Monday, September 17, 2012

Creatio ex Nihilo, or Creatio ex Materia

Science would have us believe that the Universe came into being through a Big Bang singularity—creatio ex nihilo. They say that prior to that moment, there was nothing, during and after that moment, there was something—our Universe. That singularity was a zone which defies our current understanding of physics, nor they tell us did the laws of physics, as we know them, exist prior to the big bang. However, there is no doubt in their minds that the Universe began as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something—a singularity.
The Big Bang claims out of a single infinitesimally tiny dot, an explosion occurred and the Universe was created
However, no one knows where this tiny dot came from, nor does anything know why it appeared. According to science, it just did!
After its appearance that no one can explain, it apparently inflated (exploded), expanding and cooling, going from very, very small and very, very hot, to the size and temperature of our current universe. It continued to expand and cool, we are told, to this day. Our Solar System and hundreds of billions of other stars in a galaxy soaring through the cosmos, all of which is inside of an expanding universe that began as an infinitesimal singularly which appeared out of nowhere for reasons unknown—this is the Big Bang Theory that we are told happened.
Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning "out of nothing,” which often appears in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning "creation out of nothing.” Not only do scientists think the Universe was created out of nothing, or that nothing existed before the singularity, but even Creationists, those who believe God created the Universe, believe He did so out of nothing--from scratch. They quote Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” and claim that prior to that moment there was nothing. They also quote Hebrews: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Bible scholars take this to mean that the universe came into existence by divine command and was not assembled from preexisting matter or energy.
It was to these scholars, called “doctors” in biblical times, Joseph Smith addressed his statement in his King Follet discourse: “You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing, and they will answer, ‘Doesn’t the Bible say he created the world?’ And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the Hebrew word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship.”
The ancient Greek philosopher, Parmenides, the founder of the Eleatic (pre-Socratic) school of philosophy
While later Greeks considered creatio ex nihilo as a philosophy, Parmenides, who is known to us today for his argument “what is” could not have come into existence at some time because to do so it must either come from “what is not” or from “what is,” considered a basic notion of creation out of nothing and rejected it on the principle that something cannot be conceived to derive from nothing. He further criticized the very concept of “what is not” as linguistic confusion. “What is not” should not be posited as the subject of a predicate such that a being could create “from” it. This position was adopted virtually unanimously by the early Greeks. There was a sense, however, in which many Greeks (as well as Philo Judaues and some early Christian writers) thought that the world was created literally from “nothing.”
Yet, nothing comes from nothing (ex nihilo nihil fit), the concept argued against by Parmenides, was associated in some cases with ancient Greek cosmology, and presented not just in the opus of Homer and Hesiod, but also in virtually every philosophical system. To the Greeks, there was no time interval in which a world did not exist, since it could not be created ex nihilo in the first place. The major argument against creatio ex nihilo, called the primum movens (First Cause) argument, is summarized in:
  1. everything that begins to exist has a cause
  2. the universe began to exist
  3. therefore, the universe must have a cause
The Greeks also believed that things cannot disappear into nothing, just as they canot be created from nothing, but if they ceased to exist, they transform into some other form of being. We can trace this idea to the teaching of Empedocles--the fifth century B.C. originator of the cosmogenic theory of the four Classical elements (earth, air, fire and water). Today the idea is loosely associated with Einstein’s laws of conservation of mass and energy.

Thus, classical creation myths in Greek mythology envisioned the creation of the world as resulting from the actions of a god or gods upon already-existing primeval matter, known as chaos. This, in turn, was termed creatio ex materia (creation out of some pre-existent, eternal matter)—or creation from chaos, which today might be termed “matter unorganized.”

Unfortunately, Philo of Aledxandria around 50 A.D., writing in the context of Hellenistic Judaism equated the Hebrew creator-deity with Plato’s primum movens coupled with the Cosmological argument in 2 Macabees to show a connection between Judaism and new Greek thought of creatio ex nihilo, which was seized upon by 2nd century theologians and Gnostics, mainly on a priori grounds.

However, the principle of sufficient reason states that nothing is without a ground or reason why it is. As an example:
• Theoretical problem: absolute nothingness cannot be conceived.
• Historical problem: Creatio ex nihilo was first proposed by Gnostics and was adopted by early Christian theologians that many Christians reject.
• Empirical problem: We have no evidence that our universe originally came into being from absolutely nothing.
• Creation at an instant problem:  We have no evidence in the history of the universe, after the big bang, that entities can emerge instantaneously from absolute nothingness.  Out of nothing comes nothing (ex nihil, nihil fit).
• Solitary power problem: Creatio ex nihilo assumes that a powerful God once acted alone.  But power is a social concept only meaningful in relation to others.
• Biblical problem: Scripture – in Genesis, 2 Peter, and elsewhere – suggests creation from something (water, deep, chaos, invisible things, etc.), not creation from absolutely nothing.

As Joseph Smith said, “We infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end.”

(See the next post which discusses the forming of the Earth)

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