Christians often make an argument for the existence of God based on the origin of the universe. We may say, for example, “Because there was a beginning of the universe, there must have been a Beginner,” or, “Because the universe was created, there must have been a Creator.”
When discussing this topic, I occasionally hear non-believers follow up with the question, “If God created the universe, who created God?”
It is completely understandable why someone might ask this question, but it unfortunately misunderstands the Christian argument. This question seems to imply that the Christian argument is “Everything that exists must have a cause.” However, the Christian argument is somewhat different: “Anything which has a beginning must have a cause.” Christians believe that the universe had a beginning, and therefore had a beginner (who we identity as God). Christians do not believe God had a beginning, so there is no need for God Himself to have had a beginner.
The Bible teaches that God is eternal, that He had no beginning and will have no end. This idea may appear foreign at first glance, but I would suggest that everyone, if they really think about it, likely believes something is eternal, even if that thing is not God. I’ve talked to people who do not believe that the universe had a beginning. I’ve talked with people who believe a multitude of other universes exist and that this eternal multiverse generator has always existed. I’ve talked to people who say they just aren’t sure what existed before our universe, but something must have existed eternally.
Ultimately, everyone points to something eternal that is the cause of all other things.
Philosophers have long pointed out, however, that there cannot be an infinite number of events going back into the past (sometimes referred to as a problem of infinite regression). Think of it this way: imagine we have a line of dominoes which can represent all the events of the past leading up to today (symbolized by the final domino). Like any line of dominoes, once one is pushed, the others will all fall down in sequence (much like the way each event of the past inevitably leads to the next). Once the first domino is pushed over, the entire line will eventually fall.
Imagine we were to set the line of dominos carefully, but right as we were about to push the first domino, we decided to instead add one more domino to the front of the line. Once again, as we were about to push the first domino, we stopped to add yet another domino to the front of the line. Now imagine we continued to add dominoes to the front of the line indefinitely. If we never stopped adding dominos, the last domino would never fall because the entire sequence would never begin. In a similar way, if there were to be an infinite number of events in the past, the events leading up to today would never occur and we would never get to today. Since we obviously exist in the present (today), there must have been a finite, limited number of events in the past.
Simply put, the only logical belief to hold is to believe that something must have always existed. But a universe defined by space, time, and matter cannot be that something. The philosophy of infinite regress demonstrates that time (and our universe) had a beginning. That’s why Christians have good reason to believe there’s an eternal, uncaused, cause of the universe: a Being we call God.
Detective Jimmy Wallace (J. Warner’s son) is a Police Investigator in Los Angeles County, a Christian Case Maker, host of the Incarnate Investigation Podcast and Incarnate Investigation Video Series (featured at ColdCaseChristianity.com).
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