I received an interesting letter in response to my post “Who Created God?” As I began to fashion a reply I saw this as an opportunity to demonstrate to others how to answer what appears to be a very intellectual comment.
I will begin by outlining what I look for in a response. All of these strategies work when engaged in a conversation. My first pass through the letter, I look for arguments. An argument is a conclusion supported by one or more premises (support for the conclusion). Questions I ask myself as I look at the letter are 1) does the writer state conclusions with or without support (an opinion), 2) does the conclusion follow from the premises, and 3) even if his argument is valid, does it contain false ideas that I need to contend.
As I go through the following letter I will be pointing out what I think are errors the writer makes in forming his case. I will also ask questions, so that the writer can reply and clarify what he means. Questions are a great tool for one-on-one discussions.
Dear Himangsu Sekhar Pal,
Thanks for posting an interesting answer to the question posed on the web site. I will attempt to answer what I deem relevant to the discussion.
First is the problem of the opening three sentences. You write the following as an answer to who created God:
“Earlier it was impossible for us to give any satisfactory answer to this question. But modern science, rather we should say that Einstein, has made it an easy task for us. And Stephen Hawking has provided us with the clue necessary for solving this riddle.”
Here Himangsu you made some strong claims. I need to begin my reply with some questions. Are you saying it will be easy to establish who created God? Or are you saying it will be easy to establish God is uncreated? How does modern science, which studies the physical, gives us answers for an immaterial God?
I am not certain what God you are alluding to. The God of Christianity is uncreated by definition. We have a satisfactory answer. If there is any explanation to the creation of God then we’re not talking about the God of the Bible. If you are creating your own god then you are certainly entitled to come up with a formula for explaining his or her coming into existence. My post had to do with the God of the Bible and therefore, your efforts are wasted. However, I’ve decided to work through your letter and answer some of your comments to see what else I can discover.
Your next problem comes with this statement:
“Then he [Stephen Hawking] raised the question regarding the origin of these particles, and gave the answer himself. According to quantum theory particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But there the question does not stop. Another question props up regarding the origin of that energy. But when it is said that total energy of the universe is exactly zero, then all is said and done.”
Here you make an assumption, assigning zero to the total energy of the universe. Your motivation for assigning zero is to avoid the infinite regress of explaining where the energy comes from. What is your justification for assigning the total energy of the universe to be exactly zero? It seems you pull the value of zero out of the air.
“It is almost a common saying that God is spaceless, timeless, changeless, immortal, and all-pervading. Here we are getting three zeroes; space is zero, time is zero, change is zero. But how to prove that if there is a God, then that God will be spaceless, timeless, and changeless?”
Again you assign space, time, and change as zero seemingly without justification. How can space, time, and change be zero? Later you do the very same thing to light. Your explanation for light being assigned zero makes no sense; again another assumption.
Now you make a major metaphysical mistake, stating science has proven something about God. You say,
“Scientists have shown that if there is a God, then that God can only be light, and nothing else, and that therefore He will have all the properties of light.”
What experiment showed God is only light? Where did I miss that scientific discovery? Please site the experiment that proved God is only light. A broad definition of science comes from “Signature in the Cell” by Stephen Meyer: “A systematic way of studying nature involving observation, experimenting, and/or reasoning about physical phenomena.” Based on this definition it is impossible for science to provide answers concerning an immaterial being let alone prove God is all light.
Later in your comments you say scientists can say there is no God. Again based on what? Science cannot by direct experimentation, in the physical realm, deny the existence of God.
You continue with your assumptions and assigning things zero:
“So the matter of the fact is this: if God is really there, then total mass and total energy of the universe including that God are both zero.”
Here you arrive at a scientific conclusion that God, an immaterial being, is a zero. Again you are assigning a non-physical being with your imaginary value of zero. How can you say God is zero is a matter of fact? I am still looking for an argument to make your case.
“Therefore if we say that God is all-loving, merciful, benevolent, etc., then we are also admitting that God is not alone, that there is another being co-eternal with God to whom He can show His love, benevolence, goodness, mercy, compassion, etc. If we say that God is all-loving, then we are also saying that this “all” is co-eternal with God. Thus we are admitting that God has not created the universe at all, and that therefore we need not have to revere Him, for the simple reason that He is not our creator!”
According to the Bible, there is not a second separate divine being that is co-eternal with God. Over and over again the Bible affirms there is only one God by nature or essence (Read Isaiah 43-48). However, the Biblical God is a Triune God. A definition of the Trinity comes from the book “The Forgotten Trinity” by Dr. James White: “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The Triune God can exercise the attribute of love, even before creation, by each person loving each other. Some additional attributes of God’s nature is He is all-loving, benevolent, good, compassionate, and merciful.
Then you jump to the conclusion that God is not the creator of the universe and therefore, we shouldn’t revere him. Your comments on the attributes of God do not have anything to do with God being the creator of the universe; it is a non-sequitur. Why does God’s attributes lead you to the conclusion God didn’t create the universe?
Next you write:
“It is usually said that God is good. But Bertrand Russell has shown that God cannot be good for the simple reason that if God is good, then there is a standard of goodness which is independent of God’s will. (Book: A History of Western Philosophy, Ch: Plato’s Utopia). Therefore, if God is the ultimate Being, then that God cannot be good. But neither can He be evil. God is beyond good and evil.”
Here we see a reproduction of Plato’s, “Euthyphro’s dilemma.” All Bertrand Russell did was to give his twist. The “horns” of the dilemma can be stated this way: 1) if morality or goodness is above God, then He has to obey it and is not sovereign; morality reigns. Or 2) if morality or goodness are expressed through the commands of God, then they are arbitrary; God can say today one thing is good and tomorrow change His mind. If either of these “horns” of the dilemma is true, then either God is not good or sovereign. How does the Christian answer this problem?
The problem is presented with two choices and ignores a third. The answer is found in the third option. Morality is not above or below God but emanates from His very nature or character. In his article on Euthyphro’s dilemma, Greg Koukl says this, “The third option is that an objective standard exists (this avoids the first horn of the dilemma). However, the standard is not external to God, but internal (avoiding the second horn). Morality is grounded in the immutable character of God, who is perfectly good. His commands are not whims, but rooted in His holiness.” (Greg Koukl article: http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5236#fn3) The ground for all morality and goodness is found in the nature of God. Therefore, your conclusion that God is beyond good and evil is simply false.
Since you think you’ve established God is beyond good and evil you then reach this conclusion:
“Like Hindu’s Brahma, a real God can only be nirguna, nirupadhik; without any name, without any quality. From the point of view of essence also, a real God is a zero. Mystics usually say that their God is a no-thing. This is the real God, not the God of the scriptures.”
Since your premises were false your conclusion is therefore false. You continue with your assumptions and again make God a zero and call Him a no-thing. I am having trouble following how you conclude God is a no-thing. I believe it was Aristotle who once said, “Nothing is what rocks dream about.” If you are arguing God is nothing, then He doesn’t exist. Are you trying to make a case for a pantheistic god?
Your last paragraph doesn’t make sense, especially, since I have shown your prior premises are false. You are welcome to disagree and I would love to hear your thoughts.
To all who are reading this post, I hope I have made my case and dealt with what many people call a difficult letter. It was my desire to help you improve your ability to contend for the faith. In my next post I will continue my series, “Is God the Author of the Bible?”