Thinking aloud. Warning: some of the thoughts may tend to the heretical. I’m not trying to voice dogma, just groping around speculatively.
Last Sunday I heard something in the Liturgy that I thought was “Thou didst speak to us through Thy Son Himself, for Whom Thou didst also make the ages”, and it sang around in my mind until I looked it up at home and found that it was “by Whom Thou didst also make the ages”. “Voor” (for, on behalf of) and “door” (by, through) sound very alike in Dutch when said quietly behind a wooden partition.
But the idea had already taken my world-view by the edges and shaken it and put it back slightly different. The idea that God created the world for His Son. In order that the Son would have something to redeem. There’s no time as far as God is concerned (at least I firmly believe this) so He could even have started from that mid-point and created the world around it.
Searching (ducking?) for “why did God create the world” gave me this useful overview of possible motivations (after the ones asking why God made the world with sin), none of which quite fit what I came up with in another couple of days of thinking. “Because He could” is the closest I can come, because it’s in the nature of God to create the world, it’s what God is, the way the sun shines and cats mew at closed doors and pansies attract bumblebees, because that’s what they do. Possibly, even, it’s not the case that God creates because He is God, but that He is God because He creates. There might be gods in existence who do not create, but they’re not God, not the God I spend rather a lot of my time serving in various ways (1). (Note: I don’t care whether or not there are other gods in existence. I have no personal issues with them.)
(1) Not tonight, though. I’m staying away from St Mary of Egypt because if I’d gone it would only have been out of solidarity with Choirmistress. My body can’t handle the prostrations at the moment, and my spirit probably can’t handle the dejection. I’d rather feel vaguely guilty for staying away than devastatingly guilty for things I didn’t even do.
Perhaps our God is a local God, handling only this world we happen to live in. The Gospel of John seems to contradict that: “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” People have taken this as an indication that God has business on other planets too, but perhaps Christ only means other people in our world than those he’s talking to; he doesn’t say in this Gospel “make disciples of all the nations” (that’s Matthew) but that doesn’t mean he didn’t say it. I haven’t worked out a whole cosmology –fun, though, a nice thing to do while I’m swimming– but either way the universe isn’t only larger than you imagine, but larger than you can imagine.
A couple of thousand years ago there were people who did work out a whole cosmology. (Yes, go read that. It’s well worth it.) Those people, who first told each other the creation story that was eventually written down in Genesis 1, had no way to know that the stars were distant suns, some with planets, so it didn’t occur to them that there might be other worlds or wonder who had created those. The earth, with its sun, moon and stars, was all of their universe. The sheer scale of a universe in which the earth is only a tiny speck makes me dizzy.
To come back to why God created the world: perhaps He created it for us. Not only us people, but all creatures great and small. There is that Leviathan which You have made to play there.