Who Created the World?

“The most insidious aspect of our modern day is the conspiracy which makes of God a convenient fiction and a useful illusion.”

Rabbi Olan begins his sermon “Who Created the World?” (November 3, 1963) with a discussion of the many and varied ways that people throughout history have answered this question.  These answers have ranged from pre-Biblical and Biblical stories of creation to more modern interpretations based on philosophy and science. 

He then explores the ways in which God has become for many a “convenient fiction” or “a useful illusion,” used to justify the status quo, for example, in Czarist Russia, where Rabbi Olan was born.  Or closer to home, where the people of Dallas “boast of many churches [and synagogues] in the city,” yet there is no decent housing for “the poor, the depressed, the aged, and the helpless.”  He asks, “In all this shameful condition where does God make a difference?”

Rabbi Olan affirms his own faith in “the God whom the Bible declares and who is endowed with power and wisdom.”  “To believe in a God who really is… shapes our lives, our goals, our love, our work.”  And for Rabbi Olan, our work always includes tikkun olam, “repairing the world.”

Read the sermon text PDF.
Listen to the audio recording.
Watch the text while listening to the audio recording

(Rabbi Olan quotes Genesis 1:1 and Job 38:4.)