Who made God?
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, ESV)
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” (First credo of the Apostles’ Creed)
Inquisitive children and militant atheists have at least one thing in common: Both are known to ask the question, “If God made everything, then who made God?”
When this question is asked by a child, it is usually asked out of genuine curiosity, and as such it is a positive sign because it shows that the child who asks it is taking a genuine interest in the “ultimate questions” of life and in spiritual things. But when this question is asked by an atheist (especially if the atheist in view is of the more “militant” secular fundamentalist variety so common today) one suspects that it is often asked, not out of genuine curiosity, but out of a desire to stump the theist (i.e., believer in God), ridicule belief in God, and to demonstrate the atheist’s superior intellect. (One can observe among the militant atheists of today a common self-perception that they are just plain smarter, more logical and intellectually superior to us benighted theists; no doubt they would especially view themselves as being on a higher plan of intellectual evolution than those of us whom they would likely classify as “Bible thumping” Christians.)
We can understand when a child asks this question (indeed, we can even celebrate such a child’s inquisitiveness!). But when a supposedly educated and intelligent adult who espouses atheism asks it as if it were a “silver bullet” which somehow destroys the credibility of belief in God, such an atheist demonstrates (contrary to their self-perception of intellectual superiority) an inexcusable and blind ignorance. Even a moment’s thought exposes the assumption which undergirds this question: namely, the assumption that God Himself is subject to the same constraints of contingency, and of cause and effect, to which His creation is subject. But the God of Christian Theism (the God revealed in the Bible) is, by definition, the uncreated, self-existent and eternal Creator!
So, how do we respond to the question, “If God created all things, then who created God?”? The answer is simple: No one “created” God, because God, by definition, is the uncreated, transcendent Creator of all things, the “I AM.” I do not expect a militant atheist to accept the existence of such a God (only God’s sovereign grace can bring a hardened atheist, or any sinner for that matter, to repentance and faith); but is it too much to expect that supposedly intelligent, logical and well educated atheists at least make an effort to understand what their theistic opponents believe about God, and to get the definition of “God” correct? The question “…who created God?” assumes that “God” is wholly immanent, bound by the limits of the created order, and thus it assumes that we need to account for His origin. But, again, the God that Bible-believing Christians affirm and confess is, by definition, infinite, eternal, self-existent, and transcendent; and hence, by definition, He is uncreated. To ask “who created Him?” is to demonstrate ignorance of the kind of Being whose existence we are debating. You can disbelieve in such a God’s existence, but your asking a question which assumes that such a Being is constrained and bounded by created realities such as contingency, cause and effect, or by time, space or matter, is to assume that the biblical God is just like the so-called “gods” of ancient paganism (Zeus, Thor, Ra, etc.) who were conceived of by their worshipers as being limited, though powerful, deities. To put it another way, the very question “who created God?” does not disprove the existence of God; it simply assumes the non-existence of the biblical God.
Ultimately we are left with two choices: (1) Either the universe is eternal and self-existent (and hence it somehow “created” itself and sustains itself by its own inherent natural powers); or (2) An eternal, sovereign, transcendent, uncreated God created the universe out of nothing by His infinite creative power. The first option is irrational, since our empirical experience tells us that something cannot come from nothing (nothing being literally “no thing”) and that everything (in this created realm at least) has an origin. It is also essentially pagan, since it destroys the Creator/creature distinction by ascribing essentially Divine powers to the created order (“nature” is viewed as self-creating, self-sustaining, and eternal – attributes which biblical theism ascribes to God); thus, in this sense, atheism is paganism taken to its logical extreme. But those who opt for the first option still have to answer the questions: “Where did it all come from?” “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Those who answer “it came into existence out of nothing” are being no more rational than those who think bunny rabbits can pop into existence by magic. Those who say “the universe has always been” are simply begging (and avoiding!) the question. (The view that the universe is eternal is a flimsy position to hold, since no one can “prove” that the universe is eternal, and also since many mainstream scientists today, such as proponents of the “big bang” theory, believe that the evidence points in the direction of the universe having a beginning.) In view of such atheistic irrationality, those of us who affirm an infinite, eternal, transcendent, loving, personal God are practically rationalists by comparison.
The Bible nowhere tries to “prove” the existence of God with philosophical arguments. It simply begins with the statement, “In the beginning, God…” The ultimate reason for this is that the existence of the biblical God is the necessary precondition of all proof, rationality, and evidence. If God does not exist, then nothing (including rationality and the laws of logic themselves) would exist either. If God does not exist, then it would be impossible to “prove” anything at all, for concepts like “proof” and “rationality” and “evidence” and the “laws of logic” assume that we live in a rational, ordered universe that the human mind is capable of understanding. But if the human mind and human rationality are the products of a blind, impersonal, random-chance evolutionary processes, then on what objective basis can we trust our reasoning powers? As Timothy Keller states in his thought-provoking book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism: “Evolutionists say that if God makes sense to us, it is not because he is really there, it’s only because that belief helped us survive and so we are hardwired for it. However, if we can’t trust our belief-forming faculties to tell us the truth about God, why should we trust them to tell us the truth about anything, including evolutionary science? If our cognitive faculties only tell us what we need to survive, not what is true, why trust them about anything at all?” (p. 142; New York: Riverhead Books, copyright 2008 by Timothy Keller) To put it another way, the existence of the biblical God is the necessary precondition of intelligibility.
No one created God. He is the uncreated Creator of heaven and earth, the eternal, self-existent One. The ultimate “proof” for His existence is that without Him, we could not “prove” anything at all, for He is the necessary precondition of all intelligibility. By His grace may we love Him, not only with all our heart and soul, but also with all our mind.