Monday, June 1, 2009

How did God come to exist?

Well, today marks the end of the “Stump Solid” contest, and I’ve certainly enjoyed it. As I said at one point in a comment, I’m always glad to take questions, and would much rather answer readers’ questions than my own. All your questions were great, but in the end There Can Be Only One.

I’ll announce the winner at the end of this post.

This final question comes from SuperEgo. You may remember him from our discussion on evolution.

Without citing the Bible, i.e. I am the Alpha and Omega yadda yadda yadda, how did God come to exist? Your answer "He has always been." I know the response, but how is this less of a stretch than life evolving?

I briefly addressed this in a comment, but I feel like it deserves a little more attention. And hey, it’s a fun one for me.

There’s no need at all to address this question with the Bible, or even from a particularly Christian perspective. I don’t want to get argumentative, but it’s time to go to school. So I’m gonna do this with one proverbial hand tied behind my back.

Previously I’d mentioned that one of the problems with understanding the answer to this question is the limitation of the human mind. Specifically, even though we can abstractly conceive of eternity, we are incapable of comprehending anything infinite, even as a child is incapable of abstract thought. I’ll go into that another time, and explore it by answering the question, “Can God create a rock so heavy that even he can’t lift it?”

Today I want to stick with what can be comprehended, at least conceptually. It just takes a little stretching, and maybe a bit of a paradigm shift.

Consider God. I don’t mean the Christian God revealed the Bible. I just mean the infinite creator of the universe. Your question assumes the present existence of God, so I won’t go through all that. If such a God exists, then we can group all things in existence into two categories: that which is created, and that which is uncreated.You may have guessed that the only thing that belongs in that uncreated category is God (by definition). Everything else goes in the other category.

See, it’s not enough to just think of God as creator of matter. If God is God, then he also created the laws of physics, the rules of logic, the very concept of order, and…are you ready for this? Time itself. Space too, for that matter.

This is where you’ve got to stretch your brain a little bit. You can’t really talk about God “before” he created time. There was no before. That concept is intrinsic to time. That’s where we get into eternity, and our brains can’t go there. They just don’t have the juice for it. But we can understand the implications of that priority.

If we do not consider God apart from concepts like “before” and “after,” we make time greater than God. Further, we negate the possibility of God existing outside time. Therefore, God is not God. Or to state it otherwise, by referring to God even as an abstract concept, one must assume time as a created and subservient force.

Anybody lost yet? Sorry folks. Gotta do this. Hey, look! A puppy!

Now it must be said that this isn’t a new idea. Philosophers have been dealing with this question for well over two-thousand years. Predictably, my answer is similar to Augustine’s, which states that time is a concept limited exclusively to the created universe, and ceases to function apart from it.

Well said, Augustine.

You see, the real problem here is not with God. It’s with eternity. If anything is eternal, there is no before. I can illustrate that by taking God out of the equation entirely.

Think about time itself. When does it begin? What happened before?

Oh, wait. We goofed. Without time, there can be no change. Change assumes a before and after. So it can’t begin. Besides that, if anything’s on the backside of time (before it, or whatever), time is not eternal.


Somebody once told me, “People don’t search for truth. They search for what makes sense.” And here’s the problem with that. If you refuse to believe anything that doesn’t fit in your brain, you haven’t eliminated God. You’ve made yourself god.

If you read this, and your response is that it’s illogical, stupid, or anything of the sort, you’re guilty of that. But there is hope. I have an exercise that will help a lot. So if you really want to be able to think beyond the limitations of your mind and become something greater that what you already are, I can put you on that path.

Are you ready? Here we go.

Step one: Take your pointer finger and put it in the air.

Step two: Put your pointer finger in your bellybutton.

Step three: Repeat the following phrase three times.

“This is not the center of the universe.”

“This is not the center of the universe.”

“This is not the center of the universe.”

And, as they say in Greek, there you go.

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. And if you’ve read this far, you certainly deserve it. The winner of the “Stump Solid” contest is…


Since Kat lives in Egypt, and I’m not sure if Netflix actually delivers to Egypt, I’m upgrading her to the next level, with unlimited online viewing for one month. Congratulations Kat! Send me the email address you want me to use for your gift, via email, Facebook, or whatever. If you can’t find any of those, try solidfooting (at) gmx (dot) com.

Make sure you check back tomorrow! I have a very special announcement to make!



  1. Solid,

    Sorry I havn't contributed to your blog for a while. I appreciate your attempt to answer the question. I know the whole "limitations" argument, I have been through enough private school and Bible classes. Two problems.

    1) You never answered my question. My question was not if there was/is a god out there. My question was . . . why is believing in evolution more of a stretch than believing in an eternal being?

    2) To balance out your Christian theology, when Adam and Eve ate the apple they did gain the knowledge of God, taking away their "limitations."

  2. Welcome back, SuperEgo.

    1) You sort of asked two questions. I assumed the other one was the main one. Why is believing in evolution more of a stretch than believing in an eternal being? That's an awesome question. Believing in evolution takes faith too, huh?

    2) By "the knowledge of God" do you mean knowledge about God or knowledge akin to God's knowledge? For the former, they already knew God, didn't they? For the latter, well...are you implying the gained omniscience when they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? If that were so, they would have become omnipotent as well, by definition. Right? Am I misunderstanding you here?

  3. Solid, you discovered the point I was making! Good for you, you get a cookie for the day! Both take a certain amount of faith, so evolution is no more of a stretch than creationism. I'm glad you are with me on this point now.

    In regards to the second point you are being silly. Of course I did not mean omniscience or omnipotent, I meant that they were able to think freely. The vail came off of their eyes. This removed the "limitations of the mind" so man could discover God's creation and how he created it, as according to Christian thought.

  4. I think the primary difference is that creationists admit their position requires faith, while evolutionists generally do not. But yeah, I agree with you.

    On the Adam and Eve thing, I disagree. If we're going to examine this biblical story, we should approach it according to what it says.

    Thanks for reading!