Where did God come from?

Submitted by Benjamin on Sun, 02/03/2013 - 07:05

In our universe, we look for a cause to everything. When we see a computer, we don’t simply attribute its appearance to random chance processes. Instead, we look for a designer. Or suppose we come upon a magnificent canyon such as the Grand Canyon. We do not for one moment suppose that it just got there. No, we look for a cause, whether it is a river carving a path over millions of years, or a catastrophic even such as the Flood. We always expect a cause for everything we see. This expectation is ingrained in us even from a young age. Consider the most common question of a young toddler: “Why?” For everything we see, we know that something must have caused it. Even for the universe itself, we find a cause: God. But here we come to a seemingly difficult question. Where did God come from?

Many today are challenged by this question. If all things require a cause, how can God be causeless? The simple answer to this question is that God can’t be causeless – that is, if all things require a cause. But do all things in fact have a cause? As we consider this question, the answer soon becomes clear: all things do not require a cause. In fact, we find that an uncaused cause is a logical necessity.
Let us just for a moment, imagine that God did have a cause. This cause must be a personal being, greater in every aspect than our God, since the cause cannot be greater than the effect. In short, the cause to God must be a bigger God. Yet does this really solve anything? For we immediately are faced with a new conundrum. Where did that bigger God come from? Well, there must have been an even bigger God to create that God. But then, again, we are faced with the same problem as before: Where did this God come from? If we assume that all things must have a cause, we find ourselves faced with an infinite regression of causes.
Yet, an infinite regression of causes is impossible, for such infinite regression naturally leads to contradictions. Consider, for example, a pile containing an infinite number of marbles. No matter how many marbles are added to this pile, be it one or one hundred thousand, the number of marbles remains the same: infinity. In the same way, an infinite regression leads to contradictions, for we find ourselves with an infinite number of causes, each of which causes another cause, adding to the infinity of causes. Yet the number of causes never changes. We cannot add a finite number to infinity. It is logically impossible. Therefore, we see that logically, it is impossible for there to be an infinite regression of causes. There must be a cause somewhere up the line of causes that is itself uncaused. This is the uncaused cause.

The question we must ask then, is who, or what, this uncaused cause is. Is God the ultimate cause, or is He Himself caused? To answer this question, we can turn to the principle of Ockham’s razor. We have here two competing hypotheses, neither of which is any more likely than the other. Which do we accept? Ockham’s razor claims that the hypothesis that makes the least assumptions should always be accepted. In this case, our choice should be quite clear. If we assume that God is the uncaused cause, we make one, and only one assumption. We must assume that God was not caused. However, if we assume that another being is the ultimate cause, then we must first assume that this being exists. This assumption in itself is inane, lacking the backing of even the tiniest scrap of evidence. In addition to this assumption, we must also assume that this being did not have a cause. As we can see, it is far more logical to simply believe that God is the uncaused, ultimate cause of all things.
This is exactly what the Scriptures claim of God. In Psalm 90:2, the Psalmist writes, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” God is beyond time, from everlasting to everlasting. This is what the great theologians termed the “eternality of God.” Stephen Charnock, the great Puritan divine excellently portrayed for us this existence, saying, “as the nature of time consists in the succession of parts, so the nature of eternity is an infinite immutable duration. Time began with the foundation of the world; but God being before time, could have no beginning in time. Before the beginning of the creation and the beginning of time, there could be nothing but eternity.” This is why Christ claims, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, … who was and who is and who is to come, the Almighty.” God has existed forever, having neither beginning nor end. He simply is: the beginning, the end, and everything in between. He is.

What comfort can this eternal truth bring to us! In a world of shifting sands, where nothing is firm, He is. Consider a house. We look at the roof and we wonder what holds up that roof. What is, if you will, the cause of that roof? And looking down, we find the structure. Yet what holds up this structure? On what is it based? Looking still further down, we find the foundation. But we again wonder, what it is that supports the foundation. Why is it so firm? Digging beneath this foundation, we come upon bedrock. But what lies beneath this bedrock? We look and find…nothing. Nothing. The bedrock is the uncaused cause, if you will, of the entire house. We can confidently build on it because it is the ultimate foundation. In the same way, God is the ultimate foundation, the uncaused cause. In Him we find the firm foundation upon which we can build our lives, for He neither comes from some place, nor is He going anywhere. He simply is, the uncaused cause of all things.

Author's age when written


Congratulations for becoming a monthly!! It's a great honour I'm sure, so congratulations!

Okay, what a big topic to cover! You have such a knack for making the reader feel you were talking to them, but in such a formal and professional way.

It is very hard to feel satisfied with this matter, so I am impressed to see you've attempted to explain it. You've done a great job! The only real way anyone can explain where God came from is pointing to scripture. So I think how you've wrote this was fantastic, because of how hard the subject was, and because you're always good at writing essays anyway. I throughly enjoyed it. Well done! :D

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

1. You are right that not everything has a cause. "All things must have a cause" is a twisting of the real rule, "All effects must have a cause." And of course, God is not an effect, therefore He does not need a cause.

2. On the second line, the word "it's" should be "its". If it's not it + is, it's not "it's", it's "its".

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Thank you very much Maddi. I confused myself at several points as I was writing this. I'm glad that you didn't seem confused by those parts.

I'm sorry James. I should know that.

“D’ye know what Calvary was? What? What? What? It was damnation; and he took it lovingly.”
~John Duncan

Amazing essay. I have never thought about this so deeply- where did God come from. I have nothing else to say, but - amazing job. -- Megan

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm glad this is online, so I can refer to them whenever I need to. All of your essays very well done, and very useful.