CreationCreation is the process of making something new.
When written in English with a capital letter, Creation or The Creation, is a casual reference to the origin of the Universe, or to the universe or cosmos itself. This colloquial use of the term refers, not always intentionally, to the belief that all things have a beginning. The creation of all things, the process by which the present cosmos began, is a subject of scientific, religious, and mythological interest.
Several religions have creation beliefs, some of which account for the existence and present form of the Universe by the act of creation by a supreme being or creator god. Most of these accounts depict one or several gods fashioning things out of themselves, or from pre-existing material.
Exceptions to this idea are the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which for the most part speak of creation ex nihilo (Latin: out of nothing). This is typified, for example, by the assumption that the first verse of the Bible ("In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth") indicates that only God is self-existent, and all other things have their being from God. 2 Maccabees 7:28 shows that this may have been a common Jewish understanding of creation: "I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, and consider that God made them of things that were not ...". This is very like the language of the Christian view in Hebrews 11:3, which states, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear".
However, in these traditions, the belief that God gave shape to pre-existing things was not unheard of, and that idea became more fully articulated especially under the influence of Greek philosophy. In both, Judaism and Christianity, belief in creation "from nothing" began to dominate the traditions more completely, sometime in the second century C.E., as a way of asserting that God alone is eternal, in reaction to the implications of philosophy. The following quote from the second century rabbi, Gamiliel II, illustrates this reaction:
- A philosopher said to R. Gamiliel: Your God was a great craftsman, but he found himself good materials which assisted him: Tohu wa-Bohu, and darkness, and wind, and water, and the primeval deep. Said R. Gamiliel to him: May the wind be blown out of that man! Each material is referred to as created. Tohu wa-Bohu: "I make peace and create evil"; darkness: "I form the light and create darkness"; water: "Praise him, ye heaven of heavens, and ye waters" -- why? -- "For he commanded, and they were created"; wind: "For, lo, He that formeth the mountains, and created the wind"; the primeval deep: "When there were no depths, I was brought forth". BR 1.9, Th-Alb:8
Most modern atheists and agnostics hold that the universe came into existence a finite time ago through purely natural causes. Those holding this opinion assert evidence that the cosmos developed on its own, through an evolutionary process, and even the beginning of things can be accounted for naturally. The existence of a god is not necessary to this view of origins, because the beginning referred to is not an absolute one, "out of nothing". In this sense, scientists have advanced a number of scientific theories of the origin of the universe, including the Big Bang theory, which theorizes that the universe is of finite age, but its "beginning" can be accounted for by natural processes. The Big Bang theory is currently the most popular scientific creation theory, as it has passed a number of experimental tests, including measurements of the anisotropy of the cosmic background radiation, that could not have been known at the time the theory was first proposed.
The belief that a supreme being actually created the universe out of nothing, is at odds with a version of the theory of evolution which posits that the origin of all things can, in principle, be fully accounted for by reference to natural processes alone. Although nearly all ideas of creation include evolution of some kind, creation ex nihilo denies that the beginning of things was a natural process, and therefore presupposes the acts of God rather than natural processes, as the ultimate reference for creation. See creationism for further discussion.