Seminar: A New Doctrine of Initial Creation
Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - 2:30pm to 4:00pm
A growing number of scholars are criticizing the idea that God created the universe from nothing. The idea has little to no biblical support. It supports a view of omnipotence that makes the problem of evil unsolvable. But few alternative views of initial creation have been offered. Thomas Jay Oord offers a new view in this seminar, a view that champions God as creative love.
Presenter Bio: Thomas Jay Oord is a theologian, philosopher, and scholar of multi-disciplinary studies. Oord is an award-winning author, and he has written or edited more than twenty books. A ten-time Faculty Award winner, Oord teaches at institutions around the globe. Oord is known for his contributions to research on love, open and relational theology, science and religion, and theologies exploring the implications of freedom and relationships for transformation.
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|Photo Credit: Thomas J. Oord|
My Alternative Theory of Creation
by Thomas J. Oord
April 3, 2017
In three previous blogs, I explored 9 reasons many Christians affirm the theory that God initially created our universe from absolutely nothing. Although some of the reasons have validity, I found none of them to be ultimately convincing.
In this blog, I want to offer my alternative to creation from nothing.
The Basic Idea: creatio ex creatione sempiternaliter en amore
My new theory of creation says God, in love, always creates out of what God previously created. As the ever Creator, God has everlastingly been creating.
That’s it in a nutshell. But there’s a lot packed into those phrases. So let me explain a bit more…
My theory says God never creates out of absolute nothingness. Each moment of creation history begins with God creating something in relation to what God previously created. God always creates something new from something old and never ex nihilo ["out of nothing"].
This theory says God has always been creating. God’s work to create in relation to what God previously created has always been going on. To put it another way, God’s creating is everlasting. That’s why I call God the “ever Creator.” God’s creating activity had no absolute beginning and is new every moment of a history without beginning or end.
This implies that God has never existed absolutely alone. God has always related to creatures, whether those creatures be complex or simple, whether creation be ordered or disordered. In fact, I believe God essentially relates to creation. God does not just relate within Trinity but also with the creaturely entities God creates. God’s relationality derives necessarily from God’s essence.
My theory says God must create. Creating is a necessary activity for God, because creating is an essential attribute of God’s nature. God has always existed and always creates, because creating is indispensable to the necessarily creative God.
Perhaps most importantly, my theory says love is God’s motive for and means of creating. And love is God’s creative goal. God’s nature is first and foremost love, which means God always loves, and this love is creative, self-giving, and others-empowering. To the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” my theory says, “because God always loves, and this love always motivates God’s creating.” From my perspective, love is the key to understanding reality.
One could describe my alternative theory with the Latin phrase creatio ex creatione sempiternaliter en amore. This phrase means “creating out of creation everlastingly in love.” To put it differently: God always and lovingly creates out of that which God previously created, and this creating has always been occurring.
What My Theory Does Not Mean
My creation theory that God always and lovingly creates out of what God previously created needs further explanation. Like all theories – especially new ones – it is prone to misunderstanding.
In my next blog, I’ll address four misunderstandings. As a teaser for that blog, I’ll conclude by mentioning the four misunderstandings I suspect many will have when first encountering my alternative theory of initial creation:
- My theory does not say or imply that our universe is eternal.
- My theory does not mean God is without freedom.
- My theory does not mean creation pre-exists God.
- My theory says that for God to exist, God does not need creation.
I’ll explain each statement in my next blog essay…