Re: Physical Models in the NT (Something from Nothing)

From: Will Wagers (
Date: Tue Feb 20 1996 - 15:51:43 EST

Yes, Carl, this is exactly what I am talking about.

Carl W. Conrad writes:

>I would like to see if it's possible to draw the distinction
>between what is affirmed or thought to be affirmed in the theological
>doctrine, on the one hand, and the "scientific" model or hypothesis in
>terms of which a doctrine of creation or generation is formulated.

Yes. This is absolutely essential to get to the bottom of this, although
obviously there may well be theological implications.

>So, in the first place, what does the doctrine of CREATIO EX NIHILO really
>mean in theological terms? It seems to me that it means fundamentally that
>there is no creation or generation of entities that is independent of God's
>intention and will.

I think it is also important to distinguish between God and Jesus in this
regard, and whether one means only in the beginning or on a continuous
basis. I would read your statement as meaning God's continual participation
is required for generation, leaving Logos as the instrument of its
participation - the proper Greek roles.

>And IF I understand Aristotle rightly, one may use the term DUNAMIS,
"potentiality," or "possibility" also for this substrate.

This is also my understanding.

>--and if God as creator, to return to the Jewish and Christian
>conceptual sphere, is radically different from that which he creates--the
>creature is not, in any sense whatsoever, identical with God--the the
>creature must be generated out of a substrate that has some metaphysical
>status--while nevertheless neither identical with God nor opposed to God as
>a dualistic counter-force.

Yes, I hadn't thought of it this way. And so, the Logos is required to mediate
the interaction of the divine (God) and the mundane (prime matter), which
are radically different. It does so by partaking of the nature of both, just as
a soap molecule contains both a hydrophilic and a hydrophophic section to
mediate the rinsing away of oil by water. By the same coin, one cannot be
all of two substances. Thus, Arianism postulates a semi-divine Jesus, because
if one is all of a single substance one cannot interact directly with a foreign
substance, and certainly cannot mediate between two substances. (Inter-
estingly, modern physics still postulates intermediary carriers of forces, e.g.
photons and gravitons, which can be described as either particles or waves
- two substances. so, the ancient mystery persists.)

>the universe as an animal, a conception surviving in fact
>even in Lucretius's so-called materialism which postulates a qualitative
>distinction between atoms of "soul" and ordinary atoms, and which
>(presumably as a dead metaphor) terms the atoms themselves as SPERMATA,

I'm not sure how you mean dead metaphor and I don't know Lucretius, but
atomistic theories still had to account for form, which they did by postulating
that the seeds of things were somehow present in the atoms. So, the least
susbtantial atoms were chosen as the carriers of form; because, they could
permeate the creature, animating it. Their inability to conceive of form other-
wise is one reason that weren't able to go on to a modern theory of
generation. Although it was postulated early on (Epicurus?) that atoms had
hooks (bonds), no one hazards the leap away from form as some sort of
independent entity. This remains with us today - our immortal souls. And, all
change was conceived as successive forms, as in Aristotle.



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