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The Economics of Genesis with Jerry Bowyer

FaithFi: Faith & Finance | Jul 10, 2024


Show Notes

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” - Genesis 1:1-2

I’m sure you’re more than familiar with those first lines of the Bible…but are you aware of the economic implications of the creation story? Jerry Bowyer fills us in today.

Jerry Bowyer is the President of Bowyer Research and our Resident Economist here at Faith & Finance. He is the author of “The Maker Versus the Takers: What Jesus Really Said About Social Justice and Economics.” You can also read his insightful columns for World News Group

Understanding the Beginning

In the opening verses of Genesis, we learn that the earth was formless, void, and dark. This detail is crucial for two reasons: it sets the stage for the rest of Genesis 1 and highlights God's creative process. When we understand that the earth was initially disorganized, empty, and dark, we can appreciate God's work in bringing order and fullness.

God’s Creative Process

For the first few days of creation, God deals with the earth's formlessness by separating elements: light from darkness, waters above from waters below, and dry land from the sea. This separation creates structure. Then, God begins to fill what He has organized. He populates the sky with the sun, moon, stars, the seas with fish, and the land with plants and animals. Ultimately, He fills the earth with humanity.

The first thing God does is turn on the light, akin to how we start our workday by turning on the light in our office. God’s act of turning on the light symbolizes bringing clarity and purpose to the day ahead.

The Significance of “It Was So”

Genesis often states, "Let us do such and such, and it was so." This phrase can be confusing as it seems out of order. However, it signifies that God’s actions were deliberate and agreed upon, possibly within the Trinity or with the angels. This consensus highlights the collaborative nature of God's work, which we can emulate in our own lives by seeking agreement and unity in our endeavors.

Evaluating Our Work

Genesis 1:18 says, “God saw that it was good.” This implies that after creating, God stopped to evaluate His work. Similarly, we should regularly review and assess our efforts to ensure they meet our standards and God's approval. This practice underscores the inherent goodness of the material world and our role in stewarding it responsibly.

Humanity's Unique Role

After creating humanity, God saw that it was "very good." Humans are unique because we are made in God’s image, capable of forming, filling, and evaluating our work. This divine likeness sets us apart from the rest of creation, emphasizing our unique role in God's plan.

Our Relationship with Creation

Humanity’s relationship with the garden and the earth is distinct. The garden was a cultivated space where Adam and Eve learned from God. However, the rest of the earth was wild and needed to be subdued and developed. This mandate to cultivate and improve the earth remains fundamental to our purpose.

Any economic philosophy that discourages development contradicts this biblical mandate. While we must avoid pollution and destruction, we are called to transform and utilize the earth's resources to promote human flourishing.

Applying Creation Principles to Economics

In our daily work, turning raw materials into useful products—like sand into microprocessors or seeds into crops—is not optional but a divine command. This creative mandate is essential for economic growth and human flourishing. Neglecting it leads to stagnation and conflict.

Understanding the creation story from an economist's perspective reveals God's intention for humanity to bring order, fill the earth, and evaluate our work. Our work, done unto the Lord, is part of His grand plan and promotes true human flourishing.

On Today’s Program, Rob Answers Listener Questions:

  • I recently borrowed money on my life insurance. Should I declare that on my income taxes next year?
  • In Florida, many of us have 55-deed-restricted homes. Many fees are involved, and quite a few have gone up. There is the recreation and fitness membership, which is deeded to the house. Can we get out of something like this?
  • My question is about my work annuity. What's the best way for me to use it when I retire so that I don't lose money and it can continue to grow? A friend lost 18% by taking a lump sum; I wonder if that was taxes or penalties.

Resources Mentioned:

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