I am going to break with convention for this post. I've had the opportunity to reflect upon creation and realised just what strange thing it is. Ever wondered why creation exists? Creation is a curious thing no matter your stance. For the naturalist, what conditions occurred for the universe to have arisen ex nihilo – as science must surely teach us? For the Christian, however, we must ask why did God create? To delve into this I am going for a two parter.
Scripture teaches us that God existed before time and creation enjoying the perfect relationship of His triune self. This changed with Creation: time came into existence and God no longer existed as the only being capable of sense. A question that needs to be asked is why would God choose to create us in the first place? More than this, does the mere fact of creation point to God? Science may teach us the mechanism through which the universe was created; what it does not – and cannot – explain is why. Many atheists, like Peter Atkins, would argue this is a question that may not be asked. But that is to avoid the issue. Explanations need explaining. It seems necessary therefore for us to reflect on the reasons of why God should create.
But where to start? I have always found great beauty in the explanatory power of simplicity: consider how a single photon of light causing conformational change in the retinal photopigments culminates in the experience of the visual world. Equally, the seemingly complex reasons behind Creation can be tackled by looking at attributes of His Nature. Namely His goodness. God is wholly and perfectly good. Admittedly non-Christians would argue with this, but it is assumed in this discussion.
Personal experience teaches us that goodness is of its very nature diffusive: it flows from “the good one” to others. Whoever has been described as good yet did not share with others? How else would their goodness be known? So God, compelled by His goodness, created other good things so that He might share His goodness with them. Ultimately this would allow the created good beings to reflect that goodness back to the Creator.
This prompts an important question: did God need to create? Some have argued that creation suggests God was not self-sufficient and needs humans. I, personally, do not see this to be the case. When we love someone we do good things for them, go out of our way for them, support them and so on. We do this because we are compelled by, well, love. We do not need to do these things per se, but it is within our nature and our desires to do so. There is no obligation on our part and why therefore would there be on His? We are made in His image and so if we can be motivated by love then how much more God will be! To counter the question: does God need to save us? No. We rely on unmerited grace. I see the same argument working for God and creation: His very nature meant that He would create good beings, yet He was under no compunction to do so.
So we have a reason of why Creation should arise. In the next article this reasoning will be extended to how Creation took shape and appears how we see it today.