Sunday, August 07, 2005

Why did G-d create the world?

From Rabbi David Fohrman, Jewish World Review

It's not just an idle, philosophical question. From a religious standpoint, this innocent, child-like query packs a big theological wallop. For if G-d is a perfect Being, a being who has no needs, then why would He bother creating a universe? What could a universe possibly give to a Being who doesn't need anything at all?

In the beginning of the 18th century, a Jewish thinker by the name of Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto proposed what has become a classic answer to this dilemma. His answer is deceptively simple. Luzzatto says that G-d created the world in order to be capable of love.

The words seem like a cliché, sort of like the "G-d is Love" bumper sticker you might see plastered to the back of someone's rusting VW Beatle; but rest assured that Luzzatto lived long before the beatniks, and he meant what he said seriously. His argument goes as follows:

One of the axioms that most religions, Judaism included, accepts about G-d is that He is good. But those are just words. What does it actually mean to be good? One of the things it means, Luzzatto says, is that one acts to benefit others. If there is no world, though, then there are no others that G-d can benefit; He exists alone in numinous solitude. G-d acted to create a world so that there would be other beings existing besides Himself, beings upon whom He could bestow goodness.

In short, G-d created the world because goodness demanded it. more...

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