In the beginning, God . . .
Scarce more profound a mystery be found. Aseity is how we discuss God’s self-sufficiency. To quote, Jesus the Christ, “I have life in myself as my father has life in Himself.” Although the Word of God only implies this attribute, aseity, to God here, the text invites us to conclude that God is indeed self-sufficient. We need not look for a reason or cause that somehow predates or precedes God. It touches our mind as a unfathomable truth that does allow us to fathom a bit of it. Applying the notion of time to God in this pre-history may be unfounded. Sequence may be merely a creaturely phenomenon that has no place for describing God’s divine pre-history existence.
We should not ask, “what was before God” because such a question already assumes that “time” is rightly applied to God prior to His creating. This is what boggled Richard Dawkins’ mind in his entirely insulting book, God is not Great. His claim was that we Christians only move the mystery back from the big bang to God but such a move, according to Dawkins, provides no more explanatory power than leaving the mystery at the big bang. I contend there are added benefits and explanation by supposing that God is and that the mystery resides with God rather than the big bang.
(1) Locating the mystery of life with God and not the big bang provides a personal entity, God — rather than an impersonal force, the “bang,” — that is responsible for creating something entirely intelligently designed. This provides much explanatory power for why the universe should be here rather than not here. Only persons create organized and intelligently designed things. No sand castle has ever arisen apart from some child, a person, building it. No house erected from the arbitrary falling of logs in the woods; no a person comes and organizes it.
(2) Dawkins is right that it moves the mystery to God but he is wrong that it does not provide us far greater resources in explaining the universe and purpose of life. A person such as God generating persons such as humans is a substantial foundation for purpose and meaning. If there is meaning that lasts beyond our life and the memories of descendants it will reside in the Mind of God, which would constitute our subjective meaning into the “objective annuls” of God’s mind, providing the complete basis for life not only to be meaningful in some daily yet ultimately waning sort of way, but then becoming actualized objective meaning.
(3) Postulating a realm that God inhabited or simply was in pre-history breaks the need to explain (and ask) “what came before” — showing you are asking a question about creation rather than the Creator — by virtue of pointing out the fact that “cause and effect” implies sequence, but there is no reason to be compelled either from theological or scientific concerns to postulate that time and thus sequence existed prior to such a taxis and organization in the creation. Really, we have little idea what time is. Scripture states elsewhere and we live and move in God, and time might really be some realm or medium for humanity’s expression that is upheld by God although utterly different from Him. This is conjecture, but the point is that “time” is a humanly contrived idea that we use to describe our reality while also recognizing that “time” is really there even if in only abstract sort of way.
(4) Given the law of entropy, there must be a generative force that is outside of or beyond the realm of nature or of the creation. Simply put, that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but yet energy exists, demands an “Energizer.” Postulating the natural world backward in infinite regression does nothing to solve this issue. In spiritual terms, there must be The Spirit for the life-energies of spirits to be.
(5) God being Creator also provides us the resource of “intention” as a way to explain why the universe is and why it should have started at all. The big bang provides no such resource because forces do not “intend” anything. Rather than the universe’s existence being altogether arbitrary — as it would be if it were generated from an impersonal force — and just popping out of nothing, as though nothingness could produce something, a Personal Mind like God would simply intend to create, and such impulse to start something new is an experience each and every person has been involved with, analogously. Nothingness producing something is an experience no person ever has experienced in any real, relative, or analogous way.
Forces don’t have intention.
In the beginning God . . . points to a fundamental relational reality you, me, everyone, will have with God. In every revealing there is a concealing. If God is such a Being that calls what is not into existence from resources of His own generation, then the Scriptural based claims of His infinite nature are not overblown (everlasting to everlasting). In an infinite series, there is always more ground to cover even if the ground upon which we currently stand is wondrous in its own right. Even here in Genesis 1:1, at the outset of all else God will say, this text maximizes attention on this single shining light, piercing through the veil of mystery which is the fact that God is. Period. God is.
Here at this moment, the moment, the moment that precedes all other moments, the moment that pervades all other moments as the mother of them all, here we find Creator and Lord in the one word, Elohim. He is before all and as such is over all. To lord, or rule, we discover entails the impulse to share, to serve, and to fashion something that is an echo, a “re-presentation” of all that Elohim is. Creativity, generosity, and gratuity are unveiled in these first three words, “in the beginning.” There is a start, and the start begs us to ask why. This Being, this God, cannot be compelled to create, clearly is not creating out of need or acting out of deficiency. Indeed, that God simply was already puts all such notions He could be deficient into the grave.
You share that creativity friend, you exhibit profound imagination. God went beyond what was to produce what was not. Why do you imagine things beyond your experience? Why do we love mythologies, DC, Marvel, Warhammer 40k? How intense this creativity is among all humanity; we all love stories and stories are evidence of our great making property that God invested into us: transcendence. Surely, it is an absolute marvel to be screamed from the hill tops that you are a subcreator, with capacities to transcend. We go beyond, we break limitations as we press ever more into the mystery of the infinite divine. When you use that imagination, you are a representation of this first moment that made all other moments possible: “in the beginning God . . .” Art, recreation, these are the resounding chorus of God’s first paint stroke on the canvas of creation. You are part of that painting, and you contribute to that painting. What will you fashion this day? Will we find in you the same type of creator from deep resources uses your authority to bring into being something new and wonderful out of sheer pleasure and as a generous expression of your spirit, of who you are? Will the ethos of Elohim mark you? Will you be a Lord and Creator who fashions life-giving ideals, models, truths, endeavors, hopes, to bring these into being as a participant in creation’s melody?
Take captive this moment, as it carries in it the memory of that first moment, “in the beginning God. . .” Imagine, express, create: discern what is generous, and be about that this day. Life in not about prolonging days but about finding this life-giving moment, rehearsing its wonder, and drinking deeply from the well of self-giving rather than feeding the devourer, selfishness.
In the grand theater of cosmic origins, contained in only 4 words, “In the beginning God . . .” we find what is first and therefore foremost in the taxonomy of meaning, namely, Presence. There are really only two alternatives in the grand narrative of the universe: either Presence is the most basic reality or emptiness. Presence, friends, is the locus of meaning. Without presence, meaning is naught. In other words, before you can have meaning in your life, say from your father or mother, they first must be present. Their presence is required for meaning. Similarly, we are faced with the void if the universe is some god-less array of foundationally empty beginnings — whatever that would look like, and it is not logical so don’t break your mind trying to comprehend it.
If this was the meaning in the beginning, whatever else we learn about the purpose of the cosmos from later verses in Genesis, then this is the meaning for you today. That God is there; that God is the Presence immutably available to you. Are you a father, a mother, a brother, or a sister, what about a dear friend, a close colleague, a guide to the young, a teacher of the curious? First among all things is to make yourself present, to be there, to demonstrate your presence even as we see God having done the same: In the beginning God. There He was.