The modern debate between atheists and theists oftentimes becomes a debate about scientific research. How much evidence is there for evolution? Did the universe actually have a beginning? This last question is always brought up when debating the cosmological argument for the Existence of God. All of a sudden the argument becomes scientific instead of philosophical, meaning that a physicist, rather than a philosopher, would be better able to answer the question.
Something, then, is wrong. This includes much of modern Christian apologetics. I will delve into a more rigorous explanation of why in later posts, but for now let us be content with understanding one thing: God did not create the world.
The idea that God created the world as a watchmaker constructs a watch is usually ascribed to deism, a popular eighteenth-century belief. Like a watchmaker, God has set up the mechanisms required for the universe to operate and, like a watchmaker, He is then done with his job. From then on the watch operates on its own. This idea is fundamentally mistaken. I repeat, God did not create the world.
God is creating the world. At every moment all things are radically contingent, or dependent, on God for their continual existence. The watchmaker analogy does not go far enough. It would be better to remember Atlas, the Titan who holds the Earth upon his shoulders. If he moved at any particular moment, the Earth would fall. Or perhaps another analogy would be a plug for an electrical appliance. Once the plug, meaning the electric current, is removed, the energy ceases and the appliance will not work. It matters not how much or how little electricity is needed at any particular moment in time. What matters is that it is perpetually there. The world was not created by God, it is created by God.