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What existed before God?


"What existed before God?", or "Who/What created Him?" Since theists believe God is the source and origin of all things, the "First Principle," then He's neither created, nor preceded by anything. I'll try to show that to ask this question is a bit of a misunderstanding like asking, "What existed before existence?"

Yet didn't God have to come from "somewhere"? Out of nothing? Even Creation Ex Nihilo (out of nothing physical), technically came from God's Will. The problem is that not only is the concept of infinity misunderstood, but even the very nature of causality is presumed when it's probably illogical here. Physicists will tell you that asking what came before the universe is illogical because time starts (t=0) at the Big Bang.

Set Theory and Infinite Regress

But clearly an origin of some sort caused the universe to happen, whether natural or not, so we can relatively speaking ask the question legitimately. The problem with presuming that something must have preceded God, however, remains. We can show this in some ways.

First, if we say a hypothetical force A existed before Him, then what existed before that? If we say another hypothetical force B, then what about before that? We simply end up replacing natural forces and/or the universe in the place of God and so end up with the same problem. If we keep going in an infinite regress of caused causes, we still get a problem. We can add all of those forces, and say that Set S of forces {A, B, C...} is what preceded God and is unpreceded. Again, we've violated our own unofficial rule of "something must've been there before this."

If one isn't convinced by this and feels that infinity is being treated as a finite number here (which it isn't like in Set Theory), then Zeno's Paradoxes could become a useful illustration. His paradoxes of time, motion, and space clearly illustrate that at some point either space and time cease to exist or they go on forever on the miniscule aspect.

If they go on forever, yet there's something that can supercede them (e.g. a "bigger piece" of infinite space-time), it's clear, as Cantor showed in the 19th century with Set Theory, that infinity isn't treated as a finite number. If our universe is finite both in its dimensions and amount of energy, then an infinite regress of forces that came before it could've made it bigger (say +1 kg of mass). Since they didn't, this set of forces is less infinitely big than another potential one and we can rightfully ask "What created it?" and therefore, "What came before it?" - thus showing the contradiction in the reasoning.

Zeno's Paradox of Place

Another way of illustrating that the question, "What existed before God?" is illogical is by asking what does space exist "in"? This is Zeno's Paradox of Place, and unlike his other paradoxes, it's a bit more peculiar and unique because you cannot solve it with Cantor because it's more of a metaphysical question. Even if we say space exists "in more space," it just doesn't make sense (due to the definition of space), and at any rate, even with an infinite regress, because of Set Theory, one eventually has to come to the conclusion that space exists in "nothing". Aside from a possibly good argument against doubts about Creation ex Nihilo and that it couldn't have arisen naturally (cf. Banach-Tarski Paradox), this illustrates that ultimately, "nothing" isn't really a barrier to an answer of this question.


The main reason that this question is illogical in presuming that something must exist before/behind an identifiable entity such as God, is that it presumes causality where causality and time do not exist. In essence, the question asks who is the most powerful force/being, which would be the one that created the others (and this does not imply the existence of time as we've mentioned with infinitesimal space with Set Theory in the examples above), and presuming there must be something other than God, which of course begs the question.


In a sense, going back to what Stephen Hawking and other physicists think of causality prior to the universe, to ask something like this is perhaps similar to asking, "Who scored a goal before the first soccer team that scored a goal?" Or at what point does a circle begin and end? It's certainly finite. But to claim any one point is its starting point once it's drawn with respect to itself is untrue as they're all starting points by then. Like our infinite regress thought experiment above, there are bigger circles with a "larger" amount of points, and something had to give rise to them, despite being infinite, and infinity being "uncaused". So what existed before existence?