Challenge: Who Created God?

Posted: August 31, 2010 by Amy Hall in God is Real, Weekly Challenge

It’s time again for the weekly challenge! (If you missed last week’s training, check out the challenge and Brett’s response.)

You’re probably familiar with the kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Once, while discussing this argument with an atheist, he responded:

“Why does the argument for a first cause of the universe conveniently stop with God? Where did God come from?”

So now I pose his question to you. Give it your best shot! What would you say to this atheist? How would you begin? What points would you try to make? What would your overall strategy be? Address any or all of these points. Both short and long answers are welcome.

As before, Brett will have a video up on Thursday to give his response and interact with your comments, and on Friday I’ll post an article on this subject at STR Place. But first, let’s hear from you!

  1. Mike says:

    I would ask the questioner if an uncaused first cause actually violates the laws of logic.

    (To my knowledge, it does not. It just sounds a little weird.)

  2. The questioner assumes that God himself began to exist, even though that’s not what is claimed theists.

    If there is no self-existant, uncaused first cause, then we must assume an infinite chain of cause-and-effect, and how did THAT get started?

    • Nick says:

      To piggy back onto this comment:
      An infinite past chain of events is an impossibility. To have an infinite past would mean we could never have arrived here at the present. By definition God is the only thing that can have an infinite past and is the only un-caused cause.

      • Nick says:

        ^Mike’s comment that is…

      • Nick says:

        ^Westfall 😀

      • Adrian Urias says:

        Hm… I think youre mistaken here. God, in some sense, cannot have a past, or future. This implies he’s in time. If he’s in time, then he changes. But scripture is clear that God is unchanging. From what I understand, God experiences causes and effects simultaneously, everything at once.

  3. Eileen Jerome says:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1. Every religion in the world has a creation story, because from the beginning mankind knew that the universe had to have come from somewhere. If you look at the “big bang theory”, there was cosmic dust that exploded into what became the universe. If there is no God, where did that dust come from? No one who doesn’t believe in a creator can answer that question, ergo there must be a creator, or we don’t have creation! God is not a creation, He was not created, He just has always been.

  4. Gabe says:

    I think I remember Greg’s response to Michael Shermer on this question. He said something like “You don’t believe that God was created, and neither do I. So why are we arguing about it? It seems like you are kind of avoiding the issue at hand”.

    It seems to me that God didn’t have to be created, but do we have any evidence to point to that he wasn’t? Maybe there was just two God’s, ours, and the one who created him, and the one who created him is the uncaused one. I’m not sure we need to prove there is only God, but rather that there is a possibility that there is only one God. Anyways, those are just some thoughts that are bouncing through my head that maybe someone might bring some clarity to.

  5. Gabe says:

    Yikes, after re-reading my post I think I need to work on my grammar.

  6. Gabe says:

    At the end I think I was trying to say that its our responsibility to prove that its possible no one created God. We don’t have to prove that no one created God.

  7. God can only have a cause if we rely on the fact that science is correct in their theory of what defines existence, and the fact that existence must be caused by a chain of events.

    Responding to the question and the theory are exactly the same.
    1. God didn’t have a beginning, so therefore doesn’t require a cause. If the god you are defining has a cause then he is not the One True God, for by definition God had no beginning.
    2. The universe did began to exist, it has a cause because it has a beginning. This beginning was determined by, and caused by, God.
    3.The point where the universe begins is where science assumes cause and effect began, when in fact that chain does not continue in that way. For example, the universe did not then cause earth to form. Again, the formation of the earth did not then cause the creation of life.
    4. Since the universe did not cause the next thing to happen there is not a chain reaction as assumed by science.
    5. God’s existence is required to cause these things, and since there is not chain reaction we cannot assume God needed a cause.
    6. Since a chain reaction does not exist in the formation of the universe, earth, and life, then there was no chain reaction that formed God. God is the beginning of all these things, but has no beginning of his own that requires a cause.

  8. Jojo Ruba says:

    I answer that claim this way – since the Big Bang was the start of everything, including time, then whatever had to have caused the Big Bang can’t be limited by time.

    Since you need time to have a beginning, then whatever caused the Big Bang can’t have a beginning – there would be no time to measure when this being or force, began.

    True, that doesn’t get you to God but the other attributes of the big bang, and therefore the Big Banger (power, intelligence, order, fine-tuning), get us there.

  9. Dino says:

    I would ask how he/she comes to the conclusion (from KCA) that God must also come from some thing (begin to exist). The KCA specifically refers to that which BEGINS to exist must have a cause. So that which causes things to begin to exist must be immaterial, uncaused, timeless, powerful, etc. If God came from somewhere or something then He would be contingent upon it, and thus, He wouldn’t be God, so…

    If time began at the “Big Bang” as science shows us, then it is nonsensical to ask “where did God come from?” or “who created God?”. We “conveniently” stop with God because with the KCA as well as the Teleological Argument, Moral Argument, Argument From Time and Contingency, Argument From Consciousness, Ontological Argument, etc., as well as the other “fingerprints” of God, it is sensical to do so.

    Can some thing come from no thing?

  10. Adrian Urias says:

    Ok, well, if this is coming in response to the Kalam, and assuming I gave the philosophical reasons for the imposisibility of an actual infinite past…

    “See, now you’ve gone and denied something you’ve previously ceded. You agreed that there cannot be an infinite regress of cause and effects, yes?”

    I think the person I’m questioning would have to say yes since he’s gotten to the conclusion by affirming the first two premises, but is now trying to find a way out of it.


    “Ok, so it makes no sense to ask what the cause is of the first cause. That’s redundant man. But what happens when you ask this question of ‘oh, well, whats the cause of THAT then?!”, then you’re trapped into this infinte regress. BUT, YOU ALREADY AGREED that this is impossible. So you’re faced with this dilemma: Either there is an infinite regress, WHICH YOU DENIED, or there is a first cause. But now you’re trying to say, ‘Oh, well, where did God come from?’ But dude, then that means your raising an infinite regress. So to ask where the first cause, God, came from, makes no sense. And if you really wanna stick to your guns, then you’re forced to say that there is an infinite regress, which you don’t really want to do. You’d be doing that on pain of irrationality. And if you are going to go that route, that just go to show where your heart is, not your mind.”

    So the basic point of my answer is that the questioning of where God came from raises the problem of infinite regress, which should have been given in support of premise two. Then point out that this is what they are really denying, and emphasize that they already ceded it, and are going to have to bite the bullet if they continue the way they are.

  11. Samuel says:

    This all just seems like a bunch of philosophical nonsense to me. I feel like all you guys are projecting too much human logic onto a domain it doesn’t necessarily belong. We’ve already determined that the beginning of the Universe was, at the very least, an event that defies all current modes of human logic. Unfortunately we have a tendency to project our own perceived self-importance onto almost everything… for centuries Earth was believed to be the center of the Universe, god conveniently looks like a human, etc. It wasn’t until the greatest minds of the last century divorced themselves from ordinary lines of human reasoning that the greatest discoveries were made.

    Speaking of those discoveries… if the beginning of the Universe was indeed a quantum event, then it certainly wouldn’t follow any sort of normal cause-effect paradigm because the production of virtual particle pairs in vacuo is random, and at best only probabilistically deterministic. If the Hartle-Hawking model is correct and time is not simply a line, but rather a 2-D manifold (like the surface of a sphere), then time would have no beginning and end… the Big Bang wouldn’t be the beginning of the Universe any more than the North Pole is the beginning of the Earth.

    You may consider these theories outrageous or mere speculation, but they’re certainly no worse than what you’re doing by assuming that the origin of the Universe can be completely deciphered via human philosophy and logic.

    • Adrian Urias says:

      “This all just seems like a bunch of philosophical nonsense to me. I feel like all you guys are projecting too much human logic onto a domain it doesn’t necessarily belong.”

      Ah, well then, THAT just seems like a bunch of philosophical nonsense to me. I feel like YOU are projecting too much human logic onto a domain it doesn’t necessarily belong.

      If you are indeed correct on your aforementioned statement, then I can safely ignore that philosophical comment.

      Thanks for playing!

      • Samuel says:

        It’s funny that you think you ‘won’ by just shooting what I said back at me in a childish wordplay and (probably) ignoring the rest of what I said (or at least not responding to it). All this tells me is that you no legitimate response.

      • Adrian Urias says:

        Oh, well, if you insist.

        I know nothing of this Hartle-Hawking mumbo jumbo, but, from what I can tell of pictures ive seen in the illustrated and colored edition of Brief History of Time, all it does is remove the beginning point. You’ve smoothed it out, like you said, like the surface of a sphere. More like a waffle ice cream cone with chocolate at the bottom, as opposed to a sharp pointy dunce cap. Ok…so? A definite point of the beginning of time is not pinpointed, but the implacation still remains that the universe is finite. So long as that is true, the Kalam still seems to hold.

        I could totally be wrong on that point. If so, then I suppose I’ll shift to the metaphysical implications of the aforementioned model, and you still run into the problem of the past being infinite.

        As is the inherent nature of threads, things get off topic very quickly, so I’ll let you have last word, if you so desire. But allow me to note that dismissing my response as childish is, well, not really a response.

      • John says:

        *high five to Samuel*

  12. Tony says:

    After sharing the cosmological argument with the non-believer and explaining that the cause had to be an un-caused, timeless and space-less being with tremendous power. I would next say, since this being [which Christian’s would call this being to be God] is outside of causation, outside of time and outside of space, this being had to be not only supernatural but eternal as well. (Then I would put the two together) Supernatural meaning outside and above our natural universe and since God is supernatural where he is beyond space and time that would make Him eternal. And since there is no causation, no space and no time before or with God then nothing had to come before God to create God. Then I would explain how consistent this is with the discovery of the big bang and in the Gospel of John. Then maybe bring up Augustine and how he understood the beginning of the universe, not by science but his study through the scriptures. Which was 1500 years ago and also is consistent with the discovery of the big bang.

  13. Samuel says:

    The Hartle-Hawking model directly contradicts the second premise. The Kalam assumes time is 1 dimensional, but if time is not 1 dimensional then the notion of a beginning or end for the Universe is meaningless, as is any notion of cause and effect (which relies entirely on the strict forward propagation of time).

    This model implies that the Universe is entirely self contained, has no beginning or end, and has thus always existed. A circle doesn’t have an infinite perimeter just because it has no beginning or end… it is a periodic function, so its’ true perimeter repeats once every period. The same concept could be true of the Universe.

    • Luke says:

      Multidimensional time does not necessitate beginningless or endless time- it still has boundaries (beginning and ending) just as a single dimension of time. I will use a similar analogy as your circle. Take a square: each of the four edges has a beginning and and ending point. Just as a multi-dimensional figure may possess beginning and ending points, multi-dimensional time may also possess beginning and ending points. Even if time were 3-dimensional, it could be conceived of as a cube- all edges having their own beginning and ending.

      It seems as though you are assuming that a multidimensional time only allows that for an angular geometry (circle or sphere). Is there anything that would exclude a linear geometry (square or cube), thus forcing the necessity of your assumption?

      Multidimensional time, in no way, excludes the possibility of a beginning or ending to any of the dimensions of time. It also does not necessitate cyclic connections.

      I acknowledge that what I have presented here does not necessitate linear geometry for time. I also acknowledge that what I presented here does not exclude angular geometry for time. My purpose here was to show that your conclusion that “the Hartle-Hawking model directly contradicts the second premise” does not follow necessarily from the premises you presented.

      Because it does not, is there (an)other premise(s) that would necessitate an angular geometry for time to the exclusion of a linear geometry? Also, has either Hartle or Hawking claimed that their model excludes a linear geometry for time, or do they acknowledge that an angular geometry is one of the logically possible interpretations of their model?

      • Samuel says:

        Haha… you say: “Take a square” and then immediately start talking about the lines (1-D) that form the boundary of the square. Lines do have a beginning and end, but would you say that the square itself has a beginning and end? Nope.

        The ‘geometry’ of the Universe is not and could not be ‘angular’ as you put it. For one… we already know and have experimentally confirmed that the Universe has a flat geometry. Secondly, your cube example would mean that time would have discontinuities… specifically at the edges and corners of the cube. Such points would be singularities, and the entire point of this model in the first place was to smooth out these discontinuities.

  14. Luke says:

    Thanks for the reply. I was using the analogy of a two-dimensional shape the same way that you did. I understand that your question (and assumed answer) about the beginning of a square was meant to be rhetorical; however, if taken in the context of the instrumented used to draw the square, the answer is actually “yes”. If we take a drawing instrument, say a pencil, we can draw a line (1-D). The point of the pencil does not have dimension- it is only a point (1 dimension fewer than the object it drew, that does have a beginning and an ending point). In the same way, we may take a piece of chalk, lay it on its side (1-D), move it perpendicular to the its dimension the same distance as the length of its dimension, and we will have drawn a square (2-D) with a beginning and and ending line. We may further extrapolate this to a square (2-D) utensil drawing in space, when moved in the direction perpendicular to both dimensions the same distance as length of the side of the utensil, we have a cube, with a beginning and ending face. Even if we draw a square with a pointed utensil (vs lined), and take into consideration the four discontinuities, there is still a beginning and an ending point to drawing the square (or cube)- its just not clear which of the four (twelve) is the beginning and which is the ending. Yes, there are discontinuities within the square (cube) of time, but the claim is not made that those lines must be connected.

    This posits that as a whole, time can be multi-dimensional, while each individual timeline has a beginning and ending point.

    I agree with your comment about the geometry of the universe being flat. I do believe that you are referring to space only, though. If you are referring to time also, then you must abandon your belief that time is cyclic; because in order to be cyclic, the geometry of time must be angular (not flat) on at least one of the axises of its (multi-)dimensional line (shape or body), in order to “fold” back in on itself.

    If you are, in fact, only talking about the flatness of space only (and not time), then that comment has no relevance to our discussion.

    To further comment about the discontinuity of the cube, I agree. That was just one way to explain a multi-dimensional time. Keep in mind that no where do I claim that the individual timelines within the cube or on its surface must be connected to each other. Continuity is not required with this idea of time.

    Also, keep in mind that I am not positing that either of these ideas actually reflect the reality of time. I’m not even positing that time must be (or is) multi-dimensional. I’m only showing that multi-dimensional time is completely compatible with the universe having a beginning.

    It seems that the model you’re supporting assumes the multi-dimensionality of time. I do have a non-rhetorical question: would you be willing to post a quick list of the most compelling evidences for multi-dimensional time? And to keep on topic of your original challenge, I would also like to see how these evidences (maybe combined with others too) necessitate cyclic time.

    Finally, you did not address my last question in my comment (it is not meant to be rhetorical, I sincerely would like to know): Has either Hartle or Hawking claimed that their model excludes a linear geometry for time, or do they acknowledge that an angular geometry is one of the logically possible interpretations of their model?

  15. emmzee says:

    To “Where did God come from?” I would respond by saying: We believe that the universe began to exist due to good reasons (philosophy and science) which suggest that it is not eternal, the universe began to exist. We have no such reasons for believing that God must similarly have began to exist; therefore we are justified in believing that God is eternally existing and requiring no cause. There is nowhere for God to “come from” because God never “came from” anywhere.

  16. H.S.Pal says:

    Earlier it was impossible for us to give any satisfactory answer to this question. But modern science, rather we should say that Einstein, has made it an easy task for us. And Stephen Hawking has provided us with the clue necessary for solving this riddle. Actually scientists in their infinite wisdom have already kept the ground well-prepared for us believers so that one day we can give a most plausible and logically sound answer to this age-old question. Let us first see how Hawking has helped us by providing the necessary clue. In his book “A Brief History of Time” (Chapter: The origin and fate of the universe) he informs us that there are 1080 particles in the region of the observable universe. Then he raised the question regarding the origin of these particles, and gave the answer himself. According to quantum theory particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But there the question does not stop. Another question props up regarding the origin of that energy. But when it is said that total energy of the universe is exactly zero, then all is said and done. So this is the clue: if we can somehow arrive at zero, then no further question will be raised, and there will be no infinite regression. What I intend to do here is something similar to that. I want to show that our God is a bunch of several zeroes, and that therefore no further question need be raised about His origin. And here comes Einstein with his special theory of relativity for giving us the necessary empirical support to our project.
    God is a Being. Therefore God will have existence as well as essence. So I will have to show that both from the point of view of existence as well as from the point of view of essence God is zero. It is almost a common saying that God is spaceless, timeless, changeless, immortal, and all-pervading. Here we are getting three zeroes; space is zero, time is zero, change is zero. But how to prove that if there is a God, then that God will be spaceless, timeless, and changeless? From special theory of relativity we come to know that for light both distance and time become unreal. For light even an infinite distance is infinitely contracted to zero. The volume of an infinite universe full of light only will be simply zero due to this property of light. A universe with zero volume is a spaceless universe. Again at the speed of light time totally stops. So a universe full of light only is a spaceless, timeless universe. But these are the properties of light only! How do we come to know that God is also having the same properties of light so that God can also be spaceless, timeless? Scientists have shown that if there is a God, then that God can only be light, and nothing else, and that therefore He will have all the properties of light. Here is the proof.
    Scientists have shown that total energy of the universe is always zero. If total energy is zero, then total mass will also be zero due to energy-mass equivalence. Now if there is a God, then scientists have calculated the total energy and mass of the universe by taking that God into consideration. In other words, if there is a God, then this total energy-mass calculation by the scientists is God-inclusive, not God-exclusive. This is due to two reasons. First of all, even if there is a God, they are not aware of the fact that there is a God. Secondly, they do not believe that there is a God. So, if there is a God, then they have not been able to keep that God aside before making this calculation, because they do not know that there is a God. They cannot say that they have kept Him aside and then made this calculation, because by saying so they will admit that there is a God. They cannot say that the behind-the-picture God has always remained behind the picture, and that He has in no way come into the picture when they have made this calculation, because by saying so they will again admit that there is a God. At most they can say that there is no God. But we are not going to accept that statement as the final verdict on God-issue, because we are disputing that statement. So the matter of the fact is this: if God is really there, then total mass and total energy of the universe including that God are both zero. Therefore mass and energy of God will also be zero. God is without any mass, without any energy. And Einstein has already shown that anything having zero rest-mass will have the speed of light. In other words, it will be some sort of light. So, if God is there, then God will also be light, and therefore He will be spaceless, timeless. So from the point of view of existence God is zero, because he is spaceless, timeless, without any mass, without any energy.
    Now we will have to show that from the point of view of essence also God is zero. If there is only one being in the universe, and if there is no second being other than that being, then that being cannot have any such property as love, hate, cruelty, compassion, benevolence, etc. Let us say that God is cruel. Now to whom can He be cruel if there is no other being other than God Himself? So, if God is cruel, then is He cruel to Himself? Therefore if we say that God is all-loving, merciful, benevolent, etc., then we are also admitting that God is not alone, that there is another being co-eternal with God to whom He can show His love, benevolence, goodness, mercy, compassion, etc. If we say that God is all-loving, then we are also saying that this “all” is co-eternal with God. Thus we are admitting that God has not created the universe at all, and that therefore we need not have to revere Him, for the simple reason that He is not our creator!
    It is usually said that God is good. But Bertrand Russell has shown that God cannot be good for the simple reason that if God is good, then there is a standard of goodness which is independent of God’s will. (Book: A History of Western Philosophy, Ch: Plato’s Utopia). Therefore, if God is the ultimate Being, then that God cannot be good. But neither can He be evil. God is beyond good and evil. Like Hindu’s Brahma, a real God can only be nirguna, nirupadhik; without any name, without any quality. From the point of view of essence also, a real God is a zero. Mystics usually say that their God is a no-thing. This is the real God, not the God of the scriptures.
    So, why should there be any need of creation here, if God is existentially, as well as essentially, zero?
    But if there is someone who is intelligent and clever enough, then he will not stop raising question here. He will point out to another infinite regression. If God is light, then He will no doubt be spaceless, timeless, etc. Therefore one infinite regression is thus stopped. But what about the second regression? How, and from whom, does light get its own peculiar properties by means of which we have successfully stopped the first regression? So, here is another infinite regression. But we need not have to worry much about this regression, because this problem has already been solved. A whole thing, by virtue of its being the whole thing, will have all the properties of spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness. It need not have to depend on any other external source for getting these properties. Thus no further infinite regression will be there.

  17. Wow.

    H.S. Pal is surely unfamiliar with the arguments that Christians actually use, and that all those objections have been addressed over and over.

    His post is one long string of strawmen.