Good day @Jo_Vitale & @Vince_Vitale glad you guys are here! I would like to ask a question around being a CHRISTian parent. Congrats by the way! My 8 year old daughter asked me recently “if GOD created everything, who created GOD?” What do you think is an effective way to respond to such a question? This might be helpful for you in the future.
Brother, you are always such an encouragement to us and we are so grateful for your friendship and support. We thank God for you!
Your question really challenged me! It challenged me because you rightly asked what would be an “effective” way to respond to the specific person asking the question–in this case your 8-year old. The complex philosophical nature of this question makes it difficult to offer an accessible response to anyone, let alone to an 8-year-old.
Here is the best analogy that I came up with for explaining this in a simple way: Maybe you could stack several items on top of each other on the floor. You could explain how each item relies on the item below it. But then you could explain that all items (even the one on the bottom) need something below them that is immovable, that is always there, that is the foundation for everything else (ie, the ground/earth). Then you could say that it is the same with time. Each event relies on the event that came before it. For example, your parents brought you into existence and you brought your daughter into existence. But for anything to be brought into existence, there has to be someone at the foundation (ie, ground level) that is always there, that is unchangeable, that did not have a beginning himself. Just like the earth/ground is always there, allowing us to stack things on it, God was always there, allowing other things to come to be.
Behind that analogy is of course a lot more reasoning! Here is a short article that I wrote about the general philosophical question that your daughter raised.
“WHO MADE GOD?”
Perhaps the most common objection to the belief that God created the universe is this: God is not a good explanation for the universe because we don’t have a good explanation for God. Richard Dawkins makes this objection, saying, “As ever, the theist’s answer is deeply unsatisfying, because it leaves the existence of God unexplained.” (1)
I sympathize with this objection. When I was a kid, my brother and I used to leave letters in the chimney to be whisked away by Santa, telling him what we wanted for Christmas. And when I was six, what I left in the chimney was the following question written on a paper plate in my best cursive handwriting: “Dear Santa and God, was God ever born?” I like how I covered all my bases. Between Santa and God, one of them was sure to know the answer!
It’s a common thought: If God made the universe, who made God? There are a few things I would want to say in response to this objection. For starters, I don’t believe in a “made” God because there was never a time when God did not exist. Both science and philosophy point to the fact that the universe had a beginning, and that change from nonexistence to existence cries out for explanation. God, to the contrary, was never nonexistent; He never began to exist, and therefore reason does not suggest that He had a maker.
However, the primary thing to say in response to this objection is that in order to recognize that an explanation is a good explanation, you don’t have to have an explanation of that explanation. Say we were exploring on an extrasolar planet and found a deserted city. We wouldn’t have to be able to explain where the aliens who constructed the city came from or how they originated in order for them to be the most reasonable explanation of what we had found. In fact, we wouldn’t need to know anything about the aliens at all, and yet our belief that they were responsible for the deserted city would be perfectly reasonable.
In the same way, no one thinks Isaac Newton had to have some explanation for the existence of gravity in order to be justified in positing its existence to explain his observations. In fact, if all good explanations required explanations themselves, as Dawkins suggests, this would lead to an infinite regress of explanations. You would always need an explanation of your explanation, and an explanation of your explanation of your explanation, and an explanation of your explanation of your explanation of your explanation, and so on and so on and so on. The result would be that you could never get to an explanation that didn’t itself require an explanation. Nothing could ever be satisfactorily explained! So Dawkins’ objection can’t be right. In fact, it’s ironically an objection that is completely incompatible with the scientific enterprise.
I was in a taxi a while back and was asking the driver about his beliefs. Motioning beyond the taxi, he said, “Of course I believe in God. If God doesn’t exist, where did all this come from?”
What good philosophy and good science suggest is that this taxi driver is absolutely right, as was my father-in-law, thirty years ago, when he looked out over the Grand Canyon as a skeptic and sensed God saying, “I made this.” He then spent the next three days riding a Greyhound bus back to the East Coast, wrestling with what it meant for his life if God not only made the Grand Canyon but also made him. Today, my father-in-law is a pastor and has devoted his life to sharing with others that “God made it,” and that God made them.
The evidence points to God. And that raises the question of whether it is primarily intellectual obstacles that keep people from God or rather obstacles of the heart. Divine creation of the universe is not less rational than the other alternatives, but it does demand more of us. If it’s true, it’s not just an abstract theory asking for our intellectual assent; it’s a personal being asking for our whole selves. It’s an invitation to relationship, and relationships require sacrifice, commitment, and trust.
(1) Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 10th anniversary edition (London: Transworld, 2016), 171.