L. Franklin (Levi Franklin) Gruber.

Creation ex nihilo : the physical universe a finite and temporal entity online

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FEB 14 1918

BL 225 .G8 1918

Gruber, L. Franklin 1870


Creation ex nihilo

■•— ■ I Nw- (


FEB 14 1911







With a Foreword by





All Rights Reserved

Made in the United States of America

The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.


If the men of science could distinguish between their legiti-
mate scientific conclusions and their metaphysical speculations,
and if Christian apologists were less ready than some of them
are to set limits to the realm of secondary causes, Science and
Religion would have no difficulty in lying down together without
either being incorporated in the other. Professor Asa Gray
occupied a position in the scientific world scarcely second to any
other authority. Yet he had no difficulty in accepting, on the
one hand, the Nicene Creed, and, on the other, the Darwinian
theory of the origin of species through natural selection. But
this did not interfere with his implicit belief of a pervasive design
in nature. One of his latest publications was entitled "Dar-
winian Teleology," in which he showed conclusively that, how-
ever much the Darwinian theory might extend the action of
natural causes, it could not supersede the necessity of a design-
ing mind to set those causes in operation, and to direct their
course. The greater and more complicated the machinery to
produce definite results, the greater and more complicated is the
design, calling for a more exalted conception of the designer.
A book printed by the linotype process involves even more evi-
dence of design than one printed from separate type set up by

The men of science properly deal only with secondary causes,
from observation of which they draw conclusions of more or
less probability with reference to conditions both past and future.
Their investigations never lead them to ultimate facts. It is
still as true as ever that, however much you may lengthen the
chain of natural causes, you cannot reach the ultimate link that
fastens it to its permanent support.

With regard to the ultimate source of the universe of sec-
ondary causes, only three suppositions are possible : ( i ) that the
self-existent eternal cause was spiritual and personal; (2) that
it was material; and (3) that both spiritual and material
essences were self-existent and eternal. The man of science who
assumes that the self-existent cause of all things was material,

2 Foreword

instead of simplifying the mystery of existence has gratuitously
multiplied it ; for, out of purely material forces, he must develop
personality and design — qualities that do not inhere in material
particles and forces. If, on the other hand, he assumes the
self-existence of both spiritual and material essences, he has
made a gratuitous supposition which makes his mystery three-
fold ; for it involves the mystery of the union of the two inde-
pendent, self-existent, ultimate causes. Whereas the theist uni-
fies the mystery (which is a scientific process), and finds in sec-
ondary causes (which on examination seem to be more and
more spiritual) the handiwork of the Creator — too complicated,
indeed, for us to fully understand, but whose nature can be easily
apprehended by faith. In these secondary causes we can clearly
"find God," though we cannot by any means "find Him out."

It is gratifying in these times of ephemeral publications to get
hold of a treatise which goes to the bottom of the matter,
which is not content with mere generalities but ferrets out all
the ambiguities, fallacies, and non-sequiturs of atheism, material-
ism, monism, and agnosticism and brings them to the test of
the most recent and most reasonable scientific conceptions of the
universe. The author is specially strong in the use of the facts
which demonstrate the finite and temporal character of the
universe and the evidences of design apparent both in organic
and inorganic nature. The work displays profound and most
complete knowledge of the latest theories of astronomy, chem-
istry, physics, and biology.

We have followed with greatest 'interest the argument of
Dr. Gruber in the present volume, and can most highly com-
mend it for its comprehensiveness, and for the skill which is
shown in stating the arguments for Theism, and in answering
the supposed objections which have been raised by modern
scientific discoveries. The volume commends itself equally to
theologians and to men of science, and if read will do much to
bring these classes together on a plane where they can reason
together without animosity and work together in the promotion
of the common ends of science and religion.

G. Frederick Wright.
Oberliuj Ohio,
July 2$, 1917


chapter page

Foreword ^

Introduction 9

I Theories as to the Origin of the Universe . . . .15

I Several Speculative Theories Briefly Stated . . 15
II Scriptural Idea of Creation Ex Nihilo — A Transcen-
dental One 19

1 Man's Limitations as to the Conception of Such

an Idea 19

2 Man's Limitations as to the Expression of Such an

Idea 24

II Materialism's Explanation of the Universe Inadequate . 28

I As to Inorganic Nature > .28

1 The Reasoning or Method and the Spirit of

Materialism Anti-Theistic 29

2 The Premises of Materialism Matters of In-

definite Unfounded Scientific Faith ... 32
II As to Organic Nature • 35

1 According to Materialism, Life and Mind Only-

Forms or Results of Energy .... 36

2 A Life-Pervaded Organism Essentially Different

from an Inanimate Crystallization . . . 38

3 The Supposed Cosmozoic Origin of Terrestrial

Life Examined .42

4 The Cosmozoic Hypothesis Inadequate to Explain

Life's Ultimate Origin '45

5 The Theory of Spontaneous Generation Examined

and Found Inadequate 47

6 The Theory of Nature as a Living Organism In-

adequate to Account for Life .... 50

7 Materialism's Necessary Fatalism Fatal to Itself 52

III Three Postulates as to a First and Necessarily Eternal

Existence 55

I Postulate of Eternal Co-Existence of Spirit and Mat-
ter Untenable 55

II Postulate of Eternal Existence of Matter Alone Un-

tenable 56

1 This Postulate Implies a Contradictory Multiplic-

ity of First Causes 59

2 This Postulate Implies the Impossibility that All

Energy, Life and Mind Have Sprung from
Matter 61

A Arguments for Eternity of Matter Equally

Valid for Eternity of Life and Mind . . 62

B More than Matter in the Universe ... 64


4 Contents


C Matter an Inadequate Cause to Produce Life

and Mind 65

D Life and Mind Necessarily from an Im-
material Supernatural, or Spiritual, Source 67
3 This Postulate Implies that the Physical Universe

Is Infinite, Which Is Contrary to Fact . . 69
III Postulate of Eternal Existence of Spirit Alone Tenable

and True ......... 70

IV The Physical Universe Finite and Temporal and There-
fore A Creature — Evidence from Dependence . . 75

I Evidence from Apparently Simultaneous or Syn-

chronous Dependence, Proving an Independent
and Absolute Upholder 77

1 No Series of Supports and Dependences Infinite . 78

2 Action of Gravitation an Evidence of Finiteness

and Dependence ....... 79

II Evidence from Successive or Chronological Depend-
ence, Necessitating an Uncaused Eternal Origina-
tor . . 80

1 The Law Governing Secondary Causes Illustrated 8i

2 All Series of Secondary Causes Finite, Leading

Up to an Infinite First Cause .... 83

3 The Existence of. One Absolute First Cause a

Necessary Postulate of Reason .... 84

III Some Important and Necessary Deductions as to the

First Cause 87

1 The Absolute, Partially Knowable, First Cause

One, Continually Sustaining All Things . . 88

2 Whatever the Theory of Creation, Its Cause a

Supreme Personality ...... 90

3 Summary of Conclusions as to the First Cause of

All Things 9*

IV Several Objections Answered 93

V The Physical Universe Finite and Temporal, and There-
fore A Creature — Evidence from Nature as a Cosmic

Whole 100

I Great Thinkers on the Extent of the Universe . . loi

II The Physical Universe, Regarded as a Unitary Sys-

tem, Necessarily Finite 103

III Evidence of Finiteness in the General Distribution

and Apparent Number of the Stars . . . no

IV Evidence of Finiteness in the Stellar Motions . . n8
V Evidence of Finiteness in the Aggregate Light of the

Stars 126

1 Extent of Universe for Number of Stars to be

Equal to Number of Star Cross-Sections in
Surface of Bounding Sphere .... 128

2 Approximate Extent of Universe for Stars (Den-

sity as in Known Universe), without Occulta-
tions, Completely to Cover Celestial Sphere . 136

Contents 5


3 No Infinite Extent of Universe Thus Necessary

under Any Condition of Distribution . . i39

4 Actual and Comparative Amount of Light Re-

ceived from All the Stars . . • • -141

5 Objection from Hypothetical Light Interference

Answered . • • *. '. / i: c * ^^^
VI The Aggregation of Any Indefinite Number ot bo-
Called Universes Also Finite . . • • • ^4"°

VII The Aggregate Matter of the Universe Necessarily

VIII The Extent of ' the Containing Space of the Universe 160

VI Evidence from the Physically Temporal Nature of the

Universe that it Had a Beginning and Therefore
that it Was Created . • • * ,.• * * J^o

I A Universal Paralysis in Nature Impending . .168

1 Apparent Dissipation of Energy and Its Inevit-

able Result , ;nu • ;

2 This Conclusion Not Altered by the Theory ot

Stellar Consolidations -p * ''^^

3 The Law of the Conservation of Energy Ex-

amined ' r T-' ' ^^^

4 The Theory of an Infinite Quantity of Energy

Considered ,* n ' ' ^

II A Beginning in the Past Evident from the Present
Operations of Nature's Laws . " / ;

1 Evolution Must Necessarily Imply a Beginning of

Its Operation • .180

2 The Theory of Repeating or Successive Universes

Inadequate »,*,.* u '

3 Our Conclusion Not Changed by Making the

Ether the Final Realm of Energy . . .186

VII Evidence from the Nature of Matter Itself that the

Physical Universe Is a Temporal Entity . . .189
I The Atomic or Particle Theory of Matter . . .192

II The Centre-of-Force Theory of Matter . . . i95

III The Vortex-Atom Theory of Matter . . • • I97

IV The Electrical Theory of Matter 200

1 Steps in the Discovery of Radium . . . .200

2 The Various Rays of Radium . . • .202

3 Radioactivity Due to Disintegration of _ Atoms,

Successive Disintegrations Resulting in Dif-
ferent Substances . . • • . • • 2°4-

4 Disintegration or Devolution Probably Universal

in Nature . . • • ,* , * ti • • ^7

5 The Corpuscle or Electron and the Ultimate

Nature of Matter 2°9

6 The Positive Electrical Element in the Atom . 211

7 The Universe Necessarily Temporal According to

This Theory of Matter . » . ^ .213

6 • Contents


V The Ether Theory of Matter ziS

1 The More Generally Accepted Theory as to the

Nature of the Ether 217

2 The Ether and So-Called Ponderable Matter

According to This Theory .... 218

3 The Material Universe Temporal upon the Basis

of This Theory of the Ether .... 220

4 Theory Making the Ether the Only, or at Least

the Denser, Materiality ..... 221

5 The Physical Universe Temporal as to Both Its

Matter and Its Ether 223

6 The Ether and Energy — Monism's Creative Di-

vinity 225

7 The Inevitable Conclusion from the Ether Theory

of Matter 229

VI Conclusion in Summary: The Universe Temporal

According to All These Theories of Matter . . 230

VIII Evidence from Design in Nature, Necessarily Implying

ITS Creation in Time by a Designing Cause or Creator 233
I The Objection against the Idea of Design in Nature

Answered . . 235

II Design Manifest in Every Living Organism . . 239

III Design Manifest in Every Part and Every Law of In-

organic Nature 242

1 The Constitutive Particles of Cosmic Nature Like

Manufactured Articles ..... 242

2 Evidence of Design in Chemical Union and the

"Periodic Law" 246

3 Everything Apparently in Ceaseless Motion Ac-

cording to Fixed Laws ..... 250

4 Atoms Themselves like Purposeful Miniature

Stellar Systems of the Infinitesimal Universe . 252

5 The Vast Energy in the Universe an Unmistak-

able Evidence of Purjjose ..... 259

6 Design in Every Vibration from an Object Per-

ceived to the Perceiving Being .... 263

IV General Adaptations and Provisions in Nature as

Evidences of Design 266

V Not Chance, but Law Reigns — The Modus Operandi

of an Intelligent Personality 269

VI The Apparent Purpose of Creation .... 274

IX Testimony of the Scriptures as to Creation in Accord

WITH THE Evidence from Nature 277

I Direct Testimony of the Scriptures that the Uni-
verse Is God-Created ...... 279

II Two Fundamental Postulates or Axiomatic Truths of

the Scriptures 280

III The Three Absolute Creations of the Scriptures . . 283

IV The Evident Conclusion 285

Contents 7


X Conclusion : No Real Conflict between True Science and

Revelation 287

I Their Spheres Totally Different . . . . .287
II Physical Science Not Directly Concerned with the

Origin of Nature . 292

III The Apparent Conflict Due to Unproved Premises

and Unwarranted Conclusions .... 294

IV True Science and Philosophy as Witnesses for Reve-

lation 297

V A Place for Faith in Science, as Well as in Religion 298
VI Nature and Revelation United in Testifying to Their

Common Origin 301

Index 305


To the thoughtful mind the questions, Whence? What? Why?
and Whither? spontaneously suggest themselves on every side.
The subjects of the origin, being, purpose and destiny of man
and nature, have therefore in all ages occupied the minds of
men. Indeed all philosophy is an attempt to answer these
great questions. The first of them, that of the whence, or of
origin, lies back of the other three and in a sense involves them.
It constitutes the subject to be considered in this book.


Has the universe existed from eternity, or was it, even as to
its material or substance, created by a Divinity in time, or at
time's beginning? This is the real question. To one who has
arrived at the conclusion that the universe has existed from
eternity, there is but a step to every possible negation, from
the denial of a miracle to confirmed atheism. To one who has
become convinced that it was created, even as to its material
or substance, by the Christian's God, everything else, from the
simplest miracle to the crowning miracle of the Incarnation of
the Son of God, is as nothing for faith to grasp and even for
reason to accept.

If a miracle be defined as an event in nature that cannot
be explained by the ordinary laws of nature, then the estab-
lishing of the fact of the creation of the universe, ex nihilo or
out of nothing — as this event must have antedated existing
nature and therefore nature's laws — should be of supreme im-
portance to both faith and reason. By the very definition of a
miracle, such a creation must have been the great primal or
fundamental miracle, transcending and indeed involving all
accredited miracles in created nature.

Thus, the fact of the creation of the universe ex nihilo being
accepted, that of all other Biblical miracles becomes not only


lO Introduction

possible to faith, but also acceptable to reason. Between such
creation and its perhaps even more wonderful counterpart, the
Incarnation, all other miracles, in addition to their immediate
purpose, should serve also as striking illustrations of continued
Divine immanence.

Hence, as this subject has often stood out as a chief point
or occasion of difference between what might in a general way
be called the Academy and the Church, or supposedly between
nature and accredited Revelation, it is one of supreme im-
portance to both science and religion.

But even apart from this scientific and religious, or scien-
tifico-religious, importance of the subject, it has also a more
purely philosophic side, as we have indicated in our intro-
ductory paragraph, that appeals to every searcher after truth
and every thoughtful reader. Therefore, even from the purely
intellectual — or we might say, scientifico-philosophic — side, the
subject is one of absorbing interest.


It does not come within the scope of this work to discuss the
particular vianner of creation by a Deity, whether it was in-
stantaneously or gradually, virtually by one act or by a long
series of repeated acts, wholly directly or chiefly through sec-
ondary causes. Nor do the creative days of the first chapter
of Genesis enter into our consideration. The chief purpose of
this work is to prove that the universe of matter and its cor-
relate energy, together with life, must necessarily have been
created out of iiothing by a supreme or absolute Personality.
And it is, therefore, the fact, not the manner nor the time, of
that primal creation that here chiefly concerns us.

Nor do the Christian Scriptures enter much into our dis-
cussion, as we are addressing ourselves more especially to that
apparently growing class of people who will not accept the
Scriptures by themselves as credible evidence. In reasoning with
such upon such a subject, it is only fair to them that we should
waive, or at least withhold, the evidence which to them is not
acceptable. It is, therefore, necessary to meet them upon the
basis of their own premises of reasoning. And, indeed, as the
very intellectual atmosphere is becoming more and more scien-
tific, it is not only the professional men of science, but also

Introduction 1 1

those with an acquired scientific attitude, that look for scien-
tific evidence. Hence, it is this evidence for a creation ex
nihilo by a transcendent Deity, not that of the Christian Scrip-
tures, that we are endeavoring to present. We are here placing
science^ not Scripture, upon the witness stand. And, even much
less so are we in this work setting forth or defending the de-
tailed Christian facts of the Scriptures, as a development of the
more specifically Christian evidences. The setting forth of
these facts in the light of all the evidence of present scholar-
ship, requires a separate volume and a different method of

And yet, after scientifically establishing, from the evidence
from nature itself, the fact of a creation ex nihilo, by a su-
preme Deity, it is also only fair to the Christian view-point to
show that the evidence of the Christian Scriptures matches this
evidence from nature. This is rather the reverse of the usual
method of approaching the scientific searcher after truth or the
honest doubter, but it should need no argument to prove
it to be the only proper method. An unscientific Christian — if
we might use such terminology — would have a right to expect
to be convinced, if conviction were attempted, from his own
view-point, that a certain scientific fact is not in conflict with
Revelation. So a physical scientist — or an individual with a
scientific attitude toward truth — who has honest doubts, has a
right to expect to be convinced, if conviction is attempted, upon
his own premises of reasoning, that a certain Scriptural doctrine
is not in conflict with scientific fact. This must, therefore,
be kept in mind by the reader, as, step by step, we endeavor
to prove, from established and assumed premises of science,
that nature really agrees with Revelation in its testimony for
a creation ex nihilo. Fully believing in the "round table," our
invitation is, Come, let us reason together.

It is, therefore, because we are reasoning from the view-
point of the scientific thinker, that even many of the as yet un-
proved scientific theories are made to bear upon our subject
and are treated as though they were or expressed scientific facts.
And, thus, in addition to showing that established science really
testifies to a creation of the universe ex nihilo, our argument
also proves that even the more speculative theories of science
point in the same inevitable direction. Hence, the evident in-
ference should be that all the indications of the present develop-

12 Introduction

ments of science point to the same absolute creation by an ab-
solute sovereign Personalit)' as is so manifestly set forth in the
Christian Scriptures.

Many of the arguments against the anti-theistic conceptions
of the universe herein set forth, are a development of arguments
repeatedly employed by the writer in reasoning v^^ith scien-
tific and other honest doubters, as well as with self-confessed
pronounced atheists. As those arguments, in actual discussion,
were found to be unanswerable, they were briefly set forth in
short papers, as well as in occasional addresses on the evidences
for God in nature. And, now, in this volume they are more
fully elaborated for wider application.

It should be said also that, for the sake of completeness, cer-
tain very important points at least partially enter into the argu-
ment of more than one chapter. But, all unnecessary repe-
tition is avoided. In the interests of fuller illustration and
greater emphasis of some points here and there only briefly
made, the reader is, however, occasionally referred to other
chapters, in which such points or arguments are more fully de-

Throughout the whole, the aim has been clearness in argu-
ment no less than perspicuity in language. And, although even
the latest scientific theories necessarily figure prominently in
the discussions, these are, we believe, made as intelligible as is
ordinarily possible in the case of such subjects. Indeed, for this
very reason, some of these theories are developed somewhat
more at length than should ordinarily be necessary in such
a treatise, so as to make their application in our argument
all the more definite and convincing also to the scientifically
untrained mind.

Moreover, where mathematics enters into our arguments,
only such applications of it are made as are necessary to make
our points definite and clear. But all its higher functions and
applications are avoided. And, indeed, should any of our read-
ers not wish even to follow certain of these mathematical
demonstrations, they will still have the satisfaction of seeing
the results or conclusions reached. After all, the chief interest
in such a discussion lies in the fact that a certain inevitable
result or conclusion must follow from certain accepted prem-
ises, rather than how that result is attained. And yet, al-
though we might thus have given only the conclusions of such

Introduction 13

processes of reasoning, for more certain conviction we let the
processes, in an abbreviated form, appear vulth their conclu-
sions. Thus, we believe that our argument for the creation
of the universe out of nothing by a supreme spiritual Person-
ality — Whom the Christian adores as God — will be simple
enough for the average reader and yet have some inter-
est for the man of science, while we trust it will bring
conviction to both. Care has been exercised to avoid errors;
but some may nevertheless have crept in.

And now, with the invitation to the various classes of
readers, ComCj let us reason together, we shall send forth this
volume on Its intended mission, submitting its contents to their
careful consideration and candid judgment.

L. F. G.

St. Paulj Minnesota
June, 19 17





It may be said, In a general way, that there are two distinct
views as to the possible origin of the universe. According to
the one, It was a creation or a development from an eternally
existing substance or stuff, whether that substance be considered
as the essence of an ever-operating Divinity, or as eternal mat-
ter operated upon by an external Divinity or developed by
some supposed inherent potentialities. According to the other,
It was a creation out of nothing in time, or at time's begin-
ning, by the omnific will of an eternal and absolute Creator.
And the former of these views, more especially, comprises a
number of somewhat different theories.



The theories of the origin of the universe that have been
offered by unenlightened human reason, are numerous; but
they may for all practical purposes be divided Into several dis-

Online LibraryL. Franklin (Levi Franklin) GruberCreation ex nihilo : the physical universe a finite and temporal entity → online text (page 1 of 30)