1:2:1 (Part 3)
Section 1: Fundamentals of Existence
Chapter 2: Purpose of Creation
G-d alone is true perfection, free of all deficiency, and there is no perfection comparable to Him. Any imaginable perfection, with the exception of G-d's, is therefore not true perfection. Other things may be said to have perfection, but it is only relative to something less perfect. Absolute perfection, however, is only that of G-d.
Here the Ramchal provides us with an understanding of why creation must be seen as an act of goodness. One way to appreciate the idea of "G-d gaining nothing from creation" is by examining the chronology written in the Torah.
On Day One, G-d created light.
Let's pause and think about Day One from G-d's perspective. We know from our previous discussions that perhaps the best way to describe finite vis-a-vis infinite is to see it as G-d projecting His imagination. He "wills" the world to exist in a way not unlike our willing the green balloon to exist in our mind. So when G-d creates light, what does it accomplish? Can G-d now see where He's going and not bump into things? Or maybe He was scared of the dark (which He also created)? Obviously absurd. When we try to imagine the first act of creation, it's obvious that it could not have possibly accomplished any "benefit" for G-d.
G-d then continues creating through the next few days: clouds, trees, oceans, insects, mammals. Even at this stage, we'd have to say that from G-d's perspective, it's basically a grand puppet show where G-d is in full control of all the puppets, all the time! When a leaf falls off a tree, G-d isn't observing it – He's causing it. When a dog chases a cat, from the perspective of the Infinite Puppeteer, it's G-d making a dog-puppet chase a cat-puppet. G-d is in full control of all that's happening. For us time-bound human observers, it may be exciting drama. But for G-d, it must be awfully boring! So what's the point?
And even when we add human beings onto the stage, with the power of free will, the picture from G-d's perspective essentially stays the same. If G-d doesn't want something to happen, He has an unlimited number of ways to ensure that we don't spoil His plans. And though that seems to pose difficulties for the idea of free will (which the Ramchal will be getting to shortly), the fact remains that G-d – being outside any limitation of time – already knows exactly how every detail of history will unfold.
This is what the Ramchal is referring to as G-d's "perfection." The more we appreciate the completeness and wholeness that is intrinsic to infinite existence, the less we see any logic in G-d deciding to create. This is another reason why it seems absurd to suggest that G-d in any way actually benefits from the act of creation. And it further solidifies the Ramchal's contention that the whole purpose of creation must be seen as an act of pure loving kindness. It's all there for us, for our pleasure.
Since G-d desired to bestow good, a partial good would not be sufficient. The good that He bestows would have to be the ultimate good that His handiwork could accept. G-d alone, however, is the only true good, and therefore His beneficent desire would not be satisfied unless it could bestow that very good, namely the true perfect good that exists in His intrinsic essence.
Now that we have an understanding of the basic purpose of creation, let's examine the modus operandi. If an infinite unlimited being is creating, it's logical to see that as unlimited a creation as possible. In other words, when we examine our own human mini-examples of creation – creation of a car, a painting, a dinner, or even a thought – there are natural built-in limitations.
In fact, all of life is our struggle to prioritize our limited resources to achieve our goals. We'd love to find the cure for cancer, but we're limited in knowledge, money, time and perhaps creativity. We'd love to spend all our time in our favorite hobbies and recreational activities, but we also have to go to work and earn money to put food on the table. In any activity that we care about, and want to do perfectly, we're going to be faced with limitations – in talent, resources, time, strength, money and creativity.
G-d, on the other hand, is infinitely unlimited. No budgetary constraints, no time limitations. G-d's goal is to create a world where we can have ultimate pleasure, and since He's in full control of our physical nature, our psychology, the laws of nature, and everything else, there's nothing that can stop G-d from making a world of perfect pleasure.
In our normal human experiences of giving, the gift itself is something outside of ourselves – e.g. a birthday present, money, etc. But the element that makes a gift special is where the person gives of themselves – of their time, attention, affection. With G-d, there is nothing "outside" to give, so the giving is, so to speak, always of Himself.
In our next class, the Ramchal will explain what it means for an infinite Being to give "of Himself."
- Why should we assume that when G-d creates a world to give us pleasure, that He'll make it a maximal, abundant pleasure?