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Who Created God?

WARNING: This week's question is esoteric and comes from Phil Hugo of the Computer Science Department at the University of York, England. Phil e-mailed me and asked, "Who made God?" And then he offered to share with me his thoughts on the subject. And so, between what he sent me and the research I've done, what follows is a synthesis of our views.

Before we can ask who made God, we first have to decide who or what God is. Theologians have cautioned us from the earliest of times that God is creator, not created. Scripture disallows the making of "God-like" images, because creating an image defines and confines our concept of God. Indeed, Paul warns us against worshiping the "created" rather than the creator (Romans 1.25). So when we begin trying to define God, it's prudent to realize we're stepping into dangerous territory.

Paul Tillich, the 20th century theologian, suggested that God is not a "being" of any description, but that God is "being itself." Karl Barth, another modern theologian, asserted that "God is wholly other." What both of these theologians are trying to say is that the moment we define what God is, we've succeeded in naming exactly what God is not. If we can conceive of what God is, then we've limited God in some way, since our finite mind cannot grasp the infinite. Sometimes it seems our understanding is there at the edge of our minds, but for whatever reason, we just can't quite "get it." Perhaps we can't "get it" because we are finite and God is not.

So if we can't define what God is, what about the attributes of God? What is God like? Again, we're stepping out into dangerous territory. To identify what God is like is to box God into a concept we can get our minds around. So, let's look at what God is not.

First, God is not bound by space or time. God isn't physical. Anything physical is matter, and matter is anything with weight and takes up space. Matter can be observed, either by the eye, by instrumentation, or by test. We can neither observe nor test God. And besides, if God created matter, then God supersedes matter. So, God is not physical.

Nor is God bound by time. Time is a human invention to measure finite events. Time, in concept, has no beginning, nor an end. When God created humanity, God created time by default. And if God created time, then God supersedes it as well and is not controlled by its conscripts.

So, we can't define God and we can't really say what God is like -- because God isn't like anything we can conceive. How can we know anything about God? We can know God only by what God reveals.

God spoke to Moses and Moses asked who God was. God answered, "I am who I am" (Exodus 3.14). In Hebrew this can be translated as a past tense statement as well as a future statement, "I will be who I will be." The answer supports the notion of a god who supersedes time and space.

Jesus, who claimed to be God revealed on earth, said God is light (John 8.12). However, in the context of his words he clearly wasn't indicating light as photonic energy (light as we typically understand light), but spoke of "inner light" -- wisdom, knowledge, intuition, understanding, etc.

Finally, in John's first letter, John probably did the best job at defining what we are unable to understand. He wrote, "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them" (1 John 4.16b). Perhaps, in the words of Tillich, "being itself" is love. And Barth might agree that love is "wholly other." Jesus might even agree that the "light of the world" is love.

And so, who created God? Since God is above time, and space, and matter, and even our own conceptions, we would do well to simply accept that God is, always has been, and always will be. It is God, love, and light, that exists beyond the fringe of our understanding and have never ceased from existing, nor ever did not exist. God is like eternity -- there is no beginning, there is no end. No one had to create "him."

"I am who I am," said God. Amen, so be it.

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