Referring to creation with a capital "C"


(Bruce Holt) #1

One of the things I noticed when I began to pay attention to “creationist” writings is a profusion of references to “Creation” when capitalization wouldn’t normally be appropriate (beginning of a sentence, title of a book, etc.). I haven’t done a formal study on this; it’s just my impression that the usage is fairly common, especially in YEC circles. I have also occasionally seen this here on the BioLogos web site, but I think it is much less common and typically in the testimonials and comments, rather than the writing published by BioLogos staff.

I have a few thoughts about this topic, and I’m hoping others may find this worthy of some discussion. I also wonder if the BioLogos staff has discussed or formulated any editorial policy on how this will be handled in official BioLogos publications.

Let me first note that I did a quick search through some Bible translations, and I couldn’t find any that routinely capitalize the word “creation” as a proper noun.

I can think of two legitimate reasons why words are capitalized that may lead some to choose to capitalize “Creation”. One would be to encourage the reader to see creation as a work of art. So, in the manner with which we refer to Michelangelo’s David or Picasso’s Guernica, we refer to God’s Creation. I can see this as legitimate usage, though I’m not certain this is the thinking that compels the writers at AiG, for instance. But I can at least see some honor in this intent.

The other possibility I see gives me more concern. There is a widespread pattern, at least in Evangelical circles, to capitalize nouns and pronouns that refer to God. Again, it is worth noting that this practice has scant precedence among Bible translations, one notable exception being that many translations do capitalize references to the Creator (see, for example, 1 Peter 4:19). Though I think this usage often comes across as strained, I believe it typically springs from a genuine desire to honor God and can be rhetorically effective. So when Andy Crouch (one of my favorite thinkers and writers), refers to “a world that was declared good by its Maker every step along the way,” I don’t find the capitalization problematic, though I also don’t think it is necessary.

So, turning back to the usage of “Creation”, is it possible that some are doing so to reinforce the message, “and don’t forget that it is God who made it, okay, not some random, Godless, evolutionary process!” And is it possible that this usage encourages the reader—subtly perhaps—to conflate God and God’s creation? Perhaps not, but sometimes it comes across that way to me.

And if I’m onto something here, isn’t this a startling irony? Regardless of what we Christians believe the Bible does or doesn’t reveal about the details of God’s creative work, one message that should be clear to any responsible reader of the Bible is this: the creation is not God. This motif is woven through the Scriptures. The creation declares God’s glory. The creation reveals God’s grandeur and wisdom and beauty. But it is not God. It is not to be worshipped.

I want to be very careful to not assign motives to anyone, so please understand this is just conjecture on my part. But I wonder if a reference to Creation sometimes betrays a view of creation—or more pointedly one’s own doctrine of creation—that borders on idolatry. Might some of those who argue most strenuously against anything they see threatening the authority of the Bible be subconsciously subverting one of its most clear and consistent messages?


(Christy Hemphill) #2

I think with the words Creationist vs creationist, there is a meaning difference (like with Catholic vs catholic).

With Creator vs creator, I think the capitalization makes sense when you are using Creator in the monadic sense as another name for God.

With Creation, maybe some people are thinking of a monadic sense there too (like Earth vs. earth). There are many creations in Creation.


#3

I capitalize when referencing God (I.e, He, His, Maker, etc.) I do this out of reverence. I have seen it in many writings and, similar to the Jewish use of G-d, I find that it helps me be always conscious of the holiness of the One I am discussing :slight_smile: I don’t use it when referencing the work of God because I do not see that as divine.

I can’t say I have given the capital C used in creation much thought, but now that you mention it, I am interested to hear what others think on this.


#4

Not for me at all.


#5

Yes, that better explains my point of view.


(James McKay) #6

Just one question here – are there any translations of the Bible that capitalise “Creation”?


#7

I don’t believe there is:

https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Romans%208:19


(Christy Hemphill) #8

It’s not just Creationist groups.

I found creation capitalized on the UMC’s creation care website: http://www.umccreationcare.org/


(Mervin Bitikofer) #9

I would be delighted if a few more people even just paid attention to capitalization and grammar issues at all, so that they could then possibly advance to the next level of then being deliberate about it.

As somebody who does try to attend to these details, I tend to capitalize “-isms” like Evolutionism or Creationism to deliberately distinguish these as ideological movements as opposed to mere evolution or creation in their more matter-of-fact (and actually scientific) references. So I can’t imagine any good motivation for capitalizing “creation” apart from it being at the beginning of a sentence.

It also happens to be a great interpretive tool (if attended to and deliberately used) to distinguish between different concepts about God/god. An atheist who corresponded here years ago was just such a consistent person, always referring to the Christian God as a “god”. And it was a consistent and true reflection of his concept of just what such a god must be. He never did accept the Christian notion of God being the ground of all being, and not just some particular “super-being” within the cosmos like any other created thing. Of course that was problematic for him in that he could never quite address what thinking Christians were speaking of, much less refute it. But at least he was consistent in that failure.

And Evolutionism in its ideological form is quite different from evolution (as known scientifically). The former has anti-theism, philosophical naturalism, and all manner of non-scientific -isms bundled with it. But getting Christians to even see the difference, much less attend to distinguishing labels is quite the ongoing challenge. The Devil himself may be in that capitalization! At least this is how I’ve been using these words, and I don’t think I’m entirely alone, and certainly did not originate any such conventions.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #10

@Christy, sorry --that last reply was aimed toward Cartophile; though as always, your comments are certainly welcome.


#11

I think it’s just capitalized because it’s a title. The word is uncapitalized in the body text.


#12

I think this is what leads me to capitalize Creation (everything that God has created or his act of creating) in contrast to things that I have created.

That said, I also consider myself a Creationist (because I believe that God created everything) even though many associate the word with 6-day Creation.


(Christy Hemphill) #13

Maybe you’re right. It seemed the first time I glanced through their pages it was sporadically capitalized outside the “Caretakers of Creation” context, but now I’m not seeing it. It is definitely not consistently capitalized.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #14

I freely claim that identity (Creationist) too, since I don’t think the label should be abandoned to just one narrow interpretation of that. Of course, that means it will probably be misunderstood because of popular conception.


(system) #15

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