What Did God Do Before Creating the Universe? Billy Graham Botches His Response

Christian evangelist Billy Graham has a syndicated column that goes out under his name (though I doubt he writes it given his age/health).

In the latest one, a reader asked him a pretty good question:

What was God doing before He created the world? I had an atheist friend ask me this a few days ago, and I didn’t know what to say. — Z.N.

Great question! Let’s see how Graham answers it! It should be one hell of an answer since he’d be making it all up, anyway…

… one of the hardest things for us to understand about God is that He is timeless and infinite, and He doesn’t look on time the same way we do.

What do I mean by this? When you and I think of time, we think of hours, and days, and years — but God isn’t limited by those measures. We also think of things as having a beginning and end — but God isn’t limited in this way. In other words, we are finite and limited — but God is infinite and unlimited. Before time ever existed, God always was.

Umm… so what was God doing before creating the world?

God has always existed and always will. And even before He created the world, He was already planning for our salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Right, right… Jesus, salvation… but what was he doing? Creating a blueprint? Making an outline for world history? Hanging out with Mrs. God? Sitting there twiddling his thumbs?

Christ’s death and resurrection were not accidents; God planned them from all eternity. God loves you that much!

I DON’T CARE! JUST TELL ME HOW GOD SPENT HIS TIME!

Pray for your atheist friend. His question may not have been sincere; he simply may have wanted to put you on the spot. But God still loves him, and some day — through your prayers — he may realize how empty his life is without God, and will discover the joy of knowing Christ.

You know, Graham(‘s minions) could have been honest and said, “I have no idea.”

Instead, he evaded a tough question and used it as an opportunity to trash the person raising it in the first place.

Maybe we should thank Billy Graham for participating in that age-old tradition of pastors everywhere: Creating new atheists because of their inability to admit that their faith doesn’t have all the answers.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Dats3

    You know, this might be a good argument for the multi-verse theory.  Maybe god was playing with another universe in the infinite multi-verse.  Wait that isn’t in the bible.  Never mind.  God was probably doing laundry or something.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PWUAB6VWGQWUV4GQTMTPBBU33Q JessicaR

      Considering that all the pictures of the angels have them in the whitest of white robes, you’re probably right. Wonder if he uses a front loading washer?

      • IndyFitz

         It’s Clorox.  Bleach keeps you whites white!

        • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

          Nope. It’s an ancient secret technique used for generations.
          *hides the Calgon*

      • Blaphemous_Kansan

        Interesting OT factoid: Along with Billy Grahm’s canned response here, the appearance of the angels as we know them was also made up as they went along, adopting the cherubic winged warrior status thanks to various artists who were in the employ of the church, and expressing their own faith.

        Someone more versed in Bible-ology could correct me, but I thought I remembered reading that one of the only physical descriptions of angels refers to them enigmatically as ‘wheels within wheels’.  Again, this may not be correct.  I haven’t read genesis in awhile!

        Just another example of the scripture being edited over time to be more palpable to the masses.  After all, who doesn’t like cute babies?  The tactic seems kind of like photoshopping something to add more cute cat pictures so more people go ‘awwwww’.

        I’m not sure whether god used a front loader or not, but based on one of the only physical descriptions of angels that actually exist in the texts, a couple of them could have linked together and become the washer!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_angelic_hierarchy 

        • Guest

          The angels in genesis were described as being male-passing enough that the Sodomites wanted to rape/have sex with them. Later in Daniel and Ezekiel (I believe)l there is a class of angels described as being like a wheel in a wheel full of eyes, and like a man with fiery eyes and bronze legs who just sounds like the weirdest Frankenstein of celestial beings. There’s at least one class of angel in Revelations who appears to be female. And another that has six wings (Seraphim). So I would say angels are supposedly a rather multi-cultural species.

          As for what Gid was doing, the Bible hints at a sort of Heavenly civil war (thus the origin of Satan and his minions – the fallen angels). Since there seems to be a whole military style rank and order in this celestial family, one has to speculate that SOMETHING was going in in Heaven prior to earthly existence. And that the fall of man wasn’t God’s first (failed) social experiment.

          • Blaphemous_Kansan

            Nice, thanks for the clarification!  Not all ‘wheels within wheels’, but definitely not the harp-plucking cutsie creatures that the renaissance artists were responsible for creating.

          • Glasofruix

            Later in Daniel and Ezekiel (I believe)l there is a class of angels
            described as being like a wheel in a wheel full of eyes, and like a man
            with fiery eyes and bronze legs who just sounds like the weirdest
            Frankenstein of celestial beings.

            I immediately thought of Bayonetta.

            • Blaphemous_Kansan

              Holy crap, Bayonetta is one of the greatest games ever. Based on what I’ve learned today about angel biology, Bayonetta is possibly the most accurate portrayal of angels yet to exist.

              Bayonetta 2 will be an exclusive on the new Wii system!

              • Artor

                An accurate portrayal of angels? You mean there are none in the game? I guess Mario Cart has a pretty accurate representation too.

          • The Other Weirdo

             So, um, a Goa’uld when it’s pissed off?

          • Guest

            Frankenstein’s monster. #petpeeve

        • Scott Moul

          …kinda, it doesn’t seem that they appeared as wheels, but with wheels within wheels.  It does however say that they had four faces and were covered in eyes…
           
          http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/ezek/10.html

      • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

        Bill-o was right. Tide goes in, Tide goes out.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OFCT2JLB5U57DVSABYYMRCYTDE BeezerQ

      Even though I’m an atheist I’ve had this disturbing thought about the multiverse theory: if there are an infinite number of universes, then God must exist in at least one of them. And if so, why not the one we’re in now?

      • Blasphemous_Kansan

        Interesting!  Though in my opinion the question that needs to be answered is actually ‘Is god in our universe?’ as opposed to ‘Why not…’ since a negative cannot be proven. 
        So it seems to me that if we take your premise that God must exist in at least one universe as true, and we have no evidence that god exists in this universe, then we arrive logically at the conclusion that there is no reason to believe that god exists in this universe.If he’s out there, he can have his universe.
        But that’s just what I think.

      • coyotenose

         I’ve considered this before. I think it doesn’t matter. The physics in a universe where God exists are so different from ours that he couldn’t come here/affect anything/perceive us/et cetera. And that would make him not God anyway, by the definition of most religions.

      • Amakudari

        Not necessarily. The set of odd numbers is infinite, but we’ll never run into an even number. It might be that all possible universes exist, and creatures that we would regard as so advanced as to be god-like exist, but there’s no demonstrable necessity for god to create any of these universes and take an active role in one of its civilizations (the important part).

        In any case, if it were true for us, I’d think we’d have a little bit better evidence than what we have now, which is nothing.

      • Pete

        Which god?

      • Stev84

        I don’t think an omnipotent, all-knowing entity is even possible physically or logically. Thinks that are impossible wouldn’t exist anywhere.

      • catatafish

        By that logic there would have to be a universe with a santa and one with an easter bunny and one with pixies. There would be a universe where you are god and a universe where I am god and an evil god universe. It would also mean there is a universe without god and that wouldn’t make sense because a god wouldn’t be limited to, or trapped in one place.

    • http://CoffeeShopAtheist.com/blog Patrick

      Since when has something not being in the bible stopped people from believing it?

      Souls at conception isn’t in the bible.Sell all your possessions and give them to the poor is.

    • Critic1

      Your the laundry.

  • Steve Frank

    Everyone knows that god and his roomate chugs were arm wrestling before he created the universe.

    • IndyFitz

      I heard the winner got to do the world-creating.  One wonders what it would be like if Chugs had won.

      • Tainda

        Anarchy, orgies and free beer

        • IndyFitz

          I like the sound of it, but it seems to imply that the beer if free, but the orgies must cost something. I say free orgies, or none at all!

          • Tainda

            Pay orgies you get to pick the participants.

            You get what you pay for…

            • IndyFitz

              Can’t argue that. But as much fun as this is, it’s probably a good time to say something like, “I’m not paying for it!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/gtpooh Gwenny Todd


    And even before He created the world, He was already planning for our salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    This bugs me.  So God KNEW how everything was going to go and was already planning to have a child and let him be tortured and killed?  Why?  What was to be gained?  A few hyper religious nutcases no sane person would want to hang with might make it to heaven, but he SET IT UP for us to fail.   Most religionists DO fail.    He couldn’t be bothered to circumvent the machinations of . . . whoever, the bad guy.  I never have liked Satan, since in the OT the people with the title are not evil, just mouthy.  And Lucifer was the translation of the something like “Morning Star” and referred to a mortal man.  

    How can these people believe that God knew everything that was going to happen . . .and let it happen?  It has bothered me since I was a child . . . God allowed all the horrible things to happen to me . . .even though I was an innocent.  I just don’t get it.

    • Mike Webster

      It also means, he PLANNED to kill everything in the world except Noah’s family and two of each type of dinosaur and the lesser animals, of course. 

    • IndyFitz

      Yep, nothing like all those points that we clearly see make NO SENSE at all… yet the religious folks all think make PERFECT SENSE.  Don’t try to follow the logic, for there is none, and your head might just explode!

    • http://www.quietatheist.com/ Slugsie

       Exactly what I was thinking as I read the article. We were set up to fail, ‘God’ knew we would and planned  a special ‘Get Out Of Jail’ card/sacrifice for something we had no choice about.

      Fekking idiots.

  • Sami Hawkins

    “What Did God Do Before Creating the Universe?”
     
    He played Solitaire, a LOT of Solitaire.
     
    Seriously though why would an all-knowing infallible deity need to plan anything? Shouldn’t he just know from the beginning of existencve everything that would happen until the end of time? I also like how one minute god is an exotic being who comprehends time in ways our petty human mindscould never grasp, then the next minute he has to sit down and write a ‘to-do’ list for the future.

    • icecreamassassin

      To answer your questions: God works in mysterious ways.  To answer *any* question: God works in mysterious ways.  What did he do before creation?  He works in mysterious ways.  Why does god allow evil to exist?  Mysterious ways.  Why is a raven like a writing desk?  Mysterious ways.  Duh doy.

      • JasmynMoon

        Why is a raven like a writing desk? Poe wrote on both.

        • ReadsInTrees

           I thought it was because they both made flat notes…

        • Coyotenose

            Actually it’s because you can find inky quills on both of them ^.^

      • Grizzz

        It’s like those billboards along the highways that say “Christ is the Answer” but they fail to include what the question was. When this happens, any time someone asks me a question my answer is Christ.

        What time is it? Christ.

        What is it doing outside and should I bring a light jacket? Christ and Christ.

        What’s for dinner? Christ.

        How old is your baby? Christ…..

        • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

          So, in other words, before God created the universe, everything was Malkovich, Malkovich?

  • http://twitter.com/apsalartoll apsalartoll

    Every one of these Billy Graham Q&A’s go like this.  A robot could write them.

    Dr. Graham, ?

    Reader, first I will restate your question to indicate that I have read it. However, your question doesn’t really matter because what matters is that Jesus died for your sins because God loves you so much he wants you to be saved. Jesus. Salvation. Times infinity. Nothing else you could be wanting to know matters.

    I used to read the newspaper every day to kill time after school. This was 20 years ago, and his columns always went like this. Nice to see that some things never change. 

  • Guilberube

    He could have made something up. Its not like anyone can go check and would have made more sense than what ammounts to : You can’t unserstand god. But hes great and all. And dont forget to be salvationed.

  • GeraardSpergen

    I ask this question a lot too – to put people on the spot.  Usually the response is similar… God is timeless, no beginning and no end.  Then I counter with “no beginning and no end” is not the same as “no before and no after”.  The Bible is full of all kinds of cause and effect things that God responds to in one way or another, which indicates that he has a linear sense of time.

  • http://twitter.com/apsalartoll apsalartoll

    According to the Premillenial Dispensationalists (i.e. Left Behind types), Jesus was Plan B, and Billy Graham is totally wrong here.  Plan A was what you’d expect – God creates stuff and Adam and Eve live in the  Garden of Eden and everything is just peachy.  But when they ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge (which hoocoodanode, right?) he had no choice at all but to condemn them and their descendants forever to hell and torment. Except, ah hah, I’ll have a son and torture him to death and that will fix stuff, but it will also require Revelation and the rapture and the tribulation and things that make just as much sense.

    • Cincinatheist

      I would like to thank you for introducing me to the term hoocoodanode. I’ve not heard that one before. :-)

    • Stev84

       Jesus was Plan C. Plan B was murdering 99.9% of life in Earth in a giant flood.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregm766 Gregory Marshall

    I have asked that question to theist before, none of them have an answer.  I even like to throw in WHY did he create the universe? or WHY now?

    • IndyFitz

       Well, to create a vast cosmic playground for his own personal amusement.  Why else? :-)

      It’s the Xian belief that God knew everything that would happen, and had a plan in place, and destiny is fixed, and we’re all just going through predetermined motions, that sinks the whole thing, I think.  Now, a non-personal god who created the universe and left it to its own devices would be interesting.

      Hell, any good Game Master in a paper-and-pencil RPG who has spent countless hours detailing his worlds and role-playing deities has done a more interesting job portraying deities involved with mortal societies.  If the universe really were a playground for a creator deity who wanted to amuse himself by being involved, he’s done a bad job of it… especially in the two thousand years since anyone’s allegedly heard from him!

    • Danam17

      I was just wondering, WHY do people have to throw away the fact that God exists, just because no body knows what God is thinking?? He is GOD because no one can understand Him. People think they are all knowing and need to understand everything! You know what? People are never going to understand everything, because our minds cannot wrap themselves around these ideas of things that they cannot see! I know that God exists because I interact and see him working in my daily life. That is evidence enough. Something the eyes and ears cannot comprehend, but the presence is there. You can feel it. And no it is not just emotion.
      Try it, overcome your pride and If you search for God sincerely you will find Him. If not, then , I suppose you can keep living your life the way you want to.
      Just keep in mind that humans cannot have every answer there is to every question. That is unrealistic.

  • Randomfactor

    The traditional answer is “creating Hell, for people who ask that question.”

    • Jbaerg

      Somewhere I saw that attributed to Augustine. I guess that says something about the character of alleged saints.

  • Rick

    I wonder how long it took God to plan for Hitler…

  • Cormacolinde

    Well, although his answer devolved into silly evangelistic rhetoric, his basic answer isn’t entirely devoid  of logic. If you define a being as being outside of time, you cannot ask what that being was doing before time began.

    It’s like asking what existed before the Universe existed. You can’t answer that in a sense because time is a dimension of the Universe, and as such anything that may have existed before is outside time. The concepts of “Before” and “After” depend on a concept and a perception of time, which is obviously meaningless if something exists independently of it.

    The question one may ask, then, is what the difference between theology and cosmology is on such problems. Well, for one cosmology is informed by evidence. Experiments and well-proven theories like General Relativity and the Standard Model of quantum mechanics are used in combination with observations of the Universe to theorize what the early Universe was like, and possibly obtain information about where it comes from. As we look farther and farther back, to the first picoseconds of the Universe, time stretches out, possibly to infinity, such that nothing happened “before” time, since time appears to be infinite.

    If you try to imagine a being existing outside the Universe, it escapes this problem of being stuck in an infinitely stretching time dimension, but then it is entirely unable to observe the Universe. It is outside, period. Observation of the Universe requires interaction, and thus not being timeless anymore, and being part of the Universe.

    I always marvel at how relevant philosophers like Kant and Spinoza still are today, and can’t help  wonder how much more their ideas might have been fleshed out if they’d known the science we know today.

    • coyotenose

       Well yeah, that’s the problem. A timeless God can’t understand things that exist within time. If he’s timeless, he has no needs or wants, so no universe creating. If he’s timeless, then there is no “when” for him to create something, so no universe. If he’s timeless, he can’t get impatient, so no genocides or eternal tortures.

    • JenL

      Well, although his answer devolved into silly evangelistic rhetoric, his basic answer isn’t entirely devoid  of logic. If you define a being as being outside of time, you cannot ask what that being was doing before
      time began.

      But that wasn’t the question.  The question was not “what did God do before time began”, it was “what did God do before he  created the world

      So.  God exists.  He creates time.  Time passes.  He creates “the world”.  More time passes.  An atheistic asks what He did during that first “Time passes”.  And gets the answer “God has no beginning and no end.”  Uh-huh.  Motion to strike that answer as non-responsive, Your Honor.

    • ReadsInTrees

       SO…God is basically the Doctor, existing outside of time? I may have a more fond view of God now if I imagine him zooming around in a Tardis…

      • Coyotenose

         Don’t give him any benefit of the doubt unless he also has an eleventy-foot-long scarf.

    • catatafish

      “If you define a being as being outside of time, you cannot ask what that being was doing before time began”.

      So what you’re saying is that before god created the universe he was outside of time and he wasn’t waiting.

      So does that mean he was just froze there unable to move until he created the universe? My problem is it doesn’t matter if there is no time where god is. He still must do things during his “no time” otherwise that means he was frozen in time and that doesn’t sound like a problem a god would have. Infinity is a long time. I get board in much less time than that. And god didn’t even have a universe to get board in.

  • C Peterson

    Same old crap. When something is obvious BS, just pretend it’s a deep mystery beyond human comprehension, and leave it at that. Works okay for the sheep, I guess. But not for anybody with a critical mind. But the critical mind crowd isn’t exactly Graham’s following, is it?

  • Grizzz
  • http://www.goldmark.org/jeff/ Jeffrey Goldberg

    In the beginning there was the Word. And the Word was incoherent.

  • TiltedHorizon

    I guess when one thinks they speak for god they no longer have to listen to the lessons of being modest and humble.

    Matthew 6:1 

    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to
    be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who
    is in heaven.”

    The correct answer was: “I Don’t Know”. Looks like “no  soup for you” Graham. 

  • Sven

    It’s a key difference between religious and scientific thinking.

    In science, if you don’t know, it’s okay to say “I don’t know”.  It may give rise to hypotheses and attempts to find the answer.

    In religion, time and time again, we see that BS is preferable to admitting “I don’t know”.

  • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

    Maybe he was playing Highlander with the other gods, because there can be only one?

    • RobMcCune

      Does that mean the Mormons are right except that the name of God’s home planet was Zeist?

      *ducks and runs for life*

  • Tainda

    Loading please wait……

  • VorJack

    If I remember correctly, Martin Luther was asked the same question.  His reply was something like, “God was cutting birch switches for boys who ask impertinent questions.”  

    Not very helpful, but points for style.

  • Stev84

    A conman being honest? Surely you jest

  • dangeroustalk

    I’ve been asking that same question for a long time, I’m glad to see it making the rounds. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1306655921 Rolf Boettger

    He had to start over and over again – do you not know how hard it is to fine-tune those cosmological constants – expansion was too fast, then too slow, then it was too hot, too big, too little…  It literally took an eternity for him to get it right.  

  • http://oldgaylawyer.blogspot.com/ Eamon O’Connor

    Actually in my view if this god-fiction is eternal he/she/it (why does a spirit need genitals) should be described not as “always was” but rather as an  “always is” the present tense of the verb to be….what nonsense. Man created god probably pretty close to the first time  man walked out of his cave and looked to the sky and wondered.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Hold the presses! Billy Graham is still alive? Well, colour me gobsmacked.

    • coyotenose

       Gobsmack is a colour?

      Teehee, “colour”. You foreigners and your Lovecraftian words. Write in American so we can understand you!

      • catatafish

        Oh you’re American!

        So you mean we should use smaller words?

  • Foster

    I think you do not give Graham (or his ghostwriter) full credit, Mehta.  They ~did~ answer the question by explaining that God is outside of our time, and so a question like that, though it might seem meaningful, has no meaning, kind of like, “what’s the speed of orange?”  Time is as much a created thing as space is.  As Einstein informs us, they are intrinsically linked and correlated.  To speak of one without the other is nonsensical.  So I think Graham answered the question quite adequately, though you might not like his extraneous call to pray for the atheist in question.

    • coyotenose

       The problem is that a timeless entity necessarily cannot comprehend us or our universe. God does in the Bible. He holds conversations and gets upset at peoples’ actions, demonstrating that causation applies to him. As someone else said here, the Christian god (and every other god) thinks linearly, not even demonstrating much in the way of prescience. In order to understand us, or even to create the universe, he would have to cease to be timeless, and how would he know to do so if he’s timeless? He simply is not a timeless construct as described. The reason for that is that he was made up by humans, who are terrible at grasping such ideas even with all the philosophical and scientific progress we’ve made since he was first imagined.

      Graham and his people don’t understand the arguments they make or even all the words they use. They remind me of that line about Newt Gingrich, “He’s what stupid people think a smart person sounds like.”

      • Ibis3

         Well, there’s an added problem. The god concepts (because there were as many as there were writers) of the OT were never conceived of as timeless or perfect. They were powerful, emotional (especially jealous and angry), and showed their favour or disfavour in concrete ways. The whole omniscient, timeless, transcendent, perfectly good stuff came from Greek philosophy hundreds of years later.

        • coyotenose

           Heh, yep, it falls apart from so many angles that it often can’t even qualify as being wrong, but instead merely gibberish.

        • Foster

          You’re correct, and as I’m sure you also know, theologians explain this as “accommodation” on God’s part to allow humanity to know Him on terms that they could understand.  The advent of Greek philosophy expanded the consciousness of man and the vastness of concepts he could understand, so that God was able to reveal more about himself, although the idea of a God who says, when asked his name “I am that I am” has its own philosophical implications on existence that predate the Socratic philosophy that would inform later Christians meditating upon it.  The fact that the ancient Hebrews would not even utter the divine Name of God and believed that anyone who even looked upon God would die tends to suggest they had an inkling of the “transcendent” part, though.

      • Foster

        Your arguments seem to boil down to
        1. A being outside of something cannot interact with it, therefore the Christian God is inconsistent.
        2. The Bible describes God as being affected by things in time, such as getting angry and changing his mind, therefore the Christian God is inconsistent. 
        As for (1), a child can interact with a coloring book and not be a part of it, so I see no inconsistency.  Boethius describes God as existing in a single moment of actuality that contains all of ours.  He looks upon History from this eternal present and sees and acts upon it (enters into it through the Incarnation) to achieve His purposes, so it may seem far-fetched to you, atheist friend, but there is no contradiction. (2) is a more serious argument, but is answered by my response to Ibis3 below.  How do you communicate to time-bound entities that their actions are evil and harmful to them and not totally confuse them?  You would need to accommodate what you reveal about yourself to them.  Your hypothesis that God was made up by primitive people might also explain this, but if there was such a God, he would need to describe Himself in analogous terms people could understand from their own experience.  As Galileo said, the purpose of the Bible is to show people how to go to heaven, not to explain how the heavens go.  Similarly, the Bible communicates as well as it can to the original audience the seriousness of what they have done and how it separates them from divine goodness, even at the expense of literal accuracy as to attributing moods to God.  

        • Fred Engels

          “child can interact with a coloring book and not be a part of it, so I see no inconsistency”

          A child can interact with a coloring book precisely because they exists in the same time frame. A child cannot interact with any coloring book from any time in history, it must be the one it shares a frame of reference with. Your second sentence is nonsense, but that’s not your fault, it’s the guy you paraphrased.

          The second point you are doing exactly what the OP of this blog show Graham to do. You are not answering the question. The point coyotence made had nothing to do with WHY your god would chose to reveal itself that way, but the fact that it does means it must be bound to a time itself. 

          • Foster

            Actually, the point coyote nose made, “The reason for that is that he was made up by humans,” had everything to do with “why,” to contradict you.  The implicit argument is: “Why would Christian religion resemble other religions?  Answer:  because it was also created by men.  This being the only logical answer, Christianity is untrue.”  By positing an alternative hypothesis, I have addressed what coyotenose was saying.  If I misrepresented or minimized his “timelessness” argument, I did so unintentionally, and addressed it again in my reply to your similar concern above.

    • Fred Engels

      “God is outside of our time”, but it could not be outside of “a” time. “god” would still exist in a frame of reference that may be outside of our space-time, but would still exist within a “universe” of it’s own. 

      The problem here is you (and Graham) are trying to define a god that avoids any problems that might arise from said god, by declaring those problem void by definition, contrary to any logic. Even to the point that the definition of “god” becomes so nebulous as to be meaningless. (but let me guess, your “god” is outside logic so you don;t care about that contradiction either?) It’s a logical shell game that frankly amounts to a childish “because I said so” argument.

      • Foster

        No, I deny that positing such an entity is illogical, and if you could create a logical contradiction, you’d have me in quite a quandary.  The personal God (not god) I believe in is only partially knowable to us by his Son, who actually lived with us and revealed things about God.  You may not agree with my conclusions from History, conscious experience and human nature that such a God exists, but my argument is ~not~ a “because I said so” argument, and I would listen to you if you were able to disprove it by contradiction.

        • Fred Engels

          All right, here’s what you are doing wrong. You are ignoring the “frame of reference” I referred to that your god would have exist in. Even if you exempt this god from any known physical law/logic/ of our universe, the simple fact is if your god exists, it has to exists within a frame of reference toward itself. If there is no frame of reference, then is does not exists. Now, “time” while not only being a property of the fabric of our universe, is also just the difference in states of any frame of reference. If a frame of reference you exists in changes in any way, time can be said to have passed. 

          So if the frame of reference your god lives in changes in ANY way, time has passed for your god. So if your god moves, interacts with others, or even thinks, the state of it’s frame of reference has changed and “time” has passed. Consciousness itself requires “time” since consciousness necessitates the chaining of states.

          Also as you say, this god of yours can be partially “known”  to you. Well to do so requires interaction with this universe and to do that requires interaction with a universe that has time as a fundaments property. So the very act of interaction within our universe even from outside requires time to exists for the party interacting. It may be a different time within it’s frame of reference, but time none the less. If not, then jesus would have appeared all thought the entire history our universe simultaneously, not 2 millennia ago in the middle east.

          But that’s really secondary. If your god exists it must do so within a frame of reference. If that frame of reference changes in any way, then time has passed for the god within that frame of reference. Your just saying that your god exists, yet exempting it from meeting a basic property of existence. That’s the “because I say so” argument I was referring to.

          • Foster

            Your arguments seem to boil down to (pardon me if I capitalize the proper nouns):
            1. You (Foster) think God exists, but if he exists, he must exist in a frame of reference (presumably of the kind Einstein talked about).  If he acts, then there must be change, which requires time to pass.  Therefore God (whom you say should exist independently of time) does not exist.
            2.Consciousness requires time passing, since consciousness involves a succession of thoughts.  Therefore, God would not be conscious in the way we are conscious, and cannot exist.
            3. For Jesus Messiah to enter into History, he would have to do so for all History, since he is God and therefore timeless by your definitions.
            My response:
            1. Existence does not logically require change of the actor within time, nor does action, although Newton’s laws do require an equal and opposite reaction upon every actor within our frame of reference.  I can imagine without logical contradiction an object, say a rock in space of infinite inertia (naturally impossible, but not logically impossible), existing even in our own reference frame for all of time without changing, yet it would exist and act upon things gravitationally attracted toward it.  Your disproof (as I understand it), does not have the weight of logical contradiction, nor are ideas of “reference frames” valid assumptions to make based only upon information from our single reference frame.
            2. I concede that God Almighty would not experience consciousness in the way that we do, moment by moment, but I do not believe it is necessary to have succeeding thoughts moment by moment to be considered conscious.  For example, I can think of a potato chip for several moments at a time conceivably without altering my thought.  A being with greater intellect could think of many things (or even all things) at the same time without altering its thought.  If I can be conscious while unchangingly contemplating the potato chip, God can do the same while unchangingly thinking and acting within his single moment of existence.
            3.  We believe that Jesus took on the attributes of mankind in the Incarnation, one of which is living in time.  The attribute of timelessness in the sense of being outside of time for all time is therefore applicable to God the Father and not the Son.  But in the sense that he existed and exists for all of time, the Son is also not bound by time.

            Keep in mind, I am not here arguing for my God’s existence.  If I were, I would indeed be committing a bad fallacy of the “because I said so” variety.  Rather, I am demonstrating that despite your objections there is no contradiction, so if Historical revelations about such a God suggested that He existed, pure logic would not be sufficient to disprove him.  They would also be insufficient to disprove the flying spaghetti monster, but then I have no exterior reasons for Pastafarianism, as I do for believing Christianity.

            • Deven Kale

               Still more poorly through out tripe, just as before. While Fred Engels is doing a very good job of showing you why it’s poorly thought out tripe, you completely ignore him because you think you can stop time by thinking of a potato chip. Not to mention that a physical object with properties which defy the laws of physics is a self-contradictory object and therefore logically impossible as well as physically impossible. I can’t wait to see Fred Engels’ response to this, but even more I can’t wait to laugh at your response to his.

  • Conuly

    Doesn’t “God loves you so much he planned salvation before starting Creation” kinda mess with the entire story of Adam and Eve in the garden with the apple? Do they ever even listen to themselves?

    • compl3x

      Yeah. Why was god planning salvation before the original sin event? Did he already know his creation would be sinners? If so, how can anyway say that is free will? Complete sham.

      • http://profiles.google.com/emasters7 Elizabeth Hiatt

        There is no free will within the Christian worldview, no matter what they say, it is impossible. 

        • Fred Engels

          I always love to point this out to them too. Any all knowing entity, that includes knowledge of the future events negates the concept of free will. 

        • compl3x

           I’d go further and say any religion which has an omniscient god can’t also advocate the idea of free will.

    • Robyman4

      Precisely. Adam and Eve were destined – NO ifs, ands or buts – to jam a great big, bad-ass wrench into the cogs of God’s perfectly-designed machine, right from the start. Right from the very beginning – oh wait, hold on a moment, actually they were pre-empted by that meddling angel, Lucifer. So, okay, first, he  aspired to something greater than himself and lost the battle, and THEN he went after the first two humans and managed to get them to produce  an equally large disaster with eternal consequences.  I get it now ;-)

      • ReadsInTrees

         But why did God create Lucifer to begin with? Being omnipotent and all knowing, surely he could have known that things would go sour after that guy came around. WAit, hold on, are Lucifer and the garden serpent the same guy? BEcause I always kind of admired the serpent. God was there trying to keep people ignorant doofuses, and then the serpent came along and gave humans knowledge.

        • Coyotenose

           IIRC, there’s no hint that the serpent was Lucifer. And yeah, the serpent is basically Prometheus. It’s telling that the religion therefore implicitly considers Prometheus to be the bad guy of his myth.

  • Cancreationbe

     Along with the Billy Graham issue, is this ridiculous or what that Pimps, Politicians and Powerlords in the Pulpit and then their Prostitutes? Get Book, eBook and Audiobook @ http://zeal-book.com. 
If you were ever turned off by organized religion you will find the reasons why in this book! Please share with as many people as you can think of that might feel the same.

    • coyotenose

       We’re not turned off by organized religion. We’re turned off by religion, because it lacks evidence, coherence or consistency and its primary uses in society are as a bludgeon to maintain order by authoritarian decrees and as justification for harming one’s neighbors. The “organized” part just makes those things more effective, which is to say, more harmful.

      • Fred Engels

        I think this was a spam bot.

    • Baby_Raptor

      I already know why I was turned off of religion, and you implying that I need someone to tell me is insulting. Go attention-whore yourself elsewhere.

    • Anonymous Atheist

      He posted this same spam in the ‘licking whipped cream’ post comments. I’ll repost my reply to help others avoid bothering to click out of curiosity.

      FYI to the other readers of this blog, this is not an atheist book.

      Book description on Amazon:

      ” This book is rendered to the Body of Christ as an alarm and a challenge against attitudes within the Church that has watered down, and in many cases redefined, what it is to be Christ-like.

      The reader will find strong confrontation for both leadership as well as contending against some traditional embraces that do not edify the Church. The aim of this literary work is to submit the concept of effective structuring in the local church assembly as it should reflect the order of things that served as a shadow of things to come.

      In all, it is the desire of the author to contribute to “”solution””. I found it a joy to share these words, these pages in knowing that the reader of this book will leave inspired to do something greater than the work that inspired them.

      The author found salvation under the ministry of one late Charles Henry Taliefero in the year of Nineteen hundred ninty-two. Since salvation, the author began to venture into his call to the ministry of preaching the word of GOD in 1993 and is presently an associate minister at Christ Temple Apostolic Church in Gary, Indiana. “

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-De-Fleuriot/611844223 Mike De Fleuriot

    That is what frustrates me about atheists when they debate theists. They allow themselves to be diverted from the question that they asked.  If you have a question to put to a theist, you should have a reason behind that question, with follow up questions and a final point to make.

    If you allow the theist, like what happened above, to dictate where the line of discussion goes, then maybe you should had the debate over to someone with better skills. The best example of not allowing the question to be ducked, is the Dawkins “What is the penalty for apostasy” question he chase that Muslim cleric down with.

    Everyone seeing that clip understood exactly what the question mean and what the answers presented said about the topic. And that includes people on both sides of the debate.  That is how we should run our discussion, or to use a term GTFO.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I think this was a completely contrived question made up by the holy ghost writers of Graham’s advice column. The atheist was invented as the questioner merely to add a sense of illegitimacy to the question itself, so that the answer could treat the question tangentially and then go off onto a standard proselytizing formula.

    Since I’m the World’s Foremost Atheist Advice Columnist (kidding) I’ll have a go at the question:

    Ask Richard: What Did God Do Before Creating the Universe?

    Dear Richard,
    What was God doing before He created the world? I had an atheist friend ask me this a few days ago, and I didn’t know what to say. — Z.N.

    Dear Z.N.,

    EXACTLY what he’s doing now.

    Richard

    • catatafish

      SO what you’re saying is before god created the world he had no people to worry about and that’s EXACTLY what he’s doing now. After he created the world he had no people to worry about!
      I thought people might come into play seeing how he supposedly made us after creating the world……

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        Hi catatafish,
        I should have been more explicit, but explaining it would have spoiled my attempt at humor. The explicit version:

        “EXACTLY what he’s doing now. Nothing. Since I’m not convinced he exists or ever did exist, he’s doing nothing now, and did nothing before. A non-existent thing does a whole lot of nothing.”

        I think we might be in agreement in your first sentence, since he didn’t worry about people before they existed, and he certainly is giving no indication that he’s worrying about them now that they do exist. But I’m sorry, I’m not clear what you’re getting at with the rest of your statement.

  • Stanley Dorst

    What’s interesting to me is that Graham’s response indicates that God knew ahead of time that men would rebel and need to be redeemed. If so, why did he wait x thousand years to “redeem mankind” (but of course, only those who believed and accepted his redemption). For that matter, why did He make the universe the way He did in the first place, knowing that billions of people would end up burning in Hell?

  • P Smighy

    I’m glad he answered it because it was a stupid and pointless answer and the more of those that are wrung out of “intelligent Christians” the better.  So God sat around before time and knew that Adam and Eve were going to sin and planned for Jesus to redeem them from a sin he knew was coming.  Makes him sound moronic and petty.  Thanks, Billy.

  • MattD

    Whatever “he” was doing, I’m sure it wasn’t not-not existing.

  • Danam17

    I was just wondering, WHY do people have to throw away the fact that God exists, just because no body knows what God is thinking?? He is GOD because no one can understand Him. People think they are all knowing and need to understand everything! You know what? People are never going to understand everything, because our minds cannot wrap themselves around these ideas of things that they cannot see! I know that God exists because I interact and see him working in my daily life. That is evidence enough. Something the eyes and ears cannot comprehend, but the presence is there. You can feel it. And no it is not just emotion.
    Try it, overcome your pride and If you search for God sincerely you will find Him. If not, then , I suppose you can keep living your life the way you want to.
    Just keep in mind that humans cannot have every answer there is to every question. That is unrealistic.

    • catatafish

      You interact and see Zues working in your daily life? Impressive!

  • http://www.bigfatsinner.com/ Daniel Lee Baker

     You nailed it at the end Hemant.  All he had to say was, “I don’t know.”  Doing so  ADDS to your credibility; it doesn’t detracts from it.

  • chani

    God plays with himself and no one else exists. He manifests himself in living and so called non living things. Ask yourself this question , what were you doing before you created universe

    • HQ

      God plays with himself?

  • sammy

    Hey, Graham DID NOT evade the question!!! It is NOT his fault that there are those who reject God. Can we understand God…NO we cannot. Graham answered this question very well…………..God has no “time” like we think of it. This is the age old quesion…”well, where did God come from?” Graham has stated MANY, MANY times that he doesn’t understand the finite God, NO human being can even begin to understand His glory. So Brother Graham answered it the only way it could be…..one day if you believe in Him and that Jesus Christ died for you, you, I and everyone will know….that is very exciting to me!!!

  • Ash

    Ok thinkin wise friend,Arite if you are an atheist then you must believe in science coz you deny faith in True God who created you.Well then tell me what triggered BIGBANG and what was there before BIGBANG happened .Dont tell me its just a theory but make sure to give a appreciable explanation.Call in the NASA for help if u want
    For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”(1 corinthians 3:19-20)
    Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles(romans 1:22-23)

  • Sajjad Ali

    Man the whole God planned Jesus death is bullshit. God did not put him on the cross people did and God did not make the people do it they did it because of free will

  • Illusive Man

    Does anybody believer or non-believer know anything regarding what happened before the Universe was formed? NO. Also the Bible is not a Research Paper….its a collection of stories. Could you imagine explaining to a group of people how you created every atom, element, molecule, etc etc in one book?


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