2

We know that in the beginning God created everything from nothing. No doubt there. But, these days we often hear something like "Why is that puppy so cute? Because God made it that way." Or something like "Who made that awesome sports car? God did."

I'm trying to reconcile the idea that God created all things (initially) vs. God creates all things (currently). I have no doubt that I couldn't build a car without God guiding me and nudging me in the right direction, but does that mean God created it?

I guess, to me, it seems like God made the building blocks -- ie dirt, water, atoms, physics, gravity, etc. -- but man actually made things using those building blocks.

It would be like saying the guy that invented the microchip is the same guy who invented the iphone.

I hope this question makes sense and someone can offer some clarity.

4 Answers 4

2

God creates, man modifies.

God created the grapes, but man makes the wine.

God created the wheat, but man makes the bread.

God created iron ore, but man makes steel.

God created lithium, but man makes batteries.

As the OP puts it, God created the "building blocks", the original, but man merely uses those things to modify. Man does not create anything original, but only modifies.

Hope that helps.

3
  • What about things that live? Ie. the bird outside right now, did God create it, and if not, explain. Or, is that bird also just a result of those original building blocks and natural processes God put in place at that time? ie. The rotation of the earth, plants and animals that reproduce (independent of his direct involvement). What about human life, is it any different? God created Adam and Eve, but what about all the humans after that? He knew us in the womb, but is that after mom and dad made us?
    – mikem
    Sep 8, 2023 at 0:56
  • @mikem The key way to think about it is not "either or" but "both and". For humans after Adam and Eve, God sustains, sanctifies, and completes (if they are willing) the human souls animating the biological bodies. God is STILL truly the sovereign over life and death; when humans post Adam realize our supernatural destiny beyond biological life and invite God's Trinitarian life to reside within us (after which we can have personal communion with Him), God then actively "co-create" individual human beings. Sep 8, 2023 at 12:04
  • @mikem In the beginning God created Adam and Eve. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? From the chicken, other chickens came about. God created. Man may modify.
    – SLM
    Sep 8, 2023 at 15:23
1

When God originally created the universe the Bible means he did it ex nihilo, i.e. out of nothing. Since the six days of creation nothing has been created ex nihilo, with the possible exception of spiritual things such as the new birth, and Christ's resurrection body. We also wait the creation of the new heavens and the new earth, which may also be ex nihilo. But nothing else apart from these.

6
  • Very pertinent. No idea why anyone would want to down-vote this. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 7, 2023 at 20:36
  • Thank you Nigel. Perhaps it was because I said Chrst's resurrection body may have been created ex nihilo which was a bit careless. I didn't mean it was entirely created ex nihilo.. it was his earthly body transformed.. I really meant just the extra transforming additions to his earthly body. My son is near you working in Pershore. Sep 8, 2023 at 16:00
  • Yes. That's very close. We seem to be neighbours : ) I work in Tewkesbury and live in Upton.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 8, 2023 at 17:23
  • Where does it say ex nihilo? My Bible doesn't say that.
    – pygosceles
    Dec 27, 2023 at 7:45
  • @pygosceles - Genesis 1:1. Your Bible also says "You must be born again". If you are struggling to understand the most basic scriptural statements then you need to repent and seek God for the new birth by faith in Christ alone through the Bible alone. Dec 27, 2023 at 22:19
1

TL;DR

In the Christian worldview, God didn't "create and forget" like a divine watchmaker. Instead God gives us a share of Himself in the form of capacities. He also gives us freedom to direct each of our individual will to plan our own individual fulfillment in the hope we use our freedom responsibility to participate in God's plan for humanity. Through His revelation in Scripture and in Jesus Christ, we KNOW what God intended for humanity. Not only that, God gives us the MEANS so we CAN do it, by giving us the Holy Spirit so we stay in communion with Him as we grow to be more and more like Him. In this sense, God keeps working out His purpose for humanity, which we colloquially can name "keep creating" until all things are under Christ's authority (Eph 1:22-23).

Capacity and Telos

You are right that God made the building blocks, which in the classical tradition since St. Augustine, matured in the medieval times with St. Thomas Aquinas, are spelled out as 4 gradations of Being each with certain level of God-ness in natural things, giving them their capacities (potential) AND telos (the measure of a thing's perfection, purpose, goodness):

  1. inanimate things like stars/planets/mountains: they are good simply by existing according to their form (ex. Sun is good when radiating heat and light, rain is good when it is just right amount, not causing flooding, etc.)
  2. vegetative beings like plants and trees: they grow and reproduce
  3. animate beings like animals which act according to instinct and possessing locomotion to find food, reproduce, and act according to their kind
  4. rational beings like humans who adds to being an animal by having intuition and reason, making us most like God in that we can plan, create, decide to pursue various ends according to our situation, resources, and inclination / talent.

Humans are created in the image of God, understood as being endowed by God with capacities (as described above, a.k.a "human nature"), specific talent, and the freedom to choose our own individual life purposes where in the pursuit of these temporal but natural for us (procreation, creativity, culture, society) we can make "good" or "bad" decision when measured against the telos of "human nature" as well as discerned from God's specific purpose for each of us (cf Ps. 57:2, Pr 19:21, Rom 8:28, etc.). Some examples: being a responsible husband & father, start an ethical business that contributes to society, being a good political leader, becoming a Catholic priest or a Protestant pastor, etc. When these temporal goals are achieved ethically and ordered properly toward our ultimate goal (God Himself), the ultimate goal coheres in each of our temporal goal. So when I love God as my #1 purpose, I can then truly say that I'm being a good husband for God as well as for my wife. Or that my business is for God as well as for gaining legitimate wealth.

In other words, by sustaining all beings (including us) and directing all beings to their proper telos (by each kind grows properly), God keeps creating (indirectly) with our cooperation through our individual goals (as long as they are achieved ethically). In addition, God works within the body of Christ helping him to realize his rule on earth (Kingdom of God), each of us shining a small portion of his glory as small images of God. Collectively, the body of Christ under the rule of Christ is shining God's glory many times brighter (as his "inheritance", Eph 1:18), the telos of God's creation of human beings.

Out of all gradations of Being only rational beings can rebel (humans and angels). When we rebel we become dark spots in God's creation, but for humans God gave us His Son Jesus so that we now have the option to be healed from our sinful inclinations. If we say "yes" to Jesus, with the Holy Spirit we can act properly again to cooperate with God to bring His creation to the final end in history.

But this world is meant to be a "trial run" and a "training ground", a sphere where each human can choose whether to cooperate with God or not. By the time God created the next world, humans have already made their choices. Those who choose God will be resurrected bodily and become part of God's untainted and glorious creation to which this world is a mere shadow.

Responding to your examples

  1. "Why is that puppy so cute? Because God made it that way". Yes, God created the puppy's breed in his mind, let's say Pomeranian with its potential cuteness. When THAT Pomeranian puppy was born, God endows the Pomeranian capacity and telos INTO that puppy's existence. So yes, God made it that way. BUT God is not finished when the puppy was born. He also sustains the puppy's existence until it grows without sickness / defects to become full cute grown Pomeranian, i.e. a "good" Pomeranian (according to the template in his mind). So although God is still involved we don't say God "creates", but "sustains".

  2. "I couldn't build a car without God guiding me and nudging me in the right direction, but does that mean God created it?" In the Christian framework, we say that we participate in God's creativity so collectively we designed a car and kept improving it in the past 140 years or so. The car is truly our creation, but using the capacity "loaned" by God. Did God intend to create a car through us? Possibly, but again, we don't say God "created car", but God "created human's creative instinct to imitate God's own creativity in nature" to which we need to respond with thankfulness and make sure our own sub-creation is consistent with God's overall telos for humanity. Because by the same creativity we unfortunately can use it to make weapons of war.

  3. "The guy that invented the microchip is the same guy who invented the iPhone". Rather, as a rational being endowed with the same creative nature and social dispositions, one became a microchip designer, another creates bigger better thing: the iPhone. Did God intend humans to create iPhone? Maybe, but we normally say there is telos not just for an individual but for the whole humankind. Again, as a collective we need to use our God-given discernment to decide what's good for humanity and learn from our mistakes. One thing that American evangelicals often forget is social justice and how in the Bible it was really clear that God expects the powerful to help the weak and the downtrodden as proper worship (ex. Micah 6:8, Amos 5:21-24). God is at work to create a more perfect human society. It's reasonable to assume that the technologies and cultural products humanity managed to create is part of God's "creation plan" all along, and needs to be measured against the telos for humanity.

2
  • Thank you for expanding your answer to help with my followup questions. I'm still stuck with respect to humans. If a 3yo child asks "Why do I have blue eyes?" many Christians will say "Because God made you that way." And later in life they ask "Why is Johnny faster than me?" and the answer is "God gave him longer legs." etc. When my child inevitably asks these kinds of questions, I want to give the right answer. We know the answers are in DNA and that God created DNA, but on the day of my child's conception, when molecules and cells are combined, did God create him or did my wife and I?
    – mikem
    Sep 12, 2023 at 2:52
  • (continued) -- Does God make one child smarter than another? Does he make one sicker than another? These are the kinds of things we attribute to God as though he is still in hands-on creation mode. I truly want to give God all the glory and credit that is his and his alone, but I also want to teach my child the truth of where, when and how God interacts with the physical world, and specifically us, today. I don't want to say "God made you that way." if that really isn't an accurate answer. And, how to explain this all to a child 2-5yo who doesn't have concepts of the broader sciences?
    – mikem
    Sep 12, 2023 at 3:01
0

Behind the idea of God creating everything, even currently, are several issues which I will try to briefly look at. So where to get a starting point?

Revelation 4:8 NKJV

"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come."

God is always and only holy. Never sinful. But Proverbs 16:1

"The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom."

God being holy has, I think we can say, a holy motive or reason for making "the wicked".

On this Christianity site I once posed the question, "Is there a denomination which espouses hard determinism?" And Yogon Poet replied that he did know a church which strictly followed determinism. So it would appear that in some peoples eyes Christianity and hard-determinism are compatible.

John 1:3 ESV

"All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."

Adam was made by God. Adam sinned. If God had not made Adam, Adam would not have sinned. God knew that if He created Adam Adam would sin, but God went ahead and created Adam. God has ultimate responsibility for what He has created. In 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 we see the contrast between "first man" who fails to obey, he is "of dust", and the "last Adam" who is "life-giving". God made Adam who sinned but then that becomes the backdrop to Jesus standing out as His Son who does not sin but is the "heavenly man". 1 Cor 16:49.

Assuming then that there are Christians who are hard-determinists, e.g. as Yogon Poet put in on this site, how might they see human actions?

Many Christians are compatibilists and say that God is sovereign and man responsible. [eg. A.W. Pink.], however, what might it be like to be be a Christian and a hard-determinist?

It would be to believe that everything one does/creates, from making a meal, a symphony, a painting, a rocket, a car or a sermon, God was ultimately responsible for it. It would be to believe that all things are determined by the way in which God has determined they would be. ["Instrumental responsibility" e.g. Job 1:12. Here God shows His authority over Satan-"All that he has is in your power", God says, and within the limits of that authorisation Satan is an instrument in God's plan.]

Job 14:5

"Since his[man's] days are determined, The number of his months is with you; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass."

Man's days are determined by God. But if he is ill and a scientist produces a medicine which extends his life, is God still in control? Yes God is in control because God sustains the existence of the scientist, and the nature of the scientists life. ["upholding all things by the word of His power" Hebrews 1:3]

Acts 17:26

"And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,".

Jim and Flora may or may not be Christians, either way they decide because of Jim's health to move house in two months time. They think they made the decision. In one sense they did. But why did they decide? They decided because that was the way in which God had "determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings".

Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; Acts 4:28 all have the word "determined" in reference to the Jesus being crucified. The cross being the epitome of sin.

We choose. We choose on the basis of who we are. We do not choose who we are. God chooses who we are. God chooses our nurture and nature and whether we are born again or not. We are instruments in His hand and what marks we make in the sand, [Bach, Chaucer and Henry Ford made some well known ones] is up to God; for Romans 11:36-

"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen."

1
  • Perfect and complete foreknowledge renders hard determinism unnecessary. Sep 7, 2023 at 18:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .