Creationism and materialism

Continuing the discussion from Gauger: Alternate Reading Frames Unlike Human Design:

There are two things that I notice about creationists (of the YEC or ID variety):

  1. They frequently rail against materialism and mechanism;

  2. Their own arguments often seem very materialistic and mechanistic.

That’s a good example. The idea of “a fixed creation event in the past” seems materialistic and mechanistic. I always understood that God was supposed to be outside of time and space. God was supposed to be omnipresent – present at all times and at all spatial locations.

For that matter, the YEC reading of Genesis 1 seems very materialistic and mechanistic. For that matter, it is hard to see how you could have a literalistic reading of Genesis 1 without it being materialistic.

It looks to me as if the YEC God and the ID proponent’s God is a materialist.


Oh, alright. Just for you:

“God’s design” is a fixed creation event in our past.

No, it’s not. God’s providence is still currently active, and that involves his design.

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The Bible says that God continues to create. Each of us were physicially created long after that creation described in Genesis 1:1, and God used reproductive and evolutionary processes to do so. (Remember what the Psalm says about God designing people in the womb?). Moreover, Jesus’ followers are called new creations in Christ, a creation brought about through the ongoing creative activity of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the Bible says that God will create a New Heaven and New Earth.

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How about “in our past, present and future”?


We are - all of us, probably including me - far too liberal with the word “create”. When God’s performs a creative miracle today we might all should add the footnote saying, “That is, using all current matter and energy available in the system”.

When God first created - over six days - it was truly out of nothing. Those two usages of “create” are quite different.

Are you sure? For example, Genesis says that man was made from the dust of the ground (something which already existed.) Likewise, Ecclesiastes says that animals were and are made from dust. So why are you uncomfortable with the idea of God making things from matter which he had already created previously?

Where does the Bible state that on each of the six days of Genesis 1 God created ex nihilo (“truly out of nothing”?)


I agree with @AllenWitmerMiller, when I read Genesis 1 I would think it would be a very hard to make a case that any of the living things (plants, animals, people) were created from nothing if you’re reading it literally. Most of the structural bits (light, stars, firmament/vault/dome) don’t indicate one way or another much about being made out of previous stuff, but the language is very different for living things.


Yes, quite right. Our use of “create” is far too liberal for your rigidly materialistic way of thinking.

Your God is a rigid materialist, except when he does some magic poofing. You have made your God into your puppet, whom you control. You require that He be a rigid materialist, except when you pull the “magic poof” string.

For contrast, consider the viewpoint of that famous theologian W.S. Gilbert. (Well, okay, he wasn’t actually a theologian). This is from the operetta “The Mikado”

Notice that the causation proposed there is not bound by our sense of time. Gilbert is giving a teleological account. When the Mikado gave a command, that sets up a final cause.

When people criticize materialism, they often propose teleology as an alternative. But you are rejecting teleology in favor of materialism. And that’s because your rigid literalistic reading of scripture require that you understand it as a materialistic account rather than as a teleological account.

It is the teleological account that you find too liberal.


True. Ultimately speaking, I believe that God made the universe ex nihilo (“out of nothing”) but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I can exegete the Hebrew text of Genesis 1 to make that case explicitly. Genesis 1 has a very different agenda in its message. Even the verb BARA in Genesis 1:1 doesn’t necessarily demand “out of nothing.” (I think that within the Genesis 1:1 context, ex nihilo is implied—but I’m just saying that BARA is not a Hebrew word which must mean out of nothing creation every time it is used.)

I don’t see how @noUCA can possibly claim that “out of nothing” creation applied to every YOM of the Genesis 1 account. (NoUCA has a habit of going beyond the limits of scripture on a regular basis.)


Everybody slow down. Of course I do not believe God made everything we see today from nothing. Run it back far enough, and yes he did, in a fundamental sense. But of course he took existing fundamental materials to make others.

Reading these threads, I am often reminded of this verse:

Would anyone read this passage and decide that they have to be against the findings of developmental biology?


Agreed. The phrase “made from dust” does not override normal processes of embryology, nor does it imply physical determinism. It puts causation squarely into God’s creative “hands.”


Nobody claimed that you did. (That’s yet another red herring in your posts.) My objection was to your claim that everything God made during the six days of Genesis 1 was made “out of nothing.”