An essay donated by Susan Humphreys
Part 1 of 4:
Nothing comes from Nothing: A broad-ranging
discussion of God, Logos, Deism, Gnosticism,
Evil, Physics, Energy, and the Golden Rule:
“Nothing comes from Nothing”, this is a statement many Christians make to prove that God exists. Only God can create something from Nothing in their minds. BUT I like to point out, IF nothing comes from nothing where did God get the material he needed to create things? If nothing comes from nothing then even God had to have something to start with!
A clue to the answer is in the Bible for those that look for it!
Genesis 1: “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,the earth was a formless void”.
What is a formless void? We all know void means that something is empty, vacant, but why use the word “formless”? If nothing is there, there is no form. That word is a bit redundant, isn’t it?
Void also means “without effect, useless”. As in when we say a contract or a law is “null and void!” Here adding the word formless makes sense, without form, whatever was there was without effect and useless.
What is this something that was “without effect and useless until it took form?” Also, once it takes form what is it able to do (that makes it usefull) when it is formed that it wasn’t able to do when it didn’t have form?
In the beginning of his Gospel, John claims that “In the beginning was the Word/Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God”. The Logos is what was “without effect and useless until it took form.”
“Logos” has been translated as “word” but that is misleading for those that don’t understand the metaphorical/abstract meaning of “word”. They equate “word” with the words written in the Bible and sometimes with God and with Jesus. “Word” as used here is more akin to “product of”, as a painting is the word of the painter. This still misleads people from the original intent of the word Logos.
For Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, Logos is not words written in the Bible. Roland H. Bainton, in his book “Here I Stand, a life of Martin Luther,” 1 wrote:
“The gospel is really not that which is contained in books and composed in letters, but rather…..a voice which resounds throughout the whole world and is publicly proclaimed.”
For Luther if you want to understand the world and or God you need to study the world that God created.
For ancient Greeks “Logos” meant Universal Truths, principles, that created, sustain and govern our universe and all living things. These Principles are the laws of Physics, thermodynamics, gravity, weak and strong nuclear forces, evolution, hydraulics, and energy, and whatever it is that forms matter. The building blocks of the Universe were already there. God, if there was a God, used what was already there.
“In the beginning was the Logos”. “And the Logos was with God”. What does John 1:1 mean? “With” means that the Logos and God were connected but they aren’t the same thing. If you walk with God, it is a metaphorical statement that means you are in agreement or in harmony with God, you are headed in the same direction.
“And the Logos was God”. Here the claim is that the Universal Principles that govern the Universe are God. The writer isn’t claiming that God was a humanoid type Being, he is claiming that God is the word for the inanimate Principles that govern the Universe.
These Principles are about the world and how it works, people and societies and how they work, abstract Principles of good/bad, moral/immoral, ethical, fairness, justice, righteousness/self-righteousness……
A friend asked me if I am really an Atheist or just an Agnostic. I told him that I am an Atheist and he said I must be crazy. I told him that I think he is crazy, but that it is okay, it doesn’t bother me if he believes in God. But it was obvious that he was bothered that I don’t believe in God.
There are two main reasons why I don’t believe in God. The first is a philosophical argument and the second comes from Physics. I am going to address the philosophical argument first, because in our advancement of knowledge and growth of understanding about our Universe we started with the philosophical questions, then we moved on to the Scientific questions once Science became its own separate field of study and when we realized Philosophy couldn’t provide us with all the answers. The Philosophical argument also, I think, leads into or connects with the Science. They aren’t really at odds with each other or in disagreement with some of the Biblical passages as I just pointed out!
The argument for Gods existence called the Ontological argument comes from St. Anselm. You can google "Ontological argument" and "St. Anselm" and find a whole bunch of websites that will address the basics and faults of the argument. You will also find websites that accept the argument with no questions. This argument is connected with the problem of Theodicy. You can also google this concept. It is this argument that God is Perfect that created the problem of Theodicy!
Briefly Anselm’s argument is based on the concept of Perfection. If we can imagine something Perfect than there must be something that is even more Perfect that exists otherwise we wouldn’t be able to imagine the concept of Perfection. Of course that Perfect something in his mind, can only be God. St. Anselm didn’t know about works of Fiction or Movies and we modern folks know that there are lots of things that we can imagine that aren’t really there! Or are there only in the movies.
This argument goes back to the ancient Greek Philosophers and the “idea of forms” put forth by Plato. They didn’t understand “ideas”, how our minds work. For them if we call something “good” it is because there is a “model of Good” (some sort of a thing, a material object or living being) that is “Good” that we hold everything else up against in order to be able to judge if something is good. Note that I use capitals and non capitals in trying to distinguish between this thing “Good” and the property we call “good”.
One problem with the Ontological argument is that many insist that God is a Perfect Being, even as they endow God with all of their human imperfections. If God demands that He be worshipped then He is a narcissist which is an imperfection in one’s character. If God is a jealous God then he isn’t perfect. The Ten Commandments tell us not to covet thy neighbor’s goods, a form of jealousy. God is vindictive yet we are told to turn the other cheek. We are sometimes told that God hates homosexuals, people who practice other religions and Atheists who practice no religion. Yet we are told to “love thy neighbor as thy brother.” Would a perfect God demand less of himself then he does of us?
As I understand the situation, many people really don’t want a Perfect God. They want a God that will forgive them their trespasses but refuse to forgive the trespasses of their enemies. They really hope God will “sock it to their enemies”! But this creates a problem, IF God isn’t Perfect than how can He do all the things that they claim/hope He can do? Will he be there when they need him, or in a fit of anger or pettiness will he ignore their pleas?
Another problem with the argument of Perfection to prove that God exists is that Perfection is a Catch 22. A Catch 22 is in order to do “A” you have to do “B”, but if you do “B” than you can’t do “A”. In the movie “Catch 22” the only way to get out of military service once you were in the service was to be crazy. BUT any one that wanted out was obviously NOT crazy. The crazy ones were the ones that wanted to stay in, they loved war, and killing, and all that goes with it.
Perfection is a Catch22, it is impossible to be perfect and to exist. If you exist you can’t be perfect.
I know a little about Hinduism and Buddhism and from my understanding I think these religions have a grasp of this dilemma, and realize that once you reach a state of perfection, where there is no desire, no anger, no anxiety, no will, no love nor hate, you have passed from this life, from the cycle of birth and rebirth, from any ability to connect with living matter, to a state of Nirvana, perfect Bliss.
Perhaps we need to define what we mean by exist. The dictionary isn’t a lot of help, it uses terms like be real, have life, have presence. We know the difference between things that have life and don’t have life. We know there are folks that can’t tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t real—they hear voices in their head and sometimes see things that a person standing next to them doesn’t hear or see. I guess I’d have to say that if a person with normal sight and hearing standing next to you can’t see, or hear, or feel what you see or hear, or feel what you see, or hear, or feel isn’t real!
What do we mean by have presence? Presence would mean something that we can feel with our senses, taste, touch, hear, smell, feel. The wind has presence, we can feel it against our skin, blowing our hair, even though we can’t touch it or see it. It doesn’t have substance, we can’t hold it in our hand, but it does occupy space. We may say the “wind blows right through me” but we know that isn’t real! The wind blows around me, it can’t occupy the same space I occupy. My substance get’s in its way.
Black Holes have presence, they exert a force on surrounding objects even though we can’t see a black hole. They do occupy space. Nothing else can be where a black hole is. I can’t stand in the same space a chair occupies. I can stand on top of a chair which would put me on top of the space the chair occupies, but we can’t fill the same space at the same time.
Does God have presence? Some say yes, some say no. Presence however doesn’t imply that there is substance, or what we call matter, only that there is a feeling of presence. Thoughts are feelings and ideas.We know we can be moved by our thoughts to do something. BUT thoughts only exist in my head or your head. They only have force when they are turned into words and actions.
When we say God has presence, it simply means that we can feel his closeness, that the idea of his presence (nearness/closeness) comforts us. It doesn’t mean that God is a concrete reality -- an old man with a long beard that is capable of interfering in the affairs of men. God exists only as a feeling, as a thought! In which case God is a figment of mens and womens imaginations.
God doesn’t have life as we understand life. God isn’t real as we understand real. God may have presence but presence is simply a thought and a feeling we have in our head.
This topic continues in the next essay.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- Roland H. Bainton, “Here I Stand, a life of Martin Luther,” Abingdon Press; Reprint edition (2013). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
Originally published: 2015-FEB-20
Last updated 2015-FEB-20
Author: Susan Humphreys