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Alex Sherman wrote:

Hello,

My name is Alex Sherman. I am a single Catholic man living on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. A day or two ago, a very dear friend of mine posed the question:

  • Why did God create anything at all?

She and her boyfriend have been atheists for as long as I have known them and they are very interested in my response. Despite the simplicity of that question, its implications are nearly infinite, and I found myself, floundering that night, searching for an answer and Scripture passages to back up my answer. What I found only confused me more. We all acknowledge that God is perfect, and that He has no wants, needs, or desires.

  • In that case, what reason did He have to create the universe?
  • Can you provide any help?

Finding an answer to that question would greatly satisfy us both. I searched the Knowledge base and did not find anything. If this subject has already been covered, I apologize for taking your time.

Also, a former Mormon girlfriend of mine once questioned me on how we, as Catholics, can prove that the Papacy has descended uninterrupted from St. Peter without schism or apostasy.

FYI: For Mormons, believing that there was an apostasy in our Early Church is central to their beliefs. She went further and produced instances where there have been anti-popes, or popes put in place by secular kings and emperors.

  • How do we prove our Pope (and the Church) hold Jesus' Authority, and
  • How do we answer for the times when succession does indeed look questionable?

This is a wonderful site, and I am grateful for any response.

Sincerely,

Alex

  { Why did God create the universe and how do we prove our current Pope holds Jesus' Authority? }

John replied:

Alex,

In response to your first question as to why God created anything at all, it is, indeed, a Mystery, but certainly not one which one can't grasp.

God, in His deepest recesses, is an Eternal Covenant between three persons:

  1. Father
  2. Son, and
  3. Holy Spirit.

The Father eternally gives Himself to the Son and the Son eternally gives Himself back to the Father in the Love of the Holy Spirit.

So God by His Nature is a giving God. He is always giving Himself. He made creation to give Himself to creation. God is not just a being among all, and above all, beings. He is not just a supreme being. He is being. This is revealed to us in His Covenant Name, Yahweh, given to Moses at the burning bush. It means, I who AM.

When we read the prologue of John's Gospel, we discover the Second Person of the Trinity, who is the Word. Literally, John uses the word Logos, which not only means word, but reason and expression. It is through the Eternal Word, that God the Father created all things. In the beginning . . . God said Let their be Light . . . etc.

The best proof of God's existence is man himself. Made is His image; man is also a creative being. The theory of evolution can offer us an explanation as to how man was made, but it cannot fully explain man's creativity. Sure, man's cognitive ability allowed man to survive among species that are stronger but evolution can't explain how music aided the process of natural selection; nor can it explain man's desire to understand the complexities of quantum physics.

Why does man create things that have no apparent utility other than: they express his soul?

It's because that's how we are wired. In like manner, God creates because He is a life-giving God whose nature is to create and give life.

Now, that answer may not satisfy your friends.

Atheism is an extreme bastard child of Rationalism. In fact, it is a belief system which elevates human reason to level of Deity. For that reason, your friends may not be able to comprehend a philosophical explanation. They may also have a skewed understanding of the Judeo-Christian God. Since the Reformation, (also a by-product of Rationalism), the Mysteries of:

  • God
  • Salvation, and
  • existence itself have been reduced to a juridical paradigm.

In this model, the Reformers sought to reconcile God's justice with God's Mercy. Therefore, God the Father is the angry judge, seeking satisfaction for man's sins but since God is also merciful, He extracted this punishment on Himself through the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ.

While there is some merit to the notion that Christ's obedient sufferings was substitutionary, the paradigm presents a problem. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.

Yes, and Amen, but not because God had to take out His wrath on someone!!

So against this background, rationalists have developed a distorted understanding of God's very nature. We have a bipolar God who has to take out His wrath in order to forgive.

  • Is it any wonder that people loose their faith?

As for your question regarding Peter and Papacy, I'd suggest you search the Question and Answer Knowledge base on our web site. [Search Results]

It's been addressed before or perhaps one of my other colleagues can summarize an answer for you.

God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving,

John DiMascio

Mike replied:

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • How do we prove our Pope (and the Church) hold Jesus' Authority, and
  • How do we answer for the times when succession does indeed look questionable?

Because Jesus promise us in Matthew 16:13-19. Today, we can historically see that Our Lord has kept that promise. Under the Church tab on our site we have the list of successors to St. Peter from 33 A.D. to 2015 A.D.:

Apostolic Succession of St. Peter

It's important that your Mormon friend is aware that the historical existence of an anti-pope does not, in anyway, disprove the Papacy.

An anti-pope is just a false claimant to the papacy. I can't remember the time but, at one point, we had two false claimants to the papacy, along with the real pope.

There was a time, early in the Church, where the lay people had a great say in who would be the next Pope. That does not negate the presence of the Holy Spirit among the faithful.

With time, that changed to what we have today: the election of the next pope by the College of Cardinals, the current day Apostles of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit.

In addition to what my colleague John has said, I'd like to pitch in this section from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

III. The World was Created for the Glory of God.

293 Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: The world was made for the glory of God. (Vatican Council I: Dei Filius, Canon § 5: DS 3025)

St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it, (St. Bonaventure, In II Sent. I,2,2,1.) for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: "Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. II, Prol) The First Vatican Council explains:

This one, true God, of his own goodness and "almighty power", not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel "and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal. . ."

(Vatican Council I: Dei Filius, I: DS 3002; cf. Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800)

294 The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made us "to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace", (Ephesians 1:5-6) for "the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man's life is the vision of God: if God's revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word's manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God." (St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4,20,7: PG 7/1,1037.) The ultimate purpose of creation is that God "who is the creator of all things may at last become "all in all", thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude." (Vatican II, Ad Gentes 2; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:28)

IV. The Mystery of Creation

God creates by wisdom and love

295 We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. (cf. Wisdom 9:9) It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance. We believe that it proceeds from God's free will; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, wisdom and goodness: "For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." (Revelation 4:11) Therefore the Psalmist exclaims: "O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all"; and "The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made." (Psalm 104:24; 145:9)

God creates "out of nothing"

296 We believe that God needs no pre-existent thing or any help in order to create, nor is creation any sort of necessary emanation from the divine substance. (cf. Vatican Council I: Dei Filius, Canon 2-4: DS 3022-3024) God creates freely "out of nothing": (Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 800; cf. DS 3025)

If God had drawn the world from pre-existent matter, what would be so extraordinary in that? A human artisan makes from a given material whatever he wants, while God shows his power by starting from nothing to make all he wants.

(St. Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolycum II, 4: PG 6,1052)

297 Scripture bears witness to faith in creation "out of nothing" as a truth full of promise and hope. Thus the mother of seven sons encourages them for martyrdom:

I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws. . . Look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being. (2 Maccabees 7:22-21, 28)

298 Since God could create everything out of nothing, he can also, through the Holy Spirit, give spiritual life to sinners by creating a pure heart in them, (cf. Psalms 51:12) and bodily life to the dead through the Resurrection. God "gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist." (Romans 4:17) And since God was able to make light shine in darkness by his Word, he can also give the light of faith to those who do not yet know him. (cf. Genesis 1:3; 2 Corinthians 4:6)

Hope this helps,

Mike

John followed-up:

To add to Mike's comments.

The Mormon claim of a great apostasy are not strictly with reference to the Papacy, rather it is based on an alleged vision of Joseph Smith.

Mormons claim the Church went into a great apostasy with the death of the last Apostle or shortly thereafter. Unlike the Protestants who argue Sola Scriptura, Mormons question the inerrancy of the Scriptures. They add the Book of Mormon and prophecies of Joseph Smith (and their subsequent prophet) which, they say, corrects the inaccuracies of Scripture which were corrupted by an apostate Church.

Of course, aside from the claims of Joseph Smith, there is no historical evidence of a great apostasy. To accept this notion, one has to work backwards and first assume Smith was right. Having done so, you then have no choice but say that the Bible has doctrinal errors, because Smith's teaching contradict Scripture and historic Christianity.

That in no way impugns the character or personal holiness of Mormons. Most of them live very ethical lives. They love God in the way they understand Him and are very sincere. The problem is:

They are sincerely wrong!

All the historic evidence points to a heavily persecuted Church that went to great lengths to preserve Apostolic Teaching.

The burden of proof of this great apostasy is in their lap. It is not up to the Church to prove it didn't happen.

John

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Alex,

You said:

  • What reason did he have to create the universe?

Love.

Mary Ann

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