Did God create the material world from nothing?
[Relative to the notions discussed, this article takes precedence over all others that I have written.] One statement many attribute to Young Earth Creationists (YECs) is the God created the physical universe out of nothing. I am not a pure YEC. I am a Strict Biblical Creationist.
Of considerable significance for a Complete GGU-model Biblical interpretation is the fact that nowhere in the oldest Biblical manuscripts does the Bible imply that God created from "nothing" any aspects of a universe. For various non-biblical reasons, this extra-biblical notion was strongly propagated, for a Christian audience, beginning in about the 4th century. The actual words of Paul have been altered in order to accommodate this change, a change that I must reject as being contrary to Biblically stated linguistic principles.
Each of the three oldest Greek manuscripts, dating from about the third century, have the exact same rendering of Romans 11:36. ". . . seeing that out of Him and through Him (as an agent) and for Him is all: to Him be the glory . . . ." It is absolute that the Greek translated as "out of" appears prior to "Him" and it cannot be confused with the modern translations, where terms such as "of, by, or from" and the like appear. In order to have a "truth value," the quantifier "all" must refer to something that is definable. The modern translations either leave out the "all" or state it as "all things" or "everything." However Biblical application of the phrase "for Him" clearly indicates that the "all" corresponds to all the entities that God creates. The Bible states exactly how God creates and what He transforms into a physical universe.
Then there is Colossians 1:16. Each of the same Greek manuscripts states ". . . for in Him is all created . . . ." The KJV and NIV replace "in Him" with "by Him." Other modern translations do have the required "in Him."
It is customary to describe God's creation activities as a form of "speaking" and the associated notion of "commanding" something to appear. This first appears throughout Genesis 1:1 - 26, where we find "And God said, 'Let there be . . . .' " Often the transformation into physical reality of what God describes occurs when the phrase "and it was so" is employed.
For Genesis 1, the Hebrew 'amar is translated in the various Bible versions as "said." However, in eight other cases, it is translated in the King James and other versions as "thought." The eight occurrences are Gen. 20:11, Nu. 24:11, Ruth 4:4, 1 Sam. 20:26, 2 Sam. 21:16, 2 Kings 5:11, 2 Ch. 32:1, Es. 6:6. The thoughts are described in general or by specific quotations. They all are represented as "word" descriptions. The Bible states that we are made in God's image. We have certain attributes that are similar to those that God possesses. His, however, are infinitely stronger than ours.
One of our attributes is to physical speak meaningful sounds and another is to think. How do we think? I, at least, think in a form of "speaking" and a form of "seeing." Mentally, I "hear" the words but not as I hear ordinary sounds from the world exterior to my brain via ears and the inner-ear mechanisms. Indeed, I can do both simultaneously. I can think and hear. It is rather difficult to describe this mental form of "hearing." This voice never changes its tone and it does not seem to emanate from an external source. This type of voice that I hear I call my "mental voice." The same is true about mental images and the eyes. I mentally see images but they are not the same as the images I see with my eyes. I can superimpose mental images over those that my eyes see. From how `amar is used in the above eight cases, the Bible acknowledges that the thoughts being discussed are expressible, representable, as word descriptions.
The GGU-model, as theologically applied, uses the Genesis 1:1 - 26, "said" not as an auditable speaking but as a mental speaking, as an "immaterial" thinking. This mode of Divine communication is used throughout much of my writings. Further, Paul also considers this mode of Divine communication as highly significant. Relative to human thoughts, Eccles and Robinson have demonstrated, via laboratory results, that human thoughts include a significant immaterial aspect. (Eccles, J. and D. N. Robinson, 1984. The Wonders of Being Human; Our Brain and Our Mind, The Free Press, New York.) Further, God states in Isaiah 55:8-9 that He has "higher" thoughts. Hence, due to Genesis 1:26, the concept of immaterial thoughts is satisfied.
How do I build a play-set? I take the raw materials and read the instructions. I then take up various tools, then more or less, mentally repeat the instructions and, using the tools, build it. The Genesis account neither includes a set of instructions nor tools. But, it does include the concept of thinking.
From the above analysis, translating "And God said" as "And God thought," I consider as a very reasonable translation of 'amar. In this case, the type of thought being considered also mirrors the notion of a command. The GGU-model processes are modeled after human mental abilities and corresponding observable behavior. But, within the predicted aspects of the model these activities are those of an infinitely strong higher-intelligence. The application of a behavioral choice operator, the standard part operator, transforms these higher-intelligence thought processes, as technically described, into physical reality.
Of considerable significance is that this mental approach to creation satisfies the explicit Hebrews 11:3. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen are not made of things that do appear." The Greek translated here "seen" means "the active use of the eyes." The Greek translated "appear" means "to become evident to the sense of sight." Both refer to the sense of sight and nothing more should be added to this. None of the entities used for the GGU-model processes before application of the standard part operator are observable in any sensory manner by any biological entity or physical machine. It is also interesting that in Rom. 1:20 the Greek translated as "clearly seen" does not actually mean that. It means "mentally perceive, comprehend, understand." The "eye of reason" as some translate it. It may even have a deeper meaning than this. But, it still retains the "mental" notion.
My theological interpretation of the GGU-model is, in general, describable as a model for the transformation of immaterial thoughts into physical reality. These thoughts are certainly "in Him" and most certainly are not "nothing." This verifies the obvious Scriptural intent. I further contend that, at present, we can have no further knowledge as to any detailed description as to "what stuff" comprises God's thoughts or His Spirit and answer such questions as are His thoughts and Spirt equivalent.