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God Revealed in Creation

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July 25, 2010 Tags: Education

Today's video features Daniel Harrell. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of BioLogos. You can read more about what we believe here.

In this video, pastor Daniel Harrell looks at how we can worship God by understanding the world around us as revelations of God’s nature. Harrell notes that, to him, faith must correspond to how things are, not merely how we wish they could be. Thus, exploring nature can be seen as a way to also explore our faith.

Harrell also notes that the idea of God revealing himself through creation is “very, very old indeed.” Scripture acknowledges it, and a long history of theologians and thinking Christians have held this perspective. Just as David marvels at creation in the Psalms and considers how his understanding of nature can influence his understanding of God, so too we can marvel at the complexity of DNA or the diversity of life or the majesty of the universe and consider how these are also manifestations of God’s character.

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.

Daniel Harrell is the Senior Minister of Colonial Church in Edina, Minnesota. He is the author of the books Nature’s Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith, How To Be Perfect: One Church’s Experiment with Living the Book of Leviticus, and the forthcoming Wisdom of the Saints (And Near Saints): Christian Inspiration from A-Z. He also teaches theology at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul.

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R Hampton - #23570

July 26th 2010


I agree that Science can not know what God optimized for - we need Scripture and Theology for that.

For example, can we design the architecture of a Church building to optimize our duties to God? Theoretically, perhaps there is a perfect design, but in reality we muddle through endless possibilites. Are pews better the chairs? Is a pulpit/lectern split better than a single dais? Is it better to the word alone or accompanied by all the bells and whistles of a modern audio/visual system?

Our cultural traditions and definition of good shape this determination, and so how we optimize. Even though we lack a scientific measure for assessing a Church building accordingly, none the less we are motivated to learn from the past and improve our designs. As we learn, we consider an ever greater number of factors because we have a greater understanding how the design affects, and is affected by, everything around it. And if we had perfect knowledge, we would know how to maximally optimize a design that includes and incorporates everything.

merv - #23724

July 28th 2010

R Hampton wrote:  “And if we had perfect knowledge, we would know how to maximally optimize a design that includes and incorporates everything.”

I don’t think this is possible—- even in perfection, because it would lead to contradictions.

E.g.  As you shop to prepare for a meal you could optimize for pleasure & taste, for health, for economy, for convenience, etc.  most of these options are exclusive of each other.  That is, the food you like best may not correspond with the healthiest, which may not correspond with the best price, & so forth.  I optimized for the best transportation to go to work this morning (my bicycle).  I could have optimized my rate (minimizing time en-route) by taking a car instead.  But it is logically impossible to do both.  To say that God could optimize all things simultaneously leads to logical contradictions.  Which is more efficient: spending *more* time watching a sunset or *less*?  or letting a universe unfold over billions of years or in an instant?  Bypassing all suffering and sin by disallowing it, or letting in a messy measure of freedom and redeeming the result?  The most “efficient” thing of all to do is create nothing.


merv - #23725

July 28th 2010

...to correct my last comment above:  “the most efficient thing is to do nothing” IF your goal is the least personal expenditure of effort.  I’m glad God isn’t efficient—- at least not with that particular optimization in mind.

JKnott - #23745

July 28th 2010

I like to think God created the best possible world for the purpose of being saved by the atoning death of JC.  That’s a very different intent than many might assume.

R Hampton - #23782

July 28th 2010

To say that God could optimize all things simultaneously leads to logical contradictions.

Such an optimization would be perfection, and that’s not what I said nor believe. Because we are flawed, so to is Creation (a thing can not be perfect if one of its components is imperfect). By maximal optimization I mean the highest degree of attainable results. In human beings, free will results in some portion of souls being lost to God for all eternity. God’s Creation, however, optimizes all of the interrelated variables for God is perfect.

Perfection means to be without flaw, thus the actions of a perfect being must be perfect even when creating something inherently imperfect—meaning, the imperfection was perfectly conceived. Hence, the imperfection itself is optimal (containing the least amount of corruption and/or flaw). Were God to choose to use more corruption then necessary to attain his objectives, God would, in effect, be choosing Evil over Good.

Amanda Carrico - #27692

September 1st 2010

(preface - I don’t have time to quote the scriptures or detail the math, but I think you all will recognize both)
it wasn’t bad science, just less optimized.  Just like now.  It’s about convergence.  You see the end, but by process it can’t be attained, only by faith.  (thus redemption from the law)  God declared us to be what we are, and at the same time were are becoming that which He has already declared us to be.  Knowledge is increasing, revelation is flooding.  Not so we’ll be convinced.  God is revealing what your faith has already sealed.  Otherwise you might misuse it or let it lead you rather than vice versa.  But not you who bear His name and the Spirit who raised Him from the dead.  You will not worship it.  This kind of revelation comes to those already His and set apart for His purposes.  And that’s a key here.  YOU EACH (I know, I know….caps…hey, in moderation) you were given these kinds of minds for His kingdom purpose for the here and now.  For the purpose of interaction.  Don’t you see how this lets you see the connection from the unseen to the seen?  (con’t)

Am - #27693

September 1st 2010

Expectation and electrons…as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he…there are so many links, and rightly so.  Of course optimized science will concur with (not confirm) scriptural Truth.  It’s about cooperating and co-laboring with Him.  Somehow these insights are needed or He wouldn’t have divulged them now.  Don’t squander it on endless arguments.  Encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.  Be unified in the bond of peace, and in that, grow up in His knowledge until we all (parts of a whole), grow up into the fullness of Christ.  If optimization had it’s end, it would be Love and Truth.  But you are given those by the Spirit.  Your spirit is already that whole, that ‘end’, and since your flesh is still attached, God is allowing it to catch up so that you can vent His will here (on earth) with less interference.  Consider the days.  Redeem the time.  In His Presence, you are a child full of wonderment and beaming at His love for you.  On this earth, you are His ambassador.  Wise as serpents, innocent as doves.  Ask Him, “Lord, what would you have me do or understand with this knowledge?”  For His Glory!  Jesus!!

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