Reece (10 years old) asks:
“If something can’t come from nothing, where did God come from?”
Answer: Great question, Reece. That’s also an age-old question. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle asked it. And so have most of the great teachers in Christianity.
Let me give you two different kinds of answers.
First, there’s the answer that begins with faith. I’ll call that the presuppositional answer because I presuppose that the Bible is true. From the Bible, we know that God is eternal, meaning He is without any beginning or ending (cf. Psalm 90:2). That means He didn’t come from anywhere. No one created Him. He has always existed. He created everything else that exists: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). Where did God come from? He has always existed. (For more on presuppositional apologetics, see here).
Second, let me give an answer from reason and evidence. I will start by adjusting your question. Instead of asking, “If something can’t come from nothing…” let’s ask, “If something that changes can’t come from nothing…” You’ll see why that’s important in a minute.
Philosophers talk about the Principle of Sufficient Reason. That’s a fancy way of saying everything has a cause. No one believes things pop into existence for no reason (let’s call that the Pop Theory).
For example, if you walked into your room and found your lamp shattered on the floor, would you think it just popped into existence broken, or would you look for the culprit who knocked it over? Of course, you’d look for the culprit! That’s common sense. That’s the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Everything that changes has been caused to change by something.
Isn’t that true of everything in the world? Whether we’re talking about acorns that come from oak trees which came from an acorn which came from an oak tree; or chickens that came from eggs, that came from a chicken that came from an egg; or volcanos that come from cooled lava and ash that spewed from the earth’s mantle that came from a magma chamber that comes from the earth's crusts which comes from…well, the scientists can tell you.
The whole universe is like a chain reaction of dominos that must be traced back to a first cause that started it all. The universe can’t go on forever. That’d be like believing in the Pop Theory again. It must have an explanation. But here is the crucial point. That first cause can’t be explained or moved by anything else—otherwise, it wouldn’t be first. It must be an uncaused cause. It must be eternal. In other words, it must be God.
Of course, knowing that God is the First Cause is only a tiny sliver of what we can know about Him. It doesn’t tell us everything about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It doesn’t tell us about the God revealed in Jesus. But it does answer your question. “Where did God come from?” Nowhere. He has always been here. God as the First Cause has always existed—He is everlasting to everlasting.
And so faith and reason agree.
P.S.: For adults who want to read the original arguments, see Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, 2, 3; Summa contra Gentiles, I, 13.
Send your questions or comments to Shawn.