Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who Built the House?

"At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.'  The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken-that is, created things-so that what cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'"  Hebrews 12:26-29   I don't know about you, but when I read this, I cannot see how this in any way jives with the idea of Jesus setting up an earthly kingdom.  I am looking forward to the day when this current, sin-disfigured universe is going to be replaced.  It's going to be an awesome day when the new heavens and the new earth are revealed.  (I mean, you though an Apple showcase or an analytical conference were spectacular?  Just wait until the unveiling of the new heavens and the new earth!).
    I bought a dinky book on logic and structuring arguments.  One example looked at whether/not God created the earth.  The argument was based on the idea that every house has a builder, and so the earth must have a builder, too.  The author "disproved" this argument by pointing out the imperfections in the world.  If, the author believed, the world is imperfect, this implies an imperfect Creator God.   Since he wasn't willing to accept the idea of an imperfect God, he ruled out the idea that God created the world.
     I've been writing all over this book, because it's the other real-time method I have of responding to the author.  If he had examined his original argument more carefully, he could have come to an entirely different conclusion.
    Here's how I look at this question:
    Q: Houses seem to have elements of design.  If houses truly do have elements of design, how did the design come about? 
    A: An architect designed it.  
    Q: If a problem is found in the house, is it always, then, the architect's fault? 
    A: Oh no.  It could be, if it's a fundamental design flaw (such as too steep a staircase), but it could also be a mistake made by the contractors who took the architect's design and executed it.  For example, if the roof leaks around the chimney during the first week after construction, it's just possible that the contractors forgot to install the flashing.  Other reasons that there could be a problem with the house is that an accident or deliberate action destroyed part of it.  A car might have slid off the road and into the house, or a little kid playing with matches might have burned up part of the house.  Finally, if the house is older and has not been well-maintained, when you look at it in its current condition, you must carefully decide what characteristics of the house are due to the architect's design, and which are due to weather-wear, aging of the building materials, etc.
     This last point is what I want to emphasize.  If we looked at the burned-out shell of a house, we might be able to learn something about the architect who designed it.  But could we accuse him of neglecting to design a roof, or for using such ugly, scorched bricks?  Of course not: those characteristics of the house weren't part of the architect's blueprint; they came after the architect designed the house.
    That's how it is with God's universe, as well.  God originally made a perfect universe.  But we humans made short work of that perfection.  Adam did the first sin, and the rest of us have been following suit ever since.  Our sins have distorted the original blueprint that God had for this universe.  Sin, death, fungus, disease, tears, pills -- none of these were originally part of God's plan.  But the very fact that the world still exists after our reckless, millennium-long frat party in it is a testament to God's original, incredible design.
     So if you and I are really intent on answering the question "Did God create the world?", then we've got to know if the current condition of the world is what it's always been.
    Is this universe flawed?  Oh, buddy, yes.
    Does this imply that if there was a Creator of the universe He too would be flawed?
    No: not if the original condition of the universe was much different from what it is now.
    It boils down to four options:
1) The universe has always been what it is now.
2) The condition of the universe is changing, but there is no definite trend toward a "better" or a "worse" state.
3) The universe was at one time better than what it is now.  It is decaying.
4) The universe was at one time worse than what it is now.  It is improving.
(Of course, I haven't defined the terms "better" and "worse."  That leaves a gap about the size of Wrigley Stadium in what I'm saying here).
   What do you believe about the condition of the universe?  How does that impact the possibility that God created or did not create the universe?

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