Hope all is well with you. So we turn our (probably greatest) minds (of the 21st Century) to the notion of God. And I say notion because it’s fascinating to consider what we really know about Him. I think a ‘notion’ is perhaps all we can get.
Here’s where it gets interesting. As far as I can find, there is no standard theology or doctrine of God outside of creation. Meaning that all of our concepts of God’s character are in contrast to His creation.
Consider this: is God perfect? No. Not in the way we consider perfection; before creation He was perfect because He was the only thing to exist, after creation He is perfect because He is the measuring stick. Does that make sense? Perhaps goodness is easier to contend with. The Bible says God is the ultimate in goodness, but surely this is only because He is the definition of goodness. He literally cannot be bad, because anything He does or is is the definition of goodness.
The point here is that if we were to go through the characteristics of God, how many of them can we say exist without creation?
I hope you have your philosophical hat on because we need to go somewhere else at this point…
Before creation was God the only thing to exist or did he exist within a space? Think about it, in terms of pure theology the first is right, but in terms of working theology the second is right. I say this because we generally follow the idea of God being in Heaven and therefore existing in space (though not time). Think of a piece of paper, either God is the piece of paper or God is a drawing on the piece of paper
Why is this important? Well, I think there is a difference between a God that is without. A God that is without can be reactionary to the space around Him; He has a choice of how to be and thusly chooses to be just, good etc. A God that just is, is all that existed is defined not by choices, but, as said above, simply by His attributes. It comes down to this, Jesus was perfect because He lived within a space and chose to do God’s will, chose to live like God; but God has no choice, He just is, which isn’t perfection (though of course it is by default).
I think it has to be the latter, that only God existed otherwise the space around Him has an effect and therefore God is not what the Bible purports Him to be (though this raises the interesting idea that literally anything could exist, but God only tells us about Himself; everything we know about God comes from Him so we can never verify it’s truth).
It has interesting effects on our theology in terms of how could everything go so wrong? If He knows everything (due to perfection) then He would know that it was doomed to failure. What if, however, He did not know until after He had created?
Think about it, could God know anything other than Himself if only He existed? What about Genesis 3:22 where God says that man ‘has become like us, knowing good from evil’? Could God know such a concept of evil if only He existed and everything He is is good?
Another interesting thing to come from this is: where is creation. If we go back to the paper analogy and God is a drawing within the paper then He can create the Universe within another part of that paper; if, however, He is the paper then the Universe must exist within the fabric of God because you can’t draw a picture outside of the paper only on it. For Him to create the Universe outside of himself would be to create space outside of Himself which would necessitate space existing outside of Himself.
So we go back to our original question, what characteristics did God have before Creation? What characteristics can one have that are not dependent on others?