Facts About Religion: Where did God come from?

The blog Facts About Religion (FAR) asks, “Where did God come from? Why does he exist? How can it be that something as incredibly sophisticated as an intelligent mind ‘just exists’ without a creator, a cause, or an origin story?”

The question “Where did God come from?” is really asking “What caused God?” But from the Christian perspective, this gets the question backwards. God is the answer to the question of what caused everything else. If God has a cause then we would assume that whatever caused God also caused everything else, which would make that thing God. So you see that God is that beyond which you can’t get any further in looking for causes. Something must have caused everything else, or everything else would have no cause and therefore would not exist.

We don’t say that God “just exists”, we say (as FAR notes further on) that he must exist, since anything exists. This may be hard to understand, but what’s easier to understand is that something must exist necessarily, or nothing would exist now.

FAR asks, “If its possible that a non-physical intelligent mind can ‘just exist’ as a brute fact, is it possible that the non-physical laws of physics ‘just exist’ without a creator? Why should a non-physical person be more likely than a non-physical law?”

We should note that the laws of physics are not laws in the sense of human laws, which are indeed non-physical directives imposed on human beings.

The laws of physics, on the other hand, are not non-physical directives which command physical objects to act one way or another. Rather, a law of physics is simply an observation of what physical things do. When you drop a ball, it falls to the ground. We call this the Law of Gravity, but really all it means is that physical objects are attracted to each other. As Wikipedia puts it, “Physical laws are typically conclusions based on repeated scientific experiments ….”; “Some ‘scientific laws’ appear to be mathematical definitions ….”. Thus, physical laws are not causes of physical occurrences, but are merely descriptions, arrived at by the physical sciences, of how things are:  “The production of a summary description of our environment in the form of such laws is a fundamental aim of science.”

If by a “law of physics” you mean something that is a direct cause of physical phenomena, then you’re not talking about a law of physics but rather a force, such as “Frictional Force, Tension Force, Normal Force, Air Resistance Force, Applied Force, Spring Force, Gravitational Force, Electrical Force, Magnetic Force.” But these obviously are physical forces, not non-physical laws.

FAR asks, “For the philosophically erudite, since God is defined as a metaphysically necessary thing, is it possible that the laws of physics are a necessary thing? Why should a non-physical person be more likely than a non-physical law?”

“Necessary” doesn’t mean “likely”, it means “impossible not to be”. Something must exist necessarily in order for other things to exist at all, and whatever that thing is, we call God. He is called necessary because he is existence itself, and therefore cannot not-exist. Physical forces do not fall into this category, nor the entire universe for that matter: They are not “existence itself”, and you can’t say of them that it is impossible for them not to exist. Some scientific theories, indeed, posit the previous nonexistence of our universe, as well as its future nonexistence. Whereas God is defined as “necessary existence”, the universe can’t exist necessarily even in principle.

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4 thoughts on “Facts About Religion: Where did God come from?

  1. Ignatius:

    As I understand it, a thing only exists necessarily when its existence is identical with its essence; that is, it is of its very nature to exist. A human being may exist or not; they come into existence and go out of existence. Their nature of “humanness” does not require human beings to exist. But God’s nature, which is the nature of a being who is “existence itself”, requires God to exist. In other words, it’s possible for a human being not to exist, but it’s not possible for existence not to exist, since that’s a self-contradiction. Whereas there is no self-contradiction in the idea of the universe not existing.

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  2. It seems to me that your idea that physical laws are merely descriptive begs the question of why the observed behavior occurs. On the same line are questions as to where gravity and the other forms of physical action were before the objects they influence came into existence. The ideologues of science avoid these and similar issues just as they do the necessity of a first cause that everything else might have existence. Scientific advances make a Creator more logical than our living in a self-creating universe. The unanswered “whys” of physical reality should give anybody with scientific knowledge pause before they deny the existence of God. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen.

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