What We Believe
As a result of 70 years of recent scientific exploration, testing, and conjecture, common concepts in discussion today reveal the varying and independent explanations for the existence of life on Planet Earth and the implications of time and space (temporal-spatial) phenomena on history and the future. In order to “marry” scientific endeavor and religious faith, there are a growing number of theistic scientists who are bridging both previously irreconcilable camps with what has become known as “theistic evolution.” In this course we will examine those emerging theories and proposals for belief through the lens of God’s Word and let the Bible and history speak.
Commonly proposed theories of the beginning of life offer several intriguing possibilities.
Creation by fiat: Matter/Life was spoken into existence by a supernatural power in a brief period of time
Episodic creation: After placing into existence primordial creatures; God, or the supernatural power, steps in over time to increase elements of life on the planet or to re-order successful development.
Big Bang: Approximately 14 billion years ago, myriads of universal galaxies which were coalesced into a dense dimensionless point of energy, suddenly flew apart in outward trajectories, resulting in a vast universe of which earth is a very small part.
Evolutionary processes: Assumptions related to the Big Bang are the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and became habitable 4 billion years ago and 150 million years later, life was developing on Earth from what would become common ancestors to the life forms we know today.
Intelligent Design: A supernatural extraterrestrial power designed creatures, humans, and the supporting and sustaining structures of Earth and left them to their own development and destiny.
In this course we will explore and compare the belief systems concerning the origin of life. We will also examine in Scripture why it is so important to get it right in terms of eternity. We will begin with the Biblical account.
[Topics and thought concepts appear in the left column, while study resources appear in the right column.]
|Authority for Man's Belief|
|“Is the Bible God’s Word?”
"What are the characteristics of the Book?"
"Can it be trusted for accuracy and relevance?"
"How can it be tested for authenticity?"
|Shawn Boonstra gives practical and convincing answers from history and the Bible itself to answer these questions in his online video "Is the Bible God's Word?" from his series "All About God" at It Is Written.
Rock Solid Series by Shane Anderson:
1. "The Book that Stops Bullets" (audio) and
2. "The Unfair Advantage." (audio)
|Who is God?|
|"Does God exist?" "Who is God?"
"What are His characteristics?"
"What does He have to do with humanity?"
"Is He important to my life?"
"What is at stake if we believe in God?"
"What is at stake if we reject Him?"
"If God is the Essence of Light, how does He manage darkness?"
"What Bible examples can I find in which God (light) met and subdued darkness?"
2. Power – To create and to save from destruction by sin
3. Not confined by time or space
4. The Essence of Light.
“After Darkness, Light.” (Audio talk by Shane Anderson)
Questions to Ask Myself:
"What does it take to believe in something/someone I cannot see?"
1. “Does God Really Exist?” Video at It Is Written by Shawn Boonstra
|How do other religions of the world characterize God?|
|Overview of philosophic understandings of God
"The most fundamental issue for almost all religious thought is: Who is God in whom we trust? The primary answer for many religious traditions is: God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth." (p. 8)
(Trinity). How can one be 3 and still be one?
African peoples: God is omnipresent; everywhere and in His creation, but not identical with His creation. He defies human comprehension and cannot be grasped in the human mind. They do not know much about Him, but hold Him supreme using familial terminology.
Asian peoples: Asia's many cultures (India, China, Japanese, Korean, etc.) share a common genetic heritage with a differentiation of belief systems that has migrated through cultures, based in contemplation of aesthetic experiences grounded in virtues in a continuum with the natural objects in the environment. The "god" they recognize is the indeterminate cosmic universal, capable of creativity.
Hindus: The infinite Godhead (Brahman) unifies with the believer deep within oneself. Through the practice of yoga one learns to discern the ways of God by following 4 pathways of self-discovery that result in knowledge of God through love, work, and psychophysical exercises. There are many iconic representations of God and a godly life. In human terms God is an abstract state of being, such as bliss, awareness. But He is also spoken of as Creator, Preserver, Destroyer. This belief system is very complex and prescriptive.
Other various religions are alternate paths to God.
Buddhists: (Based on early Buddhism). Buddha spoke of "an Unborn, neither become nor created nor formed." God is not a personality, but has the qualities of pernamence, stability, being imperishable, immovable, ageless, deathless, ppowerful, expressed in bliss and happiness, a secure refuge, shelter, the real Truth, and supreme Reality, the Good, the one and only consummation of our lives, the eternal, hidden and incomprehensible peace.
Islamists: Their name connotes the peace that comes from surrendering one's life to God. The Qur'an describes their origins compatibly with the Bible. Four basic beliefs: the God of the Bible, God is Creator, Human Self, and the Day of Judgment. It honors Jesus as a prophet and accepts His virgin birth, but no the doctrine of incarnation and the Trinity. God is all-powerful and to be feared because of man's status against a moral universe; God inspires peace.
|Excerpts from the book “The Universal God”, a treatise on meaning, justice, love, and peace, by James Will, a theological scholar who has written about worldviews of the major religions with respect to God.
His emphasis is on the "relationship" of God in the context of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Post-moderns struggle with how an all-powerful God (who would naturally wield the authority of one) be 3. And, by extension, how can He relate to humans?
"Can theultimate creative Origin of all being be better understood as relational community rather than infinite in substance or subject?" (p. 3)
In seeking harmony among various belief systems (ecumenism), Will reasons: If all theistic religions seek an understanding of God, isn't there then one symbolized language (logos) that can be relative across cultures and religions rather than the transcendendal mysteriously one? And if so, then there is good reason in our global village for our various dimensions of redemption to become complimentary rather than disparate/devisive--they then would become relative to each other. This would lead to a harmonic society of acceptance of the different belief systems and the way righteousness and justice are perceived.
Like Whitehead, an earlier mathematician, Will suggests our conceptualization of God is limited by our overview of His creation--we are His subjects; we are not intimate to the operations of His mind/intent/knowing. We are the reaction of this world He created--His properties of the metaphysical principles for the world He created. Beyond that, His character is revealed by His reaction our behavior (refer to the many incidents in the Old Testament concerning the Israelites).
Limiting God to the interrelationship of His fallen creatures opens the door to acceptance of theories other than the literal account in Genesis 1. God becomes subject to Man's precipitous demise spiritually and biologically and either must step in periodically to make corrections genetically or leave His creatures entirely alone to evolve naturally by natural selection.
|Things to Ponder:
~~ The wisdom of God in placing Man on the leading edge of evolution and allowing him to share in creation of the circumstances of change into the future.
~~ God as Creator and who are we to think we can assist Him with His creative processes.
~~ All finite entities begin with matter and move toward unifying energies received from others (community). Whereas, God's becoming "begins" an everlastingness of primordial nature we cannot conceive of (a reversal of polar dynamics).
Course Home Page (References)
Continue to Next Page for Part 2:The Creation