Let’s start this New Year off with a bang! I once heard a seminary president say, jokingly responding to the idea that science and faith can’t coexist, “God said, ‘Let there be light’…bang!…Big bang!” I think that’s funny. I also think the writer of Genesis was concerned with something entirely other than the central concern of science. Where science asks fundamentally, “How?” the first chapter of Genesis answers, “Who?” And we are given that answer – “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1). No matter what scientific explanation you subscribe to about the beginning of matter, the greatest story ever told suggests that God was behind it. Dr. Ellsworth Kalas once wrote that God and beginning are synonymous. You can’t have a beginning without God and there was no beginning before God. This brings me to something that is, actually, very scientific. Though the writer of Genesis cares primarily about who, he answers at least one aspect of how in the process, and our church fathers and mothers have echoed this doctrine through the ages. The doctrine is called (in Latin) ex nihilo – the idea that God created “out of nothing.” Out of nothing! Doesn’t this violate the law of conservation of mass? Well, yes it does. At least once, anyway. What a profound idea – everything emanates from God. Everything.
And what picture do we have of God creating out of nothing? Was He a silent engineer calculating and executing alone with a serious expression and emotionless concentration? Was He an eccentric and reclusive artist masterfully crafting His work? Apparently neither. For, we are told not just that God created, but that He spoke. God was talking. God, you know God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Divine Being who stands outside of time itself and exists beyond language and mathematical comprehension, that God spoke. Conversation reveals relationship. This God has a soul, He communicates (and has the desire to), and He even feels. And we are told how He feels about what He is speaking into existence – good! (We’ll come back to that a few posts from now). For now, let’s just appreciate that the main character has stepped onto the stage. But in a weird way, He also made the stage in order to step onto it and be seen, heard, understood. Then, He did the strangest thing for an unfathomable divine being . . . He spoke. Bang.