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Why Is the Doctrine of Creation Ex Nihilo So Important?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Creation ex nihilo is the Christian doctrine that God created the universe and everything in it out of nothing. He spoke all that exists, besides himself, into existence. Why does this doctrine matter?

Francis Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen, editors of the The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement, write:

At the heart of every world-view is its understanding of God and the universe. From this understanding flow most of the other key components of a worldview. For nearly two millennia Christians have confessed in all their creeds that God is the “Maker of heaven and earth.” The Nicene Creed specifies that this includes “all things visible and invisible.”

At the heart of the Christian worldview is the idea that God is the creator of all other reality; there is a fundamental distinction between Creator and creation. . . .  The creedal affirmations of Christians are but reaffirmations of the first verse of the Bible, which majestically proclaims: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The relationship of God to the universe that humans inhabit is a foundational truth claim of every worldview. They continue:

Thomas V. Morris points out that the biblical doctrine of creation is the key to a distinctively theistic perspective on reality. He writes, “This one statement captures the heart of a theistic world-view. We live in a created universe. For centuries, theists have held that the single most important truth about our world is that it is a created world. And it is no exaggeration to add that it is one of the most important truths about God that he is the creator of this world.”

Creation ex nihilo distinguishes theism from other worldviews that dominated the ancient world.

It was, in fact, the doctrine of creation out of nothing (ex nihilo) that most fundamentally distinguished the Judeo-Christian view of God and the world from the various religions of the ancient Near East and philosophical systems of Classical Greece—all of which assumed that the world had been formed out of eternally preexisting chaotic matter.

This doctrine has profound implications for the world we live in.

According to Christian teaching, it is God’s absolute creation and continuing conservation of the universe that accounts for its existence, order, rationality, goodness, and beauty. It is because God created the universe ex nihilo and proclaimed it good that we can be assured that evil is not somehow part of the fabric of the universe but a parasite that will one day be overcome.

And finally, the scientific method, which has given us the technology that has improved our lives so much, owes its genesis to the doctrine of creation ex nihilo.

Furthermore, according to many historians of science, the Christian doctrine of creation played a significant role in the rise and development of modern science by providing many of its basic presuppositions. It has been shown that the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo was one of the reasons the scientific revolution occurred in Christian Western Europe rather than in the ancient world or some other culture. It could even be argued that, apart from the presuppositions supplied by the Christian doctrine of creation, modern science (realistically understood) would be impossible and that divorcing science from the ground of these presuppositions makes it irrational.

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