It is popular with churches today to make God an illogical magician who “speaks” something into existence by a zapping process that occurs with no natural process of any kind involved. It is assumed, for example, that when Genesis 1:3 tells us that God said, “Let there be light” that there were no chemical or physical processes involved. The assumption is that the production of light was not because of the change in the energy of an electron, but that the process was totally mystical. A frequently quoted passage is Psalm 148:5 “for he commanded and they were created” referring to the sun and moon. Again the assumption is that no natural process was involved, but that they miraculously appeared. As astronomers study the Sun and Moon and other objects in space, they see processes that seem to explain how such objects are created even as we watch, and for some this becomes a basis of atheistic beliefs.

Believing that God zaps things into existence is popular to some folks. It is attractive because it requires no thought or understanding on our part. Some people think that if you believe God used logical, mathematical laws and methods to produce the cosmos, then God and His attributes are reduced in some way. This makes faith a blind acceptance. You either believe God miraculously spoke everything into existence with no method or technique involved or you reject God as the Creator.

This is a choice most young people reject. God has never called man to blind acceptance. Psalm 19:1 tells us “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (NIV). A work can be seen, admired, studied, and understood. When I see a beautiful garden I know that someone has used skill, patience, understanding, and knowledge to make that garden. When the Garden of Eden is described in Genesis 2:8 –10, the language certainly does not sound as though God zapped it into existence. “Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; … And the LORD God made all kinds of trees to grow out of the ground … A river watering the Garden flowed from Eden; … .” Romans 1:20 calls man to see God’s creative skill,“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made … .” In Isaiah 40:26 we read “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.” In Isaiah 45:18 we read “he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited.” The wording of these passages suggests working, fashioning, and designing.

One of the most interesting passages in this subject area is Proverbs 8 which deals directly with God’s methods. The passage is about wisdom and incorporates wisdom’s role in the creation process. I would suggest it is a biblical injunction to intelligent design. Verse 1 begins by emphasizing the role of wisdom and understanding. “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?” In verses 4 – 6 God calls man to use wisdom to understand. “To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say.” God is not a God of ignorance or illogical understanding. The creation and the world we live in makes sense.

Wisdom is imbedded in God’s creative process. Verse 22 tells us that before anything was created God used wisdom to do His will. “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, before his deeds of old. I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.” God existed before there was space, time, energy, or matter, and wisdom was a part of all He did with these quantities. In John 17:24 Jesus tells us that God loved Him “before the creation of the world” and 1 Peter 1:20 tells us Jesus was chosen then as well. Ephesians 1:4 tells us that God chose those who would obey Him “before the creation of the world” (not individually, but as a group). Second Timothy 1:9 and Titus 1:2 repeat this.

Proverbs 8:23 tells us that God used wisdom in the quantum mechanical world — the material and energy that would be used to form the world. Verse 24 tells us that all water systems, the basis of life depend on wisdom. Verse 25 tells us that mountains and hills are designed with resources for man with wisdom. Verse 26 reminds us that the earth’s fields, soils, and nutrient systems demand wisdom. Verses 27 – 28 indicate that wisdom was involved in the formation of the atmosphere. In verse 29 we see boundaries to the sea and the land had to be done with wisdom. Verses 30 – 31 tell us that wisdom is God’s craftsman — the tool of design. “I (wisdom) was the craftsman at his side.” This whole section of Proverbs gives emphasis to God’s technique being a process of crafting, using wisdom, bringing power and intelligence to all we see in the creation.

Biblical words used to describe God’s actions always use a process, not a magician’s touch, to describe what is being formed. In Genesis 2:7 we read “The LORD God formed (yatshir) man of the dust … .” This word is used to describe what a potter does with clay. There could be a variety of understandings as to what method God used, but whether you see someone molding and shaping a body directly out of clay or a progressive act of naturally shaping a body, a process is involved. Genesis 2:8 tells us, “Now the LORD God had planted a garden … .” In Genesis 2:9 “the LORD God made all kinds of trees …” again implies a process. When the Bible describes the processes used to produce the cosmos we are told numerous times that the cosmos was stretched out. The Hebrew word used to explain this is “natah” which indicates an action like pulling the cord on an outboard motor. Passages that use this word are Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; Zechariah 12:1; and Job 37:18.

In Genesis 2:3 at the close of the creation chapter of Genesis 1 we are told that these are the things the Lord “God created and made” (KJV). The words bara (create) and asah (make) are both used here and indicate both a miraculous act of God and a natural process which God directed have been used in the creation of all we see. Bara is only used three times in Genesis 1, in verses 1, 21, and 27. The indication is that most of what God did in preparing the earth for man happened by natural processes that we can understand. Proverbs 8 tells us that wisdom was a major player in this process, and even with our limited ability to understand we can marvel at the wisdom and creative intelligence that we see all around us.
--John N. Clayton

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