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Atheists, the Creator, and Creation –that Chicken and Egg Question

Maya Bohnhoff | Nov 30, 2022

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Maya Bohnhoff | Nov 30, 2022

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Discussing the atheist Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, someone posed the old chicken and egg argument: that believing in a Creator just means we have to explain what created God.

This is certainly true, I pointed out, if you conceive of God as being the same sort of being we humans are, and therefore subject to the same natural laws.

RELATED: Atheists and Believers: We’re All on a Path Together

But Krishna hinted at a more complex relationship and reality than that in the Bhagavad Gita:

All the visible universe comes from my invisible Being. All beings have their rest in me, but I have not My rest in them, And in truth they rest not in Me. Consider my sacred mystery: I am the source of all beings, I support them all, but I rest not in them.

As a writer of fiction, I find this concept comprehensible because of the relationship that exists between me and my creations. As their creator, I am in my books, but I am not in my books. I create the laws that operate in my books, and yet I am not bound by those laws. The characters in my books may look human and act human and sound human, but they are only reflections of humanity.

So, from my point of view, to deny the existence of a Creator because we can’t imagine what sort of being He might be – using only ourselves as a point of reference – would be very much like my characters being unable to imagine that there is a writer who conceived of them and put them into a book. They might theorize my existence and, if they looked carefully at themselves, they would see my reflection in them – but they would not see or comprehend or understand the totality of me.

That’s one of the reasons, I suppose, why the Baha’i teachings refer to the Supreme Being as an “unknowable essence.” Baha’u’llah wrote:

To every discerning and illuminated heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the Divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is, and hath ever been, veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men. “No vision taketh in Him, but He taketh in all vision; He is the Subtile, the All-Perceiving.”

RELATED: Atheist, Agnostic, Baha’i—in that Order

I think this gives us a glimpse of what our relationship with God is like — we can’t see the Creator any more than we can stare directly into the sun, but we can see His reflection in his divine messengers and their teachings. Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, put it this way:

Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct evidence of the revelation within it of the attributes and names of God, inasmuch as within every atom are enshrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that Most Great Light.  … To a supreme degree is this true of man, who, among all created things, hath been invested with the robe of such gifts, and hath been singled out for the glory of such distinction. 

Later in the same verse, Baha’u’llah says: “He hath known God who hath known himself.“Look at it logically: if we suppose that there is no essence or element or being behind the existence of the universe that is not intrinsically different than what is in the universe, then no matter what you posit caused this or that, you’re doomed to an infinite regression of chickens and eggs.

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