Our mission is to the world. So do we do the world any service by talking of God as creator?
Such a picture of God may have made sense 2,000 years ago, but it doesn’t today. Back then the earth was seen as the centre of a quite recent creation, with God the creator dwelling somewhere in what was called heaven, which was located above a flat earth. God occasionally visited the earth, sent heavenly messengers or spoke through human prophets.
Now we know that the earth is but a speck in an infinite space, and is one of billions of planets revolving around suns that appear to us as stars. Some are dying and some still evolving. The cosmos, as we currently understand it, has taken close to 14 billion years to evolve, and our earth approximately 4.5 billion years. There are more species now extinct than there are in existence.New Zealand separated from Gondwanaland over 80 million years ago. The earth’s surfaces are full of cracks and layers and plates that cause movement and change.
Our children and grandchildren know about dinosaurs, and the 3,000 different species of lice that feed on human and animal life, each one adapted to its host habitat. Do we say God created each of those species of lice for our and animals’ irritation? Our individual existence depends on chance – one of millions of sperm penetrating one of hundreds of eggs, and all different.
So what does it mean to say that we, and everything that exists, are created by God. Did God pre-exist the Big Bang and plan it all out? Or is God some sort of intelligent design forcing evolution to take place in a particular way? Or is God quite different? Can we articulate that difference in a relevant way? Maybe “God as creator” is a metaphor, but if so a metaphor for what?
Today we recognise and affirm the creative activity of humanity. Perhaps this creativity is an aspect of the divine within us. If so, we might say that divine creativity and human creativity are one and the same thing.
I believe our imagery of God needs to change if it is to be relevant to changing generations.