In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was unseen and without form and darkness was over the abyss; and the Spirit of God rushed upon the waters. — Genesis 1:1-2
The word used in the Greek to translate the word "created" (a word exclusively used for God) is episen — the root for the English words "poet" and "poetry." In other words, God the Poet created the world using His Word. As such, we are invited to interact with Scripture as one might interact with a poem — study the language, how it is used and play with the images of Scripture and its metaphors.
Law vs. Chaos
In this light, there are two interesting linguistic flavors found in Genesis 1:1-2 that not only are often lost in translation, but invite us to see the act of creation as a struggle against Chaos.
In the Hebrew, it is possible to translate the first line of Genesis as "When God created..." Thus, the second verse becomes more confrontational. Darkness, invisibility, void, the abyss, the deep (all words used in various translations of Gen 1:2) call to mind a roiling Chaos that is fighting against God as He begins to create. This image is reinforced by the Greek word used to describe the action of the Spirit — epephereto. Usually translated as "moving over" or "hovering," it has a hostile, confrontational connotation. It comes from the verb "to rush upon."
As reflected in later Jewish thought and ultimately Christian dogma, 2Mac 7:28 states, "Look at heaven and earth and see everything in them, and know that God made them out of nothing." Since creation, by its very nature, comes out of nothing, by nature it is doomed to return to nothing. Thus, the picture painted in Gen 1:1-2 can be understood in terms of the Law vs. Chaos dynamic in D&D. God wills creation to be according to His Word. The roiling Chaos that the Spirit moves against is the force that is struggling against God's will — it is trying to return creation to the nothing from whence it came. Thus, the three alignment system of D&D becomes a simple Us vs. Them schematic similar to that found in war games. The forces of Law side with God's will for creation to exist. The forces of Chaos strive to return creation to the nothing. Neutrals are willing to side with either Law or Chaos as it suits them (which calls into question the validity of having a Neutral alignment — one is either for or against God — but that is a topic for another day).
Keep in mind, Scripture has two different accounts of creation. This reality invites us to use different metaphors to describe the same truths. So, when imagining a creation story for a fantasy world, we are free to attach any kind of imagery to the creation story we want as long as the following are true:
- The One God creates from nothing.
- Sans God, creation returns to the nothing from whence it came.
The roiling Chaos that the Spirit moves against is the force that is struggling against God's will — it is trying to return creation to the nothing from whence it came.
The article looks pretty good but I think this section is too dualistic for what you are trying to do.
My thoughts are that God created the universe literally out of nothing. Evil is the result of the choices of sentient (angelic and man) beings.
While not as exciting as having a dark force or an evil one as an antagonist I think it more accurately reflect the nature of Christianity and it's message.
Don't get me wrong there could be a dark force or an evil one. Created by God for some purpose but at some point turns away into evil because of the choices that are made.
Thanks for the criticism. It is not my intention to have a dualistic world view, nor to have a pre-existent evil being combating God (I'll get to an evil adversary later). Rather, I find it interesting (and inspiring, from the creative point of view) that scriptural language seems to describe a natural inclination within creation itself toward entropy and the nothingness that it comes from. I happened to call this inclination Chaos. It should be noted that once the creative act is done, God declares that His creation is good (i.e. with Him).
Well, I'm unfashionably late to this discussion, but ... I've only recently begun catching up with your blog, which I've found quite intriguing to date.
I'd begun a post calling into question what seemed to be your (in my opinion) specious seeming equation of chaos and nothingness ... but have since scrapped it for a simpler inquiry: Are you, in a way, envisioning chaos as unsustainable, in a way decomposing, state of being that inevitably swirls down the cosmic drain into oblivion?
Are you, in a way, envisioning chaos as unsustainable, in a way decomposing, state of being that inevitably swirls down the cosmic drain into oblivion?
In context of the Christian dogma of creation ex nihilo, yes I am. For me, one of the truly terrifying aspects of evil (the absence of God) is its ultimate alliance to the nothing from whence all creation came.
Of course, from grand narrative POV, this doesn't set up much of a conflict. Choas and evil cannot win. Their victory is actually defeat; however, throw in Free Will and suddenly the story gets really interesting. God doesn't snap His finger and make everything better because to do so would destroy His creation (the image and likeness of God that He endowed all of humanity with). Therefore, each individual is engaged in spiritual warfare (whether they know it or not). In D&D, this conflict is externalized and expressed in the classic three-tier alignment system.
I enjoyed your reply. I'm educated a Roman Catholic theologian, so we're likely close kin, insofar as our worldviews are concerned.
I chuckled when reading your reply, having silently wagered on whether you'd employ the phrase [i]ex nihilo[/i] if I didn't. ;-)
Sometimes predictability is a good thing.
I look forward to further readings.
Sometimes predictibility is a good thing.
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