Ex nihilo

Ex nihilo

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Encyclopedia
Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning "out of nothing
Nothing
Nothing is no thing, denoting the absence of something. Nothing is a pronoun associated with nothingness, is also an adjective, and an object as a concept in the Frege-Church ontology....

". It often appears in conjunction with the concept of creation
Creationism
Creationism is the religious beliefthat humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being, most often referring to the Abrahamic god. As science developed from the 18th century onwards, various views developed which aimed to reconcile science with the Genesis...

, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning "creation out of nothing"—chiefly in philosophical or theological
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 contexts, but also occurs in other fields.

In theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, the common phrase creatio ex nihilo ("creation
Creationism
Creationism is the religious beliefthat humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being, most often referring to the Abrahamic god. As science developed from the 18th century onwards, various views developed which aimed to reconcile science with the Genesis...

 out of nothing"), contrasts with creatio ex materia (creation out of some pre-existent, eternal matter) and with creatio ex deo (creation out of the being
Being
Being , is an English word used for conceptualizing subjective and objective aspects of reality, including those fundamental to the self —related to and somewhat interchangeable with terms like "existence" and "living".In its objective usage —as in "a being," or "[a] human being" —it...

 of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

).

The phrase ex nihilo also appears in the classical philosophical formulation ex nihilo nihil fit, which means "Out of nothing comes nothing
Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing comes from nothing is a philosophical expression of a thesis first argued by Parmenides. It is associated with ancient Greek cosmology, such as presented not just in the opus of Homer and Hesiod, but also in virtually every philosophical system – there is no time interval in which a...

".

Ex nihilo when used outside of religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 or metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 contexts, also refers to something coming from nothing. For example, in a conversation, one might raise a topic "ex nihilo" if it bears no relation to the previous topic of discussion. The term has specific meanings in military and computer-science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

 contexts.

In mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, ex nihilo can refer to an answer to a question provided with no working, thus appearing to have developed "out of nothing".

History of the idea of creatio ex nihilo


Ancient Near Eastern mythologies, classical creation myths in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 envision the creation of the world as resulting from the actions of a god or gods upon already-existing primeval matter, known as chaos
Chaos (cosmogony)
Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth....

, often personified in the form of a fight between a culture-hero deity and a chaos monster in the form of a dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

 (the chaoskampf motif).
This is also the scenario envisaged by the authors of the Hebrew Genesis creation narrative.

The classical tradition of creation from chaos first came under question in Hellenistic philosophy
Hellenistic philosophy
Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy that was developed in the Hellenistic civilization following Aristotle and ending with the beginning of Neoplatonism.-Pythagoreanism:...

  (on a priori grounds), which developed the idea that a primum movens
Primum movens
Primum movens , usually referred to as the Prime mover or first cause in English, is a term used in the philosophy of Aristotle, in the theological cosmological argument for the existence of God, and in cosmogony, the source of the cosmos or "all-being".-Aristotle's ontology:In book 12 of his...

  must have created the world out of nothing.

An early conflation of these tenets of Greek philosophy with the narratives in the Hebrew Bible came from Philo of Alexandria (d. AD 50), writing in the context of Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism
Hellenistic Judaism was a movement which existed in the Jewish diaspora that sought to establish a Hebraic-Jewish religious tradition within the culture and language of Hellenism...

. Philo equated the Hebrew creator-deity Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

 with Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's primum movens
Primum movens
Primum movens , usually referred to as the Prime mover or first cause in English, is a term used in the philosophy of Aristotle, in the theological cosmological argument for the existence of God, and in cosmogony, the source of the cosmos or "all-being".-Aristotle's ontology:In book 12 of his...

(First Cause)
in an attempt to prove that the Jews had held monotheistic views even before the Greeks.

The first sentence of the Greek version of Genesis in the Septuagint starts with the words: ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν, translatable as "the primary cause caused to be". A verse of 2 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
2 Maccabees is a deuterocanonical book of the Bible, which focuses on the Jews' revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus, the hero of the work....

 (a book written in Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 in the same sphere of Hellenised Judaism of Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, but predating Philo by about a century) expresses a similar idea:
"I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not; and so was mankind made likewise." (2 Maccabees 7:28, KJV)


Theologians from the 2nd century seized upon this idea
and developed it into the idea of creation ex nihilo by God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

. Church Fathers opposed a literal reading of Genesis and notions appearing in pre-Christian creation myths and in Gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

—notions of creation by a demiurge
Demiurge
The demiurge is a concept from the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy for an artisan-like figure responsible for the fashioning and maintenance of the physical universe. The term was subsequently adopted by the Gnostics...

 out of a primordial state of matter (known in religious studies as chaos
Chaos (mythology)
Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth....

after the Greek term used by Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

 in his Theogony
Theogony
The Theogony is a poem by Hesiod describing the origins and genealogies of the gods of the ancient Greeks, composed circa 700 BC...

).
Jewish thinkers took up the idea,
which became important to Judaism, to ongoing strands in the Christian tradition, and—as a corollary—to Islam.

Max Weber summarizes a sociological
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 view of the overall development and corollaries of the theological idea:


[...] As otherworldly expectations become increasingly important, the problem of the basic relationship of god to the world and the problem of the world's imperfections press into the foreground of thought; this happens the more life here on earth comes to be regarded as a merely provisional form of existence when compared to that beyond, the more the world comes to be viewed as something created by god ex nihilo, and therefore subject to decline, the more god himself is conceived as a subject to transcendental goals and values, and the more a person's behavior in this world becomes oriented to his fate in the next. [...]

Logical approaches


Not all ex nihilo thought specifies a divine creator.

A major argument for creatio ex nihilo, the First cause argument, states in summary:
  1. everything that begins to exist has a cause
  2. the universe began to exist
  3. therefore, the universe must have a cause


Another argument for ex nihilo creation comes from Claude Nowell
Claude Nowell
Claude Rex Nowell, also known as Corky King, Corky Ra, and Summum Bonum Amon Ra , was the founder of Summum, a 501, philosophical and religious organization that practices a modern form of mummification which has become known worldwide.-Biography:Nowell was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the...

's Summum
Summum
Summum is a religion and philosophy that began in 1975 as a result of Claude "Corky" Nowell's claimed encounter with beings he described as "Summa Individuals"...

 philosophy that states before anything existed, nothing existed, and if nothing existed, then it must have been possible for nothing to be. If it is possible for nothing to be (the argument goes), then it must be possible for everything to be.

Other support for creatio ex nihilo belief comes from the idea that something cannot arise from nothing; that would involve a contradiction (compare ex nihilo nihil fit). Therefore something must always have existed. But (this account continues) it is scientifically impossible for matter to always have existed. Moreover, matter is contingent
Contingency (philosophy)
In philosophy and logic, contingency is the status of propositions that are neither true under every possible valuation nor false under every possible valuation . A contingent proposition is neither necessarily true nor necessarily false...

: it is not logically impossible for it not to exist, and nothing else depends on it. Hence one deduces a Creator, non-contingent and not composed of matter.

Ancient Greek speculation


Some scholars have argued that Plethon viewed Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 as positing ex nihilo creation in his Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

.

Eric Voegelin
Eric Voegelin
Eric Voegelin, born Erich Hermann Wilhelm Vögelin, was a German-born American political philosopher. He was born in Cologne, then Imperial Germany, and educated in political science at the University of Vienna. He became a teacher and then an associate professor of political science at the...

 detects in Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

's chaos
Chaos (cosmogony)
Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, more specifically the initial "gap" created by the original separation of heaven and earth....

 a creatio ex nihilo.

Islamic views


Several Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

ic verses explicitly state that God created man, the heavens and the earth, out of nothing. The following quotations come from Muhammad Asad
Muhammad Asad
Muhammad Asad , was an Austrian Polish Jew who converted to Islam, and a 20th century journalist, traveler, writer, social critic, linguist, thinker, reformer, diplomat, political theorist, translator and scholar...

's translation, The Message of the Quran
The Message of The Qur'an
The Message of the Qur'an is a translation and interpretation of the Qur'an by Muhammad Asad, a Polish Jew who converted to Islam...

:
  • 2:117: "The Originator is He of the heavens and the earth: and when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, 'Be'—and it is."
  • 19:67: "But does man not bear in mind that We have created him aforetime out of nothing?"
  • 21:30: "ARE, THEN, they who are bent on denying the truth not aware that the heavens and the earth were [once] one single entity, which We then parted asunder? – and [that] We made out of water every living thing? Will they not, then, [begin to] believe?"
  • 21:56: "He answered: 'Nay, but your [true] Sustainer is the Sustainer of the heavens and the earth—He who has brought them into being: and I am one of those who bear witness to this [truth]!'"
  • 35:1: "ALL PRAISE is due to God, Originator of the heavens and the earth, who causes the angels to be (His) message-bearers, endowed with wings, two, or three, or four. He adds to His creation whatever He wills: for, verily, God has the power to will anything."
  • 51:47: "It is We who have built the universe with (Our creative) power; and, verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it."

Judaeo-Christian theologians


Biblical scholars and theologians within the Judaeo-Christian tradition such as Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

 (20 BCE – 50 CE),
Augustine (354-430),
John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 (1509–1564),
John Wesley
John Wesley
John Wesley was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield...

 (1703–1791)
and Matthew Henry
Matthew Henry
Matthew Henry was an English commentator on the Bible and Presbyterian minister.-Life:He was born at Broad Oak, a farmhouse on the borders of Flintshire and Shropshire. His father, Philip Henry, had just been ejected under the Act of Uniformity 1662...

 (1662–1714)
cite Genesis 1:1 in support of the idea of Divine creation out of nothing.

Philo, as well as some of the Church Fathers with a Platonic background, argued that the act of creation itself involved pre-existent matter, but made that matter in turn to have been created out of nothing.
alongside God.

Modern physics


A widely supported hypothesis in modern physics is the zero-energy universe
Zero-energy Universe
The zero-energy universe hypothesis states that the total amount of energy in the universe is exactly zero. When the energy of the universe is considered from a pseudo-tensor point of view, zero values are obtained in the resulting calculations...

 which states that the total amount of energy in the universe is exactly zero. That is the only kind of universe that could come from nothing
Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing comes from nothing is a philosophical expression of a thesis first argued by Parmenides. It is associated with ancient Greek cosmology, such as presented not just in the opus of Homer and Hesiod, but also in virtually every philosophical system – there is no time interval in which a...

. Such a universe would have to be flat in shape, a state which does not contradict current observations that the Universe is flat with a 0.5% margin of error.

Roman Philosophy


Roman poet and philsopher Lucretius
Lucretius
Titus Lucretius Carus was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is an epic philosophical poem laying out the beliefs of Epicureanism, De rerum natura, translated into English as On the Nature of Things or "On the Nature of the Universe".Virtually no details have come down concerning...

 in his first book of De Rerum Natura explicitly states his opposition to the concept of ex nihilo creation:

quas ob res ubi viderimus nil posse creari

de nihilo, tum quod sequimur iam rectius inde

perspiciemus, et unde queat res quaeque creari

et quo quaeque modo fiant opera sine divom.


English translation:

Meantime, when once we know from nothing still

Nothing can be create, we shall divine

More clearly what we seek: those elements

From which alone all things created are,

And how accomplished by no tool of Gods.

Opposition within modern Christian theology


Thomas Jay Oord
Thomas Jay Oord
Thomas Jay Oord is a theologian, philosopher, and scholar of multi-disciplinary studies. He is the author or editor of about twenty books and professor at Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, Idaho...

 (born 1965), a Christian philosopher and theologian, argues that Christians should abandon the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Oord points to the work of biblical scholars, such as Jon D. Levenson
Jon D. Levenson
Jon D. Levenson is the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at the Harvard Divinity School.-Education:*Ph.D. Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, 1975,*M.A...

, who point out that the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo does not appear in Genesis. Oord speculates that God created our particular universe billions of years ago from primordial chaos. This chaos did not predate God, however, for God would have created the chaotic elements as well. Oord suggests that God can create all things without creating from absolute nothingness.

Oord offers nine objections to creatio ex nihilo:
  1. Theoretical problem: One cannot conceive absolute nothingness.
  2. Biblical problem: Scripture – in Genesis, 2 Peter, and elsewhere – suggests creation from something (water, deep, chaos, etc.), not creation from absolutely nothing.
  3. Historical problem: The Gnostic
    Gnosticism
    Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

    s Basilides
    Basilides
    Basilides was an early Gnostic religious teacher in Alexandria, Egypt who taught from 117–138 AD, notes that to prove that the heretical sects were "later than the catholic Church," Clement of Alexandria assigns Christ's own teaching to the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius; that of the apostles,...

     and Valentinus
    Valentinus (Gnostic)
    Valentinus was the best known and for a time most successful early Christian gnostic theologian. He founded his school in Rome...

     first proposed creatio ex nihilo on the basis of assuming the inherently evil nature of creation, and in the belief that God does not act in history. Early Christian theologians adopted the idea to affirm the kind of absolute divine power that many Christians now reject.
  4. Empirical problem: We have no evidence that our universe originally came into being from absolutely nothing.
  5. 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. As the earliest philosophers noted, out of nothing comes nothing (ex nihilo, nihil fit).
  6. Solitary power problem: Creatio ex nihilo assumes that a powerful God once acted alone. But power, as a social concept, only becomes meaningful in relation to others.
  7. Errant revelation problem: The God with the capacity to create something from absolutely nothing would apparently have the power to guarantee an unambiguous and inerrant message of salvation (for example: inerrant Bible
    Biblical inerrancy
    Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that the Bible is accurate and totally free of error, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact." Some equate inerrancy with infallibility; others do not.Conservative Christians generally believe that...

    ). An unambiguously clear and inerrant divine revelation does not exist.
  8. Evil problem: If God once had the power to create from absolutely nothing, God essentially retains that power. But a God of love with this capacity appears culpable
    Culpability
    Culpability descends from the Latin concept of fault . The concept of culpability is intimately tied up with notions of agency, freedom and free will...

     for failing to prevent genuine evil.
  9. Empire Problem: The kind of divine power implied in creatio ex nihilo supports a theology of empire, based upon unilateral force and control of others.


Process theologians
Process theology
Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and further developed by Charles Hartshorne . While there are process theologies that are similar, but unrelated to the work of Whitehead the term is generally applied to the...

 argue that humans have always related a God to some “world” or another.

Some also claim that rejecting creatio ex nihilo provides the opportunity to affirm that God has everlastingly created and related with some realm of non-divine actualities or another (compare continuous creation). According to this alternative God-world theory, no non-divine thing exists without the creative activity of God, and nothing can terminate God's necessary existence.

Some Christian churches do not teach the ex nihilo doctrine, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which teaches that Jehovah
Jehovah
Jehovah is an anglicized representation of Hebrew , a vocalization of the Tetragrammaton , the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible....

 (the heavenly form of Jesus Christ
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

) and Michael
Michael (archangel)
Michael , Micha'el or Mîkhā'ēl; , Mikhaḗl; or Míchaël; , Mīkhā'īl) is an archangel in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic teachings. Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans refer to him as Saint Michael the Archangel and also simply as Saint Michael...

 (the heavenly form of Adam
Adam
Adam is a figure in the Book of Genesis. According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, he is the first human. In the Genesis creation narratives, he was created by Yahweh-Elohim , and the first woman, Eve was formed from his rib...

), under the direction of God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

, organized this world and others like it out of eternal, pre-existing materials.

Cosmological arguments


Physicists Paul Steinhardt
Paul Steinhardt
Paul J. Steinhardt is the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton University and a professor of theoretical physics. He received his B.S. at the California Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in Physics at Harvard University...

 (Princeton University) and Neil Turok
Neil Turok
Neil Geoffrey Turok is the Director of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. He is the son of Mary and Ben Turok, activists in the anti-apartheid movement and the African National Congress.-Career:...

 (Cambridge University) offer an alternative to ex nihilo creation. Their proposal stems from the ancient idea that space and time have always existed in some form. Using developments in string theory
String theory
String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything , a manner of describing the known fundamental forces and matter in a mathematically complete system...

, Steinhardt and Turok suggest the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

 of our universe as a bridge to a pre-existing universe, and speculate that creation undergoes an eternal succession of universes, with possibly trillions of years of evolution in each. Gravity and the transition from Big Crunch
Big Crunch
In physical cosmology, the Big Crunch is one possible scenario for the ultimate fate of the universe, in which the metric expansion of space eventually reverses and the universe recollapses, ultimately ending as a black hole singularity.- Overview :...

 to Big Bang characterize an everlasting succession of universes.

Hindu views


The Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

 schools of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 reject the concept of creation ex nihilo for several reasons, for example:
  1. both types of revelatory texts (śruti
    Sruti
    ' , often spelled shruti or shruthi, is a term that describes the sacred texts comprising the central canon of Hinduism and is one of the three main sources of dharma and therefore is also influential within Hindu Law...

    and smṛti) designate matter as eternal although completely dependent on God—the Absolute Truth (param satyam)
  2. believers then have to attribute all the evil ingrained in material life to God, making Him partial and arbitrary, which does not logically accord with His nature


The Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
The ' , also more simply known as Gita, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, but is frequently treated as a freestanding text, and in particular, as an Upanishad in its own right, one of the several books that constitute general Vedic tradition...

 (BG) states the eternality of matter and its transformability clearly and succinctly: "Material nature and the living entities should be understood to be beginningless. Their transformations and the modes of matter are products of material nature." The opening words of Krishna in BG 2.12-13 also imply this, as do the doctrines referred to in BG 16.8 as explained by the commentator Vadiraja Tirtha.

Computer science


Some computing environments use the tag ex nihilo to describe various techniques for creating data structures or objects. In prototype-based programming
Prototype-based programming
Prototype-based programming is a style of object-oriented programming in which classes are not present, and behavior reuse is performed via a process of cloning existing objects that serve as prototypes. This model can also be known as classless, prototype-oriented or instance-based programming...

 languages, a programmer sets up an object "ex nihilo" if it does not use another object as its prototype.

Military organization


A unit raised ex nihilo forms without the use of significant components from other units. Thus, when a military authority sets up a unit composed entirely of personnel transferred as individuals from other units, one can speak of raising ex nihilo. Alternatives to this method, (also known as "cutting a unit from whole cloth") include expanding a skeleton (cadre) unit, assembling a large unit from components taken from other units, and the splitting of an existing unit into two or more skeleton units for subsequent filling out with additional personnel. German-speakers call this last-named method "calving" (das Kalben). French-speakers refer to it as "doubling" (dédoublement), but only, as the name suggests, when forming two new units on the framework of one old one.

See also


  • Archbishop Ussher
    James Ussher
    James Ussher was Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625–56...

    , who authored a chronology for the creation
  • Big Bang
    Big Bang
    The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

  • Creation according to Genesis
    Creation according to Genesis
    The Genesis creation narrative describes the divine creation of the world including the first man and woman...

  • Emergence
    Emergence
    In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems....

  • Ex nihilo nihil fit
  • Ex Nihilo (sculpture by Frederick Hart)
  • Infinite regression
  • M-theory
    M-theory
    In theoretical physics, M-theory is an extension of string theory in which 11 dimensions are identified. Because the dimensionality exceeds that of superstring theories in 10 dimensions, proponents believe that the 11-dimensional theory unites all five string theories...

  • Natural theology
    Natural theology
    Natural theology is a branch of theology based on reason and ordinary experience. Thus it is distinguished from revealed theology which is based on scripture and religious experiences of various kinds; and also from transcendental theology, theology from a priori reasoning.Marcus Terentius Varro ...

  • Nihilism
    Nihilism
    Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value...

  • Quantitative easing
    Quantitative easing
    Quantitative easing is an unconventional monetary policy used by central banks to stimulate the national economy when conventional monetary policy has become ineffective. A central bank buys financial assets to inject a pre-determined quantity of money into the economy...

  • Rabbinical creation story
  • Thomas Jay Oord
    Thomas Jay Oord
    Thomas Jay Oord is a theologian, philosopher, and scholar of multi-disciplinary studies. He is the author or editor of about twenty books and professor at Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, Idaho...

  • Turtles all the way down
    Turtles all the way down
    "Turtles all the way down" is a jocular expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology posed by the "unmoved mover" paradox. The phrase was popularized by Stephen Hawking in 1988. The "turtle" metaphor in the anecdote represents a popular notion of a "primitive cosmological myth", viz...

  • Ussher chronology


Further reading

  • Thomas Jay Oord, The Nature of Love: A Theology http://www.chalicepress.com/The-Nature-of-Love-P656C15.aspx (St. Louis: Chalice, 2010), especially chapters 4 and 5.
  • Jon D. Levenson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

    , 1994; New York: Harper & Row, 1987).
  • Sjoerd L. Bonting, Chaos Theology: A Revised Creation Theology [Ottawa: Novalis, 2002].
  • David Ray Griffin, "Creation out of Chaos and The Problem of Evil" in