The beginning and the end of the physical universe are problems which surpass our intellectual powers. It seems that to gain knowledge about these stages of the “life” of our world is more than impossible; it is even unthinkable. This is because in order to know more about our universe, we should distance ourselves from it and to take a look as to observe it in its wholeness and integrity.

Christian theologians usually claim that it is not the proper subject matter of science to deal with the beginning of the universe, since this kind of knowledge can be achieved only through mystical contemplation or revelation. Such a revelation, Christians believe, is contained in the Holy Bible, which contains divine wisdom. The Holy Bible is actually God’s self-revelation; hence all principles and assertions manifested in it are to be read as true. Scripture teaches us that the world is created by God, by His goodness, benevolence, and grace. The creationist account of the origin of the universe reduces difficulties occurring among the scientific community, but gives rise to other ones. For example, we do not need to ask ourselves what existed before the “beginning” (as this is a question impossible to be addressed by contemporary science). On the other hand, another issue emerges: was the universe created out of nothing? How is it possible to prove that the act of creation was really dealing with nihilo? Can we imagine at all that Nothing exists, that it is?

In ancient Greece Parmenides was the philosopher who asserted that Being is, and Nothing is not. It cannot be said simpler than that (Wippel 2000, 72). Being cannot be referred to as non-existing. On the contrary, it is always, and cannot cease existing. Thus, the principle of creatio ex nihilo appears to be just a misunderstanding. Maybe theologians are in the wrong? How can they claim that Nothing1 exists? Or rather that it existed?

The Holy Bible has been interpreted in a symbolical way since the Patristic Era of the Catholic Church (Fergusen 2016, 143). This is because great and important truths cannot be expressed through mundane literary devices, but should actually be manifested at another level of thought- the symbolic one. We shall analyze this later while dealing with Augustine’s doctrine of creation.

Creation, we should say here, was not only a physical act, but a process which can be compared with any other physical, natural process. It referred also to spiritual essences. God has revealed Himself in creation in two ways:

  1. by performing the act of creation (as Creator, Artificer, First Cause), and
  2. giving to His creation the best conditions for existence and development.

This includes His own grace and goodness; therefore, human beings were created in His image (cf. Genesis 1:26-28), and they were endowed with an eternal aspiration towards the divine.

It can be maintained that God is Love, and as by His act of creation He endowed human beings with Love, in its fullest sense, as help, compassion, empathy, self-denying and rejecting of any egotism. Human beings possess endless freedom, which in turn leads to malicious acts and to wrongdoing. This phenomenon is very well explained by St. Augustine, as we shall see further, in the Second Chapter. However, neither Love nor freedom would have had any meaning or value without God’s grace: the power which motivates us to be good and righteous, and to resist sin. The truth is that without grace and freedom we would have been nothing more than robots, machines, completely subordinated to God. But God has endowed us with freedom, and He has given us His grace, for all eternity, in order to protect us.

Love and grace are essential attributes of Our Lord. As existing per se, they are neither effective nor active. God is, by His nature, active, despite being at the same time very contemplative. God reflects on His own being, as the ancient thinker Aristotle claims (Cary 2003, 21). Moreover, the creative power of God should be realized and actualized. This is impossible without the act of creation. On the other hand, such an act is not necessary or pre-determined: God created the world due to His benevolence, meaning good will. Nothing can enforce Him to create the world.

If the reader is still confused due to the two different directions which our story has up until now, we can assure them that the relation of creation and God’s grace is very close. Hence, our thesis reads as follows:

God created the world to demonstrate His Goodness and because He created/conceives the world as something good. For that reason He gives the highest form of freedom to His most supreme creation- man. God’s grace can be materialized only in time and only in the world. Taken in itself, grace is useless without the existence of the world. On the other hand, we should be thankful to God for our creation as well as the fact that He has endowed us with freedom of will. This is one of the fundamental elements of our love towards all people and everything which exists in general. This is also the basis of our aspiration towards beatitude which is to be achieved only in God and through God; however, grace essentially is a mystery. We cannot grasp it in a rational manner.

The assumption that the world has been created out of God’s goodness leads to the conclusion that nothing existed before the initial act of creation. This is so because God’s grace spiritualizes the world, and also it gives reality to the latter. Without grace, our world would have been a mere fantasy, mere imagination. We cannot accept the view that matter, even under the mask of chaos, existed before the act of creation. This is not a novel point, but its relation to grace can bring us to a new understanding of the act of creation and the meaning of our existence in this world.

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From Dr. Anthony Vento’s In Tempore Gratiae: God created the world to demonstrate His Goodness and because He conceives the world as something good. For that reason He gives the highest form of freedom to His most supreme creation- man. God’s grace can be materialized only in time and only in the world. Taken in itself, grace is useless without the existence of the world. On the other hand, we should be thankful to God for our creation and that He has endowed us with freedom of will. This is the foundation of our love towards all people and everything which exists in general. This is also the basis of our aspiration towards beatitude which is to be achieved only in God and through God. However, grace essentially is a mystery- we cannot grasp it in a rational manner. 

The assumption that the world has been created out of God’s goodness leads to the conclusion that nothing existed before the initial act of creation. This is so because God’s grace animates the world, and also it gives reality to the world. Without grace, our world would have been a mere fantasy, mere imagination. We cannot accept the view that matter existed before the act of creation. This is not a novel point, but its relation to grace can bring us to a new understanding of the act of creation and the meaning of our existence in this world. (Source: Amazon)