HAVE YOU WONDERED? If everything has a cause, then what caused God?

Russ Whitten
Russ Whitten

In my last article, I began presenting three basic arguments traditionally used for reasons to believe in the existence of God. The first being: Whatever begins to exist must have a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

I deeply appreciated the comments I received and would like to address one of the questions raised from this article. Someone asked a wonderful question, “If everything has a cause then what caused God?” This is a great question because the answers can tell us a lot about God.

Consider the following descriptions of God in the Bible:

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2)

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)

“‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:23-24)

“… who is able to build a temple for him [God], since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him.” (2 Chronicles 2:6)

“But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (Psalm 102:27)

“ ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” (Revelation 1:8)

These verses tell us that God is eternal, unchanging and uncreated. God is everywhere at the same time. He is Spirit. He is timeless. He is over and above the universe. He fills heaven and earth with his presence. He is always near. He has no beginning and no end. He is uncaused.

Thus, the clear Biblical answer to the question “Where did God come from?” is “God has always been.” To some, this answer is simply not satisfying. However, it is important to point out that while the idea of an eternal, uncaused, infinite God is certainly not easy to grasp, it is even more mystifying and mind-boggling to consider how our universe got here without a First Cause.

For example, consider the problem philosophers call infinite regression. I am told that some ancient cultures believed that the earth was held up by a giant turtle. I can imagine that when an inquisitive child asked, “What is holding up the turtle?” The parent might answer, “Another turtle.” Invariably, the child would respond, “Well, what is holding up that turtle?” The answer “Another turtle” might be the same until the parent finally declared, “Look, it’s turtles all the way down!” (You may remember that Dr. Seuss’ book Yertle the Turtle picked up on this theme). In philosophical terms, the idea that “it’s turtles all the way down” is called infinite regression. The turtle story is humorous to us because our minds immediately recognize that when seeking the cause behind an effect, infinite regression is no answer at all. When we are stopped by a long freight train and see before us a long chain of railroad boxcars, we intuitively know that there is an engine somewhere causing the boxcars to move, even though we may not be able to see it.

When it comes to the question, “How did the universe get here?” we only have a limited amount of options.

The universe is eternal.

The universe is uncaused.

The universe is caused by something or someone.

The first two options are unsupported by modern science. However, it is equally unhelpful to hold the position that the cause of the universe also had a cause. For example, those who do not believe in God may, instead, believe that the universe was caused by some sort of quantum fluctuation, which must have been caused by something else, which must have been caused by something else, and on and on it goes. The consensus among modern scientists is that the universe, matter, space and time had a beginning. If this is true, does it not make sense then that the Cause of matter, space and time must be immaterial, space-less, timeless, eternal and uncaused? The 13th century Italian theologian, Thomas Aquinas summed it up this way:

Everything that is caused is caused by something else.

An infinite regress of causation is impossible.

Therefore, there must be an uncaused cause of all caused things.

This causer is what we call God.

Only things that had a beginning — like our universe — need a beginner. God had no beginning, so God did not need to be made.

Russ Whitten is minister of Destin Church of Christ. He can be reached at russwhitten@gmail.com.