Unlike what we may have been told, our existence is no accident. On this episode of Simply Put, Barry Cooper marvels at God’s creation of all things from nothing.
God created the universe ex nihilo, out of nothing.
The idea that God created the universe out of nothing shouldn’t be controversial, because at one point in time, there was literally nothing else except God in existence.
No, wait a sec. “At one point in time”. . . that’s not going to work. Because time didn’t exist either. Nothing was the only thing that existed.
Oh, hang on . . . that sounds a bit like nothing is a thing. . . . My point is that before the universe was brought into being, and before God created the “heavenly host” of divine non-human beings (more on them another time), all that existed was God. There was nothing else. And when I say “nothing,” I don’t mean “empty space,” like the air in the middle of a ring doughnut, or the contents of my wallet if I take my daughter to Disney World; I mean nothing. No thing.
Long before the universe was brought into being, and the heavenly host were brought into existence, nothing existed. Just God.
That is the profound level of nothingness that existed, or rather, didn’t exist.
Aristotle says that “Nothing is what rocks dream about.” Ah, we clever people say, but rocks don’t dream! “Exactly,” says Aristotle.
Other ancient Near Eastern creation stories (for example, those from Mesopotamia or Egypt) feature gods who create things out of material that was already in existence—in much the same way as you and I create things.
But when the living God created the universe, He created it ex nihilo, out of nothing.
There are other ideas about how the universe came into being, of course. Advocates of the Big Bang theory, for example, also believe in the universe coming into being ex nihilo, out of nothing, or at least out of an incredibly dense singularity which itself originated ultimately from nothing. Once there was nothing at all; the next there was something, and then at some point an explosion. An explosion caused by nothing, which resulted in everything.
But does that really sound any more likely than the biblical idea that God created the universe ex nihilo?
After all, an absolute and uncontested scientific law is ex nihilo nihil fit (Aristotle again), which means “out of nothing, nothing comes.” As one writer puts it: “If all we have is nothing, that is all we will ever have, because nothing cannot produce something. If there ever was a time when there was absolutely nothing, then we could be absolutely certain that today, at this very moment, there would still be absolutely nothing.”
As Shakespeare’s King Lear says, “Nothing comes from nothing.”
And yet, here we are, you and I. It’s all a bit awkward.
How did we come to be? The first sentence of Scripture says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
And the fact that this God made everything has profound implications for the way we see our world, ourselves, each other, and God Himself. Because it means that before anything existed, there was love. Even when nothing existed, there was the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, a tri-unity, with devoted and unbreakable love flowing between each.
Think of that. Before anything at all existed, there was God, and there was, within that God, love. That God made the universe not out of anything already existing but out of nothing. He was the only something, and when He spoke, something else that was not Him began to exist.
That means that this world we live in is a wanted world, a loved world. These people we pass on the sidewalk, these people we sit next to on the bus or engage with on social media, they are wanted people, loved people.
God looks into your eyes and makes it clear that your existence is wanted, and that despite what you may have been told, you are not an accident.
No, it was love that made you. Out of an irresistible and exuberant overflow of love, the triune God brought all planets and all people into being. With a word. He created it ex nihilo.
Well, how should we respond to all this?
Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” All of creation, and we ourselves, bear the hallmarks of His loving handiwork. His fingerprints are everywhere.
He needed nothing except Himself to make it all, to make us, and that realization should bring us to our knees in wonder, and in worship.