Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

The Creation as the Word of God

Many of you know that I do not accept the doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible. What I may not have said before is that I also do not accept that the Bible is the “Word of God”, at least not in its fullness. Nor, for me, is the Koran, the Torah, the Sutras, the Popul Vuh, or the Baghavad Gita. Each of these is an attempt by human beings to find meaning in their relationship to God, to each other, and to the Universe.

Yet, I do believe in a “Word of God”. I do believe there is something that I can point to and say “God wrote that”, or perhaps more profoundly “There is God”. Where I am convinced that the Bible is the work of humans by history, by its fallibility, by its time bound nature… the Word of God that I believe in encompasses all of history (and then some). It includes the Bible and every piece of scripture ever written. It includes all of time.

For me, the perfect, infallible, timeless Word of God is the Creation itself. God’s message to us is in the rocks and the trees, in the movement of ants and atoms, in the writings of our greatest literature, in the words of our most profound prophets. The Universe itself is God’s Masterpiece, written in a language that some can learn in particular depths, and all can sense in vision.

When I say I have kept something of my Deism, this is the core of what I mean. Thomas Paine perhaps said this better than most, when he said:

“It is only in the CREATION that all the ideas and concepts of the word of God can come together. The Creation speaks a universal language that does not depend on any human speech or language. It is an eternal ‘original copy’ that all men can read. It cannot be faked or counterfeited. It cannot be lost or changed. It cannot be kept secret. It does not depend on man deciding whether to publish it or not. It publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all the nations, and all the worlds. This natural word of God reveals to us all that man needs to know of God.”

I take it a little further than Ole’ Tom Paine did. In his estimation, the Creation as the Word of God only included what we count as the “natural” world. It was what Thoreau sought out at Walden Pond. But for me, humanity is included in the Creation, and so all the wonders and horrors of the human world are also a part of the Creation as the Word of God. To learn about God, we study not only the rocks and the trees, the birds and the bees… but also and perhaps more profoundly, we study ourselves.

Jesus of Nazareth was a master at showing God’s hand through human life. He taught in parable not only because it was easy for others to understand, but also to show that the reality of God was not separated from us, but here around us and within us every moment of every day. I do not believe that Jesus climbed mountains to get “closer to God” in heaven, but to get “closer to God” on earth. Perhaps it was also to get away from his collection of disciples who seemed to have such a hard time “getting it.”

For me, the Bible is the most profound collection of wisdom of people trying to understand the reality of a God that was all around and even within them, and to find a path to creating the Kingdom of God… but if we limit ourselves to the Bible, we put a very limited box around a God that is limitless. Only the infinite creation can hold all that is God.

There are some definite implications for theology from this doctrine. Far from being opposed to science, when we understand that the Creation is the Word of God, we realize that scientists (at least the best of them) are in fact Empirical Theologians. Scientists are using the scientific method and reason to learn more and more about God’s Masterpiece, and indeed to learn more about God. It becomes apparent that when a conflict arises between theology based upon human scripture and demonstrated scientific discovery based upon the Creation, the theology must bend to accept the science (not the other way around).

Let me put it bluntly… to me, those who deny evolution in favor of “creationism” are in fact denying the “Word of God”. But that’s okay… they are allowed to do that… for they too are part of the creation, and we can learn from them. As a Unitarian forebear of mine said in the 16th century “I will defend to the death your right to be wrong.”

What also becomes apparent is that the doctrine of the Creation as the Word of God means the “Canon” can never be sealed… that there will always be new discoveries and understandings of God’s nature revealed in the Creation. The universe is ever changing, ever evolving… and so is God. The work is not complete… brush strokes are still being added. Even without this, our understanding of God’s Word in the Creation is still limited, our access still miniscule, and our imagination still broadening. Each day brings new revelations, be it through the empiricism of Science, through the beauty of Art, through the quest for Justice, through the love of Compassion, or through the horror of War.

Yes, I said the horror of War… for one of the lessons of the Creation is that there is both light and darkness. Even in the Biblical account, in the very beginning the two were together and the same, before God separated them into day and night. Even the Bible consists of not only beautiful acts by God and by humans inspired by God… but also what can only be described as atrocities. Both the light and the dark in our universe and in our own human natures are part of the Creation, part of the Word of God. Yet the universe also teaches us another lesson… and that is the lesson of harmony and balance.

Much of what we humans have termed “evil” in our lives and societies, much of what we have chosen to blame on the mythical “Satan” in order to avoid our own responsibility… much of it is because we have not learned the lesson of harmony the creation teaches. “Consider the Lilies of the Field…”

Many of you know that I have issues with the Gospel of John’s authorship, intention, and purpose, in that I believe it was written specifically to counter the followers of the Gospel of Thomas, and not to record the teachings and life of Jesus of Nazareth… but both the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Thomas begin in a similar way, and in each I believe there is a deep and profound truth. So I will close with those words, in light of my thoughts on the Creation:

 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Yours in Faith,

4 Thoughts on “The Creation as the Word of God

  1. I agree very much with what you are saying here David, and have said pretty much the same thing myself on occasion. I am not sure why Thomas Paine would not include human beings in the “natural” world aka the Creation.

    Speaking of “all the wonders and horrors of the human world” the atomic bomb turned sixty four this week.

    The director of the Trinity atomic bomb test, Kenneth Bainbridge, described the explosion of the first atomic bomb a “foul and awesome display”. He is reported to have remarked to Robert Oppenheimer, “Now we are all sons of bitches.” Robert Oppenheimer himself is famed for subsequently remarking that the first explosion of the atomic bomb had reminded him of a line from the Hindu holy text, the Bhagavad-Gita:

    “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

    Personally I think that Kenneth Bainbridge’s blunt quote should be better known.

  2. The following comment was originally submitted in response to the Journeys to Space: Ben Franklin to Neil Armstrong post on Rev. Gary Kowalski’s Revolutionary Spirits blog. In that it is very much on topic to The Creation as the Word of God, and quite timely in terms of one of the most spectacular manifestations of The Word of God in The Creation, I feel that it is fitting to present it here as well –

    Actually, in its own special way, the Moon does hold a certain amount of Good Advice. Amongst other things, when the Moon perfectly aligns with the Sun during the cosmic “coincidence” of a total solar eclipse it produces a remarkable visual phenomenon that I refer to as the total solar eclipse “Eye of God”. The dark circle of the moon is the “pupil” of this symbolic “Eye of God” while the rays and streamers of the sun’s corona radiating outwards around the “occulting disk” of the moon distinctly resemble the muscle structure of the iris. This total solar eclipse “Eye of God” will be seen in the skies over India, Tibet, Nepal and China just two days from now during the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century which occurs on July 22nd.

    I expect that Benjamin Franklin would *appreciate* this Good Advice that is conveyed to humanity via the cosmic symbolism aka sign language of the total solar eclipse “Eye of God”. After all Ben Franklin was amongst those founding fathers of the U.S.A. who incorporated the “Eye of God” aka “Eye of Providence” into The Great Seal of the United States of America. All you have to do to see this “Eye of God” symbol it is pull an Almighty Dollar out of your wallet. The original inspiration for that ancient and quite universal religious symbol will scan the U.S.A. from the redwood forest of Oregon to the Gulf Stream waters of South Carolina on August 21st 2017, courtesy of Nature’s God. . .

  3. DairyStateDad on Tuesday July 21, 2009 at 7:59 +0000 said:

    @Robin Edgar…
    Thank you for the Bainbridge quote. It was transmuted in Kurt Vonnegut’s book “Cat’s Cradle,” when one character at the first atomic bomb test tells another, “Science has now known sin.” The other character replies, “What is sin?”

    A very moving post. Thank you for it..

  4. I think one can safely say that science knew* sin well before the first test explosion of the atomic bomb DSD. But thank you for educating me about how the Kenneth Bainbridge quote allegedly informed famous U*U Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s book “Cat’s Cradle.” I am a fan of Kurt and may even obtain another copy of “Cat’s Cradle” and read it again for the first time as it were. Thanks also for giving me an excuse to make good use of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s “picture of an asshole” a few times in this comment. 🙂

    * Or not. . .

    As per the “What is sin?” rejoinder.

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