Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Plantinga Ch 2 "Creation"

“John Calvin notes [that] ‘wherever we cast our gaze’ we can spot signs of God’s glory, disclosed in the ‘whole workmanship of the universe.’ God gives off a ‘general’ or universal revelation through creation and providence, and unless we dull our perception of it by sloth or self-interest, the vast system of the universe becomes for us ‘a sort of mirror in which we can contemplate God, who is otherwise invisible.’”
~Plantinga (27)

In this chapter, I found that I most easily connected with Plantinga’s discussion of God’s general revelation through his creation and also how special revelation relates to general revelation. I think this is because in my own life, general revelation has played a very strong role in helping to strengthen my faith in God. As a young child, I was always fascinated by science. I was a little bit of a tomboy and rather than playing with dolls or painting my nails with the girls in my neighborhood, I would spend many summer afternoons with the boys, collecting insects and building “homes” for them in empty glass jars. I remember even then being fascinated by the intricacy and diversity found in such small creatures as insects. As I have grown up, I’ve found that my fascination with God’s creation has continued to grow. One morning last fall in a cell biology lecture, we were learning about the processes of mitosis, meiosis, DNA replication, and all of the various specific enzymes and events which must take place in a tiny cell in exact sequence in order for the whole process of cell division to take place. I was taken aback; I had to take a moment to stop taking notes and just try and comprehend the amazing complexity with which God created our bodies down to even the smallest cell. I could not help but think of Psalm 139:14 which says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Experiences such as these have had a large effect on my faith. The more I see the wonder and intricacy with which all of nature has been made, the more convinced I become of God’s existence and involvement in the physical world. There is no way in my mind that all of this could have happened by chance.

I also appreciated the point Plantinga makes for the necessity of special as well as general revelation. I agree with what he says. It doesn’t matter how much I learn about the complexity of a plant body or a cell; because of the Fall which has affected all of creation, biology in itself cannot lead me to a faith in Jesus Christ or belief in His death and resurrection. As Calvin described it, I have used scripture, God’s special revelation, as a “lens” through which I can view the physical world, or God’s general revelation.

Finally, I really liked the Gerard Manely Hopkins quote Plantinga uses towards the end of the chapter. This quote states that it is not just through prayer, but also through our work that we bring glory to God. I think that it is very important to remember that our entire lives should be an act of worship. Many Christians today (including me) have a tendency to compartmentalize our lives into religious and secular sections. We need to know at all times that we are called to glorify God in all facets of life whether we are singing a praise song, writing a paper for school, or getting up early on a Saturday morning to work at a job which we don't particularly enjoy.


  1. I agree with almost all of what you said. While I am not as fascinated with biology as you seem to be, the revelation you had in class is similar to what I feel when studying the intricacies of life around us.
    I also find God's creation to be a wonderful lens into who He is. I often experience some aspect of nature that reinforces a point from my devotions earlier in the day.
    And yet again I agree that Hopkins' quote is dead on. It is all too easy to leave God behind while we live our lives and then pick him back up when its time for devotions or church. Yet this is not at all how God wants us to live. Everything we do should be done as an offering of praise to God, and every moment we should have a prayer to Him on our lips.

  2. Dear Kailyn,
    I really like your description of the intricate beauty of God that you have observed in biology. I definitely agree because I am a nursing student, and I love it when we study anatomy and notice the tiny details of how are bodies are made and only God could have made us like this (Psalm 139:14). The more we learn about science or a different subject in school, the better we can see and know Him.

  3. As a Calvin Chem prof, I am thrilled that you shared the moment you paused from your note taking to appreciate the beauty of God's creation revealed in the class discussion. I hope that happens from time to time in chem class as well. And I am heartened that you can name the process as seeing creation through the lens of scripture. Peace to you.