Editor’s Note: It has been said that the Bible is so shallow that a beginner can grasp its truths, and at the same time so deep that the wisest of theologians can never find the bottom. Some questions will not be answered until we are with the Lord. For now we must walk by faith. Other questions can be answered through study of the Scriptures. In this excerpt from The Creation Answer Book, we must embrace a statement shared by Hank Hanegraaf in another book from the Answer Book series: In essentials unity, non-essentials, liberty, in all things, love. (The Complete Bible Answer Book). The fact that God created is clear from the Bible. The method and timing of his handiwork is not as clear. The age of his creation has been the subject to much discussion, but the material God used in the creation is spelled out.
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Could the Universe Emerge Out of Nothing?
When people face the compelling evidence that the universe began to exist at a definite point in time, a favorite fallback position is that it sprang into existence from nothing at all. This, however, stretches credulity beyond the breaking point.
First, simple logic dictates that nothing comes from nothing. “Nothing” is nonexistent and there- fore lacks the power to do. Indeed, this “power to do” logically presupposes the existence of a thing that possesses that power.
Furthermore, something produced by nothing from nothing would, logically, have had to create itself. But if it created itself, it would have had to exist prior to its own creation, which means it must both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same way—an obvious contradiction and an utterly illogical conclusion. When the laws of logic are violated like this, reason and communication become meaningless.
Finally, in order for something to exist without being the result of a prior cause, that something must be eternal (i.e., something that did not come into being, but has always existed). As such, the universe could not emerge out of nothing, but it can exist as an effect of an uncaused eternal First Cause—which is precisely what God is.
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. — Psalm 90:2
Can Chance Account for the Universe?
Astronaut Guy Gardner, who has seen earth from the perspective of the moon, points out that “the more we learn and see about the universe the more we come to realize that the most ideally suited place for life within the entire solar system is the planet we call home.” In other words, life on earth must have been designed by a benevolent Creator rather than directed by blind chance.
First, consider the ideal temperatures on planet earth. If we were closer to the sun, we would fry. If we were farther away, we would freeze.
Furthermore, ocean tides, which are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon, play a crucial role in our survival. If the moon were significantly larger and therefore had a stronger gravitational pull, devastating tidal waves would submerge large areas of land. If the moon were smaller, tidal motion would cease, and the oceans would stagnate and die.
Finally, consider plain ol’ tap water. The solid state of most substances is denser than their liquid state, but the opposite is true for water, which explains why ice floats rather than sinks. If water were like virtually any other liquid, it would freeze from the bottom up rather than from the top down, killing aquatic life, destroying the oxygen supply, and making earth uninhabitable.
From the temperatures to the tides to tap water and myriad other characteristics that we so easily take for granted, earth is an unparalleled planetary masterpiece. Like Handel’s Messiah or daVinci’s Last Supper, our amazing planet should never be carelessly pawned off as the result of blind evolutionary processes.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. — Genesis 1:1
Did God Create Everything Out of Nothing?
The notion that God created everything from nothing has fallen on hard times. A surprising number of philosophers and theologians dogmatically contend that the doctrine of creation out of nothing (ex nihilo) has little scriptural support. Worse yet, leading Mormons overtly contend that matter has coexisted eternally with God. But the opening statement in Scripture—“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”—points to the truth that God created everything out of nothing. Indeed, only three options exist, and only one corresponds to reality.
First is the view that in the beginning nothing existed. Neither mass, nor energy, nor the Almighty. Nothing, nothing, simply nothing. Logic, however, screams that nothing comes from nothing!
Furthermore, there is the untenable notion that something existed, but that something was an impersonal potentiality out of which every potentiality—from protein molecules to personal mind—emerged. This idea, however, hardly advances the proverbial ball. As common sense tells us, every effect must have a cause equal to or greater than itself.
Finally, there is the scriptural contention, and of the three it alone makes sense: the universe was created by an uncaused First Cause greater than itself. Time, space, and the universe have not always existed, but God has always existed, and God’s existence is the cause for the existence of all else that exists. While science demands that the universe had to have a beginning, nothing philosophically or scripturally demands that the cause of the universe had to have a beginning. As the writer of Hebrews aptly put it, “By faith [not blind faith but faith grounded in evidence] we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (11:3).Did God create everything out of nothing? Absolutely! The very first sentence of Scripture demands it. And an age of scientific enlightenment can abide nothing less.
By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. — Psalm 33:6
Why Is Creation ex Nihilo Theologically Significant?
Although creation ex nihilo has been compromised, confused, and contradicted, nothing could be more certain, correct, or theologically significant. Why? Because the doctrine of creation out of nothing (ex nihilo) implies God’s necessary existence, underscores his divine freedom, and exhibits his divine omnipotence.
First, creation out of nothing bolsters the notion of God’s necessary existence as the only Being who cannot not be. As such, the church fathers described the Father of creation as uncreated and unbegotten, in contrast to all else that was created and begotten. Put another way, all that exists, except God himself, is necessarily contingent on and grounded in the creative decisions and will of God.
Furthermore, creation ex nihilo also calls attention to God’s freedom to create or to act otherwise. As such, the cosmos and all that is in it was neither mandatory nor a mishap. God freely chose to create humans and a habitat distinct from himself.
Finally, the doctrine of creation out of nothing underscores the reality that God alone is omnipotent. A God who creates out of eternally existing matter is less than the omnipotent Sovereign of the universe who spoke, and all that is leaped into existence.
Is creation ex nihilo theologically significant? Indeed! It makes all the difference in the world.
For this is what the Lord says— he who created the heavens, he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—
he says:“I am the Lord,and there is no other.” — Isaiah 45:18