A Christmas meditation on creation.  Does the Intelligent Designer use magic or miracle when He creates?  Was Jesus brought to us by a stork? What about Adam?

By Jack Hoehn

([1])

Where does the Son of God incarnate in Bethlehem come from?

Do fat little cherubs deliver him from Heaven lowering him in a silken blanket into the manger?  Does Gabriel come down from the choir and blow his horn; and “poof!” there he is, baby Jesus the Lord?  Does the Father bend down and mold him from clay like the little clay baby I have in my African nativity set, a second Adam?  Does he give the little clay model a kiss and wake him up, all 7 lbs. 6 oz. of him?

Was Jesus brought to us by a stork and then handed to Mary?

 

Where did Baby Jesus’ body come from?

Scripture gives us an idea in Hebrews 10:5-6:

Therefore when He (Jesus) came into the world, He said:  “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you have prepared for me.”

Jesus had a body “prepared for me.”  What do we know about that body and how it was prepared? Was it magic or was it miracle?  And aren’t both those words the same?

Magic or Miracle?

Magic is the art of doing something never seen in nature.  Something impossible is done (or gives the illusion of being done) that can have no natural explanation.  A rabbit appears to be pulled out of a hat when the hat is not large enough to house a rabbit.  A coin seems to be pulled out of your ear when you had no coin in your ear.  A card is pulled from a deck by magic when natural chance could not ever produce that specific card on demand.  Magic is an illusion of something impossible.

A miracle, on the other hand, is the act of doing something natural in an unusual time, place, or manner.  The miracle of feeding 5,000 was a condensed version of what happens all over the world in every nation day after day after day.  The miracle of water into wine happens in vineyards all over the world.  The miracle of healing is what happens to us every single time we are sick (except once)[2] but done at a specific important time or manner. Miracle is a revelation of something natural but unusual.

Jesus came to us by birth, which is something that happens thousands of times every day all over the world. Birth is not magic; birth is a miracle.  Something natural but in Jesus’ case in an unusual manner, of a virgin who “had not known a man.” No man had ever come upon Mary, but the Holy Spirit did “come upon you.” [3]

So then Jesus wasn’t created in a “poof,” or by cherubs, or by a stork, but in an egg, in a womb, and in the normal gestation time.  He was conceived in Mary’s uterus; his body was a “miracle” working with nature, not a “magic trick” done without regard to nature.

Jesus’ DNA?

Baby Jesus had a body at least partly formed by genetics, as the descendant of many (76 or more) generations.   He was the “son of David.”  He was the sperma of Abraham.[4]   The gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Luke[5] both tie Jesus of Nazareth to the heredity of previous generations.  They did not know of DNA, but they knew of heredity, and the body of Jesus of Nazareth was prepared not by instant magic, but by generations of genetics.   Likely more than half of the DNA of Jesus came from his mother, with the contribution of her maternal DNA and her additional mitochondrial DNA.[6]

The other half has never been analyzed, but the physician Luke suggests Gabriel’s explanation to Mary might be a combination of divinely fashioned and hereditary DNA?  Luke 1:35:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”  

Son of God and Son of Man.  Truly a miracle, but not magic.  For this divine child grew using the natural processes God has created for creatures.  He was not formed in an hour, or a day, or a week; he was formed in 9 months, for the birth came “when the days were completed for her…”[7] that is, after the 40 weeks or 9 months of normal gestation.   Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth when Elizabeth’s son (John the Baptist) was in his 6th month of gestation[8], and baby John was born when “Elizabeth’s full time came”[9] so Jesus too was born when Mary’s “days were completed for her.” 

Nature’s God uses Nature

The earliest formal statements of Christian belief suggest that the miracle creation of a body for Jesus was accomplished naturally. The Apostle’s Creed begins:

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary…

“Conceived” and “born” suggests that the creation of Jesus body came to us using a uterus, placenta, amniotic fluid, normal embryonic development from blastocyst to neural tube formation, to fetus, and to full term 40-week, 9-month-old infant.  The birth time comes, not instantly by magic but by a miracle using supernatural fertilization, then natural conception, development, and birth.   Nature was altered and changed by divine intervention, not replaced by divine intervention.  God in Jesus was “with us,” [10] God who is without nature was yet working within the natural systems He had created.

That holy baby is suckled, circumcised, becomes child, adolescent, youth, growing in wisdom and stature, for about 30 years.[11]   Only then is the body of the Savior fully prepared for ministry, and for the history-changing sacrifice.  Scripture records when the breath of the Spirit was breathed into the second Adam’s nostrils and Jesus received his fully-matured, divinely-created body.  Luke 3:21-22:

“Jesus was baptized. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form as a Dove…”

So the Holy Spirit, the breath of heaven, comes into Jesus’ nostrils as he takes his first breath coming up from his immersion in the Jordan, completing the preparation of a divinely ordained body.  His body was now the Lamb of God, the sacrificial Dove, the second Adam, the second “Jonah/Dove” to die, rest over Sabbath, and be resurrected on the 3rd day for the sins of the world.[12]

Can Christmas help us understand Creation?

So now comes another question: does the New Testament creation of a body for Jesus help us understand the Old Testament story of the creation of a body for the first Adam?  Was the first Adam formed by magic or by miracle?

Genesis 1 tells us that humans were planned and created as the last event of the very complex final Day of the creation epic.  Genesis 2:7 adds the details showing that humans were not created immortal but mortal, for Adam’s body was “formed of the dust of the ground,” of chemicals.  That Adam was biochemical, is not a differentiation of Adam and Eve from the other animals, it is a statement of their animal-ness, of a common origin with birds and animals as Genesis 2:19 makes clear.

“Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air.”

“Formed of the dust of the ground” is biochemical and mortal just as all the other animals are.  It is a statement of human unity with animals, not human uniqueness.  The human’s body is not unique from the animals.  Both were created from the dust of the ground, and except for access to the tree of life would “return to the dust, for dust thou art.”[13]  The human soul is unique; the human mind is unique.   Mankind, unlike his animal and plant relatives, is spiritual as well as animal; this is mankind’s uniqueness. The power to think, contemplate, remember, reason, talk (or sing), worship, praise, plan, do – this is the image of God. [14]

Related to the Animals

Genetic analysis of human DNA suggests that we and our genetic Eve and Adam all share 60% of our DNA code with the banana.  We share 75% of our DNA with a pumpkin, 92% with a mouse, and 98% with a chimpanzee.  At first glance this may seem good news for evolutionists, but it is equally exciting to intelligent designers.  ID sees all life created by a common and intelligent information source, and the commonalities in design because of a carefully thought out “tool box” used by the Intelligent Designer in the progressive creation of life.

The Biblically informed paleontologist would like to know if it is possible to understand the picture of the formation of mankind by the hand of God with the suggestion of African fossils that the human body was created following a succession of humanoid animals.  The first Adam is formed by God with the chemistry of earth, but how was he formed? from mud in an hour or two, or by a longer and more complex process?  Did the first Adam’s body come from a stork?  Was Adam’s creation magic, poof, in a few minutes? or was he also created within nature, by a miracle of the Creator or by some sort of unnatural magic?

Where did Adam’s body come from?

God plans and discusses the creation of humans in Genesis 1.  Then in Genesis 2, someplace outside of Eden, God breathes into Adam’s biochemical, earthy, creature-like body, the “breath of life” and Adam becomes more than an animal.  Adam now has (or is) a soul.  Adam, the biochemical creature, now is in the image of God as the humanoid animals before him appear to have been made in the image of man.

The first Adam is both god-like, but not God, and humanoid-like but not just an advanced upright walking monkey.  Adam and Eve, unlike even the most advanced apes or humanoids before them were capable of dominion, with language, with symbolic thought and expression, with self-awareness, with the capacity to worship, with the capacity to love, and with the capacity to sin.

But that does not mean humans have to be unrelated to their humanoid animal forerunners.  It does not mean that mankind is unrelated to bananas and pumpkins either.  But in no way is a human just a banana, a pumpkin, or just a fancy chimpanzee.  For the human body, unlike the creatures before them was not only the descendant of humanoid animals, but the first Adam was also “the son of God” according to Luke 3:38.  Divine intervention into the biochemical body made the first man uniquely the intersection of God and creature.  Just as the Divine intervention into Mary’s body made the Jesus the second Adam uniquely the intersection of God and human.

Genetics and Genesis might tell the same story

The first Adam may not only be distantly related to Australopithecus or more closely related to something like Homo ergaste,[15] but the first true human is also called a “son of God” and the first woman was his clone.  Since humans are biochemically creature-like, the answer to the question, “Did Adam have a belly button?”  might be yes.  This is not revealed truth, this is speculation.  But it is possible that Adam had a placental attachment to a prehuman mother, modified from her genes as was Jesus by the Holy Spirit making the vital genetic changes to make mankind in God’s image.

That could be one explanation of the genetic facts of humanity as related to other creatures with the Biblical facts of human uniqueness.

If the Jesus didn’t come by a stork, why must we think that Adam did?

The story of creation I was told as a child made the creation of Adam seem like a magic event.  God in minutes forming a mud doll, and then “Poof!” a kiss on the lips, and magically Adam wakes up.  About the same story as being told human babies come carried by a stork!

Belief that Genesis can be telling a condensed story of a Progressive Creation is not evolution.  But it helps us not deny what science shows, that humans from Adam on are related to other animals in our DNA.  Just as Jesus by God’s intervention became more than a man, so Adam by God’s intervention became more than an animal.  In both cases God may have worked a miracle working with the natural processes He created, instead of magically outside of them.

Progressive Creation

The Genesis revelation is that creation of this earth and life on it was not instantaneous.  It was progressive, step by step, day after day.   Unlike evolution, which is postulated to have happened by accident and mutation, Biblical creation is by divine plan and intervention time after time after time, act by act, step by step, layer after layer.

The details of Creation can be condensed and simplified into an outline in Genesis that is all true, but not comprehensive.   The Bible tells us what happened during creation and why, but not how or when.  (Those questions are the realm of true careful science that may suggest when and how creation happened, but not why or by whom.)

In my opinion, neither Jesus nor Adam had to come by magic.  Both could have had “bodies prepared” by miracle.  God has created all life on earth, all mechanisms for life, all forms (and the reforms of life necessary when attacked by Satan’s opposition).  For me, Progressive Creation through time makes harmony between science and Scripture at least possible and takes nothing away from God’s power, but only away from our previous limited interpretations.  It offers us the chance to believe in miracles instead of in magic.  The Bible doesn’t support a magical Christmas; the Bible reveals the miracle of Christmas.

I don’t know why as a Seventh-day Adventist I should be required to believe in a magical, unnatural, unscientific version of the creation of Adam either.  My Creator is the God of miracles, who works wonders within the amazing intelligently designed nature He has created.  He is not a god of magic.

Demanding that we limit God’s creative activity to 17th-century speculation[16] on the age of the earth seems like a diminution and restriction of the glory of God.  Suggesting that the Sabbath and its week has to be an exact duplicate of the creation week, instead of a memorial to Heaven’s actual creation week seems childish, not faithful.

If we are unwilling to let scientists help us understand the details of creation, then scientists won’t let the Bible explain the meaning of creation.  Why can’t Adventists return to worshiping the God of creation, instead of worshiping our little short unsupportable out-of-date chronology of creation?

Since Jesus didn’t come to us in the bill of a stork, I see no reason to believe that Adam and Eve did either.

Merry Christmas.  Happy New Ideas.

 

 

FOOTNOTES:

[1] ILLUSTRATION:  https://thegraphicsfairy.com/cute-vintage-stork-card-babies/ offering over 5,000 free vintage images.

[2] No human except Lazarus has ever been allowed to have more than one fatal illness!  All the rest of our sicknesses are healed by the power of God working in our bodies, we always get well from sickness, except once.

[3] The medical gospel writer records these details in Luke 1:34, 35.

[4] Sperma is the Greek word in Hebrews 2:16, for “seed.”

[5] Matthew 1 and Luke 3.

[6] We all have a little more of our DNA from our mothers, since the egg gives us half of the nuclear DNA, plus a little maternal DNA in the mitochondria of the egg.  The smaller male sperm does not have mitochondria.  So we are all technically a little more of our mothers than of our fathers!

[7] Luke 2:6.

[8] Luke 1:36

[9] Luke 1:57

[10] Matthew 1:23

[11] Luke 3:23

[12] “Jonah” translates as dove.  See Matthew 12:39-40 for Jesus’ application of Jonah’s resurrection to his own.

[13] Genesis 3:19

[14] Adventist readers are reminded of Ellen White’s explanation in her book Education, page 17:   “Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator—individuality, power to think and to do.

[15] The most accessible Christian discussion of the fossil evidence of humanoid apes and prehuman Homo species with modern humans is Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross’s book, “Who Was Adam?” available in a recent updated version, 2015, from Reasons to Believe at www.reasons.org.

[16] Ussher’s chronology of the world is a 17th-century chronology of the history of the world formulated from a literal reading of the Bible by James Ussher, that was until the 20th century uncritically accepted by most Christian leaders, including Ellen G. White, until advances in Geology, Archaeology, and Cosmology proved it unsupportable.

 

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