Posted by: cLamb | February 11, 2009

The Uncreated Creator

whirlwindI want to preface this by saying that I am simply expressing some ideas that have come to mind while reading Dawkins’ anti-religious text. I do not necessarily subscribe to these ideas, but they have given me some more insight into the atheistic views and allowed me to credit such a “theology” more fully than I did previously, while understanding better how an atheist may more fully substantiate the claim that there is no God. I am also interested in the responses such ideas may elicit. As all Christians should be aware, the idea of a God that is an eternal being who has always existed, even before time, is a rather radical notion (radical both in the sense of extreme and fundamental). This belief is one central to the Christian understanding of God. However, we must be willing to admit that it is a rather difficult concept to wrap the mind around. Keeping the nature of such a claim in mind, it should not be difficult to at least give some credence to atheistic claims of a similar nature.

In reading Dawkins’ book I have been quick to dismiss many of his claims on the basis that, as far as I am concerned, God and science can and do exist in tandem. Originally, I substantiated my claims against the atheistic worldview regarding science as the only rational means of explanation on the basis that God created the world to work a certain way. This then allows for our scientific discoveries regarding how the world and its component parts function. I made it a cut and dry argument. Science is, for the most part, undeniable. The proofs science offers contain too much concrete evidence to overlook them or cast them aside. I have a great respect for science. It so completely has discovered the innermost workings of what propels life, and has provided firm explanations in such matters. Though there is much we do not know and much yet to be discovered scientific advancements contributed greatly to human intellect. One thing left yet undiscovered is the origin of life in its most primitive form. Science can allow us to deduce that life and the universe began from a single cell, which replicated, divided and propagated into life, as we now know it. But what of that original cell? There are numerous proposed theories as to the ordering of the universe. One such theory is the ever-popular “Big Bang Theory.” The Big Bang Theory is a scientific deduction saying that the universe originated out of a single entity. Once the universe was created there was the opportunity for life. Science has shown, if we operate under the assumption that nothing has ever entered or left the earth’s atmosphere it can be said that the same amount of matter exists now as did in the beginning. Thus, all living and nonliving things are simply reorganizations of this matter. Since materials have entered and exited the earth’s atmosphere (some by the hand of humans) we cannot fully say this. However, the point remains that everything stems from the matter and energy already present around us. Even relying of this scientific analysis, the existence of God is not excluded. In fact this particular theory doesn’t even attempt to address the existence or lack of existence of a supernatural being. What’s more is that the Big Bang Theory doesn’t explain the initial condition, simply what has happened since the existence of the original entity. At first it seemed so simple to me. The original entity, from which all else stemmed, was created by God; a God who then provided the necessary means to so perfectly order the universe in a way that is self-sustaining. This is still my belief. However, there could be another plausible explanation, no more radical than the Christian notion of God, that supports the atheistic point of view.

I came to the realization that Christians have no problem explaining the creation of the world as by a power that is, Himself, un-originate. It is difficult to grasp the idea that anything could be un-originate because humans so dependently operate within the constraints of time. To the human mind there is a beginning and an end, both which can be explained as a function of time. Science even operates under these constraints. The fact that God once existed outside of this realm, before time, so as to make creation possible, is difficult to fathom. This is where faith comes in. Humans are not meant to have the capacity to fully understand and grasp God in His entirety. Whether or not the human mind can rationalize the concept that God is eternal and existed before existence, this is the Christian belief. The inability of the human mind to rationalize such a concept is credited to the subservience of humans to God. Christians may not understand this, but they accept it. God is un-originate so that the world could be originated. I personally operated so strongly under this pretext that I was limited in my thinking. I at first thought that God was the only explanation that could account for the origin of the first entity. When Dawkins attempted to use scientific analyses to explain the inexistence of God it was easy to cast aside under the pretext that science can rationally explain all that has happened since the creation of the initial condition (scientifically the cell) but God can explain how that cell got there. Though many Christians would probably like to end there, this is not the only possible explanation.

If Christians can accept the un-origination of God, then why is it so difficult to accept that it is possible for something else to occur outside the realm of understanding which accounts for the origin of the first cell out of nothing? (I can say that I personally operated this way) Can the origination of something out of nothing possibly happen without the power of God? If God can exist without origin then why can’t something else? Dawkins mentions nothing of this sort, but it could possibly provide a defense for atheism or at least help substantiate atheistic claims that I personally previously dismissed because of the belief that God is the un-originate and all else is from Him. Science does not claim that cells and matter are un-originate. Instead it asserts that there was a distinct beginning of time. But if it is not unfathomable to believe in a God who exists without a creator, then why not a cell? Even with this said, I do not side with Dawkins’ views of the incompatibility of religion and science, nor do I think that this assertion excludes the possibility of a God. It may have that chance if my view of God reduced Him to no more than Creator, which it does not. Yet, I think it is something worth considering.

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Responses

  1. Catherine: I really like this post, because it reflects what may very well be called some of the highest order of thinking we are capable of. The question, Why is there something rather than nothing?, whether it yields a theistic or atheistic response, is one of the highest aspirations of thought. It is extraordinary to think that we, as little creatures inhabiting this blue dot hurtling through space, and toward an uncertain future, could become absorbed by the thought of ultimate origins — that as creatures of this cosmos (we are, after all, the universe come to self-consciousness) could inquire into the origins of our own consciousness, and the universe that gives rise to it.

    For those interested in considering this question further, and how a conversation between a theist and atheist over this question might sound like, I recommend to you the conversation between Denys Turner and Jonathan Miller towards the bottom of this blog’s page, under the title “Getting the Question Right: Why is There Something Rather than Nothing?”

    Whether one comes to believe that God is the unoriginate origin, or the universe has always existed, Denys Turner, who is a theologian, wants to say THAT is the question. (He also argues that many atheists assiduously avoid that question, given its extreme difficulty.)

    One other suggestion for further thinking: we may do well to think about absolute origins, but we should not forget to consider futurity. In his book, _God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution_, John Haught makes a case that just as important, and perhaps more important than thinking retrospectively about origins, God, from a biblical perspective, is more typically thought of in terms of a future that lures creation towards an unforeseen destiny, towards that which is new. God’s influence in the God-world relationship is not just one of original design (origins), but also, and perhaps more primordially, of drawing the dramatic unfurling of the universe in all its myriad and complexifying forms into the promise of the future. See especially Chapter 6 for more.

  2. No comment necessary – great post Catherine!


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