View all Ask a Priest | November 17, 2015
“Ask a Priest: Creation and the Incarnation – Miracles or Contradictions?”
Q: So I’ve been thinking a lot about God making square circles. And I’ve heard people say, well, it’s a nonsensical term. Or that it’s asking if he can make a contradiction. But what about creating the universe? Getting something from nothing, how is that not a contradiction? How does that make sense? What about God becoming man? How can a perfect God become an imperfect man? How can he die? So are these two miracles that we believe that God did, not a contradiction like him making a square circle or making 2 + 2 = 5? -R.V.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: There is a big difference between a contradiction and a fact of divine Revelation that is hard for our minds to grasp. A contradiction is easy to dismiss – it is simply nonsensical. It’s not that God is limited; it is simply that a contradiction makes no sense, it carries no real meaning.
As for creation and the Incarnation, those are mysteries that our minds cannot quite get a grip on. But that is a reflection of our limits rather than God’s limits. He is God, after all, and his power is infinite.
If creation seems hard to accept, then look at the alternative. That would mean the world wasn’t created, that it has always been here. But if that were the case, where did the world come from? It couldn’t create itself. If it wasn’t created by God, then he is not master over it — but that would imply that he wasn’t omnipotent.
And if the world were eternal (not created by God), it seems to rival the Almighty in some way. In this scenario the world didn’t need God, and it doesn’t need him to exist. Which, again, would imply God is not all powerful.
Hence, the account of creation makes sense, in that it reflects the fact that the world needed something or Someone greater to create it – which is where God comes in.
The incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity is a different kind of mystery. (Christ, by the way, was not an imperfect man; he is the perfect man.)
One thing we can be sure of: Christ was real. He rose from the dead. He did miracles. He showed he was God. By taking on human nature, he was also true man, and hence could suffer and die like the rest of us. Since he is also Truth itself, then we can believe all of this, even if we don’t totally understand it.
But that is OK. We are only human, after all. It is too much to expect us to have the same intellectual capacity as God. And if that is humbling — to not understand these two particular miracles — then that is good. We need lots of humility when dealing with the mysteries of God. I hope this helps.