Question about the relation of God's creation to God's love

According to the old Baltimore Catechism, God made us because He loved us. But how could He love us if we didn’t exist until He made us?

(There is a different thread that touches on this, but doesn’t quite answer it.)

Because we have existed from all eternity as thoughts in His Mind. God knew us in Himself before creating us in time, or rather, God creates into time what was and is in eternity.

See St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa on this doctrine known as “exemplarism”:

newadvent.org/summa/1044.htm

God is the first exemplar cause of all things. In proof whereof we must consider that if for the production of anything an exemplar is necessary, it is in order that the effect may receive a determinate form. For an artificer produces a determinate form in matter by reason of the exemplar before him, whether it is the exemplar beheld externally, or the exemplar interiorily conceived in the mind. Now it is manifest that things made by nature receive determinate forms. This determination of forms must be reduced to the divine wisdom as its first principle, for divine wisdom devised the order of the universe, which order consists in the variety of things. And therefore we must say that in the divine wisdom are the types of all things, which types we have called ideas–i.e. exemplar forms existing in the divine mind (15, 1). And these ideas, though multiplied by their relations to things, in reality are not apart from the divine essence, according as the likeness to that essence can be shared diversely by different things. In this manner therefore God Himself is the first exemplar of all things.

St. Augustine of Hippo had said that “ideas are principal forms or stable and unchangeable essence of things. They are themselves not formed, and they are eternal and always in the same state because they are contained in God’s intelligence. They neither come into being nor do they pass away, but everything that can or does come into being and pass away is formed in accordance with them”.

We are all created according to a pre-existing idea that God has of us in his divine Mind.

This is true, because, of course, I was there and I remember it all lol. I’m what’s called “awake”. It isn’t easy.

Because we are in time and because of the way we understand things, we think in terms of a sequential cause and effect. However, God, as the cause of our creation, is outside time. It would not be so much that He loved us then created us, but that He loves us in eternity and created us in time. If you imagine a circle, with God as the centre, He loves and creates us as part of what is the circumference that would include all time and creation. Something like that.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.