Jokes are good fun, but even satire can reveal that the question is not a simple one, even one that could lead to paradoxes. More fun:
Take the First Cause Quiz!
(Click the image for the PDF version of the quiz below – to find out what you believe in. This quiz emulates theistic epistemology and may therefore contain nuts, and traces of false dichotomies. Put tongue in cheek before ingesting.)
1. If something popped into existence without a cause / always existed, was it created? -No. (If Yes, we need to find a new word for this peculiar phenomenon; it is the definition of the word; but even if a new word is defined, it will not carry the meaning of “Creation performed by a Creator”;it would necessarily follow that God didn’t create the Universe. He “something-else’d” the Universe.)
2. Do some things pop into existence / always exist? -Yes. (If No, God didn’t create the Universe; it unfolded by cause and effect.)
3. Did the Universe pop into existence without a cause / always exist, or did something cause it to begin to exist? -Yes. (If No, God didn’t create the Universe.)
4. So you affirm some events require a previous cause but some don’t, and that the Universe is one of the things that require a previous cause. Is that previous cause an act of God? -Yes. (If No, God didn’t create the Universe.)
5. Did the Creator pop into existence spontaneously / always exist, or did something cause the Creator? -No. (If Yes, God plays the intermediary Creator, a role not portrayed in mainstream religions.)
6. So you’re unsatisfied with an uncreated Universe as First Cause. Is an uncreated Creator a better answer? -Yes. (If No, you’ve understood something important – why someone doesn’t have to be Atheist or even a skeptic to question your religion’s origins claims.)
7. Despite all the other causes previously ascribed to acts of God having been replaced with actual knowledge of how reality works, leaving you only the cause for the Big Bang, can you substantiate that this cause is an act of God? -Yes. (If No, you don’t know that God created the Universe, and the argument ends.)
8. Are these substantiations abstract arguments that suspiciously fit exactly what is left to be explained before the Big Bang? -No. (If Yes, several competing, and not necessarily divine origin, theories could fill the gap, and you don’t know that the one involving your God is the correct one.)
9. Accepting all your substantiations as true, you have still only shown that this is an act of a God. Can you identify the Creator of the Universe with the deity of your own religion? -Yes. (If No, you don’t know that your God created the Universe, and the argument ends.)
OK, phew. The quiz is over! If you didn’t make it past the last question, you should display intellectual honesty by admitting that you don’t know if your God created the Universe.
If you did, you should submit your arguments and any evidence and references for peer review. If some of them are refuted soundly, you should display intellectual honesty by abandoning deeply held convictions that rest on them in order to show that you are interested in seeing truths – just as Scientists do for (perhaps) much more rigorously researched theories than yours. Or, of course, defend your argument.
“If something is true, you should believe it, and if it isn’t, you shouldn’t. And if you can’t find out whether it’s true or it isn’t, you should suspend judgment.”
This article series continues with part 4, which will deal with false dichotomies, show how an open question on the subject might be phrased, and the relation of any educated guess, answer, explanation, or theory to reality.