Religious Studies

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Why didn't God Create the World Sooner?

Brian Leftowa1

a1 Department of Philosophy, Fordham University, New York 10458

The Western monotheisms agree that (1) God has created the universe, and that (2) at some point in the past, the universe began to exist. Thus they believe that (1) and (2) are compatible. Yet one can argue that (1) and (2) are incompatible, so that the Western theistic picture of creation is inconsistent. Augustine's Confessions quotes a famous argument that (1) entails~(2):

What was God doing before he made heaven and earth? … if (God) did nothing, why did he not continue in this way … forever …? If any new motion arise in God, or a new will is formed in him, to the end of establishing creation which he had never established previously …, then (God) is not truly … eternal. Yet if it were God's sempiternal will for the creature to exist, why is not the creature sempiternal also?

This argument suggests that if God has created the universe, then for any t, God must have been acting before t, and therefore the universe must have existed before t. But if for any t the universe existed before t, then the universe had no first moment of existence, and so (2) is false.