Even if we are convinced that the first appearance of life in the universe is best explained as the result of a ‘First Cause” Creator God, (see my last Blog entry), this still leaves us several options as to the NATURE of this God. Is this God personal? Isn’t it possible that the God who formed matter from non-matter and life from non-life may simply be some kind of impersonal force? After all, many world religions would suggest that this is the case.
Well, that’s where the second step in our little three step journey toward Christian Theism comes into play. In this second step we are simply looking at the issue of ‘personhood’. Is god a personal being or an impersonal force? Let’s think about other impersonal forces that we are familiar with in the universe. Let’s take gravity, for example. Have you ever noticed that the EFFECT of an impersonal force is felt the minute that the force enters into the environment?
If we were floating around in a zero gravity environment (an imaginary room, for example) and we then inserted the force of gravity into this room, we would all immediately be pulled to the floor. The effect of the gravity is felt the minute gravity enters the room. That’s the way impersonal forces work. They can’t DECIDE whether or not they will activate their effect. Their effect enters the room the very instant that they enter the room. Gravity doesn’t enter the room and say, “Not yet, not yet, not yet… OK, now!” Gravity cannot DECIDE when its effect will be felt. It cannot DECIDE when it will act.
See, the ability to DECIDE when to act is a characteristic of ‘personhood’. The ability to move and act FREELY as a result of a conscious independent decision is a characteristic of free agency. It is a characteristic common to PERSONS, not impersonal forces. Does that make sense?
Now let’s think about the force that created the universe. If this force is impersonal, its effect would be felt the minute that it ‘entered’ the cosmological realm that preceded the universe. In other words, as soon as this force appears, the universe would then have to ‘pop’ into being. Impersonal forces cannot ‘wait’ and decide to act sometime later. If this were true of the force that created our universe, we would have to argue that the FORCE first appeared when the UNIVERSE first appeared. But science tells us (Big Bang Cosmology) that the universe is NOT infinitely old. Science tells us that the universe has a beginning. Space, time and matter have a point of origin. If we believe that the force that created the universe is impersonal (and therefore begins to exist at the same time its creative force is felt, causing the creation of the universe), we would then have a problem trying to explain exactly what preceded this impersonal creative force. In other words, what created the impersonal force? What existed before IT existed? Who created this impersonal God?
See, all of us, atheists and theists alike, believe that SOMETHING is eternal. The naturalist is going to have to argue that the universe (or multiverse) is the thing that is eternally ancient. The theist is going to argue that God is the ‘thing’ that is eternally ancient. Science just happens to agree with us theists; all verifiable cosmological evidence continues to point to what is called a ‘cosmological singularity’, a point where all time, matter and space begins. But if God IS the eternally ancient being that BEGAN the universe we now live in, this would mean that this eternal God existed BEFORE his creative effect was felt. He’s not like gravity. His effect was not felt the minute he appeared, because HE is the eternal reality of the universe. That would mean that God would have to exist, yet NOT create. In essence, He would have to exist and ‘wait’ to create. He would have been able to say, “Not yet, not yet, not yet… OK, now!” This ability to ‘wait’ and decide to create is not characteristic of an impersonal force, but instead, is indicative of a personal creator God who has the ability to act freely.
Now think about where this reality brings us. In two simple steps we have reasoned to the existence of a personal creator God. That’s good, as far as it may go, but it is certainly a long way from the truth that we know as Christianity. Next time we’ll try to get a little closer…