Von James Bishop| If one believes in the classical monotheistic God who is the creator of the universe then what, argues the skeptic, created God? Surely God is also a specific ‘thing’ that needs to owe its creation to something else. Why does God not also require a creator?
This argument is often posited against the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological argument, an argument that monotheists widely cite as a logical proof for God’s existence. Kalam’s deductive argument is formulated as follows:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause
- The universe began to exist
- Therefore the universe has a cause
As stipulated, this simple argument attempts to justify a creator of the universe. Consequently, when one begins suggesting possible characteristics of this creator (i.e. its powerful, immaterial, spaceless, timeless etc.) he or she seems to arrive at the God concept posited by the monotheistic religions. To avoid these implications one must deny the premises to the argument.
Interestingly, when it was proposed, big bang theory initially met skepticism within the scientific community given the clear theological implications it had. Despite this the theory arrived at broad scientific consensus given the power of the evidence for the beginning to the universe. Thus, what the Kalam argument does is simply sharpen the scientific facts into a deductive argument. Skeptics nonetheless forward their own arguments to undermine its premises, and the “Who created God” is one such challenge posited to overthrow premise 1 of the argument. We return to this briefly.
Moreover, it is possible that the “Who created God” question is not an actual logical challenge posited to undermine monotheism as opposed to a genuine question on behalf of the questioner: If God created everything, then doesn’t God also require a creator for God is, after all, something?” I think the response here will hopefully be in answer to this question too.
Firstly, the Kalam argument, independent of its strength as an argument, should be properly understood. The argument says that all things that “begin” to exist require a cause, not that all things require a cause. In other word, things, especially contingent things (which the universe seems to be), require something other than itself as an explanation for why they exist. I’ve argued before that this is intuitively obvious. Why? Because contingent objects possess no causal power to create themselves from nothing, a logically defeating position some skeptics take to avoid the Kalam’s conclusion. As a result it seems that the “Who created God” challenge doesn’t affect the argument, namely, that the universe, which we know begun to exist, requires a cause. This brings us to our next point:
Namely that for a belief to be warranted one does not require an explanation of the explanation. This is not a controversial point. For example, say that explorers land on Mars and while exploring the planet’s surface come across what appears to be abandoned machinery and equipment of the likes they have never seen on Earth. However, they don’t know who or what left such equipment on Mars.
They are clearly rational, nonetheless, to conclude that some beings had, at a point in time, visited the planet and left the equipment there. The explorers, however, do not need to know from where these beings came (which planet, galaxy, or universe) to posit that explanation. Rather, they are inferring from the facts presented before them. Similarly, we do not need an explanation of the creator of the universe to be justified in believing that the universe has a creator.
This objection can further seem unnecessary. Imagine, for example, two individuals having a disagreement on who authored a particular book. X says John authored it whereas Y says it was Jill. Imagine then that Y retorts by saying that it couldn’t have been John because if John authored the book then we would need an explanation of John, “Well,” explains Y, “Who created John?” I would wager that most of us would consider this argument silly, and I think we should not apply these silly standards when it comes to God as creator of the universe.
Finally, the “Who created God?” argument is problematic on explanatory grounds. Because the skeptic demands an explanation of a first cause (whom theists identify as God) he ends up facing off with an infinite regress of causes. Why? Well, because if we need an explanation of a first cause then we need an explanation of the explanation (that which created the fist cause), and then an explanation of that explanation, and so on into infinity.
Thus, we end up with an infinite regress, and we would never have an explanation of anything. Thus, to avoid an infinite regress of causes there must be a metaphysically necessary being who is eternal and has no beginning or end. God must be that being and one who explains the fact of existence.