Retired hedge fund titan Robert W. Wilson lost his faith in God years ago, yet he believes in Catholic schools and gave $5.6 million to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York this summer.
It’s the latest of many gifts from Wilson to the city’s Catholic hierarchy and educators, this one aimed at funding the Catholic Alumni Partnership, a program he founded that helps elementary schools track down their 750,000 alumni and recruit them as donors.
“Most of what the Catholic schools teach are the three Rs,” said Wilson, 83, in a phone interview, referring to reading, writing and arithmetic. “And they do it better than the union-controlled inner-city schools.”
Wilson, a Detroit native, said he began questioning the existence of God after enrolling in Amherst College in Massachusetts to study economics.
“Religious people say you couldn’t have our surrounding environment without the Creator, but then who created the Creator?” Wilson said.
Wow, nobody ever saw that flaw before. All those theists that came before us overlooked this item. I am stunned and guess I will have to become an atheist once again because of this unsurmountable bit of logic.
Well not really, but it does interest me that this would be offered as a proof. Though this is an answer you often get and I use to make the same errors myself by making similar statements and never checking to see what a theist might say in reply. As an atheist it is easy to assume that the other side has absolutely nothing going for it in the area of reason and besides we call ourselves “Brights” – so there. The same atheist smugness that I use to have is fairly easy to detect. Of course believers can be as equally smug against atheists and forget that faith is a gift. One of my favorite quotes on this subject:
…both the believer and the unbeliever share, each in his own way, doubt and belief, if they do not hide from themselves and from the truth of their being. Neither can quite escape either doubt or belief; for the one, faith is present against doubt; for the other, through doubt and in the form of doubt. It is the basic pattern of man’s destiny only to be allowed to find the finality of his existence in this unceasing rivalry between doubt and belief, temptation and certainty. Perhaps in precisely this way doubt, which saves both sides from being shut up in their own worlds, could become the avenue of communication. It prevents both sides from enjoying complete self-satisfaction; it opens up the believer to the doubter and the doubter to the believer; for one, it is this share in the fate of the unbeliever; for the other, the form in which belief remains nevertheless a challenge to him. – then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger “Introduction to Christianity”
Now getting back to the “Who created God” argument. This argument is usually a response to the first two of St. Thomas Aquinas’ five ways of knowing God exists. Asking who then created God makes sense at first if you just see God as just another chain in the event in an order of efficient causes. Though the argument of motion and efficient causes are arguments used within the material universe and simply would not apply to the concept of God being outside of time and space. Living in a material universe where we experience time it is of course very difficult to make sense of God being outside of time and space. The material universe requires a first efficient cause. Telling an atheist that God’s existence in the first place is a mystery is not exactly a satisfying reply, but then again the atheist having to say the same thing about the existence of matter being a mystery even if they don’t use those words amounts to the same. But if matter has always than it also means that matter has existed for an infinite amount time, but it is self-evident that an infinite amount of time could not have passed.
Ironically we can thank God for Robert W. Wilson and his contributions. I just pray that he might think a bit deeper into why he is an atheist and that there might actually be Sed Contra arguments otherwise.
Update: Here is a post on The Deeps of Time on the same question well worth reading.