Who Created God?

A surprising agreement with Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins, emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and an author of worldwide renown, has on many occasions challenged the idea that Christianity is a reasonable worldview. 

As Dawkins puts it in The God Delusion, “I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented” (57-58).

And I want to concede a point to him. 

Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood: the formal arguments of his book have been roundly and rightly criticized. As Terry Eagleton memorably put it, “Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.”

At first glance, this might appear to more of a put-down than an argument, but it actually isn’t an entirely unfair observation.

For instance, Dawkins appears to lack even a rudimentary understanding of the classic doctrine of divine simplicity, and yet he earnestly recounts how easily he felt he dismantled this position, even amongst scholars at a Templeton Foundation conference in Cambridge.

But he raises at least one point which I think is worthy of an empathetic hearing. 

In The God Delusion Dawkins famously asks us to consider the question, “who designed the designer?” (147).

Evaluating the argument on a strictly logical basis, John Lennox has wisely and rightly commented, “I don’t need [Richard Dawkins] to tell me that created gods are a delusion. We usually call them idols.” Lennox’s point is that Dawkins, by misunderstanding the nature of “God,” has missed the target entirely, and so his argument is unsuccessful. 

At the same time, if not logically but sociologically, I wonder if Dawkins isn’t onto something? 

Lennox’s response is entirely correct, and yet, as John Calvin taught, “man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” 

Pause and ask yourself: Have I ever thought of “God” in a way that was primarily advantageous to myself? Is truth always my utmost concern when I consider who God is and what God does?

In 2020, according to one survey, 30% of self-identified evangelicals would agree with the statement, “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.”

And there are other concerns. This January, a research survey conducted by Lifeway found that “49% of U.S. Protestant pastors say they frequently hear members of their congregation repeating conspiracy theories they have heard about why something is happening in our country.” 

The point is, as people bump into Christians, and ask them what they believe about God, it is unclear to me that they are hearing a consistent message.

And this should not surprise us, because Jesus has been in this situation before!

In his own day, Jesus asked his disciples to tell him what the crowds thought of him. They provide various answers, stating they’ve heard him referred to as John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. 

Those are very different answers, but they share a common starting point. In their commentary on Mark, Wessel and Strauss write that the crowds “identified him as an authentic prophet and spokesperson for God. Yet all the answers also reflect an inadequate view of his true identity.”

It seems that “Jesus” has become a phenomenally popular person. 

But are we still talking about “Jesus” if the word is free-floating in our culture, independent of church membership, discipleship, and sacrificial love for others? 

My own experience is that my church home is the place where I am most able to vulnerably bring myself before God and others. It is a place where I, my family, and my community regularly and consistently hear thoughtful, accurate, and substantive teaching about God.

So I don’t mean to attack my church, your church, or any other church or Christian in particular. As clearly as I can state it: that’s not the goal!

But we need to come to terms with the heterodox confusions and ambiguities in how “God” is being adapted and constructed to fit our desires, rather than the other way around. 

As Dawkins says, I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented.” On this point, though it might surprise you, I have to agree with him!

This is, in fact, what faithful Christian teaching does: identify the ways in which “God” has been invented by our human hearts. It then provides a contrast between our understandings and the truthful way in which God has revealed himself in the Scriptures. 

To tweak a famous letter by G.K. Chesterton, I think another needed response to Dawkins’ question, “who created God?” is to acknowledge this:

Dear Sir,

I do. 


Carson Weitnauer