The more I thought about God, the more I realized: Doesn’t God just postpone the deep questions about existence, rather than really answer them?
The more I consider it, the more I realize that using “God” to answer the questions of meaning, existence as such, and consciousness answers the questions locally to us, but the question still remains: What is God’s meaning? How is it that God could exist at all? and How is it possible that God is conscious? It seems to me that the answer of God merely pushes these questions aside with a temporal explanation but does not really answer the deep mysteries of being as such.
My question is this: If God doesn’t ultimately answer these questions, aren’t we left with a form of theistic agnosticism?
A first step in working through these sorts of issues is to ask, “What is at stake?” What you’ve raised are possible challenges to whether God is ultimately explicable or not. Do we have explanations for God? Suppose we were to concede that we cannot ultimately provide any explanation for God’s attributes. In that case it would not follow that God does not exist or that we cannot know that God exists. At best it would follow that we cannot provide further explanations.
Your question is closely related to the question that G. W. Leibniz asked as he developed his argument for God’s existence. Leibniz asked, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” He pointed out that everything which exists has some explanation for its existence. Why does it exist rather than failing to exist? We might expand that question to include such questions as, “Why is God conscious rather than unconscious?”
What Leibniz concluded was that the explanation for something’s existence is either to be found within itself or outside of itself in an external cause. A person’s existence, for example, might be explained in terms of their parents. The entire generation comes from the generation that preceded it. Generation A, then, is explained in terms of Generation B. Generation B is explained in terms of Generation C and so on.
These explanations, however, cannot go on forever. We cannot have an infinite regress of explanations or nothing would ultimately be explained. We must come to an explanatory ultimate which is not explained by some external cause, but which finds explanation within itself. Since this explanatory ultimate will not be explained by any external factor, the explanatory ultimate will not be contingent on any external factor. It must exist by the necessity of its own nature.
Since the explanation for its existence is found within itself, the explanatory ultimate is not dependent on any combination of other factors. Your parents may have never met and thus you would not exist, but there is no such combination of events for the explanatory ultimate. This also implies that the explanatory ultimate must be as it is, and it could not be any other way. You may have brown eyes, but it is possible that your eyes should have been blue (had you inherited different genes from your parents). Since the explanatory ultimate does not “come from” any external cause, it does not receive any of its attributes. It has its attributes by necessity.
So why is God conscious? We should not expect to find an answer in an external cause. Rather the only possible answer is that God is conscious because he is the sort of being which is conscious, and he could not be any other way. It is logically impossible, therefore, that God could have been unconscious. There is literally no other possible way that God could have been. The explanation, therefore, for why God has the attributes that he does is found in God. He is the sort of being which has the set of attributes he has.
Chapter Director, Reasonable Faith
Master of Arts in Apologetics,
Luther Rice University and Seminary