God don’t make no junk

May 20th, 2011 in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison
pickup truck in a junk yard

Credit: Terry Alexander

The Baptist Student Ministries of Texas Tech University once asked me to come to their campus to discuss creation and evolution.  They publicized the event campus-wide and staged it in one of the biology department’s lecture halls.  The entire biology faculty attended, no doubt alarmed that a Baptist preacher had come to discuss this volatile subject with their students.

At the beginning of the hour I set out my ambition: to discuss what the Bible actually says on the subject of creation.  As everyone knows, it states that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  Does it tell us how long ago he did this?  Does it tell us the specific means he used?  In biological terms, his word claims that he made birds and fish (vs. 20-21), livestock and wild animals (vs. 24) and humans (v. 26).  But how he did so, we are not told.

I explained to the biology faculty and the rest of the students packed into the lecture hall that I was concerned only with discussing and defending these truth claims.  According to Archbishop Ussher (mid-17th century), the genealogical records of the Bible require that creation occurred in 4004 B.C., but the Scriptures nowhere make this assertion.  Some have defended a “gap” theory whereby creation occurred ages ago, then Satan “fell” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 so that God “restarted” creation some 6,000 years ago.  I felt no need to defend such speculation.

Flood geologists” suggest that Noah’s flood would have compressed the earth’s geology so that our planet appears older than it is.  “Mature creation” proponents reason that God made a mature planet which of necessity would seem more ancient than it is.  If he created a 200-foot redwood today and you cut the tree down tomorrow, you would count rings which would make the tree seem ancient.  Of course, these theories are just that.

As we noted last week, the Bible is a practical book but we are speculative people.  The Scriptures tell us all we need to know about creation—God made us and our universe for his providential purposes.  You are not here by chance but by creative design.  How long ago God created our universe and what process he used in so doing is of secondary significance to this revelatory declaration.

When the Texas Tech biology faculty learned that I had not come to convince their students that dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark, we got along very well.  We’ll continue our conversation on Monday, but for today let’s claim this significant fact: God made you for a reason.  The world has more than six billion inhabitants—we didn’t really need one more.  Yet God thought his universe needed someone with your exact gifts and abilities, challenges and struggles.  Ethel Waters, whose birth was the result of her mother’s rape, spoke for us all: “I know I’m somebody ’cause God don’t make no junk.”

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16 Comments

  • Thank you for this great series! I’m reading The Language of God (Francis Collins) in which a scientist presents evidence for belief. Very insightful, easy to read and right on target with what you stated today. I highly recommend it.

  • Jim,
    Here’s a tough Bible question – if you want one that gets to the heart of the problem for people: How do I determine what is “God’s specific purpose for my life?”

    Or in other words, what am I supposed to be doing with my unique personhood?

    How does one discern from God what one’s niche is? And I’m not talking about the general Kingdom-building activities: witnessing, serving, etc. I’m talking about determining one’s “divinely-purposed” career path.

  • Good morning,

    Thank you for this article, several years ago, after researching for months the creation vs evolution debate, God really laid it on my heart that the important issue is that He made us. I believe that we can get caught up in fruitless arguments that do not bring anyone closer to the Lord (which is our commission). I am convicted that when Jesus said ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me,’ He meant it. As adult believers we need to commit ourselves to Him and enjoy His creation and the love He poured out for us instead of trying to impress others. Our focus needs to be God centered instead of us centered.

  • What a great word to remind us of “who” and “Whose” we are! Thank you Dr. D.

  • i heard that expression 40 years ago from a Christian attorney friend from Nashville, TN. it was true then and is today!

  • We all want to know why we are here, but the Bible does not explicitly state why God created this universe or why or for what purpose God created humans. God may well have purposes for the human race that will not become apparent for eons. I believe it was an old Anglican creed that said the purpose of life is to know God and to enjoy Him forever. I can think of nn better purpose for each of us.

  • Thank you for your devotional today. Over the years, I have struggled to address this issue with some of my siblings and their spouses. You see, although we were all raised in the church, only I and my second oldest brother attend now. My oldest brother and his wife do not attend and my sister and her husband do not attend. My oldest brother and his wife are both doctors. My brother began to question the church and its foundations as he became more interested in the sciences and academia. Although he is very well versed in theology…he questions the Bible and its authority. His wife of Thai descent…is also Buddhist. My sister’s husband is a particle physicist that worked for many years at Fermi lab outside of Chicago when he was getting his postdoc and completing his fellowship. He is now a professor at Oxford and does much of his research at CERN. He, is a devout atheist, and my sister, whom I love dearly, became disillusioned with the church at a very young age.

    As you can see… talking about creation is not always the easiest of discussions when we all get together. I’ve tried in the past to mention what you brought up in your devotional today…that we can only go by what the Bible actually mentions as opposed to what it omits. In regards to the time or date of creation and discussions over the flood, well…that has sometimes gone over better than other times. I say this all for the mere reason that I look forward to reading your devotional series next week.

    • A.P.

      God bless you as you struggle with what to say.

      Love them and pray them into the Kingdom.

      God is the changer of hearts. His truth will finally come to them as they see His Design and Purpose in His Creation. The Heavens will tell of His Glory.

      Hang in there with them.

      Yours,
      Jerry

  • Fred Rosenbaum

    Creation vs Evolution

    Want to get into a fight? Start a discussion on the above title. In my opinion, there are many worthless things that energy is wasted on, the above is near the top of the list. But let’s discuss it anyway.

    Genesis of the Bible was written as far back as 3 to 4 thousand years ago, maybe by Moses. When and by whom is vague and uncertain, but supposedly under the direction of the God of the Israelites. Evolution has evolved under the direction of scientists in the last century and a half.

    Creation:

    Genesis, verse 1-2:
    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was over the waters.
    And God said “Let there be light.”

    Genesis 6-9
    And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” God called the expanse “sky” And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear.”

    Genesis 20
    And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures and let the birds fly above the earth…”

    Genesis 24
    And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kind.”

    Genesis 26
    Then, God said, “Let us make man in our own image… to rule over …fish, birds, livestock and all the earth.

    I find it amazing that 3, maybe 4 thousand years ago, someone understood the sequence of events that formed the universe.

    Evolution:

    In the beginning was Singularity. There was neither matter nor energy. Suddenly there was a “Big Bang” and the universe was created, consisting of matter (earth) and energy (light)

    As things cooled down, the earth was formed and became sky, land and oceans.

    Life on earth first appeared in the oceans. Birds came later. ??

    Something crawled out of the ocean and became land dwellers.

    Man evolved at sometime in the recent past and became the dominant creature on earth.

  • Marie Saunders

    Great response. I am a retired English prof and I appreciate your willingness to tell what the Bible says and let the speculations defeat themselves.

  • I am curious about a couple things. What is your belief on the statement “The Protestant Church did not agree on which books should be contained in the bible until as late as 1647, at the Assembly of Westminster.” If this is true or not WHO decided on what books would be in the bible we see today and why are there some books that were left out. Seems to me if there are more books that were written with Jesus speaking his word, than those books should be spread to all. So why were such books as the Gospel of Thomas, and others omitted? I am especially interested in the Book of Enoch. Can you discuss it and tell me why it is not included. It makes no sense to have 66 books and not 67 or 73 or whatever the number may be.

    @ Ted Hill- I feel like you do know what your life is meant for. But you have to look inside yourself, think out of the box, and trust your instincts. You already know, you just don’t know you do.

  • Great posting by Dr. Denison. For those who are interested, I recommend reading The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, by Frances Collins. Dr. Collins is a well recognized member of the scientific community and formerly led the Genome project. If I recall correctly, early in his career he was an atheist and you can guess the rest of the story.

    Anyway, a very interesting read.

  • Thank you so much for your postings each day….I relish reading and learning your life applications…I quite often use them as I lead our Sunday morning Bible Study
    I am an 80 year old believer living in Cincinnati where we have a Creation museum..It is a multi million dollar facility, wonderfully done…and absolute on the dates of creation…and very logical( in their view) dating protocols…they draw several hundred thousand vistors from all over the coutry annually to view the display…but each time we take visitors I come away with your conclusion…..why argue the point…we have other work to do…thanks again for you great daily inspiration to me..

    RCL

  • You are just the coolest.

  • Ethel Waters was so right, “God don’t make no junk!” God put me here for a specific purpose, my job is to find out what it is. Then do it to the glory of God!

 

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