Nothing and Everything

It is strange that rational scientists actually believe that everything in the physical universe emerged from nothing. Hence, their Theory of Everything is that everything emerged from nothing by means of a Big Bang. And, according to them, the organization of particles and atoms was the result of gravity. Now, where gravity comes from, they do not know. But, even a four year-old child could understand that only nothing can come from nothing.

When we only use our physical senses and instruments, it appears as though all space, time and matter emerged from nothing. However, this is the appearance, not the reality. According to Big Bang cosmology, the universe emerged from a gravitational singularity. A gravitational singularity is where the gravitational field is infinite. And, since their instruments cannot detect what is infinite, scientists call this “nothing.” The truth is that there is an underlying Infinite Reality beyond space, time and matter.

If what we are seeing is limited by our finite physical senses and instruments, in order to perceive the reality, we would need more powerful senses. In fact, human beings have been endowed with these more powerful senses. We can perceive the higher dimensions of reality by means of mind and heart. When we utilize these higher senses, we discover that natural Light emerged from mental and spiritual Light (Wisdom/Love). And spiritual Light (Love) itself implicitly contains everything. This everything (Love) or infinite complexity is organized harmonically. And this infinite organization is Wisdom.

Nothing can originate from nothing but many things can come from everything. The ultimate substance of the universe is Divine Love and this substance is an infinite complexity that is organized harmonically and intelligently. This organization is Divine Wisdom. Thus, all substances and forms in the universe must only be images of Divine Love and Wisdom. And any love (affection), intelligence (thought) and life (action) in the universe must be derived from God’s Divine Love, Wisdom and Power.

Divine Love is only God’s will or desire to give. In order for this substance to be fully realized, it must be given formal existence and actuality. This is why the universe must emerge by necessity from God’s substance (Love) and form (Wisdom). The physical universe is the means by which Love is put into effect. This is accomplished through usefulness. Every created being is a useful instrument through which God (Divine Love) realizes His purpose. And this purpose is fully realized through a Heaven of angels from the human race where angels and God share the joy of Love.

Now, although God generated the finite and unbounded universe from His substance (Infinite Love) and continually maintains and heals it by flowing into all created beings through correspondence and influx, He remains transcendent and separate from His own creation. ( Still, what is created by God in God is not a continuation of him, since God is intrinsic reality and there is no trace of intrinsic reality in anything created. If there were any intrinsic reality in a created being, it would be a continuation of God, and any continuation of God is God. Emanuel Swedenborg )

People who think rationally and clearly see that the universe was not created from nothing because they see that nothing can arise from nothing. Nothing is simply nothing, and to make something out of nothing is self-contradictory. Anything that is self-contradictory is in conflict with the light of truth that comes from divine wisdom, and if something is not from divine wisdom, it is not from divine omnipotence either.

Everyone who thinks rationally and clearly also sees that everything has been created out of a substance that is substance in and of itself. This is the essential being from which everything that exists can arise. Since only God is substance in and of itself and is therefore essential being, it follows that there is no other source of the arising of things.

Many people do see this, since reason enables them to. However, they do not dare argue it for fear that they might arrive at the thought that the created universe is God because it is from God — either that, or the thought that nature is self-generated, which would mean that its own core is what we call “God.” As a result, even though many people have seen that the only source of the arising of everything is God and God’s essential being, they have not dared move beyond the first suggestion of this. If they did, their minds might get ensnared in a so-called Gordian knot with no possibility of escape. The reason they could not disentangle their minds is that they were thinking about God and God’s creation of the universe in temporal and spatial terms, terms proper to the physical world, and no one can understand God and the creation of the universe by starting from the physical world. Anyone whose mind enjoys some inner light, though, can understand the physical world and its creation by starting from God, because God is not in time and space.

On Divinity not being in space, see 7-10 above; on Divinity filling all space in the universe non-spatially, see 69-72, and on Divinity being in all time non-temporally, see 72-76. We will see later that even though God did create the universe and everything in it out of himself, still there is not the slightest thing in the created universe that is God. There will be other things as well that will shed an appropriate light on the subject. Emanuel Swedenborg [DLW 283]

In their wisdom, angels press on even further. They say that it is not just everything good and true that comes from the Lord, but every bit of life as well. They support this by pointing out that nothing can come into being from itself. Everything presupposes something prior. This means that everything has come into being from a First, which they call the essential reality of the life of everything. Everything endures in the same way, too, because enduring is a constant coming into being. If anything were not kept in constant connection with the First, through intermediate means, it would instantly collapse and disintegrate. They add that there is only one single wellspring of life, with human life as one stream flowing from it. If it were not constantly supplied from its wellspring, it would immediately peter out.

[2] Still further, they say that nothing flows from that unique wellspring of life, the Lord, that is not divinely good and divinely true. These affect every individual according to the way they are accepted. People who accept them into their faith and life are in heaven, while people who reject or stifle them transform them into hell. They actually change what is good into evil and what is true into falsity-life into death.

Angels also support their belief that the Lord is the source of every bit of life by observing that everything in the universe goes back to what is good and true. Our volitional life, the life of our love, goes back to what is good, while our cognitive life, the life of our faith, goes back to what is true. Since everything good and true comes to us from above, it follows that this is the source of all of our life.

[3] Because angels believe this, they decline any thanks offered them for the good they do. In fact they feel hurt and withdraw if anyone gives them credit for anything good. It bewilders them to discover that people can believe they are wise on their own or do good on their own. Doing good for one’s own sake, in their language, cannot be called “good,” because it stems from self. Doing good for its own sake is what they call “good from the Divine.” This, they say, is the kind of good that makes heaven, because this kind of good is the Lord. Good from the Lord has the Lord within it, but good attributed to oneself does not. Emanuel Swedenborg [HH 9]

Everything in the created universe is a vessel for the divine love and wisdom of the Divine-Human One. We acknowledge that everything in the universe, great and small, has been created by God. That is why the universe and absolutely everything in it is called “the work of Jehovah’s hands” in the Word.

People do say that the whole world was created out of nothing, and they like to think of “nothing” as absolutely nothing. However, nothing comes from “absolutely nothing” and nothing can. This is an abiding truth. This means that the universe, being an image of God and therefore full of God, could be created by God only in God. God is reality itself, and everything that exists must come from that reality. To speak of creating something that exists from a “nothing” that does not exist is a plain contradiction of terms.

Still, what is created by God in God is not a continuation of him, since God is intrinsic reality and there is no trace of intrinsic reality in anything created. If there were any intrinsic reality in a created being, it would be a continuation of God, and any continuation of God is God.

The angelic concept involved is that anything created by God in God is like something within ourselves that we have put forth from our life, but the life is then withdrawn from it. It then agrees with our life, but still, it is not our life. In support of this, angels cite many things that happen in their heaven, where they say that they are in God and that God is in them, and yet that they have in their being no trace of God that is actually God. This may serve simply as information; more of the angels’ evidence will be offered later. Emanuel Swedenborg [DLW 55]

What we can see in the created universe bears witness to the fact that nature has brought forth nothing and brings forth nothing. Divinity brings forth everything from itself, and does so through the spiritual world. Many people in our world take events at face value and say that the sun produces the things that we can see in our meadows, fields, gardens, and forests by its warmth and light, that the sun hatches grubs from eggs by its warmth and makes the beasts of the earth and the birds in the sky reproduce, and even that it brings us to life. People can talk this way if they are simply talking in terms of appearances but are not really ascribing these powers to nature. They are not actually thinking about it. It is like people talking about the sun, saying that it rises and sets and makes days and years, that it is now at one height or another. They are likewise talking in terms of appearances, and they can do so, without thinking about the sun as stationary and the earth as revolving.

People who prove to themselves that the sun does produce the things we see on earth by its warmth and light end up giving nature credit for everything, even the creation of the universe. They become materialists and ultimately atheists. They can later say that God created nature and endowed it with the ability to do all this, but they say this out of fear of harm to their reputation. All the while, by “God the Creator” they really mean nature–for some of them, its inmost essence — and completely trivialize the divine qualities that the church teaches.
Emanuel Swedenborg [DLW 349]