Who made God?
It’s an interesting question that many have pondered. Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins has expressed the question this way.
“The whole argument turns on the familiar question ‘who made God?’ which most thinking people discover for themselves. A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right.” (Dawkins 2008: 109)
If God is the creator – he’s big…he’s complex…so who made him? There is the question again.
What is interesting is that as Professor Dawkins asks the question, he makes a crucial assumption. And the assumption is this – that any explanation must be simpler than the thing being explained. This sounds a lot like evolutionary thinking – and of course this is exactly what it is. The assumption of the gradual evolution of life from simple to more complex forms is exactly what he brings to the question of God.
He is saying that because God – by definition – is bigger and more powerful than the universe he has created – there surely cannot be a God. The thought is absurd to Dawkins.
Given his assumption, I can see his problem. And unfortunately he has passed his problem on to many vulnerable people who are taken in by this reasoning.
But to me, Dawkins’ reasoning makes no sense for 2 reasons. The first reason is from our normal, observable personal experience. The second is a philosophical reason.
First Reason – imagine an Archaeologist finds some primitive paintings on the wall of a cave. That scientist will NOT assume the cause of those marks on the wall to be simpler than the marks themselves. Instead – they will excitedly assume intelligent activity from an ancient being that is infinitely more complex than the marks themselves.
Imagine a SETI scientist detects an ordered signal amongst the random noise in our Galaxy. And that ordered signal is emanating from a star system somewhere distant in the Milky Way Galaxy. You can bet that scientist will want to be the first to break the exciting news. And suddenly social media, news stations, newspapers and discussions around the coffee machine at work…will be full of the exciting news that alien life has been discovered! Why? Because the SETI scientist does not naturally assume the source of the ordered signal to be simpler than the signal itself but more complex…an entity with the intelligence to not only communicate, but transmit their communication over vast distances. So that complex creatures like us can detect it.
What I’m saying is this. That in many areas of Science – the assumption that the cause must be simpler than the effect – is simply an invalid one. And I would suggest – that it is also an invalid assumption to bring to the question of the origins of the Universe…and therefore the existence of a creator God.
Second Reason – it makes good philosophical sense to quickly dismiss the question – “who made God?” The Kalam Cosmological argument – or the argument from first cause – says this.
Whatever began to exist must have a cause for its existence
The universe (and we) began to exist
Therefore the Universe must have a cause for its existence
People naturally think in these terms. We are finite beings ourselves. We literally did have a beginning. My birth certificate and the testimony of my parents confirm it.
Anything that begins to exist – had a first cause. We began to exist. Therefore we have a first cause. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point towards our parents again for that cause. Yet my parents are entities who – themselves – had a beginning and therefore they themselves had a first cause.
We live within the ebb and flow of beginnings and first causes. And so it would be natural to project that understanding onto God. But doing so shows we misunderstand the philosophical argument from first cause.
Well – the argument begins with the words, “Whatever began to exist…”. You see we are not claiming that absolutely EVERYTHING has to have a first cause. It doesn’t make sense to suppose that God had a first cause. The creator God is by his very nature outside of our Universe. So he is therefore also timeless and space-less. So the question – who made God – is an inappropriate use of the argument from first cause. No-one made him – he’s the cause who starting everything off for all of us. He is not bound by the laws around first cause – because he is the cause of that law to begin with.
Imagine a parent of twins. And the little children are bored. So the parent digs out a bunch of big cardboard boxes. And he makes a game for them to play. He sets out the rules of the game. And then he steps back – and watches his children play! And because they are happily playing now…he’s able to safely go and watch TV! It’s a pretty silly example – but it illustrates my point. The creator of the game – isn’t bound by the rules. Rather – he has set the rules up for a good reason (in my example…because he wanted to watch telly!)
The God presented to us in the pages of the Bible IS the explanation of the beginning of it all for us – he doesn’t demand an explanation.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1, NIV
The cause need not be simpler than the effect. And the creator is not bound by the laws he creates. This thinking is absurd to Dawkins and so many more. Yet it is an argument that makes perfect logical sense. It makes sense as long as we stay open to the possibility that there are realities outside of the one we exist in today that we need to learn more about.
Surely this is the very nature of an honestly inquiring scientific mind?