John Calvin

From time immemorial, human beings have been confronted with a perpetual question that few people care to consider: Why is there something rather than nothing? It seems to me that when confronted with the universe and all that is in it, a rational human being would be compelled to wonder what it all means. No one goes into a movie theater and concludes that the movie they just saw was a product of random chance, or for that matter the chair they are sitting in. But those same people may look at a gorgeously breathtaking sunset, the beauty of a rose, the power of a wave at Waimea Bay, or the birth of a baby, and see no designer behind it all.

This temptation to deny the obvious is a powerful force in the human heart, and it is nothing new. I recently came across a sermon by the terribly misunderstood theologian John Calvin on the first couple verses of Genesis. The first sentence is foundational to all Biblical faiths: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It so happens that almost 300 years before Darwin there were those who suggested that the universe and all that is in it is indeed a product of chance.

Here are Calvin’s eloquent words in response:

[A]ll profane people have always tried, at the devil’s leading, to erase the certainty we have to have concerning the creation of the world. They ask which came first, the egg or the chicken, and do so in jest so that everything will be called in question and people will stop agonizing over whether God is the cause of all things and whether we subsist by his power. The devil has used that ploy from the beginning. Others have indeed said that the world has not always existed. But so what? They have conjured up the most obtuse and absurd things a human could utter to resist God’s majesty, and they are unable to contemplate his glory, which ought to be evident as it displays itself so plainly before us. That is why they prefer—I am not joking—to say that the world came together by chance and that there were tiny objects tumbling around that the sun used for building the moon and the stars, the earth, the trees, and even man. Could anyone think up a scenario more stupid than that? The wind will blow as it may and make us tumble around and cause little things to heap together which cannot be separated, before our entrails could be enclosed within? Who is it that changes the bread and the wine and other foods into blood and provides nourishment for man? And  then if, as I said, we but look at a single fingernail and a hair of our head, is that not enough to convince these contemptible people who are thus blinded and willing become like dumb animals? In short, if we possessed a trace of discrimination and reason, Moses would not have had to be God’s witness, testifying that everything was created by him, for our capacity to reason and the order of nature show us that.

I love the “I am not joking,” and the fabulous question, “Could anyone think up a scenario more stupid than that?” It is inconceivably absurd that everything that is is the product of blind, random chance.

Imagine the great theologian encountering the vast majority of the world’s intelligentsia today, who believe just this, who worship at the altar of Darwin. In my humble opinion it’s a whole lot easier to believe that an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, divine being created the universe in six literal days (although I don’t believe that), than that random mutation and natural selection turned dust into you and me. It just takes too much faith to be an atheist. I’m with Calvin on this one.