Let There Be Nothing


“Forget Jesus, the stars died so you could be born” (Lawrence Krauss, Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing).

There are two types of nothing, two types of darkness, and two types of god.

Everything begins on a canvas that is black to our eyes. The darkness was over the face of the deep before God began speaking his mind, saying things like “light” and “darkness” and “Lawrence Krauss.”

But black to our eyes is only black like a pupil to God’s eyes. To him, “even the darkness is not dark…[and] the night is bright as the day” (Ps. 139: 12); indeed, “God is light, and in him there is no darkness” (1 Jn. 1:5), and “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (Ja. 1:17). So we should expect the canvas of creation to be a formless void of an outer darkness. How else could Infinite Light create something other but by first creating a no-thing?

He, of course, is not removed from the outer darkness of the no-thing. He withholds his blinding radiance for the express purpose of giving it, indeed, so that the no-thing could become something. That is why “Let there be light…and God separated the light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:3-4) mean the same thing, in the way that will and act can mean the same thing, and why Genesis begins there and only later announces the creation of the creation of the stars.

So God hangs a veil around a space and begins with pinpricks to dot the veil with glimpses into the fullness of the other side. Before long, he has created an entire universe wildly spangled with his glory. And this he does for no reason other than for a creation yet unborn to behold it: the human eyeball.

So God begins with a black canvas for the reason Caravaggio begins with a black canvas—to be dramatic with his colors. He wants to make the universe pop, like a firefly in the night or a supernova in outer space. And he delights in both the same because to him they are the same size. This divine wisdom is simply conventional wisdom. The theater always dims before the spotlight is beamed. So even in the darkest of night, we should expect to see the stars dancing all the more promiscuously in their splendor. We might even write an imprecatory psalm and request that God begin judging the meteorites—since in every judgment of God a veil must be torn—but only so we might get to watch him tear through the night with a wound that bleeds with the pixies of his glory.

So the veil does not lessen the beauty of pure Light. It is makes it visible. It makes it possible for God, in whom there is no turning of shadow, yet pour forth his glory like buckets of rainbows on the space he creates for reflection. The whole universe is set up like stage props, and then like a beam—but only like a beam—out came the sight of human perception.

Humans are free to see what they want to see. Humans can look at a rainbow and see nothing more than a number scale in HTML, if they so choose. They can dissect the universe into evidence and confine its energy within a three-letter-equation2, and even be entirely accurate, and fail to see the bigger picture with the self-evident observation that even upon arriving at the very bottom of space or the very end of time (which simply cannot happen), we still have not reckoned with the fact that what there is can give no account for its being there at all, and that if the infinite God is at all, he is all in all, and cannot thus be located apart from anything else. He is the ground of all that there is and the above-ground that makes all things possible—like Christmas. He is here but more than here. We are here and less than here.

And God designed the human eyeball to see as a given that beauty and sight are neither coequal nor coeternal, but rather complementary. That is why the pupil pays its compliments to the iris, but then gives glory to the sun it reflects. But the story of human freedom tells of the rebellion against all that is given and seen as a given. Human beings would learn to love their eyelids and dream that the iris is just a reflection of the pupil, indeed that we only need to cross the veil to see who we truly are. That is what certain physicists imagine they are doing when they speak of a model of the universe, which suggests either that the physical universe is potentially very small or the human ego can perhaps expand to infinite proportions.

So there is another black beginning of an oppositely ordered canvas. There is the no-thing and then there is the no-god; there is night given to Beauty and then there is night given to itself. It is the difference between creation ex nihilo and creation in nihilo, which is the difference between creation and annihilation. And thus the earth would begin filling up with shadows of self-destruction, the heavens overcast with eyelids. God would continue to poke rainbows through the clouds and shoot signs through the night, but humans loved the darkness because they could not simply let there be Light.

I wish Lawrence Krauss could see the Christ that refuses to exist in even his wildest dreams. I used to dream of gods like his, so I am no less blind than he. But my sight came through eyelids heavy with an infinite weight, and that only after dreams of glory led not just to an outer darkness but even to dreams of the outer darkness: night upon night, black upon black, pure and faithful nihilism. It was only then, wrapped up in the folds of the veil, that I was startled to discover my Death at the intersection of a Caravaggio red, painted like a cross from the other side.

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