In the Beginning God
Sermon September 6 2020
By Dr. Terry Swicegood
A huge boulder fell from a high cliff in the Grand Canyon and came to rest near the Bright Angel trail, the main trail that leads from the south rim of the canyon down to the Colorado river.
In 2016 a geologist from Norway, Allan Drill, was hiking the Bright Angel with a group of his students. He happened to notice that there was this reddish boulder alongside the trail with footprints on it.
He took pictures and began an investigation with fellow geologists as to the origin of the footprints.
They concluded that these footprints were made in dry sand over 330 million years ago when what is now Arizona was a coastal plain with wind‑blown sand dunes everywhere.
It turns out that the ancient footprints represent the earliest footprints ever found in this epic, wondrous environment.
And not only that, they are among the oldest tracks on Earth of shelled‑egg‑laying animals. They were made by some sort of weird reptile–something akin to a giant lizard–who left its footprints in what would someday be our Grand Canyon.
I have hiked into the Grand Canyon twice. I have also rafted the Colorado river twice. How can you find the right words to describe what all around you is grandeur and majesty? Our guides on the river trip would stop along the way and help us identify the various layers of rock. There are 40 layers in all dating from 300 million to 2 billion years old.
As it turns out the footprints found by Professor Drill were deposited fairly recently in the timetable of the Grand Canyon. 330 million years ago up against 2 billion years ago.
Why am I telling you this story? Not to refresh your memory of what you learned in high school geology.
I am telling it to amplify what we find in the creation account of Genesis 1. By the way, we are beginning a study of Genesis next Wednesday in our Wednesday noon Bible study. Why don t you join in and Zoom along with us. It’s a wondrous book.
Genesis one is the day by day account of creation. It was composed in the fifth or sixth century BC by an unknown Hebrew author.
For openers the Book of Genesis is not a scientific textbook, nor was it ever intended to be a literal explanation of how the world came into being. Instead, it is a poem, designed to tell how in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The author of Genesis lived in a pre-scientific age. He did not know about the big bang theory, or how there are fossils n the Grand Canyon that are 330 million years of age. He did not know about Lucy, one of our pre-historic ancestors who lived about 3.2 million years ago. But he did believe that creation, complicated and beautiful, was brought out of nothing-ness by a Creator God.
Let me tell you a parable. A man who has never seen a watch and doesn’t know what a watch is walking in the desert. He bends down and from the floor of the desert he picks up an expensive and intricate gold pocket watch. He begins to observe it. He finds that it is composed of a metal case and a porcelain dial. He opens it. Inside he finds a complicate arrangement of springs and cogged wheels and levers and jewels, all ticking away. He sees that the hands of the watch are moving in what appears to be some predetermined order. He takes the back off the watch and sees how the gears of the watch are moving in synchronicity.
Now what does he conclude? I suppose he could conclude that by chance all the materials that compose the watch–the metal and the glass– came together and that by chance the watch wound itself up and started to tick. He could conclude that, but any thinking person would deduce something else. A thinking person would conclude: Here is a watch; somewhere there must be a watchmaker
I want to affirm: Here is our world, intricate and complicated. Somewhere there must be a World Maker
In the movie “A River Runs Through It,” the father takes his two young sons down the river for a fishing trip. The father uses fishing to teach his sons lessons about life. When one of the boys finds a fossil, the father says, “Boys, this river flows through the land over the rocks to the sea. The rocks are half a billion years old and show the marks of rain drops which fell long eons ago. And underneath the rocks are the words of God. Listen.” And they all lean over to listen to the gurgling of the river. This is in the spirit we find in Genesis 1.
Steven Hawking, the Einstein of our times, has said, “The odds against a universe like ours coming out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications.”
Another scientific observer, commenting on the possibility that all the conditions necessary for life to begin could come together by chance said that the probability is about the same as an explosion in a paint factory producing a painting by Renoir.
Before we leave this point, we have to give the final word to the computer. Since there has been endless controversy whether an intelligent mind created the universe or whether it all happened by chance, someone decided on a way to settle the dispute. They said, “We will feed into the most sophisticated computer all the evidence we have about the origin of life, and let the computer tell us how it all began.” So, all the leading anthropologists in the world gathered their data and fed it into the computer, and the geologists fed their information in, and so did the paleontologists, the astronomers, the chemists, and the biologists. Millions and millions of bits of information were typed into the computer until it was all done. Then the disc drives started whirring, and the lights blinked, and bells rang. Finally, the great computer finished its work and typed out this message on the screen:
SEE GENESIS 1:1