By Paul Copan
Atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell mused, “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause.” But the question of what or who caused God is misguided.
First, science supports the notion that the universe had a beginning and that something independent of the universe brought it into being. The well-accepted scientific belief in the universe’s origination and expansion and the second law of thermodynamics (energy tends to spread out) support the universe’s absolute beginning from nothing (from whence there was nothing but God). This sounds remarkably like Genesis 1.1! The chances of a thing’s popping into being from literally nothing (non-existence, all by itself) are exactly zero. Being cannot come from nonbeing; there’s no potential for this. Even skeptic David Hume called this “absurd” – a scientific (real) impossibility.
Second, believers reject the claim “Everything that exists has a cause” and affirm “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” To say “Everything needs a cause” would necessarily exclude an uncaused God. This is “question begging” (assuming what needs to be proved). It’s like presuming that since all reality is physical (which can’t be demonstrated), a nonphysical God cannot exist.
Third, why think everything needs a cause, since an uncaused entity is logical and intelligible? Through the centuries, many believed that the universe didn’t need a cause; it was self-existent. They thought a beginningless/uncaused universe wasn’t illogical or impossible. But now that contemporary cosmology points to the universe’s beginning and an external cause, skeptics insist everything (in nature) needs a cause after all!
Fourth, a good number of uncaused things do exist. Logical laws are real; we can’t think coherently without using them (e.g., the law of identity, X = X, tells you: “This book is this book”). Moral laws or virtues (love, justice) are real. But none of these began to exist. They are eternal and uncaused (being in God’s mind).
Fifth, the question “Who made God?” commits the category fallacy. To say that all things, even God, must be caused is incoherent – like the question “How does the color green taste?” Why fault God for being uncaused? When we rephrase the question to say, “What caused the self-existent, uncaused God, who is by definition unmade, to exist?” the answer is obvious.
Adapted from the Apologetics Study Bible, page 869