesting to notice that those who deny the existence of God do not really live consistently with their own belief. In fact, subconsciously, an atheist actually acknowledges the authority of God every time he judges something to be morally right or wrong. A consistent atheist cannot admit moral values, because there is no such thing as a moral value if there is no God. You see, an atheist has no real philosophical basis for saying that you are morally wrong if you steal his car. The most he can say (and still be consistent with his belief) is that you have broken a law which has been set up by a majority of people for the purpose of living more conveniently or pleasurably. But just let someone try lying to an atheist, or stealing something from him, or messing around with his mate, and you will see how quickly he becomes a moralist! Again, it is the rare atheist who refuses to admit that Hitler was wrong when he slaughtered six million Jews. But a consistent atheist has no basis for making that moral judgment. The most he can say (and still be consistent) is that Hitler's action was not pleasing to a majority of an animal species known as human beings, in a certain culture on the planet earth at a certain time in history. Only when God is admitted into the picture do the deeds of Hitler become evil. The first words of the Bible bring God into the picture!

Another view which is untenable in the light of Genesis 1:1 is nihilism. Nihilism is the belief that existence is basically useless, senseless and purposeless because there are no grounds for objective truth. It is the logical outcome of consistent atheism. What possible meaning and purpose can there be in this universe if there are no ultimate realities or absolutes? Many students have felt the despair of nihilism pressing in on them as they give up their belief in God--the result of their expensive quest for "intellectual respectability." As they are sucked into this vortex of despair, they desperately grasp at a flimsy, existential "do your own thing" philosophy in the hope that life will somehow take on some meaning and purpose. But that's like trying to find meaning in a game of deck tennis on the sinking Titanic! What a difference an acceptance of the first verse of the Bible makes! The words, "God created the heavens and the earth", not only show that there are real and objective grounds for truth, but they also introduce us to the truth that there is meaning and purpose in this universe. As the biblical narrative unfolds we learn who God is, as well as the fact that He has a plan and purpose for His creation.

Another idea that is opposed by the first words of the Bible is radical materialism. This theory holds that matter is eternal. In this view it is assumed that there is nothing more than matter in this material universe. Man is but a part of this complex machine. There is nothing spiritual, only molecules of matter which explain it all. Man is no better that the material chair he sits on--he is just a "higher" and more complex arrangement of molecules.

The radical materialist is forced to his faith in the eternity of matter by the first law of thermodynamics. This law (which is known by every high school student taking General Science) states that energy can change its form but not its quantity. That is, the amount of energy within the universe is constant, even though it can vary in form. For example, when we put gasoline in our cars, the chemical energy of the gas is converted to heat and noise, but no energy is lost or gained--it is just changed in form. Einstein's famous equation showed that all matter in the universe can be equated to energy. This energy may take various forms, but no energy is now being created or destroyed. What does this law say, then, about our material universe? It says that the universe cannot have created itself--either it was created or it is eternal. These are the only two rational options. The radical materialist opts for the latter. The first words of the Bible permit only one possibility: "the heavens and the earth" were created.

Although the first law of thermodynamics seems to leave the door open for either of the above options, the second law of thermodynamics comes down pretty hard on the radical materialist. The second law states that in any "closed system" there is always a tendency for disorder and decay. Living things die, machinery wears out, buildings crumble, stars burn up. Yes, there are "events" of increasing order, such as the building of an automobile on the assembly line or the development of an embryo in the womb. These examples seem to contradict the second law of thermodynamics, but this is only because they are "open systems" where "outside help" is being given to them. They are but "pockets" of increasing order within larger closed systems where the overall tendency is towards disintegration. Our sun is burning up at a certain rate and cannot last forever. Without "outside help" (and the Bible has a lot to say about this!) the universe will eventually run down. It logically follows, then, that sometime in the past the material universe was "wound up" and was more ordered than it is now. The second law strongly hints (it even twists your arm!) that there was a beginning to this universe--it is not eternal, and it must have been created.

The first and second laws of thermodynamics are solid scientific statements. They demand a beginning and a Creator for this universe. Far-out ideas such as an eternally cyclic universe are but cop-outs to get around the laws of thermodynamics. Ironically, it takes just as much faith (if not more!) to accept these ideas as it does to accept the words of Genesis 1:1.

A host of other "isms" are also put down by the first few words of the Bible. Polytheism, pantheism, dualism and naturalism are but a few of the many concepts of God and nature which are contrary to the teaching of the first verse of the Word of God. Our school textbooks may have a lot of good stuff in them, but we must never forget the first words in the greatest Textbook of all are: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
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