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Roxane B. Salonen, Published May 24 2013

Living Faith: Some ask 'But who made God?'

When one of my sons was around 5, he asked, “Who made God?”

The question arose again in a response from an agnostic reader to my recent column on scientific proofs for God.

I’d included the answer within that piece but it bears repeating. Since we know something cannot come from nothing, there had to have been something that always has been, and therefore, didn’t need a creator.

The believer is generally satisfied with this explanation, but for the skeptic, it becomes a stopping point. Since we can’t go back all the way, he might say, we can’t have absolute assurance, so all bets about God are off until we know for sure.

The believer sees God as existing beyond time, however, so in that way, the question becomes somewhat superfluous.

One prominent defender of faith, Peter Kreeft, says if something exists, there must also exist what it takes for that thing to exist. The universe exists, so what it takes for the universe to exist cannot exist within the universe, nor be bound by space and time.

In an online forum discussing the question, one respondent said asking who created God is like asking what letter comes before ‘A.’” Nothing precedes A and for the believer, that’s A-OK.

Another said God has always existed in a perpetual “now.” “What is it like to be outside of time? Can a fish that’s spent its whole life at the bottom of the sea imagine what it’s like to be dry?”

Though our finite brains cannot fully comprehend the infinite, God, by God’s nature, must be infinite.

The skeptic might call these explanations cop-outs, while the believer might say, “Some things cannot be fully known in this life.” Many skeptics respond, “Through science, all will be known in time. It’s just a matter of time.”

But how long must we wait, an eternity?

While we wait for science to catch up with reality, I have a question of my own. Does a world without God even make sense?

Science helps us understand many things about the world but it can only speak to the natural world. Anything beyond that transcends its scope.

What of the immeasurable, the unexplainable?

How, for example, does naturalism account for what we intuitively understand to be true about non-material issues like morality, knowledge, human dignity, individual personality, love, meaning or value?

In “The Godless Delusion,” the authors contend that the atheist attempting to describe these things is “like a man made of water attempting to climb out of an ocean of infinite water on a ladder made of water.”

They quote Phillip Johnson’s “Reason in the Balance,” in which he writes about the nonsensical conclusion of the atheistic mind:

“The story of the great scientific mind that discovers absolute truth is satisfying only so long as we accept the mind itself as a given,” Johnson says. “Once we try to explain the mind as a product of its own discoveries, we are in a hall of mirrors with no exit.”

The discussions become mind-spinning, at which point the believer returns to his leap of faith, committing to it anew.

And here, the believer struggles, not because of a flaw in the approach but because we know some believe in God and some do not, but not why.

In the end, words and ideas fall short of explaining faith and proving God. What compels some to trust in something they can’t see and others to not trust is complex.

Inevitably, for true faith to happen, we must fall in love with the source of life to the extent that the quest for love becomes greater than the need to explain it.

I trust the explanations will come, and fully, but not all in this life. That might be unsatisfactory to the skeptic, but it’s what we’ve got, and for the believer, it’s enough.

This column was written exclusively for The Forum.

Roxane B. Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. If you have a story of faith to share with her, email roxanebsalonen@gmail.com