Creation Ex Nihilo


Any thoughts?


Yeah, that’s the only way it’s ever made sense to me. I always thought it was silly when people asserted that God created out of nothing and opposed the thought that he created out of himself. Something out of nothing? Seriously? That doesn’t mean anything beyond the words used to express it. It was first put forward by a gnostic named Basilides, and we all know how gnostics like to divorce the physical from the spiritual, which to my mind is very unbiblical and doesn’t jive well with the story of Christ anyway.


Wouldn’t this vieww suggest that God is both personal and impersonal?

Jesus said “God is spirit” (and I don’t the He was talking about the person of The Holy Spirit in that passage.)

Wouldn’t the above view suggest that “spirit” is what God created energy and matter out of?


Well, yeah. “Spirit” is very energetic. It’s the subtle force that moves us. I don’t see how that would make God “impersonal” though. Is matter impersonal, or a living expression of God’s very being like the Hebrews spoke of so eloquently?


Tables and chairs are composed of matter (which is a form of energy), but I don’t think they’re living (and certainly not conscious, or personal.)

What do you mean by “living expression”?


I mean a reality that constantly springs from, and conforms to, God’s being. In that sense it is living and an expression of himself.


I think ex nihilo is useful if used (as the Fathers used it) to affirm two important facts about the God-world relation: a) creation is not-God, or non-divine (we’re not pantheists), and b) creation as such had a beginning (i.e., non-God realities exist contingently). So the God-world relation is not a necessary relation. It comes into being. Combine these two beliefs and you get creatio ex nihilo (or what the Church uses the phrase to affirm). And Philo precedes Basilides in affirming such a worldview as well. And though Basilides did use the exact wording, Athanasius also used it to say something different. Remember, Athanasius was from Alexandria and was undoubtedly familiar with Basilides and knew Gnostics believed matter was evil and God didn’t relate to it directly and didn’t act in history; all beliefs Athanasius rejected. But in spite of disagreeing with the Gnostic beliefs that motivated the phrase, Athanasius had no problems employing it to express orthodox faith (that cretion is not God and that creation came into being, unlike God). One can use ex deo, but it faces the challenge of explaining how created entities are non-God entities if they’re ex deo. Just what does the relation assumed by ex deo amount to? There are different answers. So no catch-phrase is perfect. I’m more concerned to affirm the ontological independence of God from creation (i.e., creation is not God) and their necessary vs contingent modes of being.



I picture that God stirred nothingness waves that generated the universes.


How about creatio intra deo or introrsum deo, “creation within God” or “inside of God”? This naturally follows from the affirmation often made that God is everywhere and, unlike the universe (or multiverse, if you like), is infinite. So assuming that the uni-\multi-verse is finite, as I do, then beyond its boundaries, whatever those might be like, millions upon millions of miles away from us, there is more and more and yet more of God. Many English translations of Colossians 1:16 muffle this concept by saying that all things were created by Him. The most basic meaning of it, however, as far as I can tell, is “in Him all things were created”. God had/has to create things within Himself because He takes up all the space. Even the thing we call space, every single drop and cubic nanometre of it, exists inside God.

Or! creatio per deo, “creation through God”? (Or would per deum or trans deo/deum be more grammatically correct?) I mean “through” in a prepositional sense. Assuming that creation is finite and God is infinite, I find no difficulty envisioning the uni-\multi-verse as travelling through God, inside of Him. Everything observable in the cosmos displays movement on some level, even if that movement is extremely slow, like that of rocks or land masses. The Earth and other cosmic rocks like it move around the sun, which itself might be moving through a galaxy which itself moves around the universe, mayhap a lot faster than we are aware. The entire universe, I imagine, is in motion inside something else. I could be mistaken about some of that, but John 1:3 does say that all things were generated through Him. Okay, so there might be some dispute here about the Logos being also God Himself. Very well. We can still go with another reference cited by the article from the link above (in the original post): Romans 11:36, which says that all things are through Him (at the end of a chapter which, throughout, explicitly refers to “the” God).

As it happens, however, and as “The Etiology of Creation” (the aforementioned article) points out, ex deo is precisely the term towards which the Bible points, coming just short of using that exact construction.

In the 1 Corinthians ref. above:
Greek – theos ho pater ex hou ta panta =
Latin – deus pater ex quo omnia =
Eng. – God the Father out of Whom all things

This even appears to go as far as implying that all things are in fact the children of God. To insist on a dichotomy between God and His creation is, in some way, to me, similar to asking just how unrelated is a child to her father. They are not the same but then the links between them are inextricable, and whether they relate to each other well or not, what came out of the parent will always be in the offspring and what the offspring consists of is still inside the parent. The creature is in God and God is in the creature.

Moreover, in the most strongly flexed emphases of the concept of God’s independence from what He has made, do we not end up affirming the impossibility that creation, by its separateness from God and by its lack of divineness, is on some levels independent from God? Don’t many (or most?) people, on account of this separation emphasis, end up picturing God and the universe as two separate boxes which only occasionally interact with each other (with the universe, in all its vastness, often imagined as the bigger box!)? A more accurate analogy, if I may suggest one, would be that if God were a box, the universe would be a nanoscopic particle of fibre within that box’s lining. I know, not a perfect catch-all either.

It seems to me that the reason the Bible never attempts to define or describe nothingness is simply because this is impossible, as the Etiology article says, not without making the nothing into something, and thereby negating its non-existence. So the various creation accounts in the Bible all describe God and what He is making rather than attempting any explanation of what “it” (nothing?) was like before there was anything except God. For all we know, an infinite God Who made time itself might be in a state of perpetually creating things (things which we might never encounter or become aware of), like an artist with too many great ideas to let any go to waste, so that He may never have been “alone” before “the beginning.” But even that idea attempts to explain the structure of reality or existence outside of time, which is not possible for us since we must employ use of the notions and tenses of past, present and future.

Like rocks, trees, clothes and everything else in the world, tables and chairs are teeming with virtual universes of micro-organic life, enough to say that they are, in a literal sense, alive. I’d say that what we call inanimate objects do have lives of their own: they are life-forms, albeit extremely different from animal and plant life. It may be comparable to the difference between God’s Life and human life, for example. Because stones don’t appear to move of their volition (among other reasons) we don’t consider them to be alive, and it is we who move them. But it would seem that to God we are, on one level of our interaction with Him, merely stones, and that, as the stellar renegade has already stated, God is the One Who (subtly) moves us (see 1 Peter 2:5) perhaps even towards real personhood.