The Gospel Coalition



In the 1998 film The Truman Show, Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a generally cheerful insurance adjuster in a cozy island town whose days run like clockwork---until the day a stage light falls out of the heavens and crashes near his car. Though the news on the radio says an airplane has been shedding parts, Truman begins to develop a suspicious awareness that everything is not as it seems:


As Truman begins paying attention to the world around him, he discovers little by little that he is the unwitting star of a reality television show. Everyone in his life is an actor; all the people he sees throughout the day are extras; and the island town he lives in is actually a gigantic set enclosed by a heavenly bubble and overseen by a television director with a God complex. As Truman begins looking back through his life and at the world around him, he realizes the clues to reality were there all along.

Good Metaphor


The Truman Show is just a movie, of course (although its human-in-a-bubble premise doesn't seem so strange in these days of strange reality television shows!). But it is nevertheless a good metaphor for how billions of people live in this world every day. They wake up, go about their routines, and go to bed, only to start the ritual all over again. Sometimes they suspect the world is trying to tell them something about itself and what's outside of it, but they fail over and over again to put those clues together. They are like a person who finds a watch on the sidewalk and assumes it is the natural result of millions of years of sand, wind, and sun.

The movie is also a good metaphor for how billions of other people live: seeing the signs in daily life (the sun's rising, the sea's swelling, the changing of the seasons, the clockwork of the solar system, the intricacies of DNA) as if they are falling lights and telltale radio broadcasts and peeks behind the stage. We find that watch on the sidewalk and know it didn't arrive there accidentally. It was dropped, it was owned, and before all that, it was made. The world is telling us something; we just know it! It's telling us something about itself, about us, and about what's behind it all. But what?

General Revelation


According to the Bible, the world around us testifies to all within it that there is a Creator. Furthermore, the world around us is telling us what the Creator is like, and it is telling us something of his plans. We call this reality general revelation because it refers to the general way God reveals himself to people everywhere.

The created world is constantly saying something about its Creator---or more accurately, the Creator is constantly saying something about himself through his created world. The picture we receive from Psalm 19 is of a world that acts as a loudspeaker, a stage, and an art gallery---all pointing to God's glory. The sky proclaims that all this work has a Designer's hands behind it.

Just like the presence of a watch on a sidewalk indicates a watchmaker, our finely tuned bodies living in this finely tuned world hanging in this finely tuned cosmos point to the logical existence of a Creator. Nobody looks at a Mercedes Benz and assumes there was an explosion at a junkyard.

We learn about God from his general revelation that he will not settle for being acknowledged. He wants to be known! So there is something about the heavens---their vastness, their beauty, their complexity, their power, their impression upon little ol' us---that tells us something about him.

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This is an excerpt from The Gospel Project for Adults Bible Study from LifeWay. The Gospel Project is an ongoing 13-week Bible study curriculum for all age groups that helps people see Scripture as one over-arching story that points to what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Find out more and download one month to review free at www.gospelproject.com.


Comments:

Chris M

October 8, 2012 at 12:03 PM

The Truman Show metaphor is apt, but not in the way the author intended. Scientists look at stars millions of light years away, not realizing that God made the light "in transit" (or fiddled with E=mc2) and that the supernova they're witnessing didn't actually happen. They measure the expansion of the universe, and wonder why it's expanding in the first place, supposing that if they walked it back 13.8 billion years, it might converge in a single point. Why it's expanding, who knows / cares?

It seems to me as a believer, that every explanation as to why the universe operates the way it does requires special pleading. "I know it *looks* that way to you, but God just made it look like everything took a long time - appearance of age, you know?"

Is it any wonder that when our kids grow up in the Trumanesque world carefully constructed to shield them from such ideas, they turn from their faith? Every new advancement in biology, astronomy, geology are like the set pieces of their young-earth universe falling in on them. Remember the vapor canopy that we told you was 100% scientifically accurate... well, not so much.

Then, on top of that, they hear the refrain of young-earth evangelists like Ken Ham (and Christoppher Hitchens) assert ad nauseum that one can't be a believer in Jesus and an old earth, and you create a crisis of faith where none need exist.

AJG

October 8, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Serious question. Why would I attribute the creation of things I can see and detect to something that I can neither see nor detect (God)? How does that logically follow?

Mere Links 10.08.12 - Mere Comments

October 8, 2012 at 10:01 AM

[...] The Clues of Creation: God Is Not Hiding Jared C. Wilson, The Gospel Coalition Nobody looks at a Mercedes Benz and assumes there was an explosion at a junkyard. [...]

loo

October 8, 2012 at 03:08 PM

LOL Chris, exactly! The new genetic sequencing is like a giant set piece crashing into the Reformation-contructed "God's Bible is provable, logical, and backs up the rational world-view" Oops.

The Bible is truth, sure, but something can be true without being scientifically provable. Take love - find some tangible proof of "love" - can't be done. Knowing God, like it or not, is not down to a set of belief points about the universe- 6-day vs. old earth creation, for example. Some look at this world, or universe, or micro-universe and say "wow! God is great" others look at the universe and say "wow, Brahma is great/or Zeus/ or Gia or whatever" others say "wow! I wonder how this place got so complex - aliens???". So, the "knowing God" bit needs to be more than a creator vs. evolution view. Now, within each faith, people ascribe what they see to their God, but they don't switch gods over the magnificence of creation - it is more likely they will switch gods/belief-points over the love of the followers. But no one sets out to prove if love is scientifically real or not.

Tony

October 7, 2012 at 11:11 PM

I think a spirit of humility like that Michael will stand you well in scientific investigation. You might find interesting for example looking up such terms as irreducible complexity, co-evolution or emergence.

I don't want to push you in any direction. These terms will merely lead you to more serious scientific discussions of these debates.

Andrew

October 7, 2012 at 05:34 PM

In the words of the Bible, "the heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork". That's all this article is saying.

Dan

October 6, 2012 at 06:51 AM

No shout-out to William Paley?

Joe Wisnieski

October 6, 2012 at 04:46 PM

I think it comes down to design, organization and complexity. Even if you have eternal matter in the form of a universe that has always been, who organized it, and is a rock self aware? Furthermore, where did the physical laws that govern the universe come from?

Take Stone Henge for example, it is essentially a bunch of large rocks on the ground, but no one, not even Richard Dawkins believe Stone Henge is due to random chance. Why? Because they were organized into a certain pattern and design. Yet the idea of a chance universe, a chance earth, and a chance eyeball is suppose to sound reasonable. It is absurd.

I hate to sound uncharitable, but atheism is the most extreme form of self-delusion there is.

Brian Maiers

October 6, 2012 at 03:17 PM

In the words of Karl Barth "um...no!" Which God is revealed in the creation is in the eye of its beholder.

Michael

October 5, 2012 at 07:33 PM

Good article.

I'm curious though (just curious; not claiming i'm right) if we are correct when we state that the atheistic evolutionist's position can be parelled to "an explosion in a junkyard and out pops a Mercedes". I've not read it, (only about it) but I get a sense that Richard Dawkins book "The Blind Watchmaker" was written to defend against this idea. I don't know...I just sometimes feel like I'm not sure we as Christians are completely accurate in that the Evolutionist point of view is a world where a "clock" simply pops out of nothing. To me, it seems they would argue that the clock was never "made out of nothing" but evolved out of an universe that has always been.

What do yall think?

-michael