Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. (Exodus 3:13-15 ESV)
A while ago I was out running errands when Tony Evans came on the radio. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dr. Evans, he is the Senior Pastor to the over 9,500 member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and the first African American to earn a doctorate in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary where he taught evangelism, homiletics and black church studies at DTS, and serves on its Board of Incorporate Members. He is a speaker, teacher and writer and in my opinion one of the best speakers around. His enthusiasm for the Word is contagious and his speaking style reminds me of some of the old time Baptist pastors. He has a way of making difficult scripture accessible to all.
Doctor Evans short radio piece was on Exodus 3 verses 13 to 14. As you can see from reading the verses we have Moses having doubts if the Hebrews will believe he has been sent from God. So, Moses asks God if the ask who should he say has sent him. God answers Moses saying ““I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations”
Doctor Evans makes the observation that God by using “I AM WHO I AM” is telling Moses and us that He is self-existent, that is that God is not contingent on anything else for his existence. Let’s take a look at what The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised Volume 2, Page 507 has to say about how God identifies Himself, God declares that His name is ʾehyeh ʾašer ʾehyeh. The verb ʾehyeh is imperfect qal and is obviously linked to the tetragrammaton, as vv 14f make plain. Of the two possible senses for it, “I am who/what I am” and “I will be who/what I will be,” the latter is preferable but not because the idea of God as a self-existent, unique, transcendent being is “foreign to Hebrew thought,” as has often been said (cf. Isa. 40–55, which describe Yahweh in exalted language that implies all those things). Rather, it is preferable because the verb hāyâ has a more dynamic sense of being—not pure existence, but becoming, happening, being present—and because the historical and theological context of these early chapters of Exodus shows that God is revealing to Moses, and subsequently to the whole people, not the inner nature of His being, but His active, redemptive intentions on their behalf. He “will be” to them “what” His deeds will show Him “to be.”
To the Hebrew people God was not a being that came into existence but a being that had always existed and it is this eternal existence that concerns me today. How often have you heard the question “who made God?” Children will sometimes ask this question but all too often unbelievers will also ask this question thinking they have somehow asked the question that puts to rest the existence of God. But they have missed a very important point when we look at how the universe came to be.
We know today that the universe had a beginning. Every experiment conducted over the last fifty plus years points to the fact that our universe is not eternal and had a definite birth about 14 or so billion years ago. Let us take a quick look at causality. Something can be uncaused, it can be caused by something else or it can be self-caused. We can rule out the last example because it is a logical impossibility. In order to be self-caused that thing would have to exist before it existed. This is clearly impossible. We are then left with two means of causality, something can be either uncaused of caused to come into existence by something else. Our own experiences are very familiar with things being caused by something else. Babies are caused by their parents. Buildings are caused by teams of workers. Canyons are caused by erosion and mountains by plate tectonics. Everywhere we look one thing is caused by another thing. Something had to exist in order to cause something else to come into existence.
What about the universe? What caused the universe to come into existence? Furthermore, why is the universe even here? If there was a time when something did not exist then why does it exist today? It is the fact that the universe had a beginning that has scientists and philosophers jumping through hoops since the 1960 trying to come up with a reason that does not involve God.
They have come up with all manner of multiverses or special quantum fluxes in order to show how the universe came into existence. Do you spot the flaw in these arguments? They do not tell us how everything began. The multiverse just passes the problem to another level. You are just adding universes one before the other, this begs the question of what caused the universe. The multiverse is an example of an infinite regress as a joke it is called “Turtles all the way down” This came about when people argued for a flat earth. When asked what held up the earth the answer was a large turtle. So what was that turtle standing on, another turtle. The line of reasoning leads to the answer, there are turtles all the way down. Down to what is left unanswered.
The quantum flux needs space time to happen but unless we are to dismiss Einstein we have nothing for the quantum flux to flux in. Einstein’s theories wrap space time with the universe. They all happened together. Where does this leave us? There must be a first cause. For anything physical to exist there has to be a first cause and this first cause has to be uncaused. That is it always has to have existed and always will exist, eternal.
What would this first cause look like? As I said before it has to be eternal and uncaused. The universe can give us other clues. Our universe has rational laws that govern it so the first cause has to be rational. The universe is ordered so the first cause should also be orderly. The universe was created so the first cause has to be creative. The universe exists where it could not exist this can lead us to think the first cause is loving. To create something as large and powerful as the universe out of nothing means the first cause is all powerful. The first cause would have to have infinite intelligence and knowledge to create something as our universe that eventually is home to an intelligent species.
The first cause should be loving, rational, all powerful, eternal, all knowing and intelligent. This sounds an awful like the God described in the Bible. This is something that the Hebrew people knew over four thousand years ago. It is something that believers know today. Unbelievers have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to get around God. But even with all their machinations they still have not answered to question, where did everything come from.
What I have written today is a long drawn out version of the Kalam Cosmological argument. This line of reasoning is as follows, whatever begins to exist has a cause; the universe began to exist; therefore: the universe has a cause. A year or so back one of my atheist readers commented that he had refuted the Kalam argument. I looked at his refutation and what I found was a version of the multiverse theory. In his example he postulates that the universe was created similar to how droplets of water are created when waves crash upon the shore. What is missed is where did the ocean that created the wave come from not to mention the shore. These types of arguments may answer how the universe came into being but ignores the question of where everything originally came from or why there is anything at all.
For a summary of the Kalam argument for God look at my post on this blog. Or for an in depth look get William Lane Craig’s The Kalam Cosmological Argument.
Have a blessed day,
PS: To my readers, my apologies for not posting in such a long time. As some of you know I retired last year and I have often been asked what the most difficult thing about retirement is. I answer for me it is the lack of structure. I got my first real job as a painter’s helper when I was 14.Before that I mowed neighbor’s lawns. I have either worked, gone to school or both since then. Last year I found myself without the structure that I had for 50 years. Also, being home I tend to see something that needs doing and just do it which leads to a lot of jumping around. So as I seek to put structure in my daily life and as Gail and I travel the country please bear with me. My goal is to write a post at least once a week and to finish my study of Luke. Thanks for your patience and understanding.