What If God Did Not Exist?

That is a very, very big theological question. But as you’ll see it’s also a scientific and philosophical question too. The simple and straightforward theological answer is, you won’t be alive to ask that question if God didn’t exist. But we seem to be getting ahead of ourselves, let’s back up a little.

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One of the more interesting scriptures is Isaiah 45:18. It’s curious because the prophet referenced modern science: “For the Lord is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos.” (Isaiah 45:18 NLT)

What Isaiah was trying to establish is what we refer to as first cause principle in philosophy. The principle states that all that we see (the observable universe) was brought into being by God as first cause. In other words, the observable universe is contingent, it cannot exist by itself. And so if God does not exist, there will be no observable universe and we will not be here to debate the issue of God’s existence. That’s Christian theology.

The principle however throws up the legitimate question of God’s provenance. Where did God come from? Did he originate or generate himself? How did he come about? The Bible gives us no clue, just intimates God has always been. Talks about eternity. That’s an infinity concept. By the time we were introduced to God in Genesis, time had significantly elapsed. Genesis is history. And we don’t know much about what happened before that “beginning” in Genesis 1:1; we only know what happened “in the beginning.” “The beginning” is a huge stretch of time.

Science tells us time is a dimension, just like length, height and breadth. The idea of time as a dimension like length may not be easy to grapple with but that’s what made Einstein famous. Time is not a clock. A clock calibrates time; it is not the time. Science also tells us we can’t separate space from time. It is scientists’ talk about space-time. Time was created when matter came into existence. If God created time he must have existed outside of time, in a timeless dimension. The Physics of that dimension has to be bizarre. Just read Revelation.

Now, here’s the problem we have in trying to know where God came from. It’s sort of an impossibility quest. We are finite creatures. Our dimension limits us. Your dimension defines you and everything about you – what you look like, how you relate, your language, your values, concept of beauty, culture tec. Those who live in the timeless dimension will not for example use a phrase like, “I am going.” “I am going” is present continuous language – a time lapse sequence. Those in the timeless dimension will probably say, “I go.” There’s no time lapse so no “ing” attached to their verbs. Everything in that dimension will happen in an instance. And so the paradox for us is, how can a creature of time come to grips with infinity? It’s beyond him. He can’t imagine that world. The Physics is too complex. The moment you ask where does God come from you run into a paradox. The question assumes God is a creature of time. Question invalid. Our confusion is apparent in some of our songs. We sing God cannot grow old because we’re creatures of time, but the right thing to say is, God is ageless, and that’s literally. There are no birthdays in heaven, it’s a conceptual incongruity. It’s a timeless dimension.

But Isaiah’s statement also hints at what scientists refer to as the “anthropic principle.” What that principle says in effect is, our existence is proof enough the universe allows for creatures like us to come into existence within it. That we’re here to observe the universe implies the universe is wired in such a way to admit our existence. And so when Isaiah writes that God created “the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos,” he’s referencing the anthropic principle. Funny how an 8th century BC prophet can say such stuff!

From a theological perspective, we can therefore argue that if God did not exist there’ll be no universe to observe, there’ll be no us to do the observation. However, if we insist as some scientists do that things spontaneously burst into existence, we run into the problem of first cause. What caused those things to spontaneously burst forth? Where did the creative force come from? What is the source of the materials the force acted on? Science is stumped.

Let’s assume we somehow jumped the hoop and life somewhat came to be without the existence of God, what would the world be like? Well, minus God nature will reign. And because of the nature of man some form of authority would emerge after much bloodletting. The alternative is absolute chaos. Might will be right. And so power will determine ethics. Whoever assumes ultimate power will be immune to ethical constriction. He will only submit to ethics if he determines it will sustain his power and authority. This will be an era of absolute power and constant wars. Peace will be a power construct as well. Peace can only come about at the threat of war or annihilation.

However, the idea of a godless society is not exactly new. Man continues to experiment with it in one form or the other. And there are supportive political philosophies. Think Marx and Engel’s communist manifesto. Examples of these political experiments are Lenin’s and Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Hitler’s Germany. What is evident from these human experiments is that in a Godless society the state assumes the role of God. And so the banning of God does not invalidate the concept of “God” – the idea of a supreme being or authority.

Without God, world culture will change. Sociology will change too. There’s no fear of aftermath as a regulatory protocol. Sociology will become fluid and profuse. Many limits will be removed. Why not bestiality for example? There’ll be sociological experimentations as man continues to push the envelope of what is acceptable and what is not. What is acceptable will be defined by preponderance of acceptance, even if aberrant. Man as a collective becomes his own “God.” He determines his own moral laws.

But there’s a fundamental assumption we’re making. We assume nature will be tamed by man in the absence of God’s authority. Paul thinks otherwise. In trying to encourage Roman Christians he wrote a piece of intriguing scripture: “Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead.” (Romans 8:18-21 MSG) In other words, there’s regulation of nature by God. And so we can’t assume if there’s no God nature will not rise against mankind. We can’t assume a rebellious asteroid will not seek our annihilation. Asteroids actually go after us periodically, it’s just that most disintegrate when they enter earth’s atmosphere. Nonetheless a few have landed. There are massive craters on earth from asteroid strike. Scientists believe 66 million years ago an asteroid struck eastern Mexico and wiped out the dinosaurs. These strikes have nuclear qualities. The reason the moon is poke-marked is because there were several asteroid strikes. Without God’s restraint man can’t subdue nature. Which was why God specifically invested authority in Adam over nature: “God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” God created human beings; he created them godlike, reflecting God’s nature… God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!” (Genesis 1:26-28 MSG)

In essence, the only reason man has authority over nature is because he’s made in the likeness of God, and he’s a donee of authority. Therefore whichever way we look at it without God, you and I will not be discussing this subject matter. Either we won’t exist or nature wouldn’t allow!

But perhaps the most important question humans will face without God is the question of purpose. What’s the point of it all, why are we here? Science can’t answer that question. Philosophy can’t give respite either. Only theology can give us an answer. We exist at God’s pleasure. (Revelation 4:11)

If you’ll like to be set free from the brutality of the law of sin and death please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me Father. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.

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