Why Did God Create Armadillos?

imagesGod is often portrayed as serious and cranky; a curmudgeon holding a thunder bolt in his hand ready to strike anyone having too much fun. God has no sense of humor, we are told. As a result, church is often portrayed as somber and formal, a weighty place where we sober-minded creatures go to worship our cranky grandpa in the sky.

It’s hard to sustain this popular picture of God however—and this popular picture of church. Could a God who never laughs or jokes create the armadillo? Or the ostrich? Or the platypus? I think not. God has a sense of humor. He is the divine comedian. He is the master of the unexpected. Who would have foreseen—looking from eternity past—that God would create a world out of nothing and send it hurtling through space? Who would have foreseen mountains and valleys, sea and land creatures, pomegranates and figs? Who would have foreseen free creatures who, like God, can create meaning and make stuff?

No, God is not somber. He is full of life and exuberance, laughter and love. He creates not because he needs—but to give. He spreads his joy. He spreads his delight. The real reason for the armadillo, as Huston Smith puts it, is this:

. . . divine play, sheer protean exuberance. Being as being is so good that God cannot resist any of its possibilities. Wishing with part of herself to be a mother, a child dons apron and suckles her doll. Dolphins and whales are—the archetypal mammal wondering what it would be like to be a fish. Armadillos are the result of its thinking, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to dress up in scales and play reptile?”[1]

Why are there armadillos? Because the divine imagination delights in dreaming up possibilities and the divine will delights in bringing those possibilities into being. All of creation is a gift. All of creation is unexpected. All of creation is divine comedy.

And God invites us to be a part of his story. We act in his divine play. We have skin in the game. We are creatures who laugh and love, create and re-create in a drama full of real intrigue, plot, toil, and turns.

Consider the armadillo. Go ahead. Join God and have a good laugh.

Then get back to the serious business of Heaven: laughing and loving, creating and sustaining, caring and pursuing God and God’s Kingdom as actors in the divine play.



[1] Quoted in Peter Kreeft, Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1989), 241.

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