God freely creates beings that are both (i) wholly dependent on God's creative activity at every moment for their existence, and yet (ii) beings in their own own right, not merely intentional objects of the divine mind. The extreme case of this is God's free creation of finite minds, finite subjects, finite unities of consciousness and self-consciousness, finite centers of inviolable inwardness, finite free agents, finite yet autonomous free agents with the power to refuse their own good, their own happiness, and to defy the nature of reality. God creates potential rebels. He creates Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus. He creates Lucifer the light bearer who, blinded by his own light, refuses to acknowledge the source of his light, and would be that source even though the project of becoming the source of his own light is doomed to failure, and he knows it, but pursues it anyway. He creates Lucifer who became the father of all perversity.
God creates and sustains, moment by moment, other minds, like unto his own, made in his image, who are yet radically other in their inwardness and freedom. He creates subjects who exist in their own right and not merely as objects of divine thought. How is this conceivable?
We are not mere objects for the divine subject, but subjects in our own right. How can we understand creation ex nihilo, together with moment by moment conservation, of a genuine subject, a genuine mind with intellect and free will and autonomy and the power of self-determination even unto rebellion?
This is a mystery of divine creation. It is is above my pay grade. And yours too.
God can do it but we can't. We can't even understand how God could do it. A double infirmity. An infirmity that sires a doubt: Perhaps it can't be done, even by God. Perhaps the whole notion is incoherent and God does not exist. Perhaps it is not a mystery but an impossibility. Perhaps Christian creation is an Unbegriff.
Joseph Ratzinger accurately explains the Christian metaphysical position, and in so doing approaches what I am calling the ultimate paradox of divine creation, but he fails to confront, let alone solve, the problem:
The Christian belief in God is not completely identical with either of these two solutions [materialism and idealism]. To be sure, it, too, will say, being is being-thought. Matter itself points beyond itself to thinking as the earlier and more original factor. But in opposition to idealism, which makes all being into moments of an all-embracing consciousness, the Christian belief in God will say: Being is being-thought -- yet not in such a way that it remains only thought and that the appearance of independence proves to be mere appearance to anyone who looks more closely.
On the contrary, Christian belief in God means that things are the being-thought of a creative consciousness, a creative freedom, and that the creative consciousness that bears up all things has released what has been thought into the freedom of its own, independent existence. In this it goes beyond any mere idealism. While the latter , as we have just established, explains everything real as the content of a single consciousness, in the Christian view what supports it all is a creative freedom that sets what has been thought in the freedom of its own being, so that, on the one hand, it is the being-thought of a consciousness and yet, on the other hand, is true being itself. (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, German original 1968, latest English version Ignatius Press, 2004, p. 157)
If you tell me that God creates other minds, and then somehow releases them into ontological independence, my reply will be that makes hash of the doctrine of creatio continuans, moment-by-moment conservation. The Christian God is no mere cosmic starter-upper of what exists; his creating is ongoing. In fact, if the universe always existed, then all creation would be creatio continuans, and there would be no starting-up at all.
On Christian metaphysics, "The world is objective mind . . . ." (155) This is what makes it intelligible. This intelligibility has its source in subjective mind: "Credo in Deum expresses the conviction that objective mind is the oproduct of subjective mind . . . ." (Ibid.) So what I call onto-theological idealism gets the nod. You don't understand classical theism unless you understand it to be a form of idealism. But creatures, and in particular other minds, exist on their own, in themselves, and their Being cannot be reduced to their Being-for-God. Therein lies the difficulty.
Is divine creation a mystery or an impossibility?