Deep Thoughts (Musings) about the Metaphysical Implications of “Creation out of Nothing”

Roger E. Olson | 1/16/2018 | Staff
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Deep Thoughts (Musings) about the Metaphysical Implications of “Creation out of Nothing”

Unfortunately, in my opinion, too many Christians have given up the traditional (and I think biblical) concept that God created everything outside himself “ex nihilo”—“out of nothing.” The early church fathers rightly emphasized this doctrine to avoid metaphysical dualism and metaphysical monism. I still agree with them that creation ex nihilo is necessary—even if not explicitly taught in the Bible—to avoid those heresies.

God - Creation - Reason - Trees - Rocks

Also, simply put, if God created the universe out of himself, then creation is worshipful and there is no good reason not to worship trees and rocks and mountains and…ourselves!

But! Creation out of nothing seems to have some implications (beyond being beyond our finite comprehension). What follows here are some mere musings about those possible implications.

Problem - Christians - Problem - God - Essence

Is that a problem? Well, it depends on whom you ask. Some orthodox Christians think it is a problem because it seems to divide God’s essence from God’s existence and they are supposed to be one—in God only. In other words, it introduces into the being of God, and therefore into ultimate reality itself, becoming whereas much traditional Christian theism has rejected that in favor of being only in God (without becoming). The implications for divine immutability would seem to be tremendous.

Even more troubling, however, for some orthodox Christians, is a second implication. Creation out of nothing seems to justify what is commonly known as “German idealism” (although the Germans didn’t exactly invent it!). Put most simply and basically, that is the idea that thought is primary and takes precedence over matter. Taken to its logical conclusion it could mean that thought is all there is and that matter is a form of thought.

Matter - Stuff - Senses

By “matter” here is not necessarily meant “that hard stuff that we experience without senses;” it also means all...
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