Sunday, August 7, 2011

God the Creator

I’ve had several things on my mind lately, all of which are kind of connected.  I tried to write them out in some sort of essay form, making one coherent argument, and I just couldn’t find a flow.  So I’m doing this post good ole John Piper style, where I’ll just list a bunch of points, and let you put them together.  

1. I’ve been watching the BBC’s Planet Earth this week, and it is blowing my mind.  Literally, it’s actively rejuvenating my faith in God the Creator.  Seeing the beauty of nature untouched by man (aided by some of the more spectacular documentary cinematography I’ve seen) is surprisingly moving.  From sweeping over mountains, to see herds of African animals on the move, to BABY POLAR BEARS.  Even seeing predators go in for a kill is a tremendous reminder of the balance that has been struck in nature, emphasizing (at least in my mind) the idea that there simply must have been a Designer at some point in its development.

2. A video I saw recently showcased several scientist-types giving their thoughts on God and the divine, including David Attenborough who narrates many of the BBC nature shows.  He explained that the reason they do not credit God or any divine creative force in their shows is that he feels if you credit God for those things, we would also have to credit God for the state of children in in third world countries suffering ailments like worms burrowing through their eyeballs, etc.  My initial response is that the scenes displayed in Planet Earth are of the type of nature that has not been interfered with by humankind.  It seems to me that there would be some way to trace back the situation of those suffering children through skewed globalization efforts, colonialization, or other injustices helped along by the influence of Man.  Not to say those situations aren’t awful and heartbreaking and deserving of our attention, but rather perhaps they were deserving of our attention a long time ago.  I think Attenborough is simply wrong to say that if we credit God for nature, we must credit him for all of our suffering as well.

3. This led me to think of a larger imbalance in the way we relate creation to God.  We are grateful for all the beautiful things in nature that God has created.  However, when we look at global warming, deforestation, and other devastating effects on the environment, we can frequently following the cause back to humans.  On the other hand, whenever Man builds something newer and bigger, or invents something shinier and smaller, we congratulate ourselves shamelessly, crediting only our intellect and ambition, paying no heed to a God who created us in the first place.  Yet, when technology fails us, or warfare destroys us, we rip our clothes and wail, “God, why would you do this to us?”  It seems to me that Attenborough’s way of thinking, that it must be all God or all Man, is rampant and problematic.  Apparently the story of the Tower of Babel is not only lost in translation, but falling on deaf ears altogether.

4. Returning to a faith in God the Creator, I prefer this title for God over any other.  More than Lord, more than Father.  Oh sure, I know there’s plenty of scriptural precedent for calling God “Father.”  I don’t think it’s wrong or anything - I say Father when I feel it’s appropriate, I do refer to God as “him” simply because its easier, and I think there are many wonderful fatherly attributes of God that really should be acknowledged. But it’s just not complete, I don’t think.  I don’t quite understand how we conceptualize God as genderless yet insist that we must refer to God in exclusively male terminology and that any reference to “Goddess” is suddenly blasphemy even though it’s just as anatomically incorrect as “God,” but whatever.  Here’s the thing though - if we’re talking about scriptural precedent, let’s look at Genesis and God’s very first act - Creation.  This was God’s primary (and for a while there, only) role.  And if our goal as followers of God is to be more like him, then shouldn’t one of our highest priorities then be creation?  Biologically speaking, procreation is our most basic form of creation, and that requires both Father and Mother (at least as far as the DNA is concerned).  It seems to me that in creating a balance of sexed humans, God divided his creative capacity evenly.  So to call God only “Father” is basically to ignore a full half of humankind’s creative process, unless we are willing to also call God “Mother” on occasion.

Men, imagine telling your wives, “Well, you did a great job carrying my seed and all, but now that you’ve popped this sucker out, make sure you never tell him that you had anything to do with his birth - I’d really like to take credit for this one because really, the Father is the only part of this whole nurturing parent thing that matters to kids.”  Women, do you want to have children only to have them ignore your part in their creation, birth, protection, and nurturing?  Imagine telling your mother that’s what you think of her, and that really, just haven’t a relationship with your dad from here on out is all you need.  (I’m suddenly remembering Mark Driscoll explaining that there can be no innovation in the Church without young men...because I suppose women are incapable of having innovative ideas or something.)  That all sounds horrifying to me, yet this is exactly what we do to God every day by calling him Father and never Mother.  That’s part of why I generally like to stick with the more holistic “Creator.”  

5. Of course, I believe that our call to create is not limited to making babies, but speaks to creativity itself. I was watching a fairly remarkable TED conference video from Ted Robinson, who spoke about our natural human creativity, particularly in children, and how our education system stifles that creativity.  He explains that by the time the current generation of young students retires, it will be around 2065.  But we have no idea what 2015 will even look like, so how can we possibly prepare children for their future unless we can allow them to know and express themselves?  We’re taught to conform, to take tests, to regurgitate, and rarely to actually emote or express our personalities or uniqueness.  My own take on this is that we have developed both education and Christianity into culture of competition, which leads to goals of winning (paired with another’s defeat), and is essentially just small scale destruction of something else.  In so doing, we are actively teaching ourselves and our children to do the opposite of what God designed us to do.  And everyone’s okay with this?  Why do we emphasize sports and not dance?  Or reading and writing, but not drama?  School is a sort of citizen-factory, instead of a system to healthily develop self-actualized human beings.  (I cannot tell you how disturbed I was to see that Rick Perry’s education ideas involve treating students like “customers,” which I suppose means that knowledge is some sort of commodity to be purchased.  That type of attitude is venomous, insulting to students and children, and frankly showing a profound lack of respect for all of knowledge itself.  And this is likely to be the great evangelical Christian candidate for president?  Oh, please.)  This is not what God created us to be, I’m convinced of it.

6.  So in what I guess is the closest thing I've got to conclusion, I say this.  C.S. Lewis once said, “What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects--with their Christianity latent.”  We are called to creativity not because we are Christians, but because we are humans, created by a Creator. 

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