Whatley: The defining moment

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2018

There is a moment (or several) in everyone’s life when we choose the direction for the rest of our lives.

Mine came while I was sitting in a small aluminum boat filled with testing equipment in the middle of Bayou Texar in Pensacola, Florida. I was a medical chemist at the Pensacola Naval Hospital and working on a master’s degree in marine microbiology at the University of West Florida.

The fish were dying and I was part of a team trying to find out why they were dying. We found an apartment construction project along the creek leading into Bayou Texar. The silt from their construction was flowing downstream into Bayou Texar lowering the visibility and oxygen content of the water. It was, I thought, the Garden of Eden all over again. A paradise surrounded by million dollar houses ruined by mankind’s impact on the environment.

“In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water.”

God brought order to the chaos and mankind brought chaos to the order. Or in country boy language, as my friend Terry Solana might say, “God straightened it out and we messed it up!” There is, of course, the creation-evolution controversy about how the universe was created and just how the earth moved from formless and desolate to become a beautiful blue marble in space. The Bible will have nothing to do with that ongoing argument, saying simply, “God created the universe.” It’s more poetry than science, but the bottom line is, however things were created, God created them!

Our church is reading through the Bible this year, and our guiding principle is “keep it simple!” Maybe you’ve noticed our tendency to “make mountains out of molehills?” It’s especially prevalent in the church where theologians create complex patterns of Biblical facts to make a name for themselves and preachers use big words to impress their congregations and Bible teachers use complex formulas to appear intelligent.

Lots of books describe what the Bible says about creation. The Bible simply says, “In the beginning God created the universe.” I remember someone telling me years ago, “The Bible is so simple a child can understand it, and so deep the wisest adult will never comprehend it.”

Pastor’s viewpoint is written by Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley, a retired United Methodist pastor and, with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.