“Where did God come from?”

May 9, 2011

The archbishop answers tough questions!

This is a question that a child at church asked me recently—and truthfully, at least one of my own kids has asked me the same question. I try to avoid answering it, because what can I say that wouldn’t sound a bit crazy? We who live in a world of “things,” who are things ourselves, and who can only naturally perceive things, have a difficult time speaking of God in a way that doesn’t reduce God to a thing.

Only things come from somewhere; since God isn’t, God doesn’t. The question itself is a category mistake.

Ugh!

How relieved I am, therefore, that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual head of the Anglican churches, bravely answered a similar question addressed to God by a six-year-old named Lulu (“To God, How did you get invented?”), which was sent to him by her father. Read about it here. In a letter to Lulu, the archbishop wrote:

Dear Lulu,

Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –

‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected. Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like. But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’

And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off. I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lots of love from me too.

+Archbishop Rowan

2 Responses to ““Where did God come from?””

  1. bobbob Says:

    i know this is really old but did you see the nat geo article with interview with Jerry Coyne about how all religions are superstitious nonsense? he thinks that because we have been serious about science for 500 years we are so close to knowing every thing there is to know about something that science clains is billions of years old! he forgets two points: 1) that modern science was invented by christians, and 2) everything we know by observation is delivered to us one day at a time, and 3) that the power of the math he is so sure has dismissed the need for any god is no different than any other language we use to describe what we know and imagine: music, poetry, prose, sculpture, etc. Math is not truth but a mere representation of truth.


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