Made Out of the Invisible — Hebrews 11:3

A large portion of religion relies on invisibility. We are told that unseen gods, angels, demons, demigods, spirits, and spectres are all around us, active in any number of mysterious ways in our world. These claims are easy to dismiss, though — if something is altogether undetectable, if something is not the indisputable effect to real causes, if someone only exists in the sense that it can be described or believed in, then we can rationally ignore such things, for they have no “real” bearing on reality — they are no more real than any number of fictional characters, invented through the years by human imagination.

But what if reality itself is made up of invisible things? The individual mold spore was invisible for much of human history, only becoming evident when it was part of many mold spores. Now, we are able to view mold spores using tools such as a microscope. They aren’t invisible anymore.

If we go even smaller, though, we find that what makes up reality is more varied and exotic than anyone ever thought in the past, which brings us to the Bible text in question.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Hebrews 11:3, ESV

The Evidence Bible, in its comment on Hebrews 11:3, says “Only in recent years has science discovered that everything we see is composed of invisible atoms. Here, Scripture tells us that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

Another apologist says that the author of Hebrews [ref]I appreciate the irony that we are to believe the Bible is the most important book in the universe, containing the very words of God, but we can’t really be sure of the authors of some of its books, such as Hebrews, and so cannot know for sure even the circumstances which led to its being written. Seems suspicious.[/ref] “wrote about atomic structure, nearly 2000 years before it was discovered by scientists.” [ref][/ref]

Does Hebrews Speak about Atoms?

Go back and re-read the Bible verse quoted above. Does it seem to be talking about atoms to you?

What the verse says is that the author of Hebrews and those who are likeminded believe that God created the universe, and because of that, they believe that everything that we do see must have been created by something which isn’t seen — namely, God.

What Hebrews is not saying is that everything was made out of existing things. This would be in violation of the conservative doctrine of creation ex nihilo, that the universe was created from nothing — that basically God didn’t use a kit to make the universe, but spontaneously created every last part of it.

It’s apparent that, despite what apologists will say, the author of Hebrews wasn’t even pretending to talk about atoms. It isn’t that the author couldn’t have known about them, but it may mean that he wasn’t as far along in theorizing about the nature of reality as those pesky unbelievers happened to be hundreds of years earlier.

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