In The Beginning God
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
Previously I looked at why Genesis was written (Note: I hope to edit and expand that post in the future.).
I also posted some thoughts about God’s nature as seen in the first verses of Genesis.
Note that Genesis gives us the reason for God by saying, “In the beginning God…”
One thing that we must understand is that there must be a cause for this world; because out of nothing, nothing comes. An infinite regress is a logical impossibility. That leaves us with the need for a beginning.
Everything begun, whether substance or phenomenon, owes its existence to some producing cause. The universe, at least so far as its present form is concerned, is a thing begun, and owes its existence to a cause which is equal to its production. This cause must be indefinitely great.
Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1907), 73.
Said beginning must transcend time, space, and matter. That beginning must be all knowing in intelligence and all powerful in wisdom and strength. After all, a body of water rises no higher than its source. So it is with the world; it shall be no more than its source, making its source infinitely greater than it is in knowledge, wisdom, power, and in every other attribute.
It might be helpful to illustrate the situation in this way. Imagine you are in the Alps, and from a high vantage point you can see three parallel ranges of mountains with two valleys in between. In one valley there is a lake, but the other is dry. Suddenly you begin to witness what sometimes happens in the Alps; a lake forming in the second valley where there was none before. As you see the water rising, you may wonder what its source is. If it stops at the same level as the lake in the neighboring valley, you may, after careful measurements, conclude that there is a possibility that the water has come from the first valley. But if your measurement shows that the level of the second lake is twenty feet higher than the first, then you can no longer consider that its source may be from the neighboring valley and you would have to seek another explanation. Personality is like that; no one has ever thought of a way of deriving personality from nonpersonal sources.
Therefore, biblical Christianity has an adequate and reasonable explanation for the source and meaning of human personality. Its source is sufficient—the personal God on the high order of Trinity. Without such a source men are left with personality coming from the impersonal (plus time, plus chance).
Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: a Christian Worldview, vol. 1 (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 94.
Once Christians understand that this is the same God who spoke of Himself as “I AM” (See Exodus 3:11-15), then we are getting somewhere.
Of course, we must also understand that this information given to us about God is also to be taken literally. We must not forget that, for God is not a figure of speech: He is both truly and literally the transcendent God of all Creation.
Note on infinite regress:
Alfarabi’s Cosmological Argument. Implied in this real distinction is an argument for God’s existence that takes this form:
1. Things exist whose essence is distinct from their existence. Called “possible beings,” they can be conceived as not existing even though they do exist.
2. These beings have existence only accidentally, that is, it is not part of their very essence to exist. It is logically possible that they might never exist.
3. Anything that has existence accidentally (and not essentially) must receive its existence from another. Since existence is not essential to it, there must be some explanation as to why it exists.
4. There cannot be an infinite regression of causes for existence. Since the existence of all possible beings is received from another, there must ultimately be a cause from which existence is received.
5. Therefore, there must be a First Cause of existence whose essence and existence are identical. This is a Necessary, and not a mere possible, Being. The First Cause cannot be a mere possible being (whose essence is not to exist), since no possible beings explain their own existence.
Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker Reference Library. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.