MONACO, July 21, 2012 — The other day a reader asked an interesting question:
“I believe in God, but what is your answer to those who ask, “If you believe in cause and effect, who created God?”
Let us first think of the context in which this question usually comes up. It tends to surface when a theist attempts to prove the existence of God using the first cause argument.
The argument goes something like this. The universe as it now exists is the outcome of a long series of events. These events have been linked by the cause-effect relationship: Each event is the cause of the event that follows it and the effect of the event that precedes it.
It is not possible, however, for the causal chain to extend infinitely into the past, since it is a practical impossibility to traverse an infinite regression. Therefore, the universe had to have a beginning. This logical conclusion is borne out by science and observation which confirm that the universe indeed came into existence at a definite point in the past. This beginning – some scientists tell us – is located in the so-called cosmological singularity which gave rise to the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago.
But since everything that begins to exist must have a cause, the universe, too, must have been caused. Its cause must have been immaterial and immensely powerful. This cause is what we normally call God.
“But, then, who created God?” the sceptic responds.
In the context of this argument the question is somewhat misplaced, because what we sought to address at the outset was not who created God, but who or what created the universe. If the logic and evidence point to the conclusion that it must have been God, then our inquiry is complete. For the answer to be valid, it is not necessary to explain the nature or origin of that cause.
But to pursue this question further, God was not created. He has always existed. This is admittedly a difficult notion for the limited human mind to conceive, but our difficulty in grasping the idea of an eternal, uncreated being does not invalidate its reality. In any case, even though we may not be able to comprehend such a being, we can certainly recognize the necessity of its existence.
If we accept causation as universally applicable then God becomes necessary the moment there exists anything at all. The impossibility of an actual infinite regression makes this inevitable. Once something exists there must also exist a non-contingent ground of being which is either the immediate cause of the phenomenon in question or the initial starting point of the causal sequence of which it is the effect.
God would be necessary even if all that there ever was was a brief flash of light somewhere in the universe. The existence of God would, in fact, be indispensable even if all that ever happened was the arising of a single thought in the expanse of eternal nothingness. The reason for this is not difficult to see: Where there is a thought there must be a thinker. And that thinker can either be uncaused – which would be God – or an effect of a causal series which must ultimately ground in God.
The existence of any phenomenon – be it physical or psychological – makes God’s existence inescapable. It does not matter whether one is an absolute idealist who thinks that the universe is a mere mental construct or a strict materialist who maintains that everything is either matter or energy. Logic and common sense lead to the same conclusion: The very fact of phenomenal existence implies an uncreated, unconditioned reality which is the ground of being for anything and everything that exists.
Born and raised under communism, Vasko Kohlmayer is a naturalized American citizen. He has lived in several countries under various forms of government, but he still marvels at the goodness of God and the wonder of life.
He has written for a number of newspapers, magazines and internet journals. Vasko currently lives in Europe with his long-suffering wife and two beautiful daughters. He is the founder of The Christian Writers Foundation.
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