“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gn 1:1). I’m struck with admiration at this thought. Yet the pagan philosophers have worked hard to explain nature apart from God.
Not one of their intellectual systems, however, has remained firm and unshaken. Each one has been overturned by its successor. Why bother to refute them? They can destroy one another all by themselves.
Those who were too ignorant to rise to a knowledge of a God could not allow that an intelligent Cause presided at the birth of the universe. This was a primary error that involved them in sad consequences.
Some turned to purely material principles, attributing the origin of the universe to the elements of the world. Others imagined that atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union, the nature of the visible world — all on their own. Atoms, reuniting or separating, produce births and deaths, they said, and the most durable bodies owe their consistency only to the strength of their mutual adhesion.
It’s a true spider’s web woven by these writers who gave to heaven, to earth and to sea so weak an origin and so little consistency! Why? Because they didn’t know how to say, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Deceived by their inherent atheism, it appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe, and that all was given up to chance. So to guard us against this error, the biblical writer about the creation, from his very first words, enlightens our understanding with the name of God: “In the beginning God created.”
What a glorious order! The writer first establishes that there was a beginning, so that it might not be supposed that the world never had one. Then he adds “created” to show that what was made was only a very small part of the power of the Creator.
The potter, after having made with equal pains a great number of vessels, hasn’t exhausted either his art or his talent. In the same way, the Maker of the universe — whose creative power, far from being bounded by one world, could extend to the infinite — needed only the impulse of His will to bring the immensities of the visible world into being.
“In the beginning God created.” It is He — all-giving Nature, Goodness without measure, a worthy Object of love for all beings endowed with reason, the Beauty that is most to be desired, the Origin of all that exists, the Source of life, intellectual Light, impenetrable Wisdom — it is He who “in the beginning created the heavens and the earth.”
Nor must anyone vainly imagine that the world has no end. “For this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31). And “heaven and earth will pass away” (Mt 24:35).
What was begun in time is destined to come to an end in time. If there has been a beginning, don’t doubt that there is an end.
Of what use ultimately, then, are mathematics and physics and far-famed astronomy — what a laborious vanity they become — to those who cannot conceive that a whole, whose parts are subject to decay and change, must of necessity end by succumbing itself to the fate of its parts? But “their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Rom 1:21-22). Seeing clearly into science, they have nevertheless willfully shut their eyes to the knowledge of the truth.
Such atheists may measure the distances of the stars and describe them, may observe with exactitude the course of the stars, their fixed places, their declensions, their return and the time that each takes to make its revolution. But they have discovered everything except one thing: the fact that God is the Creator of the universe, and in the end He will be the just Judge who rewards all the actions of life according to their merit.