Order in Creation

The order in creation witnesses to the order in God.

Creation is Good (5)

He sends out His command
to theearth;
His word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes;
He casts out His hail like morsels;
Who can stand before His cold?
He sends out His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow.
He declares His word to Jacob,
His statutes and His judgments to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And
as forHis judgments, they have not known them.
Praise the L
ORD! Psalm 147.15-20

The extraordinary ordinary
That creation is orderly is such a common understanding that we can easily take it for granted. The order of creation is on display continuously around us. Night follows day, spring precedes summer. The forests green from the ground up. The earth orbits the sun at the same rate, year after year. Low pressure brings rain, high pressure provides clear skies. Red sky in morning, sailor take warning. Mosquitos come out in the summer just about the time you’d like to go outside and enjoy a relaxing evening.

We take the orderliness of creation for granted, but this has not always been the case. At the beginning of the modern scientific enterprise, Christian thinkers, who understood that God is orderly, banked on His unchanging ways to investigate the order in creation, to discover what they might learn about it and Him, so as to make good use of God’s works and praise Him accordingly.

The first natural philosophers – what we today refer to as scientists – were Christians, almost to a man. They studied the order of the cosmos, the circulation of blood, the variety and species of plants and animals, the workings of gravity, electricity, molecules, genes, and more. Banking on the unvarying orderliness of the creation, those early scientists resolved many of the mysteries underlying the order of the world, and laid the foundations for all modern scientific achievement.

There was nothing ordinary about the order in creation to the likes of Galileo, Newton, Linnaeus, and Ray. They knew that order is good, because the order in creation, which is a reflection of the order in the divine Trinity, can help us know the world and exercise stewardship in it for good.

John Ray
One of the most articulate observers of creation’s order was the British naturalist John Ray (1627-1705), who was the foremost observer of creation in his day. He wrote papers and books on plant and animal life and established the foundations of plant taxonomy. His work remains today as a landmark and touchstone for scientific work in biology and botany.

In his book, The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation, he explained many of the wonders of creation by which God blessed the world and glorified Himself. The purpose of this book, as Ray explained it, was “to run over all the visible Works of God in particular, and to trace the Footsteps of His Wisdom in the Composition, Order, Harmony, and Uses of every one of them…” He insisted that this effort would be useful, first, to help establish belief in God, and to promote pure worship of Him. He also believed that by surveying, describing, and classifying the various species of plant and animal life, he might make a contribution to silencing the growing voices of atheism, which were working at that time to redefine all knowledge without the need of God. Third, he hoped that his detailed observations and analyses would illustrate some of the principal attributes of God, “namely, his infinite Power and Wisdom.” He further believed that a better knowledge and appreciation of flora and fauna would help to promote “the Publick Good.” And he hoped “to stir up and increase in us the Affections and Habits of Admiration, Humility, and Gratitude” to God, Who is so wise, generous, and sure.

Ray argued, “There is no greater; at least no more palpable and convincing Argument of the Existence of a Deity, than the admirable Art and Wisdom that discovers itself in the Make and Constitution, the Order and Disposition, the Ends and Uses of all the Parts and Members of this stately Fabrick of Heaven and Earth.”

The order of creation is good, John Ray insisted, and the durability of his research and writing confirms that claim.

John Ray’s work of observing, recording, and explaining the order in creation laid a solid foundation for later developments in biological and botanical sciences. So important was Ray’s work, that at least three societies exist today to continue promoting his research and writings, and to carry on his love for creation and its order.

Order is good
The witness of creation is that order is good, and in our souls we know this implicitly. Everything about our lives depends on order: when we eat, how we work and conduct our relationships, how we dress our bodies, arrange food on a plate, schedule and fulfill meetings, mow our lawns, hang our clothes in the closet, arrange books on a shelf, attend to matters of personal hygiene, use an app, send a text message, and much, much more – all depend on order. And as we bring order to bear on our lives, in all aspects of our lives, we reflect the order we observe and learn in the creation around us, and together with it, refract the order of God, and enjoy and display His goodness.

For reflection
1.  Why is it so easy to take the order in creation for granted? How can we keep from doing this, and why should we?

2.  Meditate on Psalm 8.1, 2. How can the order in creation provide a convincing argument for the existence of God?

3.  What would the world be like if order were optional in human life? How does the order we witness in creation helped to bring out the goodness of God in our lives?

Next steps – Preparation: Today, make note of all the different kinds of order you observe in the world around you. Give thanks to God for each one.

T. M. Moore

What are you doing at 8:18 am? If you’re with Bruce Van Patter, you’re observing the goodness of God in your immediate surroundings. Take a look at Bruce’s column, and let your world come alive with goodness (click here).

Our Mission Partners Outreach can help you follow God’s call to share the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom with the people in your Personal Mission Field. The training and materials are free, and the program is available in two formats, and can be used in your Bible study group or Sunday school class. Watch this brief video (click here), and download the informational flyer to learn more.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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