Last week I stated that it is important for us to reclaim the word creation from Young Earth Creationists so that we can proclaim the message of creation to a fallen world. It is not simply that the scientific evidence conflicts with a YEC view of origins; it’s the exclusive focus on origins that is the problem. The ideas of Karl Barth may be helpful here. Although I have not yet read much of Barth, quotes like the following (which I stumbled across at http://theologyandsnack.blogspot.com/search/label/creation) provide added incentive for me to do so:
[M]ost of the laity believe the doctrine of creation deals with the beginning of the world and its details. As such, the creation-doctrine is a matter for preaching, but also one to which “the latest news from the science front” is also relevant. The average theologian, on the contrary, insists on quite a different understanding of the doctrine, one to which scientific discoveries are simply irrelevant, because the doctrine intends to affirm something that science is not competent to assess.…
The doctrine of creation is thoroughly and completely a religious-theological affirmation.… The affirmation of creation is the form in which the community of faith sets forth its understanding of the world. As it does so, its goal is to permit its understanding of the world to be fully congruous with its belief in God.… “Creation” is a word that refers to the whole of the world when viewed as belonging to God, and the doctrine of creation is an elaboration of how we understand the world when we permit our understanding of God to permeate and dominate our thinking.
I can’t agree with Barth’s (as it seems to me) dismissal of science, but I wholeheartedly agree that God’s creation is more than a discovery or affirmation of how God acted in the past. It is also about the present since God continues to sustain and nurture creation. God’s present and ongoing activity, his continuous interaction with the world, his care and sustenance for all his creatures, these are also creation. And that should permeate all our thoughts and actions.
Although God’s original action to bring the universe into being is an important aspect of creation, creation is not exclusively, or even primarily, about origins. Confining God’s “creation work” to a distant time in the past (whether that be assigned to billions of years ago, or to a single 6-day work week several thousand years ago) is little more than deism. As ASA’s “Statement on Creation” affirms:
1. God is the creator of all things.and later:
a. All things were created through the Word. (Jn1:1-3; Col 1:15-20)
b. God is both transcendent over creation and immanent in creation. (1 Kg 8:27)
c. God continually upholds all of creation. (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3)
d. God is continually creating. (Ps 104:29-30)
3. God actively cares for His creation.There is very strong scientific evidence to support biological evolution. For a Christian, there are also strong theological reasons to accept the concept of God’s evolving creation. (See for example, George Murphy’s essay: “A Theological Argument For Evolution”). Certainly speaking about God’s evolving creation seems much more biblical than speaking about creation as a single event that occurred in the distant past. For God is actively involved in the present, he is active in a creation that is not yet finished.
a. God declares all that He has made very good. (Gen 1:31)
b. The earth is the Lord’s possession. (Ps 95:1-5)
c. All creation praises God. (Ps 148)
d. God sustains and provides for His creation. (Job 38-41, Ps 104)