August 28 - September 3
The Master Designer
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Gen. 1:26; 1 Cor. 12:18; Ps. 119:73; 139.
MEMORY TEXT: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: The tremendous amount of order in nature and the evidence of design infers that there must have been a Designer. The Bible identifies that Master Designer as God.
IF YOU WERE to walk into a room and see a pen lying on the floor, you would probably not think much about it. However, if you saw three pens neatly lined up end to end, you would immediately think that someone had been in the room before you, playing with the pens. Pens do not simply line themselves up. The order of the pens would suggest to you that some intelligent person (perhaps a child) saw those pens, thought about them, conceived of the idea of lining them up, and then did so.
On a much more sophisticated level, many scientists have marveled at the evidence for design they see in nature. The human eye, the wing of a bird, the symmetry of a jellyfish or a snowflake all testify to a Master Designer. This week we will take a look at the Bible's description of God as the Master Designer, and we will also look at some of the evidence we see for that design in nature.
How does Genesis 1:26 address the question whether humans originated from intelligent divine intention or from blind chance?
In their original sin-free Eden home Adam and Eve could read the imprint of the Master Designer on all things. "On every leaf of the forest or stone of the mountains, in every shining star, in earth and air and sky, God's name was written. The order and harmony of creation spoke to them of infinite wisdom and power. They were ever discovering some attraction that filled their hearts with deeper love and called forth fresh expressions of gratitude."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 51.
Looking again at Genesis 1:26, what striking difference exists between human beings and all other earth creatures? What do you think are the most important implications that follow from this difference? (see also Ps. 8:5).
Harvard University scholar Krister Stendahl offers the following insightful comment: "As the crowning feature of that world it was God's beautiful dream-and risky-that there be a type of creature that would serve God in perfect freedom, not out of nature's necessity. And human beings were made in God's image-male and female God created them."Meanings (Philadelphia, Penn.: Fortress Press, 1984), p. 234. The dream of God was to have us love Him freely, an act far transcending the devotion of animals to humans stemming from "nature's necessity." "His [man's] nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was capable of comprehending divine things. His affections were pure; his appetites and passions were under the control of reason."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45.
What other ideas concerning our origin are suggested by the special ways in which God fashioned Adam and Eve? Gen. 2:7, 21-25.
|Reflect on 1 Corinthians 12:18 and Psalm 104:24 in connection with what Crystal Earnhardt said: "My brain works far better than a man-made computer. My brain can store a lifetime of information. ... My eyes work far better than a man-made camera. ... My designer invented automatic windshield wipers (blink) and tear glands to clean out dust. ... I am designed. So are you.""Why I Believe in Creation," Insight (November 10, 1990), p. 5.|
What is David teaching when he says "The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament showeth his handiwork"? Ps. 19:1; 136:5.
One major point is that "God as creator has established a reality which is distinguished from himself, that he is active in it (Psalm 104) and preserves it. God is not the creation, he is the creator."Hans-Joachim Kraus, Theology of the Psalms (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1992), p. 36. This means that the sun and moon and stars declare the glory of God and not their own divinity as Israel's neighbors may have mistakenly imagined.
Concerning this point Titus Matemavi, of Zimbabwe, writes: "The beautiful universe was created by God but not out of God. The cosmos is not made out of God-stuff. This is why it is a grievous sin to worship and serve the 'creature rather than the Creator' (Rom. 1:25, NKJV). It is for this reason that idolatry is condemned so strongly in the Scriptures (Exod. 20:4).... The material universe is not made out of God, but it is a declaration about God (Rom 1:20)."
What is God suggesting in Job 38:32, 33 about His relation to the heavens? What are the "ordinances of the heavens"?
Ellen White writes: "The hand of infinite power is perpetually at work guiding this planet. It is God's power momentarily exercised that keeps it in position in its rotations. ... It is not as the result of a mechanism, that, once set in motion, continues its work, that the pulse beats and breath follows breath. In God we live and move and have our being. ... Although the Lord has ceased His work in creating, He is constantly employed in upholding and using as His servants the things which He has made."SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1062.
John Polkinghorne explains that the intrinsic earth forces such as gravity, nuclear forces, electromagneticism must be strikingly fine-tuned or life could not exist on our planet. "I believe," he writes, that in the delicate fine-tuning of physical law... we receive a ... hint from science that there is a divine meaning and purpose behind cosmic history."John Polkinghorne, Beyond Science: The Wider Human Context (Cambridge, Mass.: University Press, 1996), pp. 81-85, 92.
|Share with your class a moving experience of contemplating the starry heavens as the work of God's mind and power.|
What led David to exclaim, "What is man..."? Ps. 8:4.
"Psalm 8:4 sets the tone for all other passages in the Psalms regarding the creation of humankind, and they should be interpreted in this light. The context suggests that the words 'What is man' should really be followed by an exclamation point, not by a question mark, expressing limitless astonishment. In heaven and earth the creation bears witness to God's greatness and majesty. Through this, the psalmist becomes aware of the value of his own humanity."Theology of the Psalms (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1992), p. 148.
What do you think David meant when he wrote that "we are fearfully and wonderfully made"? Ps. 139:14.
Michael Behe's recent book, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, shows that a human being is composed of numerous genetically controlled systems, which are very complex and so could have no evolutionary physical precursors. He uses the figure of a mousetrap to illustrate his point. If just one working part of the mousetrap is removed, the trap system would not work.(New York, N.Y.: The Free Press, 1996), pp. 42, 43.
The human body is composed of infinitely much more complex and interdependent systems such as the blood-clotting system, immune system, circulatory system. This indicates the biological impossibility of forming these systems by countless, small, slow accumulative steps according to the Darwinian theory of evolution. Nonfunctioning intermediate steps would have no selective value, and so would not be preserved by natural selection. Function requires an initial level of sufficient system organization. Unorganized, unguided matter cannot satisfy this necessity. (See John T. Baldwin, "God and the World: William Paley's Argument From Perfection Tradition," The Harvard Theological Review [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Divinity School, 1992], vol. 85: 1, pp. 109-120.)
To where does John 5:17 point as the ultimate source of the active energy displayed in us and in nature?
|We are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Think of some wonder in the way God made you. How does this help you praise God for wondrous design?|
Why does God instruct us to observe a specific portion of the insect world? Prov. 6:6.
William Beebe gives a colorful description of an army ant brigade at work in a hole in the jungle sand of Guiana: "This mob consisted of potential corduroy, rope-bridges, props, hand-rails, lattices, screens, filler, stiles, ladders, and other unnameable adjuncts to the successful scaling of these apparently impregnable cliffs. If a stratum of hard sand appeared, on which no impression could be made, a line of ants strung themselves out, each elaborately fixing himself fast by means of jaws and feet. From that moment his feverish activity left him: he became a fixture, a single unit of a swaying bridge over a chasm; a beam, an organic plank, over which his fellows tramped by hundreds, some empty, some heavily laden. If a sudden ascent had to be made, one ant joined himself to others to form a hanging ladder, up which the columns climbed, partly braced against the sandy wall."Jungle Peace (New York, N.Y.: The Modem Library, 1920), p. 222.
The ultimate origin of such remarkable intelligent behavior in insects can be found only in the mind of a loving Creator God, whose wisdom is infinite and whose "tender mercies are over all His works" (Ps. 145:9). Perhaps similar examples caused David to exclaim: "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord" (Ps. 150:6). While we recognize that all good things proceed from our loving God, evil still exists in this world. We await the day when God will eradicate all evil and restore all things to perfection.
What valuable lessons can we learn from observing the ant? Prov. 6:6-8.
Beebe watched the ants assist one another. On page 223 of his book he writes: "An over-burdened brother would be given a helping jaw and assisted for some distance to the end of his beat. I was especially interested in seeing, again and again, this willingness to help bear the burdens." No wonder God instructs us to go to the ant to learn lessons of social interaction divinely imprinted into the ant genome. With us sinful human beings it is different. Laws for human interaction must be written on our willing hearts by the Holy Spirit (Jer. 31:33).
|What are some marvels in the insect world you have observed? Challenge yourself to find ways that a butterfly or a wasp building its nest could reflect or illustrate an aspect of God's love. Share one example with your Sabbath School class.|
In what way does God teach profound spiritual lessons by reference to the winged world? Jer. 8:7.
In their book, God's Wonderful World, George Vandeman and Asa Thoresen discuss the miracle of bird flight. Because the bones of birds are hollow, the wing bones of the man-o'-war, with a wingspan of about seven feet, weigh only four or five ounces. The breast muscles that operate the wings represent up to 30 percent of the total body weight in some birds, while in human beings the breast muscles compose less that one percent of body weight. Rapid energy can be delivered to the breast muscles of birds because they have a higher blood pressure than humans, and their blood-sugar concentration is about twice that of mammals.
Golden plovers are such efficient fliers that they can migrate thousands of miles across the ocean, from Labrador to the midpoint of South America, and lose only about two ounces of body weight. A plane doing as well would get 160 miles to the gallon of fuel instead of the 20 miles to the gallon it does now. Under a microscope, a flight feather is extremely complex. There are veins, barbs, barbules, flanges, and tiny hooks. All work together to form a zipper. When it becomes unzipped, it can be zipped up again by preening. These remarkable natural realities indicate that God's designs outshine anything humans can invent.
The argument from perfection and the development of the bird lungs according to the Darwinian theory. Michel Denton addresses the question of whether the imperfect, intermediate or missing links presented in the Darwinian theory are truly tenable. He applies the argument from perfection to the evolutionary claim that bird lungs developed from reptile lungs.
Denton shows that in all vertebrates except birds, air is moved in and out through the same passage in a bellows fashion. Evolutionary theory claims that the bird lung has been adapted from the reptilian lung. Is this adaptation biologically possible? "No," says Denton for the following reasons: Birds have an utterly different respiratory system from that of reptiles. In birds, air flow in one direction is maintained during both inspiration and expiration by a complex system of interconnected air sacs in the bird's body. These air sacs expand and contract in such a way as to ensure a continuous delivery of air through the parabronchi. Denton says that there can be no intermediate link between reptile lungs and bird lungs because of how they function.Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, Md.: Adler & Adler, 1985), p. 212.
FURTHER STUDY: Read Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 114-116.
"As commonly used, the ten-n 'laws of nature' comprises what men have been able to discover with regard to the laws that govern the physical world; but how limited is their knowledge, and how vast the field in which the Creator can work in harmony with His own laws and yet wholly beyond the comprehension of finite beings!
"Many teach that matter possesses vital power-that certain properties are imparted to matter, and it is then left to act through its own inherent energy; and that the operations of nature are conducted in harmony with fixed laws, with which God Himself cannot interfere. This is false science, and is not sustained by the word of God. Nature is the servant of her Creator. God does not annul His laws or work contrary to them but He is continually using them as His instruments. Nature testifies of an intelligence, a presence, an active energy, that works in and through her laws. There is in nature the continual working of the Father and the Son. Christ says, 'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.' John 5:17."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 114.
SUMMARY: All around us in nature there is evidence of complex design. The evidence of design points to a Master Designer-God. It is comforting to know that the God who designed us also knows how to restore us.
I led an evangelistic series in the area near my home in central Martinique. The Young People from my church helped me contact the people and invite them to the meetings.
Not far from the meeting place stood the home of a single mother named Gigi. She supports her seven children by working in the nearby fields, carrying heavy bunches of bananas and loads of pineapple to market. This was back-breaking work for Gigi, but she could not let her children go hungry.
For several days Gigi and her children had been kept awake at night by strange noises. From midnight until sunrise it sounded as if someone were throwing rocks onto her tin roof. In the morning the family was too tired to go to work or school.
Desperate for some rest, Gigi consulted a local medium. The man told her that her former husband had cast a spell on her home. The man gave Gigi some bottles filled with liquid and told her to sprinkle the liquid in and around her house. He also told her to write the names Melkior, Gaspar, and Balthazar above each door and window.
Gigi did as the medium had instructed her, but the night was as noisy as ever. She returned to the medium and complained that his "cure" had not worked. Several times she visited him, hoping that he could cast out the demons who were making her life unbearable, but nothing helped. In the end, Gigi had spent every cent she had for nothing.
About this time Gigi received an invitation to the evangelistic meetings. She and her children attended the meetings, hoping to find a measure of peace from the demonic noises in the night. The family listened to the messages. Soon they began to believe. Gigi to find physical rest and peace, but she found rest in peace of heart. She learned to worship and pray and trust in the power of Jesus Christ over the spirits.
Following the meetings Gigi and five of her children were baptized. Today Gigi serves as a deaconess in the church. One of her daughters teaches Sabbath School, and another sings in choir and leads children's Sabbath School. Gigi's family enjoys calm nights and sweet rest because they have put their trust in God.
Felix Vert-Pre is a painter by trade and a lay evangelist on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean.
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