I was in the middle of having a really fun conversation with my four-year-old son. He was pointing out all kinds of things we could see as we were driving along and then asking me questions about the them.
“Look at those trees! They’re so tall, aren’t they?” I agreed. “Who made the trees?” my son asked inquisitively.
“God made them!” I responded with the standard Bible-class answer. My son happily accepted that.
A few moments later my son pointed out the other window. “Look at the horses!” he exclaimed.
“They’re very strong!” I said and started to recount some of my own childhood dreams of having my very own horse.
“Who made the horses?” my son interrupted.
“God made the horses!” I responded with the same Bible-class accuracy. I started to smile. I was on a roll now. There was no question about the origins of things that I couldn’t handle!
“Wow! Look at the fountain!” my son’s enthusiasm continued unabated. “Can you see the rainbow right in the middle of it?” His wonder was contagious. “Who made all the water in the fountain and the rainbow?”
I had the response even before he had asked the question. “God made the water and the rainbow. Isn’t He amazing?” I was truly enjoying my moment of glory and intellectual invincibility—a heroic dad in full command of the mysteries of life.
My son paused and thought for a moment. I felt completely prepared for any further questions he might throw at me.
“Daddy, who made God?”
Checkmate! I had to smile at his clever ability to get behind my standard Bible-class answer. You’re a smart little boy, I thought to myself as I considered the right words to explain the answer to his question.
An age-old question
My four-year-old son is by no means the only person to have asked this question. I remember walking into a classroom of elementary school students to do a Q&A session about God and the Bible, and as soon as I opened my lecture to questions a hand shot up, and the student confidently asked me, “Who made God?”
English atheist Bertrand Russell began his famous essay Why I Am Not a Christian by explaining that the question “Who made God?” was the first step that led him to give up his belief in the supernatural. More recently, the outspoken Richard Dawkins raised a similar question: “Who designed God?” which was the central issue in his best-selling book The God Delusion.
Both Russell and Dawkins believe that the question “Who made God?” is an unanswerable trump card and clear evidence that God does not and cannot exist. However, before we trust their argument, it’s worthwhile to stop and put a bit more time and thought into the problem.
First things first
Before we ask who made God, we need to ask another question: “Who are we actually talking about when we refer to God? What is this Person we call God really like?”
When Christians discuss God, they’re talking about the intelligent Being who, according to the Bible, created the universe. But awesome creative ability isn’t the only characteristic of the biblical God. Here are six more:
1. One and only God. The biblical prophet Isaiah spoke an oracle aimed at the military conqueror and empire builder of his day, Cyrus the Great. The Persian people worshiped many gods of Persia, and their political ruler Cyrus took grandiose, even divine, titles for himself: “Great King,” “King of Kings,” “King of the Four Corners of the World,” and so on. But in the face of these loyalties and claims, God, through Isaiah, was crystal clear about His uniqueness and ultimate supremacy: “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5). That sounds arrogant—unless it really is true.
2. Unlimited power. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God asked the question, “Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27, NLT).* It’s a rhetorical question, and the answer is embedded in the question itself. Nothing is too hard for God, because His power is unlimited.
3. Everywhere present. Once again in the book of Jeremiah, God asks us, “Can anyone hide from me . . . ? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” (Jeremiah 23:24, NLT). Again, God is asking rhetorical questions, and again, the answer is implied in the question itself.
4. All-knowing. One of the songwriters of the Bible wrote that God’s understanding has no limit. In the same collection of lyrics—the Psalms—King David wrote that God knows everything about us: “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely” (Psalm 139:1–4).
5. Without beginning or end. Moses knew God fairly well too. The Bible tells us that God would speak with him face-to-face, like a friend (Exodus 33:11). When Moses composed a prayer about what his relationship with God meant to him, he wrote, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2; read the note at the beginning of the psalm). Moses understood that God has existed forever and will continue to exist forever.
6. Morally perfect and loving. Moses also came to understand that God is morally perfect. He wrote that “his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4). This perfection is ultimately expressed in His love for us. The Bible plainly states that “God is love” (1 John 4:16).
The more we discover about the biblical picture of God, the more we realize how above and beyond the material universe and our own experience this Person really is. But there’s one more remarkable thing that we need to know: the Bible actually teaches that no one made God. This characteristic becomes really clear in the New Testament when we meet Jesus.
Jesus’ close friend, John, wrote one of the four biographies about Jesus in the New Testament. At the very beginning of his life sketch, John described Jesus in this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1–3). The direct implication of this is that no one made God, whether in the person of the Father, Jesus the Son, or the Holy Spirit.
Logic confirms this. Consider: if someone or something else made God, then God is not really the Supreme Being after all, since the power that made God would have to be greater than God. But then we’re forced to ask the next question: “Who made the power that made God?” If everything that exists has to depend on something else for its existence, ultimately nothing would be able to exist. Bertrand Russell’s assumption that everything, including God, must have a cause is simply wrong.
In order for us to actually exist, the chain of causation has to start at some point with an uncaused cause that’s outside of space-time and has both the power and the desire to bring something out of nothing. The word the Bible uses for that uncaused cause is God.
Both Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins were right: a Supreme Being made by someone or something else does not make logical sense. However, the Bible teaches us that no one made God. For example, Romans 16:26 calls Him “the eternal God”; Psalm 90:2, which I quoted earlier, says, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God”; and Job 36:26 says that “the number of his [God’s] years is past finding out.” And when we look at it carefully, this does make logical sense. As the Oxford mathematician John Lennox has pointed out, we can agree with Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins in rejecting the idea that a greater power made God. At the same time, Lennox has affirmed that we can accept the God of the Bible who was not made by anyone or anything else.
So there’s a simple answer to the question “Who made God?” No one. This means that everything else depends on Him to exist. And because God knows everything about us, has unlimited power, and truly loves us, we can depend on Him for everything too.
* Bible verses marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.