Saturday, March 24, 2018

Who Created God?

I recently answered an on-line forum question asking for a “well-respected proof for God” by giving the following version of the Cosmological Argument. 

Premise 1:  Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
Premise 2:  The universe began to exist
Conclusion: The universe has a cause of its existence.

This is a proof for a theistic god since all matter, energy, space, and time (the universe) came into existence, and the cause must be non-material, spaceless, timeless (since these things did not exist prior to the universe existing), and able to create; which is the basic definition of a theistic god.

The main objection to my post was the retort, “Who created God?” This blog will be focused on several answers to this common question.

To respond to the Cosmological Argument by asking “Who created God?” is to misunderstand the argument, and in this case, to misunderstand Premise 1.  The argument does not presuppose that everything has a cause.  Premise 1 states that only those things which begin to exist must have a cause. Since God is defined as existing eternally and without a beginning, the response “Who created God?” is really asking, “Who created the thing that is defined as uncreated?”

Quite often, after giving this explanation, the next response will be that you are using special pleading to make your case.  The reason this is not special pleading is that it doesn’t apply only to God, it would apply to anything that does not begin to exist.  For example, if the universe did not begin to exist, then the universe would not need a cause!  Current scientific observations and modern cosmology support Premise 2, that the universe did begin to exist. Click here to read my previous blog about the beginning of the universe. Click here to read J. Warner Wallace’s article on the beginning of the universe.

Taking a quick look at three other proofs for the existence of God will further demonstrate the futility of asking “Who created God?”

1.     Edward Feser’s Aristotelian Proof
Since change actually occurs, and change is defined as the actualization of a potential, there must exist something that can actualize potentials without itself being actualized.  Even quantum events are merely potentials until the universe actualizes them. The uncaused, first cause is purely actual because it lacks any potentiality. Any actualization of a potential requires a cause, whereas what is pure actuality does not. This is the “unmoved mover” of Aristotle, characterized as God.[1] 
To ask “Who created God” is to require an answer to the nonsense question, “Who actualized the potentials in the thing that is pure actuality and thus never had potentials that needed actualizing?”[2]

2.     Edward Feser’s Neo-Platonic Proof
Things that we experience are composite; the ultimate cause of composites must itself be non-composite, or absolutely simple. Composite things require a cause because there must be some principle outside them that accounts for the composition of their parts. What is non-composite has no parts to be put together, therefore could not be caused.  Neither the universe, or even a multiverse could be uncaused, necessary, or self-explanatory because they are composite.[3]
To ask “Who created God” is to require an answer to the nonsense question, “Who put together the parts of the object that is not made up of composite parts?”

3.     Edward Feser’s Thomistic Proof
For any of the contingent things of our experience, there is a real distinction between its essence and its existence.  Nothing like this could exist unless it was caused to exist by something in which there is no such distinction. Something whose essence just is existence need not have existence conjoined to its essence and therefore does not need a cause. The universe, Big Bang, quantum events, or laws of nature could not be uncaused causes.  Only something whose essence just is existence could be an uncaused cause.[4]
To ask “Who created God” is to require an answer to the nonsense question, “What unites the distinct essence and existence in that which has no essence distinct from its existence?”[5]

Hugh Ross, in his book The Creator and the Cosmos, uses scientific concepts to show that it is pointless to ask “Who created God?”[6]

The universe is confined to one single direction of time. Since dimensions always have two directions (forward and back, left and right, in and out), the single dimension of time that the universe experiences is only half of a dimension. This confinement to half of a dimension means that there had to have been a starting point, or a beginning, which requires the universe to have been created. The necessity for God to have been created would only apply if God were confined to half a dimension of time.  Both the Bible and General Relativity speak of at least one additional time dimension, since effects existed before time in this universe began. Any entity which exists in two dimensions of time would be free from having a beginning; hence would not need to be created.[7]

In the equivalent of two or more dimensions of time, an entity is free from the necessity of being created. If time were two dimensional, for example, both a time length and a time width would be possible. Time would expand from a line into a plane. In a plane of time, an infinite number of lines running in an infinite number of directions would be possible. If God were to so choose, He could move and operate along an infinite time line that never touches or crosses the time line of our universe.  As John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17, and Hebrews 7:3 say, he would have no beginning and no end.  He would not be created.[8]

[1] Edward Feser, Five Proofs of the Existence of God, Ignatius Press, 2017
[2] Ibid, page 251
[3] ibid
[4] ibid
[5] Ibid, page 251
[6] Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, Reasons to Believe, 2018
[7] Ibid, page 127
[8] Ibid, page 128