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I understand there is the theology of creation ex nihilo; but has any theologian thought of whether God can make things go from existing to nihilo? In other words, can God make something not exist any longer?

I guess this would be related to annihilationism, but that is rather a pun unintended.

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    @LukeHill why is this logically contradictory? And does God always have to operate upon logic? Is logic a necessary condition or principle in God or that God always operates with/in? Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 6:12
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    I'm struggling to think of any Christian position that would say that God would be unable to make something disappear/stop existing. Is there some context to your question that would explain why you think that could be a possibility?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 12:55
  • @DennisGahm yes, God functions within logic. God himself is logic, and the source of logic. If he was not, we could never reach the conclusion God exists. The rules of logic are the baseline of philiosophy, and without them our most basic observations of the world wouldn’t make sense. a=a, for instance. The reason that God cannot logically “delete” himself Is that this would be against his nature (the nature of goodness, to be specific) and thus would violate the law of non-contradiction: a=a.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 13:36
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    Every theology which supports ultimate annihilation of the unredeemed would answer in the affirmative. Are you asking after physical or metaphysical things, or principals? For example, can He make a tree disappear or a spirit or sin and death? Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 13:52
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    As an annihilationist, this isn't as necessarily related as you might think; despite the name, annihilationism doesn't refer to the complete and total non-existence of every part of a man, and although many will certainly affirm that, the emphasis is on death, not whether some trace (ie a corpse) remains Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 21:53

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Can God make things disappear?

Simply put yes, God can make things disappear. To state that he could not would be to limit God’s omnipotence. The question could be more refined in asking whether or not God would choose to make something disappear.

If God, can make some types of illnesses disappear through prayer, then we must logically acknowledge that He can make other things disappear also.

A few patients have made rare and unexpected recoveries leaving doctors scratching their heads, says David Robson. Can these cases provide vital clues for tackling cancer?

It was a case that baffled everyone involved. The 74-year-old woman had initially been troubled by a rash that wouldn’t go away. By the time she arrived at the hospital, her lower right leg was covered in waxy lumps, eruptions of angry red and livid purple. Tests confirmed the worst suspicions: it was carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.

The future looked bleak. Given the spread of the tumours, radiotherapy would not have been effective; nor could the doctors dig the tumours from the skin. Amputation was perhaps the best option, says Alan Irvine, the patient’s doctor at St James’ Hospital, Dublin – but at her age, she was unlikely to adapt well to a prosthetic limb. After a long and frank discussion, they decided to wait as they weighed up the options. “We had a lot of agonising for what to do,” says Irvine.

Then the “miracle” started. Despite receiving no treatment at all, the tumours were shrinking and shrivelling before their eyes. “We watched for a period of a few months and the tumours just disappeared,” says Irvine. After 20 weeks, the patient was cancer-free. “There had been no doubt about her diagnosis,” he says. “But now there was nothing in the biopsies, or the scans.”

Somehow, she had healed herself of arguably our most feared disease. “Everyone was thrilled, and a bit puzzled,” Irvine says, with some understatement. “It shows that it is possible for the body to clear cancer – even if it is incredibly rare.”

The question is, how? Irvine’s patient believed it was the hand of God; she had kissed a religious relic just before the healing set in. But scientists are instead looking to the underlying biology of so-called “spontaneous regression” to hunt for clues that could make these rare cases of self-healing more common. “If you can train the body to do this on a broader scale, you could have something that’s very widely applicable,” says Irvine.

Cancer: The mysterious miracle cases inspiring doctors

Another point I would like to draw your attention to is on a more metaphysical aspect of this subject matter: time.

According to most mainstream Christians, time commenced at the moment of the creation of the physical universe which was created by God as explained in Genesis.

As such time has a beginning and an end. Thus time as we know it will cease to exist. It will disappear!

Aeviternity generally refers to time as experienced by the Angels, since they outside of time in correspondence to our physical universe. As to what is the difference between time, aeviternity and eternity, I will let St. Thomas Aquinas speak:

Aeviternity differs from time, and from eternity, as the mean between them both. This difference is explained by some to consist in the fact that eternity has neither beginning nor end, aeviternity, a beginning but no end, and time both beginning and end. This difference, however, is but an accidental one, as was shown above, in the preceding article; because even if aeviternal things had always been, and would always be, as some think, and even if they might sometimes fail to be, which is possible to God to allow; even granted this, aeviternity would still be distinguished from eternity, and from time. - Question 10. The eternity of God (Summa Theologiae)

Time as we understand it in Christian notion has a beginning and an end. Aeviternity of the Angels has a beginning, but no end. Eternity has neither a beginning or end!

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The beginning of my answer to your question may puzzle you initially, but I believe my answer would not be complete without reference to--and explanation of--the word, nihilo, which you seem to define as having non-existence or as having disappeared (i.e., being no longer apparent). First, some questions:

  • Is God eternal?

  • Was there was a "time" when all there was was God?

  • If your answer to the above two questions is yes, then would not a better expression for God's creative activity be "out of the fullness of His being" and not "ex nihilo" ("out of nothing")?

In other words, for all eternity (i.e., "past" eternity) the eternal I AM was all there was. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit simply existed and had no need for anything visible. For all eternity, the Triune God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--enjoyed a loving relationship with each other before anything or anyone was created.

Additionally, we know that before anything came into being the Lamb of God was slain "from [or before] the foundation of the earth" (see Ephesians 1:4 and Revelation 13:18). The reality of "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" was a fait accompli from all eternity. In other words, its reality was just as real in eternity as it was in real time at Calvary's cross. Moreover, the salvation of humankind was not "Plan B"; rather, it was "Plan A," and the only plan in the mind of God from all eternity.

Put differently, there was no such thing as nothingness before the foundation of the earth. Only God existed before the foundation of the earth, and not nothing and God, but simply God.

From that perspective, the concepts of non-existence and nothingness take on new meaning, do they not?

As for whether or not God is able to--or choose to--make something or someone cease to be, I think my answer has to be no. Once something or someone comes into existence, it may take on another form, but it still exists. A rock, for example, when exposed to lava does not cease to be; rather, it takes on the characteristics of lava and becomes unidentifiable as a rock. The same could be said of a human when the spirit has flown. The body decomposes and eventually turns into dust. The living, breathing human being no longer exists, but its corporeal elements do, just in a different form. As God said to our first parents after they had disobeyed Him,

"By the sweat of your face

You will eat bread,

Till you return to the ground,

Because from it you were taken;

For you are dust,

And to dust

you shall return.”

In conclusion, the sin-wracked, polluted globe on which we live, over which God had appointed us stewards, will also be changed. God will not make all new things; rather, He will make all things new. God will replace the groaning-in-travail earth that we inherited when we fell from grace with new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells for all eternity (Isaiah 65:17 and 2 Peter 3:13).

Come to think of it, the only thing that disappears is the believer's sin, which is washed away forever by the blood of the Lamb. In its place is the righteousness that comes by being in Christ Jesus:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

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    @DennisGahm: Not sure I agree with you about the awareness of sin in heaven. Certainly, God remembers our sins no more, but it's not because he CAN"T remember them, but because He chooses to forget them. In other words, God will never, ever hold our sins against us in heaven. That, in part, is the sense of Psalm 103:10-12. As for those in hell, I think the primary reason for "weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth" is their unquenchable regret for having failed to repent while still on earth. Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 1:05
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    He's planning to do it to the sun and moon and the sea, according to Revelation. Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 9:40
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    Counterpoint: Sodom and Gomorrah. God can totally smite the heck out of people if He wants to.
    – nick012000
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 13:03
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    I have to disagree with this; you only give examples of things that seem to disappear but still exist in some form, but you don't provide any argument as to why God cannot make something completely vanish, to non-exist. The fact that nothing has ceased to exist isn't evidence for whether it could happen Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 20:51
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    @MikeBorden No, there wasn't a time before time. Time is created and contrasts with eternity.
    – eques
    Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 13:21
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If even mortals can do “all thing through Christ who strengthens [them],” how much more can God do?

Scripture says that God can do anything, and those with faith in him can also do anything.

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

~Matthew 19

Anyone who reads scripture knows that it says God can do anything. God can do anything. God can make something nothing.

According to Revelations, God will remove this universe, and make a new one.

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  • I don't disagree that God can do a lot of things but that He cannot lie, He cannot deny Himself, etc. rules out that He can do absolutely anything. One acceptable understanding of "all things" is "all kinds of things" (see 1 Timothy 4:10 where Jesus is the Savior of all kinds of men, especially those who believe). Certain things are impossible with men which are not impossible with the God who can do all kinds of things. I believe He can make things disappear but I don't think Matthew 19 proves it. Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 12:40
  • God can lie, when the Bible says he cannot, it isn't to say that he literally cannot; rather, that he will not. Part of being omnipotent, is being able to do everything--including lie. You are looking at this with a very one-sided mindset. It seems that you don't want him to be able to do everything. Scripture is very clear that God can do all things, and that those strengthened by him can also dol all things through God. If you don't want an answer, don't ask the question.
    – TacoBlayno
    Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 14:43
  • Hebrews 6:18 says "impossible for God to lie". Impossible is the adjective αδυνατος (adunatos), meaning impossible or incapable. It is the exact same word used in Matthew 19:26 describing what is "impossible" with men. It does not mean "can" but "won't"; it just means cannot. We have to interpret Scripture using Scripture and hold the words as inspired. Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 21:47
  • God is either omnipotent or not omnipotent. If he can’t do something, by definition, he is not omnipotent.
    – TacoBlayno
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 1:56
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Yes, He can, for the simple reason that He is omnipotent; unless a thing is logically incoherent or contradictory, such as making a rock so big He cannot lift it, or unless it goes against His nature, such as sinning, He can do it. Since, as you say, He can create ex nihilo, there is no reason to think He cannot remove from existence what He brought into it.

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