“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away,” says Jesus in that Gospel passage. Indeed, we know from our observations of the universe, that even scientifically, the world will one day come to an end … even if that is billions of years hence.
Our journey through the Catechism in this ‘Year of Faith’ brings us to consider this week the idea of God as Creator. It’s a huge subject, but is an important one, since much of the critique in people’s minds, I think, when they have objections to faith in God, is that they do not think of the universe as created by God at all. But our belief in God as Creator is perfectly rational and makes sense of the universe we see. For at least two reasons:
- Because the fact is that there is something, rather than nothing: this needs explaining. We do see a universe around us; we do find that things exist. This can’t just have come about of itself: the multiplicity of the atoms of the universe, the matter they make up: these do not explain themselves.
- And secondly, we see that the matter existent in the universe follows scientific laws, and, again, those laws as such cannot just have made themselves up: laws do not create themselves; laws require a lawgiver, a Mind who has established them.
So, this Mind is the One whom we know as God. He is not matter at all: He is pure and Almighty Spirit. He it is who has created all things out of nothing, by the will of His Mind. He is the lawgiver, who establishes how this universe of matter is to behave; what laws will govern it. And, by His Almighty power, He can foresee exactly how the playing out of those laws will give rise to the development of the universe over many billions of years. God’s plan, from the 1st moment of Creation, which scientifically we often call the ‘Big Bang,’ God’s physical laws have by His intention, led gently towards the earth’s existence and life on earth. God is Creator of all things in the sense that His universe, His laws, all follow His Providence: they follow His plan.
When we listen the account of Creation in the book of Genesis in the bible, what in fact we hear is the truth that the one God intended there to be a Creation: something that was not Him, that He created separate to Him, which could share in His happiness. And as we hear of each of the 6 ‘days’ of Creation, we hear of the gradually increasing complexity: light; then the sun, moon and stars; the land, sea and air; and then the plants, and animals arising; finally, as the crowning moment of Creation, the special creation of mankind (and we shall think more about the nature of man’s creation next week). What in fact we see as we read Genesis is not a myth that is outdated and just plain wrong, but an account that presents much truth: that God is Creator, that there is an order in the way things come to be, and that man is the pinnacle of creation. The writer of Genesis does not have pretensions of writing a science text-book. It does not matter that he uses the scheme of 6 days for creation; that in fact it took 13 billion years from the first ‘light’ at the Big Bang to the appearance of Man is not a problem. What Genesis is there to teach us is that it is all the work of the One Creator God. He is the Mind behind it all. He is not part of Creation; He is not absent from Creation: instead Creation is His loving work. And I fact as we study the universe in science, we see that Creation has a unity to it: this points strongly towards its Maker.
We are reminded in the Creed that God is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, “the heavens and the earth,” we might say. It reminds us that both material creation (the ‘matter’ — the visible part, atoms and molecules our bodies) are but one part of creation; the other part, the invisible, is the spiritual part of Creation, namely the angels — including the fallen angels, the devils — and our own souls too, our human spirit, which is invisible and immortal but also created. We inhabit a special place in the world by being both matter and spirit: both body and soul. That is what is unique about man, and we shall ponder more on this question next week: why did God make a particular creature that is both body and soul, unlike all the animals who are just material, and unlike the angels, who are pure spirit? Man is very special to God; it’s why He came amongst us in the flesh: our Lord, Jesus.