Who Made God?

June 18, 2011 — 7 Comments

I’m currently re-reading the excellent book Who Made God by Edgar Andrews (who has more letters after his name than he does in his actual name).  It’s a witty, informative, and readable treatment of the intersection between God and science.  I thought it was so good I wanted to re-read it and take summary notes for each chapter.  I’ll use the blog as a space to share those notes.  Here is Chapter 1 – Who Made God?

 

Chapter 1

The Existence of God

 

A favorite question of aggressive atheism is “Who Made God?”

-If God caused everything, what caused God?

 

Some proposed answers:

 

I.     We Made God

God is a mental construction that mankind once needed to explain its existence but this is no longer required because science explains everything instead.

 

A.   Theologians inadvertently prop this up with the ontological argument.  This says that the existence of the idea of God necessarily implies God’s actual existence.

 

1)    However, ideas don’t always correspond to reality.  Ex:  I dream of myself as a concert pianist.  Not objectively real.

 

2)    Ontological argument not a useful proof for God’s existence, but could be evidence or support.

 

B.  3 Problems with “We Made God”

 

1)               It still does not solve the “theory of everything” or question of existence.  If we made God, then who made us?  Evolution?  But it’s part of how “everything” works.  Then, who made everything?

 

2)   It is a smokescreen assertion that is not well supported and does not explain very well the reality of religious experience.

 

3)  The creator is usually greater than the created thing.  If mankind creates an all-powerful complex God out of imagination, this takes significant explaining.

 

 

II.  The Improbability of God

 

Atheistic assertion:  The universe came into existence by probability.

 

chemical theory of rate processes: all real-world processes are reversible; they can go backwards as well as forwards.  The net result is the balance between forward and backwards steps.  To go forward, processes need a “payback” of free energy.

 

Example:  A group of monkeys on computers could never come up with the Works of Shakespeare as a process, because the probability of the next step being an error is so high, unless there was a storage system for any correct text that was typed.  However, a group of monkeys representing each character of the works of Shakespeare, at one stroke, could at some point produce Shakespeare’s works as a matter of probability.

 

Mathematical Theory of Probability can only be applied to the real world when the real world is built into the scenario – in other words, through the filter of thermodynamics.

 

Thermodynamics:

The probability that a certain system or state will arise is inversely proportional to the degree of complexity of the state.  For example, dropping a glass on the floor will cause it to shatter.  Dropping it again is an extremely unlikely (negligible) way for it to come back together, but with focused energy and intelligence you can glue it back together.

 

Anthropic Principle:

The laws and fundamental constants of nature give every appearance of being fine-tuned to support existence of intelligent life on earth in a way that has a negligible probability.

 

Argument for the Improbability of God:

1)  The universe is highly complex

2)  If God created the universe he must be more complex than it.

3)  Therefore, God is less probable than the world, extremely improbable.

 

Even if the argument is valid, it still accepts that the improbable universe exists and thus doesn’t have any credibility to say that God doesn’t exist.

 

III.  The Unanswerable Question

 

The Athiestic Argument is that since there is no answer to the question “Who Made God,” i.e., he doesn’t have a cause, then he must not exist.  But this assumes that the physical world is all there is (no God) and that everything in the physical world has a cause.  It assumes what it sets out to prove (God doesn’t exist, everything must have a cause, God doesn’t have a cause, so he doesn’t exist.)

 

“Who Made God” is an illogical question until God is defined.  Part of the definition of God is that He is an uncaused being.  Until you define God, the question is like asking “How long is a piece of string?”  You have to define what piece of string you are talking about.

 

andrewjwise

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7 responses to Who Made God?

  1. There are a number of Christian philosophers who actually think that the ontological argument for God’s existence is successful.

    The general response to your objection, that of the “concert pianist” (or “greatest possible island,” in its historical terminology), is to say that there is a difference between God being a greatest possible being and you being a greatest possible pianist, so that the two arguments are not actually parallel.

    Personally, it is a very interesting argument that I find very intriguing, if not compelling. Although it often makes my head hurt.

    • You have to remember I’m just summarizing the book, it’s not my objection. :)

      I think he says that the ontological argument is useful as evidence for God, but is not helpful if used in a way to “prove” that the biblical God exists. His point, I think, is not that these philosophical arguments aren’t useful, but that even if accepted they lead to a “lowest common denominator” God. Later on he’ll reveal his approach – what he calls the “hypothetic” approach – where he starts with the hypothesis of the God of the Bible and sees where it leads, thus starting with the presupposition of God and testing that presupposition to see if it is valid.

  2. That’s a smart approach. Ultimately everyone’s philosophy/worldview rests on certain presuppositions that are simply “givens.” So one good way of testing a philosophy is seeing how well it can explain all the data.

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