[ Home | Table of Contents | Previous Page | Next Page | Back Issues | Complete Index ]

A Topical Study - Man's Knowledge of God, pt. 3

Here we continue our series concerning man's knowledge of God. In the last article, we discussed man's innate knowledge of God. In this issue, we will meditate upon man's knowledge of God through His creation.

Our Knowledge of God through the Creation

"...[W]hat may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--His eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse" (Rom. 1:19-20)

"The fool says in his heart, `There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1)

"For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." (Heb. 4:4)

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge." (Psalm 19:1-2)

Man is constantly confronted with proofs of God's existence through His creation, "everywhere confronted with effects which connote a Cause and with design which connotes a Designer."[Footnote #12] God displays His works through His creation so that we cannot miss Him. As David says: "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1). The more we study His creation, the clearer we see the beauty of its design, and so, the more we appreciate the wisdom of the Grand Designer. It is important for Christians to study and understand God's creation in order to relate to those of the world, since they do not pay attention to God's direct revelation of Himself through His Word, but only glimpse God through the creation. Indeed, as we shall see, "the book of nature is as much God's book as is the Book of revelation."[Footnote #13] Nevertheless, so many people admire the works of God's hands--His sunsets, His thunderstorms, His canyons, His waterfalls--while ignoring God Himself. Indeed, they, as Paul said, "worship and serve created things rather than the Creator" (Rom. 1:25).

There are many evidences in the creation that there is a Creator. One such evidence is the clear fact that the universe had a beginning; it is not infinite. Through reason, through observation and through our understanding of the laws of science we come to this conclusion. If the universe were infinite, one could reason, then it would have to be unchanging because it would have had an infinite amount of time to reach a steady state. On the contrary, we observe that the universe, far from being unchanging, is in constant flux and, indeed, constant decay. Observations of the decay of the universe are so unanimous (we see no evidence anywhere of the universe becoming less disordered) that man has expressed the universe's bondage to decay in a fundamental law of science: the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law states that, in a closed system (as the universe is), the entropy (or disorder) does not decrease. In other words, if a system has order (as the universe clearly does), "its condition will tend to slide spontaneously toward a state of maximum entropy (disorder)."[Footnote #14] This law rules out an infinite universe, because if the universe was infinitely old, it would be infinitely disordered and in a state of total equilibrium. This law is very strong in science, we have no exceptions to it. "The tendency toward equilibrium is so fundamental to physics that the second law is probably the most universal regulator of natural activity known to science."[Footnote #15]

Now, if the universe had a beginning, then it had a beginner. Classically, this is expressed as "every effect has a cause". A creation cannot make itself, nor a creature make himself. There is a cause of all creation, and He is God. "For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything" (Heb. 4:4). The line of reasoning that we have used not only tells us that God exists, but also tells us something about God's attributes: that He is infinite and immutable. The Bible too supports this. Moses says of God: "Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God" (Psalm 90:2); and the Lord Himself said: "I the LORD do not change" (Mal. 3:6).

Another evidence that there is a Creator can be found in the composition of the creation, how everything fits together, the intricate design of all. "All things that are, demonstrate something from whence they are."[Footnote #16] When we see simple machines--such as a clock or a windmill or even a pulley--we have no doubt they were designed by someone. So also, the complex workings of God's creation point unquestionably to a Creator. No trick of chance could produce such an elaborate, wise design.

The mastery of God's design can be seen by studying the order and interdependency of the creatures. All of the creatures delicately depend upon each other. The extinction of one creature leads to the damage of another. The flowers need the bees and the bees need the flowers. Contrary elements exist in juxtaposition and in perfect balance. If fire was too prevalent, all water would be consumed; if water were too prevalent, all fire would be quenched. Chance cannot put together even a simple puzzle, let alone create such a complex puzzle as our Creation is. All of nature fits together and, though nature dwells in a hierarchical order, the greater are not able to devour totally the lesser, because the greater needs the lesser for their existence. The blue whale is ever dependent on plankton. All creatures, great and small, have their role and purpose in the creation.

Even the heavenly bodies depend on each other. Each is placed in perfect position with respect to the others to continue in their journey through space. They were originally hurled through space fast enough to continue traveling away from each other, yet slow enough to gather into galaxies and solar systems. This was necessary in order that the earth be placed in an environment that had a high enough temperature to support life. Moreover, the earth was placed perfectly within the solar system with respect to the sun and moon (which provide light, heat, energy, tides, etc.) to sustain life here.

Moreover, despite thousands of years of monumental societal changes on earth, the order of nature has remained largely unchanged. As God promised: "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease" (Gen. 8:22). We have depended upon the order of nature to remain for these thousands of years, and it has. Day has followed night has followed day; summer then autumn then winter then spring; high tide then low tide right on time; order following order, sustained by God's powerful word. "Would any man, when he hears a clock strike, by fit intervals, the hour of the day, imagine this regularity in it without the direction of one that had understanding to manage it? He would not only regard the motion of the clock, but commend the diligence of the clockkeeper."[Footnote #17] As effect demands a Cause, so order demands an Orderer. Order is the effect of reason, not chance. "Chance it could not be; the motions of chance are not constant, and at set seasons, as the motions of creatures are." Grab a handful of rocks and hurl them by chance into the air, and what order do you find? No matter how many billions of times you throw them, disorder will result. Our universe was not hurled into existence by chance, but by order through intelligence.

Yet another evidence for the existence of God can be found by considering the instincts found in the creatures. Their guidance by an unseen hand testifies to the hand of God. Who teaches a spider to spin his web? Who tells a salmon to swim upstream? Who orders the ants around to do their appointed deeds? Who tells plants to dig their roots deep and reach toward the sun? Even we ourselves have instincts we do not understand. We do not consciously blink our eyes or beat our hearts or digest food. From our conception to our last day on earth, processes take place in our own bodies that we neither understand nor have any control over. As our bodies are formed just after our conception, who orchestrates the division of our cells as they pair off and become different parts of our bodies. There is something greater than the sum of all, a great conductor for the orchestra of creation, ordering the universe, "sustaining all things by His powerful word" (Heb. 1:3).

The beauty and artistry of the creation also testify to the existence of an intelligent and gracious Creator. Go to the grand cathedral in Yosemite; view the colors and shadows during a sunset at the Grand Canyon; watch the ballet of a flock of birds in flight; behold the multitude of stars in the vastness of space from a dark desert night; take in the colors of a rainbow arcing through the clouds after a spring rain; surround yourself in a bed of colorful wildflowers; ad infinitum.

As touched upon in last month's article, our own bodies testify to us that there is a Creator: the design of our eyes and ears; the existence of our soul, our dreams, our memory, our reasoning. We do not even have to step outdoors to behold God; the tent in which we live shouts of His existence. Consider the soul. Its works are amazing. "It invents arts for the use of man; prescribes rules for the government of states; ransacks the bowels of nature; makes endless conclusions, and steps in reasoning from one thing to another, for the knowledge of truth."[Footnote #18]

Consider the conscience. Our moral nature testifies to God, the fact that all men everywhere can distinguish right from wrong. We all have a law written on our hearts. A proof of this law is that our consciences direct us contrary to our fleshly desires. And when we sin by ignoring the dictates of our conscience, we fear the consequences. Whom do we fear? We fear the Lawgiver, the One who wrote His law upon our hearts; we fear God, who will call all men to account for their disobedience to their consciences. Why does man fear death, but for fear of the punishment he deserves for breaking God's law? Death has its sting until, through Christ, we are freed from its punishment. Our conscience has a greater impact than even man-made laws. This is demonstrated in the greatest way during times of corrupt governments and persecution of the righteous. "Judges have trembled on a tribunal, when innocents have rejoiced in their condemnation."[Footnote #19] Why would this be so if there were not a greater law than man's, and a greater good?

Finally, God's work in history testifies to His existence. We see His hand guiding the events of mankind toward His purpose and ends. Notably, we have seen His guiding, preserving hand throughout the history of Israel, fulfilling scores of prophecies, right up to the present day. Fulfillment of prophecy is a proof of the existence of God that God Himself cites: "I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please" (Isa. 46:9-10). The hand of God was also clearly seen in the spread of Christianity throughout the world, starting from a handful of fisherman.

Many say that they would believe in God, or that their faith in Him would be strengthened, if they could just see a miracle. They test God, saying, "Do this miracle now, and I will believe." However, as we have discussed, nature is rife with miracles. "[W]hat miracles could rationally be supposed to work upon an atheist, who is not drawn to a sense of the truth proclaimed aloud by so many wonders of the creation?"[Footnote #20] Indeed, proof of God shouts at us from all sides and in many ways, if we would but listen.

Not only does the creation give us proof of the existence of God, we can also from it learn about God's attributes. Creations reflect their creator; God's creation is no exception. We see His glory from the heavens, His majesty from the earth, His wisdom from the design of the creation, His strength from the mighty creatures, His gentleness from the tiniest of flowers, His faithfulness from each day's sunrise, His providence from each year's harvest. The composition of our bodies tells us something about God: we know He sees and hears us, for, "Does He who implanted the hear not hear? Does He who formed the eye not see?" (Psalm 94:9). Christ Himself taught us to learn about God from His creation. He told us to learn of God's care for us by considering the birds of the air and how "they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them" (Matt. 6:26). We are to learn of God's love, even for His enemies, by noticing that "He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matt. 7:45).

Perhaps this is why God tasked Adam with naming the animals: that Adam may learn of God through his study of them. And so, we too should seek to learn of God through His creation. God has given us the ability to investigate, to ponder, and to understand the design of His creation in order that we may acknowledge Him, understand Him and worship Him. Unfortunately, man all too often uses his God-given intelligence to reject Him, to reason God out of existence.

Certainly, we fall short of complete knowledge of God through His creation. We need also His objective revelation through His Word and through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through His direct revelation, we learn of God's plan for His creation, His work throughout the history of man, His standards given to us through His law, His love demonstrated through His Son. In the next issue, we will focus on man's knowledge of God's through His direct revelation to us.

And now Father, we praise You for Your marvelous creation: its breathtaking beauty, its brilliant design. We thank You for speaking to us through it and for teaching us about You through it. Help us to be able to appreciate its beauty, and through it, lead us to worship You as we meditate upon it. Be glorified in our lives, just as You are through Your creation, in Jesus' name we pray these things, Amen.

(We will continue this series in the next issue)


12. Chafer, Lewis Sperry, Systematic Theology, Vol. I, pg. 139.

13. Ibid., pg. 140.

14. Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition, Vol. 11, pg. 702b.

15. Ibid.

16. Charnock, Discourses on the Existence and Attributes of God, Vol. I, pg. 43.

17. Ibid., pg. 57.

18. Ibid., pg. 67.

19. Ibid., pg. 71.

20. Ibid., pg. 29.

[ Home | Table of Contents | Previous Page | Next Page | Back Issues | Complete Index ]