Summary: What can we learn of God from the opening statement of the Bible?

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” [1]

Great philosophers are distinguished by asking great questions, whereas the merely curious ask meaningless questions. For instance, some shallow individuals may ask what they imagine is a profound question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Superficially, this question appears to offer a choice between something and nothing. However, consider the point—What is nothing? As soon as we answer, “nothing is…” whatever our definition may be, nothing ceases to be nothing and becomes something. If nothing really is nothing, nothing defies description.

Instead, the question asked should properly be, “Why is there something?” When we ask the question in this manner, it is no longer meaningless. This question forms one of the great philosophical questions of the ages. The question can be stated in different forms, any of which stimulates great thoughts. Where did the universe come from? Who made the atom? How did everything get to be as it is? Any of these is the same, basic question, each exploring the ultimate source of all that is.

Something exists—an immense, intricate and orderly something. That something was there before we were, for we cannot imagine our existence without it. But how did it get there? And how did it get to be as we understand it? GENESIS 1:1 answers these and every such question. That verse informs us, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Focusing on this one verse, we should be able to discover something about the origin of all that is, and something of the God who gives being to all that is. Obviously, understanding the nature of our Creator can only be beneficial for those who seek to worship Him.

A CONSIDERATION OF THE QUESTION OF ORIGINS —There are really only four possibilities when we consider answers to the question, “Why is there something?” [2] First, there is the view that the universe had no origin. This view argues that matter is eternal or at least that in some form the universe has always existed. This has been the predominant view of both ancient and modern science until recent times; it continues to be held by some.

A second view would hold that everything had a beginning and that this beginning was the work of a good personal being. Essentially, this is the Christian view.

Opposed to this view, one must concede the possibility of the view that all things came into being as result of the work of an evil personal being.

The fourth view is that there has always been and is now a dualism. This view takes several forms depending on whether one thinks of a personal or impersonal, moral or immoral dualism; but all the views are related. This was the view of ancient cosmologies such as presented in the Babylonian Epic. It is still characteristic of eastern religions and mysticism.

We can quickly eliminate the third view. You will recall that that view proposes an origin for the universe from a personal evil entity. That particular view says, in effect, that Satan is the creator. This view may be readily dismissed since it fails to give an adequate explanation of the origin of good. Evil can be a corruption of good. Satan can rebel against the Lord God of the Christian Faith. However it is not possible to think of good emerging from evil. While evil may be the misuse of otherwise good traits or abilities, there is no place for good to develop if evil is the source of all things.

It is possible to restate the problem of an evil origin for the universe in a slightly different form. For a power to be considered as truly evil, that power must possess the attributes of intelligence and will. However, these attributes of intelligence and will are in and of themselves good, which implies that good must have existed previously and that evil cannot therefore be the origin of all things. With the dismissal of this view, we are left with three views to account for origins.

The fourth possibility, dualism, will be seen to fail to satisfy. The reason for the failure of this view is that, although dualism has been quite popular throughout long periods of history it fails the test of careful analysis. You see, having stated the dualism we either immediately attempt to pass behind it to some type of unity that includes the dualism or we choose one part of the dualism and make it prominent over the other. In this latter instance, we are easing into one of the other possibilities and essentially dismissing the dualism as a viable possibility.

C. S. Lewis addressed this problem, pointing out a fatal flaw in the system. Dualism envisions two powers (whether spirits or gods) who are supposed to be quite independent and eternal. Neither entity is responsible for the other; each has an equal right to call itself God. Each presumably thinks that it is good and the other bad. Lewis questions what is meant when we say, as required in stating dualism, that the one power is good and the other bad. Do we mean merely that we prefer one to the other? If that is all we mean, then we must give up any real talk about good or evil; and if we do that, the moral dimension of the universe vanishes entirely and we are left with nothing more than matter operating in certain ways. Thus, we cannot possibly mean that and still hold to the dualism. We have fallen back to possibility number one.

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