In the Beginning

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"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."—Genesis 1:1

In the year 1880, a group of atheists led by lawyer George Walser decided to show the world what a fine civilization could be built if only the "superstitions" of Christianity were excluded. They founded the town of Liberal, Missouri, and advertised that it was a town "without preacher, priest, church, God, hell, nor saloon." It was to be an atheist oasis in Bible country, an atheist utopia. They named one street, Darwin (as in Charles Darwin). Another was named, Ingersoll Street (as in Robert Ingersoll, the famed 18th century agnostic). 

Some time later, the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper carried a lengthy story about the town of Liberal. It was revealed as a seat of the devil and a den of iniquity. Its hotels were houses of prostitution, and vice had become a virtue. Gambling, stealing, drunkenness, and brawls were the usual occurrences of the day.

The story was so frightening that the men of Liberal had Clark Braden, the author of the story, arrested for criminal libel and sued the Post Dispatch for $25,000. In the trial, the evidence of wickedness was so overwhelming that the jury took only a few minutes to decide in favor of the defendants. The suit was dismissed and the town of Liberal paid all of the court costs.

The idea that founded the town of Liberal was an absolute failure. It wasn't long before lifelong atheists who had moved to the town to enjoy its advantages left in complete disgust. They found living in the town was intolerable. One of their number confessed, "an infidel surrounded by Christians may spout his infidelity and be able to endure it, but a whole town of atheists was too horrible to contemplate."

The first verse of the first chapter of Genesis is the foundation truth of God's Word. Atheistic evolution says that all present forms of plants and animals evolved out of earlier forms by the hereditary passing of slight changes from one generation to the next. According to this theory, life began as an accident. Edwin Conklin said, "The probability of life originating from accident is comparable to the probability of an unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in a print shop."

The beginning spoke of in Genesis 1:1 is the first of many. Soon there is the beginning of the human race, of marriage, of sin, and the promise of a new beginning in the "seed of the woman" in Genesis 3:15. The beginning of something often implies the end of it. One day the God who created the heavens and the earth as we know it, will end it and replace it with a new heaven and a new earth. In the meantime we sing,

This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.

This is my Father's world, I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas
His hand the wonders wrought.

—Maltbie D. Babcock

Wilson Bentley, born in Jericho, Vermont in 1865 was ten years old when he asked his parents to buy him a camera that cost $100. That was a huge amount of money for the farm family at that time. But at a young age, he was deeply interested in the structure of snowflakes. He attached a magnifying glass to his camera and photographed many thousands of snowflakes over the years. He never found two snowflakes alike even although they all have six sides. So as each snowflake falls, remember the Creator "who has signed his name to each crystal masterpiece."

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures, great and small,
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all."

—Cecil Alexander

In Genesis 1:1, the word we translate as "God" is the Hebrew word, "Elohim." Elohim is the plural form of El, the name that tells us that God is strong, mighty, and powerful. The plural form is a hint of the Trinity in the very first verse of the Bible! When we ponder the beginning, it comes to us that every beginning needs God: the beginning of a new day, of every project, of every meeting, of every meal, and the beginning of anything you can think of. 

God created everything out of nothing! Those who do not believe the Bible have to believe in the eternity of matter. But if we have to choose between believing that God always existed (yes, it's impossible to comprehend that God himself never had a beginning) or that matter always existed, it's far more reasonable to believe that God and not this universe is from eternity. 

Joseph Haydn composed a great oratorio and gave it the title, "Creation." When the choir sings the words, "Let there be light," the first words are sung softly, but they burst out in volume when they sing the word, light! We cannot live without light. So when God created light, he was starting to get the world ready for us! What God created each day can be remembered easily by comparing the first day with the fourth, the second with the fifth, and the third with the sixth. 

1. Light: Lightbearers (sun, moon, and stars)

2. Sky: birds (to fly in it) and fish

3. Dry land: and animals and man to live on it

This is my Father's world, The birds their carols raise;
The morning light, the lily white Declare their Maker's praise. 
This is my Father's world, He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass I hear him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.

—Maltbie D. Babcock

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