Arbitrariness

One classical argument for God’s existence is the cosmological argument – everything that begins to exist has a cause, blah blah blah. The typical skeptical rebuttal often looks like this: who created God? Typical theistic response: no one. There are ensuing cries of arbitrariness, etc, etc. I’m looking at here not at the argument as a whole but at the idea of whether or not defining God as uncreated is arbitrary.

‘You can’t just say God is uncreated!’

Why not? It’s not just me saying this – this has been a central tenet of the great monotheistic (Christian, Jewish and Islamic) religions since they began. No one is arbitrarily pulling this out of nowhere to sidestep an objection to an argument. Bluntly, my question is this: if something has been claimed by, say, Christianity as one of its central ideas since its birth, can someone be accused of arbitrariness if they use it in an argument? To put it a bit more neatly:

‘Who created God?’

‘No one – according to Christian teaching from the very beginning (and before that, in Hebrew Scriptures and teaching) God is uncreated.’

‘You can’t just define God as uncreated arbitrarily!’

‘But I’m not…this teaching forms a major trajectory in Christian thought. Like it or not, I’m not being arbitrary here.’

So, to repeat, can one be accused of arbitrariness of they take a line like this? Or rather, are they in fact being arbitrary? I don’t think so. If, say, I defined God in such a way that it didn’t accord with any common notion of God, then that would be arbitrary – it would be a departure from the norm. It would seem, then, that failure to define God in accord with Christian teaching/thought would in fact be the arbitrary thing to do here. If I am a Christian, and I don’t hold a notion of God in keeping with the witness and testimony of the Church throughout history, then I am being arbitrary.

While I think this is a valid line of thought, I’m sure it could be tightened up. Criticisms welcome.

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