Believing that the world is `created’ is not an abdication of common sense or sound reason
From time immemorial our ancestors have believed that the world we live in finds its ultimate explanation in a divine reality. Whatever religion they belonged to, in whichever part of the globe they lived, human beings were convinced that the visible world they saw was under the control of divine power. They believed our world was created.
There are sound reasons to show that their insight was basically correct, as we have seen. Our monumental scientific discoveries do not resolve the riddle of our universe. Rather, they heighten its mystery. We did not make ourselves, either as individuals, as a human race, or even as an evolving cosmos. We are created, in the sense that for our existence we owe everything to an overriding outside power which, for the moment, we will call God.
Believing in our being created is not the same as being a “creationist”. Creationists are a small group of fundamentalist Christians who maintain that the creation story of Genesis 1,1 – 2,4 should be taken literally. They state that the universe was created by God in six days and that all living beings were directly created by God as they are now. American creationists earned notoriety by succeeding in having the teaching of evolution banned from schools in certain North American states; till in 1968 the United States Supreme Court ruled that anti-evolution laws are unconstitutional.
Creationists refuse to accept the findings of modern science. They also misunderstand, and misrepresent, the teaching of the Bible. In reality, whether the world came to its present state in 4000 years or 15 billion years, whether life existed from the beginning or evolved gradually, makes no difference to the need of a Creator. On the contrary, the longer the universe has existed and the more complex it is, the more it requires a Creator to keep it in existence.
Awareness of creation
Not only are there convincing arguments that prove that our world did not bring forth itself, that it depends on a creative divine reality; what is more, this dependence on God is a dimension of our life that is not difficult to become deeply aware of, once we have discovered it.
Allow me to use a comparison.Many people go through life without paying much attention to gravity. They learned about gravity in school. They also meet its reality in everyday life: when carrying objects, when walking up a slope, when balancing cups on a tray, and so on. They just take it for granted.
What they do not realise is that their everyday gravity is not just determined by the bulk of the earth on which we live, but by an immensely heavy iron ball in the centre of the earth.
The outer layers of the earth, the so-called upper and lower mantle, are made of stone. The iron core starts from a depth of 3000 kilometers and goes down all the way to 6500 kilometers. Its composition is 90% iron and 10% nickel. In addition to its natural weight, the metal is highly compressed. The average pressure in the core is 300 gigapascals, which equals 3 million atmospheres. It is this clump of iron in the earth that makes gravity on its surface 81 times greater than on the moon, and its density three times greater than that of the Sun.
But realise this: no one has actually seen the iron core. Even with our most powerful drilling towers, we have not bored down to depths exceeding 12 kilometers. We know of the iron core through many complex calculations. Seismic waves recorded after earthquakes bounce off the border of the core in a characteristic way. The mass of the earth can be measured astronomically, and its excessive weight requires a heavy component. The existence of the iron core can thus be demonstrated, even though no one has seen it. (see: R.JEANLOZ, “The Nature of the Earth’s Core”, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 18 (1990) pp. 357 – 386; J.A.JACOBS, The Deep Interior of the Earth, Chapman & Hall 1992.)
Not many people will study the scientific arguments that prove the core’s existence. Most leave this to geologists. But all of us feel the pull of gravity. Gravity is there, whether we advert to it or not. When we become aware of the iron core, we discover a new dimension. We begin to realise that we relate to the centre of the earth in a far more continuous and dramatic way than we had thought.
The same applies to our dependence on a Creative Reality. We are constantly under his/her/its pull, whether we advert to it or not.
We must say that God is present in all things, not, indeed, as part of their nature, but as an agent who acts on it and touches it with his power . . . .
God causes being in things, and he does so not only when they begin to exist but as long as they are conserved in being.
As long then as a thing has existence, so long must God be present to it. But being, that is the act of existence, is the reality which is most intimate in each thing and which is most profoundly in each thing, since it is the absolute basis for everything that is in a thing.
Hence God is continuously present in everything – and intimately so.
THOMAS AQUINAS, Summa Theologica I, q.7, a.1, c.; see R.J.HENLE, “The Presence of God”, Spiritual Life 29 (1983) pp. 208 -217.)
Accepting creation should result in a new awareness, a recognition of God’s pull in our daily life, a realization that God supports us in the core of our being.
The text in this chapter is from How to Make Sense of God by John Wijngaards, Sheed & Ward, Kansas City 1995. Tom Adcock designed the cartoons. The Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada awarded the book a prize on 25 May 1996.
View the following film on the meaning of creation