Summary: Ther Apostle’s Creed - Maker of Heaven and Earth
At the beginning of the 21st century it seems that we human beings are faced with a huge dilemma. Our understanding of the world we live in is greater now than at any time in history, yet our understanding of our place in that world is perhaps at its lowest point ever.
If you were to come into my office later and connect to the Internet you’d discover unimagined layers of information available to you at the touch of a few keys. There’s more knowledge available to you via your computer today than existed in the entire State Library 50 years ago. But of course in among all the useful information are page upon page of other useless, even offensive material. [Creation: 8,520,000 references]
When you leave later today, most of you will get into a car that has a more sophisticated computer controlling it than the one that was used when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Yet the increase in the number of cars on the road means that you take twice as long to get where you’re going than you did in Neil Armstrong’s day.
Our communication technology has developed to an incredible extent. Mobile phones, satellite systems, Internet chat rooms all mean that people have an unprecedented ability to connect. This sermon will be read by people all around the world sometime today or tomorrow. Yet with all our ability to communicate, people seem to be less connected than ever before.
As technology and science have improved our way of life, we seem to have been slipping in other areas of human knowledge, particularly in the area of belief.
The trouble is that as technology increased during the 19th and into the 20th century humanism began its rise. People began to think that they had the answers. Science and technology would solve all our problems. We wouldn’t need God any more. The biological scientists added their bit with the theory of evolution which suggested that life came about by chance. There was no longer a place for a creator God. Science had shown him to be redundant. We could explain how life came to be the way it is without any reference to a supernatural being.
But then, if life came about by a process of blind chance, where did that place human will? Well, the existentialists had an answer for that. Human will was irrelevant. We’re all subject to the chaos in which we live. Globalisation has made it worse. There’s little we can do to make a difference. So just make the most of what you have. Take your chances when they come. The only certainty in life is death. In the face of that idea you have two choices. Succumb to anxiety or live freely in the face of your own mortality. Flee into the safety of the herd or face the threat of nothingness by creating your own reality.
It’s depressing when you put it like that isn’t it? Yet that’s the underlying philosophy that our children are growing up with. It’s no wonder depression is on the rise is it?
Even those who argue that the human being is the highest form of life because we’re the highest on the evolutionary curve, struggle when they think about the evil behaviour of some of our fellow human beings. The revelations of the mistreatment of prisoners by US Soldiers in Iraq lately leave most of us appalled. How is this army, from the most developed of societies, any further advanced than those of, say, Attila the Hun, or Genghis Khan? You see, this idea that we’ve evolved from lower forms of life doesn’t actually help us when it comes to dealing with evil in the world. There’s no moral imperative in evolution. It’s just the survival of the fittest. If I’ve just got here by accident, by a series of chance events, why should I care whether what I do has any moral standard attached to it?
And why is it that we consider life to be so precious? I was talking to someone in hospital the other day who was really worried about whether they’d survive their illness. But if we’re just mechanistic organisms, what does it matter if we die, as long as we don’t suffer too much, of course.
Well of course the Christian answer to those questions is that we’re not just mechanistic creatures born by chance. The chaos we see in the world isn’t all there is to say about it. In the first chapter of Genesis we read "In the beginning ... 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters." The waters are a picture of chaos. But into that chaos blows a wind from God. Some translations have "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Chaos has been tamed by God. Psalm 46, that we just read says "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult." And why will we not fear? Because as well as the sea with its raging chaos, there’s also a river that feeds living water to the people of God and the city in which they dwell is God’s city. "4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. (i.e. when the attacks of the enemy come.)"