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Who is the father of the universe?

The question of who is the father of the universe is one that has intrigued humanity since the dawn of civilization. Ancient mythologies and religions have proposed various creator deities as the progenitor of the cosmos, while modern science points to the Big Bang as the seminal event that birthed the universe as we know it. This article will explore the major theories and perspectives on the origins of the universe and who or what may be considered its metaphorical “father.”

Creator Gods in World Mythology

Nearly every human culture throughout history has developed myths and legends around powerful gods or supernatural forces that created the universe. These creator deities were often conceptualized as paternal, father-like figures who begot the cosmos, heavens, earth, and mankind. Some of the major examples include:

  • Ancient Egyptian mythology held that the god Atum arose from the primordial waters and produced the first gods Shu (air) and Tefnut (moisture) through masturbation. The descendants of Shu and Tefnut went on to create the material world.
  • In Greek mythology, the Titan Cronus fathered the Olympian gods such as Zeus and Poseidon, who eventually overthrew him and ruled the cosmos.
  • In Norse mythology, the primeval cow Audhumla licked the primordial frost giant Ymir from ice, and Ymir went on to produce the first gods, Odin, Vili, and Ve.
  • In Aztec mythology, the dual gods Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl together birthed the four Tezcatlipocas (“Smoking Mirrors”) who created the world.
  • In Japanese Shinto belief, the primordial beings Izanagi and Izanami stirred the chaos and created the islands of Japan, eventually giving birth to the gods, or kami.
  • The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) posit God as the almighty creator who designed the universe and all within it.

These creator gods establish a paternal relationship to the universe – they are supernatural fathers who generate the ordered world out of primordial nothingness. The father analogy emphasizes their supremacy, power, and masculine creative dominance over their cosmic offspring. However, mythological accounts widely differ on the exact mechanisms and relationships between creator deities, often featuring convoluted family trees of gods birthing other gods in complex meta-cosmic genealogies.

Philosophical Conceptions of a Prime Mover

Philosophers and theologians from monotheistic religious traditions have also conceptualized a Supreme Being or divine first cause as the creator of the universe. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle proposed the “Unmoved Mover” – a being that drives all motion in the cosmos without moving itself. Medieval Islamic and Jewish philosophers such as Avicenna and Maimonides conceived of God as a necessarily existent cause of existence, using logical arguments to demonstrate the universe requires an eternal supernatural creator. Christian theologians adapted these rational proofs of God and developed natural theology arguments aiming to prove God’s existence and characteristics through reason alone. These philosophical traditions envision an intelligent, purposeful creator behind existence, although they do not always assume a literal paternal relationship akin to the mythological father gods.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

The Kalam cosmological argument, popularized by medieval Islamic theologian Al-Ghazali and reintroduced to modern philosophy by William Lane Craig, is a concise formulation of the first cause argument:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Proponents argue this cause must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, and personal – characteristics traditionally ascribed to God. The Kalam argument conceptualizes God as an eternal necessary being that initiated space, time, and matter into existence through creation of the universe. It establishes a creator-creation dichotomy where God essentially “fathers” the universe, although without specific biological overtones.

Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways

The seminal Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas formulated five logical proofs for God’s existence in the 13th century. His arguments rely purely on reason and observations of nature, not appeals to scripture. The fifth way, known as the “argument from design,” contends that the observable order and functionality in nature implies a divine intelligent designer behind creation, analogous to how an arrow’s purposeful trajectory reflects the intentions of an archer. This watchmaker analogy portrays God as an ordering force that engineered the cosmos towards an end purpose, much like a father designs the life of a child.

The Big Bang Theory

The dominant modern scientific explanation for the origin of the universe is the Big Bang theory. Developed in the early 20th century from Einstein’s theories of relativity, the Big Bang posits that space, time, and matter all erupted from an initial state of extremely high density and temperature roughly 13.8 billion years ago. All the matter and energy in the observable universe today stemmed from that explosive expansion. The model is empirically supported by evidence such as the observed expansion of the cosmos and the cosmic microwave background radiation. The Big Bang captures a scientific truth expressed in religious doctrine – that the universe had a finite starting point. However, it does not invoke purpose or sentient causation. The physicist Lawrence Krauss famously argued in his 2012 book A Universe from Nothing that the origins of the universe require no supernatural explanations. His thesis spurred intense debates on whether the Big Bang provides evidence for or against the necessity of a divine creator.

Before the Big Bang?

Some speculate that natural causes preceding the Big Bang gave rise to our universe. Proposed hypotheses include:

  • Quantum Fluctuations. Random quantum fluctuations in a pre-existing meta-verse triggered runaway expansion and branching of universes.
  • The Ekpyrotic Model. Our universe results from the collision of two three-dimensional membranes (branes) in a higher-dimensional space.
  • Eternal Inflation. Infinitesimal points of space endlessly and chaotically inflate to spawn “bubble universes” like our own across a vast multiverse.

These naturalistic explanations aim to eliminate the need for an intentional creator deity to spark the Big Bang. However, others counter that even speculative physics cannot fully eliminate the philosophical possibility of a transcendent first cause behind reality.

Intelligent Design

The Intelligent Design (ID) movement emerged in the 1990s as a philosophical critique of scientific naturalism and materialism. ID proponents argue that certain features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than blind chance. Their logic centers on identifying perceived instances of “irreducible complexity” in biological systems which could not function if any part was missing. While stopping short of explicitly naming this intelligence “God,” ID theorists draw on the medieval watchmaker analogy to posit an intentional, rational agent as the designing force behind life. Detractors view ID as pseudoscience that masks religious creationism in scientific terminology to insert supernatural explanations into naturalism. The perceived design in the universe becomes figurative evidence of the Creator’s engineering.

Argument Example
Irreducible complexity of molecular mechanisms Bacterial flagellum
Fine-tuned universal constants suitable for life Ratio of electrons to protons
Complexity and information in DNA Coding of proteins by genes

By highlighting instances of design, ID loosely implies a Designer as cosmic generator – an unstated biological rather than literal father. Critics counter that apparent design arises naturally through evolution by natural selection. The perceived paternal designer behind life is just an illusion.

Simulation Hypothesis

The simulation hypothesis proposes that our entire reality exists within an advanced computer simulation created by an advanced future civilization. First popularized by philosopher Nick Bostrom, the argument states that if civilizations commonly develop simulation technology on a cosmic timescale, then simulated universes likely vastly outnumber real ones. By probability, we are more likely to exist in an ancestor simulation than true base reality. Therefore, our universe was likely created not by a divine father but a highly advanced race of alien “programmers.” This perspective fundamentally recasts our notion of a creator, envisioning our world as an elaborate virtual construct rather than divine contrivance. However, others note the simulation only shifts the philosophical question back one level – we must still ask what created the first-level “basement reality” on which the simulations are run.

The Universe Bearing Itself

A radical approach rejects the need for any external creator at all. The cosmological argument states that existence simply cannot arise from non-existence in any circumstance. Something eternal must always have existed – and this eternal something constitutes existence itself. The initial conditions that allowed for our universe arose from innate aspects of the deepest fabric of reality, elementary structures like math, logic, and information. No sentient father figure needed to breathe being into nothingness. Reality contained its own origins; in philosophical terms, the unconditioned “ground of being” required no external cause. Some compare it to dreaming – dreams arise from the self without any outside genesis. Of course, it remains tremendously difficult to conceive of existence bootstrapping itself from pure abstraction.

The Copralite Conjecture

Known as the “Copralite Conjecture” in reference to the widespread religious visions involving excrement, psychologist Wilhelm Reich theorized in his controversial 1951 book Origin of the Universe that the cosmos may have been birthed from a cosmic orgasm, or “Orgonastic Potency.” Channeling Freud, Reich posited that an abstract primal “Orgasmic Potential” fractured with its first expression, birthing cosmic time, space, and matter in a manner analogous to God’s separation of light in Genesis. Detractors observed the theory lacked empirical rigor. Theory notwithstanding, it colorfully highlights that any abstract ultimate progenitor of existence inevitably draws “paternal” metaphor.


The question of the origins of the universe crosses into cosmic fatherhood – some generative source from which flow the beginnings of all things. Mythology attributes creation to paternal gods. Philosophy argues logic necessitates a First Cause. Physics describes a formative Big Bang. Cosmology imagines alien programmers or self-simulating existence. At the boundaries of abstraction, any primal wellspring of reality attracts parental analogy. But pursuing the metaphor too literally risks confused category errors. The “father” concept illustrates, but likely does not capture, the full complex nature of our cosmic genesis. Ultimate questions remain pregnant with mystery.