Confronting Ex Nihilo: Another product of perennially flawed Reformed theology

As we deconstruct and toss into the fire of farce the notions of “omnipotence” and “omniscience”, we need to look beyond these two ideals and towards the greater orthodox presupposition which we are ultimately challenging.

What is that, exactly?

What non-negotiable pillar of Christian faith are we denying, along with omnipotence and omniscience, in service to reason?  What ubiquitous belief, which, like MOST doctrinal absolutes of Reformation protestantism (the vast majority of differences being trite and superfluous alterations of universally accepted root premises), transcends the denominations, and is so adored and so commonly conceded that the masses of Christian laity and leadership will outright deny the possibility of anyone’s salvation should they reject it?

The title of this article is an obvious give away.  Why, it is the doctrine of “ex nihilo” of course.  The notion that God created the world, the universe, the restaurant at the end of it, and everything “out of nothing”.  That God spoke, and the universe leapt  into existence, not from any pre-existing material, but from nothing at all.

Now, this notion is (or should be) so obviously a rational impossibility and bonafide farce that…well, it is scarce wonder that the pillar of Greek gnosticism, the Church, as it has manifested itself since Augustine, would adopt it as an indisputable “truth”.  For as we have come to understand, this is precisely how they are.  Give them any morsel of propaganda to keep the masses off their rational feet and indebted physically and spiritually to the ecclesiastical authority…and they will snatch it up with the slobbering ferocity of a hungry wolf; and they will find a way to translate it into heady-sounding language (Latin) and chain it there in perpetuity, shackle the king’s scribes to a bench and have them slap it in into a creed, seal it with the Pope’s signet ring, and declare it a very manifestation of God, Himself on Earth…the veritable Handwriting on the wall,  to be worshiped and adored; a doctrinal bed of nails upon which all of us mortals shall be perpetually tossed.

But, put less loquaciously, “ex nihilo”, creation out of nothing, is an impossible scenario as “nothing” by definition cannot give rise to something, not even by the hand of the Almighty, because nothing is a metaphysical placeholder (much like zero is a mathematical one).  It is representative of all things that are conceded as the NOT juxtaposed to the IS of the universe and all which resides within it.  It is the metaphysical “essence” of what does NOT exist, in order that that which does can be given a conceptual (via language) frame of reference.  “Nothing”, by definition, has no actual material representative in the universe…it has no “object” or “body” or “thing” by which it can be valued as a function of its movement relative to the rest of material Creation (that is, Creation, itself…for there is no such thing as a NON-material creation; for what is non-material does NOT exist, because what is NON-material cannot be observed, and thus there is no relative location to its BEING).  And therefore “nothing” can only be measured as an infinite absolute, with no tangible boundaries by which it can be known as actual.  And if its conceptual value is infinite, and if it cannot by its very definition be accorded an object by which it can be relatively valued, then its practical value as applied to the material universe (the “real world”), is ZERO.

All of this is simply to say that nothing is nothing.  Period.  Full stop.  It does not exist…because if it did, nothing would be something.  And this would, of course, completely contradict the entire meaning of nothing.  If nothing is nothing, and nothing is absolutely nothing, which it must be, then it can only manifest NOTHING.  For anything which is a direct extension of an absolute is the absolute.  And so whatever is “created” from nothing IS also irrevocably and inexorably NOTHING, in accordance with the absolute from which it sprung.  So if you and I and the rest of the universe are created from nothing, then we are by definition nothing as well.  And if that is true then I am not writing this article and  you are not reading it; and none of us have anything to discuss because all of our ideas and desires and beliefs are entirely false; illusory…and as such, irrelevant to anything having to do with existence (which is everything) because existence itself, being nothing, has no value and no meaning.

More soon.

27 thoughts on “Confronting Ex Nihilo: Another product of perennially flawed Reformed theology

  1. On this one I think you have it absolutely backwards.

    First and foremost, Creation Ex Nihilo historically precedes the Reformation and Augustine both, as it was clearly taught by Athanasius in his work De Incarnatione Verbi Dei which can be read online, see On the Incarnation. Athanasius’ seems to not believe in hell, but rather that damnation means to disintegrate and turn back into the nothingness from which we were created. Compare that with the VERY hell-centric Reformation, and ponder it for it a while.

    Secondly, the belief that God created us out of himself (which you are trumpeting) rather than out of nothing, is now, and always has been, PLATONISM. It amounts to the belief that we only exist in God’s head, as his thoughts, which is PLATONISM. Only Creation Ex Nihilo recognizes our actual existence outside of God’s head. This is why I say you have it exactly backwards.

    And understanding these two points, you will realize that no matter what the Reformed talking heads say, they DO NOT believe in Creation Ex Nihilo after all.

  2. Creation Ex Nihilo is another in a long list of doctrines where the Reformed affirm that they believe something that they DO NOT believe, because it is required that they affirm this in order to SEEM orthodox.

    They affirm belief in Jesus’ real humanity. They don’t believe that. They are Gnostics and believe in Docetism.
    They affirm belief in “one baptism for the remission of sins” when they recite the apostle’s creed. They don’t believe for a moment that baptism has anything to do with remission of sins.
    They affirm belief in freewill when it suits them. They don’t believe in that at all.
    They affirm belief that the gospel is for all…..all the while saying Jesus only died for some
    They affirm belief in the inspiration of the Old Testament….but in reality they are Gnostic on this point as well.

    So we have another point on which they say they believe something they don’t. And is that any wonder? Every church father up to Augustine the Manichean Gnostic complained that Gnostics claim to believe everything but believe nothing of Christianity. And Calvinists are Gnostics, so its not surprising they act this way.

  3. “First and foremost, Creation Ex Nihilo historically precedes the Reformation and Augustine both,”

    Okay…I’ll grant you that; you are more versed in church history than I. However, I see no incongruities between Reformed belief in ex nihilo and their belief in hell. They are merely being consistent to their contradictory root assumptions–for at the root of all Reformed thought is mutually exclusive epistemology. Man exists but does not. Man has no efficacious rational faculties yet can receive God’s revelation. Man is culpable, but cannot help it. Man is born of nothing and yet lives as SOMETHING forever, either in hell or in heaven.

    The key Reformation ideal is that man does not really exist as himself (and ex nihilo, like pervasive depravity, like “sovereign grace”, is precisely a nod to this root belief), and yet, at the same time, he is utterly to blame for his depraved nature and his evil actions/thoughts which proceed thereof. The concept of hell, of eternal and conscious damnation falls right in line with their impossible theology. OF COURSE you go to hell. And of COURSE you have no say, because there is no YOU of any relevancy…and that? Is why you are hated by God.

  4. “Secondly, the belief that God created us out of himself (which you are trumpeting)”

    David, I am “trumpeting” no such thing. You are drawing your own conclusion…and it is incorrect. I have not yet told you what I believe concerning the “what” of God’s Creation; you are assuming that because you have accepted that there are only two possibilities with respect to the creative process: the universe came either from God or from nothing.

    How many times have I stated the following: Whatever proceeds directly from an absolute is the absolute. That is the core of my entire philosophy.

    If we are from nothing,we are nothing. And the same logic then holds; for if we are from God then we ARE God.

    Now, does that bit of insanity sound anything like me, David?

    Do you really think that I would spend so much time denying ex nihilo only to concede the OTHER side of the SAME irrational coin?

    As I said, I have not yet written publicly (much) about what I think concerning the “what” and “how” of creation. But I’ll just say this. There is only one option left. If we didn’t come from God and we didn’t come from “nothing” then how did we get here?

    .The answer is obvious once we demand consistency of premises. And that takes balls.

  5. I actually did not saying the Reformers invented ex nihilo, but that they adopted it, and canonized the “doctrine” of it. In service to their quest for oligarchy.

  6. And how does it help with creating oligarchy? Its not like certain people were created ex nihilo and others created from something else. Which is, of course, the doctrine of the Brahamins, that the Brahmins were created from Brahma’s mouth and other lower classed from his feet. That sounds more like Calvinism. Ex Nihilo is an equalizer.

    As for your maxim, “Whatever proceeds directly from an absolute is the absolute. That is the core of my entire philosophy.” Eternal matter would also be an absolute. If then men were created from eternal matter they would be nothing but matter, there would be no room for a soul or spirit. Out of the three posibilites (created out of God himself, created out of prexisting eternal matter that God did not create, created out of nothing) creation ex nihilo is the only viable option.

    In reality, creation ex nihilo is not creation out of an absolute because when we say “created out of nothing” we aren’t referring to a substance at all. Eternal matter would be a substance, and an absolute one at that. Creation out of God himself would be another absolute substance. Out of nothing simply means there was nothing and then God created something. It does not make nothing into a substance out of which things were created. That is a misunderstanding peculiar to you, and an excuse which atheists always use to purposefully misunderstand the concept.

  7. David,

    Things cannot be a direct function of what they are not. That is impossible, for it contradicts both the created “of” and created “from”. So whether or not you care to accept it, the absolute material of whatever IS is unavoidable.

    Absolutes are axiomatic. The only thing left to decide is how they are mitigated so that there can be relative relationship. That is where reason comes in. If you are going to argue that material things can be a direct function of absolutes they are not, you will never win a debate based on reason.

    “There was nothing and then there was something” is the SAME argument as “created out of” nothing. There is no substantive difference. You are nitpicking semantics.

    How it helps with creating oligarchy? That should be evident from my writings. It comes down to the interpretive assumptions held by the ecclesiastical authority and peddled as inerrant revelation.

  8. Did you read the article? “Nothing” doesn’t exist, David. It is entirely conceptual. A metaphysical placeholder. There could not have been nothing and then something. Why? Because there could not have been “nothing”, ever. If there was only God, then there was nothing NOT God. And if there was nothing NOT God from which creation sprung, then there is no creation at all.

    And creation could not be thoughts of God unless he had a means of observing something not himself. But if there was nothing not Himself to observe, he would have no frame of reference for ANY thoughts at all, much less thoughts about things NOT Him.

  9. function creation(x)
    //do stuff with x
    return y;

    Is that how it works? I don’t think so.

    But even if it did, it would workd. Even in computer programming, I actually can but nothing in x. Its called null.

    function creation(TypeOfCreationProcess x)
    Thing y;
    y = createFromNothing();
    else if (x == cEternalMatter)
    y = createFromEternalMatter();
    else if (x == cPlatonism)
    y = createThoughtInGodsHead();
    return y;

    So nothing can be a parameter of a function, if you really want it to be.

  10. Nothing doesn’t exist. Exactly. Your whole problem is you’re trying to make it exist. You want nothing to be a substance from which things were created, as if God takes a sheet of nothing and cuts it up and creates things out of it, and you want to use this as a STRAW MAN against Creation Ex Nihilo. But this is not what anybody means when they say creation from nothing. Just admit that already.

  11. A function of is like

    function multiplyXbyEight(int x) { return x * 8; }

    That’s a function of x that multiplies x by 8.

    But you can also have just a function, a function of nothing.

    function doSomethingFromNothing() { return 2 * 8; }

    There is no parameter. Its a function, but a function of nothing.

    Epic fail on your part.

  12. No. Notice in your example the prerequisite for its conclusion. You need to start with something. And something cannot make nothing. Therefore any notion of nothing is going to be similar to the mathematical value of zero. And zero represents what? CONCEPTUAL nothing, not actual nothing.

  13. Bullshit semantics. Nothing more. “Function of” is entirely legitimate in the context I use it.

    You cannot argue for the existence of nothing. How you want to defend this hill is beyond me, JAMES.

  14. Computer programming is the closest that anyone will ever get in this world to being like God in his creative capacity, and you obviously don’t know anything about it. You always start with nothing. And you have the almost magical ability to transform nothing into something, or to pull something out of nowhere.

    If I have a function where someone gave me X and X is empty, i.e. null or nothing, and I can just say :

    x = new Date();

    And instantly what was nothing now holds the date.

    Or I could say

    if(x == null)
    x = “Hello”;

    Now x holds the word “Hello”. And its not like I have a pile of Hellos lying around from which I must pull this one. No matter how many times the function is run, I never run out of Hellos. I am making them from nothing. I am creating them out of nowhere.

  15. James/David,

    Go back and read the articles and stop trying to draw assumptions from nothing. Pun intended.

    Let’s assume that I believe nothing cannot actually exist, which I’ve stated a million times. If the matter of all things is absolute then there must be a way that it can be mitigated so that relative relationship can occur. This is the Creative process. The eternal substance cannot be qualified or quantified without an external observer present to make the metaphysical distinction based on observable physical distinction. But this does not make the substance metaphysically or physically nothing. It simply makes it infinite.

  16. Lets simplifiy it with an appeal to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

    You’ve got 5 loaves and 3 fishes.

    How will you multiply them to feed 5000 people?

    Specifically, how will you do it without creating something from nothing?

    There’s not enough material to make 5000 loaves out of 5, right? So you have to make something from nothing.

  17. Oh, here we go. Now I need to be a programmer to understand what it’s like to be God. I could just be a Pastor and skip all the classes. I already have a doctorate, James. Been to plenty of school.

  18. That is not a rational possibility. You cannot make something from nothing because there is no such thing as nothing . Jesus STARTS with something, and something is produced. How that happens demands am explanation beyond the rationally impossible. We should not implicate God in our false assumptions.

  19. And the computer did not make hello from nothing. The hellos are produced BY a computer. The hello on the screen is not a hello, because hello is a CONCEPT. What you see on the screen isn’t a conceptual abstraction manifest into material reality. MAN needs to interpret the symbols according to a conceptual paradigm which is a direct function of his brain. There is no NOTHING which is produced. The computer produces symbols man observes and interprets with his body.

  20. “Nowhere” is not a place. Not a location. So they could not have come from there, because there is no PLACE to come from, by definition. They came from the computer. Which is something and is somewhere. They are a direct function of the computer. They require a material reality. Nowhere and nothing are not reality.

  21. Samuel,

    Thanks for the link! Right up my alley…look forward to seeing the arguments. And I completely agree with the idea that ex nihilo destroys free will. Like most “orthodox” doctrinal premises.

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