Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Creation, the formation of a materia] universe by the exercise of the Divine Will. As a philosophical theory of cosmogony (q.v.) it conflicts, on the one hand, with the Oriental theory of emanation, according to which the world is a necessary product of the Divine nature; and with the modern view of evolution (q.v.) in some of its developments, as enunciated by some students of physical science, according to which the existing order is the necessary result of forces inherent in an eternally-existent matter or force. Both these theories appear to some extent to place a necessity above the Deity; the first in assuming another cause behind the First Cause, while evolution, though consistent with an original creative act, seems to involve a necessary sequence of cause and effect in subsequent production. "The whole creation," says Professor Huxley, "is the result of the mutual interaction, according to definite laws, of the forces possessed by the molecules, of which the primitive nebulosity of the universe was composed." This view throws back the question to that of the origin of force or motion. Yet St. Thomas Aquinas writes : "Only because creation was out of nothing, is God the First, Absolute, and Essential Cause of all things."

Entirely distinct from the question of the creation of the world are those of the interpretation of the six days of creation in the first chapter of Genesis and of the "special" creation of each species of plant and animal. As to the former question many diverse views have been held by orthodox thinkers. A long pause has been suggested between the creation of the heaven and the earth recorded in verse 1 and the creation of what is supposed to be the existing order of things described in later verses. Six periods of indefinite duration, corresponding, it is argued, to divisions of the geological record, has been a favourite view. Six visions from evening to morning vouchsafed to the inspired narrator is another suggestion; and, lastly and more metaphysical, six acts of the Divine volition, each possibly extending over a natural day of twenty-four hours, creating, not the actualities, but all future potentialities of nature. Heterodox interpreters look upon this cosmogony as merely the Hebrew guess at truth. As to this it is only necessary to make the obvious remarks; first, that the object of Genesis as of every other book in the Bible is clearly moral and not scientific, and that, therefore, even on the view of plenary inspiration only a general, perhaps rather a literary or poetical, correspondence with the teaching of science, is to be expected; and, secondly, that, as compared to every other cosmogony possibly older or contemporary or later and heathen, this Hebrew belief has at once a sublimity, a precision, a simplicity, and a reasonableness that are at least remarkable.

As to the belief, naturally entertained before the careful observation of the variability of animal and vegetable forms, that the innumerable kinds or "species" of plants and animals have been originally created each distinct from each and immutable, it is, in the words of Sir Joseph Hooker, "purely speculative, incapable from its very nature of proof, teaching nothing and suggesting nothing, . . . the despair of investigators and inquiring minds." Some form of the doctrine of descent with modification is now held by almost every naturalist.