by Matthew C. Harrison
As classical Christians, we believe that the account of creation in Genesis records history. There is no middle ground here. You don’t get very far with a real Adam in a mythical garden, or with a real fall into sin without a first human being. You can’t stretch the accounts to cover billions or millions of years and so mesh the biblical account with Darwinism. The order of things created in Genesis does not even follow the order proposed by evolution. The problem of evil is unavoidable, and Darwin presumes death (a fallen state) as a presupposition to the development of human life (survival of the fittest). Genesis is either complete myth, or it is history recorded in the simple language of its time. . . .
Some years ago I found myself flat on my back in a dry, rockstrewn riverbed, hours from anywhere in central Australia. It was a crystal clear, pitch black, moonless night. I beheld the heavens in a spectacular, 3D, high definition, life-sized, living, moving mural. It took my breath away. For the first time in my life, I beheld a whole galaxy. Horizon to horizon, a one-hundred-eighty-degree swath of a billion stars of the Milky Way, painted like glitter on a swath of black velvet, the blackness of deep space.
I was filled with doubt teetering on the edge of belief. “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:10). In the face of infinity, how can I possibly believe that there is a God who is concerned about our tiny planet? How can I believe that there is a God who knows who I am and should even care about me or about any human being? Is there a God at all? Who and what am I? What is my life compared to the universe? I am a micro-speck, a piece of subatomic dust, circling a black hole — a minute piece of finitude, about to be devoured by infinity. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3–4)
But then I began to consider that all I beheld was marvelously ordered. “Give thanks to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:8–9). I was staring God in the face, as it were. No, not God in the flesh, the revealed Son of God, but the same God in nature, nevertheless. “Is not God high in the heavens?” (Job 22:12) Yes, to be sure. But this is God who revealed himself to Abram (who had the very same thoughts with which I struggle) and promised him, “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven . . . And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 26:4). God used the very thing that terrified Abraham to console him.
. . . And then I beheld, in my infinite insignificance, the Southern Cross, and my doubt was dashed upon the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16). “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names” (Psalm 147:4). And the joy of knowing this God of the heavens in Christ chased back all doubt. “And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:9–10).
The secret to living a good news life in a bad news world is marveling with joy at the vast ordered complexity of all creation and recognizing by faith the God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who created it all for our blessed surprise, enjoyment, and faith.
Excerpted from A Little Book on Joy (CPH, 2010), 103–107.