In Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey states, “…whoever has the authority to shape a culture’s creation myth is its de facto “priesthood” with the power to determine what the dominant worldview will be.” She goes on to offer a helpful treatment of science and its ongoing and unwavering philosophical commitment to materialism, particularly in relation to evolutionary theories of origins.
To be sure, evolutionary theory has became far more embedded into our social imaginaries over the years. It has become a rather hot-button issue for many evangelicals. While I left the academic study of science behind after Organic Chemistry II, I do agree with Pearcey about the significance of the creation narrative because of what it says about our Creator.
Genesis 1:1-2:3 highlights three characteristics of God: His sovereignty, wisdom, and benevolence. It is important that we understand these three characteristics together as we seek to understand the theological significance of the creation account in Gen 1:1-2:3.
God is sovereign. God creates without opposition. Unlike other ancient Near Eastern creation stories in which the world is formed through combat amongst the gods, the biblical account depicts God as forming the world without conflict. The darkness is not God’s enemy, and the fact that the earth is “formless and void” is no challenge. God has authority over his creation. Creation does not deny that authority, but responds without resistance.
God is wise. Sovereignty would not have been enough to build the world described in Gen 1:1-2:3. Authority without wisdom could still result in chaos. Simply because one can do does not mean one knows how to do. Thankfully, God is both powerful and wise. He orders the world in a way that will allow for human flourishing. His wisdom combines with his authority so that the world is not simply made, but made in an orderly fashion. Authority and wisdom combined to create a world fit for humankind to accomplish the destiny God set before them.
God is benevolent. Wisdom and power without benevolence isn’t necessarily good for creation. God could have devised a world in which humankind was under his thumb, in which the best of creation was held back (this is the serpent’s accusation in the Garden…God’s provision is intended to blind the human couple to what God is holding back). Thankfully, God is also benevolent. He used his power and wisdom to the benefit humankind, to allow for our flourishing…not to hold us back.
Equipped with this understanding of who God is and how that is conveyed by the creation story, we have the opportunity to be our generation’s “priesthood” by shaping our culture’s creation myth. We do so by recognizing the beauty and wonder of the life God has given us (whether or not it is the one we would have chosen for ourselves).
God is sovereign, wise, and benevolent…we are able to be obedient, watchful and aware making sure that the inertia of life does not cause us to miss the twists and turns God wishes us to take. God is sovereign, wise, and benevolent, so our default mindset should be that of discernment, not discontentment…we need to recognize that even in tough, challenging times our sovereign, wise, benevolent God is with us. He may not always spare us from heartache, but he does work all things together for the good of those who love him (Rom 8: ). Understanding the creation account in this fashion gives us an opportunity to be our generation’s priesthood…but to shape our culture’s understanding of creation, we must first recognize our Creator.