Devotion on Gen. 1:1 “Why Is There Something Instead of Nothing?”

Posted on September 5, 2010. Filed under: Devotions- The Mark 12 Life |

 Living the Mark 12 Life

Daily Devotions, Bible Study, Scripture Memory, History and More

In an effort to fulfill the Great Commandment

Series I: The Basic Gospel

Week 1: Crucial Question- Is There A God?

Memorize Gen.1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Day 1 Reading: Gen. 1:1-2:3 “Why is there something instead of nothing?”

“In the beginning God…” The Bible assumes God, it does not deliberately try to prove his existence; it simply begins with God. Verse 1 does not mean that there was a beginning for God, it means that at the beginning of the universe, God was there, creating, speaking into existence the entire universe. Before the universe was created, there was only God. There was no pre-existent matter which God used to “fashion” the universe. There was only God. This is known as creatio ex nihilo, creation out of nothing. The answer to the age old philosophical question, “Why is there something instead of nothing?” is that God chose to create all that is and God himself is eternal.

The first chapter of Genesis is more about the “who” of creation than the “how”, although science and the Scriptures agree on some of the “how”. Plato said that a “demiurge” must have had supreme reason and intelligence to create the universe and set it in motion. Aristotle said there had to be a Prime Mover who himself is unmoved.  Parmenides said that nothing can come from nothing. While the ancient Greeks thought that matter was eternal, current physics says that space, time and matter must all have begun at once and posits the “Big Bang” as the source, but cannot tell what caused the Big Bang itself. The Bible says this Prime Mover, the Uncaused Cause, the source of the Big Bang, is a personal, all powerful, holy God who said, “Let there be light!” And there was light. He is eternal and has always been. There has never been a time of nothing.

The evolutionist seeks to explain the intricate beauty and harmony of the universe in naturalistic terms like: chance, natural selection, evolution and mutation, a universe that just “pops into existence” or that creates itself. But the evolutionist must explain how that which is non-life produces life, non-personality produces personality, chaos produces beauty. Good luck with that! An infinite number of tornados in an infinite number of junk yards will never produce a working Mercedes-Benz nor will an infinite number of monkeys typing away on an infinite number of word processors ever compose a piece of music like Handel’s Messiah. Complex beauty that communicates information and truth requires an intelligent creator. DNA in every cell of every living thing carries so much complex, beautiful information that it could not have happened “by chance”. The word “chance” is a mathematical word describing probabilities and has no creative or causative power. The universe shows design and purpose throughout because it had a designer, a creator, who created it with purpose. Intelligence, personality and thought must come before a complex, beautiful, material universe.

The atheist will frequently ask you to prove the existence of God using the scientific method. He wants to see God in a test tube. But God is Spirit, he is invisible but everywhere present, he has no mass but is omnipotent. When the atheist demands to see God, you can remind him of what Jesus said to his disciples when they asked to see the Father in John 14:9 “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” To study Jesus in the Bible is to know God the Creator.

If the Bible were a symphony, Genesis 1 would be the overture. It sets the tone for the rest of the Bible. The Bible begins with God and ends with God; he is the First and the Last. He is the beginning point to understanding all of Scripture, understanding man and the world. To deny God is not only foolish, it will lead to hell. The beginning of the Gospel, the Good News, is acknowledging the existence of God. Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Digging Deeper in the Text:

            There are 7 words in the Hebrew text in this first verse, and the number seven is the key number throughout 1:1-2:3. There are 14 words (7×2) in verse 2. At the end of the section, 2:1-3 we have 35 words (7×5). The name “God” appears 35 times in this section and “earth” 21 times. Heaven or firmament appears 21 times and of course there are 7 days. None of this is by accident. Moses has beautifully crafted this opening chapter to point us to a God of order who has created this wonderful universe to reflect his glory.

            The first word is bereshith and means that which is first in place, time and order. Yet this word is used in a way that can mean a long period of time, not just a single point of time. Therefore, there is no effort on the part of Scripture to inform us of how long ago the beginning was, or how long the beginning lasted. There is room within conservative, Bible believing Christianity for those who believe in a young earth of only about 10,000 years and for those who believe in an older earth of 4-5 billion years. The Scriptures do not give us a date for Creation.

            This word, bereshith, has another connotation in Hebrew, it points to an ending point, the end of time. To the Hebrews, the concept of a beginning necessarily implied a conclusion. Thus, with time, there must be a beginning and an end. This is in contrast to the cultures around the Jews. Many of the pagans, including the Greeks, believed time was cyclical, a never ending repetition. This shows that God is in charge of time; he starts it and he will end it.

            The next word we want to look at in this verse is “God”. The Hebrew name for God used here is Elohim, which is the generic name for God, not the covenant name of YHWH. El is the word for God that all the peoples around Israel would recognize and Elohim is the plural form. Why did Moses use Elohim in the creation account instead of YHWH? Using the common name for God shows that Moses was claiming God was the Creator of the whole universe. He was not merely the God of the Hebrews, he was God over the entire universe. This name for God in this context denotes God’s eternality and omnipotence. He existed before the beginning and created all that is. Elohim is a plural form. Why would Moses use the plural? It denotes God’s greatness and uniqueness and would lead us to give a special reverence for this majestic name. While this plural form does not teach the doctrine of the Trinity, it does point us in that direction.

            The final word from this verse we should note is bara, “created”. This word is always used in reference to God and denotes a divine activity that results in something new. The word is used frequently in Isaiah where God is contrasting himself with the false gods who cannot do anything. The significance of this teaching is that, while the pagans looked at the universe as a divine mystery not to be investigated, the Jews taught that God created it all; it is merely creation and can therefore be investigated and studied without fear. This is the foundation for the Western view of science.

Applying the Text:

            Look at some of the following photographs of God’s creation in the micro-universe, the world around us, and the larger universe:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/11/photogalleries/best-tiny-microscopic-life-pictures/index.html

http://www.livescience.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=33321

http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/solar_system/

Here is a link that explains the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God:

http://www.carm.org/cosmological-argument

So many times as we go through our day we forget to see the wonder and beauty of the natural world that is all around us. Look for an opportunity to acknowledge God as the Creator as you look at the universe he has created. Understand that science developed primarily in the Christian West because our world view was shaped by Genesis 1-2 and the knowledge that God is separate from his creation and that we can study nature without superstition or fear of the “gods”. We do not worship nature, but the Creator.

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