When the Christian declares that everything must have been created and that God was the creator of the universe, the atheist can reply, but who created God?
(These Bite-Size Replies are responses to “Quick Shots,” brief Christian responses to atheist challenges. The introduction to this series is here.)
Challenge to the Christian: Who created God?
Christian response #1: This question is nonsensical. God is uncreated by definition.
Give God whatever properties you want—zero calories, organic, lemon scented, made of soap bubbles, whatever. You still must justify those claims. Some Bible verses suggest that God is eternal, but that’s not evidence. You can start by showing that God exists.
We’ve seen this trick before, in Bite-Size Reply 1, where the apologist tries to disqualify an argument to avoid having to address it. “Who created God?” is a reasonable question that follows naturally from the apologist saying, “Everything must have a creator, and in the case of the universe, God is that creator.” Or if the argument is, “Everything but God has a creator,” then justify that.
Give God whatever properties you want (like “uncreated”), but you still must justify them. You can start by showing that God exists. [Click to tweet]
Christian response #2: Everyone believes in something eternal—if not the universe, then what caused it. Christians just believe that cause was personal, which explains the personal attributes of existence.
Christians believe? “I believe” here is in the same category as “I have faith,” but it’s better to let belief follow from sufficient evidence. Let’s rely on evidence-driven science, the discipline that has taught us what we reliably know so far about reality.
Science doesn’t call the universe eternal. Time in our universe had a beginning, though there’s likely more to be discovered. Science has unanswered questions about the universe, but it has the track record of providing reliable answers. Religion also has answers, but each religion’s origin story is incompatible with the next, making none worth believing in.
Pointing out the gaps in scientific knowledge does nothing to bolster religion’s claims (for example, undercutting evolution does nothing to strengthen Creationism). If Christianity wants to provide answers to science’s unanswered questions, it needs to do the heavy lifting itself. “But science doesn’t have an answer!” is no argument.
“But science doesn’t have an answer!” is no argument. If Christianity wants to provide answers to science’s unanswered questions, it needs to do the heavy lifting itself and make a strong case. [Click to tweet]
Christian response #3: Person A borrows from B, but if B doesn’t have it, they borrow from C. At some point in the progression, someone must actually have the thing. When the thing is existence, that someone must be “a self-existent, eternal, necessary Being.”
Borrowing existence isn’t like borrowing a hammer or a cup of sugar. What does “borrowing existence” even mean? Let’s find a charitable interpretation and see it as a variation on Thomas Aquinas’s Argument of the First Cause: you can’t pass the buck forever, and the buck stops with God. God grounds existence.
That has a common-sense feel to it, but relying on common sense at the frontier of science is to bring a knife to a gunfight. The Big Bang, the event that brought the universe as we know it into existence 14 billion years ago, might’ve been a quantum event, and quantum physics throws common sense out the window. It is completely counterintuitive—events without causes, virtual particles popping into existence, quantum entanglement, quantum tunneling, quantum superposition, and so on.
Before you hypothesize a Being that is the source of existence, show that natural explanations are insufficient. That is, don’t simply say that science has unanswered questions about the origin of the universe (yes, it does). You must show that no natural explanation is possible. Otherwise, the consistent record of failure of supernatural explanations means that we have no reason to expect such a thing.
Thomas Aquinas argued that you can’t pass the buck forever, and the buck stops with God. God was the First Cause. This has a common-sense feel to it, but relying on common sense at the frontier of science is to bring a knife to a gunfight. [Click to tweet]
(The Quick Shot I’m replying to is here.)
Continue to BSR 5: The Bible is full of contradictions
For further reading:
- “But Who Created God?” an Atheist Fallacy?
- Wikipedia: Thomas Aquinas’s Argument of the First Cause
- Search for “Why is there something instead of nothing?” here
science gives us proof without certainty.
— a modified version of an Ashley Montagu quote
Image from Federico Pitto, CC license