What Does it Mean to Believe in God the Creator?
In this video conversation, Karl Giberson advocates for an understanding of the Creator that places more emphasis on his sustainment of creation and less on its origins. Giberson notes that one of the things that the New Atheists have succeeded in doing is setting the frame of the debate by suggesting that unless we can point to what God is “doing”, that is, what he is actively creating—then he can’t exist.
This is a very reductionist argument, says Giberson, which attempts to evaluate claims of God in the same way that one would evaluate something like the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This kind of rubric does not work because the Christian understanding of God has always been a much more “robust and philosophically deep concept” than that which the New Atheists will account or allow for.
“What does it mean to say that God brings a universe into being?” It doesn’t mean that God is “[always in there] tinkering like gravity”—but he is more significant than that because he is the grounding force of gravity. God works through secondary causes—thus we need a more sophisticated view of causality. Way before the Big Bang or any theory of evolution, Aquinas points out that origination is not the key part to creating, it’s sustaining.
We have to be careful about projecting our idea about human creation onto God because the notion of a human creator is an entirely different concept. For example, when humans create something, they finish, and then walk away. We don’t say that Da Vinci continues to sustain the Mona Lisa and that if he were to remove his “sustaining powers” that it would cease to exist.
That would make no sense at all.
“Yet, that’s what it means to say God created the world—because everything is grounded in his being.”
Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.
Karl Giberson directs the new science & religion writing program at Gordon College in Boston. He has published more than 100 articles, reviews and essays for Web sites and journals including Salon.com, Books & Culture, and the Huffington Post. He has written seven books, including Saving Darwin, The Language of Science & Faith, and The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age.