Beginning at a very early age, learning depends upon our ability to distinguish categories of things. As babies, it was essential that we learned to distinguish Mommy from Daddy. In baby foods, we could distinguish pureed carrots from peaches. Doggies and kitties are different “species” of animals; both are different from trees, and so on. Yet, while a recent ABC poll reported that 95 percent of responders claimed to believe in God, there is a diversity of opinions as to the nature of God.
Pantheism teaches that God and the natural world are one. Creation is simply an extension of God’s essence. In his book, Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology (Tyndale House), Francis Schaeffer notes that, without categories, “in pantheistic thinking...one simply does not have a creation, but only an extension of God’s essence, in which any such term as “God’s creation”...has no place (p. 26).”
However, those who accept the authority of biblical revelation, believe that God and His creation (or, “the world of nature”) belong in separate categories. They are separate entities, ontologically speaking. Genesis 1:1 states that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” Thus, God is ontologically distinct from His creation from a historical standpoint. That is, He existed before the heavens and the earth; and then, He created them out of nothing (ex nihilo).
God is also distinct from creation today as He has always been. In the New Testament book of Colossians 1:17, we read, “in Him all things hold together.” God is not only the Creator of the physical realm, but also the Sustainer Who holds it together in ways that are only partly evident through what we can discover as laws of physics and chemistry. This God, Whom we have called “the Greatest Subject,” chose to “subject” His creation to mankind so we would exercise dominion over creation.
But we rejected God’s plan and therefore, failed the course, “Dominion 101.” A major reason for this failure was the failure to recognize God’s holiness and uniqueness. Genesis 1-2 makes it very clear that there are categories of being, and God is supreme and in a category unique from all others.
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks,
but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools, – Romans 1: 21-22
In the next entry, we consider how failure to acknowledge categories of being was responsible for the beginning of humankind’s poor record of stewardship of the earth.