One of my goals for this blog is to talk about the Catholic faith–not only how it is lived out in my own experience, but also the actual teachings of the Church, in all of their complexity, difficulty, and beauty. Once a week, I’ll post an edition of “Cozy Catholic CCD,” where I’ll discuss one aspect of the faith–and I will try to do it in a way that is conversational, interesting, and–of course!–in line with the teachings of the Magisterium. But I am not perfect or a professional theologian, so please let me know if you notice an error!
Guys. (By which I mean, “everybody.” Ladies and dudes.) Are you ready?
We are going to tackle a BIG IMPORTANT THING today. I want to cover this topic early, because almost every other teaching is related to it somehow—so I want to be able to link back here in the future. Of course, that also means that whole enormous books could be written on this subject, and I’m going to try to fit some of the basics into one paltry blog post… So bear with me. We can only dip our toes into what is really a vast, deep sea of wisdom and knowledge.
Let’s talk about Creation.
And let’s start at the beginning. When you read, you begin with A-B-C; when you sing, you begin with do-re-me; when you talk Creation–“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” And then there’s the rest of Genesis: the story of the seven days of creation, followed immediately by the story of Adam and Eve.
Let’s get one thing clear: neither of these stories answers a scientific question of “how” the universe was created. The Church is totally cool with scientific theories like the Big Bang (first posited by Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest) and evolution, which help explain the mechanics of how and when creation unfolded.
So what CAN we know from the Biblical accounts of Creation?
First: God is the boss of EVERYTHING. God creates the heavens, the earth, the waters, the sky, the sun, the stars, trees, the animals, people… everything! Out of nothing (literally nothing–not even empty space or a vacuum), God made everything. Historically, human cultures have understood that a creator has authority over his creation, so they would have read the seven days of creation to mean that God has authority over everything in existence. He is King of Heaven and Earth—nothing exists that is not subject to Him. (Fortunately for us, He’s the perfect ruler.)
We also see in the creation stories that God is the source of everything that exists. Now, the Catholic Church doesn’t mean this in the Deist “clockmaker” sense, where He is only the origin, setting everything in motion and then stepping back to let the world run on its own. No, our understanding of God’s Creation is way more impressive than that. We believe that God is the foundation of all existence—that is, everything that exists, at any moment in time, depends on Him in a vital and immediate sense. God is the originator, but He is also the sustainer: He maintains Creation at every moment. He has His eye on you right now—and it’s a good thing, too, because if He stopped actively sustaining you, you’d blink right out of existence. That’s true for every person and tree and sparrow, and every lilly of the field, and every mite of dust—everywhere in the universe. He keeps us all in existence by His divine will. The next time you stop and stare in wonder at a beautiful blue sky, or a breathtaking landscape, or a piece of music that makes your heart sing along—know that God is experiencing that wonderful moment with you, because he is not only keeping YOU in existence to feel those feelings, but he’s supporting that blue sky, the shape of the earth, and even the very speaker in your iPhone that is playing the song.
Now, again, this is not a denial of science. It’s more like underneath science—another layer of understanding. In fact, another thing about Creation: we know from John’s gospel that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;” and through the Word the world was created. God created the world through Christ, the Word of God. The Greek word for “Word” that John used was “Logos”—which does mean “Word,” but also means wisdom, reason, rationality. We believe that when God created through the Word, He did so in a way that is rational and reasonable. Creation is a reflection of the rationality of God. God makes things that make sense. That’s part of WHY science works: because the universe was designed in a way that we can study and understand. And understanding Creation leads us to a better understanding of God, the Creator.
So science is good and valid, but God is still The Source of everything and In Charge of it all.
Now let’s consider WHY God created anything at all? Continue reading “Cozy Catholic CCD – Edition 2: Creation”