Statesboro, GA, USA
For the sake of discussion, let us suppose that there is indeed a God as described in The Old Testament, having all the qualities as thus described and that man (and woman, from man's rib, as helpmeet) was created as related in the book of Genesis. Why? What would be the purpose of man's creation?
Though rational answers to such questions can be given, I think the best kinds of answers will be nearly inexplicable to the mind, but at the same time obvious to our emotions. It's kind of like those magical moments in your life where love has overwhelmed you. For me an example is when I first saw a baby born firsthand. That was such a time, when the question "why" would have struck everyone as funny and naive. And I don't mean that in an insulting way. For God knows, one of my own weaknesses is to over-intellectualize something until the substance is lost in analysis. And I think we all lose something in life, from day to day, and hour to hour, that must be replenished. And that is a sense of child-like wonder. That doesn't mean that there aren't contributing reasons that we can't see it always. There is pain, disappointment, sin, and cynicism, which are all "real" from their own perspective. But I guess it's part of faith, to trust the other insight as unspoiled and most true. Having said that, I think the best phrased "answer" to such a question, was expressed in the Westminister Shorter Catechism which states:
"man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever"
So God is glorified in worship, but our needs are also considered. Rather than being totally theocentric (as Islam, in which the sole purpose of man is to worship God) or antropocentric (as in secular humanism), this idea presents a marriage of sorts ... a romance.
When the question is viewed through love, then the question of "why" is better grasped. Why fall in love? Why do I love mountain streams? The answer is not ascertained from outside of that experience, but from within.
Some have suggested that a God who is perfect and complete would never need to create anyone else. But such an act transcends need, as true love does (the grasping desperate aspect of love we all experience as people is a lesser and imperfect expression of love, I think).
I see God as being so full of love, that our creation served to catch an overflow. But one will ask: How can infinity overflow? But that would be to mistake spiritual reality for sterile and abstract mathematics. The question really can't be answered along those lines. If you want to say that God has a need to love, then I would say you've pinned him on the one weakness he gladly owns (it sent him to Golgotha). For the scripture does say that "the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength". I therefore personally have no problem when debaters want to point out that God's act of creation is an admission of need and therefore imperfection. I'm still glad he did create. And I don't think the reality of it, is dimmed in the least by such pedantry as that.
Probably the best way to express the question, finally is poetically, rather than polemically. The following passage of scripture best communicates the idea or reality of why God created beautiful you Karen.
(Personified 'Wisdom' Speaking)
"The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
When there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,
Or the primal dust of the world.
When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
When He established the clouds above,
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
When He assigned to the sea its limit,
So that the waters would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth,
Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in His inhabited world,
And my delight was with the sons of men."
And herein is the joy and glory of art and the artist. No "reason" is needed beyond a love to create. I can't explain why I love to write beautiful guitar music, but I do.
and here's part II-- the creation of angels is not mentioned until God placed the four archangels as guardians upon each direction of the Garden of Eden. (Feel free to jump in and correct me anytime--as I know you will.) So why did an omniscient and omnipotent God need to create angels?
You knew I would, eh?
Actually it's a good question. One thing to remember is that Scripture is not necessarily chronological. There are other passages to consider. Admittedly angeology is sparse in the Bible, and more vague than many other subjects. But there are passages in which the creation of these heavenly beings are alluded to: particularly Exodus 20:11, and Job 38:4-7.
Other passages speak of "war in heaven" where a third of the angels were cast down to earth because of rebellion. Since the Earth was "formless and void" at the beginning of the creation, many have assumed that this chaotic state was due to the rule/ influence of these dark angelic powers. And it was against the backdrop of these "principalities" and "rulers of the darkness of this age", that the Earth was given light and order and an earlthy representative of God (ie Adam and Eve). That would explain the conniving interest of Satan, in his serpentine pose, in the garden scene around God's new ambassadors.
Much of this is somewhat speculative, but very interesting. But one thing I think is fairly clear from the scriptures ... 1) The angelic order was created before humankind.
As to the question of why God created angels. Why do we value multiculturalism? Why do we appreciate the richness of other races and other perspectives? I think God's creation of a varied universe, is simply an expression of his love of variety. To put it simply, he likes different things, much as we do.
There are of course functional explanations of why the angels exist. They are biblically connected with ideas of service and adminstration of nature, and sometimes as emissaries. But that's a whole study in and of itself.
I personally find it exciting to think that there are other beings who share a common creator, and yet are very different from us.
And to go even further, (part III) if God is eternal, and man, as well as this planet, is apparently ephemeral, what did God do before the creation as we know it? And to jump from Genesis to Revelation--Armageddon and the Apocalypse, what is to happen afterward?
Though I think that the Earth is in for renewal, and is promised an eternal nature, you've still touched on an amazing question. Even if the Earth were eternal, God is infinite. Is he so small that he has nothing to do but with us?
I think the sheer enormity of the universe whispers "no".
The fact is the Bible tells us much of what concerns us. But what it doesn't say, speaks volumes to me.
C.S. Lewis once put it this way:
"We know that God has visited and redeemed His people, and that tells us just as much about the general character of the creation as a dose given to one sick hen on a big farm tells us about the general character of farming in England ... It is, of course, the essence of Christianity that God loves man and for his sake became man and died. But that does not prove that man is the sole end of nature."
If Creator is a title rather than a personal name, I suspect there is much we haven't been told. And that too is an exciting prospect. Maybe the "reunion" of Heaven will be even greater and wider than we ever dreamed.
I Just can't help but think all those empty "houses" up in the heavens, when I gaze up through the pine trees on a dark Georgia night, are without purpose.
All of this is speculative, but then again (contrary to what some would say) The Bible allows for such.
I do understand joy and rapture, but it seems to me eternity is one long-ass party. And perhaps I have grown old--or maybe it's just my bad health, but the idea of an endless party is, well, not only boring to me at this point, but exhausting.
I think that is a misconception about eternity which has been popularized, and spread wide and far enough to touch us all. But on examination I'm not sure it holds. Celebration is but one aspect of life. Who wants to celebrate forever, with no more vistas to celebrate? (have you noticed too, that much of what is called 'partying' here has no real object of celebration, but is rather going through the motions for their own sake?) Redeemed eternity will be a real world, full of all the things that make this world interesting and many more. Work, play, rest, joy, challenge, purpose, will not be absent. I'm not sure we can explain "Heaven" from this vantage without distorting it, or oversimplifying it. But I'm quite sure it won't be floating on cottony clouds strumming harps, and popping grapes.
I think intractable boredom will be one of the characteristics of hell, not eternity with God. Did you read "The Great Divorce" yet?
Anyway, sorry if this seemed disorderly. I, like you, just sat down and wrote what first came to mind.
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (12-14-2006 10:12 PM).]