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PAUL - I was on your website and was
wondering if you could answer some questions I had.
I've been studying mormonism now for about 6 months (i
am currently a catholic) and really enjoy it but am
confused by some of its teachings.
One in particular is the teaching that God doesn't
have the power to create ex nihilo. If God just
organizes elements and doesn't have the
power to create them and has to recycle them doesn't
that demote him in so many ways??
I love so much about the mormon church but am shocked
and hurt that they would teach that he doesn't have
the power to do something.
JOEL - I am sorry that we have shocked and hurt you. I
promise it wasn't intentional :-) I guess this all
depends on your deffinition of who God is,
and what the word omnipotent means to you in relation
to what God can do.
There are of course some things logic tells us that
God cannot do. He cannot sin; He cannot not exist; He
cannot make a round square; He cannot forget
anything; He cannot create a rock that is too heavy
for Him to lift; He cannot hate all His children; etc.
Should the inability to create something out of nothing
be included in this list? I don't know. But I do know
that there are no scriptures in the Bible that
specifically state that God has ever created anything
out of nothing.
Here's a little history on this. The concept of creation ex
nihilo was not accepted as doctrine until after 200
AD. Shortly before this, an approach to creation ex
nihilo was initiated by Theophilus of Antioch and was
expanded upon by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons to proclaim
that God created earth and the cosmos out of nothing.
This doctrine spread quickly throughout the Christian
church and on until the present day.
One of the meanings of the Hebrew verb 'baurau',
translated as "create" in the Old Testament, is "to
organize, form, or fashion"; the same way a carpenter
might organize together some already existing pieces
of wood to make a table. In the Old Testament the
same Hebrew word used in Genesis for create('baurau'),
is used in the following scripture:
"I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel,
your King." (Isa 43:15)
Obviously God did not create Israel out of nothing. He
organized it out of a league of tribes bound together
by a covenant with Him (Josh. 24)
Here's something that might make sense to you. Evil
has always existed. God did not create evil. For Him
to have done this would be completely contradictory to
His omnibenevolent character. Evil is an eternal
principle that was never created. In like manner we
believe that it is an eternal law of heaven and the
universe that the principle elements of all matter
that exists now have always existed in some form or
another and can neither be created nor destroyed (an
accepted law of physics called "conservation of
mass"), and that God works with this eternal law when
it comes to creating things (D&C 93:33, Teachings of
the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 351).
Why should God need to create something out of nothing
when He already has plenty of material to work with
that has existed for eternity?
Finnally, just to set things straight, we do not
"teach" that God is incapable of creating something
out of nothing; perhaps He can. We only
teach that He has never done it that way because of
eternal laws that He choses to follow.