Thursday, November 11, 2004

Pancreationism

Over at Prosthesis I found a post that is relevant to my discussion with Anthony Flood on creatio ex nihilo, total dependence and cognate matters.

Prosthesis writes:

So Clouser suggests pancreationism, rather [than the?] classic view, as a way to explain these Scriptures. Pancreationism, then, states that "Everything other than God is his creation and nothing in creation, about creation, or true of creation is self-existent."

BV: That agrees with what I said as far as I can tell. 'Pancreationism' might not be the best name for it, however, given that God is not one of the things created. Part of the idea here seems to be that all truths are created. If so, then all necessary truths are created, which implies that the truths of logic and mathematics are created. So the Law of Non-Contradiction and the theorem of Pythagoras and Zorn's Lemma are all created. I have no problem with this properly understood. Take the Pythagorean theorem. This proposition is necessarily true, which implies that it necessarily exists. Hence there is no time and no possible world at which it is false or nonexistent. To say that it is created (or is a creature) is just to say that it exists as an accusative of the divine intellect so that, if God were (per impossibile) not to exist, then this proposition would not exist. To invoke a distinction of Aquinas (Is that allowed in Dutch Reformed circles? ), there are entities whose necessity is from another, namely, God, whose necessity is from himself.

Now back to creation ex nihilo - "God creates, but not out of something distinct from himself." That definition still doesn't sit quite right with me. I think that under a pancreationist view, creation ex nihilo means something along the lines of "all of creation is totally dependent on God and nothing else." Creation does not exist, in itself. To speak about "out of something" or "out of nothing" is to speak from an existence-oriented view, which Clouser would reject.

BV: I am going to have to bone up on my Dooyeweerd. (My background is RC, though one of my best friends in grad school was Don Knudsen, son of R. D. Knudsen. Don would periodically hit me over the head with A New Critique of Theoretical Thought, a weighty tome indeed.) So I'm not quite sure what Prosthesis is uncomfortable with in my formulation, "God creates, but not out of something distinct from himself."

Clearly, some of the non-divine things that exist are contingent: they exist in some but not all possible worlds. Now if God creates contingent being C, and ex nihilo nihil fit holds, then God creates out of something, but not out of something distinct from himself. What exactly is the problem?