My Artist Friend Analogy

Picture of painter


Consider this parable: Your artist friend tells you that they have just submitted a piece to your local art gallery and is anxious to have folks come and see it. So you go to the gallery to see his piece and to peruse the other paintings as well. Suddenly an interesting piece catches your eye.  The painting contains all sorts of geometrical shapes: circles, triangles, rectangles, octagons, etc. Studying the painting closely you notice that the borders of the shapes appear laser straight. In your estimation the artist must have used a ruler or some other straight edge to create such perfectly straight lines. Your eyes move to the plaque on the wall describing the painting which contains a quote from the artist:

“Believe it or not, this entire painting was done free-hand. I worked very hard to create perfectly straight lines, as straight as if I had used a ruler.”

You look back at the painting again. You think you know the difference between a hand-drawn line and what you are seeing in the painting. Neither you, nor anyone you know can draw lines this straight. Is the artist lying? Who is this guy? You look for his name on the plaque and you discover that this is the very piece submitted by your friend. You look again at the piece and still you are awestruck at the straightness of the lines. No one can draw lines this straight. Can they?

There are only three options available to you: 1) Your friend is really that good, 2) He’s lying, 3) He’s been misquoted or misunderstood.

His statement seems clear enough that a misunderstanding appears out of the question. A mis-quote seems almost as unlikely. It seems you must decide whether or not he’s lying. This is going to come down to how well you know your friend. Suppose you know him very well. Suppose he has, in all the years you have known him, always shown himself to be truthful and reliable. With this kind of knowledge the idea that perhaps he really is that talented of an artist becomes more credible. On the other hand, if you didn’t know the artist well (or at all for that matter) we would probably conclude that he is stretching the truth in his statement.

When we look at the universe around us from a purely secular perspective, there is a tendency to interpret all that we see as the result of lengthy naturalistic process. Stars, planets and diamonds, for example, must take millions of years to form, right? As a matter of fact the Creator says different. God tells us very clearly that He created the universe in a series of sudden, supernatural and instantaneous events stretching over a period of six days. Was He misquoted? That option is unavailable to the Christian who holds to scriptural inerrancy. Was He misunderstood? That option seems likewise untenable.1 We cannot for a minute suppose He was intentionally trying to mislead us.2 The only option for the Christian, as far as I’m concerned, is to suppose that God really is that good. That is to say, even though we can hardly even imagine creating a universe such as this, with its staggering vastness and complexity, nevertheless, the task was mere “finger work”3 for the awesome God of the Bible to whom we owe everything.

I suggest that in most cases the real problem for the Christian who finds Genesis difficult to believe is simply that he doesn’t know the Artist well enough. The remedy for this, I am convinced, is to read the New Testament again carefully and with a believing heart.4 Notice how Jesus and the apostles reckoned Genesis.5 Notice how great Christ the Creator really is in the astounding miracles He performed.6 Then ask yourself whether the Son of God was and is great enough to create a universe the way Genesis says He did. The answer is a proverbial “no-brainer.”


Notes and References:

  1. The idea that the Genesis account of creation was written as a mythological polemic against the various polytheistic accounts alive at the time, is of recent origin. The ancient Jewish expositors as well as the writers in the early church saw the Genesis account of creation as literal, factual history. There is likewise no shortage of Hebrew scholars today who would argue strongly that the writer of Genesis intended us to regard his work as a literal and factual historical record.
  2. Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2 flatly state that it is impossible for God to lie.
  3. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”  (Psalm 8:3-4) Of course the scriptures are speaking anthropomorphically of God. God is Spirit (John 4:24), that is, immaterial and un-extended spatially (Luke 24:38-39). The psalmist here uses poetic language in order to communicate to us that creating the universe was not difficult for God in the least. Nevertheless, He loves us and cares for us. What an awesome God!
  4. Romans 10:17
  5. The New Testament is riddled with references to the early chapters of the Genesis record.
  6. The Gospel of John is a great place to start. Consider the miracles described in this remarkable book: water to wine, a man crippled for 38 years suddenly healed, a man born blind instantly seeing, Lazarus miraculously raised to life after having died four days earlier. Clearly the Lord was and is able to give various subjects the appearance of a history they did not have. In these cases, eye-witness testimony supercedes mere outward appearance. God says He created the universe in six days. How foolish for the Christian to doubt the Lord’s clear statements because of certain interpretations of various physical phenomena based upon dubious uniformitarian assumptions!


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