I want to challenge a commonly assumed theory called creatio ex nihilo. This is the idea that when God created the universe, he created it out of nothing. It posits that God didn’t mold or reshape stuff that already existed but made the stuff itself appear out of nowhere.
For starters, the concept of creatio ex nihilo is practically nonexistent in the scriptures. There is talk about what God created (namely, everything; Genesis 1, Hebrews 11:3, Revelation 4:11), but there is almost no talk about how God created (which is what this doctrine expresses).
So how did this idea originate? The theory was invented by theologians to counter notions in other creation myths, Gnosticism, Stoicism, and Middle Platonism. Whenever I see that an idea has emerged in this way, I feel safe dismissing it because its emergence was not due to good reasons for believing it but merely because it was useful at that particular time in history for combating particular ideas.
But what else, other than out of nothing, could God have created with?
How about creatio ex deo.
Creation out of the substance of God himself.
Now be patient with me. I think there’s more evidence for this view than for creatio ex nihilo, so check it out.
Let’s start with the creation story itself in Genesis. Here we find the little there is in the scriptures about how God created. How does it say God created? He simply uttered some words, speaking the world into existence. But what is the Word of God?
Stop and think about that for a second.
After forming a man, God breathed into him; only then does the man become a “living being” (Genesis 2:7). Jesus later emulates this event by breathing on his disciples and saying, “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Is it really a stretch, then, to understand the original breathing into Adam as an infusion of God himself and the “receiving” of Holy Spirit as a realization and manifestation of that reality?
Let’s move on to some other scriptures.
“In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). “One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6). “…Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). Theses verses hint us toward panentheism (not pantheism), the idea that the universe is in God and God is in every part of the universe, that God interpenetrates every part of nature, yet is distinct from it. This should not be a surprising concept, for how could anything exist apart from God? “In [Christ] all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). This would mean that in the very act of creation God carved out space in himself so that we could be. It was a display of divine humility.
So if creatio ex deo is true, what does it entail?
That God gave birth to humanity.
That God shared his very substance with us in bringing us into being.
That by creating us Deity increased itself as a family.
That we inherited eternal being and personhood in God.
That I am mind-blown.
Creatio Ex Nihilo: The Problem
Born of God – Really? by John Gavazzoni