Why the question- Who Created God?- is nonsense

UnknownLawrence Krauss has written a book about how the universe came into being out of nothing. Well, out of “nothing.” His “nothing” is actually something—the quantum vacuum. But let’s not quibble over words. In my last post—the Imperialistic, Elitist, and Foolish Scientism of Neo-AtheismI did quibble (well, maybe it was more of a rant) over Krauss’s abuse of science, evidence, and philosophy. In this post, I have a different complaint.

In the introduction to his book A Universe from Nothing, Krauss states:[1]

The declaration of a First Cause still leaves open the question, “Who created the creator?” After all, what is the difference between arguing in favor of an eternally existing creator versus and eternally existing universe without one?

Well, there is a difference.

A central feature of the universe is that it appears contingent. Consider the inventory of things that exist within the material cosmos: elementary particles, rocks, mountains, stars, galaxies, and more. Whatever item you select on the inventory of things that exist, they all have this feature in common: they are contingent beings—or at least it seems so. But, if every part of the material universe is contingent, it is natural to suppose that the whole material cosmos is contingent as well. But then the eternally existing universe is contingent, and there is no explanation for why it exists, which is absurd.

Perhaps then, the eternally existing universe is necessary after all. A reasonable question to ask is, what kind of necessity is in view? It can’t be physical necessity since we are told that on String Theory there are roughly 10500 different possible universes. Thus, the kind of necessity in view here must be stronger—a kind of metaphysical necessity. But then, there is no explanation for why there is something rather than nothing. It is just a brute fact. The universe is inexplicable.

Thus, the conjunction of atheism and an eternally existing universe leads to either absurdity or inexplicability. On the other hand, given theism, there is a ready-made explanation for the universe: a personal being who is worthy of worship and exists necessarily is the cause of the (temporally finite, as it turns out) universe.

But wait, pipes Krauss, “But then who created God? Your just replacing one inexplicable entity (the eternal universe) with another (God)! You still haven’t explained anything!”

Reply: It is correct that there are no explanations for necessary beings.[2] Explanation must stop somewhere (if there is to be any explanation at all), so why not stop with a necessary being that is God? God is a better stopping place than the universe because (1) the universe doesn’t seem to be a good candidate for a necessarily existing being:[3] and (2) God is by definition “the greatest possible being” and it is nonsense to ask of such a being, “who caused the greatest possible being?” because then that being, and not God, would be more ultimate.

In short, when properly understood, the question “Who cause God?” is nonsense. Moreover, the universe doesn’t, whereas God does, have the resources to bring into being life, freedom, consciousness, moral values, beauty, meaning, and purpose.

[1] Lawrence M. Krauss, A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing (New York, NY: Atria, 2012), xxii.

[2] At least, as traditionally understood. In my work on God and Abstract objects, I develop a model where some necessary beings, namely those members of the Platonic horde that are not part of God, are created by God, and thus do have an explanation for their existence.

[3] Krauss acknowledges that the universe had a beginning, but that, for all we know, the multiverse (of which our universe is but a part) is eternally inflating. But, as William Lane Craig has pointed out many times, according to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, any universe that is expanding cannot be eternal. Therefore, the BGV theorem applies to the multiverse as well as our own universe, and thus, the multiverse cannot be eternal. But then, given the premise that “anything that begins to exist must have a cause,” it seems that the universe (or multiverse) is not necessary after all.

One Response to Why the question- Who Created God?- is nonsense

  1. Pingback: God, the reasonable, and the possible | Paul Gould

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