How did it all begin? That is, where did we come from?
While I don’t intend to end the debate over this topic or change anyone’s mind, I do want to offer something to think about.
As you know, there are two schools of thought on our origin: we evolved or we were created.
Either point of view requires a degree of faith to accept — and for me, evolution actually requires more. Here’s why:
Follow the theory of evolution backwards, starting with people. Follow them to land animals, to water animals, to plants, to single cell organisms, to amino acids, to a mixture of gases, and so forth. No matter how far back you go, the nagging question is always there: Where did that come from? At some point, there is the inescapable conclusion that something had to come from nothing.
For me, that takes a great deal of faith to accept — seemingly more faith than to simply say that an ever-existing God, living outside of time-space, just made it all.
If the use of the word faith is a bit off-putting, then consider Occam’s Razor, the principle that says the simplest solution is usually the correct one. To me, being created is simpler than having evolved, so I’ll go with that.
What gender is God? Although I’m not sure how important the answer is in the overall scheme of things, it is nonetheless often debated and speculated. Here is a smattering of responses to this query:
- God is male since the Bible refers to God the Father (male) and God the Son (male), who came to earth as Jesus (male).
- God is portrayed as male in the Bible because that is how the culture of that day could best comprehend a supreme being.
- God is neither male nor female. Although the predominance of references and inferences in the Bible are masculine, there are also feminine allusions given to the Godhead.
- God transcends gender. As a spiritual entity, there are no male or female distinctions; as the creator there is no need for procreation.
- God is both male and female.
Although I refer to God in the masculine, it is more out of convention and for ease of communication. In reality, I see viability in each of the preceding viewpoints. While it is not my intent to end the debate with this reflection, I do want to point out an intriguing passage in the Bible, the implications of which are usually overlooked.
In Genesis 1:27 it says that God created man (people) “in his own image,” “male and female he created them.” That suggests that God is both male and female or alternately that God transcends gender, with both maleness and femaleness reflecting his character and reality. Either way, this is a profound and beautiful image to expand our understanding of who God is.
Adam was a vegetarian — really, he was. So were Eve and their kids, too. In fact, the next several generations likely avoided meat was well. How do I know this? After creation, God told Adam that he could eat any plant or fruit tree for food. Meat was definitely not mentioned as an option. [Genesis 1:29]
However, less we conclude that we are supposed to be vegetarians, consider God’s follow-up instructions after the great flood. At that time, God gave all animals to Noah, stating that they would also be used for food. [Genesis 9:2-3]
One might argue that God’s original plan was for a vegetarian lifestyle. That is an acceptable conclusion, but it needs to be kept in balance with the also acceptable perspective that meat was given to us to be enjoyed. Both are biblically defensible conclusions.
So, be we herbivore or carnivore, we need to get along with each other; that is even more in line with God’s desire for us.
If you accept that God exists and exercises providential care over his creation, it is, therefore, reasonable to expect that from time to time, miracles will occur – either for our own good or for his pleasure. As such, an occasional divine intervention is not an irrational desire, but a reasonable expectation.
At the risk of trivializing God and his care for us, consider a person wishing to enjoy an “ant farm.” That person would need to first establish the ant colony and would therefore understandably opt to do what is needed to ensure its ongoing survival. At the same time, he or she would also seek an overall “hands-off” mentality in order to most effectively enjoy the ants in their natural, everyday existence. In other words, the ant farmer would intervene (that is, do an “ant miracle”) when there was a prevailing reason to do so, but not as a matter of course.
Although God is much more generous and caring then an ant farmer, the analogy is nonetheless helpful in understanding the possibility of miracles occurring in our world today.
In the story of the great flood, God is distressed with man’s evil behavior. He decides that the only recourse is to destroy man and let civilization start anew. Unfortunately, in killing all the people by a flood, all the animals will also die (except for those saved by the ark).
This, of course, is not fair to the animals. They are taken out because of man’s mistakes.
There is an interesting parallel in this today. Man’s behavior is again threatening the lives of animals. This time man’s mistakes result in excessive economic gain and greedy prosperity at the expense of animal habitat.
God did give the earth to man, but to take care of it, not to exploit it.
[Genesis 6:5-8, Genesis 1:26]
We live in a physical world. We can interact with it though our senses; it is tangible; it is real.
While this is true, there is more — much more. There is a spiritual reality that is even more real then the physical realm that we call home. Consider that God exists in the spiritual realm; it existed first and always has. It is from this spiritual reality that he created our physical world in which we live. (Don’t get distracted on how this creation occurred.)
In his letter to the people who lived in Thessalonica, Paul talks about our spirit, soul, and body. How do these three aspects of who we are interact and co-exist?
It’s been said that we are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body. Furthermore, our soul is comprised of our mind, will, and emotions. That puts things in the proper order, giving us a good perspective on our existence and what is most important. Although our body is temporal and will die, our spirit will live on, existing in the spiritual realm. Though it is good and right to take care of our body, it is wiser and better to care for our spirit, because we are a spirit, we just live in a body.
[1 Thessalonians 5:23]