God Had a Beginning We Just Don’t Understand
Updated: Nov 10, 2022
Let’s review philosophical thoughts on the origins of God. This is part #1 of a multi-article series on this philosophical dilemma.
I. Defining “God” in Contemporary Culture
II. God Begins With Subjective Cultural Bias
III. Understanding Our Origins First
IV. Defining Human Origins Matter
V. Who Defines What is Real and Not?
VI. Did God Really Create Himself?
Defining God in Contemporary Culture
It’s a monumental task to define what is meant by “God” in our contemporary culture. As far back as the beginning of time, different cultures and ethnic groups view God, and their conception of Him, according to cultural nuance.
As a Preacher of Christianity as revealed through Jesus Christ, I am not immune from this either.
This presentation is not meant to be a thorough treatise on various theological beliefs. Instead, we will view God from a more sanitized theism.
Therefore, when referring to God, this is so identified as omniscient, omnipresent, and sovereign.
This is not meant to be misunderstood as either the ancient Greeks and their god mythology nor Hinduism’s current pantheon of deities. God, for these purposes, will be singular with the understanding a “plurality” of gods could not meet the bar of sovereign due to “power sharing.”
The plurality of gods in ancient Greek mythology are petty and competitive. This nullifies any ability for one to be absolute sovereign.
Further, a plurality of God’s lends itself to confusion. One need only look at the universe to understand the deity who created it does not dwell places of confusion. His creation is much to fine tuned for chaos to manifest as a personality trait.
Further, sectarian views lend themselves to forming God in their individual, nuanced images like the below "Polish" Jesus:
This image couldn’t be historically accurate. Jesus is a Semite, from the Middle East. Such artwork suggests a biased, historically inaccurate view.
The same is true for African Americans, Black Hebrews, and others who imagine Jesus as a black man from the heart of Africa!
This is not to suggest that God, Himself, is unknowable, however. It only reveals that a sovereign deity must, by definition, exist beyond our comprehension. Even though such a being revealed Himself through the written word, there are yet comprehension limits in finite language.
Therefore, if we do not have the entire picture and language, our views could not be 100% accurate. This lends itself to a form of ‘subjectivity’ in both beliefs and religious practices.
Although God is not subjective, our failure to grasp His infinite nature forces subjectivity into cultural views.
For instance, the image of Jesus in Western culture, for more than 1600 years, was that of a European.
God Begins with Subjective Cultural Bias
This resulted from a subjective view of their superiority. As I write this, our world is on the brink of nuclear war between the United States and Russia.
Nuclear war would not be possible were it not for middle twentieth (20th) century pursuit of these weapons. It is the European(s) who both forged and deployed this such civilization ending technology.
Interestingly, the masterminds behind both its conception and production were semitic Hebrews!
First, was Albert Einstein’s E=MC2 formula which made the atomic bomb possible. Next, both the weapon's designer and overseer of production was a man named Robert Oppenheimer.
These are physical descendants of Abraham. That they would play a central role in end times events is truly amazing! Further, it speaks to the God of the Hebrew Bible and His sovereign nature.
The weapon was built during the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. However, Russia stole the design and today many countries possess thermal nuclear weapons
Of course, it must be noted that for biblical prophecy to be fulfilled, such weapons had to be built.
In the European view of God, being all-powerful means dominating others that do not possess such wherewithal. An American phrase, used during the settlement of the North American continent, demonstrates this worldview: manifest destiny.
Put more simply: God is all-powerful and those who He 'prefers' possess His power on Earth!
However, nondominant ethnic groups have their own subjective view of God as well.
In this, something crucial is revealed: defining God through culture subjectivity is inescapable.
The Hebrew Bible was written by sematic people from the Middle East. These writings were translated into European languages by those possessing European bias.
There is, in that same Bible, scripture in the Book of 1st John which was not included in the original biblical text.
Here is that text (1st John 5:7-8):
If then, we can only have a subjective view of God based on cultural and horizon of bias, any truth that flows from our view must then be tainted and subjective itself.
For some yet unknown reason, 1st John 5:7-8 was “added” to the Bible, and not by the original writer of the book.
This has given rise to an unrighteous view of God which the Hebrew writer would have been thoroughly unfamiliar with.
To proceed finding the origins of God, we must come up with a largely acceptable definition of God which cuts across horizonal bias.
Let’s define ‘God’ as: the creator of all things.
Understanding Our Origins First
It is important to discuss our origins. As indicated prior, we suffer cultural and horizonal bias which produces localized subjectivity.
Our quest to understand an infinite God, being yet finite beings, seems like a fool’s errand. However, whether a task can be accomplished or not, the struggle towards resolution is an unspoken blessing.
If we stay with a theistic definition of ‘sovereign deity,’ it is impossible to understand where God originated if we have no idea of our own origination.
I believe the biblical narrative of humankind’s origins; however, I do struggle with Earth being a mere 5,700 (or so) years in age.
This is not me doubting God could create all we see in a literal seven-day (7) period either. It is me questioning if finite beings can comprehend an infinite/eternal narrative.
However long ago the first human beings existed, we can rest assured they did.
Genealogical studies with respect to DNA trace humanity’s origins back to common ancestors.
Whether that is Adam and Eve, or not, is irrelevant to the point. Every finite life has an origin.
This extends far beyond humankind into the animal, plant, and bio matter sphere as well. Our physical being and ‘consciousness’ had to be modeled on something or someone.
There exists undiscovered tribes in South America who have never had contact with the modern world. It is safe to assume they have never seen a biblical narrative about our creation.
Even so, it is obvious they originated somewhere, have myths, thoughts, and personal beliefs with respect to their origination point(s).
We were created to be masters of our environment and this control flows from intelligence. Along with being physically present and conscious in this environment, we have shown a unique ability to remake our surroundings in our own image.
No other creature does, or has shown, the slightest interest in doing so! Nature has never, and could never, autonomously create something more intelligent than itself.
To argue, for instance, that a goldfish can produce an intelligent dolphin is nonsense.
At what point in its lifecycle could something as unintelligent as a goldfish, suddenly comprehend the need to be more intelligent? On what would a goldfish model how the next iteration of its being should look, act, or become something entirely different?
This suggests that another force would be responsible for such transition. An environment has never been proven to turn one type of life form into something completely different.
What weather pattern, environmental condition, or length of time could turn a tree into a cow?
Defining Human Origins Matter
Defining our origins matter. Leaving religion, evolution, and other series out of the equation, the solution is simple.
Human beings exist because a higher form of being created us. Using a goldfish example, only a goldfish can produce another goldfish. Only a California redwood tree can produce another California redwood tree.
The argument of the evolution of wolves into multiple dog breeds has been offered to support unscientific theories as well.
This is not to say that at some point a fox and a coyote didn’t interbreed. However, something becomes obvious with respect to breeds of dogs. An intelligent being, humans, interceded to produce most breeds we know today.
Knowing this, it is not a leap of faith to say that a higher being interceded to create us. We may be responsible for varying skin tones, facial features, etc., but we could hardly have created ourselves.
When we trace our origins back to whatever the beginning is, there was some act, process, or event which initiated our existence.
There are three possibilities: first, as intelligent life, we were created by a more intelligent being. Second, we were not created by a more intelligent being and resulted from trillions of random events coalescing to form a conscious being.
Finally, we do not exist at all.
Let’s eliminate the final possibility because it isn’t plausible. Many conspiracy theorists say that we don’t exist and are simply a part of a computer simulation.
This posit lacks any serious thought for one reason: existence is not merely a matter of being a conscious, living, and self-willed life form. It is a matter of being created, however that happens.
Let’s review the second posit that we were created by a “higher” life form.
It is plausible, and quite common, for conscious beings to create unconscious representations of themselves. Photos, avatars, sound files, etc. are just a few examples of this reality.
Just because those creations are not conscious, doesn’t mean they do not exist.
It could be rightly suggested that the things we create are lower forms of us. Although they may not be conscious, it doesn’t mean they are non-existent.
Is it so difficult to believe that a more sophisticated being could create a “lower” representation of Himself (which is us)?
I use Dragon software to dictate lengthy documents like this. I am a conscious, self-willed human being who exists, and I use a piece of software which exists as well.
Existence, then, doesn't become a matter of being conscious and self -willed rather, simply occupying time and space. So, for people to suggest we do not exist because we are simply a part of the computer simulation, doesn’t negate the fact that we still exist.
How that existence is defined is irrelevant to existing itself.
Who Defines What is Real and Not?
When we think about the nature of existence with respect to hallucinations, something becomes evident.
Psychotherapists often try and convince people who are hallucinating that what they are seeing isn’t real. I beg to differ!
Our thoughts occupy space, and time within our being. By hallucinating, we put form to something formless and believe it is real.
I would suggest that philosophically, hallucinations are just as real as characters in a videogame. Characters in video games, more specifically fictional, exist in someone’s mind and are transferred to a hard drive.
Our mind, being more complex than any computer ever invented, is a hard drive of sorts. Therefore, fictional videogame characters, existing on a physical hard drive, have origins in something just as real.
If not, we then must explain why a video game is real, and the mind which imagined, designed, and manifested the characters isn't defective.
Are we suggesting the only difference between a video game designed demon (for instance), and someone who only hallucinates “demons”, is the ability to transfer thoughts to a hard drive and profit from them?
Because I can package my creation, I am more believable than those who cannot? Those who only imagine demons are less believable and sane?
We define "real" based on what we value and what others declare to be real or not. I would suggest, by these parameters, one of the most mentally ill people in our society is the horror fiction author Stephen King!
Do we truly know that he doesn't believe the demons in his stories are real? NO, we don't know.
However, the person committed to mental health institutions are declared "non-competent" because they cannot bring their "hallucinations" to market like King.
Did God Really Create Himself?
The search for answers to this question leads us to examine various theories about the spiritual origins of creation.
One possible explanation is that the universe was created by an outside force — a God. However, to understand where we came from, we must understand both who and what we are.
The good news is the Bible explains how we got here.
God is the Creator of everything (Psalm 24:1). However, God also created humans with the capacity to choose to follow Him or not. Humans are made in the image of God and given the ability to choose whether or not to accept God’s gift of salvation.
Free will is a component for all created beings — even Angels.
The search for answers to our questions can also lead to consideration of other theories about the scientific origin of creation.
However, who “created the Creator?”
This is a question which has been asked and not answered in any satisfactory manner. The greatest theists would simply say: “God created Himself.” However, every being has an origin point to include angels in heaven.
Here is what we know about their creation (Ezekiel 28:15-16):
This was God speaking to a former angel named Lucifer whom the world now knows as Satan. I offer angels because they are the oldest known beings in the universe besides God.
This is an important point because the above text indicates: “from the date you were created.” This could only mean that angels are not eternal beings and had a beginning.
This does not suggest they will have an end, however.
Everything has an origin point and that must apply to God as well. With that said, there is a scripture in the Bible to suggest otherwise (Exodus 3:13:14):
In the Scripture, God gives a vast view of his nature by revealing Himself in the present. This was hardly God telling Moses this was His name, rather, His function.
At the risk of sounding heretical, just because we do not understand God’s origin point, does not mean it doesn’t exist.
There are several things we know about eternity. First, it is a place, or existence, where time does not matter. Second, process, which is a defining nature of what we know as time, is still present.
For instance, the rebel angel Lucifer sin, was judged, and cast down.
More simply: Lucifer had a court appointment where God was the judge, jury, and executioner. Whatever your view of eternity, this demonstrates process. Last, because eternity can’t be measured, doesn’t mean time is absent.
Our conception of time is limited to things that are born, whither, and die. This extends from our environment to life forms which exist within it.
If those three things did not occur, it would be impossible to grasp the concept of time.
However, this does not mean time does not exist if these are absent or non-discernable. If time is simply categorized as eternity because it cannot be measured, it means anything existing within it had an origin point.
It does not mean that the being who created it would be limited by its origins. This leads to a bigger question: just because we may not properly understand "origin", does that mean God is immune from it?
I emphatically refute such a suggestion for three overarching reasons. First, we are finite beings and incapable of understanding our origins beyond a faith that is proof of nothing beyond itself.
The very definition of faith means there is something lacking which produces the need for faith.
Second, finite consciousness defines origination as requiring both a creator and beginning point. What if finiteness misunderstand both?
The idea that God didn’t exist, and then suddenly existed, necessitates some unknown creative force being His progenitor.
This discussion is just beginning. I did not mean the reader with thoughts and no concrete answers.
What we must not be afraid of, however, is engaging in critical thought because some within the faith will be offended. Nowhere in the Bible does God command us to be noncritical thinkers!
As a matter of fact, and as evidenced by free will, His desire is that we critically examine evidence and make a choice.
There is little doubt that if He is sovereign, surely God could’ve made us into automatons that are incapable of free will, and much less critical thought.
The evidence suggests that it is because we are free will recipients, God demands critical thought.
Unfortunately, in His granting free will, many have decided the very being who allowed this, does not exist. Billions have gone into eternity with this deception and for them it is too late.
As we continue this series, we will unpack seven (7) critical thoughts from this article.
Most especially, we will further examine if God has an origin point that we simply misunderstand.
Header Image Courtesy of Josh Reimer @ Unsplash
Polish Jesus Image Courtesy of Wikicommons Adolf Hyla
Goldfish Image Courtesy of Wikicommons Own Work