A few weeks ago, my uncle sent me the following email:
I’d be curious to hear your answer to this…
Why did God create man?
This is actually a very good question and not too shocking to be coming from my uncle. He left institutionalized religion a while ago and occasionally pulls out these questions. I guess I drew the straw this time.
After some much needed time for thought and reflection, I sent him this response:
First off, God did not create ex nihilo. There was not some external necessity imposed on God to create. God does not create to satisfy any neediness in the divine being, or under the pressure of any inward drive or impulse. This is because in the divine being there is perfect love between the persons of the Trinity.
Despite this, God chose to create. Given that God has chosen to create, we can see that it was good and fitting for him to do so. (The end of each day of creation is good and the whole of creation is very good).
Thomas Aquinas states that God “brought things into being so that his goodness might be shared with creatures, and be represented by them.”
With that in mind, why man? Out of all creation, mankind is the only creature that is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). I think that there are two possible conclusions people come to concerning why. The first is that God needed to have something to worship Him. But that would be because of some inward drive on God’s being, not to mention that this first reason completely does away with free will. It basically makes God a dictator saying, “Love me! You have no choice in the matter.”
The second conclusion, and the one I hold to, is God is a God of love. There is perfect love between the persons of the divine being. But God wants to share that love because love in and of itself is not greedy or jealous. God allows for free will, we are able to chose to love God or not. While it’s God’s will that all love him, to impose that on creation would be to selfish and contrary to God’s nature, thus free will.
There are all kinds of issues that can come up with this one, not-so-simple question, so I tried to anticipate any issue that could come up.