Throughout history as man looked at the created world he has asked “Why does something exist instead of nothing?” Answers range from luck to a creator, but each view implies certain facts that must fit the characteristics of the world and its creator (if it has one). It is by comparing these views that the importance and necessity of God and His attributes become clear when revealed through the flaws of man's best attempts to explain his world.
Naturalism. A predominant view of the western world is that creation is limited to that which can be experienced by the five-sense. Since according to Jesus, God is Spirit (John 4:24), and hence Invisible (1 Timothy 1:17), many have concluded that God simply does not exist. In order to do so, one must assign the overwhelming complexity of the world to chance, disregarding its apparent design from a creator's Wisdom (Psalm 104:24) as Paley has refuted with the Teleological argument. An infinite regress of the universe's beginning also poses a metaphysical impossibility as seen by Cosmological argument. Furthermore, Beauty (Psalm 50:2), a characteristic achieved only in comparison to a perfect standard (given by God) is lost to preferential random mutations in Darwinian evolution. Worst of all, transcending Goodness (Luke 18:19) cannot be achieved by the luck of existence creating the danger of Nihilism that skeptics can fall into and force the invention of the crutch existentialism to face such meaninglessness. Without good, wrong does not exist and thus Righteousness and Justice (Deuteronomy 34:4) cannot exist in this world either.
Pantheism. Many from the eastern world hold to a view that the created world is God or a part of God. In a sense, this understanding is taking the ideas of God's Omnipresence (Colossians 1:17) too far. First, if God and the universe are one and creation includes evil, then God's Holiness (Exodus 26:33) is lost, for evil cannot survive the purity of a Holy God (Psalm 24:3). Naturally, God also cannot be Perfect since evil exists in Him. Plus, if everything is God, then nothing is exceptional or expresses Glory (Revelation 21:23) that is worthy of receiving glory or worship. This overextending of God's presence erases his personality and with it all of His personal attributes. If God is not a person, then Mercy (Matthew 9:27) cannot be bestowed to those who violate the natural order of the universe, and the idea that God is Love (1 John 4:8) is merely wishful thinking since love requires relationship.
Dualism. Some have held that that creation (or some other ultimate force) has always existed alongside God. This seemingly innocuous theory raises a terrifying question, if God has eternally coexisted with an evil creation, will He ultimately triumph over the evil of the world? Dualism indirectly challenges God's Omnipotence (Jeremiah 32:17). Consequently, God cannot have either the Freedom or the Will (Ephesians 1:11) to intervene in the world, for if matter has always existed it is outside of His control, which allows ideas such as Fatalism or evil's triumph to arise. In contrast, God's revelation describes the universe being created out of nothing (ex nihilo) but His spoken word (Genesis 1:1), which reveals God's Independence (Acts 17:25) in that He did not need to create, but freely desired to do so.
Deism. The idea of a clockwork universe that God created and then walked away from is becoming more common as cultural Christians practice their faith as if God's involvement in the world is lost. On the surface the only sacrifice appears to be miracles, but more importantly God's Providence is lost taking out other attributes of God like dominoes. Through God's Preservation (Acts 17:28) He actively maintains the universe and its physical properties. In one sense, without God's Preservation free will would be lost if the laws of the universe didn't consistently carry out man's choices for good of for evil. Without Preservation then God's Concurrence (Ephesians 1:1) with the world, by bringing about the circumstances in which He knows what individuals would choose, is lost and undermines His Omniscience (1 Corinthians 2:10). Without Omniscience, God's certainty of bringing about the future He wills would become dubious as unknowns erased His Immutability (James 1:17) since suddenly new information would be added to God's knowledge.
Theism. Taking the view that the world must have been designed and brought into existence by a creator resolves the issues raised by alternate views of the source of the universe but raises a new question, “Who and What is God?” What God is is God. Who God is is God the Father (Matthew 6:9), God the Son (John 1:1), and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). God is Trinity or one God (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) in three distinct persons that relate to mankind differently based on their roles. The answer is paradoxical, but necessary to maintain God's Independence, Immutability and Love in Unity from Eternity. For God must exist in three persons if God is Love, otherwise there would be no one to love before He created the world. God's Independence would be lost if He needed to create someone to love, and once His creation provided a recipient so God could Love, God would incur a change in His nature violating his Immutability. Instead, God has always perfectly existed as one in three distinct persons of perfect diversity in unity.
There is a much better way to understand the creator and answer the question of existence than viewing Him through the lens of His creation, and this is to take the answer God has given about Himself through his Word. While God has not specifically spelled out how or when the world was created (and thus Christians are free to disagree), He was very clear on where it came from (Psalm 33), who created it (Genesis 1:1), and what it says about Himself. Thus, in the same way, through the characteristics of creation and the testimony of God's word, we will never understand specifically how the inner workings of God's attributes play out (and thus Christians are free to disagree and use different terms) there can be no disagreement on where God came from, who He is, and what He says about Himself.
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.