Why did God create humans?

This morning I find myself too exhausted to write a coherent post, and waaaay behind on email (as usual). After taking some time to whine to myself about it for a while, it occurred to me: I could have my brilliant readers help me go through my inbox!

Here’s a question someone emailed me that I haven’t had a chance to reply to yet. I should note that she included a big disclaimer that she doesn’t mean for this to sound rude or disrespectful or insensitive or anything like that, she just wasn’t sure how else to ask the question:

In a recent post you bring up “the purpose of life” — something I just feel is true. I do not disagree with you on that, I just don’t understand why that is. Why would God create humans for the sole purpose of knowing, loving, and serving him? Why would any creature, great or small do such a thing other than out of narcissism or loneliness? Why does God need us to know, love, and serve him?

It’s a good question, and I was having a hard time articulating the answer off the top of my head. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Enter the Conversation...

39 Responses to “Why did God create humans?”
  1. Valerie says:

    To do anything that does not love, honor, or praise the greatest being, God, is a sin. Well, God can’t sin, so He must also consider His own glory and honor above everything else. That explanation has helped me to understand a whole lot more about God the whys of this life.

  2. Abigail says:

    Love is creative.

    Why do married people have kids?

    (I don’t know if you have kids yourself. If you don’t, I’m sure you can think of someone among your family and friends that does have a little one that they dote upon.)

    My husband and I are complete in our relationship with each other. If God had given us the cross of infertility (or the real-life situation we faced where all our kids could have inherited a fatal disease) –we would be left spooning each other Jello alone in the nursing home.

    When I faced that possibility head on, I was okay with that.

    I didn’t earnestly desire children with my husband because I needed someone to control, or someone to adore me, or someone to make me look good.

    The desire for children which I never abstractly wanted as a young woman, sort of came over me during this flood of amazing feelings I had for my spouse.

    He felt the same way about me.

    Now we’ve got 3 little ones who all share his funny toes and my curly hair, and yet each have an individual spirit which is entirely their own.

    Love delights in company. Love reaches out and expands itself.

    God’s love for each member of humanity is so fantastic we can only glimpse it inside the human heart. The desire for children, no matter how terribly perverted or buried in modern culture, is one of the basic laws written on the human heart. You’ll find parental love across all lands and all cultures.
    It’s proof that we all have the same imprint of One Creator.

  3. frival says:

    To keep it short, because God is love. Love is not truly love unless it is shared, and God being the epitome of love wants to share that love as widely as possible. It’s not so much that God “needs” to share as much as it is in His very nature to do so and, being God He will not do anything contrary to His nature. I could go on but that seems to hit the high points, to me at least.

  4. Susan Thompson says:

    I’m not a theologian so my thoughts may be a bit awkward, but it seems to me that through the nature of marriage God is trying to show us that it is in the very nature of love to bring forth life. Love is life-giving. He didn’t “need” to share existence with us, but God is Love, and love doesn’t keep itself to itself. It doesn’t seem narcissistic to me to want to share life, love, and joy. We don’t call our parents narcissists because they invited us into their families and made sacrifices for us.

  5. David, S.J. says:

    Well, it should first be said that God didn’t need to create us, nor was He lonely. Trinity that God is, He has the perfect community. Each member understands the others perfectly, is with the others perfectly, and gives of Itself to the others perfectly. So why create us? I remember a statement by an Eastern Orthodox monk (regarding liturgy, to be sure, but applicable here) “With you Westerners, less is more. That makes no sense. For us, more is more!” Knowing the goodness of the Trinity, God wants more to be able to experience this goodness- even if the experience would be imperfect. So it pleased God to create beings who could attain some experience of the goodness and love of the Trinity. It was completely unnecessary, and for that reason totally glorious. God created (and still creates) something “very good” not out of need, but simply and purely because He wanted to do so.

  6. Fr. D says:

    Because as St. Thomas said: “bonum diffusivum sui” – Good diffuses itself. God created humans because He wants goodness to be known for its own sake. That’s why it’s such an amazing gift. He didn’t have to make us but did anyway so that we could experience love, beauty, truth, goodness, etc.

  7. Flexo says:

    The question and the premise are faulty. God does not “need” us.

    God did not have to create the universe or human beings. Rather, He chose to create the universe and humanity. He chose and continues to choose this out of love because God is Love, and love, by its nature, looks outward and desires to be shared with others.

    At the same time, God is complete in and of Himself. He wills that humans exist, but it is not necessary that they exist.

    How can this be, how can God not “need” us if God is One and love is, by its very nature, relational – if it necessarily requires an “other”?

    Well, the One God is not one-dimensional. Rather, the One God exists in a relation of three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – a Holy Trinity. Three distinct persons in one divine nature. This is how God could be love and still be complete in and of Himself, without the “need” for others to love Him.

    He does not “need” us, He chooses us. We were and are created by a thought of God, we are not the accidental result of irrational evolutionary forces or the product of spontaneous animation of matter. Rather, each of us is willed by Him as an act of love.

    However, love is not only relational, by its very nature it must be free. Love is not truly love if it is not freely given, and love does not force itself or impose itself upon the other. If it is imposed or forced upon the other, it is not love, but a form of violence. Accordingly, God is not a puppet-master. He does not force us to love Him in return, as He might do if He were a lonely narcissist who “needed” us.

    Instead, God gives us free choice of the will to return His love or to reject Him. Thus, we should be clear of what is meant by when someone says that “God create[d] humans for the sole purpose of knowing, loving, and serving him.” Although the meaning of life, the purpose for which we were made, is to love and be loved in truth — we still have the free will to fulfill our purpose or not. For us to truly love Him in return, we must have the ability to love Him freely. It cannot be compelled or coerced.

    • Nelson says:

      Flexo,

      Quick question. You state, “nstead, God gives us free choice of the will to return His love or to reject Him. Thus, we should be clear of what is meant by when someone says that “God create[d] humans for the sole purpose of knowing, loving, and serving him.” Although the meaning of life, the purpose for which we were made, is to love and be loved in truth — we still have the free will to fulfill our purpose or not. For us to truly love Him in return, we must have the ability to love Him freely. It cannot be compelled or coerced”

      Here is the problem with all that touchy-feely nonsense. According to your assertion, there should be no hell or punishment. A complete loving god could not bring itself to destroy those that it loves absolutely.

      That leaves:

      1. Your god does not exist because the two ideals of love and punishment are contrary

      2. Your god is not all loving because it will send those it deems unworthy to eternal torment.

      3. Your god is a simple slave master whos says, “love me or perish.” and humans do not truly have free will.

  8. Jay says:

    OK – so this is a good one, and also gives me an opportunity to place my first post after reading this site for weeks now.

    First – I do believe that the bible is the word of God. I believe that God is perfect – and we are not. We, as humans are not meant to be. Given that God is love, I can not see any other way to express that love except to create others in His image and He did. Humans were given the gift of love – both to give and to accept.

    I believe that Jennifer posted an article some time back on the meaning of life; something like – To love each other and love and serve the Lord. For the longest time, I thought it was simply to love one and all – but I never considered adding “The Lord” into that statement until I read that post.

    To me, it makes almost perfect sense. Love cannot be fully realized by just One – it must be proliferated and shared among all – what better way to do that then create us!

    God is good!

  9. Stephanie says:

    Well I think the problem is the question already assumes part of the answer…that God “needed” us.

    The answer is, He didn’t need us, God is so loving that he did it purely for us to know Him! That’s not narcissistic of God, because God is God, lol. It’s narcissistic for me to think I’m the greatest thing on Earth and to expect people to worship me…it’s not narcissistic for God to know that He is the Creator of all, because that’s true, and to humble himself to come down and be with us on Earth and allow us to know Him personally. That’s love. :-)

  10. Melanie B says:

    Why does a painter paint, a writer write, a singer sing? For the sheer joy of creation, of making something beautiful.

    I don’t think we can really know for certain why God does anything; but we can certainly see parallels between human joy in making things and God’s pleasure in making the world, which we see when he declares that it is good.

    God is perfect above narcissism, which is a human flaw, and because he is perfect there can be nothing lacking in him so there is no loneliness. In fact, we know that God is a Trinity of Persons thus God cannot be lonely. Pope John Paul II once said that in his deepest mystery God is a family. God is love, the love of a father which pours itself out and makes a son and the love of the son returning to the father and that love itself becomes a person who is the spirit. (Rather like the way the love of a man and a woman takes on concrete form in their child.)

    God doesn’t need man’s love; but God is Love and we are made in God’s image so that we are most fully what we are made to be when we love. God made us not out of need but out of a superabundance of love. The nature of love is to give of itself, to be creative.

    Ok not sure how clear that is, but the toddler and baby are both clamoring for attention.

  11. SteveG says:

    It seems we are all mostly in agreement.

    Because he first wanted to share his love with us.

    As someone else said, because love is creative and by it’s nature is to be shared.

  12. Ginkgo100 says:

    Well, perhaps it just came naturally to him. Literally — it is his nature to be creative.

    We can't always understand everything God does. As I like to say, "God is odd." Odd to us, because our understanding is so limited.

  13. Thomas says:

    C.S. Lewis discusses this in The Problem of Pain (Ch. 3, Divine Goodness).

    God doesn’t need us. He is perfect, lacking nothing, needing nothing. He certainly doesn’t need us to love him, but he desires it because it is good for us. He created us not (primarily) so we would love Him, but so He could love us. Our existence is not necessary, it is contingent on His free will. We are an expression of His infinite love. Our existence, our faith, our ability to love God are all His free gifts. All we do if we accept these gifts (by doing His will) or reject them (by refusing to) is help or hurt ourselves; we cannot help or hurt God.

    “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us”
    1 Jn 4:10

  14. Eo Nomine says:

    It is God’s nature to freely create outside of himself, and then draw all back to himself. Love unites lovers, and lovers sing the praises of that affection which has brought them together.

    This is the Way of things.

  15. Kacie says:

    Wow, many profound comments saying exactly what I was going to say.

    I think it is hard for us to understand this because we live in a world that is broken with lives that are broken. It’s difficult to then see how we live in that wonderful, self-giving love that the Trinity has for each other.

    But that is an entirely different question – the problem of evil.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Just a few thoughts.

    Out of all the creatures on the Earth, humans alone appear to be capable of the intellectual ability to weigh and consider our response to God. We should deduce that He has given us this ability, as created. Without God, are we not just intelligent animals, opting for survival and “playing the game” until we cease to exist?

    As others have noted, narcissism isn’t the root of His creation.

    A similar comparison is the question of why He “tests” us. Why do we have problems? Why do bad things happen to us?

    The answer isn’t because He wants to know how we’ll react–He already knows. The test is so that WE will know how we will react. Do we turn to Him, or do we wallow? If we wallow, we need to reconsider our response. Do we fail, and fail, and fail, until we figure it out?

    I think as a “father”, He wants us to succeed. He gives us the ability to choose what we want.

    His “choice” is already expressed in your existence–it is your choice that remains to be seen.

  17. Nicole says:

    I think that question is answered well here. I just read this yesterday, having clicked through from Jen’s other website.

    http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2008/08/whats-the-point.html

  18. Jen says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, but abigail said it best. I can understand God’s creation of humanity best through the filter of parenthood.

    Thanks for the intriguing blog reads!

    • Nelson says:

      Jen,

      No you don’t. As a parent you would never exile a child from your home simply because they did not agree with you. Or would you?

  19. Sara says:

    Well, I was going to comment to say, “Great job, Abigail!” That was an awesome explanation, but everyone else deserves kudos for their additions.

    I have nothing to add. Jennifer, your readers rock, too. :-)

  20. Kimberly says:

    I have nothing more to add, except that I love Abigail’s phrase:

    “Love delights in company. Love reaches out and expands itself.”

    What a wonderful depiction, both of God’s love for us, and the reason most of us want a marriage and family.

  21. razzler says:

    You know, I’ve thought about this question a lot. Now, I haven’t read the previous comments (being short of time tonight) so I apologise if I’m repeating what someone else has already said. ;)

    Narcisism or loneliness? According to what I understand of the Trinity, God isn’t lonely. He is in a perfect community – Father, Son and Spirit.

    I used to think it was narcissism. If a human wanted all the people on the earth to serve them, to love them without condition it would certainly be a sign of narcissism: “self-admiration or self-love; a tendency to over-estimate one’s abilities and importance” See, no human deserves that.

    That to me is the crux of this issue. We can’t help but look at it from a very human perspective. When I shifted that perspective I started to understand a bit better. God actually does deserve our love, service and indeed adoration.

    And the other side of this (in my thinking so far) is that because we were created for this purpose, our lives are most blessed when living in that purpose. Look at the first two humans. It was only when they started rebelling against God that their lives took a turn for the worse.

    God wants to bless us. To love us back. In fact, His love for us came first. It is not that if we love God then He loves us in return. Even when we do not love Him, when we actively reject Him, He still loves us. Unconditionally.

    I’m not sure if this answers the question. But I find that when I can shift my thinking away from human examples, then I can start to understand a little better. And when I look at tit from that perspective that God deserves my love, by virture of all that He is, and the knowledge that He loves me in spite of all my failings, then that makes me bow before Him in adoration.

    Hope my ramblings make sense a little bit.

  22. Anna says:

    Why would God create humans for the sole purpose of knowing, loving, and serving him? Why would any creature, great or small do such a thing other than out of narcissism or loneliness?

    Because God really is that awesome. His goodness is so incredible that if he created an intelligent being with some purpose in life other than to love him, that creature would be losing out on the greatest thing that ever was or could be.

    As razzler pointed out, if a human thought that way, it would be narcissism, because we really aren’t the greatest thing ever. But it isn’t narcissism in God to recognize what he really is.

  23. Carrien says:

    As my husband is fond of saying, “God is the ultimate well adjusted parent.”

    Abigail said it very well.

    I would add that the need is on our end. We need to know, love and serve God in order to be complete. Just as an orphan constantly wants to find and belong to a family, to know where they came from, but also to know where they belong, we need to find our context as God’s children, in his family.

    To know God fully is to love Him, because he is lovely. Service to God most often manifests in love and care for God’s children, and the Earth our home.

    In a large family serving your parents is serving your family. Doing the task you are given, whether it is taking care of a younger sibling or washing the dishes is something that contributes the the greater well being and harmony of all, including yourself. To serve God is to find true happiness. It is to restore His family as it ought to be in the areas where you have influence. And the way it ought to be is full of love light and laughter, full of unselfish care for each other and joy in each other as HE rejoices in us.

  24. bearing says:

    He doesn’t “need” us, it’s pure gift.

    God is All-good. Therefore, to know All-good, to love All-good, to serve All-good, are themselves great goods. (Can there even be any other Good, besides He who is Goodness Himself? I mean, wrapped up in knowing, loving, and serving is everything I think of that makes life worth living!)

    So in creating us, he (who needs nothing) did no more nor less than creating Creatures with the capability of possessing these three great goods, knowing, loving, and serving Him.

    It’s totally and completely free gift. It’s an act of pure and selfless love. He doesn’t need us or need anything from us in return. It’s just gift. Gift.

    “Go and do likewise.”

  25. eileen says:

    “To know God fully is to love Him, because he is lovely.”

    All the commenters gave detailed and wonderful answers. But, the sentence above from Carrien jumped out at me. How true!

  26. Marian says:

    Disclaimer: I haven’t read the other commentsto know if this has been said a gazillion times!

    God IS love. Love is meaningless without expression in relationship.

  27. Jennifer says:

    I love Abigail’s answer! makes sense! Thanks Abigail–I needed that one!

  28. Alexandra says:

    Because as St. Thomas said: “bonum diffusivum sui” – Good diffuses itself. ~ Fr. D.

    Love is creation. I would think it’s a natural extension. To love is to create, multiply, reproduce that which is good. We are all a little piece of God, a little piece of pure love. By honoring and worshiping God we honor and worship all that is good.

  29. lyrl says:

    I think the comparisons to marriage and human families don’t really work. While the goal in having a family is to have a life-long relationship with one’s children, a child’s relationship to their parent (except, perhaps, for very young children) is not anywhere near a “purpose of life”.

    Many might judge an adult child whose life revolved (emotionally – not including cases such as physically caring for chronically ill relatives) around their parent as having missed out on a significant part of life.

    (I know others have offered alternative answers to the question that don’t have this problem, but I found the marriage/family line of thought interesting and wanted to focus my comments on it.)

  30. Peter B says:

    God is love. God is, “I am what am.” God is “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Not I know the way, the truth and the life, or I am like the way, the truth and the life.

    In love God created out of nothingness. There is no higher calling than to love. It is not that we are good and are then arbitrarily rewarded for it. We love (are “good”) and by doing so open ourselves to the greatest of possibilities, the call of God.

    If you find yourself wondering if God is a vast megalomaniac (as I once did), consider that he sent his Son (one person of the Holy Trinity) to be born in a manger to poor simple people in a contentious backwater of the Roman Empire. According to scripture, his family wasn’t sure what to do with him. His own people misunderstood him and rejected him. He was put to death in a shameful way, absolute “Son of Man” until his very death. What came to mark his true first followers was freedom and faith, and love.

    All of this is best understood over time, trying to live a Christian life, studying and reflecting on scripture, and imitating Christ, even in the poorest of imitations – perhaps even, at first, as just a bad actor.

  31. Carrien says:

    lyrl-You are right, the analogy does break down somewhat.
    However the complete picture that the Bible paints isn’t just that we are children of a loving father, but that that father is also King.

    This may make less sense than it would have when the Bible was written, as we have very few modern monarchies that embody this.

    When the children of a King are grown it is still considered their very adult duty to obey, love, honor and be devoted to their father, as their monarch, their liege lord. While they remain within his family and enjoy the privilege of adoption and sonship and as such are members of the family of God, they are also his subjects. He is still their King.

    We talk, as the Bible talks, of believers coming into the family of God, but one must not forget that there is also a kingdom of God and that God’s family grows up to participate in the rule and advancement of God’s kingdom.

    Even Jesus, God’s firstborn, who being in the form of God still humbled himself and was obedient to his father even to the point of death on the cross. Phil. 2:5-10

    Children in regular families do move on in adulthood to devotion to things outside of the family.

    Children of kings grow up to offer their father service, devotion, love and obedience to a greater extent than they did as children.

  32. wendybirde says:

    Marion, said it so beautifully: “God IS love. Love is meaningless without expression in relationship.”

    One thing did disturb in some of the comments though… this judgment that God couldnt possibly need, as if need is some horrible thing. Personally, i think thats nonsense, and that need is a sacred thing. I love that God created us to need Him. And i love that perhaps He…needed to : )

  33. Melanie B says:

    Wendybirde,
    “One thing did disturb in some of the comments though… this judgment that God couldnt possibly need, as if need is some horrible thing. Personally, i think thats nonsense, and that need is a sacred thing. I love that God created us to need Him. And i love that perhaps He…needed to : )”

    It isn’t that people think that need is a horrible thing. But need does imply that something is lacking. God can’t be lacking in anything, can’t need because God is perfect. He is all fullness.

    You are right that our need for God is a lovely thing. And it is true that God wants us to need Him, wants to fulfill our needs. Still that is because we are imperfect, created beings. But to say that God is needy is to misunderstand His nature. Really it denies His divinity. It denies that He is perfect and lacking in nothing and blurs the distinction between Creator and creature.

  34. kursten says:

    Abigail’s comments, which seem to make sense to many others here, are right in line with my perspective. I have found being a parent to be the best clarification of God’s person. A long time ago I saw a magazine editorial where a woman wrote about not understanding why anyone would have children. I thought about that article for a long time, and finally when my 4th child was an infant I got it. For the first time I was able to put into words my urge to “go forth and multiply.” Love (and therefore, God) is by nature creative.

  35. wendybirde says:

    Some thoughts….

    Of course God is perfect, but why should that exclude need? Need is part of love. And God is love.

    Even the need to give, to share, to create, is just that…a need. True need is a longing, an openness, a sacred thing. And all things sacred have their root in God don’t they : )?

  36. Madhukar says:

    Well the most common and a very tough question- Why God created us? In an order to attempt to answer this questions, many more things needs to be discussed. If you friends are ready to understand my opinion without prejudices of your own religions, thn u will find it easy to understand. In other words, jst forget all belief which u have mugged up since childhood, and try to understand it with fresh mind.
    To start with answer, first let us know who are we? We are not a body, but we are a soul. So there is no sense to talk abt body, we will talk only abt our self (soul). Second, let us all accept that God is perfect. This means that he don’t behaves randomly! He behaved in same manner even before past and will behave same even after future. So if we say that god did this or that for first time, means god changed his mind and start/stop doing things randomly. So if we say that god created us for first time, which he nvr did before, means god acted randomly. If he acts randomly, means he dnt have anything sure! This means God is not perfect, rather he is moody or do random things like creating us etc!

    But, god is perfect! he acts same always!. So this means god never act random, and hence it means God never created us! We are subset of god and we existed with god and continue to exist with god. So we (soul) are never born and a thing which is never born, it shall never die! Yes we are a part of God! We have existed in past and will continue to exist in future, the only thing is that we (soul) keep changing, is this body, jst like a person discards old cloths and put on new cloths! So the question that y are we born, is not valid, because we were never born . We are part of God and existed along with God since beginning! So what do people means when they say world will come to an end? It merely means that world will go in unmanifested form and manifest again frm it! So simple! Every thing is a part of God, it jst keep manifesting and unmanifesting. Nothing is destroyed or created new. This has been done always, and God never made this universe randomly! This whole universe itself is a part of God, so it had always existed and will continue to exist! For example, bricks makes a building. Whn u remove bricks, building is gone, but bricks always remains there because it is the cause of effect (building). Cause always remains, but effect can have temporary existence! So souls are forever. It jst keeps on travelling in different world and diffrent bodies, ultimately they obtain bliss by their actions and go into God! All soul have one aim, to go into god…but aftr going into God, soul never get destroyed….because it was never born! It is jst like a drop of water which don’t cease to exist after mixing into ocean. So we were never born and we will never die. A man with little knowledge see the birth and death of soul. A man with evn more little knowledge see only birth and death of this body!

    So now you can easliy get answers of question of something which you may have never thought…like- Does soul always remain in heaven or hell? Means, does god gives infinite punishment/ rewards for limited number of actions performed on earth? No! ….god is merciful….he gives soul freedom to act and constantly move up or down in terms of purity of soul. A soul take birth in a body and situation, based upon his previous actions! The actions of soul in repeated births, makes it good or bad! So action theory is valid everytime. This also help us to answer the abruptness that why God do partiality (act as imperfect) to put one soul in good body and other soul in bad body without any previous action of those souls. Actually God never do partiality and he is equal to all. We just get good body or bad body depending on our own previous actions! Hence God is always impartial and always perfect!
    Morever if u believe in heaven / hell to justify action and result theory, remember that whn the results of actions are nullified, the soul comes back to perform action. So no one can say that soul will always remain in heaven or hell till infinity because of the action he performed during , say just 100 years of life!

    Also now we have understanding to reject the belief if a person says that we can go to heaven by asking mercy by god whn we are in hell. If it is correct, thn why dnt enjoy a lot here, do all bad activities, go to hell and ask mercy frm god and go to heaven?? So simple shortcut! But asking for mercy in hell dnt gives u heaven. However God shows his mercy and gives u chance everytime to go and perform and get its result! Even a person in heaven has to return for performing actions, after he finishes enjoying the result of good actions!