What do you see?
The basic truth about our world
When we look around each day, what do we see? We see the visible world, our natural or man-made environment. The Bible says that people can know about God from what they see: “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom 1:20NIV).
According to this verse, some things are visible and some are invisible and we can understand something about the invisible from what is visible. Of course, many creatures can see, but people have complex brains that can help them understand more about what they see.
Paul wrote that the physical world “has been made”; it is a creation. This means that it is not just a product of the forces of nature and it didn’t make itself. The Bible says, “the universe was formed at God’s command” (Heb. 11:3).
Nature is orderly; particularly living things. Ecosystems and the web of life have distinct patterns. From this order of the physical world, Paul says that we can understand that it is a creation. We know that people can create things like clothes, tools, toys, buildings, roads, cars, music, stories, movies, art work and craft work. These are creations. The steps involved in a creation are: it begins with a concept or idea, which is followed by a design and then production. All creations have a creator. This is very basic logic that all can understand (Rom. 1:19).
A Divine Creator
Then Paul names the creator, as “God”. A creation such as a work of art, a musical composition, a song, or a novel reveals something about its creator. What can we learn about God from what He has made?
First, the creator is always more intelligent than the creation. As people are a part of creation, the Creator is more intelligent than us. As the genetic code of living creatures is extremely complex, I think that God is much more intelligent than we can imagine.
Second, the creator controls the energy and power evident in the creation. Therefore, God controls the energy and power evident in the universe such as in an electrical thunderstorm, a tsunami, and the explosion of a star. The Creator is more powerful than we can imagine.
Third, there are supreme laws of nature that we must respect. For example, if we don’t respect the law of gravity and step off a cliff we will die. Likewise, there are laws of electricity which can be fatal if we don’t respect them. These laws rule, we can’t disregard them and live. Gravity rules objects that have no support and electricity rules the flow of electrons in conductors. As the laws of nature rule in the creation, so the Creator rules over the creation.
Fourth, as people have a personality, with a mind, a will, emotions and the ability to communicate, it’s logical that the Creator is also a personal being. That’s why the Bible refers to God as “Him”, not “it—He is more than a force or influence.
So God reigns and rules over the creation and is an extremely intelligent and powerful personality. Paul describes this as His “eternal power and divine nature”. These are some of His invisible qualities which we should understand from what has been made.
As everyone can see or sense the creation and be aware of its laws and characteristics, we can all know that it was made by a Creator. Therefore, Paul claims that there is no excuse for not knowing that God created the world. This fact should be obvious (Rom. 1:19). It doesn’t need any education, just common sense. Why don’t more people see this more clearly? It’s because the truth of the divine Creator is suppressed by the ungodly, which is wicked and foolish (Rom. 1:18, 21-23). So what was once attributed to “God” is now attributed to “Nature”, and God is only used as a swear word. They imitate God be claiming to know everything and they worship ideas and images that have been created by humanity.
As God rules over all His creation, we should respect and worship Him (Rom. 1:21). As we are part of His creation, we should thank God for all He has done for us. Surely Christians should be characterised by worship and thankfulness towards God.
Written, June 2007