The question, “how did we get here?” has been asked throughout human history. While the comedic answer might be “by walking”, or “on a bus”, what this question is really asking is, “what is the origin of life?”. This is an important question for many people, because if we know how life originated, then we can use this to try and work out our purpose here on Earth.
Different generations and cultures will give different answers. I think that, at present, the most commonly accepted view in Western culture is the theory of evolution. I also think (and I don’t think I’m being unfair here) that this view is advanced most strongly by those who are also atheistic secularists, or who believe in scientism.
Views like this have some massive issues. For example, there is a worrying lack of evidence for a view which seems so widely accepted. As an aside, don’t be fooled by anyone who claims something like the theories of gravity and evolution are somehow equal: gravity (like any good scientific theory) is continually verifiable, in the sense that things don’t float away. For a scientific theory to hold weight, it must be repeatable, verifiable and testable.
I would also suggest it is a massive issue to form a belief based on a prior held agenda or world-view, and then advance this as though it is factually true!
Despite all this, I think the greatest issue which I think is relevant here is that of purpose.
If we are simply the result of random biological processes, and accidental cosmological events, then we have no purpose on this planet beyond that which we invent for ourselves. And that’s a pretty bleak outlook, no matter how you try and spin it.
(Incidentally, it’s worth noting that, from a mathematical perspective, the chances of us being where we are as a result of random biological processes, and accidental cosmological events is infinitesimally small. In order to account for this, you either need to subscribe to the multi-verse theory [another un-verifiable theory]; or leave open the possibility for Intelligent Design, which I suggest is simpler and makes more sense).
The Christian faith believes that our whole universe was designed by God, and that He has a purpose both for it and for us. In the first two chapters of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we are given a window into the process of Creation:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2 NIVUK)
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:1-3 NIVUK)
God created us, and has given us a purpose: to worship Him, to enjoy creation, to explore the universe and world He has given us, and to live in love and fellowship with one another. This view fulfils our need of purpose, and gives us something much better than we could dream up ourselves.
I realise this post is meant to be about practising ministry, but I’ve spent most of my time arguing for the Christian view of Creation. Let me briefly explain how this impacts my ministry practice, as a final thought in this post.
The fact that we all have a God given purpose means that, as I minister to people, I am able to share with them that they have such a purpose, and that they can find it by looking to God. This can help people who have perhaps lost a job, or are retired, or even find themselves stuck in a hospital bed: no matter life’s circumstances, God has a purpose for us all. It may not always be apparent, but if we search for it, (either through prayer or speaking to other Christians we trust) we will eventually find it.
This belief is how I found my purpose in life: a calling to reach out to the people of this world by being a minister in God’s Church.