Sorry for this long message and sorry for not directly addressing each response to my original post. I’ll try to keep this high level and appropriate to the forum in which I appreciate that I am merely a guest.
I’ve read with interest the responses to my impression of Carl Sagan. It’s always hard to get across complex topics is a forum such as this but I think it is worthwhile dealing very directly with the source of the “If God created the universe, what created God?” question. It isn’t, at its heart, a question about who created God. It is an interrogative that seeks to draw out and shine line on this potential underlying fallacy:
The universe must have a cause, so God must exist to create the universe. God doesn’t need a cause because he is God.
The key question to consider here is as the article notes “why does God get a free pass?”. If that question remains unaddressed then we have fallen into the special pleading fallacy. We have made a rule that says the universe must have a cause, but we ignore the rule when it comes to God. We must directly address this question of why the rule applies to one but not the other in order to avoid the fallacy.
The danger in saying that God escapes the rule because he is transcendent is that we don’t have a way of defining and measuring the term such that we can clearly claim the property doesn’t apply also the the universe. We run the risk of defining properties for God whose only basis is that we need him to have that property in order to win an argument.
I think the article is wise to refer to Colossians as a source to avoid falling too hard into that trap, but I hope the authors can forgive a materialist for thinking that something else could fill the “transcendance” role other than a god. Nothing in science that I am aware of rules out the possibility that the universe always existed in some form, similar to the way this article describes God’s eternal nature. Likewise we don’t have satisfactory evidence at this stage that there was a cause for the universe. It may be that it has “always” existed but “always” ends 14 billion years ago: That the big bang is the origin of time as well as of space.
God’s eternal nature itself brings problems that challenge our understanding. Does time pass for God? Does he exist within or have a temporal dimension? If he existed forever, has he experienced an infinite amount of time prior to the creation of the universe? When did that infinite amount of time begin and when did it end?
Given the strange nature of all of these questions I think there is more than one credible solution available, and that it is difficult to settle on a single solution based on our present knowledge.