Genesis 1:1 and other worldviews
Science is a wonderful thing. And over the centuries science has often had a good relationship with the Bible. Think about these three towering figures of science; Galileo, Pascal, and Newton. If we look at their lives we will find that their belief in God and the Bible (far from being a hindrance to their science) was actually the main inspiration for it. It was their faith that encouraged them to investigate science further, because they expected to find answers. And that is why they made such great discoveries.
Science and the Bible fit perfectly together. And at the end of time, when all things are revealed, we will see that there is no final contradiction between science and the Bible. However, we do need to be aware that while science is in a state of flux, the Bible is not. Science is still growing as it makes new discoveries, however, the Bible is complete.
Now the Bible isn’t exhaustive (it doesn’t tell us everything we could possibly know) but it is sufficient (it does tell us what we need to know). And everything it does tell us is true. For thousands of years the Bible told us that the universe had a beginning. However, science only caught up on that fact less than 100 years ago. So, for this reason, we need to be wary about letting science take precedence over the Bible.
The Bible is perfect, eternal and true, whereas science is still getting its act together. So while science is great, we can’t ultimately depend on it, because we still have so much to learn. Which means that we must look at the Bible in order to rightly understand the beginning of the universe.
And even if science was perfect and complete, science itself only asks ‘how did it happen?’ Whereas the Bible asks ‘why did it happen?’ And it’s important to note that the Bible is a historical account and not scientific textbook. It never claims to be a scientific textbook, so it would be foolish to expect it to answer every 21st century question that we have. Although that said, everything it does say about creation is true. So the Bible is true, and it alone that can tell us why the universe does in fact exist.
In one sense the first verse of the Bible is the most important verse in the Bible. Because if we accept Genesis 1:1 as true, then we should have no problem accepting everything else that the Bible teaches. Genesis 1:1 really sets the stage for everything else that follows.
And also, in this one verse, we find that virtually every other worldview is shown to be false. So if Genesis 1:1 is right, then every other worldview is wrong.
Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Now I just made the claim that this verse shows virtually every other worldview to be false. Let me show you what I mean:
Atheism is a worldview that says that there is no God. But Genesis 1:1 says that God exists and that he was there at the beginning. And it also says that God created the universe (it didn’t spontaneously appear).
Agnosticism is a worldview that says that it is impossible to know whether God exists. However, Genesis 1:1 tells us that God has revealed himself in Scripture as the Creator of everything.
Dualism is a belief that Good and Evil have always co-existed. Whereas Genesis 1:1 shows us that God was alone when he created, and because God is good there wasn’t any evil in the beginning. Evil came later when creatures rebelled against their Creator.
Open Theism suggests that God is limited and that he doesn’t really know the future. But Genesis 1:1 says that God created everything (including time) which means he isn’t limited, and he does in fact know what will happen.
Evolutionism is the theory (or belief) that everything started with a big bang, and that humans evolved from some kind of slime. However, Genesis 1:1 teaches us that God created everything that has been created, including men and women and various animals. And that he created them in distinct acts of creation.
Humanism is the belief that man is the measure of all things, and that we are at the apex of all existence. Whereas the Bible teaches us that God is the ultimate reality and that man is simply a part of the created order. With the result that God is the measure of all things.
Materialism and naturalism hold that matter (or mass energy) is the only reality, and that natural laws explain all things. However, Genesis 1:1 shows us that God created matter, and that God is sovereign over the natural world, and that matter and natural laws are not self-existent.
Pantheism is the belief that all is god, maintaining that god and creation are the same thing. In contrast, the Bible declares that God created the universe, meaning that God is distinct from his creation.
Panentheism is the belief that ‘all is in God.’ However, in Genesis 1:1 we see that while God loves his creation he also transcends it, and is separate to it.
Polytheism says that there is more than one god. But Genesis 1:1 teaches us that there is but one God who created everything else.
Now the only worldview that I can think of that isn’t shown to be false by Genesis 1:1 is Unitarianism which is the belief that God is one person and not three. However, Genesis 1:26 says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” And the plurals in this verse clearly show that within the Godhead there are multiple persons.
So, other than Unitarianism, virtually every other belief system is rejected by Genesis 1:1.
Now we live in a postmodern world which is wary about claims to absolute truth. And I feel it myself as someone who grew up as a postmodern. Some people even say, “There is no absolute truth.” But we have to be careful with those kinds of statements. Because, as Tim Keller has pointed out, to say “there is no absolute truth” is itself an absolute, and it’s a claim to be able to see the big picture.
So if someone says that there is no absolute truth then they’re really claiming to have superior knowledge, and they’re claiming that they can see the bigger picture. Which means that we really can’t get away from claims to absolute truth. So the question then becomes; who should we trust?
Should we trust postmodernism that suggests there is no absolute truth (which is actually a claim to know absolute truth)? Or should we trust God and his Word? Because both postmodernism and Genesis 1:1 make claims of absolute truth.
Now in order to move forward in our thinking a helpful question to ask is; which one makes the most sense of everything else? If we embrace postmodernism then nothing else makes much sense. Postmodernism might seem attractive at the start, because it easily justifies our lifestyle, but in the end it really does lead to meaninglessness. However, if we embrace Genesis 1:1 then everything else starts to fall into place. Because Genesis 1:1 gives us a platform which then enables us to make sense of everything else that we experience.
So let’s remember that every worldview claims to know absolute truth. And the question we must ask is; who’s right? And one way to know who’s right is to ask; which worldview makes the most sense of the world we live in?