What a Wonderful World! (Part 1)

In 1967, the jazz singer Louis Armstrong released a song that recounts the beauty of the created world. Among the lyrics sung in his gravelly voice are the following lines:

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The lyrics help us call to mind the beauty and depth of the created world. In our meditations on the Nicene Creed, we recite the following words:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

We affirm God is our Creator, He who willed that we come into being as individuals before the beginning of time or the universe. As we read in Psalm 139:

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

We also affirm that God has created the universe, He is the cause of physical creation and all life within it! The first two chapters of Genesis are, indeed, a revelation that God almighty is the Creator. He is present IN His creation as an artist is present in their artwork. But creation is NOT in and of itself divine or godlike. It simply reflects the perfection, order, justice and love of the One who creates through His Word, as we have confirmed in the beginning of the Gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)

We can discern, then, the creative action of God at the macro level: the beginning of the universe from nothing. We can also discern His creative action at the micro level: the intentional creation of each individual person, intended from the beginning of time as we learn from Psalm 139 and from other places in the Scriptures.

But there is another revelation of the creative action of God. We affirm in the Creed that God creates all things “visible and invisible.” The word “invisible” does not just refer to the creation of things like atoms and chromosomes, those physical things not visible to the human eye. It refers to something profound, a revelation about the very nature of the human person. Pope St. John Paul II teaches us about this unseen world:

Created in the image of God, man is both a corporeal and spiritual being. Bound to the external world, he also transcends it. Besides being a bodily creature, as a spirit he is a person. This truth about man is an object of our faith, as is the biblical truth about his being constituted in the "image and likeness" of God. It is a truth constantly presented by the Church's Magisterium (teaching authority) during the course of the centuries…Man is an incarnate spirit, or if you wish, a body informed by an immortal spirit.” (Catechesis by Pope St. John Paul II on God the Father, General Audience, Wednesday, 16 April 1986) 

The human person is indeed a physical being, but having a body does not define the human person. The reflection of God’s image is found exactly in the fact that we possess, as the beloved and intended creations of God, more than a body. We have “the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7) that makes us more than just a physical reality. It was God Himself that “blew into his nostrils” that very breath that makes us more than just a collection of chemicals and water.

The “breath of God” is, in fact, His Spirit, the Spirit that brings life, the Spirit that indicates new life in Scriptural language. It is this life, this Spirit that sets us apart from the rest of creation.