This question begins in our childhood, and if not given a proper answer, it can linger into adulthood. The reason it seems so difficult is that we live in a world of beginnings, so we assume that everything must have a beginning—including God. Genesis 1:1, however, clues us in to the answer: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The very first verse in the Bible tells us that before the heavens and the earth (the universe) were created, God existed. God is a non-contingent being, meaning His existence does not depend on anything else. He was not created; He has always existed. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Revelation 1:8 says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Some may improperly cite the scientific principle of causality by saying everything must have a cause, which they assume would include God. However, the principle of causality states that every effect must have a cause. By definition God is not an effect of something else (otherwise there would be something greater than God), so the principle of causality would not apply to God.
This question is hard to grasp because we are finite and therefore limited in our understanding. We would have to be infinite like God to understand God’s eternal nature. But we can understand what God has revealed: that He has always existed and there was never a time when He was not.
If all of this is too hard to believe, then it must be understood that the existence of something eternal is not just a religious problem; it’s a problem for science as well. There’s a basic scientific axiom which says ex nihilo nihil fit –“out of nothing, nothing comes.” This axiom reminds us that if there was ever a time in which there was nothing, there would still be nothing. The fact that you and I (and the universe) exist is proof that there’s something eternal—something has always existed.
Since logically we know that there is something eternal, the real question is whether this something is an impersonal force or a personal being. If it is an impersonal force, how did it produce personal beings? If this force is lifeless and unintelligent, how did it ever produce life and intelligence? Can the creation be greater than its creator? Again, Genesis 1:27 tells us why we are intelligent and personal beings: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” We are personal and intelligent beings because we have been created in the image of an intelligent and personal God.
No doubt it’s difficult to explain God’s existence, but it’s also very difficult to explain our own existence without God.
Dr. Billy Elkins is the pastor of Trinity Church of Chickasha, OK. He is a graduate of Chickasha High School, has a B.A. in Fine Art from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, a Master of Divinity with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, FT. Worth, TX, and a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Philosophy from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY. He and his wife Crystal have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and one Granddaughter. Billy enjoys time with his family, gardening, and reading alongside his dog, Luther.