Creatio Ex Nihilo and Its New Rivals
Routledge sent copies yesterday of a new book I edited, Theologies of Creation: Creatio Ex Nihilo and Its New Rivals. It explores current thinking about creation out of nothing, and several essays propose alternative theories of creation.
Of course, humans have long wondered about the origin of the universe. And such questions are especially alive today as physicists offer metaphysical theories to account for the emergence of creation.
Those who believe in God have attributed the universe’s origin to divine activity. Many claim God created something from absolute nothingness: creatio ex nihilo. The venerable doctrine of creatio ex nihilo especially emphasizes God’s initial creating activity.
Some contributors to this book explore new reasons creatio ex nihilo should continue to be embraced today. But other contributors question the viability of creation from nothing and offer alternative initial creation options in its place. These new alternatives explore a variety of options in light of recent scientific work, new biblical scholarship, and both new and old theological traditions.
I especially want to thank those who contributed essays to the book, which include Philip Clayton, Catherine Keller, Michael Lodahl, Richard Rice, Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Marit Trelstad, Eric Vail, Stephen Webb, and Michael Zbaraschuk. I also contributed an essay.
Please consider getting a copy and wrestling with the issues of creation from nothing (or something)! (Here’s an amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Theologies-Creation-Creatio-Nihilo-Rivals/dp/0415712157)For those who want to think deeply about creation from nothing (or from something)! http://www.amazon.com/Theologies-Creation-Creatio-Nihilo-Rivals/dp/0415712157) Click To Tweet
I’m really looking forward to reading this book! Thank-you!
I’ve placed the pre-order. How long until it is shipped out?
In ‘Theologies of Creation’ introduction Dr. Oord says “ The most widely accepted theistic explanation is the theory that God the universe from absolutely nothing. The Latin phrase “creatio ex nihilo”, literally means ‘creation out of nothing’. Most major Theologians in Christian History-for example Irenaeus, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Karl Barth, and Paul Tillich-believed that God initially created the universe from absolutely nothing. One of the strongest arguments in favor of ‘creatio ex nihilo’ is that so many influential Christians throughout history have affirmed the theory’(pg. 2).
It seems that to argue that “major thinkers in the history of the Church affirmed ‘creatio ex nihilo’, therefore ‘creation from nothing’ may be true,” would be a logical fallacy, only affirming ‘Ad-Populum’, the fallacy of appealing to truth due to its popular idea. Perhaps, major thinkers of the Church like Augustine, Luther, Wesley, Calvin and Barth believed that God created the universe from nothing, is due to what scripture says, and perhaps, this may be a better argument, and to what modern scholars refer to as well. Including most Evangelicals, as already state by Dr. Oord. (as most popular view).
“God created the Heavens and the Earth”- Gen.1:1
“I made the earth, and created man on it, it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host”-Isaiah 45:12
“All things were made through him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.”-John 1:3
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16
If by these verses, I, along with Augustine, Luther, Wesley, Calvin, and Barth believe that God created from nothing, are we truly mislead? After all, God created the heavens, the earth, humans and without Him, anything made, what was made, was not made without Him. What was made without Him? Nothing. What else is eternal? besides God. What element created itself? Himself? Herself? Things that are both invisible and visible are both created by God. Whether thrones, dominions, rulers or authorities. God created all of existence. Whether is it material (what we can see) or invisible (metaphysical). God is not created, but eternal. He created everything else, from what? From void ontology. “Void” means nothingness, empty space, and null.
For now, I will keep with Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and Barth, but mostly, with scripture.
What are your thoughts Dr. Oord?
My thoughts, Ben?
Read the last chapter of Theologies of Creation: Creatio Ex Nihilo and Its New Rivals to find my alternative doctrine of initial creation.
Hi Dr. Oord,
I look forward to reading. And, looking forward to further questions and hopefully, some discussion here, regarding Theologies of Creation. Thank you!
I am a scientist (Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology) who graduated from NNC in 1955 with a B.S. in Physics. I have been studying cosmology & epistemology for sixty years. My father, Dr. Alvin Aller, who chaired the Science/Math Division at NNC from 1949-1956 was a devout student of the Bible, and a believer in Theistic Evolution. I don’t know his position on “creatio ex nihilo”, we never discussed it………but, as a scientist who attempts to keep up with the current astrophysics and cosmology, I find their attempts to explain how all the existing matter in the known universe (and probable multi-universes) came from an infinitesimally small “singularity” not only mind-boggling, but almost amusing…..trying to rationalize how/when the major “forces” (weak & strong) came into being/interacted, etc. And…what was before the “big bang”. In fact, what we know the least about is time itself. What was before time? While it is foolish to take literally what the writers of the O.T. said about creation, I find it just as reasonable to say the “God” created all that exists. The reason that I am not an atheist is that it takes too much faith (I’m a Certified Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church now). In spite of all the atrocities committed in the name of the Christian church, I have found a God of love, through Jesus, his Son, Jesus, his suffering servant, who showed us how to love, and died for all humankind. I have given my life to this God, this Jesus. Let us all pray that love will inform reason to include love for all…of the gay/lesbian (whom God created that way….they did not “learn” to be that way), of those who have different belief systems, and even our “enemies”. Amen
Hello, Even if people are ‘born gay’- does that make it okay? We are all born with a sinful nature-wouldn’t you agree that homosexuality is a sin? Thanks.
I wish I had contacted you before the book got published; I might have made it as one of the essays. My proposal is quite unique and I needed an editor or even a ghost writer since I am not a writer. I am of the same opinion that ex nihilo needs to be retired. Maybe we can still do it as a second edition.
Back in 2012 I started to develop an alternate explanation. Initially I thought that either I received an inspiration from God or it’s just me playing theological gymnastics. For a long time I was reluctant to believe I have a valid point of view. How hubris of me to correct an old doctrine and to think that I have to say something on this subject, since I am not a theologian or philosopher – I am a mechanical engineer by training. I was rejected in all attempts I made to express these ideas. The responses I got from theologians, pastors and scientists were dismissive – “ex nihilo is here to stay”. I started to investigate on my own all my ideas to put it in a perspective of current belief. That is how I found out about the book, so I waited to see what the book had to say.
After I read the book I was even more convinced that my ideas are worth to be considered since most of my arguments against ex nihilo were expressed in the book. However, I think I have a better conclusion and label.
I was happy to see that the Eucharist issue was addressed in the book by M. Zbaraschuk in Chapter 7. It is crucial to be explained both for Christians and non-Christians, especially the atheist, since the battle cry of Dawkings following is to mock the Christians for such belief. However the proposed ex deo only brings us half way, and is tainted by eastern pantheistic philosophies and Mormon theologies, both of which are contradicting orthodox theology.
The closest conclusion to mine was Chapter 6 “Creatio a Materia ex Christi”. Initially I was considering something similar – “ex Jesum Deo”, a term that will affirm Christ deity and will address the Eucharist issue. I started to refine it as I was pondering and try to explain other questions and dogmas: why was Eve created out of Adam side and not from another lump of clay, why was circumcision replaced by baptism, institution of marriage – now and in afterlife, marriage of the church with Christ, the incarnation and the unchanging property of God, the 3 stages of creation, the 3 stages of the fall of Adam, the problem of evil and eternal hell, the redemption through Jesus only, the redemption available to humanity and not to the fallen angels, trichotomy of man and ‘imago dei’, why do we need the body in heaven, God the father and Jesus are the temple in heaven – the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Eucharist being literally the divine body of Christ.
All these dogmas are better explained, converge and sustain what I proposed to replace ex nihilo with: “Creation ex Trinitate”. The entire Godhead was involved in creation so it is ok to think that each one contributed with a certain quality. Like the gifts of the 3 wise man, each brought a specific item – maybe another parable? Jesus provided the body, God the father the soul and the Holy Spirit provided the spirit of the man.
What do you think does this sound like a good book proposal?
It would be interesting if you could respond, perhaps in a blog post of your own, to this recent post by Roger Olson. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2015/01/why-i-believe-in-creatio-ex-nihilo-creation-out-of-nothing-even-though-the-bible-doesnt-directly-teach-it/
Of course, you may not have the time or desire to respond, but you were the first theologian I thought of who might have a thorough and fairly persuasive response to his claims. Thanks.