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 reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (Ps 9:1-4)
How did God create the heavens and the earth?
This becomes a conundrum in many discussions of science and Christian faith. It is viewed as a problem to be solved. The more that we learn about science, the smaller the available space for the active creative power of God. Either natural processes or God. The next couple of chapters of Ron Highfield’s book The Faithful Creator address the question of how God created. Highfield’s view of the nature of God shapes this discussion (see the previous post A Philosopher’s God? for more details).
When we think about God as creator several competing ideas come to mind. On of the first involves an understanding of God’s act of creation. According to Highfield it is important to discipline our thinking and our language here to be careful not to attribute human characteristics to God. “The differences between the divine act of creating and the human act of making are so profound that we must conclude that they are no merely quantitatively different but qualitatively of a different kind.” (p. 78) The most significant point is that the act of creating cannot come from any idea of anything outside of God and it cannot be dependent on nondivine means. Creation from nothing is important because without God’s act of creating there would be nothing. The act of creating cannot change God and it must produce exactly what God intends and do so perfectly.
It should be clear from the previous post that I am not comfortable with some aspects of this way of talking about God, but it leads Highfield to a significant conclusion, and one I agree with completely. How God creates – the connection between the mind of God and the motions and structures of creation – remains, and must remain a mystery. This is not something that human mind can comprehend. We err when we use human notions of creating and laws of physics constrain God’s act.There is an intrinsic mystery in creation that falls out of our realm of experience and understanding.