how did God create himself :: Connor’s question

The previous post introduced a question about God from Connor, I’ve since learned that Connor is only five years old.

My instincts were similar to Matt and Grace; that is, to give Connor an answer that will lead him toward years of fresh and different questions in the same vein. So here is the answer I offered.

The Father loves the Son so much that he gives the Son his life; the Son loves the Spirit so much that he gives his life for the Spirit; the Spirit loves the Father so much that he gives his life for the Father. God’s love is so big that everything that God creates, including time, fits inside—and God loves you!

I cheated and used two sentences; but I did write both of them using a green marker!

The fun and challenging part about Connor’s question is that there is no simple answer that will satisfy the question’s underlying motive. Connor understands that speaking of an unmoved Mover begs the question as to whether the infinite regress can “really” end, or whether there is something “beyond” even this unmoved character. The question cannot be answered from within the framework that it is asked, because there will always be one more question searching for the real foundation.

Connor also seems to have a budding trinitarian instinct! He is not asking, “Who created God?” but “How does God create himself?” He seems to know that inquiring about God’s beginning will be a fruitful endeavor only if it receives an answer from within God’s own life. Whether or not he intended to do so, Connor brushes aside the singular, unchangeable, utterly removed, and utterly simple Hellenic notion of Deity. Connor’s questions begins to hint at self-differentiation within God because the notion of Someone without an external beginning is boggling. This is a wonderful question! Both Jurgen Moltmann and Robert Jenson make similar arguments, so Connor is in good company.

Through the self-revelation of the Trinity, we can speak of a logical beginning for God even though we cannot speak of a temporal beginning. God, from all eternity is found in the Father’s begetting of the Son in love, in the Father’s sending of the Spirit, and in the Son’s reflection of the Father’s Spirit of Love back to the Father. Of course, the story of those relationships cannot be said to have “begun.” Never have the begetting, sending, and loving obedience of the three persons ceased or started (from a temporal perspective). Yet, from a relational (or a logical) perspective, it makes sense to speak of God this way because of what God himself has shown us. The Son and the Spirit testify, in the midst of our history, to their relationships with the Father and with one another.

I remember puzzling over questions like Connor’s when I was a young kid. In the years since I’ve learned that they can be framed in philosophical terms and turned into three-hundred pages of dense technical writing, but it is truly remarkable how the questions themselves don’t change all that much. Children are in touch with the deepest mysteries, paradoxes, and tensions in our worldview, even if they don’t have all the “right” words for their questions, and even if they remain unasked. I for one, am thankful!

9 Replies to “how did God create himself :: Connor’s question”

  1. I love the way a five-year-old’s question ripples through the adult “pond” on its way to an answer.

    Maybe his mother said, “you ought to ask the pastor that.” Then the pastor handed off to his resident theologian who handed off the the blogosphere.

    Good on ya kid! Ask us another one!

  2. What is so interesting is how a question like this resonates throughout humanity. In my understanding, child – adult, this is proof of being created in the likeness of God.

    I saw a mother at a place called Mirror Lake Sunday morning in Yosemite Valley skipping right behind her young daughter – the mothers eyes riveted on her daughter, both full of glee. It reminded me of the glee that God must have for her kids as we glory in the wonder of creation. The ripple and resonation of God skipping along side.

    Yosemite was full of the resurrection that morning as God’s people roamed the valley floor and walls viewing the glistening spectacle of the snow rimmed valley held in mystical solicitude by none other than the Creator. We had grandstand views as we “skipped” down the valley sidewall that morning from 8,000 feet to the valley floor at 4,000. We were all blessed.

    Take care to all.

  3. God created himself through us. We, as conscious beings with free will, have what is needed to facilitate an idea about God, in other words, God cannot exist without us. Even though He was before all else, He needed energy to create matter, matter to create space, space to create the universe, and so on until man, where the existence of God is acknowledged, and that is why He loves us more than any other creation. As far as the nitty gritty is concerned, leave that for physicists like me to never figure out 🙂

  4. Dear Friend and Physicist,

    Thanks for leaving your thoughts. I’m not sure that I could pass it off on a five year-old (the original premise of the post), but there is a richness and a depth to your comment that becomes apparent with a careful reading or two.

    There are two things that I really like about your answer:

    1. You speak of God creating himself through us, but the way that you’ve phrased things doesn’t (so it seems to me) speak of God as a fictive projection of human consciousness out into the universe. In Feuerbach’s terms, God as the best man thinkable, now writ large in the heavens. Rather, you leave room for the slow and patient (billions of years patient) process of God’s self-revelation, and the gracious creation of beings who can respond in free and conscious love.

    2. I think that you’re not speaking in terms of a positivist reductionism that reduces the story of the universe to a long, long, long, series of (necessary) chemical and physical reactions. That level of description marginalizes the consciousness and free will which we find so ineluctable within our own experience of existence. Some of our scientist friends sometimes forget that even empirical observations of concrete phenomena require a conscious, intending, believing, and desiring observer.

    I would challenge the assertion that God loves human beings more than the rest of the universe. And I would especially challenge that conclusion if it calls as a premise the notion that God is especially gratified by your, or my, mere acknowledgment of his existence. God’s love certainly seeks to evoke a loving response, but that love is not premised on the expectation of a commensurate return.

    Thanks again for your comment. I hope to hear from you again in these nether-regions.

    Peace,
    Eric

  5. saying God had always been there is another way of saying he created himself…You can’t tell me god is beyond our normal mind and god is not in the universe because U don’t know that and ur just making assumptions. You say the big bang is wrong and that something can’t come out nothing. hypocrites are hypocrites.

    1. Thanks atheist!

      Pretty sure that you just raised the objection that I acknowledged a 5 year-old implicitly understands:

      “Connor understands that speaking of an unmoved Mover begs the question as to whether the infinite regress can “really” end, or whether there is something “beyond” even this unmoved character. The question cannot be answered from within the framework that it is asked, because there will always be one more question searching for the real foundation.”

      So, you’ve proved that your wits are equal to Connor’s (even if your spelling and reading skills aren’t [Big bang?])! Well done!

      Not really interested in debating this with an internet stranger. I’m familiar with the objection and find the conversation boring. Sorry about that.

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