Is there a word that means "a force that formed the universe from an original chaos?". I found this description surrounding the word "nous" in the past, but it doesn't look like it held on the wiki.

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    Unfortunately, EL&U only answers questions that are in the English language, so "any language" might cause this question to be closed. I think it's an intriguing question and would not want that to happen, perhaps change the "any language" to something more appopriate. Wonderful question, though! Mar 3, 2021 at 13:46
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    I’m voting to close this question because this is not a question about English, but about all languages.
    – Robusto
    Mar 3, 2021 at 13:55
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    The question is indeed within the topic of this site, but the answer to it is that there is no word with precisely this meaning that would be theory neutral. If one embraces a particular philosophical/religious/scientific theory about how the universe came into being, then one can say what the name for such a 'force' is within that theory. But there is no generally accepted word for it that one could use without committing oneself to a particular theory about it. The answers given so far confirm that, because each of them is dependent on certain theoretical assumptions.
    – jsw29
    Mar 3, 2021 at 22:24
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    "first cause" is the usual phrase in english / philosophy for this type of thing.
    – Fattie
    Mar 4, 2021 at 17:33
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    The “chaos” part is highly problematic, as that isn’t necessarily a part of either a physics or religious view of the state just before everything got started.
    – jmoreno
    Mar 6, 2021 at 14:43

12 Answers 12


primordial as defined by Merriam-Webster, "existing in or persisting from the beginning (as of a solar system or universe)"

I believe you are describing a primordial force of sorts

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    My thoughts exactly. Primordial comes from the latin Primordius, literally meaning "first to begin"
    – WillRoss1
    Mar 4, 2021 at 15:15
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    Primordial simply describes something that was present or existent at the beginning of something; it doesn't necessarily form the universe from chaos, which is a highly specific task.
    – Conrado
    Mar 5, 2021 at 0:02
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    @Conrado: I agree that primordial isn't a good fit for this since it just situates something in time. The chaos that precedes creation is just as primordial (possibly more so) as the entity/force that transforms it. What the OP is looking for is the thing that causes the event which separates the universe into the primordial and the postordial(?)
    – Mattia
    Mar 5, 2021 at 11:47
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    that's why I said a primordial force Mar 5, 2021 at 12:36
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    @小奥利奥: I don't want to be pedantic - primordial force does capture a lot of the flavor of what the OP was asking about but 1) it's a phrase and not a word, and 2) it still just specifies when the force was at work and not that it has anything to do with creation. For example, in Greek mythology Cronus is the primordial god of time but does not create anything.
    – Mattia
    Mar 5, 2021 at 16:05

Demiurge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demiurge

The demiurge is the entity or force responsible for creating the universe and might be a bit more specific than creator which has more mundane usages (e.g. "She's the creator of that website"). It is also more specific than references to God or some other supreme being, since the demiurge is only responsible for the act of creation and is not necessarily God.

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    Demiurge has negative connotations as a result of its associations with a specific religion (Gnosticism), though.
    – nick012000
    Mar 5, 2021 at 2:11
  • In many religions, the Demiurge is not the Creator, but shaped a universe that had already been created.
    – Davislor
    Mar 5, 2021 at 3:47
  • @nick012000: I associate it with Platonism more than Gnosticism, but you're right there's definitely a strong association there. Does Gnosticism still have negative connotations though? (Honestly curious, I figured at this point, most of these early Christian sects were viewed through a neutral historical lens rather than as still controversial)
    – Mattia
    Mar 5, 2021 at 11:39
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    @Mattia: it's not that gnosticism is looked upon negatively, but that gnosticism looks upon the demiurge negatively.
    – nomen
    Mar 5, 2021 at 21:45

I can't speak about other languages, but prime mover is a good answer in English. https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=prime+mover

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    You might also consider the similar "First cause". Mar 3, 2021 at 17:21


For example from Platonic Idealism in Overland Monthly, October 1890, at page 391:

The Creator formed the universe out of chaos

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    Might be worth noting that this is "Creator" as in the proper noun. My friend's high-school dropout cousin calls himself a "creator," but his cringey videos are nowhere near a force capable of forming the universe.
    – scohe001
    Mar 4, 2021 at 19:40
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    @scohe001 Note that, as a proper noun or Divine epithet, it’s capitalized, and as a common noun, it isn’t. This usually removes any ambiguity.
    – Davislor
    Mar 5, 2021 at 3:53
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    Reverential capitals are not a writing convention, they're a way of showing religious or political reverence (as well as being old-fashioned). They don't work for this type of disambiguation, both because they've gone out of style and because the writer may not have religious reverence for some abstract philosophical concept.
    – user16723
    Mar 6, 2021 at 12:33

If one has a particular philosophical or religious or scientific theory about how the universe came into being, and that theory postulates some sort of a 'force' that brought it into existence, then that theory is likely to give a name to it. One will then be able to say that, according to that theory, that's what the 'force' is. Several such terms have been pointed to in the already posted answers to this question. Each of these terms is, however, dependent on a particular theory, and makes sense only within the context of that theory.

The answer to the question, in so far as it is a question about English language, and not about philosophy or religion or science, is that there is no word with this meaning that would be theory neutral. There is no generally accepted word for such a 'force' that one could use without committing oneself to a particular theory about it.

It should be noted that the 'force' in question, if it exists, must be something vastly different from the forces that operate within the universe, hence the quotation marks around the word, in this answer. Moreover, the idea of a 'force' that creates the universe out of 'an original chaos' is conceptually problematic, because it postulates the 'force' and the 'chaos' as somehow preceding the universe, even though the universe is supposed to comprise everything that exists.

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    But a model (or theory) is already implied, isn't it? "A force that formed the universe from an original chaos" takes for granted (1) primordial chaos, (2) an agent of change, and (3) an event of formation. The event is sometimes called a Singularity
    – Conrado
    Mar 4, 2021 at 23:51
  • @Conrado, a type of a theory is indeed implied by the question, but there are different specific theories within that type.
    – jsw29
    Mar 5, 2021 at 16:02

catalyst could have this meaning:

  1. Someone or something that encourages progress or change
  2. An inciting incident that sets the successive conflict into motion.

Wiktionary (1st definition is mainly about chemistry)

If you're looking for something to use in a literary sense, this has the benefit of implying your meaning while not being tied down to any specific religious doctrine. If you're looking to describe an event that created the entire universe, you might capitalize it as "the Catalyst".


The word “Logos” as in John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

  • Can Word be a synonym of Sound, i.e. a spoken sound. Thus, in the beginning was the 'Sound' A Primordial Sound?
    – user414952
    Mar 4, 2021 at 19:19
  • If one links John 1:1 to the original words of Genesis 1:3 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” then, I suppose, one could “ listen” to both the “spirit” - which in Hebrew is something akin to a bird flapping its wings over the waters linked to the chaos/dragon Tiamat- and at the actual Word(s) God utters to bring on creation. Mar 4, 2021 at 19:40
  • ...God utters... is the part I am looking into. utter (adj.) "speak, say," c. 1400, in part from Middle Dutch uteren or Middle Low German utern "to turn out, show, speak," from uter "outer," comparative adjective from ut "out" (see utter (adj.)); in part from Middle English verb outen "to disclose," from Old English utan "to put out," from ut (see out (v.)).
    – user414952
    Mar 4, 2021 at 20:04
  • By looking at my ‘The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, I see that Logos many mean “argument, discourse, saying (rarely), word, rel. to ‘logein’...recount, say...(p. 535). Therefore you may not have to go to any other word than “Logos” to get to a “Primordial Sound.” This is specially so if you link John to Genesis. Mar 4, 2021 at 20:43
  • Please clarify - to ‘logein’...recount, say...(p. 535) - I couldn't fully understant it.
    – user414952
    Mar 4, 2021 at 21:32

It's — a, not necessarily capitalized — god.

Obviously, this word is not really specific to English; it is probably, next to "human", "danger" and "food", among the first handful of words in any language.

The reason for this answer is that you asked for "a force that formed the universe from original chaos". This implies intent: "Forming" is different from spontaneously emerging (even if I have personally never seen order spontaneously emerging anywhere — quite to the contrary!); and it implies transcendence, because the force you describe is extraneous to the universe.

The word for a transcendent entity acting with intent is god. There is no way around it.


higher being (plural higher beings) A non-human life form believed to have power over human life, such as the Christian God. https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=Define+higher+being


Your definition is a little too specific; the only word that I can think of that comes close and is universal enough is the Greek ἀρχή (arche). It implies both origin and "order" (rule). The word νοῦς (nous) has traditionally been considered one such arche.

  • This answer misleadingly ignores the vast differences among the Greek philosophers who used the word, or whose views were paraphrased by using that word. It has often been used in the ways that do not at all fit the OP's idea of a 'force' operating on some pre-exisiting chaos. It is also less than clear what exactly is the 'tradition' that is alluded to in the last sentence of the answer.
    – jsw29
    Mar 5, 2021 at 16:12

Chaos was the force that formed the universe from an original VOID.

The Universe began from a void, not from 'chaos'. Chaos would be a something. The start of the Universe is supposed to be from a nothing!

The Greek God, Chaos is mythologically responsible for the creation of 'something' from the void.

The idea that the beginning was 'creating order from chaos' is spurious. Life IS chaos, that's what it is. I don't mean in the sense of chaos being a disaster, not at all! I mean, life is limitless, unorganised, spills forth naturally, is untamed, free, giving, infinite. Like, buds shooting, rivers flowing, trees branching...

Consciousness has always existed, because it is infinite. Consciousness created reality by 'conceiving of something' - having an idea. This manifested 'reality' - an ongoing physical expression of infinite consciousness. Maybe 'thought' is another answer?



It's probably not what this site expects, but the "force" to create some ordering (like day vs. night, land vs. sea, etc.) out of chaos is called "energy" as the unordered state (chaos) has less energy than any other state. Also If you believe in the big bang theory, the original state wasn't chaos, but all mass and energy concentrated in one point...

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