Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Biblical Creator/creature distinction vs “Chain of Being” metaphysics

I found this discussion this morning about the Biblical Creator/creature distinction, and its absolute contrast with “chain of being” or “continuity of being” metaphysics found in ancient pagan and some Medieval writers (such as Thomas Aquinas). The author refers to pagan creation texts, and then contrasts these with Genesis:

In the Genesis text, however, God is wholly separate from the universe. He is prior to all things. All else originates from Him. They come into existence, not by transformation from His Being, but by His spoken Word they come into existence from nothing (creatio ex-nihilo). There is thus an absolute, transcendental distinction between the Creator and all else.  

Over against the Bible’s Creator-creature distinction, paganism insists upon the unity of creator(s) and creations. Gods, men, animals, and rocks are all part of the same existence or being. This is the doctrine of the Chain of Being or Continuity of Being, a doctrine you will find lurking in all forms of paganism from ancient times through New Testament times (where it was related to the Gnostic heresy) to modern cosmic evolution. You will hear about this false doctrine again and again in the following chapters. It is spiritual poison.

Implied by the Continuity of Being idea and overtly present in some pagan origin-myths, is the concept of spontaneous generation. Since the universe basically is of one kind, everything within it differs only in degree. Thus the universe has power to bring forth life from non-life all by itself. Man is just a part of Nature. Contrast this situation with the Bible’s teaching about non-transgressable boundaries between man, each kind of animal, and each kind of plant (Gen. 1:11-12, 21, 24-25, 27).

An apparent corollary to the Continuity of Being is that the spontaneous transformations take vast amounts of time. Note the line in Enuma elish, “They lived many days, adding years (to days).” Contrast this slowness with the suddenness of God’s creative work (Ps. 33:9) done in six days (Exod. 20:11).

The first fundamental contrast between Genesis and ancient paganism, then, is between the Creator-creature distinction and the gradually self-transforming Continuity of Being.

Here is more along these lines:

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