Genesis One: Doubting Creatio Ex Nihilo

Genesis “Look up to heaven and earth and see all that is therein, and know that God made them out of things that did not exist” (2 Maccabees 7:28)

Creatio ex nihilo is explicitly taught in 2 Maccabees 7:28 above and other passages such as John 1:1-3, Hebrews 11:3, Romans 4:17 and 2 Enoch 24:2. Philo, thus, correctly stated that “God, when he begat all things, not only brought them into manifestation, but made things which did not exist before, being himself not only a Demiurge but also a Creator” (De Somn. 1. 13).

The question I concisely addressed in this article is whether Genesis 1 is also communicating creatio ex nihilo. I think it does not. Genesis 1 does not articulate the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. This is why I think it does not:

The cosmological origin in Genesis One reflects a cognitive environment of the ancient Near Eastern cosmogony yet with its own uniqueness. Example the lack of attention of the heavenly realm (Sarna 1989:2-3), the creation of the tanninim (the great sea-serpents/creatures cf. Psa. 74:13) as good (Genesis 1:21) &c., marks Jewish cosmogony unique.The regions to which Genesis 1 reflects a common ancient Near Eastern worldview is  the notion that beings came into existence when they were given function, a role to play often through separation and naming, in the ordered cosmos. Non-separated and unnamed beings did not “exist” (Hornung 1982: 180, 182). John H. Walton correctly explained that “ancient Near Eastern literature is concerned primarily with order and control of functions of the world that exists rather than with speculations about how the material world that exists came into being.”(Walton 2011: 8)

Bruce K. Waltke carefully observed that unformed state, primeval darkness and water (Genesis 1:2),  is never said to have been brought “into existence by His[God’s] word”(1975: 338) The author of Genesis 1 presupposed the already material existence of primeval water (cf. 2 Peter 3:5). Since these beings did not yet have function, they did not “exist” in ancient Near Eastern worldview.

When Genesis 1 is read as ancient Near Eastern cosmogony, then it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the initial stage of creation is not lack of material but function. Genesis One is an ancient Near Eastern cosmogony and thus the genesis account it records is of  functioning cosmos, not of material cosmos, namely matter (Walton 2011).

Hornung, E. (1982) Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Sarna, N. M. (1989). Genesis. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

Walter, B. K (1975) ‘The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1-3: Part IV: The Theology of Genesis 1,’ Bibliotheca Sacra, 132(528), 326-342.

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62 thoughts on “Genesis One: Doubting Creatio Ex Nihilo

  1. I am quoting from page 55 of Genesis 1 – 4 (C John Collins): However, the sentence of Genesis 1:1 taken as a whole does in fact imply creating from nothing. “The heavens and the earth” likely refers to “everything in the material universe” and “in the begining” tells us what time the author is speaking of. Hence if God created everything at the beginning, then “before the beginning” – whatever that might mean- there was nothing. Thererefore Genesis 1:1 clearly implies, though it does not explicitly state, that God created from nothing and that the material universe has an absolute begininning. … since grammatically the periscope starts with a perfect the narrated events happen not as a summary of the narrative to follow but as a foreword to the narrative to follow. Also the fact hat the first wayyiqol verb is in Genesis 1:3 suggests this. Also wisdom 11;17 might not contradict this concept if you enjoy the Youtube talk of Renate Loll on the quantum origins of space and time where we would listen to Gods descriptions at the Plank scale much smaller than the quantum scale Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, on May 5, 2010.

  2. It has probably already been argued: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This in my imagination is God’s first creative act, the creation of formless substance. We already know that wisdom is God’s first creative act, so even preceding material creation is immaterial design for creation, which I would imagine would be the Laws of Physics, God’s redemptive plan and etc all wrapped up together.

    • I wish I can click the edit button on my own comments. The first creative act in Genesis is formless substance and the formless vacuum of substance (the heavens). We can see in other parts of Scripture that other creative acts precede even then this, such as the creation of wisdom and presumably angelic beings. Christ of course is co-eternal and uncreated.

      • Craig, the problem with such reading of Genesis 1 is that it is not faithful to the text nor background understand of ancient Near Eastern societies. It is reading into the text and not out of the text.

        I agree that God created ex nihilo but Genesis is not the place such doctrine is taught.

        • That’s fine, but I am just reading what the text literally says and what the rest of Scripture literally says. Gen 1 might not be the best proof text for creatio ex nihlo, but it by no means contradicts it.

          • You are very correct that it does not by no means contradicts creatio ex nihilo. Scripture explicitly teach creation from nothing. I believe ancient Near Eastern Jew would also firm it.

            I also read what the text literally say. To do so I have to know what ancient Near Eastern Jew would literally understood it to mean. From that I discovered that ancient Near Eastern Jew, like their fellow surrounding neighbors understood “creation” not as from nonbeing to being, but non-function to function.

            Thus Genesis 1:1-2 is to be understood as: In the initial period, God separated/split(functional-wise) the sky from earth, and the earth was without function and disorder. I will present a Biblical case for this understanding in my next article.

            In ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies, the very first act of functional creation was separation of heavens and earth, which was followed by separation of the period of light, from the period of night. The deity create by separation, giving name, and function/role the created being plays in the ordered universe.

            This idea is through out Genesis 1:1-2:3b, God separate, name and give the function/role that being created plays in the cosmos.

            I believe reading Genesis from ancient Near Eastern worldview is reading the text as it is meant to be read. It is reading as the very people Genesis was written to. It is knowing that Genesis’ message transcend culture, and it is for us, but the form to which that message was delivered was to them, not us.

          • This obviously gets into Near-Eastern mythology, such as God slaying Leviathan, which is referenced in Isaiah and Job. I think it is useful to think as the Bible employing such language as a means to comment on God being the reason why there is order in the universe instead of an endorsement of actual myth. I am sure this is your position, anyhow.

  3. john zande,

    I can’t speak for Prayson, although I suspect his answer would be in the same vein as mine, but I am a creationist because of everything. Everything is evidence of God. Even you, john zande, are evidence that God exists. Why do you exist instead of nothing? Why does everything exist instead of nothing? The existence of all we know cries out that there is a source of all we know. Of course, the source is mysterious. Even the question to which God is the answer is mysterious. As Wittgenstein says, “Not ‘how’ the world is but ‘that’ the world is, is the mystery.

    It’s really quite simple. The problem comes when one looks at everything and begins to decide that some things are evidence for God’s existence and some things are not. Eventually, that list is going to end up with nothing on it. And I suspect that you feel there is a list like that, and you think Christians think they have it and there is nothing on it. Indeed, as I read your comments, I suspect you feel that nothing can be evidence for God; that it’s not possible for anything to even count as evidence for God. It’s not right to expect evidence which is surrounded by non-evidence. God is the answer to the question about the whole thing, not some things.

    Dan O’Brian

    • Nice reply Dan but I’m afraid it will be lost on Zande. There are no words we can say that will convince him. He has determinedly closed his minds ear and life’s soul to God, yet he serves Gods’ purpose. You no doubt felt compelled to write the words you did in your reply to him and those words have blessed me, and no doubt others. “God is the answer to the question about the whole thing, not some things.” EVERYTHING!

      Unbelievers and the rebellious have always been. Even the Jews reject the Messiah. Prophecy fulfillment is powerful evidence that validates the credibility and supernatural inspiration of the Old Testament, where human beings are told specific predictions by God to be fulfilled many hundreds of years in the future. While we might not arrive at the same number of messianic prophecies, most agree they are numerous. Jewish biblical scholar Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), a convert to Christianity, wrote a classic work affirming there are 456 passages in the Old Testament that refer to the Messiah, yet since Christ did not do what the Jews think He should have done, then He is not the Messiah. Edersheim work “The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah” is accessible for free online at CCEL. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edersheim/lifetimes.toc.html

    • Hi Dan

      As Daniel appears unwilling, or perhaps unable, to answer, I’ll happily address your comment.

      You say: “I am a creationist because of everything. Everything is evidence of God”

      Well, no: “everything” is in fact evidence of the cosmos. Nothing more. There is nothing in the natural system which points to some magical, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient being. The thing you are appealing to (special pleading) is invisible and inaudible. It gives off no odour and has no perceptible taste. It generates no heat signature, produces no electromagnetic field and provokes no resonance at any frequency. It cannot be detected with any instrument and no measurement of any natural phenomena has ever indicated its presence. Its influence cannot be inferred from any secondary observation, no earthly geological record speaks of its intervention, and no examination of any biological or astronomical system has ever alluded to its agency. It is massless. It displaces neither liquids, solids, gas nor plasma, has no perceptible gravitational effect on anything, and no disturbance in the fabric of spacetime suggests it’d once moved through any region of the cosmos.

      If you wish to place your particular Middle Eastern god as some aseitic first mover, by which you grant it an exemption from the general rules of cause and effect, then you must first explain the precise reasons why you’re willing to grant this exemption to your god, but not grant the same exemption to the universe itself. Why one and not the other?

      • Zande,

        I don’t think you have a good understanding of what I’m talking about. I say this because you wrote something quite ridiculous. You said, “‘everything’ is in fact evidence of the cosmos.” Now, when I refer to “everything”, whatever else is true of that word, which is to say, all there is that exists, the cosmos is certainly included in it. It being the case that the cosmos is the sum of all things we have discovered so far, it can properly be referred to as “everything” by those of us who live in it. If you happen to believe that there are an infinite number of universes besides our own, then “everything” would encompass all of that as well.

        When you say everything is evidence of the cosmos, it becomes a little humorous. Because what you are actually saying is that everything is evidence of everything. I don’t know who taught you the rules of evidence, but a chair, when considered as evidence, is not evidence of itself. Evidence points beyond itself in order to give legitimacy to a certain proposition. If someone hanged themselves using a rope and a chair, then the chair found at the scene underneath the swinging corpse would count as evidence towards the conclusion that he hanged himself. But, it would be absurd for the investigator to look at the chair and come to the conclusion that the chair was evidence of the chair and nothing more.

        In the same way, the cosmos cannot be evidence for the cosmos. We are not looking at a chair, or a thing in the cosmos. We are looking at the cosmos itself and asking, “How come all this instead of nothing?” “What is the source of it?”

        Now, I would agree with your little list of things that God is not. He has no odor, no taste, etc. I’ve got no problem there. We must sharply distinguish between God and everything else. God has no body, no eyes, no hands, no mouth. In short, God is not composed of parts. Anything composed of parts requires a cause or source of its own. So, whatever the source, cause, or explanation of things is, it cannot be made up of material components. It cannot be composed of parts, otherwise it would cause us to ask “How come the parts are together?” which would lead us to something more ultimate than it.

        The question, “How come there is anything rather than nothing?” seeks the ultimate source of things. You seem to think wrongly that the source of everything must itself be subject to the rules of cause and effect. This reveals that you expect “something” (something you can comprehend, something that can be affected, grasped, used, thrown, or played with) to be the source of everything. The question, however, seeks the answer to all “somethings.”

        So, the “exception” that you think I give to God, is not an exception. It is part of what it takes to be the source of everything.

        I would write more, but I’ve got to get going with my daily duties. However, this should clear some things up.

        Dan O’Brian

        • Hi Dan

          Hard to grasp your line of thought here, so let me clarify: your appeal to “everything” is nothing but the total composite of the universe. As you agreed there is no evidence whatsoever for your particular god in this universe, then what we are talking about is the totality of a god-less natural system. Is that perhaps clearer?

          Now, I’m afraid to say but you go completely off into the realm of special pleading again. What you are describing is an emotional thought-stream, not something rooted in reality. You’re certainly free to exercise these flights of imaginative fantasy, but don’t try to convince me that they bear any faculty other than an emotional appeal.

          Now, my question was very simple, yet you failed to address it. And it’s an ‘exemption,’ not an ‘exception.’

          If you are willing to grant an exemption to the general rules of causality to your particular god, then please explain in a coherent and meaningful way, free of any special pleading, why you won’t also grant that exact same exemption to the universe itself.

          • zande,

            Your response is quite predictable given the intellectual climate the New Atheists have established. Instead of doing the hard intellectual work to really figure out what it is I’m saying, you dismiss it as an emotional appeal. But, let me correct something and I will be done. I have no desire to converse with someone who refuses to bend in any way or grant legitimacy to the opposition.

            1. I still maintain, and I don’t know how you thought otherwise, that everything is evidence of God; God being whatever the source of everything is.

            2. I was not emotional while writing the previous response, nor was I asking you to feel anything.

            3. Your question about an exemption was answered in the previous response. It’s not surprising that you didn’t see it because you admitted you didn’t take the time to understand it. Anything created, that is, composed of parts, requires a source or cause of its existence. The source of everything cannot logically be composed of parts, otherwise it is not the source. All effects stem from the source of everything even the rules of causality. I cannot grant the same exemption from the rules of causality to the universe because it is composed of parts and therefore must answer the question of origins.

            4. Your refusal to see anything other than an emotional appeal in my reasonings is unfortunate.

            Thank you,
            Dan O’Brian

          • Hi Dan

            If by “my response” you mean not accepting unjustified, emotional appeals to undetectable, magical beings, then I’ll happily stand by that response. Please, though, don’t confuse my reluctance to accept “magic” as an answer as some sort of dismissal. If I recall, I was asking for something tangible from you. You couldn’t deliver.

            To your points:

            1. No. Everything is just everything, and none of that everything indicates magic. Period. Simply saying “but there’s magic somewhere behind everything” cannot be taken seriously. That is not a coherent argument. It is an emotional appeal.

            2. If you understood what I wrote you’d see I wasn’t calling *you* emotional, rather what you were writing was an emotional appeal. An emotional appeal is a plea for someone to accept something, usually nonsense, without a single shred of evidence, or justification.

            3. No, you didn’t answer it. Again, you simply made an emotional appeal. Is that seriously so difficult for you to understand? Let me re-word it so as to make the point perfectly clear. You are placing your *concept* of a god beyond the rules of causation. Fine. By granting it this exemption you are stating (without evidence, mind you) the rules of cause and effect can be circumvented. Great. With this in mind, what I am asking is this: if you are willing to grant this exemption to causation to your *concept* of a god, then please explain why you won’t grant this exact same exemption to the universe itself. If one, why not the other. Simply pleading “because its god” isn’t a valid or coherent argument.

            4. If you can point to a single line where you actually cited something tangible, something real, and therefore not an emotional appeal, then I’d happily retract my statement.

  4. The Hebrew of Genesis 1:1 is (transliterated) B’rëshiyt Bärä élohiym ët haSHämayim w’ët hääretz, which literally translates as “in the beginning” (B’rëshiyt) “created” (Bärä) “ELOHIM (YAHWEH, God)” (élohiym) “the heavens” (ët haSHämayim) “the Earth” (w’ët hääretz)…. I am not an expert in Hebrew grammar and tense, however, a literal reading of the Hebrew words seems to support the traditional translation. I looked up the key word, which is beresit. The most common translations of the word are beginning, first and firstfruit. Again, this seems to support the traditional translation. Perhaps what we could say is that, although the best literal translation of the first words in Genesis are “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” perhaps a reasonable paraphrase, reflecting the intent of the author is, “when God began creating”…yet there is no Hebrew word for “when” in the text, so this must be a paraphrase.

    Whether we say that God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning or that he began creating the heavens and the earth in the beginning is not a major distinction of meaning. Either way, the entire physical creation had a beginning. If we include the heavens and the earth as having been created when God began or in the beginning, the end meaning is the same. Before this happened, the physical universe we live in did not exist. After it was created it did exist. In either case, the universe was not made out of pre-existing stuff. Hebrews 11:3 supports this interpretation, when it says that we know that “what is seen was not made out of what is visible.”

    I must conclude then that Scripture, from the first words and all throughout, supports nothing other than creation ex nihilo. In my mind adding the words “from nothing” to the end of Genesis 1:1 would be a valid, implied assumption, because Creation from nothing (ex nihilo) is a clear biblical teaching. “For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.” “God … calls into existence the things that do not exist.” “The worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”(Psalms 33:9, Romans 4:17, Hebrews 11:3)

    Peace be with you all.

  5. Greetings! I’m sorry you didn’t really engage the string of arguments for creation out of nothing in Genesis 1:1 in William Craig’s and my book, *Creation Out of Nothing* (Baker Academic). And the New Testament writers who affirm that God created everything anchored their views in Gen. 1:1 (cp. Jn. 1:1-3, which follows the absolute construction of Gen. 1:1 and which is followed in the Septuagint).

    At any rate, I wish you the very best in the Lord.

    Paul Copan

    • Thanks Paul for your comment. I am familiar with your case in Creation Out of Nothing (2004). I affirm the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo as taught by Scripture and non-canonical literature. Where I differ with you and Craig is on holding that Genesis 1:1 teaches such a doctrine. This article was a concise introduction to the position I have being toying around with for a long time. It did not engage with opposing views. That part is coming soon.

      In short, I hold a different position from the one your and Craig’s hold (Craig & Copan 2004: 35) since I think Genesis 1:1 is another ANE cosmogony. It is unique but it share the same common scientific knowledge. God communicate using this common understanding of their time. As Walton, I think Genesis 1’s message transcend the culture but the mode of communication is cultural bound.

      The major difference between us is that Craig and you presupposed that Genesis 1 is about material origins, which I think, siding with Walton, is not. I will defend this when I present a more expand article answering the case presented in your work and others who hold that Genesis 1:1 teaches creatio ex nihilo.

      I am humbled and honored by your comment Paul. Thank you

      • Hello, Prayson. Thanks for your kind words. In a private forum at which I participated last year, John Walton acknowledged that Genesis 1 DOES teach creation out of nothing (material creation), but that is not the major emphasis, and I would agree with that. But this was an important admission to make that you should not overlook. Also, I think it quite odd that Jn. 1 and Heb. 11 affirm creation out of nothing (with John using language alluding to Gen 1:1) but that it is not based on Genesis 1:1! Also, yes, there are similarities between ANE cosmogonies, but one of the distinctives in Gen. 1 is that God (vs. the gods) does not use pre-existing matter to create. He is responsible for the origination of everything (note the merism “heaven and earth”)–hence the absolute rather than relative construct in Gen. 1. Just a little perspective in case Walton is your starting point….

        • Independent of the Scriptures, creatio ex nihilo is a certainty for all who have personal KNOWLEDGE OF GOD by virtue of “being born spiritually of the Spirit”, i.e., in the very image of God as produced by “the kind of death Jesus suffered”.

  6. Speaking as a systematic theology student, this is exactly what we are routinely taught (at least, those of us who identify with Barth). I am a staunch defender of creation from nothing, but I defend it upon the cumulative testimony of scripture and the dogmatic reasoning that is accountable to scripture. Theology is indispensable to exegesis, not just the other way around.

  7. Very interesting article. However, I must respectfully disagree. I think that Genesis 1 does promote creation ex nihilo and here’s why. 1) The phrase “heavens and earth” were understood to constitute the universe and everything within it. So when it is said that God created the “heavens and the earth” the writer is demonstrating that God is responsible for the whole show. 2) It might be a little flawed to compare the Genesis account with other near Eastern accounts because the Jewish monotheistic system sought to separate itself from the pagan beliefs of other nations and tribes. For instance: in the Exodus, the 10 plagues represented 10 Egyptian gods which were worshipped. I believe the account to be true. God brought these plagues to show the Egyptian gods as powerless. Seeing as how other systems held to a cosmogony that could have held to an eternal universe, the Genesis account would have been revolutionary if it did show the universe as finite and Yahweh as infinite. Honestly…in my humble opinion…I think that is what happened. Very good article! You made me want to research this issue further. Keep up the good work and God bless!

    • I totally agree that heavens and earth means the whole cosmos. I do not think Genesis 1 presents creatio ex nihilo because that is not how ancient Near Eastern Jew would have understood it. For them, coming into existence did not mean from nonbeing to a being but from disorder to order. God communicated the truth about His creation from a common ancient Near Eastern worldview. No where in the Bible does God update His people’s science. He simply used it to express His revelation. Good example is thinking with the heart. For them it was not a metaphor but reality that our cognitive process happen in our abdomen.

      Yes, Jews cosmogony is unique but it follows the common knowledge of its time.

      • I would have to examine the Jewish view of cosmogony further before being able to comment on that particular issue intelligently, but I think the whole point of Genesis 1 is to show that everything owes its existence to God which would require a beginning point in God. Very interesting article. Quite honestly, I have never thought about this issue until now.

  8. So, you’re in fact arguing that there never was nothing, no beginning, the universe always was in one shape or another. In effect, and correct me if I’m wrong, you’re simply casting the Middle Eastern god of Yahwehism as nothing but a “namer of things.”

    • Not true John. I argued that God as Jews understood is the Creator of all thing from ex nihilo. My case here is that Genesis 1 does not offer such idea of creatio ex nihilo.

      We are to read Genesis One as an ancient Near Eastern would have understood it.

      • I think it is wrong to assume that Genesis 1 teaches creatio ex nihilo. Unlike John 1:1-3, Hebrew 11:3, and other passages that does teach creatio ex nihilo, Genesis 1 is about the functional origin which presupposes material existence.

        • Sorry, perhaps I wasn’t clear. Your personal opinion on various hermeneutics approaches to the creation myth is not what i was asking.

          Are you a creationist?

        • Depends on what you mean creationist. Do you mean a person who holds:

          (i) creation by natural selection? Darwin was a creationist by natural selection breathe from a Creator. He wrote:”There is grandeur in this[natural selection] view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”(Darwin 1909: 527-9)

          (ii) creation by natural selection and intelligent design? The ID movement?

          (iii) material creation in 7 day of young earth creationism?

          Which one do you have in mind?

          • What the hell is “creation by natural selection”? The terms you come up with, Prayson 🙂

            None of the above. Well, a variant of #2 and #3. Creation: The Yahwehists god, your god, “created” everything, by design, with intent. It’s really a simple question, Prayson. No need to complicate it. Just answer it.

          • O Yes. I believe that Yahweh, my God, created everything with teleological purpose.

            Whether God created through natural selection, design + natural selection, &c., I do not know. My area is of theology and philosophy not science. Whatever science find to be the case I will follow where the evidence and proper interpretation of that evidence leads.

          • That’s a bit of a cop-out, Prayson. Regardless, science has never detected any external agent at work, anywhere, at any time, in any system…. excluding, of course, nature itself, but i don’t think you’re forwarding a pantheistic notion here.

            As “design” is explained naturally, how then do you maintain a belief in a “creator” if there is no evidence?

          • Actually I will address this issue on one of my coming articles. In simple science cannot detect any external agent because that external agent is not of that nature to be detected by science.

            Like Plato’s cavemen, they can only know what is inside the cave. Their methods would only be of things that are inside the cave. The cave is all that is and always will be for them. Which is very true. If this cavemen then argue that there is nothing but the cave, then they have moved to philosophy. The areas that is not theirs 🙂

            I am not sure if you are familar with Plato’s cave illustration 🙂

          • I’ve heard it before. Matt Rave did a better take on it recently in his book, Why is There Anything, by describing a character in a book trying to understand the author who, by his/her very position outside the set, see’s all events in that book (his/her book) as one event. The philosophy of it is sound, but it certainly doesn’t equate to the Yahwehists god. If you are to hold this idea then surely you must jettison Yahwehism and adopt pure agnosticism.

            I remind you, you said you’d go where the science leads. So, what are you basing your creationist ideas on?

          • I do not see the world as a pie with natural and supernatural pieces. And as science progressively provide naturally explanation of what was believed to be supernatural the God is squeezed into smaller and smaller gaps.

            I see the world as a double layer cake with natural and beyond natural i.e. supernatural layer. This is actually both ancient Near Eastern view and most of ancient African worldview. Do you know the finding of the Zande people by E.E. Evans Pritchard?

            Well, the double layer cake have no problem with natural. Science explores the natural layer and philosophy explores the supernatural layer. My worldview have both the cave and beyond the cave.

            My creationism has no problem with whatever science contemporary describe as long as the science is metaphysically neutral. 🙂

          • I do indeed know of the Zande. They’re from (in part) your homeland, aren’t they? I know the great creator spirit, Olódùmarè, if from Tanzania, but it has nothing to do with the Zande.

            The thing is, Prayson, philosophy has never produced a single thing. Ever. It has never produced a fact, or a truth. So the question remains: why do you even *think* there is a double-layered cake?

          • Is it? I wouldn’t say so, but you’re entitled to your opinion 😉

            So, are you going to answer? Why do you even *think* there is a double-layered cake?

          • But philosophy has never, ever, produced a single fact, and theology is just nonsense… as I have proven to you in regards to the Pentateuch being nothing but geopolitical myth.

            So, you’re conceding that you don’t actually have any evidence, or valid and coherent reason, to believe in a two-tiered cake.

            Why, then, are you a creationist? Is it emotional? (which is fine, if it is)

          • Nope. Are you going to try and tell me philosophy has produced a single fact, or theology has been proven true in any respect?

            But let’s not get off the subject of this post. As I was asking: Why, considering the total absence of evidence, are you a creationist? Is it simply an emotional response?

          • Well, how then do you know that philosophy has not produce knowledge and theology is nonsensical? Under which authority do you make such judgement.

            Do you know that multiverse and cosmic egg to which contemporary cosmology was present, following Alex Vilenkin, in Hundism? Do you know that eternal universe theorem is from Platonism? Finite universe from Judaism?

            Do you know that science is build upon metaphysics(philosophy)?

          • Rather large stretches there, I think, Prayson… But i am fully aware human minds have delved into many thought exercises over the years. It’s a wonderful thing.

            Anyway, back to the subject. As I was asking: Why, considering the total absence of evidence, are you a creationist? Is it simply an emotional response?

          • Let’s see, how does every branch of science sound?

            That said, you say there is, in fact, evidence, so let’s hear it. I hope this’ll finally get to you answer the question i’ve already asked six times, which is: Why, considering the total absence of evidence, are you a creationist? Is it simply an emotional response?

          • Perhaps you should stick to philosophy, Daniel, because you are dead wrong. Science does indeed talk as one; it’s called a scientific consensus, and is expressed as Theories. In case you’re not aware, the word “Theory” has a very different meaning in science than the one used in pedestrian communication. A Scientific Theory is a scientific “fact,” exampled by the ability to make falsifiable predictions, and is accepted by the body as a whole. The Theory of Gravity is a scientific “fact,” and so too the Theory of Evolution is a scientific “fact.” Those, Daniel, are examples of science talking as one… and nowhere in any of those theories will you find the words “metaphysics,” “magic,” or “god.”

            In fact, in no branch of science will you find the words “metaphysics,” “magic,” or “god” attached to their various theories.

            But let me see: you want a name, so how about Cecilia Payne whose 1925 paper, Stellar Atmospheres, A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars not only verified Hans Bethe’s work concerning the basic nuclear processes by which hydrogen is fused into helium inside stellar masses, but also shattered the going notion that all the elements in the universe existed as fixed quantities, origins unknown. The origin of those elements, though, were established by the magnificent Margaret Burbidge who in 1957 gifted our species with the knowledge that the chemistry set of the universe, of stars and planets and life, was not conferred by some magical benefactor as religious fantasy would have us believe, but were rather forged inside supermassive stars, and supermassive stars alone.

            I’ve read their papers, I even did a post on Payne, and I can assure you, Daniel, the words “metaphysics,” “magic,” or “god” are not mentioned anywhere. Not mentioning “metaphysics,” “magic,” or “god” is them saying creation is nonsense. Or are you going to argue that because neither Bethe, Payne nor Burbidge mentioned unicorns, then that was their way of saying unicorns are real?

            How about your favourite (and only) cosmologist, Vilenkin? I’m presently reading his latest book, Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes, and you know what? I haven’t once seen the words “metaphysics,” “magic,” or “god” either.

            Now, doesn’t it bother you, Daniel, that you have to go to such unbelievable lengths just to avoid answering even the simplest of questions? And you have a pattern of this deceptive and evasive behaviour. Indeed, we both know you have an unfortunate history of lying, just to try and make your case sound stronger than what it is. I refer, of course, to your lying on February 10, 2014, when you said: “From your article, all Rabbis quoted were secular.” That, as you knew fully well at the time, was an outright lie… and yet you spoke it. With this regrettable and disappointing behavioural history in mind, I think you should just move pass the red herrings and evasive tactics and simply address the question I originally asked:

            Why, considering the total absence of evidence, are you a creationist? Is your belief, perhaps, nothing but an emotional response (reaction, might be a better word) which fills a present-day need, whatever that might be?

          • There is no better evidence for Creation than the image of the Creator himself transferable in VISIONS to humans by means of the prophetic “tree of life” now fulfilled by “the death of Jesus” on the cross. It’s more about “seeing” than hearsay. (Matt. 26: 62-64)

          • The weightier means for knowledge of the Almighty Creator himself, i.e., his divine image, complete with the prophetic “tree of life”, as taught in Genesis 1, includes the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.

  9. Over and above Genesis One, it takes nothing less than the author’s “visions of and revelations from” God as PROOF of the doctrine of “creation of the universe” out of nothing! This is exactly what “the Good News from the glorious and blessed God”, a.k.a., the Gospel, is all about.

    Do not miss the OPEN HOUSE invitation to Paradise via Christ’s death on the cross, a.k.a., “the first-born from the dead” among many brothers! (Matt. 27: 50-56; Luke 23: 40-43)

  10. I really hate to bend away from your good points about this subject, but allow me to pose a question. I’ve heard many explanations from “creationists apologetics” about dinosaurs. I am familiar with book of Daniel smatterings, if you will, but where exactly do you say they fit in?

  11. Compelling, but I think there are some key piece left out here:

    First, I don’t know that common ancient Near Eastern thought is going to set the perfect precedent for interpreting God’s work. Note that in Genesis 1, the first thing to be said is that “God created…” not that, “The earth was formless and void.” This gets into my own views about God as a processional creator and why I don’t have problems with evolution, but I digress.

    Next, the “cognitive environment of ancient Near Eastern cosmogony” is exactly why we should expect that the Biblical account would be different. That cosmogony also included a rampant number of fertility cults who observed human sexual conduct and translated that into the behavior of the gods, going so far as to believe that the universe was a massive ejaculation. The gods might order matter that was already there, but the matter itself was a product of some pretty unfettered divine sex lives. The Hebrew myth was very much different and scandalous in no small part because it involved a God who could create by himself, with no procreative event. It would not have been strange to have a God who ordered the universe–but having one who made it all by himself was something unprecedented. So we need to consider the way in which the story not only agrees with ancient Near Eastern thought but also remember that God was essentially giving Moses a counter-myth to those other accounts, and so we need to pay special attention to the differences.

    Furthermore, the idea that matter was “pre-existent” with God is far more of a Platonic idea, in its development, than a Near Eastern one–Justin Martyr, Origen, Augustine, all these church fathers came out of a culture of Hellenic philosophy, complete with the ideals of the Forms, and by and large they didn’t question it. This is where you see language of “God ordering chaos” cropping up most in Christian thought. Aquinas was even said to have “baptized Aristotle” into his philosophy. However, by the Third Century, many Christian philosophers were rejecting these views.

    The problem, on a philosophical level, is that uncritically linking Christian understanding up with another, limited philosophical system–and I would argue that denying creation ex-nihilo involves privileging Plato (or the ancient Near East) over Scripture–produces a line of thought that’s been deeply criticized in the last century. As an example, I would argue that a Platonic God, pre-existent with his own materials, is actually indistinguishable from the materials themselves in that case: Being or Existence itself seems to come out looking greater than God. This isn’t to say anything about your actual assertion, or the truth of your claim, here I’m simply saying that the philosophical implications end up creating the sort of God that Heidegger says “is no God at all” and is not worth of worship, and with good reason.

    • I follow your concerns. I think an explanation would easy your concerns. I affirm creatio ex nihilo but Genesis 1 is not the place to find such a doctrine.

      Genesis 1:1 does not present a beginning point in time but initial period. Sarna agued for the idea that it should be read as “When God began creating the heavens and earth, …” Walton argued for “In the intial period God created …”. So “In the Beginning God …” is not the only way to interpret Genesis 1:1

      I think it is quite reasonable that Genesis 1 reflects ancient Near Eastern cosmogony because God communicate to them in the way they would understand. This was their science. God nowhere update His people’s science, e.g. thinking with their minds and not their hearts to which ancient Near Eastern believe to be the place where cognitive process took place, the waters above and the waters below etc. If God used common knowledge to express his message then Genesis 1 must reflect the common cosmogony yet with its own uniqueness.

      Hopefully I easy some concerns. Let me know your thoughts.

  12. Whether or not Genesis 1 addresses a creation ex nihilo, which I think it does, the question still remains “Why does anything at all exist instead of nothing?” To be puzzled about the origin of everything is to do a bit of theology. In fact, the origin of everything, whatever that turns out to be, (I say “that” and “be” knowing those words can’t adequately make references to such an origin), is what is usually meant by the word “God.” No more understanding needs to be added to the word “God” than that definition. All the divine attributes normally indicated by the Christian understanding can be teased out of that defintion: the origin of everything.

    Regardless of Genesis 1, the question of origins will always remain. But, I do think Genesis does address it.

    • Thank you Dan. I think that the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo is taught in Scripture and outside( non-canon literature). I have not found compelling case that Genesis 1 does offer creatio ex nihilo. Commentators see that clearly that you cannot affirm such doctrine from Genesis 1:1.

      If we get outside our worldview and enter ancient Near Eastern worldview, we clearly see that they understood creation, coming into existence, different from us. To them, coming into existence meant having functional order. Desert, primeval waters, etc did not exist. To see this idea compare Genesis 1:1-2:3b with Jeremiah 4:23-26. You will notice that Jeremiah 4 is the reversal of Genesis 1. This is how they viewed the world. If we dare entered their worldview, we will see how they saw.

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