Doctrines of creation often come into play on the defensive end of apologetics. For example, Christians defend the Bible by showing it is compatible with evolution, evolution is not up to snuff, or some conglomeration. While this approach is good and proper, creation should also be in the side of offense for the apologist. Creation does not merely need to be defended, it is a witness in itself. As Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson say,
This view is central in our own lives. A painted sunset, glorious mountains, beautiful flowers, and so much more cause us to give thanks and praise to the God who created it all. These beliefs and attitudes well up irresistibly in us. It is a common phenomenon that apologists should pay more attention to. As Hiestand and Wilson write, “To thankfully acknowledge creation as a beautiful gift is to acknowledge that there is necessarily a Beautiful Giver.”  This avenue is taken up in Creation and Doxology. Spawned from the 2017 Center for Pastor Theologians conference, this multi-author book explores the doctrine of creation biblically, theologically, and practically. Here we will simply focus on Stephen Witmer’s essay on Wendell Berry and the materiality of creation.
Wendell Berry’s Witness
Wendell Berry is a novelist, poet, and essayist focused on agrarian themes. A recipient of the National Humanities Medal, Berry often writes about Christian themes in a way that pushes back against the church. This pushback is healthy and good though for he is helping bear witness to Scripture’s witness. The materiality of creation is near the center of Berry’s resistance. Too often, the church has spiritualized doctrine and downplayed the goodness of the material world. Berry calls for a renewal of Christian thinking and practice on this front.
Berry emphasizes that we are alive in bodies. His novels highlight theses themes in his description of characters. While bodies change and break down, we experience God’s good world through the material body. “No one relates to the world as mere mind or spirit.”  Our bodies thus “both shape, and are shaped by, the creation.”  The union of body and soul raise theological questions. How, then, are Christians to think of the body?
Berry often explores these themes through hands. Our hands connect us in the present time and to past history. Think of how we often use our hands to comfort those that are hurting, welcome those that are new, and communicate our intentions. Hands likewise connect us to God’s good creation. It is through our hands that we dig a hole with a shovel, build a house with a hammer, and so on. Our hands help tell us about the person that we meet. These hard, calloused hands witness to a person who is active in physical labor.
When Andy Catlett loses his right hand in a farming accident, “he lost his hold. It was as though his hand still clutched all that was dear to him–and was gone.”  It is likewise through hands that Andy is reconnected to the world and his community. He remembers the physical touch of members. He is thus both reintegrated but now changed. As Witmer writes,
Sex is also part of our embodied being. We have sexual desires because our bodies are part of nature. Because sexual desire participates in creation, our desires are wild and primal. They are therefore also sometimes wild and untamed. This is seen in the various broken and sinful ways our good sexual desires are expressed. Sexual desire, however, is not bad or something we must escape. Sexual desire is an intimate connection to one another and creation. As Berry writes,
Healthy marriages preserve, rather than suppress, these good desires. Marriage both guards and sustains the wildness of sexual desire. Marriage preserves sexual fidelity, which sustains the community. Marriage is therefore a covenant with a member of the opposite sex. “The forsaking of all others is a keeping of faith, not just with the chosen one, but with the ones forsaken.”  The breakdown of marriage is not simply the dissolution of one couple, but the fracturing of society. In being faithful to our covenant partner, we are being faithful to the community at large. Sexual love, therefore, is at “the heart of community life.” 
Material creation is not only beautiful and broken, sinful and splendid, it is also mysterious. The materiality of creation does not mean it is predictable or fully knowable. Any philosophy that sees every mystery as a problem, every problem as something that can be solved fails to grapple with creation. As Berry notes, when a mystery only exists because of human ignorance, “[t]he appropriate response is not deference or respect, let alone reverence, but pursuit of ‘the answer.'”  To claim that everything unknown is simply not yet known is a philosophical claim. At the heart of the error is “what we take nature to be is what nature is, or that nature is that to which it can be reduced.” 
Instead, our epistemology of creation must be based on our embodied existence. We as creatures live within and as part of creation. We are each unique and can be partially known only as individuals within our places. Our life is connected to place. The resulting epistemology is therefore very different, “This wholeness of creatures and places together is never going to be apparent to an intelligence coldly determined to be empirical or objective. It shows itself to affection and familiarity.”  Our bodies are shaped by our life histories and therefore remain mysterious. We must receive this mystery with awe and affection. After all, “[t]hings cannot survive as categories but only as individual creatures living uniquely where they live.”  As Witmer observes, all of this has theological import, “Recognizing the materiality of creation, and therefore the unique mystery of every life in every place, increases our desire to observe and therefore our capacity to praise.” 
As noted above, this is only one chapter in a great volume. Stephen Witmer draws on the thought of Wendell Berry to highlight the conceptual resources Christians have in thinking about creation. We are embodied beings: God made us from the dust. Our embodiedness matters. We relate through our bodies and hands. Moreover, sex helps keep the community together. Christians can witness to the goodness of sex by emphasizing the communal and covenantal aspects. Only within a monogamous, covenantal union between man and woman can the wildness of sexual desire be preserved. This one flesh union is a way of keeping faith with the ones we forsake in choosing only one spouse. Finally, our embodiedness means life is a mystery. We are people of a place. Adam and Eve were placed in the garden. Cain is to serve the ground (Gen. 4:12). All of this redounds to the praise of the Creator. The Christian, therefore, should see creation as a doctrine that can help bear witness to the Creator.