ex nihilo

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ex nihilo
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{{About|the religious and metaphysical concept|the Marvel Comics character|Ex Nihilo (comics)}}{{short description|A Latin phrase meaning "out of nothing"}}{{italic title}}File:WLANL - MicheleLovesArt - Joods Historisch Museum - Levensboom glas in lood - Eli Content (Midden).jpg|thumb|Tree of Life by Eli Content at the Joods Historisch Museum. The Tree of Life, or {{transl|he|Etz haChayim}} () in Hebrew, is a mystical symbol used in the Kabbalah of esoteric Judaism to describe the path to HaShemHaShem{{wiktionary}} is a Latin phrase meaning "out of nothing". It often appears in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in , meaning "creation out of nothing", chiefly in philosophical or theological contexts, but it also occurs in other fields.In theology, the common phrase ({{Literal translation|"creation out of nothing"|lk=on}}), contrasts with (creation out of some pre-existent, eternal matter) and (creation out of the being of God). is the ongoing divine creation.The phrase also appears in the classical philosophical formulation , which means "out of nothing comes nothing".When used outside of religious or metaphysical contexts, also refers to something coming from nothing. For example, in a conversation, one might call a topic "" if it bears no relation to the previous topic of discussion.


Ancient Near Eastern mythologies and classical creation myths in Greek mythology envisioned the creation of the world as resulting from the actions of a god or gods upon already-existing primeval matter, known as chaos.Gonzalo Rubio, "Time Before Time: Primeval Narratives in Early Mesopotamian Literature"; in Time and History in the Ancient Near East: Proceedings of the 56th Recontre Assyriologique Internationale at Barcelona, 26–30 July 2010, ed. L. Feliu et al.; Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2013; {{ISBN|978-1-57506-255-6}}An early conflation of Greek philosophy with the narratives in the Hebrew Bible came from Philo of Alexandria (d.{{nbsp}}AD{{nbsp}}50), writing in the context of Hellenistic Judaism. Philo equated the Hebrew creator deity, Yahweh, with Aristotle's primum movens (First Cause)WEB, Yonge, Charles Duke (1854), Appendices A Treatise Concerning the World (1): But what can be worse than this, or more calculated to display the want of true nobility existing in the soul, than the notion of causes in general being secondary and created causes, combined with an ignorance of the one first cause, the uncreated God, the Creator of the universe, who for these and innumerable other reasons is most excellent, reasons which because of their magnitude human intellect is unable to apprehend?" The Works of Philo Judaeus: the contemporary of Josephus. London: H. G. Bohn,weblink, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 2015-09-28, Plato Laws Book X, Public Domain-Project Gutenberg. "ATHENIAN: Then I suppose that I must repeat the singular argument of those who manufacture the soul according to their own impious notions; they affirm that which is the first cause of the generation and destruction of all things, to be not first, but last, and that which is last to be first, and hence they have fallen into error about the true nature of the Gods… Then we must say that self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second." in an attempt to prove that the Jews had held monotheistic views even before the Greeks.{{Citation needed|date=April 2010}} However, this was still within the context of creation from pre-existing materials (i.e., "moving" or "changing" a material substratum.)The classical tradition of creation from chaos first came under question in Hellenistic philosophy (on a priori grounds), which developed the idea that the primum movens must have created the world out of nothing.{{citation needed|date=August 2016}}Theologians debate whether the Bible itself teaches creation ex nihilo. Traditional interpretersCollins, C. John, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006), 50ff.
argue on grammatical and syntactical grounds that this is the meaning of {{bibleref2|Genesis|1:1}}, which is commonly rendered: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." They find further support for this view in New Testament passages such as Hebrews 11:3—"By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible" and Revelation 4:11, "For you [God] created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." However, other interpreters
BOOK, May, Gerhard, Creatio ex nihilo, Creation from nothing,weblink 2009-11-23, 2004, Continuum International, 978-0-567-08356-2, xii
creatio ex nihilo in its full and proper sense, as an ontological statement, only appeared when it was intended, in opposition to the idea of world-formation from unoriginate matter, to give expression to the omnipotence, freedom and uniqueness of God., understand creation ex nihilo as a second-century theological development. According to this view, church fathers opposed notions appearing in pre-Christian creation myths and in Gnosticism—notions of creation by a demiurge out of a primordial state of matter (known in religious studies as chaos (mythology)>chaos after the Greek term used by Hesiod in his Theogony).BOOK, May, Gerhard, Schöpfung aus dem Nichts. Die Entstehung der Lehre von der creatio ex nihilo, Creation from Nothingness: the origin of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, AKG 48, 1978, de Gruyter, Berlin/New York, German, 978-3-11-007204-4, 151f, Jewish thinkers took up the idea,WEB,weblink Creation, 2008-09-30, Siegfried, Francis, 1908, The Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 4, Robert Appleton Company, New York, Probably the idea of creation never entered the human mind apart from Revelation. Though some of the pagan philosophers attained to a relatively high conception of God as the supreme ruler of the world, they seem never to have drawn the next logical inference of His being the absolute cause of all finite existence. [...] The descendants of Sem and Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob, preserved the idea of creation clear and pure; and from the opening verse of Genesis to the closing book of the Old Testament the doctrine of creation runs unmistakably outlined and absolutely undefiled by any extraneous element. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." In this, the first, sentence of the Bible we see the fountain-head of the stream which is carried over to the new order by the declaration of the mother of the Machabees: "Son, look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them: and consider that God made them out of nothing" (2 Maccabees 7:28). One has only to compare the Mosaic account of the creative work with that recently discovered on the clay tablets unearthed from the ruins of Babylon to discern the immense difference between the unadulterated revealed tradition and the puerile story of the cosmogony corrupted by polytheistic myths. Between the Hebrew and the Chaldean account there is just sufficient similarity to warrant the supposition that both are versions of some antecedent record or tradition; but no one can avoid the conviction that the Biblical account represents the pure, even if incomplete, truth, while the Babylonian story is both legendary and fragmentary (Smith, "Chaldean Account of Genesis", New York, 1875)., which became important to Judaism, to ongoing strands in the Christian tradition, and—as a corollary—to Islam.The first sentence of the Greek version of Genesis in the Septuagint starts with the words: ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν, translatable as "in the beginning he made".BOOK, Chamberlain, Gary Alan, The Greek of the Septuagint,weblink 9781565637412, 2011, A verse of 2 Maccabees (a book written in Koine Greek in the same sphere of Hellenized Judaism of Alexandria, but predating Philo by about a century) expresses the following: "I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not; and so was mankind made likewise." (2{{nbsp}}Maccabees 7:28, KJV). While those who believe in ex nihilo point to God creating "things that were not", those who reject creation out of nothing point out that the context mentions the creation of man, who was "made from the dust" and not from absolutely "nothing". Many ancient texts tend to have similar issues, and those on each side tend to interpret the text according to their understanding.Max Weber summarizes a sociological view of the overall development and corollaries of the theological idea:[...] As otherworldly expectations become increasingly important, the problem of the basic relationship of god to the world and the problem of the world's imperfections press into the foreground of thought; this happens the more life here on earth comes to be regarded as a merely provisional form of existence when compared to that beyond, the more the world comes to be viewed as something created by god ex nihilo, and therefore subject to decline, the more god himself is conceived as a subject to transcendental goals and values, and the more a person's behavior in this world becomes oriented to his fate in the next. [...]BOOK, Weber, Max, Max Weber, Roth, Guenther, Wittich, Claus, Economy and society: an outline of interpretive sociology,weblink 2010-05-31, 1, 1978, University of California Press, Berkeley, 978-0-520-03500-3, 521,

Supporting arguments


A major argument for creatio ex nihilo, the first cause argument, states in summary:{{citation needed|date=January 2017}}
  1. everything that begins to exist has a cause
  2. the universe began to exist
  3. therefore, the universe must have a cause
An expansion of the first cause argument is the Kalam cosmological argument, which also requires creatio ex nihilo:{{citation needed|date=January 2017}}
  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause
  2. The universe began to exist
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
  4. If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal creator of the universe exists, who without the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and infinitely powerful.
  5. Therefore, an uncaused, personal creator of the universe exists, who without the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and infinitely powerful.
Another argument for ex nihilo creation comes from Claude Nowell's Summum philosophy that states before anything existed, nothing existed, and if nothing existed, then it must have been possible for nothing to be. If it is possible for nothing to be (the argument goes), then it must be possible for everything to be.BOOK, Ra, Summum Bonum Amen, SUMMUM: Sealed Except to the Open Mind, 1975,weblink 2006-12-15, 2004, Summum, Salt Lake City, Chapter 2, yes,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 2006-06-26,

Ancient Greek

Some scholars{{Which|date=April 2010}} have argued that Plethon viewed Plato as positing ex nihilo creation in his Timaeus.Eric Voegelin detects in Hesiod's chaos a creatio ex nihilo.WEB,weblink Hesiod as Precursor to the Presocratic Philosophers: A Voeglinian View, Moorton, Richard F, 2001,weblink" title="">weblink 2008-12-11, yes, 2008-12-04, First, says Hesiod, there came to be Chaos, and then Earth, Tartarus (which Voegelin curiously neglects in his account), and Eros. For Voegelin this is a creatio ex nihilo, which points the finger of questioning towards the yet undifferentiated beyond. If he is right, the Greek philosophers who followed were unanimous in retreating from this seeming violation of the principle of sufficient reason to the principle that ex nihilio nihil fit.[sic], The School of Chartres understood the creation account in Plato's Timaeus to refer to creatio ex nihilo.^ Stiefel, Tina (1985). The Intellectual Revolution in Twelfth Century Europe. New York: St. Martin's Press. {{ISBN|0-312-41892-2}}.

In Jewish philosophy

In The Book of the Articles of Faith and Doctrines of Dogma (Kitāb al-Amānāt wa l-Iʿtiqādāt, Emunoth ve-Deoth, completed 933) written by Saadia Gaon (c. 882−942) the metaphysical problems of the creation of the world and the unity of the Creator are discussed. In this book, Saadia Gaon gives four proofs for the doctrine of the creation of the world ex nihilo (yesh me-ayin).To harmonize the biblical statement of the creation ex nihilo with the doctrine of the primordial elements, the Sefer Yetzirah assumes a double creation, one ideal and the other real.{{Jewish Encyclopedia|inline=1|title=YEẒIRAH, SEFER|url=|accessdate=16 April 2013}}Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography: Postell, Abraham Patriarchœ Liber Iezirah, Paris, 1552;Pistor, Liber Iezirah, in Ars Cabalistica, Basel, 1557;Rittangel in the Amsterdam edition of 1642; Johann F. von Meyer, Das Buch Yezira, Leipsic, 1830;
      • English:
I. Kalisch, A Sketch of the Talmud, New York, 1877;W. W. Westcott, Sepher Yezirah, London, 1893; Karppe, Etude sur les Origines . . . du Zohar, pp. 139-158, Paris, 1901.
  • Literature:
    • Castelli, Il Commento di Sabbatai Donnolo, Florence, 1880;
    • Epstein, Studien zum Jezira-Buche, in Monatsschrift, xxxvii.;
    • idem, Pseudo-Saadia, ib.;
    • idem, Recherches sur le Sefer Yeçira, in R. E. J. xxviii.-xxix. (both articles also published separately);
    • idem, in Monatsschrift, xxxix. 46-48, 134-136;
    • Grätz, Gnosticismus und Judenthum, pp. 102-132, Breslau, 1846;
    • Franck, La Kabbale, pp. 53-66, 102-118, Paris, 1843 (German translation by Jellinek, pp. 57-65, Leipsic, 1844);
    • Hamburger, R. B. T. Supplement, iii. 98-102;
    • Jellinek, Beiträge, i. 3-16;
    • S:Jewish Encyclopedia/Rosenthal, Joseph|Rosenthal]], in Keneset Yisrael, ii. 29-68;
    • Steinschneider, in Berliner's Magazin, xix. 79-85;
    • idem, Cat. Bodl. cols. 552-554;
    • Zedner, Cat. Hebr. Books Brit. Mus. p. 13;
    • Fürst, Bibl. Jud. i. 27-28;
    • Bacher, Die Anfänge der Hebräischen Grammatik, pp. 20-23, Leipsic, 1895.
In introducing Sefer Yetzirah's theory of creation Saadia Gaon makes a distinction between the Biblical account of creation ex nihilo, in which no process of creation is described, and matter formed by speech as described in Sefer Yetzirah. The cosmogony of Sefer Yetzirah is even omitted from the discussion of creation in his magnum opus Emunoth ve-Deoth.


{{unreferenced section|date=September 2017}}Early Islamic philosophy, as well as key Muslim schools of thought, have argued a wide array of views, the basis always being that the creator is an eternal being who is outside of the creation (i.e., any materially based entities within all of creation), and is not a part of creation. Several schools of thought stemming from the first cause argument, and a great deal of philosophical works from Muslim scholars such as Al-Ghazali, came from the following verses in the Qur'an. The following quotations come from Muhammad Asad's translation, The Message of The Qur'an:
  • 52:35: "Were they created by nothing? Or were they themselves the creators?"
  • 2:117: "The Originator is He of the heavens and the earth: and when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, 'Be'—and it is."
  • 19:67: "But does man not bear in mind that We have created him aforetime while at one point they were nothing?"
  • 21:30: "ARE, THEN, they who are bent on denying the truth not aware that the heavens and the earth were [once] one single entity, which We (formal singular) then parted asunder? – and [that] We made out of water every living thing? Will they not, then, [begin to] believe?"
  • 21:56: "He answered: 'Nay, but your [true] Sustainer is the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth—He who has brought them into being: and I am one of those who bear witness to this [truth]!'"
  • 35:1: "ALL PRAISE is due to God, Originator of the heavens and the earth, who causes the angels to be (His) message-bearers, endowed with wings, two, or three, or four. He adds to His creation whatever He Wills: for, verily, God, is most competent over all things."
  • 51:47: "It is We (formal singular) who have built the heaven with (Our creative) power; and, verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it."


{{Expand section|date=September 2017}}Biblical scholars and theologians within the Christian tradition such as Augustine (354–430),The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers First Series, Volume 1 The Confessions and Letters of Augustine with a Sketch of his Life and Work, 1896, Philip Schaff, Augustine Confessions, Book XI.11–30, XII.7–9 John Calvin (1509–1564),WEB, Commentaries on The First Book of Moses Called Genesis, by John Calvin, Translated from the Original Latin, and Compared with the French Edition, by the Rev. John King, M.A, 1578, Volume 1, Genesis 1:1–31,weblink, In the beginning. To expound the term 'beginning,' of Christ, is altogether frivolous. For Moses simply intends to assert that the world was not perfected at its very commencement, in the manner in which it is now seen, but that it was created an empty chaos of heaven and earth. His language therefore may be thus explained. When God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth, the earth was empty and waste. He moreover teaches by the word 'created,' that what before did not exist was now made; for he has not used the term יצר, (yatsar,) which signifies to frame or forms but ברא, (bara,) which signifies to create. Therefore his meaning is, that the world was made out of nothing. Hence the folly of those is refuted who imagine that unformed matter existed from eternity; and who gather nothing else from the narration of Moses than that the world was furnished with new ornaments, and received a form of which it was before destitute."
John Wesley (1703–1791),WEB, John Wesley's notes on the whole Bible the Old Testament, Notes On The First Book Of Moses Called Genesis, by John Wesley, p.14,weblink, "Observe the manner how this work was effected; God created, that is, made it out of nothing. There was not any pre-existent matter out of which the world was produced. The fish and fowl were indeed produced out of the waters, and the beasts and man out of the earth; but that earth and those waters were made out of nothing. Observe when this work was produced; In the beginning—That is, in the beginning of time. Time began with the production of those beings that are measured by time. Before the beginning of time there was none but that Infinite Being that inhabits eternity." and Matthew Henry (1662–1714)
BOOK, Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry, Commentary on the whole Bible,weblink 2010-04-09, [online], Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1 (Genesis to Deuteronomy), 1706, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Chap. I.,weblink The manner in which this work was effected: God created it, that is, made it out of nothing. There was not any pre-existent matter out of which the world was produced. The fish and fowl were indeed produced out of the waters and the beasts and man out of the earth; but that earth and those waters were made out of nothing. By the ordinary power of nature, it is impossible that any thing should be made out of nothing; no artificer can work, unless he has something to work on., cite Genesis{{nbsp}}1:1 in support of the idea of Divine creation out of nothing.Some of the early Christian Church Fathers with a Platonic background argued that the act of creation itself involved pre-existent matter, but made that matter in turn to have been created out of nothing.BOOK, Wolfson, Harry Austryn, Harry Austryn Wolfson, The philosophy of the Kalam,weblink 2010-02-25, Structure and growth of philosophic systems from Plato to Spinoza, 4, 1976, Harvard University Press, 978-0-674-66580-4, 355–356, It can be further shown that Philo and some of the Church Fathers who have adopted the Platonic theory of creation out of a pre-existent matter made that matter to have been created out of nothing [...],


The RigVeda quotes "If in the beginning there was neither Being nor Non-Being, neither air nor sky, what was there? Who or what oversaw it? What was it when there was no darkness, light, life, or death? We can only say that there was the One, that which breathed of itself deep in the void, that which was heat and became desire and the germ of spirit," which is suggestive of the fact that Ex nihilo creator was always there and he is not controlled by time or by any previous creation.BOOK, David Adams, Leeming, Creation Myths of the World: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1, 2010, ABC-CLIO, 978-1598841749, 2,weblink

Modern physical

A widely supported hypothesis in modern physics is the zero-energy universe which states that the total amount of energy in the universe is exactly zero. It has been argued that this is the only kind of universe that could come from nothing.WEB,weblink A Universe from Nothing, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 10 March 2010,weblink" title="">weblink 22 October 2013, yes, by Alexei V. Filippenko and Jay M. Pasachoff Such a universe would have to be flat in shape, a state which does not contradict current observations that the universe is flat with a 0.5% margin of error.WEB,weblink Will the Universe expand forever?, NASA, 18 October 2011, WEB,weblink A Universe From Nothing lecture by Lawrence Krauss at AAI, 2009, 17 October 2011, The paper "The Creation of the Universe as a Quantum Phenomenon" provides a model for a way the Universe could have been created by a quantum symmetry breaking process from a flat empty space.THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE AS A QUANTUM PHENOMENON, Annals of Physics, 115, 4, 115, 1978, Brout, R., Englert, F., Gunzig, E., The paper "Spontaneous creation of the Universe Ex Nihilo" provides a model for a way the Universe could have been created from pure 'nothing' in information terms.JOURNAL, 10.1016/j.dark.2013.11.004, Spontaneous creation of the Universe Ex Nihilo, Physics of the Dark Universe, 2, 4, 195, 2013, Lincoln, M., Wasser, A., 2013PDU.....2..195L,

Opposing arguments

{{See also|Parmenides|Nothing comes from nothing}}


The "first cause" argument was rooted in ancient Greek philosophy and based on observation in physics. Originally, it was understood{{by whom|date=April 2017}} in the context of creation from chaos. The observed phenomenon seen in reality is that nothing moves by itself. In other words, motion is not self-caused; thus, the Classic Greek thinkers argued that the cosmos must have had a "prime mover" primum movens. However, this scientific observation of motion does not logically extend to the idea of existence, and therefore does not necessarily indicate creation from absolutely nothing.In theology, ex nihilo creation states that there was a beginning to one's existence, and anything that exists has a beginning. This idea of a required beginning appears to contradict the proposed creator who existed without a beginning. In other words, people are considered to be contingent beings, and their existence depends upon a non-contingent being. However, if non-contingency is possible, then there is no basis for arguing that contingency is required for existence, nor can it be logically concluded that the number of non-contingent beings or non-contingent things is limited to one single substance or one single Being.David Ray Griffin expressed his thoughts on this as follows: "No special philosophical problems are raised by this view: If it is intelligible to hold that the existence of God requires no explanation, since something must exist necessarily and "of itself," then it is not unintelligible to hold that that which exists necessarily is God and a realm of non-divine actualities."WEB,weblink David Ray Griffin "Creation Out of Chaos and the Problem of Evil",, 2013-08-01,


Bruce K. Waltke wrote an extensive Biblical study of creation theology in which he argues for creation from chaos rather than from nothing - based on the Hebrew Torah and the New Testament texts. The Western Conservative Baptist Seminary published this work in 1974 and again in 1981.Creation and Chaos: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Biblical Cosmogony On a historical basis, many{{quantify|date=April 2017}} scholars agree that the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo was not the original intent of the Biblical authors, but instead a change in the interpretation of the texts that began to evolve in the mid-second century AD in the atmosphere of Hellenistic philosophy.BOOK, May, Gerhard, Creatio ex nihilo, Creation from nothing,weblink 2009-11-23, 2004, Continuum International, 978-0-567-08356-2, Frances Young ‘Creatio Ex Nihilo’: A Context for the Emergence of the Christian Doctrine of Creation. Scottish Journal of Theology, 44, pp 139-152. (1991). The idea solidified around 200{{nbsp}}AD in arguments and in response to the Gnostics, Stoics, and Middle Platonists.James N. Hubler, "Creatio ex Nihilo: Matter, Creation, and the Body in Classical and Christian Philosophy through Aquinas" (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1995).Thomas Jay Oord, a Christian philosopher and theologian, argues that Christians should abandon the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Oord points to the work of biblical scholars such as Jon D. Levenson, who points out that the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo does not appear in Genesis. Oord speculates that God created our particular universe billions of years ago from primordial chaos. This chaos, however, did not predate God, for God would have created the chaotic elements as well.BOOK,weblink Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming - Catherine Keller - Google Boeken, 2012-06-20, {{Page needed|date= September 2010}} Oord suggests that God can create all things without creating from absolute nothingness.BOOK, Keller, Catherine, Catherine Keller (theologian), Face of the deep: a theology of becoming,weblink 2009-10-04, 2003, Routledge, 978-0-415-25649-0, 240, Thomas Jay Oord has advocated an 'open theology' that 'embraces the hypothesis that God did not create the world out of absolutely nothing, i.e., ex nihilo. [...]' Matching Theology and Piety: An Evangelical Process Theology of Love', PhD dissertation (Claremont Graduate University, 1999), p. 284., Oord offers nine objections to creatio ex nihilo:WEB,weblink Creatio Ex Nihilo: The Problem · For The Love of Wisdom and The Wisdom of Love · Thomas Jay Oord,, 2013-08-01, 2010-01-19,
  1. Theoretical problem: One cannot conceive absolute nothingness.
  2. Biblical problem: Scripture – in Genesis, 2 Peter, and elsewhere – suggests creation from something (water, deep, chaos, etc.), not creation from absolutely nothing.
  3. Historical problem: The Gnostics Basilides and Valentinus first proposed creatio ex nihilo on the basis of assuming the inherently evil nature of creation, and in the belief that God does not act in history. Early Christian theologians adopted the idea to affirm the kind of absolute divine power that many Christians now reject.
  4. Empirical problem: We have no evidence that our universe originally came into being from absolutely nothing.
  5. Creation-at-an-instant problem: We have no evidence in the history of the Universe after the Big Bang that entities can emerge instantaneously from absolute nothingness. As the earliest philosophers noted, out of nothing comes nothing (ex nihilo, nihil fit).
  6. Solitary power problem: Creatio ex nihilo assumes that a powerful God once acted alone. But power, as a social concept, only becomes meaningful in relation to others.
  7. Errant revelation problem: The God with the capacity to create something from absolutely nothing would apparently have the power to guarantee an unambiguous and inerrant message of salvation (for example: inerrant Bible). An unambiguously clear and inerrant divine revelation does not exist.
  8. Problem of Evil: If God once had the power to create from absolutely nothing, God essentially retains that power. But a God of love with this capacity appears culpable for failing to prevent evil.
  9. Empire Problem: The kind of divine power implied in creatio ex nihilo supports a 'theology of empire', based upon unilateral force and control of others.
Process theologians argue that humans have always related a God to some "world" or another. TheyWEB, Creation Out of Chaos and the Problem of Evil by David Ray Griffin,weblink also claim that rejecting creatio ex nihilo provides the opportunity to affirm that God has everlastingly created and related with some realm of non-divine actualities or another (compare continuous creation). According to this alternative God-world theory, no non-divine thing exists without the creative activity of God, and nothing can terminate God's necessary existence.Some non-trinitarian Christian churches do not teach the ex nihilo doctrine:
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) teaches that Jehovah (whom they identify as the heavenly form of Jesus Christ), under the direction of God the Father, organized this world and others like it out of eternal, pre-existing materials.WEB, Jesus Christ,weblink The Guide to the Scriptures, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2012-01-25, JOURNAL, Bruce R. McConkie, Bruce R. McConkie, June 1982, Christ and the Creation, Ensign (LDS magazine), Ensign,weblink The first modern (non-biblical) prophet of the religion, Joseph Smith, explained the LDS view as follows: "Now, the word create does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize... God had materials to organize the world out of chaos... The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end"(History of the Church 6:308-309). Debate continues on the issue of creation Ex Nihilo versus creation Ex Materia between evangelical authors Paul Copan and William Lane CraigThe New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement and LDS/Mormon apologist Blake Ostler.WEB,weblink Reviews of The New Mormon Challenge " FAIR,, 2013-08-01,
  • Jehovah's Witnesses teach that God used the energy he possesses to create the Universe based on their interpretation of Isaiah{{nbsp}}40:26.JOURNAL, The Watchtower, October 1, 2009, 4–6, What Is the Holy Spirit?,weblink They believe this harmonizes with the scientific idea of the relationship between matter and energy. They distinguish Jehovah from Jesus Christ, teaching that before he created the physical universe, Jehovah created Jesus and that Michael is the heavenly form of Jesus.


The Vedanta schools of Hinduism reject the concept of creation ex nihilo for several reasons, for example:
  1. both types of revelatory texts (śruti
But compare BOOK, King, Richard, Gaudapāda Ācārya, Early Advaita Vedānta and Buddhism: the Mahāyāna context of the Gaudapādīya-kārikā,weblink 2010-05-31, State University of New York Suny series in religious studies, 1995, SUNY Press, 978-0-7914-2513-8, 58, [...] the Upanisads do not have a definitive point of view, even within the same Upanisad. GK III.23 notes for instance that the sruti equally upholds the view that creation occurs from a pre-existent being (sat) and that it proceeds from non-existence. creation is most frequently understood to be a transformation (parinama) or an emanation from a pre-existent reality. Creation from non-being (asat), however, is put forward as a possibility in Chandogya Upanisad III.19 and Taittiriya Upanisad II.7. This is not necessarily a creatio ex nihilo, but in all likelihood denotes an emergence of being from the pregnant and undifferentiated chaos known as non-being (asat). Nevertheless, the equating of non-being with nothingness may have been intended and it is certainly criticized on those grounds in Chandogya Upanisad VI.2. The predominant Brahmanical creation theme, however, describes an emanation from or transformation of "sat," whether envisaged as an abstract impersonal reality as in Taittiriya Upanisad II.i, or from a personal creator, as in Prasna Upanisad I.4., and smṛti) designate matter as eternal although completely dependent on God—the Absolute Truth (param satyam)
  1. believers then have to attribute all the evil ingrained in material life to God, making Him partial and arbitrary,WEB,weblink Brahmasutra Bhashya 2:1:34-36,, 2012-06-20, which does not logically accord with His nature
The Bhagavad Gita (BG) states the eternality of matter and its transformability clearly and succinctly: "Material nature and the living entities should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the modes of matter are products of material nature."BOOK,weblink Bhagavad Gita 13.20,, 2016-02-23, 2011-07-15, The opening words of Krishna in BG{{nbsp}}2.12-13 also imply this, as do the doctrines referred to in BG{{nbsp}}16.8 as explained by the commentator Vadiraja Tirtha.See Sri Vadiraja's commentary on the Bhagavad GitaMost philosophical schools in Hinduism maintain that material creation started with some minute particle (or seed) which had to be co-eternal or a part of ultimate reality (Brahman). This minute starting point is also the point into which all creation contracts at the end of each cycle. This concept varies between various traditions, such as the Vishishtadvaita tradition (which asserts that the Universe forms a part of God, created from some aspect of His divinity) and Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta traditions (which state that the minute initial particle (shuddha Maya) has always existed and was never created).

Linguistic and textual

Scholars have suggested alternative translations from the Biblical Hebrew for the concept often rendered as "created" in English-language versions of Genesis 1. Van Volde, for example, suggests that the Genesis account tells of the "separation" of existing material rather than of creation ex nihilo.JOURNAL, van Wolde, Ellen, Ellen van Wolde, Why the Verb ‭אדב‬ Does Not Mean 'to Create' in Genesis 1.1-2.4a, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 2010-01-11, 34, 1, 3–23, 0309-0892, Abstract[:] The linguistic and textual examination of the seven usages of the verb ‭אדב‬ in Genesis 1 leads to the conclusion that the verb ‭אדב‬ in Genesis 1 does not mean 'to create' but 'to separate'., 10.1177/0309089209348155, Note that ordinary language may lack a concise definitive native expression for "creation ex nihilo" - hence the need for the technical Latinate phrase itself. The English-language word "create" itself comes from the Latin creare (to make, bring forth, produce, beget), with a root cognate with crescere (to arise, to grow) and allied to the English word crescent (originally meaning "growing").{{OEtymD| create | accessdate=2017-04-16}}

See also

  • {{annotated link|James Ussher|Archbishop Ussher}}, who authored a chronology for the creation
    • {{annotated link|Ussher chronology}}
  • {{annotated link|Big Bang}}
  • {{annotated link|Emergence}}
  • {{annotated link|Estonian languageVocabulary|Ex nihilo lexical enrichment}}
  • {{annotated link|Genesis creation narrative}}
  • {{annotated link|Frederick Hart (sculptor)Washington National Cathedral|Ex Nihilo (sculpture by Frederick Hart)}}
  • {{annotated link|Infinite regress}}
  • {{annotated link|List of Latin phrases}}
  • {{annotated link|Mormon cosmologyMormon metaphysics|Mormon cosmology: Mormon metaphysics}} - Mormon thought on ex nihilo creation
  • {{annotated link|Natural theology}}
  • {{annotated link|Nihilism}}
  • {{annotated link|Problem of the creator of God}}
  • {{annotated link|Emunoth ve-Deothi The creation of the world|Rabbinical creation story}}
  • {{annotated link|Turtles all the way down}}



Further reading

  • WEB, Monique Terrazas, Discovering The Money Tree,weblink Go to page 15.
  • WEB, Charles Bean (Chief Economist and Executive Director for Monetary Policy, Bank of England), Bank of England Bulletin 2008 Q1,weblink Especially page 103 bottom left - on money creation
  • WEB, Thomas Jay Oord, The Nature of Love: A Theology,weblink St. Louis,, 2010, (especially chapters 4 and 5.)
  • Jon D. Levenson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994; New York: Harper & Row, 1987).
  • Sjoerd L. Bonting, Chaos Theology: A Revised Creation Theology [Ottawa: Novalis, 2002].
  • BOOK, Huchingson, James Edward, Pandemonium tremendum: chaos and mystery in the life of God, 2001, Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 978-0-8298-1419-4,
  • David Ray Griffin, "Creation out of Chaos and The Problem of Evil" in BOOK, Davis, Stephen T., Encountering Evil: Live Options in Theodicy, new, 1981, 2001, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Ky, 978-0-664-22251-2,
  • BOOK, Keller, Catherine, Catherine Keller (theologian), Face of the deep: a theology of becoming,weblink 2009-10-04, 2003, Routledge, 978-0-415-25649-0
  • BOOK, Lodahl, Michael E., Michael Lodahl, Stone, Bryan P., Oord, Thomas Jay, Bryan Stone, Thomas Jay Oord, Thy nature and thy name is love: Wesleyan and process theologies in dialogue, 2001, Kingswood, Nashville, 978-0-687-05220-2, Creation out of Nothing? Or is Next to Nothing Enough?,
  • BOOK, Theissen, Gerd, Gerd Theissen, translated by John Bowden, The shadow of the Galilean: the quest of the historical Jesus in narrative form, 1987, 2007, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN, 978-0-8006-3900-6,

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Eastern Philosophy
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