Friday, June 6, 2008


The high stakes of knowing our origins

It seems that once children are able to form sentences, among their first intelligible utterances are questions. And to young ones beginning to discover the world around them, the questions abound! They begin with questions concerning identity. Observing a bulldozer for the fist time, a curious three year old will ask, “What is that?” The next category of questions is that which relates to function: “What is the bulldozer for?” Finally, as a person grows and matures their questions become increasingly metaphysical. Children eventually come to understand that there is something fundamentally different between them and a bulldozer or an oak tree or a red bird. What parent does not know the challenge, indeed the urgency of answering a plaintive, “Where did I come from?”
But the subject of origins is far from an idle pursuit of the young. For all of modern man’s interest in the future, the question of origins still fascinates. People want to know where they came from because it is a self-evident truth that our origin impacts directly our sense of meaning and value even providing a construct for morality. Henri Blocher writes:
“Frequently, indeed, the beginning unlocks the principle, the constitution reveals the nature. The human race quite rightly feels that it cannot find its bearings for life today without having light shed on its origins…Over a long period the biblical book of Genesis, and notably its opening chapters, provided successive generations with the undisputed reply.”
So much depends upon how the question of human origins is answered. How much evil has been done through the ages by those who conclude that human life, or at least the lives of particular humans, is not intrinsically valuable? Likewise, how much good has been done by those who know that not only their lives but the lives of all others from a surgeon to a rice farmer in Cambodia are of equal value?
The point of the opening chapters of Genesis is not to figure out exactly what happened to the dinosaurs or how thick the dust on the surface of the moon ought to be. These are not the issues that God is interested in addressing in His book. There are greater things at stake in our understanding of origins. For the sake of this discussion I want to point to two: worldview and doxology – how we think and live and how we worship.

[1] Blocher, Henri, In The Beginning (Downer’s Grove, IL:IVP, 1984) p. 15.

No comments: