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God's Timelessness as an Escape from "Who created God?"

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God's Timelessness as an Escape from "Who created God?"
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GlossophilePosts: 12Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:57 pmLocation: Florida, USA Gender: Male

Post God's Timelessness as an Escape from "Who created God?"

A popular (and justifiably so, IMHO) response to theistic complaints about something coming from "nothing" is to apply their own logic to their God and ask where God came from. Sufficiently sophisticated apologists will usually respond by claiming that God is either eternal or external to any kind of temporal dimension. I recently responded to an apologetic YouTube video, and it has sparked a modest debate on precisely this matter. I'd like to share some highlights from that debate in hopes of inviting a discussion that focuses specifically on this particular counter-argument.

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ME:

While theists may not exempt themselves from their own worldview, they almost always try to exempt their god from it. You say something can't come from nothing. Okay. So where did God come from? If you want to argue that God can come from nothing, then your premise that something can't come from nothing is necessarily negated, because God is definitely something. Talk about self-defeating!

If atheists can be accused of making an arbitrary exemption, then so too can theists. The roadrunner can run both ways.

At this point, some theists will argue that their argument only applies to entities that have beginnings, and since God is timeless, he has no beginning and therefore does not require a cause. However, if God is timeless, then attributing any agency to him becomes problematic, because agency entails some choice-making capacity, but what meaning can the concept of choice have without a temporal dimension? God's agency and therefore personhood, which are critical in defining him as distinct from nature itself and its impersonal laws, thus become vacuous.

MIKE BROWN:

"Okay. So where did God come from?" Once again this is so easy. When you ask that you illustrate that you don't understand the issue. The claim is that God is uncaused. Like numbers, where did 2 come from or the law of noncontradiction? They don't begin to exist. Uncaused. Eternal. It wasn't like there was a time where the logical law of noncontradiction didn't exist and then it came into existence. They simply are necessary truths that simply must be. God can't "come from" anywhere, because by definition that's what a necessary being is.

Atheists used to contend that the universe was eternal, it had always existed and therefore was uncaused [...] The BB blew this argument [...] out of the water. The universe is not necessary. It is contingent and therefore caused [...] Suddenly, now because the universe has to have a cause, now you want to contend that God must have a cause. 100 years ago no one contended, except theists of course, that the universe had to be caused. Atheist were more than willing to simply let it exist from time in eternity, uncaused and accepted it as a brute fact of the universe [...] If you were willing to let the universe exist as a necessary entity, than God most certainly can be a necessary entity as well.

ME:

There's a key difference between Hoyle's steady-state theory and claims of an eternal god.

In the former case, that to which eternality was being attributed could be independently verified to at least exist. The hypothesis of an eternal universe was not a means to the ends of showing that the universe really existed. The universe's existence was already established by objective observation.

The latter proposition, on the other hand, presupposes that a creator deity exists without independent justification, baldly asserts that such a being must be eternal, and then uses that supposed eternality as an argument for the truth of the initial presupposition that it exists. It's begging the question.

The same could be said of the claim that God is a necessary entity, like numbers or the laws of logic. Even if we grant the Platonist assumption that abstract concepts necessarily exist in some extrinsic sense, you haven't provided any reason to assume that God must fall into that category [...] The axioms of logic can be justified in their ability to generate practically applicable conclusions, but what does the extra assumption of a god bring to the table that is not otherwise derivable?

There are multiple proposed explanations in modern physics for how the universe began to exist, and as I understand it, not one of them was put forth purely for the purpose of getting God out of the picture. They were all motivated by independent reasons [...] The point is this: the fact that our universe had a clear beginning does not automatically make a deity axiomatic (i.e. "necessary"), and to claim that it does is to invoke what I like to call a GOTUG (God of the Ultimate Gap).

In short, you cannot simply define God into existence by flatly asserting all the right attributes in order to make him increasingly more probable. It doesn't work like that.
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I've tried to condense the discussion a bit, as shown by the [...]s, but if anyone's interested, here's the video with all the comments (my username is TranslatorCarminum): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDgciyXq_f8
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. – Carl Sagan
Sōla vēritās sancta in philosophiā nātūrālī est absentia vēritātum sanctārum.
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:09 am
he_who_is_nobodyBloggerUser avatarPosts: 3106Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:36 amLocation: Albuquerque, New Mexico Gender: Male

Post Re: God's Timelessness as an Escape from "Who created God?"

Nicely put. You could always invite Mike Brown to this forum if you would like to have a cleaner and easier to follow discussion.

I would have went a different way with this starting with:

Mike Brown wrote:Atheists used to contend that the universe was eternal, it had always existed and therefore was uncaused [...] The BB blew this argument [...] out of the water. The universe is not necessary. It is contingent and therefore caused [...] Suddenly, now because the universe has to have a cause, now you want to contend that God must have a cause. 100 years ago no one contended, except theists of course, that the universe had to be caused. Atheist were more than willing to simply let it exist from time in eternity, uncaused and accepted it as a brute fact of the universe [...] If you were willing to let the universe exist as a necessary entity, than God most certainly can be a necessary entity as well.


First off, the Big Bang theory is simply describing how the universe as we know it started. Physics has long ago established that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Thus, the energy that created the universe as we know it has always existed. Just because it existed in some different form 15 billion years ago and may exist in a different form 40 trillion years from now does not change the fact that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Theists (and even many atheists) confuse the Big Bang for the beginning if everything, when it is only the beginning if everything as we know it.

Second, even if the Big Bang was caused, there is no reason to conclude that said cause has to be a deity of any stripe. Furthermore, before one could propose a deity as the cause for anything, one needs to establish that a deity is possible. Otherwise, it is a "just so" story with no facts to back it up. One could just as easily state a fairy was the cause of the Big Bang and it would carry just as much weight as proposing a deity.
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Sun Sep 20, 2015 6:43 am
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