The Confessions of St. Augustine, Book 11, Chapter 12
A Frivolous Answer

See, I answer the man who says, "What did God do before He made heaven and earth?" I do not give the answer that someone is said to have given, evading by a joke the force of the objection: "He was preparing hell, for those prying into such deep subjects." It is one thing to see the objection; it is another to make a joke of it. I do not answer this way. I would rather respond, "I do not know," concerning what I do not know rather than say something for which a man inquiring about such profound matters is laughed at, while the one giving false answer is praised.

I say that you, our God, are the creator of every creature, and, if by the phrase heaven and earth all creation is understood, I boldly say, " Before God made heaven and earth, he did not make anything." If he made anything, what else did he make except a creature? Would that I knew all I want to know that is for my good in the same way that I know that no creature was made before any creature was made.

St. Augustine, 399 AD

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