Friday, March 23, 2007

“If God created everything who created God?”

I want to take a brief detour to answer the classic metaphysical question by a dorm room smarty pants in response to Christian apologetics, “If God created everything who created God?” The question is a clever play on the word “everything” in response to a Christian apologist who says that “God created everything”. Of course, when the Christian apologist says “God created everything”, he is assuming that God is the root, the uncreated thing. Here, dorm room smarty pants is pretending to ignore this assumption and is extracting the idea “everything is created” to turn it back against the premise of God. In this way, smarty pants is challenging the intellectual and philosophical integrity of the Christian apologist.

But does smarty pants have any integrity himself? Is there any intellectual integrity to the possibility that God could, hypothetically be created? Here’s what’s at stake. If there is no intellectual and philosophical integrity to the possibility that God could be created, then smarty pants can’t use that possibility to attack the integrity of the Christian apologist. To begin to even approach the question “who created God?” requires that two major adjustments are made in the definition of God: A) that the God of Israel is not created; he simply is who he is and B) that the God of Israel is Lord above of all: that for him to be created would mean that he was subservient to someone, and was not, therefore, Lord of all.

In other words, if God is created then God must have a God. If one carries the logic of this smarty pants premise through, there are yet more adjustments to the definition of God that are required that deviate from the God of Israel that is being advanced by the Christian apologist. To begin to unravel why this is, let's give smarty pants some leeway and examine a hypothetical alternate universe where God was created by a God who was created by a God who was created by a God who was created by a God, etc… into infinity. Gods creating Gods into infinity cannot result in one God having ultimate executive authority. Each created God will be subservient in authority to the one above him. Either there is an ultimate God where the creation ends, as an un-created God from whom all directives originate to all the created Gods beneath him, or there is a diminishing thread of executive authority extending up from each created God to that God who created him, wherein the thread of original executive authority vanishes into infinity.

Let’s say that smarty pants tries to solve this problem by admitting that, in this alternate universe, there must be an ultimate, uncreated God wherein the creation of lesser Gods creation stops and where the “buck” of executive authority in the universe stops. So let’s say we have an alternate universe where there is a “great grandfather God” and series of “in between Gods” and a “bottom-most God” who would be a sort of “representative God” who would interact directly with the created universe.

So the question is thrown back in the lap of smarty pants? If there is a “great grandfather God” why would he need to create a God to create a God to create the “bottom-most God" in the pecking order to be the “representative God” to create and interact with the created universe? For there to be an unbroken line of executive authority and intent extending from the great grandfather God to all the other Gods ending with the “bottom-most” God requires that each created God was created as a complete clone of the one immediately above, operating with complete determinism in relation to the God immediately above in the pecking order. In this case, each created God is not actually a God but is more of a robotic agent, ultimately, of the great grandfather God. Or, each God in the pecking order is an independently operating volitional Person, thus resulting in a tiered polytheistic universe, where the original executive intent is ever more remote and removed from the great grandfather God with each successive level of God.

Putting the problem of pantheism aside, the smarty pants is in conflict with another attribute of the God of Israel in question that is being presented by the Christian apologist: God is love, and God loves what is good, and it is God’s joy and desire to interact directly with his creation. Yet another definition of the God of Israel is that God acts according to his nature and his character. If we grant as a definition that God only acts according to his nature, the alternate universe of staggered Gods would require that each God have a different nature that the one above and below, and that only the God at the bottom would have the nature and character to directly enjoy relating with creation. The Gods who created the Gods to create creation for them would not have the attributes to love that creation quite like the “representative God” at the bottom of the pecking order who got to interact directly with the created universe. Here, the God immediately above the God who created creation would need to create a God who had a different nature than himself.

To look at it from a different point of view, if the God who created the God of Israel actually had the same character as the God of Israel, we are left with this problem: based on the degree to which the God of Israel demonstrates his love and jealousy for his creation, for such a God to create another God to create creation and relate with that creation for him and on his behalf would be the equivalent of a husband giving his wedding ring to another man to be husband to his wife.

If smarty pants were to try to solve this problem by saying that each God above the God of the universe could have his own creation to love in a parallel universe according to his nature to love, then why would the God above the God in the alternate universe need to create the God of that universe to be God for him in that universe? What would be the investment of that grandfather God in the universe if he had his own created parallel universe to love? For a God to create a God to create a universe would place a God between him and that universe that it was in his nature to love directly.

And so it goes that the question “who created God?” requires moving the goalposts. It requires adjusting the definition of the God that is being presented by the Christian apologist such that the idea of God that is required to take the smarty pants seriously is a concept of God that is utterly un-reconcilable with the God of Israel. As such the question, “who created God?” is far more often used as a ploy to confuse the Christian apologist than it is used as the basis of a serious inquiry.

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