Mormons believe God organized the earth and everything else from pre-existing materials that existed from eternity without Him creating them. In fact the Jewish belief as found in scripture is that God created everything from nothing as 2 Maccabbees clearly shows.
Could someone please cite a Mormon source
attributing the origin of ex-nihilo to the Catholic Church.
A great variety of incompatible beliefs are unshared by many Hindus. However, I did find this, which suggests that some Hindus may have believed in, and some may believe in, ex nihilo creations:
RigVeda quotes “If in the beginning there was neither Being nor Non-Being, neither air nor sky, what was there? Who or what oversaw it? What was it when there was no darkness, light, life, or death? We can only say that there was the One, that which breathed of itself deep in the void, that which was heat and became desire and the germ of spirit.” which is suggestive of the fact that Ex nihilo creator was always there and he is not controlled by time or by any previous creation
But if creation is ex nihilo it cannot be “creation,” can it, since there is nothing in the nihilo to perform a creative act. Eruption might be a better word than creation. The universe erupted into existence. Middle voice, or intransitive.
Mormons, however, do not believe in creation at all, neither ex nihilo nor ex aliquid (?). Mormons - the major faction of that branch of religion - believe matter has always existed, that generations of god-men have always existed, that no new substance ever came into existence, and that “creation” of the earth and the present generations of humanity are actually an “arrangement” or “organization” of matter and some undescribed substance called “intelligence,” which is not to be understood as abstract or non-physical.
The earliest Jewish and Christian commentaries on the Creation assumed that God had organized the world out of preexisting materials, emphasizing the goodness of God in shaping such a life-sustaining order. But the incursion of new philosophical ideas in the second century led to the development of a doctrine that God created the universe ex nihilo—“out of nothing.” This ultimately became the dominant teaching about the Creation within the Christian world. In order to emphasize God’s power, many theologians reasoned that nothing could have existed for as long as He had. It became important in Christian circles to assert that God had originally been completely alone.
Of course, there is a lot of misinformation in that one paragraph alone, but the most striking is the last sentence. Seriously, how Mormons can criticize Christian belief of a Triune God, and then state it becomes important to assert God is alone, defies logic.
Thanks for that article. I can always remember Mormons blaming the teaching of ex-nihilo on the Catholic Church and that article makes it clear. How they can ignore the teaching in 2 Maccabees (even if they don’t accept it as scripture) along with other Biblical texts about creation makes no sense to me.
Thanks for making me and others aware of the verse in 2 Maccabees. On its face it contradicts Genesis 2:7 (KJV) And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Here are a couple of references to scholarly works that support an LDS view that creation ex-nihilo is not a revealed doctrine…
In his 1990 Presidential address to the British Association for Jewish Studies, Peter Hayman asserted the following:
Nearly all recent studies on the origin on the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo have come to the conclusion that this doctrine is not native to Judaism, is nowhere attested in the Hebrew Bible, and probably arose in Christianity in the second century C.E. in the course of its fierce battle with Gnosticism. The one scholar who continues to maintain that the doctrine is native to Judaism, namely Jonathan Goldstein, thinks that it first appears at the end of the first century C.E., but has recently conceded the weakness of his position in the course of debate with David Winston.
Peter Hayman, “Monotheism – A Misused Word in Jewish Studies?”, *Journal of Jewish Studies *42 (1991): 1-15. See also Jonathan Goldstein, “The Origins of the Doctrine of Creation Ex Nihilo”, *Journal of Jewish Studies *35 (1984): 127-135; Jonathan Goldstein, “Creation Ex Nihilo: Recantations and Restatements”, Journal of Jewish Studies f38 (1987): 187-194; David Winston, “Creation Ex Nihilo Revisited: A Reply to Jonathan Goldstein”, *Journal of Jewish Studies *37 (1986): 88-91.
Also, the non-LDS scholar James Hubler said…
Creatio ex nihilo appeared suddenly in the latter half of the second century c.e. Not only did creatio ex nihilo lack precedent, it stood in firm opposition to all the philosophical schools of the Greco-Roman world. As we have seen, the doctrine was not forced upon the Christian community by their revealed tradition, either in Biblical texts or the Early Jewish interpretation of them. As we will also see it was not a position attested in the New Testament doctrine or even sub-apostolic writings. It was a position taken by the apologists of the late second century, Tatian and Theophilus, and developed by various ecclesiastical writers thereafter, by Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen. Creatio ex nihilo represents an innovation in the interpretive traditions of revelation and cannot be explained merely as a continuation of tradition.
James N. Hubler, “Creatio ex Nihilo: Matter, Creation, and the Body in Classical and Christian Philosophy through Aquinas” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1995), 102
None of it does because all of these fail to take into account the teaching in 2 Maccabees which was written before Jesus was born and before any 2nd century Christians would have been able to invent it. I suggest you read this entire article:
Their commitment to the biblical doctrine of creatio ex nihilo brought the Church Fathers into head-on collision with the Greek conception of the eternity of matter. For both Plato and Aristotle, the greatest of the Greek thinkers, creation consists, not in God’s bringing the world into being out of nothing, but in His imposition of form upon formless prime matter, thereby fashioning a cosmos out of chaos.149 As we have seen, despite the tremendous pressure exerted by Greek philosophical thought, the Church Fathers with few exceptions refused to relinquish a Hebraic understanding of creation for this Greek conception. Because Aristotle had not merely asserted but argued for the eternity of world, Christian theologians could not rest content with citing biblical proof-texts for the Judaeo-Christian view but engaged Greek thinkers in philosophical discussion of their competing paradigms. The last great champion of creatio ex nihilo prior to the advent of Islam was John Philoponus (d. 580?), an Aristotelian commentator from Alexandria, who in his works Against Aristotle and On the Eternity of the World against Proclus initiated a tradition of argumentation for creatio ex nihilo based on the impossibility of an infinite past, a tradition subsequently enriched by medieval Muslim and Jewish theologians and then transmitted back again into Christian scholastic theology. Any person who rejects the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo cannot responsibly ignore this tradition but must respond substantively to such thinkers as al-Ghazali, Saadia ben Gaon, Bonaventure, and to their modern counterparts.
The Church Fathers followed ancient Jewish thought against the Greek philosophers. It is the LDS who mingle scripture with the philosophies of men.
Are you therefore infering that the Earth was created out of nothing and then man was created out of the Earth?
Justin Martyr said "And we have been taught that He in the beginning did of His goodness, for man’s sake, create all things out of unformed matter; and if men by their works show themselves worthy of this His design, they are deemed worthy, and so we have received-of reigning in company with Him, being delivered from corruption and suffering.
Justin Martyr, “First Apology of Justin,” in Chapter 59 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:182
I’m saying that there is no contradiction between the aforementioned passage from Genesis and the thought that God created the universe ex-nihilo, which is what you actually said in a post. You can say that you don’t believe ex-nihilo. But it makes no sense to say that ex-nihilo specifically contradicts that passage in Genesis. And in going to Justin Martyr’s quote, you are sidestepping my point, as the Justin Martyr quote could be used in your whole argument against ex-nihilo, but as absolutely nothing to do with the Genesis quote about which I was specifically referring.
Regarding the influence of Greek philosophy on the doctrine of creation ex-nihilo, Edwin Hatch wrote…
With Basilides [a second century Gnostic philosopher], the conception of matter was raised to a higher plane. The distinction of subject and object was preserved, so that the action of the Transcendent God was still that of creation and not of evolution; but it was “out of that which was not” that He made things to be . . . . The basis of the theory was Platonic, though some of the terms were borrowed from both Aristotle and the Stoics. It became itself the basis for the theory which ultimately prevailed in the Church. The transition appears in Tatian [ca. 170 A.D.]
Edwin Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church, 195–196
FWIW, Hatch introduced his book with these words:
It is impossible for any one, whether he be a student of history or no, to fail to notice a difference of both form and content between the Sermon on the Mount and the Nicene Creed. The Sermon on the Mount is the promulgation of a new law of conduct ; it assumes beliefs rather than formulates them ; the theological conceptions
which underlie it belong to the ethical rather than the speculative side of theology; metaphysics are wholly absent. The Nicene Creed is a statement partly of historical
facts and partly of dogmatic inferences ; the metaphysical terms which it contains would probably have been unintelligible to the first disciples ; ethics have no place in it. The one belongs to a world of Syrian peasants, the other to a world of Greek philosophers. The contrast is patent. If any one thinks that it is sufficiently explained by saying that the one is a sermon and the other a creed, it must be pointed out in reply that the question why an ethical sermon stood in the forefront of the teaching of Jesus Christ, and a metaphysical
creed in the forefront of the Christianity of the fourth century, is a problem which claims investigation.
Hatch disagrees with your assertion that ECFs avoided Greek philosophy.
Christianity started with first century Judaism in a place where Greek was the lingua franca. Where there is one God, who created everything out of nothing. The Word was God. His Word taught us the beatific vision and gave us the Eucharist. Christians used concepts that were originally not hebrew, but these concepts had been making there way into Jewish culture through Greek speaking Alexandria, home of the septuagint, for about a century before Christ. Some scholars believe they influenced some of the New Testament writings, including Paul. Considering most of the New Testament was originally written in Greek, I’m inclined to agree.
Like Mormons the “Greek world” believed:
-God took human form (flesh and bone)
-There are many Gods
-Godlike beings who used pre-existent matter to make the world.
-the soul pre-existed before it was born mortal.
Judaism and Christianity rejected these “Greek” ideas and many other inventions of Mormonism.
Of relevance to the question whether Catholics are believed to have invented creation ex nihilo is this passage from the Jewish Encyclopedia (Hebrew characters did not transfer. Passage is at Creation):
The bringing into existence of the world by the act of God. Most Jewish philosophers find in (Gen. i. 1) creation ex nihilo (). The etymological meaning of the verb , however, is “to cut out and put into shape,” and thus presupposes the use of material. This fact was recognized by Ibn Ezra and Naḥmanides, for instance (commentaries on Gen. i. 1; see also Maimonides, “Moreh Nebukim,” ii. 30), and constitutes one of the arguments in the discussion of the problem.
Whatever may be the nature of the traditions in Genesis (see Cosmogony), and however strong may be the presumption that they suggest the existence of an original substance which was reshaped in accordance with the Deity’s purposes (see Dragon; Darkness), it is clear that the Prophets and many of the Psalms accept without reservation the doctrine of creation from nothing by the will of a supermundane personal God (Ps. xxxiii. 6-9, cii. 26, cxxi. 2; Jer. x. 12; Isa. xlii. 5, xlv. 7-9): “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” To such a degree has this found acceptance as the doctrine of the Synagogue that God has come to be desinated as “He who spake and the world sprang into existence” (see Baruk She-Amar and 'Er. 13b; Meg. 13b; Sanh. 19a, 105a; Ḥid. 31a; Ḥul. 63b, 84b; Sifre to Num. § 84; Gen. R. 34b; Ex. R. xxv.; Shab. 139a; Midrash Mishle, 10c). God is “the author of creation,” (“bereshit” having become the technical term for “creation”; Gen. R. xvi.; Ber. 54a, 58a; Ḥag. 12a, 18a; Ḥul. 83a; Ecclus. [Sirach] xv. 14).
The belief in God as the author of creation ranks first among the thirteen fundamentals (see Articles of Faith) enumerated by Maimonides. It occurs in the Yigdal, where God is called , "anterior [because Himself uncreated] to all that was created "; in the Adon 'Olam; and it is taught in all modern Jewish catechisms.
Another Old Testament scholar, R.K. Harrison, asserts that while creatio ex nihilo was “too abstract for the [Hebrew] mind to entertain” and is not stated explicitly in Genesis 1, “it is certainly implicit in the narrative.” The reader is meant to understand that “the worlds were not fashioned from any pre-existing material, but out of nothing”; “prior” to God’s creative activity, “there was thus no other kind of phenomenological existence.” Similarly, Edwin Hatch admits that while Greek Platonic language helped give “philosophical form” to the developed Christian doctrine of creation, the belief that God was “not merely the Architect of the universe, but its Source” had “probably been for a long time the unreasoned belief of Hebrew monotheism.” That is, metaphysical language and systematization would later flesh out what was indicated by the Old Testament creation texts.
I’m not as well versed as most folks around here, but doesn’t the Gospel of John tend to support the creation ex-nihilo?
I love the account of creation in the Vedas. Proof that all great religions point toward the truth revealed most fully in the Catholic Church.