If we want to understand the mind, emotions, and behaviors of humans, we must start with their creation. Actually, no, we must start before that. We must start with their Creator. Any creation will be a reflection of its creator, whether it is a work of visual or performance art, a structure, a functional item, or even a theory. We will weave together both of these themes of Creator and creatures as we begin our exploration.
The stage is set
First, the stage is set. The opening words of the Bible take us back to the very first moments of history. And what we find is that God is already there, not created by anything outside of, greater than, or prior to him. He has always existed and always will. He possesses the power to do this within himself. He is infinite and eternal, having no beginning or end.
Beyond his self-existence and infinity, the first thing that God reveals to us about himself is that he is creative. “In the beginning, God created…” Now, how do we think of creativity? What characterizes our creativity? First, there is usually an idea, a vision, an inspiration. Some small seed appears in the mind, perhaps the culmination of some random train of thought or daydream or an attempt to solve a problem. As this idea is considered in the mind, it begins to bloom and grow. The vision solidifies. Excitement builds and provides the energy of motivation. As work begins, ideas and possibilities begin to multiply. As it progresses, there may be times of tedium or frustration, but overall the work is joyful and satisfying. This process holds true whether the creator is a child building a toy village or a scientist testing a new hypothesis.
We want to be careful not to start with our human experience and extrapolate back to define God. God did not experience tedium or frustration, because his purposes can never be thwarted. And God’s purposes in creation were not random or trial and error. God knows the beginning from the end. He knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish before he ever started. His ways are far above our ways.
A whole new world
And yet, at least some of the components of this process must have been present as the mind of God spun out a whole new system of existence. God could have brought all of this into being with one word. But he didn’t. He took time with it. He finished each stage to his complete satisfaction before starting on the next. This was creativity on steroids, extending from the invisible to the immeasurable with incredible attention to detail! Each day ends with a very satisfied Creator reviewing his work and saying, “That’s good!” Each new day opens with renewed joy and energy for the next phase of work. After six days of ever-increasing specificity, God is delighted with the work of his hands. He finds it “very good!” Can you imagine these scenes unfolding without seeing a smile on God’s face? Can you see the Creator taking deep joy and satisfaction in his creation?
One way to describe God’s work of creation is his taking the raw material he has brought into existence and organizing it by dividing it into increasingly specific categories. So from the darkness and chaos, God brings light into existence and then separates it from the darkness, giving each its separate spheres. He consolidates the water so that the dry land can emerge. He populates the dry land and the waters with living plants and animals, further dividing each into multiple species and providing for their propagation, implying and ensuring that this creation was just a beginning and would be continually expanding and unfolding. God’s creative imagination and ability are so infinite that humans have not yet been able to see, much less explore, its entirety. No matter how far into space we peer, there is more beyond. There are depths in the ocean yet to be seen. Below the ocean are layers of earth about which we can only hypothesize. Every refinement of microscopic technology reveals smaller and smaller particles at the foundation of matter.
The grand finale
Throughout this process, God is speaking. First is the speaking of “Let there be…” commands. But after the fifth benediction on his creation, the curtain is pulled back a little more and we get a snippet of heavenly conversation among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: “Let us…” And we can hear the same excitement that emanates from a child at play or a scientist chasing an idea. “Now! Now it’s time! Let’s make humans! They will be like us! And they will be in charge of this whole creation!” It is the piece de resistance, the icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae. High fives all around!
And so our first information about humans is that they are the culmination of a whole progression of activity to bring into existence and then refine the structure of our world. They are the darlings of God’s creativity. They are what he is most excited about. He has loved them before he even made them or anything else. (Ephesians 1:4) He has prepared a place for them. He has endowed them with key characteristics that he himself possesses so that they are equipped to imitate him in their purpose which mirrors his own purpose as well. They are made second in command to God himself. A perfect combination of being, purpose, ability, and environment.
Gen 1:26-28 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."