Here’s a quick trivia question: on the animated TV show The Simpsons, who’s the only character who has five fingers?   (Everybody else on the show has four.)  It’s God, which includes Jesus, or as Homer calls Him, “Jebus”.

There’s one very clever scene that typifies how the show depicts God.  Homer and the Lord are walking together.  Homer asks God if he can ask Him a question.  God says OK, but just one.  To which Homer replies, “Lord, what’s the meaning of life?”  With viewers hanging on the edge of their seats, the show fades out just as God begins to answer!

On The Simpsons, God is depicted in a very anthropomorphic way, meaning that God has human qualities and characteristics.  He is depicted walking with a physical body, speaking in an audible voice, showing emotion, and so forth.

As a kid in Sunday school, the first and most basic thing I was taught about God is that, in the beginning, He created us, the world and everything in it.  Late at night, I’d lie awake in bed trying to get my mind around this.  As I traced creation all the way back to the beginning, I wondered, what came before?  If God created us, then who created God?

But, as I later discovered, this question completely misses the point.  By definition, God is the one being who is uncreated, the one entity that exists outside of space and time—the very essence of God is transcendence.  As mind-boggling as the concept of eternity is, He’s always existed. 

The problem with the question, “Who created God?”, is that it sees God as a character within the space-time continuum.  Essentially, it imagines Him being more like The Simpsons portrays Him, not how  Christian faith understands Him. 

When I first heard of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the two most prominent of the so-called New Atheists, I thought they must have produced some devastating arguments against God.  So, with intense interest, I read their most popular books, The God Delusion and God is Not Great respectively, as soon as I could get my hands on them. 

But to my great surprise, overall, the God they were arguing against, the target of their devastating arguments, wasn’t qualitatively different from the God I imagined as a child. 

More or less, they conceived of God (as faith defines Him) as being an entity within the created order—something they hold in common with Stephen Hawking who likewise seemed to treat the God of Christian belief, which he rejected, as a being that exists inside the space-time realm.  In different ways, each tends to “anthropomorphize” the God they—justifiably so—knock down.  But what they are knocking down is a “straw man”.

This is how Dawkins frames it: “Any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right.  God presents an infinite regress from which he cannot escape.” (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006, p. 109)  Here, Dawkins is arguing that if you’re going to explain the complexity of creation by appealing to a God, then you have to admit that this God has to be just as, if not immensely more, complex.  But if you do that, then you have to explain how God came to be this complex—you have to propose something else that created Him this way.  Hence, any appeal to God sets up an infinite series of “Who created (that) God?” questions. 

Thus, his argument amounts to nothing more than a sophisticated version of the “Who created God?” question.  Dawkins still conceives of God as a being who, by definition, can only exist inside the space-time continuum; who’s existence still needs to be explained by something else. 

But this is precisely NOT how Christianity conceives of God.

By definition, the God of Christian faith infinitely transcends the limitations of space and time; He exists eternally, outside of the created order.  If Dawkins, Hitchens, and Hawking started here, with this definition of God, they wouldn’t end up presenting so many “straw-man” arguments.  (To be fair, they do make other points that are valid, points that I do take up in other blogs.)

The Holy Grail of physics is something called the “Grand Unified Theory”, otherwise known as the “Theory of Everything”.  It’s a theory that would point to something that explains everything else but doesn’t need explaining itself. 

At the most basic level, this is the Christian understanding of God—the One who explains everything else, but who doesn’t need explaining Himself.  In other words, the Uncaused Cause or Uncreated Creator. 

Former ABC News Science Correspondent Michael Guillen is a theoretical physicist who taught at Harvard.  He points out that in light of all the “fantastic” theories physicists are proposing—multiple universes, imaginary time, dark energy, etc.—this most-sought-after “Theory of Everything” is best found in God.  It is, by far, the simplest and most sensible explanation of all.  (Michael Guillen, Can a Smart Person Believe in God?, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004, p. 77)

And in future blogs I will share how developments in astrophysics over the last forty years or so provide  evidence to back this claim up.

I would love to hear what you think!  You can share your comments and/or questions on the “Contact E.J.” page of this website, or go to the Raising Jesus Facebook page and leave them there.

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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