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In this third part of our continuing series on presuppositional apologetics, I want to pick up and explain a bit further a point that was introduced briefly at the end of Part 2—the radical importance of the very first verse of the Bible. Genesis 1:1 reads: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Because we are so familiar with this verse, we usually miss the deep significance and apologetic magnitude of what these ten words are actually teaching. If I do my job properly, by the end of this article you will have a new appreciation for this verse and be motivated to think a bit beyond the apparent “surface meaning” of Scripture.
First off, it must be noted that Genesis 1:1 begins with God; His existence is presumed. No effort is made here—or anywhere else in the Bible for that matter—to “prove” that God exists. According to the Bible then, God is the ultimate presupposition; He is the necessary precondition for anything else. At first glance, this seems to fly directly in the face of Peter’s command to “have an answer” (1 Pet. 3:15). If our very own authoritative book simply assumes from the outset that God exists, then maybe the skeptics are correct when they accuse Christians of being “blind” in their faith. If we can’t prove that God exists, what can we possibly be expected to offer up as an “answer?” And therein, says Shakespeare, lies the rub. Proof is a tricky thing. The very nature of “proof” assumes a higher standard than the thing that you are trying to prove. A mathematical proof assumes the validity of mathematics. Likewise a logical proof assumes the validity of logic. In other words, we use logic to prove or disprove logic and math to prove or disprove math. Just as the eye doctor trusts his own eyes to operate on yours, there are certain “endpoints” that cannot be taken any further. Would you trust the eye doctor who claimed that his sense of smell was superior to his eyesight and insisted on operating blindfolded? This same “endpoint” exists with God; He is the ultimate test of reality. By definition, He is the supreme “proof” to which everything else is in subjection. If God could be “proven” by something, that “something” would then be the ultimate “proof.” “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself” (Heb. 6:13). The Bible’s presumption of God then is not only internally consistent and logically valid; it is the necessary starting point.
A second observation from a careful reading of Genesis 1:1 is this: time is a created measurement. The Bible tells us that “In the beginning…” This implies an eternity on the front side of “the beginning” which had no beginning. Further, the verse tells us that “God created the heavens and the earth.” This quick one/two punch gives us the space/time continuum. It has taken physicists four thousand years to catch up with this simple declaration of fact that modern skeptics want to attribute to primitive, nomadic, superstitious desert-wanderers.
If the laws of physics are to have any sticking power at all, to be real laws, one could argue, they have to be good anywhere and at any time, including the Big Bang, the putative Creation. Which gives them a kind of transcendent status outside of space and time. On the other hand, many thinkers — all the way back to Augustine — suspect that space and time, being attributes of this existence, came into being along with the universe — in the Big Bang, in modern vernacular. So why not the laws themselves?… Since cosmologists don’t know how the universe came into being, or even have a convincing theory, they have no way of addressing the conundrum of where the laws of nature come from or whether those laws are unique and inevitable or flaky as a leaf in the wind.
This point is not to be missed. Physicists and cosmologists both are well aware that it is not enough to know how natural laws dictate the day-to-day operation of the universe. This may help predictability but it brings us no closer to actually understanding why? To be honest, Genesis 1:1 leaves the Christian in the same predicament, but it does make the creation personal. In other words, because God is the Creator, we can learn about Him through the creation, just as we can learn something about an artist through his art. As we continue beyond the first verse of the Bible, we not only learn more about the creation, we learn more about the Creator, which brings us to our final observation of Genesis 1:1.
“In the beginning God created…” The Bible tells us that God didn’t just make the heavens and the earth, He created them. The difference is akin to making noises with your mouth and writing a five-part symphony. Creating is a much deeper and intensive process than simply making. McDonald’s cooks make hamburgers, but chefs create meals. Creating involves not just the mere mechanics, but the presentation as well. This is of supreme importance when we think of how Genesis 1:1 should inform our apologetic task. Getting the words correct are only part of the job of the apologist. Remember how Peter ends his apologetic call: “…always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Peter wants his hearers to understand that the presentation of the apologetic is just as important as the apologetic itself. Having an answer is only one aspect of it. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16).