03/12/2012 11:57 am ET Updated May 12, 2012

Who Created God?

A common question that frequently arises in the conversation about the existence and nature of God is, "Who created God?"

This is often presented as an insurmountable dilemma, or as a question that may never have been pondered by the "faithful." In truth, though, this is an ancient question that theologians from the earliest mystics to many modern theologians and cosmologists have naturally asked, and the answer is both surprisingly obvious and philosophically subtle.

In order to address this question it is important to first set aside misconceptions and stereotypes about what it means to profess a belief in God. Although, clearly, there are those who take anti-science stances based on religious dogma, this position, according to the Pew study of Religion in America, is a small minority of those who say that they believe in God. Most find absolutely no conflict between faith and science, and many -- myself included -- find science to be a very exciting endeavor that actually strengthens faith as we see the incredible beauty and depth of creation.

For this conversation we need to recognize that one need not accept such simplistic and false binary choices as:
  • Acknowledge that the universe began with the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago, or believe that it began according to a literal reading of the Bible, just 6,000 years ago.
  • Recognize evolution as the mechanism by which species evolve, or insist that all species were created at once and as they currently are, as implied in a literal reading of Genesis.
  • Be willing to wait for the methodical scientific process to eventually come up with proven answers, or ignore science and claim that religion already has the answers.
  • Accept truth based on quantifiable evidence and reason, or based on subjective faith and unchallenged doctrine.
  • Resist the stifling dogma and control of religion, or try to convert others so that they will be "saved."
These simplistic choices drive a wedge in the possibility of true communication and understanding, and can lead to dismissing the other. We need to dive much deeper than this inherently divisive level, with the intention to comprehend rather than to look for disagreement.

So who created God? Let's start with the Big Bang. It is generally agreed that time, space and matter came in to existence approximately 13.7 billion years ago with the explosion of an incredibly dense singularity that contained everything in the universe. This theory certainly does not conflict with the belief in a Creator. The sudden origin of the universe at some great distant past is a view that mystics from many traditions share.

This leads to the question, though, "Where did the material found in the singularity come from?" One may say that science is searching for this answer, and that such possibilities as colliding membranes, string theory, multiple universes, etc., will solve this question. No doubt science will continue to understand the mechanism of the Big Bang in more detail, but the question remains because at some point there was a beginning of some kind in which physicality appears to have come in to being from nothingness -- ex nihilo: uncreated and uncaused. Even the generally discarded Steady State theory, proposing that the universe has always existed, leaves the same question, "Where did it come from?" The accepted, and rational, answer is, "It simply always has been, and there was nothing before it. It was uncreated and uncaused."

In other words, whatever one thinks about the beginnings of the universe, there is "something" at the very origin that was not created. This is an inescapable given: a cosmic truth.

So now we can look again at the question "Who created God?" The answer is "Nothing created God." God is, by definition, uncreated, just as any hypothesis must ultimately conclude an uncaused and uncreated "something." For some it was the original Consciousness that deliberately brought physicality in to being for a purpose, the Creator and most basic component of existence, the "power plant" that provides the energy of life itself to Whom we are radically connected. This I call God. For others, it was mute matter that, undirected and without having been created itself, suddenly burst out, and over time randomly gave way to universal constants and life.

The elemental difference between a diest and one who rejects the possibility of a Creator, then, is the view of what that this uncreated "something" was.

This is not a condemnation, a challenge, or rejection of any position in any way -- except for the resolutely close-minded position, which appears on both sides. I'm not arguing that one must accept the existence of a Creator, or that one needs this acceptance in order to be a loving, satisfied, wonderful human being. I'm only noting that, regardless of our viewpoint, we all must come to the conclusion of an uncreated beginning. For believers, this is God.

One may then say, "But there is no evidence of God."

I often wonder what evidence is needed. If, for example, prayer was scientifically proven to heal, this would only show that there is some energy in the universe that responds to a certain type of intention. If a huge glowing man with a beard and cloak suddenly appearing on the White House lawn, announced to the world "I am God," then walked on the Potomac as the waters split, this might only be a great technological trick. And definitive proof that Jesus rose from the dead, that the Bible was received by Moses on Mt. Sinai, or that Joseph Smith was led by an unearthly being to golden tablets, would, while profound, only show the historical truth of ancient documents and tells us that there is more to reality than meets the eye -- which we can all agree to. None are evidence of a Creator.

As I wrote in my last blog, Anthony Flew seemed to have found evidence of a Creator's existence in the intricacies and intelligence of DNA, as do many very credible scientists. Others find evidence of God's existence in the vast improbability and apparent design of the universe, in personal encounters or in moments of transcendence. I am not posing proofs, but just wondering what evidence is enough for some to consider a Creator, as even a remote possibility.

Again, I am not trying to convince or convert anyone. I, like many others, am just trying to raise the bar of the conversation, to open new possibilities, to address misconceptions and to attempt to answer common theological questions, such as "Who created God?" so that a deeper understanding can emerge.

P.S., a correction to my last blog. I wrote about a probability of random events leading to life as being "less than the scientific definition of zero." Of course zero is a number, and less than zero are negative numbers. (Hey, I'm an architect, and took grad-level math classes.) I meant to write that this was less than the "statistical" definition of zero, which I understand as any probability less than 1 in 10 to the 50th power.