Nature’s Testimony Is Only the Beginning

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
—George Washington Carver1

The secret of my success? It is simple. It is found in the Bible, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:6).
—George Washington Carver2

george_w_carver_-_nara_-_559197-tif

Part 4 is available here.

In the last four posts3 we have examined evidence from nature regarding humanity and human relationships, including marriage and the family. Nature’s testimony clearly upholds marriage as the lifelong commitment of one man and one woman. Their union forms a family; in fact, in each case it forms the specific family of which they and all the children born to them are a part. The family is the most basic unit society; thus, if the institutions of marriage and the family unravel, so does society. We see this happening today. Nature itself points to these truths, but its testimony is only a start. God has revealed Himself and His intentions for humanity even more fully in the Bible.

Just how do the testimony of nature and what we read in the Bible fit together? Francis Schaeffer offers an illustration that brilliantly answers this question.4 Here’s a summary of his analogy.

Francis-Schaeffer

Suppose we are walking through a forest, and we come upon a two-story cabin. We begin to explore the inside of the cabin, and on the first floor we find a table. On the table we discover the bottom portion of a book that has been ripped in two, leaving about one inch of type on each page. We can read what is printed on the bottom of these pages, but we cannot decipher the entire story, the complete message of the book’s author. Of course, no one among us ever would suggest that what we have has come into being by chance. An intelligent being is the clear source of the section of the book we are examining with great curiosity.

As we continue exploring, we go upstairs and find the top portion of the same book. We now can bring the two sections of the book together and at last can read the entire message of the author. We can understand the complete story he sought to convey when he wrote. Moreover, through the book, we can get to know the author. This is especially true because in the book, the author tells us about himself.

The bottom portion of the book—the section we discovered on the first floor—represents nature, the world around us, the cosmos, and the created order. The top section represents the Scriptures; in them nature is explained. As we read the top and bottom pages together, the bottom pages make much more sense. We note that what the bottom pages tell us coincides perfectly with all we learn from reading the top part of the book. We now understand not just “what,” but “why.” Our questions about life and nature are answered in the Bible—not exhaustively, but adequately. We learn why evil exists in the world. We can understand how nature reflects God’s perfect character, even though the world and even the universe have been marred and damaged by sin and evil. Furthermore, we read of God’s solution to the mess we’re in, and we discover that we can respond to Him in a personal way because He has revealed Himself personally to us. God didn’t just unveil Himself in nature and in the Bible; He also came and lived among us personally in and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Sermon on the Mount Carl Bloch, 1890

In Hebrews 1:1-4, the writer of Hebrews declared,

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

These words remind us of what the apostle John said about Jesus in John 1:1,14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus, of course, affirmed the teachings of Scripture in His public ministry (see Matt. 5:17-18). In turn, as the analogy we have cited so clearly illustrates, the Bible explains what nature reveals (see Ps. 19:1-4).


Even without the Bible or a specific knowledge of God’s revelation of Himself in Christ, people know enough about God from nature’s testimony to be “without excuse” (see Rom. 1:20).


Yet, even without the Bible or a specific knowledge of God’s revelation of Himself in Christ, people know enough about God from nature’s testimony to be “without excuse.” Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [the unrighteous, but by implication all people] are without excuse” (see Rom. 1:20).

Since nature, the Bible, and Jesus Christ come together to speak a clear and unified message, we do well to heed all they tell us, including what they have said about marriage.

Remember this about marriage: What nature reveals, the Bible explains, and Jesus affirmed.5

It can’t get any more reliable than that.

An epilogue to this series of articles is available here.

 

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Notes:

1https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgewash106884.html

2http://poeministries.org/strength-for-today/the-secret-of-my-success-by-george-washington-carver

3The last four posts are:

4Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who is There: 30th Anniversary Edition (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press 1998, 1982, 1968), 137-138.

5http://www.wordfoundations.com/2015/08/13/the-high-cost-of-denying-the-obvious-part-3/

Too Important to Miss

Five Lessons from Last Week’s Post
The High Cost of Denying the Obvious, Part 4

Part 3 is available here.

Some of the lessons arising from last week’s post might be elusive without further reflection; so, using last week’s discussion as a backdrop, I want to explode some of the myths the left has used to destroy society’s moral underpinnings. As you have opportunity, read or review “God’s Definition of Marriage is Self-Evident.” Then consider how the article refutes the following five myths.

Myth #1: There are no absolutes; people can make up their own truth.

The natural world gives us a window into the unchanging nature of God and therefore the unchanging nature of morality—right and wrong. Truth is like the law of gravity. It is not something that is negotiable, nor is it something that can be invented by each person. Instead, it is observable. It also is discovered, and it applies to everyone at all times and in all places. Adjusting ourselves to accept and conform to the realities we discover paves the way for fulfillment and happiness in life.

Myth #2: We ought to live according to our feelings.

Try telling that to the parents of an infant! Few parents ever feel like getting up in the middle of the night to feed or change their baby, but they do it anyway because of the reality of the immediate need. Similarly, an individual experiencing same-sex attraction does well to restrain himself or herself from acting on those feelings. Why? Because nature tells us that God’s plan does not include same-sex intimacy or same-sex marriage.

Myth #3: Homosexuals are “made that way” or “born that way.”

[Note: These links will take you to explicit descriptions. Reader discretion is advised.] The physical harmony that occurs when a husband and wife come together sexually, as well as the health risks of homosexual sex, demonstrate conclusively God did not design any man to have sex with another man or any woman to be sexually intimate with another woman. We didn’t mention it last week, but the life expectancies of homosexual males are up to 20 years less than those of all men. Twenty years!

Yes, feelings of same-sex attraction are real in some individuals, and to them they seem quite natural. A person may not even know why the feelings are there. Even so, don’t be misled. Even though a married man may at times feel a “natural” attraction to his secretary over his wife, acting on these feelings would violate God’s plan. So, too, would acting on one’s feelings of same-sex attraction.

Myth #4 is often conveyed in the form of a rhetorical question, like this: How will my same-sex marriage affect your marriage or your own personal life? The clear messages are that it can’t and it won’t—so why not let people of the same-sex marry?

Same-sex marriage is on a collusion course with religious liberty, but for now we won’t even consider this important issue. If last week’s discussion taught us anything, it (hopefully) taught us that marriage is not just about two adults. It’s about children and their needs. It’s about children and their futures. It’s also about society as a whole and society’s future. And it’s about a lot of other important things as well. James Q. Wilson said, “The vast majority of people do better if men marry women. The sexes complement each other. Having a woman in your household makes men better, and having a man in your household makes women better.”1 Better men and better women make better parents, and better communities, and a better world.

During the second hour of the Tuesday, August 11 broadcast of the Eric Metaxas Show, Eric interviewed Eric Teetsel, coauthor of Marriage Is: How Marriage Transforms Society and Cultivates Human Flourishing. In their discussion, Metaxas offered a tremendous analogy of the complexity of marriage and the varied benefits it brings to society and culture. Here is a paraphrase of what he said.

about2

Marriage is in many ways like a pocket watch. You examine the inside mechanism, and you focus on one of the gears. Yet the pocket watch itself isn’t one gear—it’s made up of many parts and is, on the whole, very complex and intricate.


pocketwatch_cutaway_drawing


All the parts of the watch work together to give you the time. Marriage too is complex. It’s a balance a many gears and springs and other parts that all work together, and it ties into so much. There’s family; there’s raising kids; there’s replacing the population; and many other things as well.

Yet people want to focus on only one gear: “It’s about love!” No, no, no! Not exclusively. “It’s about sex!” No! Sex is a part of marriage, but not the whole. All the parts and pieces that make up marriage work together in a tremendously complex way to benefit society broadly. We make a huge mistake when we pull out only one gear and focus only on it, or when we look at one gear and think we can get along without it. Removing that one part messes the whole thing up. Marriage is intricate and fragile, and the reason it has worked for millennia is because it relates to and touches so many things.

Eric Metaxas is exactly right.

Myth #5: You ought to be able to marry whomever you love.

Translation: You ought to be able to marry whomever you want to have sex with. This is false. Love does not equal sex, and to imply that it does is to distort the truth about love. Moreover, as we have seen, marriage is about a lot more than sex and love.

In the same radio program cited above, Eric Metaxas and Eric Teetsel discussed a statement made by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Advising friends who soon would marry, Bonhoeffer observed, “Up to this point, your love has sustained your relationship, but from here on out, your marriage must sustain your love.” Man-woman marriage provides the shelter a couple needs to weather the storms of life, but statements like “You ought to be able to marry whomever you love” trivialize and minimize not only marriage, but the needs of children as well, and life itself.

Only natural marriage recognizes the realities of life in all its dimensions. Only man-woman marriage provides a haven that enhances a couple’s own relationship and provides the best environment to meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of children. This is nature’s testimony. This is the reality of human experience. This is the truth.

Next week, we will briefly explore the relationship between God’s revelation in and through nature and His written revelation in the Bible. It, too, will be a discussion too important to miss.

Part 5 is available here.

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Reference that could not be hyperlinked:

1Quoted in Kerby Anderson, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 28.

God’s Definition of Marriage is Self-Evident

The High Cost of Denying the Obvious: Part 3

It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.
—James Prescott Joule1

Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. It is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are different and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need both a mother and a father.
—Ryan T. Anderson2

Part 2 is available here.

The Bible tells us that God created both men and women in His image. “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). First, He “formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (2:7). The man, Adam, had a close relationship with God, but he still needed a human companion.

18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

Of course, God knew all along that none of the members of the animal kingdom could be a helper and companion for Adam, but the Lord wanted Adam to see and understand this for himself.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said:

“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

So we see that God not only created the man and the woman but also marriage—the union in which their companionship could flourish and be fully enjoyed. God also told the first couple, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28).

During His ministry, Jesus affirmed God’s design for marriage and the family as stated in Genesis. In Matthew 19, when asked by the Pharisees about the legality of divorce, Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Nature Affirms God’s Design

We note that the Bible is crystal clear in both the Old and New Testaments regarding what marriage is; it is the union of one man and one woman for a lifetime. Yet, even without the Bible, the Creator’s design for human relationships, including the fundamental role marriage plays for the benefit of individuals and society, would be abundantly evident. It should not surprise us that the Bible and nature say the same thing, because God is the author of both.

Let’s consider several realities.

First, a man and a woman fit together physically. We see this most clearly in the outlines of the genitalia of a male and a female. This is a fitting that obviously is not present with two men or two women. Moreover, sexual intercourse involves precisely one man and one woman. The human bodies of the man and the woman therefore point to monogamy and sexual exclusivity—and those of same sex couples point to abstinence from sexual activity altogether.

Second, sexual encounters between a husband and wife enhance their relationship by bonding them together physically, emotionally, psychologically, and on many other levels through sexual intercourse. Sexual pleasure is an inseparable part of these experiences. The man and his wife must learn how to pleasure each other, certainly; but their bodies cooperate naturally as sexual arousal occurs. Physical gratification, though, is not the only purpose for sex.

As the male and female bodies are aroused, they also set the stage to increase the chances that fertilization and pregnancy will occur. (Read more here about some of the physiological miracles that occur as a husband and wife come together sexually—but be aware at the outset that this material is explicit). This is the third point we should consider. Only a heterosexual union can produce a baby. Infertile couples certainly do exist, but they do not negate the general rule that when one man and one woman come together and share themselves with each other intimately and sexually, the way is paved for conception, pregnancy, and the eventual arrival of a child. The “one flesh” union, therefore, isn’t just about a couple’s coming together and uniting their bodies sexually; it’s also about the “one flesh” person that can and often does result from the sexual experiences they share. As Ryan Anderson has said, “The lovemaking act is also the life-giving act. The act that unites a man and a woman as husband and wife is the same act that can make them mother and father. This begins to tell us something about what the marital relationship is ordered toward.”3

Fourth, the baby, when it arrives, is totally helpless. She needs nourishment on a regular basis. He needs to have his diapers changed—repeatedly. We are truly deaf and blind in the most extreme sense if we fail to see that nature’s way of bringing a new human life into the world also makes a clear and bold statement about who should have the primary responsibility to care for newborns when they arrive. Moreover, this isn’t just about caring for babies and children so they will grow up to become responsible individuals; it’s also about maintaining a healthy society for years to come. The future of the human race depends on reproducing it so those dying out can be replaced. This can occur only with heterosexual couples. As Charles Colson put it, “The survival of the human race depends upon marriage as the institution by which we procreate and perpetuate civilization.”4

8598_9780310520641[1].jpg

Fifth, men and women are different in ways beyond their obvious biological differences. Creation and practical experiences testify to this, despite cultural efforts to wipe out references to these contrasts. Today we even know that male and female brains are different,5,6,7 but historically we also have recognized a variety of distinctive traits in each gender. A man is uniquely equipped to meet the needs of his wife, and a woman is uniquely gifted to meet the needs of her husband. Moreover, each one has specific attributes that serve to meet the needs of the children that come into the family as a result of the couple’s sexual union. Every child needs both a mother and a father. Certainly single parent homes exist, and we credit single moms and single dads with all they do to effectively rear their children. Even so, a woman cannot be a dad, nor can a man be a mother.

Celebrate the Differences!

This last point calls for some elaboration. In his insightful book Growth into Manhood,8 Alan Medinger, a former homosexual, devotes an entire chapter to masculinity and its qualities. Medinger emphasizes that masculinity, and femininity, for that matter, are broad concepts—certainly broader than the concepts of male and female. We can understand the traits of one better when we contrast them to the characteristics of the other. Both men and women have masculine and feminine qualities, but in men, masculine traits predominate, and in women, feminine qualities prevail. God, having made both men and women in His image, embodies both masculine and feminine traits (see Ps. 103:13; Matt. 23:37), although He has revealed Himself as Father (Eph. 4:4-6).

Medinger makes four points. These insights are politically incorrect today, but they nevertheless ring true in our lives and in our experiences.

First, while the masculine focuses on that which is external or is “outer directed,” the feminine emphasizes the internal, for it is “inner directed.”

The masculine faces the world: It is oriented to things; it explores; it climbs. Its energy is directed toward the physical: measuring, moving, building, conquering. The feminine looks inward toward feeling, sensing, knowing in the deepest sense. Its energy is directed toward relationships, coming together, nurturing, helping. Rather than moving out into the world, it draws the world around it into itself. Both the masculine and the feminine are relational, but the masculine relational drive is toward the physical, toward working and playing together; the feminine drive is toward being together. In fact, another way to describe this same contrast is masculine doing and feminine being.9

Medinger goes on to say that male bodies, which are stronger, are equipped to engage in masculine activity. Female bodies, by contrast, are equipped to facilitate the enhancement of relationships at a deeper level. He is analytical; she has intuitive insight. He is well-suited to protect, she to bear children and to nurture and comfort. His communication is straightforward, hers warmer and more intimate.10 Both are equal in importance, and both are necessary, but each is different from the other.

Second, the masculine initiates and the feminine responds. Accordingly, generally speaking, men plan and move out to accomplish new projects. They embark on new quests and adventures. The feminine acts to assist her male companion in accomplishing those goals through encouragement, support, and practical help.11

At this point we can expect to get a great deal of flack from those who see the traditional home as oppressive to women. We are not saying that a woman never initiates anything or that a man never responds to his wife. Nor are we saying that the role of the initiator is superior to that of the one responding and helping. Both are important and necessary, and both are of equal value.

When Focus on the Family relocated to Colorado Springs from Southern California in the early 90s, the move was exciting for Dr. James Dobson, its founder and president at the time. “For me,” Dobson remembers, “it took fifteen minutes to get used to the idea.” Dobson’s wife, Shirley, had difficulty. Dr. Dobson knew her perspective was different from his. “She’d have to start over. She had envisioned continuing to make memories in the same house where [we had] raised the kids. Plus, Southern California had more culture than Colorado Springs. I brought my ‘culture’ with me, in Focus.” Shirley had long known that relocating was a real possibility, and she maintained the perspective that she and her husband were a team. After the move and the departure of their adult children from the home, Shirley began to write books and to find fulfillment as chairman of the National Day of Prayer. Of course, she continued to be her husband’s chief supporter as well.12

351

As a side note, Medinger observes that since God is the ultimate initiator, it is entirely appropriate that He would reveal Himself in the masculine role of Father. We, as responders to God, are all feminine in this sense. How fitting, therefore, that we who are followers of Christ are called His bride (see Eph. 5:31-32).13

The third point highlights the immeasurably significant influence a wife has over her husband. The masculine embodies authority, and the feminine embodies power. We see masculine authority in initiation and in decision-making, and we see related masculine power in physical strength. These aren’t the only kinds of influence, however.

There is the power that is physical strength that can lift two hundred pounds or open the pickle jar, but there is also a power that endures, that does not vacillate, that is like glue or solder that holds things together. This is the power of the feminine. In the family, the woman, the one primarily embodying the feminine, is the one in almost all cultures who holds the family together. She makes the home and does the most to establish relationships among husband, wife, and children. This takes a special kind of power that is less often present in the man.14

A wife wields great influence over her husband. Despite all the talk about the benefits of cohabitation and how marriage is oppressive to women—and the perspective that biblical submission keeps a wife from reaching her full potential—marriage actually gives women great leverage. In his book, The Ring Makes All the Difference, social researcher Glenn Stanton describes a scenario in which a woman cohabitating with her boyfriend asks him to don a Barney costume to entertain the kids at her niece’s upcoming birthday party. He objects. He has plans to fish. Besides, Brittney isn’t his niece—she’s his girlfriends niece! Now, think how this conversation would go if the two were married. A husband cannot refuse his wife as readily as a guy can turn down his girlfriend.15 Stanton observes, “Contrary to stereotypes…a man with a ring on his finger will spend up to eight more hours a week washing dishes and cleaning clothes, floors, and bathrooms than his shacking-up peer.”16 Marriage really isn’t as oppressive as we’ve been led to believe! Feminine power is powerful indeed!

Fourth, the masculine uphold truths while the feminine emphasizes and offers mercy.

This contrast between the masculine and feminine is the stuff around which dramas are written. The father discovers that his beloved son has committed a terrible crime and forces him to turn himself in to the authorities. The mother pleads with him not to. The masculine operates on principle; the feminine is moved by compassion. The masculine looks to the long-term good; the feminine looks at the immediate human need. The masculine has a passion for truth, the feminine for love.17

Keep in mind that we never would say that men are totally without mercy or that women completely lack the ability to confront with the truth when necessary. At the same time, this difference and the others we have named are prevailing trends that should be acknowledged and celebrated. Why? They benefit couples, families, society, and humanity at large. Minimizing them is both foolish and detrimental.

We stated earlier that God embodies both the masculine and the feminine. This is a good place to illustrate this truth. Consider Psalm 62:11-12, which presents the perfect balance between contrasting qualities.

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done” (NIV).

Were God powerful and strong but not loving, He would destroy us all. Were He loving but not powerful, He would desire to meet our deepest need but would be unable to do so. Thankfully, He possesses both strength and love. Moreover, in His design for the family, He has provided for a balanced representation of essential contrasting qualities like strength and love, and truth and mercy. This is important for both the husband and wife, for each provides a check against the excesses of the other; and it’s essential for children, whose views of God are first based on what they observe and experience in their relationships with their parents at home.

Nature Also Warns Against Departing from God’s Plan

We have seen a variety of ways in which creation testifies to God’s clear definition of marriage in Scripture. One more thing we must do is contrast this to homosexuality, which today purports to be just as natural, normal, and healthy as heterosexuality. Nothing could be further from the truth, and examining a few of the things that happen physiologically when two men come together sexually will demonstrate just how far homosexuality departs from God’s design. It is diametrically opposed to God’s intentions and plan. Nature affirms this clearly, reflecting precisely what the Bible teaches with regard to behavior to emulate and actions to avoid. Be forewarned! The quote I am going to present is explicit, but necessarily so. Yet it also is limited, for much more could be said. Still, enough will be said to vividly illustrate creation’s reflection of God’s design and the cost of departing from His plan. Go here to read these important statements.

We Have a Duty to Point Out Nature’s Lessons Regarding Sexuality

In an article titled “Homosexual ‘Marriage’ and Natural Law,” blogger Kevin Kukla does a good job of summarizing two of the major points we have attempted to make: “The female body and the male body are designed to operate sexually in union with each other. Homosexual activity defies the innate design of the human body.”18 It logically follows from these two truths that we do well to heed what we learn from nature about sexuality and human relationships.

Even though “common sense” has become all too uncommon today, it can be restored as we raise our voices to declare the obvious. Let us raise them lovingly, forthrightly, consistently, and persistently. As the apostle Paul wrote, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9).

Part 4 is available here.

 

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

top image: Signing the Register, painting by Edmund Leighton (1853-1922)

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scriptures designated NIV are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Notes:

1https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jamespresc317816.html?src=t_natural_laws

2http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/03/marriage-what-it-is-why-it-matters-and-the-consequences-of-redefining-it

3Ryan T. Anderson, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, (Kindle Edition: Regnery, 2015), loc. 411.

4Charles Colson with Anne Morse, My Final Word, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 142.

5Walt Larimore, MD, and Barb Larimore, His Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Your Marriage, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008).

6http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-mens-brains-are-wired-differently-than-women/

7 http://www.mastersofhealthcare.com/blog/2009/10-big-differences-between-mens-and-womens-brains/

8Alan Medinger, Growth into Manhood, (Colorado Springs, CO: Shaw, 2000).

9Medinger, 84.

10Medinger, 84-85.

11Medinger, 85.

12Dale Buss, Family Man: The Biography of Dr. James Dobson, (Wheaton: Tyndale, 2005), 118-119, 245-247.

13Medinger.

14Medinger, 86.

15Glenn Stanton, The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011), 41-42.

16Stanton, 49.

17Medinger, 87.

18http://prolife365.com/homosexual-marriage-and-natural-law/

 

 

God Speaks Clearly Through Nature

The High Cost of Denying the Obvious, Part 2

We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.…If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.
—John O’Keefe, a NASA astronomer1

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.
—Maltbie D. Babcock2

Part 1 is available here.

The apostle Paul was on his first missionary journey when, in Lystra, God used him to heal a man who had been unable to walk since birth. At Paul’s command the man “leaped and walked” (Acts 14:10). Immediately, the people assumed Paul and Barnabas were gods and took steps to worship them.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, 16 who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

Later Paul would write to the Christians at Rome that “since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [all people, but especially those who habitually practice ungodliness] are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). Paul went on to say that the ungodly claim to be wise but demonstrate their foolishness by worshiping the creation rather than God, the Creator, the true source of all they deify in their minds.

Paul’s words of warning and instruction in both these instances remind us of David’s poetic words in Psalm 19. Centuries before Paul, David wrote,

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.

Just what are some of the things nature tells us about God and God’s desire for humanity?

First, God exists. There really is a supreme, omnipotent being who is responsible for the world and everything in it. Look around you. Consider creation in all its stunning beauty and splendor. While countless wonders exist in nature, think about those that have been called the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.3 Descriptions of these typically do not give God credit as Creator or Designer.4 Still, failing to acknowledge Him, or at least the possibility He exists, is to be totally blind to overwhelming evidence. Mark it down: Those who choose not to see are the most blind among us.5

The biggest miracle of all is life. Biologist Edwin Conklin once said, “The probability of life originating from accident is comparable to the probability of the unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in printing shop.”6 The ordered world we see around us compels us to conclude that an omnipotent, personal, purposeful force is its source. This leads us to the second point.

Second, God is a God of precision and order. Nature is not chaotic but meaningful. It also is balanced; and, in the many instances in which it needs to be precise to sustain life, it is just that.

In his excellent book The Case for a Creator, journalist and atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel reports on numerous interviews he had with world-class scholars about evidence for a Creator. One of these scholars was Robin Collins, PhD. Strobel describes Collins as “an articulate, physics-trained philosopher who has done his own original research on the issue [of precision in the universe]. I especially liked his reputation—he was known as being careful and conservative in his calculations, unwilling to make judgments that exceed the bounds of the data.”7 Collins serves as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.8

In Strobel’s interview with Collins, the professor stated, “Over the past thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that just about everything about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to exist. The coincidences are far too fantastic to attribute this to mere chance or to claim that it needs no explanation. The dials are set too precisely to have been a random accident.”9

The areas in which precision has been noted include gravity, the nature of the earth’s atmosphere, the presence and amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, the distance of the earth from the sun, the magnetic field of the earth, and the tilt of the earth’s axis, to name just a few.10,11

The microscopic world likewise has God’s “fingerprints” all over it. In explaining to his employees why he believed in the God of the Bible, Christian businessman Robert Laidlaw12 (1885-1971) wrote of how an astronomer reached an erroneous conclusion about the Creator from observing the universe. His quest, however, finally led him to the truth.

What does God care about this little world of ours compared with the vastness of the mighty universe?

Think of our own solar system, with the planet Neptune 30 times as far away from the sun as Earth, so that it takes 164 Earth years to make 1 Neptune year, and beyond this, suns with planets revolving around them as our solar system revolves around the sun! Of what importance can Earth be to God, and of how much less importance can man be?

So said the astronomer as the faith of his youth fled—this is what the telescope had done for him. The vastness of the heavens had robbed him of faith in his mother’s God, for how long could God trouble Himself with man, who is smaller than a grain of sand in comparison?

But his thirst for knowledge would not let him rest. The heavens were available for study only at night; how should the free hours of the day be spent? Why not a microscope? And lo! Worlds were opened at his feet—worlds as wonderful as those above, and slowly his faith came back. Yes, the God who could attend to such minute details as to make a drop of ditch water throb with miniature life, was sure to be interested in man, the highest form of His creation.13,14

Speaking of human beings, we move to the next point.

Third, God made human beings distinctive and special. Humanity is clearly superior to plant and animal life. For example, no sense of moral order exists in the plant or animal kingdoms, yet it clearly does among people. Humanity also is uniquely creative. Consider, for example, the arts. While it’s true animals build and produce, they do so according to their instincts. They do not have imaginations as do members of the human race. Other qualities set people apart from the rest creation as well, things such as human appreciation of beauty, the practice among humans of wearing jewelry and ornate clothing, and language.

Here’s a story that highlights the uniqueness of humanity. A teacher instructed her students to list the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. After giving them enough time, she told them to pass their papers forward. One student, however, expressed frustration. “There are so many!” she said. “It’s been hard to decide which ones to include.” The teacher asked to see the student’s paper and discovered she had written,

1. the ability to see
2. to hear
3. to touch
4. to smell
5. to taste
6. to laugh
7. to love15

While many animals have some of these attributes, only human beings have them all, and only humans can appreciate them.

The uniqueness of human beings implies strongly that we should work to preserve and defend human life. This is a matter of utmost seriousness. People are God’s highest creation, so He cares deeply about how they are treated. Our culture’s reluctance and even refusal to protect the most vulnerable among us truly is appalling. Often the refusal to defend life is based on shallow reasons like convenience or political expediency. 16,17,18,19,20 God will not overlook these actions but will judge them if we as a people do not repent.21

Fourth, God gives man the resources to live and to improve his conditions, but He does not do everything for him. God expects men and women to work to sustain themselves. He wants them to improve their lives and to thrive through productive work (see Gen. 1:28; Ex. 20:9; Deut. 8:18; Prov. 6:6-11).

Fifth, this implies that every person is accountable to God. Humanity’s sense of morality or right and wrong also says people are accountable to Him (see Rom. 2:12-16). So does death (see Heb. 9:27).

220px-DanielWebster

Once Daniel Webster was asked what the most profound thought was that ever had crossed his mind. Webster replied, “My accountability to God.”22 Thomas Jefferson demonstrated similar wisdom when he said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”23  These words are inscribed on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.

jeffersonmemorial

God’s eternality and wisdom are but two additional divine attributes to which creation testifies.24 The truth is that we can learn a great deal about God just from the natural world, if we only will be observant and open. Furthermore, it is critical that we be receptive to everything creation teaches us. Why? Because the price for ignoring these lessons is heavy indeed. This issue has eternal implications.

While the observations we have made are helpful, we actually need to be even more specific. Next time we will look closely at some of the things God has revealed through nature about sexuality, family relationships, marriage, and the social order. Stay tuned.

Part 3 is available here.

A discussion guide for this post is available here.

 

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For Further Reading:
Evidence for God’s Existence by Sue Bohlin

Notes:

1http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/quotes.html

2http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/t/i/tismyfw.htm

3The Seven Natural Wonders of the World are

  • the Grand Canyon,
  • the Great Barrier Reef in northeast Australia,
  • the Harbor of Rio de Janeiro,
  • Mount Everest,
  • the northern and southern lights or the Aurora,
  • Mexico’s Parícutin Volcano, and
  • Victoria Falls in southern Africa.

For more information, go here, here, and here.

4http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/the-7-natural-wonders-of-the-world

5http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/There’s+none+so+blind+as+those+who+will+not+see

6http://www.quotes.net/quote/12135

7Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 128.

8http://www.messiah.edu/homepage/1662/robin_collins

9Strobel, 131.

10http://blogs.christianpost.com/creationvsevolution/was-the-earth-fine-tuned-for-life-1336/

11http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/designss.html

12https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Laidlaw

13http://www.biblebelievers.com/the-reason-why.html

14http://www.thereasonwhy.net/?p=155 For the beginning of Laidlaw’s essay, visit http://www.thereasonwhy.net

15adapted from Ray Comfort, How to Know God Exists, (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2007), 29.

16http://www.abortionfacts.com/facts/8

17http://freedomoutpost.com/2013/02/resistance-to-tyrants-is-obedience-to-god/

18http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/4-videos-that-show-how-planned-parenthood-harms-women

19http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/gop-congresswoman-laments-lack-house-votes-defund-planned-parenthood

20http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/08/03/planned-parenthood-survives-abortion-defunding-vote/

21http://www.wnd.com/2015/07/where-is-the-uproar-over-mutilated-babies/

22http://fairfaxfreecitizen.com/2015/01/18/american-minute-daniel-webster/

23http://www.dakotavoice.com/2009/04/god-is-just-and-his-justice-cannot-sleep-forever/

24http://gospelway.com/god/evidences-creation.php