[Not sure why the title reformatted itself; nothing I did. I think it's the RefTagger program, that automatically identifies all Bible references - even in titles, evidently.]
Preface. It seems as if, with each passing year, I see more significance in Genesis 1—3 generally, and Genesis 1:1 specifically. It has been well said that anyone who accepts Genesis 1:1 as true is prepared to understand and believe the rest of the Bible. Deny it, and all falls apart.
So when I introduced this Valerie-inspired series on thankfulness, my mind turned first to Genesis 1:1. I just may not have to go anywhere else, by Thursday the 26th (Thanksgiving Day in America).
Basic assumptions. Genesis 1:1 is probably the best-known verse in the Bible: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. For this series, I am going to assume without debate that this is the sense of the verse:
- Genesis 1:1 points to the first and only beginning of all things
- Genesis 1:1 is not a summary-statement nor a title
- Genesis 1:1 relates God's first act, followed immediately by the seven days narrated in 1:2—2:4
- Genesis 1:1 describes ex nihilo creation
Thus in Genesis 1:1, "the heavens and the earth" means the universe (cf. Genesis 2:4; 14:19; Psalm 69:34; 148:13, etc.). In the beginning, this one true and living God created the universe in an unformed and undeveloped state, then set about to order and define it.
This verse, then, asserts that one God is responsible for the creation of all things. There is no created thing that did not come from His hand; all created things trace their origin to that one, original burst of command. The infinite-personal God of Scripture had conceived of a "plan of the ages," which He made in Christ (Ephesians 3:11, Greek), and now He began its execution with the creation of everything from nothing.
What this means, then, is that we live in a universe, not a multiverse. There are not many realities competing with each other, vying for dominance. It is one universe, from the hand of one God. It is all defined and ruled over by Him.
Ironically, atheists — who have made "doing Science" their sacrament — depend on this truth, even as they deny it. Repetition only has meaning in a universe. Generalization from particulars only has meaning in a universe. If we can't proceed from the premise that everything is united by a common origin, we can neither predict nor generalize. In that existence, even if a series played out identically a hundred times, a thousand times, a million times, we would have no basis for predicting that it would proceed the same the next time. And even if it proceeded identically with our test subjects, no matter how large the sample, we could never justifiably assert that it would proceed the same with any untested subject.
Put it another way. Last Thanksgiving, you fed your family untainted, normal turkey (or pizza). They lived and thrived. How do you know that, if you feed them untainted, normal turkey this year, they won't die, or explode, or burst into flames because of it? How do you know that, when you poke your fork into some pumpkin pie, your house won't fly out into space as a result? How do you know that, when you click in the "Leave your comment" box, so that you can argue with me, your face won't be torn off and your veins filled with acid as a result? In fact, how could you even form an argument, attempting to arrange reasons in any logical or compelling form, with any thought that shapes on a page would even appear the same to each viewer, and convey meaning to rational readers?
Because of Genesis 1:1.
So there's the irony of the atheist. If Genesis 1:1 were not true, he could never deny that Genesis 1:1 is true.
So back to us. As you live your life in this one universe, with its designed predictability and order; and as you pursue your life confident that it is even possible to find meaning and live meaningfully — thank God for it. Thank Him for making a universe for you to live in. Thank Him that, because of Him, even the bare concepts of meaning and purpose and cohesion are not only intelligible and possible, but discoverable.
Discoverable, that is, if we proceed on the premise that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Which, thank God, we can.