The Concept of God as Creator

The Concept of God as Creator

There are two basic accounts of the Creation of the world:

  • The 1st - "six days" viersion = God creating by word
  • 2nd - the story of Adam and Eve = God moulding/crafting things into existence 

Explain how the Bible shows God to be a creator:

  • Judeo-Christian (i.e. Jewish and Christian) tradition states a number of key things that are meant when God is described as Creator. These ideas are derived from the Bible 
    • God causes the universe to exist
    • God is responsible for the universe coming into existence and sustaining it 
    • God is responsible for everything in the universe 
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The Concept of God as Creator: Genesis 1 & 2

Gen 1 = concerned with creation of universe. Gen 2 = sets out God's relationship with humanity. Other passages in the Bible that tell us about God's creative nature are Isaiah 40:22-23, Job 38

Gen 1 

  • The world was created in 6 days 
  • Earth "without form and void" and the "spirit of God" moving over the face of the earth 
  • God seems more remote and transcenent, like Aristotle's Prime Mover
  • God creates different parts of the universe on each day 
  • In each case the creation is by word - "God said" e.g. light and dark, waters above and below sky, heaven seperated from earth, land and sea and vegetation, the sun moon and stars, living creatures 
  • He is able to create via word alone - omnipotence 
  • The story seems to have Greek influecnes - Spirit of God - logos (the wisdom/word of God) Intelligent aspect of God reflected in the way that God creates simply by command 
  • The logos is sometimes compared to Plato's Forms 
  • Gen 1 clearly shows that God pre-exists the creation of the world and shows God's complete power over creation - omnipotence 
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The Concept of God as Creator: Genesis 1 & 2

Gen 2

  • Involves creation of Adam and Eve and accounts of the Fall
  • Different from Gen 1 - God is pictured in a more super-human way, walking, talking and getting angry; havving more of a relationship with humanity 
  • The creating activity is crafting 
  • Adam is created/crafted "of dust from the earth and is breathed into the breath of life"
  • Purpose of creation of mankind - "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it." Gen 2:15
  • God is more involved/immanent - providing for creation and becoming angry when they disobey 
  • There is a command that they do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, on threat of death. Eve, the help of Adam, was tempted by the serpent toe eat the fruit. They were caught by God and shamed - thrown out of Eden - this is the Fall.
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The Concept of God as Creator: Genesis 1 & 2

Comparing and Contrasting Gen 1 and 2

  • Gen 1 = God created via word. Gen 2 = crafting, more hands on
  • Both accounts regard humans as a high creation 
  • Gen 2. shows a more immanent relationship between God and mankind, whereas Gen 1 shows God to more transcendent

God as craftsmen 

  • God is a skilled builder of the world. In Job 238 God is seen as the designer who laid the foundations of the earth 
  • In Gen 2. God making Adam and Eve from the dust is likened to a potter shaping the clay 
  • This is a human-life image of God - anthropomorphic 
  • God related to mankind, there is a relationship between man and God that allows him to reward or punish the, 
  • This is different from the sterile power seen by the Greeks
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The Concept of God as Creator: Creatio ex Nihilo

Meaning of Creatio ex Nihilo:

  • Meaning - creation out of nothing 
  • Believed that God created the whole universe, along with everything existing out of nothing 
  • The belief comes from both Genesis and Job 
  • The belief replaced the implied idea from Gen 1. that God crafted an order from a pre-existing mass, this raises a question whether to which is Biblical - pre-existing or ex nihilo?
  • The Creatio ex Nihilo = appealing as it fits with Big Bang 
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Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence

These titles and attributes tell us something about the greatest of God  Omnipotence = all-powerful

  • This is a quality of God the creator, telling people the limitless power of God 
  • This is shown clearly in the depiction of God controlling the chaos before creation (Gen 1:1-2)
  • God also lays the foundation of earth, governing the night and day: "Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place." (Job 38:12)
  • Gen 1. shows God's complet power over creation 
  • Also in Isiah 40:22-23 "It is he who sits above the circle of earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers... who brings princes to naught and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing." 
  • God's power is presdent throughout the creation 
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Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence

Omnipresence - all-present 

  • God is present in all parts of his creation, sustaining them 
  • Because God is present somehow, he is aware of everything in the universe
  • The presence of God is recurring in the Bible - God is present in creation when he moves over the earth (Gen 1), present in Eden (Gen 3), present at the foundations of the the earth and in the heavens (Job 38)

Omniscience - all-knowing/all-seeing 

  • All knowledge of everything = past, present and future 
  • He knows the intention of people better than they themselves know 
  • E.g. when Eve eats the fruit of the tree he knew
  • God has limitless knowledge of creation and its function 
  • Job 38-39 shows omniscience "Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? (Job 38:33)
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Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence

Although man has an aspect of all these qualities, God is unique in the extent of his power, presence and knowledge.

Other qualities of God:

  • Eternal - Boethius argued God is timeless, with the whole past, present and future in front of him 
  • Giver of Freewill - God gave man free will to choose good or evil 
  • Perfection - God is good and perfect, whatever he creaties it is good 
  • Immutable- God is unchanging and doesn't have the potential to develop as he is already perfect, similar to Aristotle's Prime Mover 
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Comparison between the Bible and Aristotle on God

  • Aristotle's PM is transcedent, creates by thought/word rather than movement or crafting. This fits with the account of Gen 1
  • However, Gen 2. shows us a more immanent God, this is against Aristotle's PM, because if the PM intereacts it would have the potential to change, thus making it no longer the unchanged Prime Mover 
  • Gen 2. shows that God talks to mankind, having a relationship as well as being high and above, but the PM appears uncaring, but is still high and above 
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If God is creator, is he responsible for what happ

Assumed that if God is the creator then he is responsible for everything we do, however, God has given humanity free will to choose between good and evil - hence, God is not totally responsible. 

The problem of evil challenges the "omni" titles applied to God - if God has all these omni qualities then his power and knowledge should be able to stop evil, but he doesn't therefore he must be responsible for the evil in the world (Hume's Inconsistent Triad)

But it you understand that God gave mankind free will then mankind is partly responsible (Ireneaus, Vardy, Swinburne's FWD)

And manybe God's omniscience knows something we don't about evil's purpose - e.g. an ant in the carpet: the ant thinks the different colour strands of the carpet causes it unnecessary grief, but the carpet maker knows the purpose of it, yet the ant doesn't. 

If God is omnipotent then what does that make him responsible for? If God responsible for everything? Does God know everything that is happening due to his omniscience? Shouldn't he be able to stop it before it happens or control it? Why is there evil in the world if God's creation is good?

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