Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’ve lately been going through some atheist sound bites which are simple little aphorisms that you will hear in the lines of “water cooler conversation.” Tonight, we’re going to look at the question of “Who Made God?” as it is a common objection raised up when the Kalam Cosmological Argument is presented.
The example of this par excellence would be Richard Dawkins. Dawkins, for instance, in reviewing the Five Ways of Aquinas tells us that Aquinas makes the unwarranted assumption that God is exempt from the infinite regress. (Page 101 of The God Delusion) It is remarks like this that lead apologists like David Robertson to say that Dawkins has never read Aquinas.
I have to agree with Robertson. Why? The Five Ways come just before Aquinas’s writings on the nature of God where he expounds on that God and why He is immune to the regress. Aquinas knows the buck has to stop somewhere and he stops it at a being he calls God. This is the God of reason however and not necessarily the God of Scripture. I am not asserting there is a difference between the two, but only stating that reason can take someone so far.
Aquinas then reasons further on the nature of that God using Scripture and philosophy. It is in that process that he gives an explanation for why God is exempt. Now Dawkins might not like the explanation, but to say he does not give one is nonsense and it reveals that Dawkins has not done his homework. In fact, he stated in the God Delusion that he was not reading theologians unless they were seriously open to the possibility of God’s non-existence. What a great strategy! I shall make it a point to only read evolutionists who are seriously open to evolution being false and only read atheists who are seriously open to atheism being false.
Dawkins has followed this with what he calls the Ultimate Boeing 747 argument, and it is a wonder that such an argument can come from someone at Oxford. One can understand a small child trying to stump a theologian by asking that question. One cannot understand a serious philosopher doing such. (Sadly, being a denizen of web forums, I have seen that argument come up quite often as if it was a stumper, one even claiming Hume used it to totally destroy Aquinas. Aquinas would have just laughed at it)
Dawkins says that if we picture the universe as designed because it is complex, then it must have come from a designer. However, if this complex universe comes from a designer, then how much more complex must the designer be? He himself must need a designer above him in order to exist.
It would really do many atheists good to distance themselves as far away from Dawkins as possible with arguments like this.
To begin with, it seems that Dawkins goes against his evolutionary principles and this will be the real irony of it all. Why could I not say “But professor Dawkins. Don’t you tell us that simplicity gives rise to complexity? Why that is all that has happened. Why do you assume that the cause must be complex? Perhaps it could be the simplest cause of all?”
The ultimate irony I speak of is that that is exactly the case.
“WHAT?! Surely you’re not going to say God is a simple being.”
Actually, I already have. I’ve blogged about that in my look at the Summa of Thomas Aquinas on the doctrine of God. What I mean by simple is ontologically simple. I do not mean conceptually simple. No one for a minute think that I am saying that God is an easy being to understand. He is incredibly difficult to understand.
What I am saying is that God is simple in that he does not have parts. Some readers might be tempted to think I mean material parts, which is what I also think Dawkins has in mind. Dawkins thinks like a materialist and can only picture God as being complex if He has all this knowledge and power. The reality is that while Dawkins wants to dismiss theology, he is actually doing theology. I have often in discussing apologetics with my wife told her about theology and philosophy and said “The question is not if you will do theology or philosophy. Everyone does them. The question is if you’ll do good philosophy and theology or bad philosophy and theology.” Dawkins is bad on both counts.
Dawkins should know that in Christian thought, God in his nature is immaterial. What parts does he think he can speak of then? Do such questions even occur to him? One cannot know because Dawkins simply does not interact with his opponents. Evolutionists prefer to not argue when all their opponents simply get their arguments only from YEC materials. Fair enough. (To those who are YEC, I do recommend reading all materials so you can have an idea of what your opponents believe and why. I have met a number of YECs who unfortunately think being YEC means denying inerrancy and a literal Adam and Eve.) However, Dawkins seems to get all his information secondhand, as if he was reading it off of Wikipedia, which would make a lot of sense.
What do I mean however by God being simple then? I dare not simply say Dawkins has it wrong without entering my own information in. I mean that God is not made up of parts. There is no combination in him. For instance, I as a human being possess a human nature that is tied to this material that I dwell in. Both of these also have existence. They do not existence necessarily but have a derived existence.
An angel is different. Now to my atheist friends, even if you do not believe in angels, Aquinas does. His argument does not depend on their existence, but it shows his way of thinking and it does not refute his point to say “There are no angels.” An angel is an immaterial being, but it does not have necessary existence. It too has derived existence. Angels are not separated by matter seeing as they’re immaterial, so they differ by essence. Each angel is his own essence. Therefore, an angel has an essence with no matter. It is purely essence plus the existence it receives. In this, it’s essence is simple as it has no parts, but it is not absolutely simple in that it has essence plus existence.
However, God has his essence AS his existence. What it means to be is God. God is being without limitations. Of course, Aquinas works this out further, but it means there is no combination in God. It also means His existence is not caused as what can cause existence? Something outside of existence? Then this non-existing thing is acting to cause existence, which is absurd. Is it another existing thing? There cannot be two such beings for there is nothing they would differ by and if two things differ by nothing, they are the same.
Anyone who has studied Aquinas briefly would know that Dawkins fumbled entirely on this one, and the shame is that these are the first arguments Dawkins attempts to refute. Even if one is an atheist, one should accept that Aquinas was a brilliant mind and that he reasoned out his arguments well. That does not mean they’re right, but that does mean one should take them seriously and not write them off hastily.
If any atheist uses this kind of argument, you can rest assured you are talking to a neophyte in the area of theology who does not understand the concepts he argues against. It is the shoddy research of the new atheists in this manner that further to me realize the bankruptcy of their position. It is simply outrage against a belief system they have not taken the time to understand. Sadly, this comes from the people who are supposedly the beacons of reason.