Text: Genesis 2:15-19. For the complete sermon visit our Youtube page here.
Between the Atheist and the Agnostic, we must admit that the Agnostic is the greater wuss. This is because the Atheist takes to himself the burden of actually proving something – the non-existence of God – which is a very heavy burden to bear. The agnostic relieves himself of this burden by simply claiming to “not know” while at the same time relieving himself of the responsibility of living as if there were a God, which seems to him to be a win-win. But is this a legitimate position? The agnostic asks how are we to know if God exists? Why doesn’t God reveal Himself? And Christianity straightens her aging back and with the prophetic voice announcements: Our God Speaks!
God Speaks Through the World
Anyone who creates is simultaneously communicating. The poet uses words and so that communication may be a clearer, but the painter communicates as well without words. What are they communicating? Something about themselves. Their creation testifies to what kind of person they are and very probably what they believe about life. In the same way, God’s world is testifying to His existence and nature. The heavens are declaring the glory of God and the firmament is showing forth His handiwork. These are speaking so loudly that God’s eternal power and Godhead are clearly manifested, rendering the Atheist wrong and the Agnostic without excuse.
In today’s text, we see that God expects Adam to grow into his role as steward over creation by coming to understand that natural creation in the naming of the animals. God could have named them, but in leaving this task to Adam He allowed Adam to discover the nature of the created beings and then to assign meaningful words. These words become the language by which Adam begins to assemble an understanding of the created order.
In our world, this corresponds very well with the “hard science” – math, chemistry, biology, and physics. Through the scientific process of ruthlessly recording only that which IS – as opposed to that which we wish was – mankind continues to discover (not create) the nature of the world in which we live. As such many of the great discoveries in these disciplines have been made by orthodox Christians, such as Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Florence Nightingale, etc… There is no disconnect between faith and science or faith and reason or faith and rationality.
Why did God not simply give Adam a set of instructions for the created order? So that he could grow in his knowledge and thereby take responsibility for exercising benevolent dominion over creation. As Adam did this, he would also come to a greater understanding of God’s greatness and worship Him. So the telos of this knowledge was worship and benevolent dominion.
God Speaks Through His Words
But we also see in Genesis 2 that God explicitly says things to Adam in words. Since this is prior to the Fall, we can surmise that what God says through His creation is not sufficient for Man: we need more. This is partly due to the fact that we are made in God’s image and as such have that unique place in the cosmos.
The content of God’s spoken words are different that the content of God’s created world. The things that God speaks are not things that can be discovered through a study of the world. In other words, these Truths defy the scientific process. They cannot be discovered; they can only be received. And before they can be received, they must be revealed. So God gives us Revelation so that we might know that which is otherwise un-knowable. What are those things? They are the things that related to the soul of man: meaning and purpose.
Only revelation will tell us where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. Only revelation can communicate to us the moral absolutes of life. And one reason why philosophy struggles so mightily with these things is because they begin with creation – man – rather than revelation. This methodology of looking to man for answers has resulted in the “soft sciences” – things like psychology, sociology, cultural studies, etc… Which have resulted in a constantly changing landscape of philosophy only suitable for certain people in certain times.
When critics try to pull the old “faith vs science” routine on believers, it’s helpful to know that Christians have no problem with the hard sciences. We can play in that sandbox. But much of that which falls under the heading of “science” is not in any way, shape, or form scientific. It’s humanistic nonsense that has not been subjected to any sort of rigorous analysis and will be discarded in, roughly, 15 years. Not so the revelation of God, which has given life and meaning to decades and centuries and millenia of those who seek after God.
Application and Conclusion
Which is more certain, what is discovered in the natural world or what is spoken in the Word? Christians maintain that what is spoken in the Word is most certain, because it is forever settled. The natural laws we observe can be suspended, like when the sun stood still or Jesus walked on water, and will one day come to an end when the cosmos is delivered from its bondage to sin. But what God speaks about Himself and about Redemption and about Humanity remain fixed and sure.
Christians today, as throughout much of history, find themselves as a minority group. Nevertheless, we need to be clear that it is Christianity alone that offers a rational faith and makes sense of both the created world of natural laws and the soul-ish world of meaning and morality.