The mystery of creation

The Church teaches that God creates everything out of nothing, writes Cathal Barry

The Catholic faithful 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. God creates freely "out of nothing".

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 recognise that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being.”(2 Macc 7:22-21, 28.)

The Church teaches that 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, 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” (Rom 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.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that God creates an ordered and good world. And because God creates through wisdom, his creation is ordered: "You have arranged all things by measure and number and weight." (Wis 11:20)

The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, the "image of the invisible God", is destined for and addressed to man, himself created in the "image of God" and called to a personal relationship with God.

Our human understanding, which shares in the light of the divine intellect, can understand what God tells us by means of his creation, though not without great effort and only in a spirit of humility and respect before the Creator and his work.

Because creation comes forth from God's goodness, it shares in that goodness – for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. The Catechism notes that, on many occasions, the Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world.

It also notes that God upholds and sustains creation: “With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves,” the Catechism says. “He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end,” it adds.