Fun fact: If in certain seasons you’ve struggled with the thought that nothing matters, you are viewing the world through the lenses of nihilism. Stemming from the Latin word meaning “nothing”, nihilism is, writes philosophy professor James Sire, “more of a feeling than a philosophy. Nihilism is not a philosophy at all but a denial of philosophy, of knowledge, of anything valuable, even existence itself.”
I myself am tempted on occasion into this way of feeling. Sometimes it comes in seasons of frustration, isolation, or anger. Sometimes exaggerated shadows in my mind will induce panic or anxiety, or I may even just slip into the darkness of indifference.
How do I then try to turn my philosophical frown upside down? I try to remember an inversion—ex nihilo!
Stemming from the same Latin word, ex nihilo is a phrase made in reference to God’s means of creation—“out of nothing”. Though acknowledging a void, the phrase’s focus is upon what God chooses to do with that void.
The psalmist beautifully writes “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth…For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Ps33:6,9).
Whereas nihilism denies existence has any meaning, ex nihilo declares that meaning comes from beyond existence. God takes nothingness and calls existence into being. Nothingness is the canvas God makes his masterpiece.
Whenever you wonder if nothing matters, remember God made matter from nothing. Having come into existence by God’s allowance, we have left nothingness behind. We matter because we are God-made matter.
We are not abandoned to a void but within this reality being brought towards the renewal of all things, we are creation’s centerpieces whose worth flows from out of the resplendence of God’s power and creativity.