What must the creator of the universe be like?

  • 2 July 2013

What properties must the creator of the universe possess? Apologist William Lane Craig offers the following summary. You can read the full article here.

I have tried to make this more digestible and easy to remember, as well as provide some scripture.

Timeless (Exod 3:14, Ps 90:2-4, Hab 1:12, 2 Pet 3:8, Rev 1:8)
Changeless (Ps 102:27, Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8)
Immaterial (John 4:24, Col 1:15, 1 Tim 1:17)

As the cause of space and time, it must transcend space and time and therefore exist timelessly and non-spatially (at least without the universe). This transcendent cause must therefore be changeless and immaterial because (1) anything that is timeless must also be unchanging and (2) anything that is changeless must be non-physical and immaterial since material things are constantly changing at the molecular and atomic levels.

Uncaused, without a beginning (Exod 3:14, Ps 93:2, Acts 17:24-25, Col 1:17)

Such a cause must be without a beginning and uncaused, at least in the sense of lacking any prior causal conditions, since there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. Ockham’s Razor (the principle that states that we should not multiply causes beyond necessity) will shave away any other causes since only one cause is required to explain the effect.

Unimaginably powerful (Gen 18:14, Job 42:2, Jer 32:17, Luke 1:37)

This entity must be unimaginably powerful, if not omnipotent, since it created the universe without any material cause.

Personal (Gen 1:26-27, Ex 3:14, Jer 24:9, 1 John 4:8)

Finally, and most remarkably, such a transcendent first cause is plausibly personal…the personhood of the first cause of the universe is implied by its timelessness and immateriality. The only entities that can possess such properties are either minds or abstract objects like numbers. But abstract objects don’t stand in causal relations. Therefore, the transcendent cause of the origin of the universe must be an unembodied mind. Moreover, the personhood of the first cause is also implied since the origin of an effect with a beginning is a cause without a beginning. We’ve seen that the beginning of the universe was the effect of a first cause. By the nature of the case that cause cannot have a beginning of its existence or any prior cause. It just exists changelessly without beginning, and a finite time ago it brought the universe into existence. Now this is very peculiar. The cause is in some sense eternal and yet the effect that it produced is not eternal but began to exist a finite time ago. How can this happen? If the sufficient conditions for the effect are eternal, then why isn’t the effect also eternal? How can a first event come to exist if the cause of that event exists changelessly and eternally? How can the cause exist without its effect?
There seems to be only one way out of this dilemma, and that’s to say that the cause of the universe’s beginning is a personal agent who freely chooses to create a universe in time. Philosophers call this type of causation “agent causation,” and because the agent is free, he can initiate new effects by freely bringing about conditions that were not previously present. Thus, a finite time ago a Creator could have freely brought the world into being at that moment. In this way, the Creator could exist changelessly and eternally but choose to create the world in time. (By “choose” one need not mean that the Creator changes his mind about the decision to create, but that he freely and eternally intends to create a world with a beginning.) By exercising his causal power, he therefore brings it about that a world with a beginning comes to exist.9 So the cause is eternal, but the effect is not. In this way, then, it is possible for the temporal universe to have come to exist from an eternal cause: through the free will of a personal Creator.

So on the basis of an analysis of the argument’s conclusion, we may therefore infer that a personal Creator of the universe exists who is uncaused, without beginning, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and unimaginably powerful.