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The Process of Creation

We live in a time of incredible progress in man's understanding of how matter is structured, and how the material world in which we live has been formed. Quantum mechanics and nuclear physics have given us some new understandings which have the potential to change our whole picture of how matter is put together.

It seems as though there has always been a fear among religious folks that somehow these discoveries and advances are going to be a threat to belief in God and in his creation of the “heaven and earth.” This has frequently caused an unhealthy attitude toward science and infinity iconwhat science can do. When surgery was introduced there were those who felt that it was some kind of invasion of what belonged to God. There were those who felt that going to the moon was an affront to the Creator because mankind was told to “subdue the earth” not to subdue the moon. Cloning, stem cells, and genetic profiling have had opponents in modern times by those who felt mankind was “playing God.”

The problem with these approaches is that they frequently deny things that are very beneficial to mankind, and portray religious beliefs as opponents of progress. Cloning, stem-cell research, and genetic manipulation give us the capacity to cure some diseases such as cancer that may bring real relief to thousands of people. Our food problems in feeding the growing population of earth can also be met by these new areas of research. It is true that the misuse of these procedures can produce bad consequences. By the same token a knife can be used to do terrible things, but most of us keep knives in our homes because knives can do many good things. The role of religion should be to help determine the use to which scientific discoveries can be put — not to stop research and progress.

One area of rapidly changing understandings is the area of cosmology. Research now has produced a model called “The Standard Model” molecule iconthat seems to explain the creation of matter. The standard model is a theory which concerns electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions of known subatomic (smaller than atoms) particles. Begun in 1960, the standard model has 61 elementary particles including quarks, leptons, gauge bosons, and to make the theory work, a particle proposed in 1964 called Higgs boson. The Higgs boson must have a mass about 133 times that of a proton and no intrinsic spin (which is why it is classified as a boson). It also must interact with itself. In July 2012, scientists believed they detected this particle, making the detection of all particles in the standard model complete.

This is a massively oversimplified explanation but it appears that a workable theory of the composition of all forces that make up the physical world may be at hand. Assuming that to be true, of what practical value can it be? Most of the major technological advances of the past 500 years have come from basic research that did not have a practical goal in sight when it was carried on. Walter H. Brattain's work with semiconductors was not based on a desire to produce transistors, but that is where it ended up. Charles Townes' work on DNA helix iconmicrowaves was carried on to understand the nature of microwaves, but from that work came the laser. It was not Townes' purpose to build a laser, but that incredibly useful tool came from his research. The work with the standard model is very likely to lead us to new energy sources, and new computers that are faster and more useful than those we have today. Already some quantum mechanics work with tunneling is giving us better cell phones and more useful and smaller computers.

In Genesis 1:28 man was told to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. In Genesis 2:15 man's role in the earth was “to dress it and keep it.” In Psalms 19:1; 139:14 –18; Proverbs 8:4 –12; Job 38 – 42; and Romans 1:19 – 25, God emphasizes the need for man to use his intelligence and reasoning to know that God is and to understand man's role in God's plan. In Proverbs 8:23 we are told that God's wisdom was present “from the beginning.” In verse 27 we are told that “he prepared the heavens” and that wisdom was present. In Jeremiah 10:12 we are told that God made the earth (not that he “zapped” it into existence) and that God “established the world by his wisdom.” The passage goes on and says that he stretched out the heavens by his discretion and caused the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; making the lightnings with rain. Three times Isaiah mentions that God stretched out the heavens (Isaiah 40:22; 45:12; and 51:13).

God's methods are not spelled out in great detail, but they are explained to the extent that we can see that wisdom, power, intelligence, purpose, and planning are a part of all God does. God's methods in producing the earth are not beyond our understanding. Genesis 2:8 tells us that God planted a garden in Eden. Just as we now know how to plant a garden, we also know how rain produces lightning (Jeremiah 10:13). By knowing these things we are able to mold and shape our world and protect ourselves from the dangers that might come from the earth's natural processes. If the standard model of how things acquire mass holds up, we may one day know how to change energy into mass and may be able to actually build a device like the one in Star Trek where people and material can be “beamed up” from one place to another.

flask iconSo how did God create the earth? We now know something about how mass is created. The interaction of Higgs fields and Higgs bosons may eventually be so well understood that no one will question it. How the Higgs field came into existence, and how all of the values of the properties of the 61 fundamental particles mentioned earlier came to be exactly what they are, will not be answered by science. They simply have to exist — to be chosen. I would suggest an intelligence was necessary for that choosing to take place. Once matter with mass exists, it can organize to produce galaxies. The forces within the galaxies can produce stars, and stars go through a natural designed life process, beautifully shown in the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, to produce heavy particles which become solid matter. The design of that matter will cause it to clump together to produce planets of all sizes and makeups. In at least one of those processes, conditions that would allow water-based, carbon-based life to exist took place. It appears statistically that there are so many variables that have to be exactly “right” to allow life to exist, that our planet was designed consciously for life and that life itself was created — not by chance, but with forethought, intelligence, and purpose. Whether that was also done elsewhere in space has not been answered yet, but if life is discovered elsewhere it will simply show that the answer to that last question is “yes.”

There is no reason for religiously oriented people to be upset by the suggestion that God used a process. Genesis 1:1 just states that God did it, not how he did it. We are learning more and more every day about how he did it, and the complexity of the process of creation is incredible. We do not have to deny the facts or the evidence. God “speaking it into existence” does not mean his methods were irrational magnifying lens and moleculeor beyond our understanding. If life is found under the ice of Europa (one of Jupiter's moons) it will be interesting and will open new doors of understanding, but it will not be in contradiction to what the Bible teaches and will not discredit God in any way. Quantum mechanics and cosmology are friends of belief in God. They show us clearly that “by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16 –17).

— John N. Clayton

Picture credits:
Title background: © Leonid Tit.
Icons in this article: © barnie boogles. Images from BigStockPhoto.com.