If God Made the World, then Who Made God?
with Sean McDowell
I remember lying in bed as a boy wondering about how God could have always existed. Maybe like me you have wondered, “If God made the world, then where did God come from?” This is actually a question that has been raised not only by kids, but also by some great philosophers and scientists. In his bestseller, A Brief History of Time, physicist Stephen Hawking asks the question about what started the universe, “Or does it need a creator, and if so, does he have any other effect on the universe? And who created him?”1
When we consider the nature of God and the origin of the universe such questions are perhaps less difficult to answer than first imagined. Such questions need not puzzle us and detract our ability to trust God wholeheartedly. Rather, they can point us to appreciate the power and majesty of God, much like the prophet Isaiah, “‘To whom will you liken me that I would be his equal?’ Says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars. The one who leads forth their host by number, He calls them by name because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing” (40:25-26).
The Beginning of the Universe
The Bible stands alone as an ancient writing that claims the universe had a beginning. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In contrast to the biblical account past thinkers such as Aristotle and Plato as well as atheists agreed that the universe was eternal and needed no cause for its existence. Christians believed that the universe had a beginning and that God alone was eternal whereas atheists claimed that the universe was eternal. Scientifically speaking there was no way to adjudicate between the two. But this has all changed with recent scientific advancements proving that the universe in fact had a beginning.
The big bang theory states that the entire universe came into existence along time ago in the past. In other words, the universe is not eternal; rather, it had a beginning just like Genesis states! This leaves atheists in a dilemma: either accept a transcendent cause for the universe (namely God) or believe that something can come from nothing. But to believe that something can come from nothing defies a commonsense principle: “Out of nothing, nothing comes.” Some-thing simply can’t come from no-thing. Atheist professor Kai Nielsen admitted, “Suppose you hear a loud bang…and you ask me, ‘What made that bang?’ and I reply, ‘Nothing, it just happened.’ You would not accept that.”2 If that is true of a little bang, then why not a big bang too?
So, Who Made God?
This brings us back to the question, “Who made God?” It is important to clarify that Christians do not believe everything that exists needs a cause. Rather, everything that begins to exist must have a cause. There are many things that exist that are uncaused such as mathematical truths and the laws of logic. Even if the world was not created it would still be true that 1+1=2. The universe had a beginning so it must have a cause. But God by definition does not need a cause, he is uncaused.
Philosopher William Lane Craig asks a penetrating question: “And this is not special pleading in the case of God. After all, atheists have long maintained that the universe doesn’t need a cause, because it’s eternal. How can they possibly maintain that the universe can be eternal and uncaused, yet God cannot be timeless and uncaused?”3
Finally, asking the question “What caused God?” commits a logical fallacy, namely the categorical fallacy. Two examples of categorical fallacies are: “What does the color red taste like?” or “How much does love weigh?” Clear the categories of color and taste are distinct categories that do not overlap, as are love and weight. Similarly, to ask what caused God is to commit a category fallacy, for God is by definition uncaused. Paul Copan explains, “If we reframe the question ‘Who made God?’ to clarify our categories, we will find that the question answers itself. Let’s rephrase the question this way, ‘What caused the self-existent, uncaused Cause, who is by definition unmakeable, to exist?’ Any further questions?”4
As a young boy I often wondered how God could be eternal. I concluded that if the universe had a beginning then something must have existed prior to it to bring it into existence. This thought boggled my mind as a young boy, and it still does today! While the human mind may not be able to grasp how God has always existed, we do realize that something had to exist prior to the beginning of the universe. God, it seems to me, is the most reasonable explanation.
1 Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York, Bantam, 1988), 174.
2 Kai Nielsen, Reason and Practice (New York: Harper and Row, 1971), 48.
3 William Lane Craig was interviewed in Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 2004), 109.
4 Paul Copan, That’s Just Your Interpretation (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Books, 2001), 72.
Sean McDowell is a speaker, author and popular high school teacher. In 2008 he received the “Educator of the Year” award in San Juan Capistrano, California. Sean graduated summa cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary with a double Master’s degree in Theology and Philosophy. Learn more at: www.seanmcdowell.org
Copyright 2016 © Sean McDowell Worldview Ministries All Rights Reserved