Author Topic: Why Did God Create?  (Read 4502 times)

Russ Saltzman

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Why Did God Create?
« on: August 10, 2012, 02:48:03 PM »
At my age you might think these sophomoric questions wouldn’t matter. Likely they wouldn’t if I hadn’t I slept through religion, logic and philosophy when I was an actual sophomore (the real action was over at history, journalism and poly-sci, should you ask). Besides, it is my age. These things take on a keener edge as time advances.

Anyway, my internet search finds nothing about why God created. The hits always connect to us. Google the question and the suggested links always return “Why did God create us.” Google is hardly an authoritative source for answers to impossible questions, but it is suggestive of being the sort of question nobody much bothers with if you can't find it on the internet in the first one hundred hits. If the answer isn't on Google, does the question even exist?

Point is, I don't want to know about us. I want to know about God. Did he wake up one morning and say, like me, "I think I'll make a three-shelf bookcase"? I could make use of the bookcase; of what use is creation to God?

The closest I've hit is an Islamic site that indulges in tautology: "You can't very well have a creation without a creator, therefore, God creates." Nothing about why, though.

So, Why did God create? Fill me in on it, huh.

Russ



Russell E Saltzman
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pearson

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2012, 03:36:16 PM »

At my age you might think these sophomoric questions wouldn’t matter.


Sophomoric questions??  I mean, this is what they pay me for.  Sheesh.


Anyway, my internet search finds nothing about why God created. The hits always connect to us. Google the question and the suggested links always return “Why did God create us.”


If you Google, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" you'll get all kinds of answers vegetable, animal and mineral -- from scientists, theologians, philosophers, Bible scholars, cosmologists, charlatans -- including even a few helpful ones.  You could also look up a pair of somewhat renowned articles by Norman Kretzmann: "A General Problem of Creation: Why Would God Create Anything At All?" and "A Particular Problem of Creation: Why Would God Create This World?"  They're reprinted in Being and Goodness, an anthology edited by Scott MacDonald and published by Cornell University Press (1991).  They're really pretty good.  I don't know if they're available electronically, but I wouldn't bet against it.

If you've got any more sophomoric questions, I'm your man.

Tom Pearson

Michael Slusser

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2012, 03:57:13 PM »
Point is, I don't want to know about us. I want to know about God. Did he wake up one morning and say, like me, "I think I'll make a three-shelf bookcase"? I could make use of the bookcase; of what use is creation to God?

The closest I've hit is an Islamic site that indulges in tautology: "You can't very well have a creation without a creator, therefore, God creates." Nothing about why, though.

So, Why did God create? Fill me in on it, huh.

Russ

Not for anything that was in it for God.

As Robert Sokolowski writes,
The world and God must be so understood that nothing but God could be all that there is, and there would be no diminution of greatness or goodness or perfection. God is not better or greater because of creation, nor is "there" more goodness or greatness because God did create. This does not imply that God does not care about his creation, or that what is created is not worth anything. On the contrary, God's benevolence is so great that even though he does not need creation in any sense at all--he does not need it to be himself, nor does he need it for "there" to be greater excellence; nullo alio indigens--still he has created and, beyond that, has entered into his creation in the person of Jesus. God of Faith and Reason, p. 9.

Peace,
Michael
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Mike Gehlhausen

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2012, 04:07:36 PM »
Point is, I don't want to know about us. I want to know about God. Did he wake up one morning and say, like me, "I think I'll make a three-shelf bookcase"? I could make use of the bookcase; of what use is creation to God?

The closest I've hit is an Islamic site that indulges in tautology: "You can't very well have a creation without a creator, therefore, God creates." Nothing about why, though.

So, Why did God create? Fill me in on it, huh.

Russ

Not for anything that was in it for God.

As Robert Sokolowski writes,
The world and God must be so understood that nothing but God could be all that there is, and there would be no diminution of greatness or goodness or perfection. God is not better or greater because of creation, nor is "there" more goodness or greatness because God did create. This does not imply that God does not care about his creation, or that what is created is not worth anything. On the contrary, God's benevolence is so great that even though he does not need creation in any sense at all--he does not need it to be himself, nor does he need it for "there" to be greater excellence; nullo alio indigens--still he has created and, beyond that, has entered into his creation in the person of Jesus. God of Faith and Reason, p. 9.

Peace,
Michael

Any Scriptural proof of this?

It all sounds nice and pious and upholding of God's omnipotence and goodness, but ultimately it seems wrong.

God has told us to be fruitful and multiply; as such a God that is not of life and creative energy Himself such that He must create and does increase Himself and His goodness does not seem to be the Triune God which exists and instead a pious image of our own creation.

Mike

Mike Gehlhausen

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2012, 04:13:23 PM »
And, yes, I must confess that I did think of Aslan and the singing creation scene from "The Magician's Nephew" when I wrote that.

But just as Christ was the Lamb Who was slain before the creation of the world and not a "Plan B" for after the Fall, a God Who does not create and forever go on creating does not seem to me to be the God we have and therefore to indeed be a lesser God.

Mike

Russ Saltzman

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 04:32:19 PM »
If you Google, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" you'll get all kinds of answers vegetable, animal and mineral -- from scientists, theologians, philosophers, Bible scholars, cosmologists, charlatans -- including even a few helpful ones.  You could also look up a pair of somewhat renowned articles by Norman Kretzmann: "A General Problem of Creation: Why Would God Create Anything At All?" and "A Particular Problem of Creation: Why Would God Create This World?"  They're reprinted in Being and Goodness, an anthology edited by Scott MacDonald and published by Cornell University Press (1991).  They're really pretty good.  I don't know if they're available electronically, but I wouldn't bet against it.

If you've got any more sophomoric questions, I'm your man.

Tom Pearson

Sure. And "Why is there something rather than nothing" was a 2004 book by Bede Rundle. He called the question “philosophy’s central, and most perplexing, question." But after eliminating theistic and scientism responses, his essential point seems to be "absolute nothing" makes no sense. But if that is the reason there is "something" rather than "nothing," we're back to a 600-page tautology. We have "something" because there can never be a "nothing."

Yet it does nothing in answering "Why Did God Create?" But I'll look up Kretzmann. Thanks.
Russell E Saltzman
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former columnist, www.firstthings.com
essayist, https://aleteia.org/author/russell-e-saltzman/
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readselerttoo

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 05:01:38 PM »
Appropo topic!

Actually the Islamic insight is a good start.  It indicates that the Creator and the creature/creation cannot be so separated out as the Deists might want it to be.   

In Genesis 1 God creates a human being who has the capacity (abbild) to speak and answer before his/her Creator.  It's an indication at least to me that God wanted company and so created ultimately a creature with whom God could speak; and a creature who could speak and express him/herself before God in free and responsible dialogue comprises some type of encounter.  In the ideal case, since this was before the Fall, this was God's way to enter into relationship.

Since the Fall the relationship of Creator/creature has not been severed.  It has changed however in that now God speaks to the human being and within that speaking stresses the matter of the human's irresponsibility rather their capacity for responsibility.

Birkholz

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2012, 05:24:47 PM »
God is love.

Love desires an object.

Pastor Mark Birkholz
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Michael Slusser

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2012, 05:29:59 PM »
It all sounds nice and pious and upholding of God's omnipotence and goodness, but ultimately it seems wrong.

God has told us to be fruitful and multiply; as such a God that is not of life and creative energy Himself such that He must create and does increase Himself and His goodness does not seem to be the Triune God which exists and instead a pious image of our own creation.

Mike

I'm not sure I understand you, but I have the impression that you think God had to create and God does increase himself by creating. Please correct me if I misunderstand. But if I understand you correctly, then it seems to me that yours is the "pious image of our own creation"--ultimately God needed us.

That not only undermines the doctrine of God but also weakens the absolute gratuitousness of God's grace. I don't want to do that.

Peace,
Michael
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2012, 05:39:10 PM »
In The Beauty of the Infinite, David Hart repeatedly speaks about creation as being a mere "overflow" of the essential creative nature of God, a superfluous extra, so to speak, like the foam dripping down the side of a beer mug. Not sure what to make of that; it is not the easiest book in the world to read.

I don't address the question of why creation at all, but I do address the question fairly often in confirmation and Bible classes of what God made you and me. What is your purpose in life? To be loved by God and to love Him in return as He enables you. Having that passive purpose is key, because nothing- not a coma, not failure at something, not incapacity or pain, or anything else can ever render a life meaningless. I suppose the same general principle could apply to all of creation.

Given the book of Job, I'm guessing if you addressed the question to God you might get a reply like, "Why do you ask?"

DCharlton

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2012, 05:46:59 PM »
God is love.

Love desires an object.

Do you mean that the Father was all alone, and in order to love, needed to create someone to love?
David Charlton  

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readselerttoo

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2012, 05:55:15 PM »
Also a good segue into talking about the aporias of revelation.  Here is a link to a wonderful document by my former teacher, Robert Bertram: http://www.crossings.org/thursday/2003/thur073103.shtml.  Along with Elert, Bertram makes a good case that the use of the category of revelation seriously deflects from the issue of the immediacy of Creator to creature.  To talk about a God who reveals instead of talking about God's revelation in only law and Gospel terms is to objectivize God and to seriously render the potency of God's activity as an immediate encounter/infliction as the God who encounters us in God's nomologically embedded creation which includes the immediacy of retribution in the sinner's life.

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2012, 06:10:06 PM »
God is love.

Love desires an object.

Do you mean that the Father was all alone, and in order to love, needed to create someone to love?

No.  Creation is the work of the entire Godhead, and "need" implies compulsion or necessity. 

Love is directed outward and always seeks more opportunities to love.

"God had more love than he could contain.  He made man and set him up splendidly.  But God wasn't selfish.  Love can't be stopped.  It must swing on.  He made woman.  More love.  Male and female he created them.  So children and so more to love."
Norman Nagel, "Wedding Sermon on Phillipians 4:4-6," p. 333 in Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel
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Daniel L. Gard

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2012, 06:47:59 PM »
"Why did God create?" To love something or someone? He eternally existed as the Blessed Trinity within which His essence as Love already had an object. Perhaps there was some other reason.

My own perspective is that this is an unanswerable question at least in the affirmative. Unless Scripture answers the "Why?" it remains in the realm of the deus absconditus.

Negatively, however, I would suggest at least this much: He did not create us to pry into His mysteries. So I am content to affirm that God is the Creator and leave it at that.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Why Did God Create?
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2012, 07:13:10 PM »
Wisdom 1:14a ἔκτισεν γὰρ εἰς τὸ εἶναι τὰ πάντα


"For he created all things so that they might be."


Or in other words, God created everything just because.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]