Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Out of Nothing" or "Out of Something"

CA friend told me about someone I know who was confronted in the work place by a fellow co-worker who is a pantheist.  

Pantheists believe that all things are God. This idea has crept up all over the place in many forms and various ways.  To quote the end of Stairway to Heaven, "The truth will come to you at last, when all are one, and one is all." Or from the Eat, Pray, Love movie, "God is in you, and God is you.  God is in me, and God is me."  Or maybe the Force in Star Wars - we're all connected by the energy of the universe, which is divine.  Pantheists generally believe  that God is eternal and created the universe out of himself, which is how they come to the conclusion that all things are then divine and the universe, eternal. Most forms of pantheism spring from Hinduism, but not all pantheist are Hindus.  Anyways...

The pantheist approached the Christian and said in front of other co-workers, "So you believe that God created the world out of nothing."  The Christian responded, "Yes."  The pantheist then responded, "Wouldn't it make more sense that created the universe out of something," as he motioned with his hands  from his chest outward, clearly indicating that wouldn't it make more sense that God created the universe out of himself.  

It's interesting that the pantheist took this approach with the Christian, because Christians usually approach atheists who believe in evolution in this manner, by going all the way back to the beginning and asking where the primordial soup of the Big Bang came from - nothing?  Everyone knows that nothing comes from nothing.  Therefore, before the Bang, there must have been a God to create the stuff and send it into motion.   So the pantheist was taking the same approach and saying this same approach with the Christian - "Something out of nothing?" or "Something out of something?"  

The Christian responded, "Yea, I guess that makes more sense."  

I'm curious - how would you respond if you are a Christian and a pantheist approached you with this question in front of co-workers?  What are the different responses that we as Christians might provide?


  1. I'd probably say something like:

    "That's a very interesting perspective, I like that. but i think we may be talking about two different things here. When I say I believe God made the universe "Out of nothing" I mean there was no pre-existing material, no atoms no molecules, nothing that weighed anything, he invented the very idea of 'stuff'.

    I think when you say you believe God made the universe out of himself you are referring to his spirit, his essence. And I can't say I disagree with you about that, I don't know anyone who can create anything good without giving their heart to it, (figuratively of course)

    Now if you mean literally, "Doesn't it make more sense that god used matter from himself to create the universe out of" well then I'd have to respond: "No, that doesn't make more sense to me, if God was made of matter then according to Einstein he'd be subject to the laws of time and physics and then he couldn't be eternal. We'd need some other god to create him out of nothing!

  2. I like that you took the approach of first acknowledging that you found the perspective interesting. And since, the pantheist started the conversation in front of others, I'd probably ask a lot questions to figure out more on his perspective. I bet you would do the same ,Gaff, if you were there in person, instead of explaining all the possible meanings. Such as just saying, "Yea, that's an interesting perspective. I'm curious if we have the same understanding on these terms. What do you mean by "out of nothing" and "out of something"?

    I know we should try to avoid arguing and acting like as if we know it all, unless we run the risk of looking arragont, prideful, and religiously argumentative with a hot-head. I know you aren't doing this. I like how you approached this by saying if God made the universe out of himself God must not be eternal.

  3. Well, after giving this some thought, I believe the pantheists position is not irrational. I am not saying I agree with his position, only that, his position is much stronger then what I first thought.

  4. Yeah OC you're right, I was kind of trying to fit a full connected answer into what would have in reality been a reciprocal conversation.

    And I think you're right too David,I don't think pantheism is terribly irrational at all. I do think it happens to be incorrect, but if i didn't know what i know about the evidence for Christianity and had to make a guess about the nature of God, I think it would be a good guess