I remember hearing, a few years ago, about a big debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. The debate was billed as a great confrontation between rational scientific facts and the absurdities of creationist notions. In the midst of all the publicity and discussion, I remember thinking that the whole premise of the debate was a little nonsensical: never in my life had I considered that scientific data and religious belief were mutually exclusive. Beyond that, though, I thought the debate really only served to further misapprehensions about faith and the Creation. By putting Nye and Ham in opposite corners, the debate implicitly suggested that to accept the Creation is to repudiate scientific understanding and that to accept scientific data is to reject faith. But what a false binary—to believe in creation is not to reject facts but is, rather, to accept an interpretation of those facts, one that can infuse our lives with a new sense of purpose and potential.
The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” a declaration that resonates with the Book of Mormon teaching that “all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44). To those who are willing to see it that way, all of creation is evidence of the Creator and of His generous love for His children.
Think of it—having planned for His children to pass through a mortal experience and learn how to use the gift of agency, our Father in Heaven could have put us anywhere in the cosmos. By His design and through His Son Jesus Christ, He created a temperate planet with clear water, blue skies, lush vegetation, and useful and delightful animals. Of course, I’ve heard some people suggest that to take such a view is humanity’s greatest hubris. But is it hubris to be grateful to a God who provided an excellent place for us to live? Or is it hubris to assert that only the things that we can measure are real? I could fall back on humanity’s measurements and see the world as merely an improbable and fortuitous accumulation of physical and chemical facts—but then what meaning would any of it have?
Bishop Gérald Caussé taught: “To marvel at the wonders of the gospel [and, I might add, of the Creation] is a sign of faith. It is to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us. Our amazement also produces spiritual strength. It gives us the energy to remain anchored in our faith and to engage ourselves in the work of salvation.” If the planet is just rocks and I am just a complicated chemical reactor, then nothing I do really matters: anything I do is just the random motion of the universe. If, however, I see the world with the wonder that Bishop Caussé describes, my actions take on meaning and have real consequences. As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father’s perfect happiness. Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate.”
Thus, to accept the Creation and to choose belief is not to stand in opposition to facts or reason. Rather, to accept the scriptural account of the Creation on faith is to accept an interpretation of the bare facts which gives me real purpose and motivation to be my very best. “As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness,” President Uchtdorf said, “you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.” In that sense, acknowledging the Creator comes with the recognition that we can be apprentice creators to Him, making positive and meaningful contributions in the world around us.