Supposing that God exists, supposing that nothing can be created out of nothing, then the world must be created out of God. That is the world is not apart from God.

Famously Spinoza argues that the World was in God. Does he use some species of the argument above?

But traditionally one speaks of God being the unique self-subsistent & neccessary substance - substance being a technical Aristotelian term. Is then world then made of Gods substance? But in particular Spinoza argued that the world was part of God in two attributes - of thought and of extension.

  • 1
    Spinoza was right. World IS(in) god. which means you are also part(ly) of(are) god. Thought and Extension are also Substance. Your question is beyond the capabilities of language which is a small subset of WHAT you called Thought.
    – Asphir Dom
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 12:22
  • I don't know if @AsphirDom can claim that Spinoza was right with the certainty that he does. It's not that Spinoza isn't right; it's that If the question is beyond the capabilities of language (which it seems to be), then it is beyond the capability of Spinoza's language as well.
    – dgo
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 3:51
  • 1
    It's a little unclear what the question 'from where is mode conjured' is supposed to mean -- can you unpack/explore this a little bit further? (Deleuze's Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza addresses modality in depth if you're actually looking for a good secondary source here, which it sort of sounds like.)
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 18:22
  • @weissman: I just mean where did he source the term 'mode' from. I checked and mode is the wrong concept for me to use here, and attribute is the right one. Spinoza does use mode though - 'mode – substance's way, manner, or state of existence'. This makes it connection with modality clear - as in a possibility - which hadn't occurred to me. Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 20:20

4 Answers 4


No upvoted answers, so I figured I'd give it a go. There is a thought in Christian philosophy that says that the world is not of God's substance.

A derivative of the Latin word substantia is found in the phrase "consubstantialem Patri" in the Nicene Creed, referring to Jesus, that is the "Word of God" ("Logos"). It is made pretty clear in the creed though that while Word is of the same substance as God, everything else that was created is different.

Where this becomes important in the Christian tradition is that God is unintelligible by creatures - we cannot run science experiments on the devine. But nature is intelligible by creatures. Joseph Ratzinger (later known as Benedict XVI) wrote about how the intelligibility of nature is pre-requisite to doing science (a summary of the argument can be found here, couldn't find a more direct reference). In this school of thought, if the world was made of God's substance, scientific inquiry would be impossible.

  • I have some questions you may be able to answer. 1) Is/was Ratzinger known (outside of the Catholic Church) as a strong reasoner? 2) Is this indeed a school or is it a more personal argument to him?
    – user3164
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 17:26
  • As to the second question, I mean to give credit to Ratzinger for the idea, not appeal to his authority. The statement "science requires the intelligibility of nature" is one that some may disagree with, but seems like a reasonable, valid statement. Whether this is a "school," I don't know, maybe I used that word too loosely. Commented May 6, 2014 at 17:40
  • Presumably this is Catholic theology? The intelligbility of nature is definitely pre-requisite; in fact one could say, only that part of nature that is intelligible can be susceptible to science, Commented May 6, 2014 at 21:25
  • @JamesKingsbery Ratzinger was definitely a qualified academic theologian on par with his contemporaries (feedback form a non-catholic philosopher).
    – virmaior
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 21:51
  • @Mozibur Ullah, It is certainly a Catholic set of beliefs, but not necessarily exclusively so. I'd imagine many Christian theologians and philosophers would subscribe to something similar. Commented May 6, 2014 at 22:19

But in particular Spinoza argued that the world was part of God in two attributes - of thought and of extension.

the world was part of god in - thought and extension

  1. extension = addition or in addition to
  2. though = discernment / logic

  3. World is extension of God like an arm is an extension of a human body.

  4. World is thought of God like a blueprint is a thought of an engineer.

Both would make sense.

  1. Pars pro toto essentially means a part stands for the whole wikipedia
  2. Grounded logic essentially means tangible or connected. wikipedia grounded terms

  3. Part for a whole = the same as god or made up of parts of god, or

  4. Grounded in God following his logic or thinking or based on him, depended on him.

"something cannot come out of nothing" is the most frequently used statement used by theists to argue for the existence of a specific deity with regard to cosmology. There are however several problems with this argumentation:

  1. it springs from human observation and perception of how the world works on a human scale. In the cosmically large scale of galaxy clusters and the inverse scale of quanta, the laws of physics have different effects on equally different timescales. Therefore, human logic is not necessarily a good instrument to argue from.

  2. it springs from a Indo-European language, in which each verb must have a subject (e.g. there cannot be an effect without a cause). However, this - as we know now - may be a law of grammar, but it is not necessarily one of physics. In quantum mechanics, particles can spontaneously arise and dissapear.

  3. it is not compatible with the latest findings in cosmology, indicating that indeed the universe may have given rise to itself - out of nothing. Laurence Krauss explains it much better than I ever could hope to do.

  • 3
    This does not address the o.p's question.
    – dgo
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 3:48
  • Moreover, for 3, you seem to be confusing "findings in cosmology" with interpretations of QM effects expanded to a larger scale to get enough roles of the dice to give us as world like what we have. Again in 2, Aristotle's claim regarding cause-effect does not in any direct or meaningful way depend on him speaking an Indo-European language. In suggesting that QM disproves cause-effect, you're quite likely misunderstanding the equation. Virtual photons and what not can arise and disappear but this is only within Heisenberg uncertainty ranges (i.e. this is not going to be larger than h-bar).
    – virmaior
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 23:36

This Question is foolish in that GOD spoke the world into existence. The word create means that GOD created the world. GOD created the world out of nothing by speaking it into existence, that is why GOD is GOD and we are his created beings. GOD will allow us to apprehend him but GOD will never let us comprehend him, GOD will let us get in touch with him but we will never get to understand GOD. As far as the creation, GOD created the world out of nothing, the substance was for a lack of a better word drawn from GOD, that is why GOD can not leave the world alone. The world is GOD's world he created it and he sustains it too. GOD is not a GOD who created the world and then stepped back from it to see what was going to happen. GOD interacts with the world because he GOD created it and he cares for it too. While, many may not be able to see GOD working in the world today we can if we will see that GOD is still here among us in the form of the sun rising in the east and going down in the west. God allows rain to fall on the earth so things can grow. But, the greatest fact that we have about GOD and his created world is that we are still living today in his Grace, GOD is very much part of our world today, it is impossible to separate the world and GOD, why? because GOD made the world out his creativity and he made the world by himself and to himself. May GOD bless us all. AMEN.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .