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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.

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