Creation ex nihilo – or just “creation” – says that it is not matter that is at the foundation of things, but the immaterial act of the divine will.
But why make matter at all? Even given matter is a second-story reality resting on a non-material basis, why make it at all?
Since every intellect must transcend what it knows, then the lowest possible intellect must know something that is not itself an intellect. The raison d’être of matter is therefore to constitute the cognitive object of the lowest possible intellect. It is essential to matter that it be unintelligent of itself and known by the human person.
Creation is therefore the making of the proper object (though not the only possible object) of the lowest possible intellect. Matter is a mediating layer and separating veil between the creator as creator and the person as the lowest possible intellectual creature. Love accounts for the existence of matter from beneath, the person accounts for its existence from within.