Category Archives: creation

My midnight journal entry while backpacking

Potter County in northern Pennsylvania is where I grew up. It’s beautiful terrain, mainly farmland and woods. Every main road coming into the country has a large rustic wooden sign: “Welcome to Potter County, God’s Country.”Potter Country-God's Country And it’s sparsely populated. As I remember it, the human population was 20,000 and the estimated whitetail deer population was the same.

The summer I was 20, in between my junior and senior years at college, a local Christian camp organized a trail camp. I helped lead a group of 14 of us hiking the Susquehannock Trail System, 85 miles winding through the wilder parts of the county in a huge, irregular circle.

Here’s an anecdote from my journal of the hike. On Day 3 (Wed, Aug 13, 1975) at 5pm we arrived at Cross Fork. We built a fire, cooked some supper, strung some ropes between trees to make a shelter with big black tarp—in case it rained. My entry is dated that night at midnight.

What is so interesting about a night? Well, what is?

This night was pitch black. I could vaguely remember what woke me up. I had picked up a furry object with long coarse hair and it had given me a protesting nip with its teeth. A furry thing! The cobwebs of sleep vanished in a second. What was I petting? An opossum? Skunk? Raccoon? My hand gingerly explored and decided for the latter, especially when it started purring as I continued petting him. Soon he, too, wanted to explore, so I lifted the edge of my sleeping bag and in it went.

I wasn’t really sure if the others would believe me in the morning. And joy shared is joy doubled. So I woke my cousin who had a flashlight. It was a raccoon and the little fellow was cuddled next to me washing himself.

Soon everyone was back to sleep except him and me. Then suddenly he seemed to want out. I soon saw why. There, not five feet from my sleeping bag were five pairs of eyes glowing in the night. Soon there were six. Evidently Mama and the youngsters were out hunting supper and one little fellow got tired. So he picked out a soft spot to wait until Mama returned, and that soft spot happened to be me.

Don’t know why I was given the privilege. Maybe he knew I was writing the journal.

Did the other campers believe me and my cousin in the morning? Yes. I had some corroborating evidence. Some little dark droppings. In my sleeping bag.

Nature is just a fortunate outworking of some laws — not!

     A small boy went to his older sister, “Susie, can anybody ever really see God?”
     Busy with other things, Susie curtly replied, “Of course not, silly. God is so high up in heaven that nobody can see him.”
     Time passed but the question lingered. So the boy said to his mother, “Mom, can anybody ever really see God?”
     “No, not really,” she gently said. “God is a spirit and dwells in our hearts, and we can never really see him.”Satisfied but yet still wondering, he went on his way.
     Not long afterwards, his grandfather took the boy fishing. It was an ideal day and the two were having a great time together. As the day ended, the sun was setting with unusual splendor. The old man stopped fishing and turned his full attention to the exquisite unfolding beauty.
     Seeing the face of his grandfather as he gazed into the magnificent, ever-changing sunset, the little boy again thought of his question. “Grandpa, I—I wasn’t going to ask anybody else, but I wonder if you can tell me something. Can anybody—can anybody ever really see God?”
     The old man did not even turn his head. A long moment slipped by before he finally answered. “Son,” he quietly said. “It’s getting so I can’t see anything else.”  (author unknown)

My wife and I live in the lovely Shenandoah Valley. A privilege especially in Spring! And the old man is right: it is God whom we see in the beauty of creation around us (Romans 1:19-20). Many skeptics try to imagine that this green planet can be explained as the fortunate outworking of natural laws. But could a set of laws so incredibly rich, so strikingly adapted to support life, just happen? I believe thanks is due to God. We can join Ralph Waldo Emerson in his Spring Prayer:

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

For blue of stream and blue of sky;
For pleasant shade of branches high;
For fragrant air and cooling breeze;
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

‘Get your own dirt…and laws’

   A scientist says to God, “Lord, we don’t need you anymore. Science has figured out a way to create life out of nothing. In other words, we can now do what you did in the beginning.”
   “Oh, is that so? Tell me more,” replies God.
   “Well,” says the scientist, “we can take dirt and form it and breathe life into it.”
   “Well, that’s interesting. Show Me.”
   So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to mold the soil.
   “Oh, no, no,” interrupts God. “Get your own dirt.”

Many think that evolution explains the existence of life, that we don’t need God anymore. This is not clear, for two reasons.

When Darwin came up with his theory, he saw single-celled organisms as no more complex than a “broom or a chandelier.” It was easy for him to picture a process of evolution: a slight change happens in an organism that makes it better (and so it thrives and has lots of children, passing on the improvement), and all these changes over time adding up to major changes and even new creatures. However, we now know that even “simple” organisms are full of systems where all the components must be present for any of them to do any good. (Think of a mousetrap: we can’t start with the wood base and have it work a little. And then add the spring and have it catch more mice. And then attach the metal wire to the spring and catch even more. No, all the components must be present for the trap to work; if one part is absent, the trap doesn’t catch half the mice, it catches zero.)

Even if we give evolution the benefit of the doubt and assume that someday science will demonstrate plausible mechanisms that help all those pieces come together at once to form the biological systems, we would still need God. We would have to account for the presence of those mechanisms and the laws behind them that brought about all the life-forms. Could a set of laws of nature so rich, so strikingly adapted to support life, just “happen”? Generally when things are programmed so that good happens we expect to find intelligence behind it.

That story could end with God saying, “Get your own dirt. And, by the way, get your own universe with its own physical properties and laws too!”