Monday, January 18, 2010

What does Ex Chausa mean?

Strictly orthodox Christian theology insists that God created the world "ex nihilo", that is to say "out of nothing". Almost every other religious tradition, however, including Milton's Paradise Lost insists that the world was created out of chaos. Assuming that my understanding of the Latin ablative case is correct, this would be creation "ex chausa", or "out of chaos."

Why "ex chausa" instead of "ex nihilo"? Well, it has a little bit to do with this joke:

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him.

The scientist walked up to God and said, "God, we've decided that we no longer need you. We're to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don't you just go on and get lost."

God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and after the scientist was done talking, God said, "Very well, how about this, let's say we have a man making contest." To which the scientist replied, "OK, great!"

But God added, "Now, we're going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam."

The scientist said, "Sure, no problem" and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.

God just looked at him and said, "No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!"


It also has a little bit to do with this XKCD:


In essence, "ex chausa" isn't about making something from nothing. Rather, it's about taking an existing material and breathing form and life into it.

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