Sometimes children keep on asking questions. One answer provokes the next question. Sometimes the questions go deeper and deeper until we reach a level where we simply regard something as a mere fact without explanation. Yet the child does not stop there and we hear the next embarrassing “Why?”. For a child every answer is like a new room with a door inviting us to find out what is behind it. No answer is all-embracing. When we were children, after some years of asking, many of us got used to giving up at some point. Yet the answers we received were still things or facts which actually need something or somebody else to explain their reason for being — their purpose and attributes.
If we want to be fair, our final answer ought to be complete – without any further closed doors, without any walls, able to explain itself. Such an answer must be something or somebody who is:
- Without a reason for its own existence
- Explaining our ability to love
We will try to explain these attributes in detail. We will point out why only God can fulfill them and so be the sufficient reason for the existence of our universe. It might be difficult to start believing in a God who seems very abstract. Coming to believe in him goes hand in hand with getting to know him. Knowing him better allows us to compare his being with the limits of this world.
The Jewish tradition contains the following legend about the childhood of their forefather Abraham:
(The little Abraham) saw the bright sun in the sky, and thought that it was God, who had created the heaven and the earth, and him, too. But in the evening the sun went down, and the moon rose in the sky, surrounded by myriads of stars. “This must be God,” Abraham decided. But the moon, too, disappeared, and the sun reappeared, and Abraham decided that there must be One who is the creator of the sun and the moon and the stars, and the whole world. (Midrash)
This legend is not a historical source, but it illustrates another kind of limit we see in the things around us. Everything around us is changeable. Even the whole universe is constantly changing. A long time ago it was small and hot. Tomorrow it will not be the same as today.
Who directs the changes? The universe itself? But it does not have its own will. Is there some law that controls the universe? But who defined it? …
When we say “God” we mean the One who has no beginning and no end and who does not alter. His existence is completely independent of anything else.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
God is perfect in all his attributes. He is perfect love, perfect rightousness, absolutely good. In every quality which we consider valuable, God’s goodness is complete. He gives us the deep and pure joy that a person truly needs. There is no deficiency in him. Moses said about God:
“… his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)
Our world is different. It is good but not perfect in the sense described above. In one Psalm we read:
“To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.” (Psalm 119:96) (NIV)
What is not absolutely perfect cannot be supreme either. Only a supreme being can be the final answer to our questions.
God is not limited by space and time because he created them. He is omnipresent (present everywhere simultaneously) and omniscient (knowing everything). “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:20)
Not only does he know everything but he can also do anything he wants. Job said ”I know that you can do all things“ (Job 42:2). This, however, does not mean that God will do something nonsensical, something bad or contradictory in itself or contradictory to his nature. His unlimited attributes are connected with deep goodness and integrity.
The universe is the sum of everything that exists around us. It is the sum of limited things and must itself also be limited. Even scientists say that the number of stars and the amount of energy in the universe, though huge, is limited, and that our universe had a beginning.
Anything that is limited depends on something superior — something that determines its limits. Nothing but the omnipotent, one and only God can be completely independent and supreme.
Solomon said, “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you“ (1 Kings 8:27).
Without a reason for its own existence
Existence is a gift — it is something we received. The example which comes closest to us is our own life. Once we were born and one day we will die. We live, but our life is dependent on many circumstances. We did not decide to live and we cannot decide whether we want to die or not. There are many conditions and external reasons for our existence. In other words, our existence does not contain its reason in itself. We are not independent. We ask, “Why do I exist?” and we have to look for the answer outside of ourselves. With other things in this universe it is similar. In the case of some things we can directly observe their beginning and their end. They come and go, start to exist and perish. In case of other things we can observe their changeability. Everything that alters is subject to changes and is not totally independent in its existence. Its life consists of several periods, which come and go, start and perish. So we observe that not only we ourselves, but all things in this universe received their existence from outside. It is a gift. If somebody starts to see things from this perspective he will become deeply thankful for this gift of existence and will find its real sense.
In this regard the universe cannot be more than the sum of the parts which form it. If everything in the universe received its existence as a gift, how can we claim something else about the universe itself?
God’s being is very different. Because of his attributes described above he does not depend on anything or anybody else. His own being is a sufficient reason for his existence. Because he is unlimited, outside space and time, he does not need a creator. Limited things need an origin. God is the one who gives existence and life. He created the universe from nothing by his word.
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24–25)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega”, says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”. (Revelation 1:8)
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 44:6)
Explaining our ability to love
When the Bible says that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) then it means that love belongs so deeply to his character that he cannot deny it. His love is not self-seeking. He does not need anything from us. He loves us for our sake.
He enables people to have a similar attitude. If people learn this from him then they become living proof of his work—proof that we are more than a product of blind chance struggling for survival.
Jesus called us to love our enemies.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43–48)
We are able to search for what is good beyond the frame of our benefit, the benefit of our family, or our peers. With God’s help we can even love our enemies. We find many examples of such people in the Bible. The best example is Jesus himself. He served selflessly his whole life. He did not profit from it, nor did he do it for human praise. During his suffering he persevered in humility and love towards all people. Who enabled him to do that?
If we turn to God then God can completely transform our life. He enables us to live in truth and selfless love. Many people who met Jesus experienced such a change. He invites us to experience a change of life which goes beyond human capabilities.
God is a sufficient answer for the existence of our universe and the deep questions of our soul. Yet because of our limits we cannot understand everything about God. We can understand through his help everything that is necessary for finding him. In his love he shows himself in many ways. God helps us to draw the right conclusions on the base of what we experience in the world and in our life.
God is not a theoretical reason for the existence of all things. Once we find him we can enter a relationship with him. In this way the answer of God involves not only our intellect but our whole being. We will never find peace and rest in a merely intellectual answer to our question about the reason for our existence. If we find God, we will know not only its reason but also its aim.
We do not know everything about him but we know that he can exist independently of anything else. This is a big difference to the physical things. God can exist without the universe but our universe cannot exist without him — see The General Causality Argument (Contingency).
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