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Is “And God Said” Just a Metaphor?

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Is the interpretation of Genesis One that creation is God speaking just a metaphor?

It is a metaphor and far more.

There is a literalness when Genesis says “God says…” Creation is part of the communication of God to humanity. It is His universal language everyone understands. That is why Paul says in Romans 1:20 that everyone is without excuse.

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I was just a boy when I heard a missionary from the “darkest” part of Africa say, “We told the story of Christ as Savior, and the response was, ‘We have waited all of our lives to hear this message.’” I wondered as a boy why they knew this is what they were waiting to hear.

The natives in Africa were also in the midst of the creation message. They could see God’s greatness and power in the mountains, the waves of the ocean, and the sun and stars in the sky. Along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit they were brought to a readiness of mind from the message everyone knows from creation, the language of God. That language is understood everywhere.

Even in the darkest part of the universe, God says let there be light. It is more than a metaphor. God said “Let there be light” and there was light. That literally happened on creation day, and ever since then persons have received the communication that God intended from the presence of light.

God is omniscient and omnipotent. The complexity of His universal language, creation, does not phase Him. While the complexity of various languages are a challenge to humanity trying to communicate world-wide. God sends His universal message continuously… Just step outside and look around.

Creation is a Complex Language

For example, when Francis S. Collins led the International Human Genome Project searching for all the DNA of our species, what the team found was amazing. The human genome they found was a four-letter cryptographic code, 3 billion letters long. If you read the code continuously day and night, it would take 31 years to read. If it were bound in an single stack of normal bond paper, the stack would reach to the height of the Washington Monument.

When the President of the United States announced the successful results of this project, he said that for the first time we are looking at the language God used to create life. So, when Dr. Collins wrote his book describing his turn away from atheism, he named the book, The Language of God.¹ To remind the reader, the mechanics of human speech requires a system of articulation of vibrations. That system is called a  language, whatever language is spoken.

Human speech is also complex. The argument, that “creation is the speech of God” is just a metaphor, is simply too simple. Speech involves cellular particles and the forces of nature. The physiological interactions within the human brain  as well as the physical mechanics to produce speech are considerably complex.

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Since human speech mechanics requires a human brain and anatomy, they must share in the complexity of the human genome. Speech is more complex than a casual review of it allows. If the cellular building blocks of a human person are as complex as the international Human Genome Project found, how staggering is the thought of the complexity of the universe?

The role of vibrations in this complexity

The picture of this interpretation portrays God as continually articulating vibrations for the purpose of stimulating human receptors to say something, to communicate with us. By creation, He communicates with everyone everywhere. Psalm 19 not only says that the heavens and firmament “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge,” it continues to describe divine speech as all pervasive: “There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world. In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun.”

Interestingly enough, the word translated “line” in the King James Version, is the word for “string.” Which might remind some readers of the string theories found in theoretical physics. These theories say that everything consists of subatomic vibrating strings or membranes; different particles are said to have different modes of vibration. This similarity to String Theory is just a curiosity. The role of vibration here simply makes the application of speech mechanics in this anthropomorphism complete. Nothing more than that should be inferred.

An Anthropomorphic Model

Is “creation is the continuing speech of God,” as interpreted here, just a metaphor? It is a metaphor—and more.

An anthropomorphism is an expression in the Scriptures which, for the sake of communication, gives a characteristic of God human-like qualities. “Creation is the continuing speech of God” is an anthropomorphic model—a model, in that human speech accurately represents the continuing process of creation as an act of God. God sends a message through the wonders of creation. It is something more than just a metaphor.

The purpose of the divine speech of creation is the delivery of a message to humanity. This message is deserving of the staggering complexity manifested in creation as the speech of God. This message is described in Romans 1:20,

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead: so that they are without excuse.

Thus, this anthropomorphic model in Genesis invites a closer look at invisible things, including the person of God, through a closer look at creation. Theoretical physicists are taking that closer look. Everyone can see the earth and heavens and hear the speech of God.

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A step of faith

Acceptance of this anthropomorphic model as true is a step of faith. This step makes the current effort of theoretical physicists and other scientists one of:

  1. Discovering the complex grammatical and syntactical rules in the divine language system of our creation
  2. Discovering the complexity of the mechanics He uses to deliver to us a message of meaning in that language

Speech in Genesis One is an anthropomorphism, and like the interpretation of a parable, the interpreter must recognize the purpose is to state a divine characteristic in easily understood human terms. This article demonstrates the ease in which the primacy of the context of human speech can be used in what arguably is a defensible translation and interpretation of Genesis One—creation is an on-going message of God to all humanity, everywhere.

Conclusion

The context of Genesis One is human speech. This Human Factors application of the mechanics of human speech to the selection of English words to translate key Hebrew words in Genesis One leads to the conclusion that Genesis One is an Anthropomorphic Model. This model accurately represents creation as an on-going process of God to deliver a message of his presence—a message to everyone, everywhere.

Footnote:

  1. Collins, Frances, 2006, The Language of God, New York: Free Press, 294pp., Introduction.

Written by Dennis Price

Dennis L. Price, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech where he had served as Director of the Human Factors Engineering Center. He has received numerous rewards for his skill in teaching and research, and was appointed by the US President to the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board traveling the world to visit nuclear waste programs and facilities. Dr. Price is an ordained clergyman and the founding pastor of a church in La Mirada, California. He was the co-author of a widely used college textbook, Occupational Safety Management and Engineering, as well as several other books and hundreds of technical articles.

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  1. While the Bible is a complete and final text as God’s written Word, inerrant in original autographs and fully trustworthy as an English translation, God continues to speak. We can hear Him or cover our ears. In love, He continues to pursue all people with determination to bring them full forgiveness through His grace. As Dr. Price’s younger brother and a pastor for more than sixty years, I am delighted to see this work in your magazine and anticipate the next in this series. Roy C. Price, D.Min., D.Phil

  2. For certain, “Creation Speaks”! I chose that title for my creation ministry (http://www.williamwisephoto.com/creationspeaks.html) for that precise reason! Yes, as Mr. Rice points out above, Scripture if the full and final authority on the revelation of God, but creation speaks volumes and volumes as well!
    As to your quote, ‘We have waited all of our lives to hear this message’, the most compelling expansion on that thought comes from the book Eternity in Their Hearts” by Don Richardson. So many amazing stories there of ancient cultures primed and waiting for the coming of the gospel! How many more are out there primed and waiting for our generation to bring them the gospel? Why do we sit idle!?!
    Thanks for this article. William

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