If God created us and the universe, then who created God?

Even if we treat this as a valid question, it changes nothing. If we have a Creator, we owe him the reverence and worship that are rightfully His, as our divine Creator.

Nonetheless, “Who created God” is not a valid question because the minute we ask it, we stop talking about God.  God, by definition, is not created. This is like asking: “Who created the uncreated?” No one created God because He alone has existed without beginning or end.  He is the Uncreated, the eternally existing.

The assumption that a divine Creator has to be himself created—and that He has the same characteristics as His creation— is a false assumption. Did Steve Jobs look like the iPhone? Did he operate in the same way? Of course not. A creator is different from his creation.

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The correct assumption is that everything with a beginning has a cause and that everything created has a creator. According to what He claims for Himself, God is neither created nor does He have a beginning. He is the First:

He is the First and the Last, and the Manifest and the Hidden, and He has knowledge of everything. (Quran 57:3)

  • According to Muslim philosophers, infinite regress in doers necessarily leads to no action.

An infinite regress is a series of appropriately related elements with a first member but no last member, where each element leads to or generates the next in some sense.  Usually, such arguments take the form of objections to a theory, meaning that infinite regression makes a theory objectionable. (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/infinite-regress/) If every creator needs another creator to create him, then, by the principle of infinite regress, there could be no creation. But in fact there is creation: the universe and its creatures; so the sequence traced back must begin with a First Originator, an Uncreated Eternal Creator.

If every soldier had to wait for the order of his commanding officer before firing, no shot would ever be fired. The order must start with the General at the top.

This is in line with current science: Before the Big Bang which produced the universe, there was no space, no time and no matter. This points to a first cause.

  • Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, author of the 2016 book, The Divine Reality: God, Islam, & the Mirage of Atheism, presents the argument as follows:

The Universe and all the things we perceive do not necessarily exist; they could have not existed. They also have limited physical qualities. Since they could not give rise to their own limitations, something external must have imposed these limitations. The Universe and all the things we perceive … are dependent and dependent things do not exist independently. (Revised Edition, FB Publishing, p. 104) (https://www.hamzatzortzis.com/divine-link-the-argument-from-dependency/)

An outside independent source without limitations is the only possible explanation which avoids the problem of infinite regress.

  • If “Who created God?” were to be a valid question, then, when some say that gravity created the universe or natural selection created organisms, it is perfectly legitimate to ask who created gravity and natural selection.
  • The One who puts down the laws is exempt from his own laws. As a practical analogy: If in your house, you set a bedtime of 7 pm for your kids, you yourself are not bound by that bedtime rule because it is your house and your law. God sets the laws and He is exempt from His own laws, including the law of causality. He is the one who put causality into effect for His creation, but it does not apply to Him.
  • Created ‘gods’ are called idols. They are not God.

How can God allow bad things to happen?

Some object that if God is All-Powerful and All-Merciful, then how are these attributes consistent with such terrible evil and suffering in the world.  They ask, “How can God allow bad things to happen?”

If we discover a buried city where everything seems to be designed, except some structures whose function is unknown, we cannot deduce that no one designed this city, simply because the function of some of its parts is not clear to us.

Even though many atheists use the question of evil as an argument against God’s existence —stating that a merciful God would not allow evil— it is at most an objection to God’s plan, not an objection to His existence. Nonetheless let us discuss this issue in detail as it is a central theme in atheism.

The Creator’s Plan

If God loves us, why would He allow us to experience pain, disappointment, injustice, sickness, loss, etc.?

Is this world the best of all worlds that a Just All-Powerful God can create?

To answer, we first need to clear up some misconceptions, to put things in perspective:

  • According to divine revelation, this worldly life is a station in our personal journey. Death is not the end of our story. It is the beginning of our true life.

This worldly life is a test, a learning academy, a place where we can grow morally and intellectually, to determine where we truly stand on issues of belief, how we serve God and what we contribute to the well-being of humanity; to separate the righteous from the wrongdoers and the truthful from the hypocrites.

This life is not about ultimate fairness, uninterrupted happiness, or justice. These belong to the afterlife. If we expect these in this life, then we are confusing our life on Earth with life in Paradise; confusing the test with the result.

  • Such questions go against the concept of religious faith which, in essence, depends on belief in a delayed outcome.

Faith is not about immediate or direct results. Faith is a conviction in a promise, by a God we have never seen, for delayed rewards that we cannot imagine.

  • The denial of God based on the existence of suffering is an objection to natural laws and to life itself, not evidence against God.

Would we rather not have the sun, because some people get heatstroke? Are freshwater rivers bad because some people drown in them? Would we rather not have seasons because of the hardship of freezing cold in winter or the blazing heat in summer?

How is it wise or merciful to prevent great good in order to avoid relatively minor harm?  On the contrary, that would be the ultimate harm.

In everyday dealings between humans there is loss and gain. Should we stop forming relationships because of the potential loss?

Without predators in the animal world and the pain they cause their prey, populations of certain species may multiply and cause great ecological damage, starvation and imbalance in resources. As an example, when European rabbits were introduced in Tasmania —where they had no natural predator— they caused huge damage to crops and harm to livestock.

  • Suppose you find an unknown part in your iPhone. From your experience of the expert design and advanced functionality in Apple products, you assume that the mystery part must have a function; even if you don’t know what it is. You would never say: “This iPhone did not come by design because a designer would never create a function which I do not understand.”

Similarly, when everything in this universe is designed with wisdom and fine-tuned for a purpose, our ignorance of the wisdom for some things (such as suffering) does not mean there is no wisdom behind them.

  • These questions ignore the collective human experience. Since when does great reward come without hardship?

Medical students apply themselves to years of study instead of immersing themselves in pleasurable activity, like their peers, in order to receive the reward of a medical degree and a lifetime of monetary ease. Similarly, we are promised great rewards in the afterlife in return for the hardship and strife that we endure in this life.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, told us that people who did not suffer calamity in this life will wish, in the afterlife, that they had been given the worst trials when they see the reward of those who were so afflicted.

“On the Day of Resurrection people will wish that their skins had been cut with shears in this world, when they see the reward of those who were struck with calamity.” (Jami‘Al-Tirmidhi 2402)

  • Anything transient is bearable. We are created for eternal life and not for this short worldly life alone.

Accordingly, whatever hardship we suffer in this life, and however long it lasts, it is inconsequential in the context of our eternal life.

Would you say that a lifetime spent in the US was terrible just because of the jet lag you suffered during the first few days upon arrival?

The Quran tells us that in the afterlife, our life here on Earth will seem like merely part of a day in duration:

God will say: “How long did you remain on Earth in number of years?” They will say: “We remained a day or part of a day.” (Quran 23:112-113)

  • Our perception is very limited. Accordingly, our judgment of what is “good” or “bad” is flawed.

We cannot see the big picture or the final outcome. We cannot judge a 1000-page book by reading only one paragraph. If we could see the future, we would know that the outcome of hardship for a believer is the best one possible. This is a pledge from God.

Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him), said:

 “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens, he is thankful for it and that is good [for him]. If something bad happens, he bears it with patience and that is good [for him].” (Narrated by Suhaib, aÎ Muslim, 2999)

The ultimate test to judge if anything was good or bad, is whether it brought you closer to God. If it did, then it was good.  If it took you further away, it was bad.

…To be continued in Part 4

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Dr. Raida Jarrar

Dr. Raida Jarrar is a Palestinian American who holds a Doctorate of Engineering from Cleveland State University. Following a career of over twenty-five years in the fields of engineering and aviation IT, she worked as a volunteer at one of the largest Islamic centers in the Middle East, where she interacted with visitors of different religious backgrounds and diverse cultures. The series she writes for Al-Jumuah analyzes and encapsulates her discussions with the atheist visitors, presented in a question and answer format for clarity and ease of reference. The answers are sourced from research, discussions with colleagues and mentors, and personal thoughts. Dr. Jarrar also volunteers as a translator for Islamic content and hosts the Aslamt youtube channel, which is dedicated to answering common questions about faith. https://youtube.com/@aslamt9462

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