Posts tagged ‘creatio ex nihilo’

October 3rd, 2013

Q&A 34: Thomas Aquinas’ Understanding of Creation and Time

by Max Andrews


Hey Max I have a few questions about your cosmological argument from Thomas Aquinas:

(1) Did Aquinas believe in creation out of nothing?

(2) Did Aquinas believe that the universe existed eternally side by side with God even though it was contingent?

Also, how can be God be timeless on the view that the universe did not begin to exist? If God’s relation to the universe is always present, would that not imply an eternal relation of God with the universe, which would involve time itself? It is difficult for me to make sense of how God could be timeless on this view and not simply temporal.


Ben Williamson


Hi Ben,

Here’s the short answers:

1) Yes.

2) I don’t think Thomas would phrase it that way but Thomas is okay with a creation that has existed for an infinite duration in the past–emphasizing the radical contingency.

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December 21st, 2012

How Can God Exist in Nothing?

by Max Andrews

This question was recently posed before me, and I wasn’t sure I was understanding the question. There are different facets to it, so I’ll address each one. First, I must make a few distinctions that may be lingering in the back of some minds. When the Christian refers to creatio ex nihilo it means creation out of nothing (material causation).  Then there’s creatio per nihilo which is what the atheist wants to affirm, which means creation through nothing (efficient causation). The Christian will affirm creation per (or through) God.

My first take on the question is, “How can God exist in nothing?” And by this I’ll mean ‘in’ refers to a spatiotemporal reality. Also, I want to be clear that by ‘nothing’ I’m referring to the absence of anything unlike some philosophically inept scientists like to do. I’m using ‘nothing’ as the negation of anything. Well, there is no metaphysical, logical, or physical necessity for God to exist in any spatiotemporal reality. God is a disembodied mind. (Three minds, actually.) This is a problem for the pantheist and panentheist but for the classical orthodox Christian the question falls moot unless the object can demonstrate a metaphysical necessity here.

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May 15th, 2012

Creatio Originans and Time

by Max Andrews

The doctrine of creatio originans refers to God’s original conservation of creation–a sustaining causal relationship.  This doctrine typically entails an A theory of time.

A theory of time (dynamic):  The ultimate reality of time is tensed (God is in time)

B theory of time (static):  The ultimate reality of time is atemporal (God is outside of time)

The doctrine of creation implies an A theory of time (dynamic, tensed). If one adopts B theory of time, then things do not literally come into existence.  The whole four-dimensional  spacetime manifold exists coeternally with God.

Creatio continuans entails a B theory (a continual creation). According to B theory, all events are equally real. Yesterday is just as real as tomorrow and exist in the same moment. If creatio orignans fails, can B theory make more sense of conservation?

Can God act tenselessly on e to sustain it from t1 to t2 [a time interval]

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April 25th, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Creatio de Novo

by Max Andrews

The Word of the Week is: Creatio de Novo

Definition:  Latin for creation [or created] afresh.

More about the term:  Progressive creationism sees the creative work of God as a combination of a series of de novo creative acts and an immanent or processive operation.  God at several points, rather widely separated in time, created de novo.  On these occasions he did not make use of previously existing life, simply modifying it.  While he might have brought into being something quite similar to an already existing creation, there were a number of changes and the product of his work was a completely new creature.  Notice that this is completely compatible with common descent evolution and intelligent design.  This isn’t Darwinism but it may be accurate to say that creatio de novo is a categorically acceptable position for theistic evolutionists.  God takes preexisting forms and adds information to that form to have a creation de novo.

For more on this please see Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology ed 2; Hugh Ross’ A Matter of Days; and Fuz Rana’s Who Was Adam?