Ex Nihilo in action
The doctrine of Creatio Ex Nihilo, or Creation Out of Nothing, is central to much of the Christian world. As I understand it, the idea is that there was nothing in the universe, or even no universe itself. There was only God. And at one point, God decided He wanted there to be Something instead of Nothing. And so, out of Nothing, he made Something, and voila! Here we are!
This idea is the source of much mischief.
Those who propose it think that any other explanation diminishes God’s omnipotence. This leads to some very pointless arguments as to what the definition of omnipotence is. The most famous is the question, “Can God create a rock so large that He can’t move it?” Or, in the words of Homer Simpson, “Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that he, himself, could not eat it?”
In other words, can God do something he can’t do? Answers to questions like these end up serving the same purpose as imponderables like, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Or “what would happen if everyone on earth flushed their toilet at exactly the same time?” (OK, that second one isn’t very profound. But it’s something to think about!)
I would define omnipotence, therefore, as the capability to do everything that can be done.
Ex Nihilists reject this. They say there is nothing that cannot be done, because God can do everything. OK, fine. Then you have to answer questions that don’t make God look like a very pleasant guy.
For example: You, Mr. Ex Nihilist, you believe God can do anything? Then why didn’t he create a universe free of evil, pain, and suffering? Why did make us capable of sin? Why did he create a circumstance where a great deal of his supreme creations are doomed to spend an eternity in a lake of fire? What’s the point?
The famous literary figure Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide concludes that since this is the only world we’ve got, and God is perfect, then this is, by definition, the best of all possible worlds, so stop complaining. The problem, of course, is that this places certain limits on God, too. If this is the best he could do, and even us flawed humans can see there are significant problems, then he isn’t as omnipotent as Ex Nihilists think he is, is he?
Ex Nihilo creation makes good squarely responsible for all the rotgut in the universe, and it’s no use saying otherwise. My understanding of a merciful and omnipotent deity doesn’t allow for that kind of nonsense.
You probably disagree. Sound off in the camps below. Let your voice be heard!