What is wrong with this reasoning?

Bill (B), is a strong believer in God
Joe (J), is an atheist

B - God created entirety. Absolutely everything. Nothing existed before God.

J - Nothing? No matter, no energy, no particles, just unbounded void?

B - Yes.

J - How is it logically possible to turn unbounded void into matter/energy, without first adding something? Bear in mind, literally nothing existed that could be added.

B - God can do anything.

 (1) J - OK, granted, God can do anything, provided it is LOGICALLY possible. What you are tell me is that God made [unbounded void] = NOT[unbounded void], That violates the Law of Non-Contradiction.

B - Logic does not apply to God.

J - can God create a square circle?

B - No.

J - correct, because that would be to create something that is both [a square] AND [NOT a square]. In other words he cannot violate the Law of Non-Contradiction. Just as in (1) above.

asked on Friday, Oct 08, 2021 03:48:18 PM by Jim

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Dr. Richard

Mostly this is a failure to understand the two concepts of "something" and "nothing." Of the two, my experience is "nothing" is the most difficult to comprehend.

answered on Saturday, Oct 09, 2021 11:59:06 AM by Dr. Richard

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The contradiction is in the very first sentence. The support arguments are just rhetoric, ad hoc rescue, amazing familiarity, and, of course, theology. 

B - God created entirety. Absolutely everything. Nothing existed before God.

Alrighty then, if God existed that would constitute something. So the claim is goofy right off the bat. 

Nothing excludes creation ex nihilo. If by “nothing” is meant that there is no physical, mental, platonic, or nonphysical entity of any kind, then there can be no God or gods, which means that there cannot be anything outside of nothing from which to create something.

This negates the Judeo Christian theological argument that God created the universe ex nihilo, or “out of nothing,” based on the English translation of Genesis 1:1 that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

This is misleading. Recent scholarship has suggested that the Hebrew word for “creation” in Genesis 1:1 is bara ( ברא )—a verb that more accurately translated means to “separate” or “divide.” Genesis 1:1 should read, “In the beginning, God separated the heavens and the earth.” Separated from what is not indicated.

Furthermore, there is literal, biblical, and extra-biblical evidence that Yahweh fought the Babylonian serpent demon sidekicks of Tiamat named Tohu and Bohu and created the universe from their slain carcasses. So, ironically, even in the Biblical account of creation Yahweh created the universe from something even though they fudged a bit on the Babylonian roots.

answered on Friday, Oct 08, 2021 06:35:30 PM by Mchasewalker

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Daniel writes:

'Furthermore, there is literal, biblical, and extra-biblical evidence that Yahweh fought the Babylonian serpent demon sidekicks of Tiamat named Tohu and Bohu and created the universe from their slain carcasses. So, ironically, even in the Biblical account of creation Yahweh created the universe from something even though they fudged a bit on the Babylonian roots.'


Can you expand on this or post a link with more information?

posted on Saturday, Oct 09, 2021 07:39:00 PM
Mchasewalker writes:

I've answered this on my cell phone three times at great length, but for some reason the text vanished before posting. I'll just try to give you a cursory overview with some references that you can pursue on your own. 

Tohu wa-bohu or Tohu va-Vohu (תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ ṯōhū wā-ḇōhū), is a Biblical Hebrew phrase found in the Genesis creation narrative (Genesis 1:2) that describes the condition of the earth (eretz) immediately before the creation of light in Genesis 1:3. (For a more elaborate investigation it is important to study the biblical references to the serpent gods/demons: Liv-Yatan (Leviathan), Bohu (et al), Nachash/Nechushtan, Rachav, and Taninim, as these are all aspects or variants of the same creatures.

The definitions have evolved over time to basically be associated with any type of disorderly state. ( Dude, did you go to Mary Alice's kegger last night? It was like crazy Tohu Bohu!)  but they basically were interpolated in Hebrew to describe the state of the cosmos before creation as "void" and "without form" prior to YHVH's / Yahweh's / Jehovah's intervention.

The ancient Sumerians believed the early cosmos was a vast sea of chaos ruled by the goddess of the salt sea Tiamat. The etymology goes something like this:

Tehom, Tohu, Tahamat, Tiamat

Genesis 1:2 and 8:2 make TEHOM "the deep"; but this is clearly a late emendation of the original story; for details see TANINIM, but especially the textual commentary on Genesis 1:1-2:3.

The Bible uses TEHOM poetically to mean the seas, or a gulf, or an abyss; but it also uses TOHU in the same verses to mean the void of uncreation, the darkness before the Big Bang. Tehom is the Yehudit form of Tahamat or Tiamat, the primal sea-serpent of original Creation; can we assume that TOHU is the same, or at least an alternative variation?

The affirmative answer to that appears to lie in Psalm 148, verse 7: "Praise YHVH from the Earth, you sea-monsters, and all the deeps", for which "deeps" in the Yehudit is rendered as TEHOMOT (תְּהֹמוֹת), but the sea-monsters are TANINIM (תַּ֝נִּינִ֗ים).

So we need to go back to the root, and that means the Assyrian Tiamat or the Babylonian Tahamat, either way, the goddess of the sea, and specifically a sea-serpent whose cult was served by a prophetess/oracle; the goddess is presumably a later version. But even "goddess of the sea" is not the root of the roots: at the very beginning she was the "primordial ocean" itself, the molecules and elements that preceded Creation, the ones that Genesis calls Tohu and Bohu, the "void" and "chaos" which the Elohim had to overcome in order for the Cosmos to emerge. ( See Treatises on Genesis by Dr. Robert Price )

Mythologists, secular Biblical scholars, and authorities on the Sumerian Babylonian roots of Judaism and all religions: (Steven Herbert Langdon: Semitic Mythology, The Mythology of all Races) pretty much agree that most of the fables, legends, and biblical stories of the OT developed out of Sumerian/Babylonian mythology. 

It’s difficult to emphasize enough the role that serpents and sea creatures played in the very first Bronze Age, High neolithic, pre-biblical religions, but they are both prominent and ubiquitous in ancient artifacts dating back thousands and thousands of years (2350–2150 and much earlier).

In fact, the first divine figureheads were goddesses and they were not particularly benevolent nurturers, but all-devouring, consuming, and terrifyingly awesome. These goddesses were considered ‘Serpent Brides” to the male godhead who remained in serpent form or shape-shifted back and forth. We see this recurring motif in King Gudea’s votive cup The Serpent Lord Sumer 2025 BCE and continuing for eons through Sumerian, Babylonian, Pre-Homerian Greece, and eventually Judeo-Christian myths, and later into daring knights in armor fighting dragons.

In Genesis, we get hints of this religious-cultural appropriation of the serpent creatures being destroyed by the newly emerging dying and rising hero, Yahweh, who was quickly gaining favor over the earlier polytheistic traditions of Judaism.

See Monotheism and Polytheism in Ancient Israel (The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel  Benjamin D. Sommer The Jewish Theological Society of America).

Note: The Jewish-Anguipede or serpent-footed chicken depiction of Yahweh. (See Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period by Erwin R. Goodenough).

I should add that most secular religious scholars regard Yahweh as a Dying Rising God that gained favor out of all the early gods and goddesses of Ancient Jewish Polytheism. See Monotheism and Polytheism in Ancient Israel (The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel  Benjamin D. Sommer The Jewish Theological Society of America 

He has been compared to Thor who actually is an older folk deity than Wotan or Odin who slew the Midgard serpent. Jehovah is also compared to the Greek and Roman father gods, Zeus and Jove. In fact, many mythologists believe the name Jehovah evolved from a misinterpretation of Jupiter or Jove. ( See Joseph Campbell's Masks of God series.)

There you go! You're off and running.

posted on Monday, Oct 11, 2021 01:07:53 PM
Monique Z writes:

"In Genesis, we get hints of this religious-cultural appropriation of the serpent creatures being destroyed by the newly emerging dying and rising hero, Yahweh, who was quickly gaining favor over the earlier polytheistic traditions of Judaism."

Not sure how this connection is being made given that YHWH is never depicted as dying in the Tanakh, or ever in Hebraic tradition. The name YHWH does not appear in the book of Genesis at any time. A dying and rising being was a belief that the Hebrews adamantly rejected, and a large part why Jews are not Christians. 

Secondly, there's no parallel to the dying and rising Jesus and previous mythologies other than dying and rising. There is no serious scholar that contends the story of Jesus's death and resurrection was stolen from ancient myths. 

A quote from wiki:

"The Christ myth theory is a fringe theory that is rejected by virtually all scholars and supported only by few tenured or emeritus specialists in biblical criticism or cognate disciplines.It is criticised for its outdated reliance on comparisons between mythologies and deviates from the mainstream historical view"


"So we need to go back to the root, and that means the Assyrian Tiamat or the Babylonian Tahamat, either way, the goddess of the sea, and specifically a sea-serpent whose cult was served by a prophetess/oracle; the goddess is presumably a later version"

This isn't anything like the story in Genesis. The only parallel is that there's a serpent in each story. The serpent is not a God, and no connection is made between the serpent and water. 

That's like saying the lion king was borrowed from the book of Daniel because there's mention of a lion in both. 

posted on Thursday, Oct 14, 2021 07:20:01 AM
Mchasewalker writes:

Of course, you've stunningly missed the point, but why am I not surprised? You've persistently demonstrated your doctrinarian obduracy and bias in this forum. So, I wouldn't expect you to behave any differently when confronted with any scholarship that challenges your own particularly parochial one.  (Wikipedia? Puhleeze! How pathetic.) 

Wikipedia is notorious for its vulnerability to fundamentalist meddling and misinformation. Sadly, its founder Jimmy Wales has stated he is not so much interested in fact as he is in what can be supported with citations. We all know that the 2,000-year-old effort to rewrite, revise, reinterpret, and in some instances actually forge the Christian record has left us infinite volumes of dubious  Christian "citations" posing as history and alleged eye-witness accounts.

As Francis Beare writes:

"Everything that has been recorded of the Jesus of history was recorded for us by men to whom he was Christ the Lord, and we cannot expunge their faith from the records without making the records themselves virtually worthless. There is no Jesus known to history except him who is depicted by his followers as the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour to the World.: (1962, p. 19).

The references I've cited along with their sources are the contributions of scholars of Semitic mythology, religious mythology, and both Biblical and extra-Biblical Babylonian roots of ancient Judaism; including the Iron Age emergence of Yahweh as supreme above the pantheon of other Jewish polytheistic godheads (Elohim, El Shaddai, Adonai, Theos Hypsistos, Lord Sabaoth, Lord Sabazios, Zeus Sabazios, etc.) 

I used the tetragrammaton YHVH as it is the Hebrew version of Yahweh and Jehovah sans the vowels. Hebrew does not use vowels.  It is also a Jewish tradition to not speak or write G-d's name in full. Thus you will find the substitute JAH in various Christian translations as well. It should be noted that this is why Jamaican Rastas use the term JAH in their Reggae lyrics and devotions as the Anglican Bible they were legally restricted to read used only that specific abbreviation.

In the point of view of mythological experts such as Otto Rank, Edouard Meyer, Wilhelm de Wett, Stephen Langdon, Joseph Campbell, Jane Ellen Harriman, and many, many others, Yahweh is a latter-day Jewish deity and Iron Age contemporary of Thor, Zeus, and Jove.

Thor is celebrated in the Eddas for his epic cosmological battle with the Midgard serpent, and it is believed that their existential struggle will eventually bring about Ragnarok, the end of creation. Thor is also an excellent example of the emerging Iron age deity with the marvelous addition of his devastating iron hammer weapon known as  Mjölnir.

As far as Zeus is concerned the archeological record reveals that Zeus in his serpent form played an important role in The Eleusinian Mysteries and is depicted as a serpent in the excavation of ancient votives dating back to the Sixth century BCE.

Similarly, the Roman iteration of Zeus as Jupiter and his folk exchanges with serpents was a favorite recurrent tale from various oral traditions from the 6th century BCE and finally recorded in Aesop's fables. 

The account of Yahweh fashioning the universe from the slain carcasses of earlier serpent gods and goddesses is supported by various mentions in the  Tanakh and in many, many syncretic mythologies of that period. If the gods or goddesses are not slain outright then they are typically villainized as demons such as the seducer figure in Eden, or even with the serpent-headed Medusa of Greek mythology.)

The New gods and heroes of the Iron Age slew the old serpent gods and demons of the Bronze Age as a testament of their supremacy above all other gods and tribes. Yahweh is no exception. 

The fact that this story is different in detail from the account described in Genesis is because it was purposefully revised and adapted to obscure its Semitic Babylonian origins. (Probably by the Babylonian Rabbi Ezra Ca. 395 BCE). Likewise with the 2 versions of Creation in Genesis, the Garden of Eden, the creation of Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood,  and even the invention of Moses who was a composite of actual historical Semitic figures of Sargon of Akkad and Hammurabi, the Law giver.

The Babylonian capture, enslavement, and subsequent exile of the Jews from Babylon was switched to Egypt ( again, probably by Ezra the Scribe) to appease his Persian sponsors and conquerors, and also because it was a core belief of early Judaism that nothing holy or good could ever arise out of Babylon. Most historians and archaeologists today agree that there is no evidence whatsoever to confirm that the Exodus from Egypt ever occurred. Whereas the Babylonian capture and subsequent exile is an established historical fact. 

Future ideations of Yahweh progressed through early Jewish monotheism under the Persian rule of Artaxerxes (who personally proclaimed Rabbi Ezra's compilation of the Jewish history to be "The Book of the Law of the Jewish people."

The Seleucid ruler Antiochus believed the Jews could easily be converted to worship Zeus over Yahweh. It was in this firm belief Antiochus went so far as to erect a statue of Zeus in the Second temple which became known as the abomination of desolation.

And while this eventually lead to the Jewish revolt and overthrow of the Greeks by the Romans, Hellenized Judaism would spread rapidly through the Levant and evolve into what would become Early Christianity.

As far as Jewish concepts of resurrection goes, T’chiyat hameitim, is a core doctrine of Jewish theology. Jewish mythology and OT stories occasionally refers to prophets and others who were resurrected from death, or lifted directly into eternity after bypassing death altogether. 

As for Jesus, it is a historical fact that dying and rising gods were not just ubiquitous throughout the Levant in the 1st and 2nd Centuries CE (if not for hundreds of years prior) they were an essential ritual belief and practice for dozens of contemporary Mystery schools, religions, and baptismal cults of that period.  Dying from one's old self and becoming "born again" was the ritual purpose of baptism and most mystery school religions. ( See The Relationship between Hellenistic Mystery Religions and Early Christianity: A Case Study using Baptism and Eucharist by Jennifer Uzzell

Plutarch described at length in his Disciplina Etrusca just how many rising and dying gods and heroes were popular and common literary motifs around the time assigned to Jesus: 

"Romulus, Quirinus, the Greek fables of Aristeas the Proconnesian, and Cleomides the Astypalaean; for they say Aristeas died in a fuller's workshop, and his friends coming to look for him, found his body vanished; and that some presently after, coming from abroad, said they met him traveling toward Croton. They say, too, the body of Alcema, as they were carrying her to her grave, vanished, and a stone was found lying on the bier. And many such improbabilities do your fabulous writers relate—“

Other Sources: Joseph Campbell Gods and Heroes of the Levant pp 95-97

Wilhelm M.L. de Wette Beitrage zur Einleitung in das Alte Testament Translated by
Theodore Parker

Eduard Meyer Geschichte des Altertums Vol 2 Part 2 pp 188-190

Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, by Donald A. MacKenzie. W.O.E Oesterly and Theodore H. Robinson, An Introduction to the Books of the Old Testament, W.W. Tarn, etc.

Also Reinvestigating the Antediluvian Sumerian King List – by R. K. Harrison The Sumerian King List – by Thorkild Jacobsen (The Oriental Institute of the University of California).

Sent from my iPhone


posted on Thursday, Oct 14, 2021 03:47:06 PM

Hi, Jim!

Bill says that nothing existed before God. Joe asks if “nothing” refers to unbounded void. Bill answers yes. What? Bill is saying that unbounded void existed before God existed? Something tells me that Bill wasn’t thinking clearly and just agreed to something that he did not really mean to. It seems both men unwittingly went along with a reification fallacy regarding “nothing”, treating it as a boundless void preceding God in existence. Actually, “nothing” is a universal quantifier. What Bill probably wanted to say is that it is false that something preceded God in existence. Of course, that clarification ought to change the course of the conversation. Note also that theism does not maintain that absolutely everything is created by God. As Walker pointed out, such a claim would absurdly apply to God (God created God.)


Thank you, Jim.

From, Kaiden

answered on Friday, Oct 08, 2021 09:58:05 PM by Kaiden

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Jim writes:

Hi Kaiden!

I think there's a bit of ambiguity around the unbounded void (true "nothing"), and Bill is trying to say (in eternity past) that God was the only entity that existed. We're classing unbounded void as "nothing". and so "nothing" existed before God.

Also, God creating everything is meant to be understood as everything, except itself, but since this is a logic site, you have to take everything literally.

I think the core point Joe is making is that is is logically impossible to change nothing into something, without first adding something (but you can't, because nothing (bar God) exists.



posted on Saturday, Oct 09, 2021 12:45:21 PM
Kaiden writes:

[To Jim]

We're classing unbounded void as ‘nothing’. and so ‘nothing’ existed before God… I think the core point Joe is making is that is is logically impossible to change nothing into something…


Yes, they agreed to classify “nothing” as unbounded void. But this commits the reification fallacy, as I said. And Joe makes his point in the wake of committing this fallacy. Do you disagree that they committed the reification fallacy? If so, why?

[ login to reply ] posted on Monday, Oct 11, 2021 09:47:51 AM
Jim writes:

[To Kaiden]

I'm not sure if it's reification : "representing an abstract as being something material". Is unbounded void referring to the material, or the the immaterial? It refers to the ABSENCE of anything material. I think this is where the problem lies. So, perhaps Bill should have said something like "All that existed was God, and nothing else". Or, "All that existed was God, and unbounded void".  

There is a lot of confusion as to what "nothing" is. A argues that it is theoretically possible for space to contains nothing, no particles, no energy, no fields, nothing. B then says "ah but it contains gravity", which is true. Even space is "something", regardless of what it contains, because it is bounded.

Space, volume, and area only have meaning if they are bounded.

So, "unbounded void" is the only way I can describe pure "nothingness", and logically, it could exist.

If you wanted to convey the message that at some time in the past, only God existed, would you just say that, and nothing else?

[ login to reply ] posted on Monday, Oct 11, 2021 01:47:17 PM
Kaiden writes:
[To Jim]

I suppose it is easier for people to associate concreteness with physicality, but it seems to me that the point of the reification fallacy is not that a concept is treated as a physical object in the course of an argument, but that it is treated as having a concreteness that it doesn’t have. 

Even if they do not commit the reification fallacy, they still fall into some mistake or other. When Bill said that “nothing existed before God”, the discussion should not have led to talking about “nothing” in that sentence as unbounded void or pure nothingness. The sentence means just that it is false that something existed before God.

[ login to reply ] posted on Wednesday, Oct 13, 2021 01:08:11 PM
Daniel writes:

'is logically impossible to change nothing into something'

It is physically impossible (at this time) for a human to turn nothing into something, but it is not logically impossible for an all powerful, all knowing, self existent mind to do so.

posted on Monday, Oct 11, 2021 02:39:55 AM
Jim writes:
[To Daniel]

In order to turn [nothing] into [something], you first have to add [something]. If that "something" does not exist, then it is logically impossible.

It's like trying to change 0 into 1 without adding anything to the 0. It's logically impossible.

[ login to reply ] posted on Monday, Oct 11, 2021 02:05:28 PM
Daniel writes:

Ok, I think I get you now. Does this mean you think the material universe has existed eternally? It seems like your logic rules out both creation and big bang models.

posted on Tuesday, Oct 12, 2021 04:36:40 PM