I was having lunch with a friend who told me he was an atheist.
I asked why and that launched a lively debate that challenged both of us. We were both talking quickly and loudly, trying to get our points in as we only had one hour. I noticed that even the waiter was eavesdropping with keen interest. The conversation quickly turned to the origin of the universe. Was it an accident or was it designed?
"If God created everything, who created God?" he asked. At a glance, it seems like the "gotcha" question, the one that tears down all the arguments for God, turning the tables on the now cornered God believers.
An uncreated God is a very convenient answer, my friend said. It certainly is in the middle of a restaurant debate. But a restaurant debate is not the time or place to reflect on the possibility. We are also grossly handicapped by the world we live in — a world of cause and effect. We are trained to view everything in our highly-technological world as necessarily constructed by someone or some computer or machine. But that doesn't mean it is always so. Walking through a forest, a farmer's corn field or along a beach, we see that the world is immense and beautiful and functions without our hand tweaking the software or inserting a hard drive or memory stick.
The question, "who created God?" is not new. It was best answered 800 years ago by Thomas Aquinas. He was born in Italy in 1224, the youngest of seven children. At age six, he began his schooling at a Catholic monastery. As a young man he decided to join the Catholic Dominican order and studied in Paris. His family was so upset by his choice that his brothers kidnapped him and brought him home. After one year of hearing his pleas, they let him return to his studies. He was ordained a Catholic priest in what is now the German city of Cologne.
His logic is so compelling that his arguments for God hold true today. Aquinas argued that nothing in existence caused itself to exist. Everything has a cause. And at the beginning of every series of causes, is something outside of that series of causes. You can't get a first in a series of causes that simply springs from nothing.
For instance, your computer was caused by a plan and a planner with various tools and metals and plastics. The tools were caused by metals and tool makers and plastics and plastic makers and metal makers. The metals were excavated from raw materials found in the earth's outer layer, which is about thirty-five kilometres deep. The three main layers and the core of the earth formed out of a spinning dust cloud about 5,000 million years ago. That dust cloud was formed after the explosion of light we call the Big Bang that sent light and energy and eventually small particles in all directions. What caused the Big Bang? Aquinas would say the Big Bang was caused by the "First Cause" of all things.
A series of any causes must be eventually traced back to an uncaused cause, Aquinas argued. He said that there has to be a "First Cause" to set in motion all other causes of things. He argued that this "First Cause" must exist outside of the universe, outside of time, outside of space. A cause of things in time requires us to then ask, what caused time? For that matter, what caused space? What caused sound? What caused light?
The "First Cause" was not governed by the laws of our universe, primarily physics, because the "First Cause" exists before there were any laws of physics. In fact, the "First Cause" caused the laws of physics. The "First Cause" gave us time and space and everything in it. Aquinas called God the "First Cause" of all things.
So, who made God? He did not need to be caused, created or made.
The cause of the Big Bang exists in what was before the Big Bang, which is to say nothing that we can touch, feel, hear, taste or smell. The "First Cause" of life, the universe and everything must exist outside of time and space that was created when our universe first appeared. This means there must be another realm of existence. Some people call it the spiritual or supernatural world.
Boston College philosophy professor Peter Kreeft writes:
"If there is no first cause, then the universe is like a great chain with many links; each link is held up by the link above it, but the whole chain is held up by nothing. If there is no first cause, then the universe is like a railroad train moving without an engine. Each car's motion is explained proximately by the motion of the car in front of it; the caboose moves because the boxcar pulls it, the boxcar moves because the cattle car pulls it, et cetera. But there is no engine to pull the first car and the whole train. That would be impossible, of course. But that is what the universe is like if there is no first cause: impossible."
Patrick Meagher. "Who created God." from Why God is Hiding: Atheism and how it almost ruined my life (Ottawa, ON: Justin Press, 2016).
Reprinted with permission of the author, Patrick Meagher and Justin Press.
Patrick Meagher is the author of Perhaps, I love you more: a collection of pope stories. He is the publisher of Farmers Forum newspaper, the largest circulation farm newspaper in Ontario. Why God is Hiding is published by Justin Press and can be viewed at justinpress.ca.Copyright © 2016 Justin Press
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