Ontology 101: What is the Cosmos?


Ontology 101: What is the Cosmos?

Where are we? This is an important question, especially if you have been dropped off in a place you don’t know. Or, you are visiting somewhere for the first time.

In truth, lostness is a part of life. When God created the world, he made it big, with large stretches of land and sea. Then, when he brought Noah and his family through the flood, he added mountains and valleys, languages and cultures. As a result, all humans have experienced the paralyzing effects of not knowing where they are and not knowing (for a short time or a long time) how to find our bearings.

Thinking about this, we realize that “finding ourselves” in this world requires more than a good GPS. While we may know our coordinates on the planet, we may be equally confused about how to think about the planet itself. That is to say, while we may have a map on our phones, if we are interpreting the world around us by the tools given to us by a secular and secularizing world, we may not have any idea that God dwells in heaven and we are on earth, in the place that we are (Acts 17:26), because he put us here and defined our boundaries. Moreover, without the right tools for interpretation, we may try to find ourselves in ways entirely at odds with our Creator. Such is the condition of postmodern humanity.

For all the technological know-how that we have acquired, we have lost something valuable in our world—namely, a right understanding of the cosmos. After all, what is the world? Is it something that we must accept as we find it? Or do we have permission to re-engineer the world around our own concepts of justice, goodness, and flourishing? And who decides?

Even for those who have grown up in church, the stories of God’s creation and flood must contend with Darwin and his disciples. The miracles of Jesus must overcome our modern commitment to natural causation. And our belief in Jesus’s virgin birth and third day resurrection must fight off attempts to make these historical events mere allegory or spiritual fictions. And those are a just a few of the ideas that contend for space in our secular.

Taking another step forward in our series, Ontology 101: The Business of Is-ness, this weeks sermon addressed the nature of cosmos. And from Psalm 104, I offered seven pillars for a biblical cosmology. These pillars are

  1. God Created the World to Reveal Himself
  2. God Built the World as a Three Story Temple
  3. God Preserves the World for Man to Enjoy
  4. God Tests Mankind by the World He Has Made
  5. God Permits Good and Evil to Grow in His World
  6. God Will Bring This World to an End
  7. God Will Bring His People Into a New World of Eternal Rest

Those seven pillars not everything that can be said about God’s cosmos, but they offer a good start. And they certainly counterbalance the godless materialism offered in public schools across our nation. Indeed, too many Christians are double-minded when it comes to understand the world. While they know the stories of Genesis, these historical events are often held hostage by the scientism that masquerades as legitimate science today.

In truth, we need to know what astronomy, biology, and chemistry reveal about God’s world. But just as important, we need to know how these studies in general revelation relate to the special revelation of Scripture. Wonderfully, God has made the world and everything in it, and we need to learn from Scripture what the meaning, purpose, and nature of the world is. Indeed, as we inhabit this space, we need to answer the question: Where are we? And the best place to begin is not found on a map, but in the pages of the Bible. To that end, I offer this sermon.

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

Creation by the Numbers

Today many in our church and all over the world began their yearly Bible reading plan.  I did.  And one of the features found in Genesis 1 is the fact that God made plants (v. 12) and animals (v. 21), “according to their own kinds.”  While scientists, Bible scholars, and Christians apologists have argued for the origin of the species, the Bible is clear that God is the originator of all life.  He spoke the world into existence (Gen 1; Psalm 33:6), and no matter how long that process took, it is clear that he is the Creative Genius behind it all.  (Personally, I hold to a Young Earth position due to the disbelief that death existed before sin, which is clearly dated in Genesis 3, about 6,000 years ago).

Yet, in this brief post, my point is not to argue the age of the earth or the meaning of yom (‘day’) in Genesis 1, but rather to marvel at the endless fecundity of God’s creation.  Today I came across Wikipedia’s entry on “Species.”  In it is a list of all the plants and animals in the world.  In a word, it is astonishing!  Consider the sheer numbers of life-forms on the earth, all created by God.

The total number of species (estimated): 7–100 millions (identified and unidentified), including:

Of the identified eukaryote species we have:[14]

It has taken thousands of people over hundreds of years to amass this list, a list of all the creatures God created and their offspring.

In truth, Elihu declare in Job 34:14-15, “If he [that is God] should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to the dust.”   Thus, according to the Bible all the species owe their existence to God, and it is worth meditating on the estimated numbers above.  While these numbers are not exact due to the difficulties of subdividing species, they do represent this singular facet of God: He is unfathomably creative and prolific in the production of his creation.  If it is true that no sparrow falls to the ground a part from his knowledge (Matt 10:29), then it coheres that no life is born apart from God’s germinating spirit and no life ends apart from his sovereign decree.

He is the Supreme Creator, the God of the Nations, and the one who has made man in his image to rule over creation.  Moreover, when man failed to rule over the earth uprightly (cf. Ecc 7:29), God sent his Son to become a man, to perfectly rule over all the species that God created.  I am doubtful that each of these ‘species’ was created in the Genesis account, it seems more likely that the ‘kinds’ in Genesis 1 were higher up in the taxonomic hierarchy (maybe genus or family), but it is certain that God created in the beginning an expanding myriad of plants and animals, represented in the list above.  These life-forms had the capacity for incredible replication and speciation.  While many fight over Genesis 1 for good reason, we shouldn’t miss the forest for the trees: God is the glorious creator of all the earth, who has fashioned a world that is filled with life, fecundity, beauty, symmetry, wisdom, and so much more.  And even though this in a world overrun with sin, disease, and death, his incredible creation is evident.  How much better will the New Creation be when sin will be eradicated and mankind will finally rule over a perfect creation with Christ on the throne.

As we begin the year, may we worship the Triune Creator and look at creation as a hymn book of praise for our infinitely wise Creator.  As Revelation 4:11 sings, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by you will they existed and were created.”  Upwards of 100 million of them!

Soli Deo Gloria, dss