Is God’s Existence Circular?

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Reader: Dear Rabbi, An atheist said that the concept of God is circular. One of the biggest proofs for God is the cosmological argument. The cosmological argument proves the existence of God by the fact that things exist. The universe must have a first cause (God). However, an atheist said this is circular. It is as if we were saying, “The universe exists, therefore we infer that a God exists, and conversely, God exists, therefore, the universe exists.” Is this circular? A logical fallacy? Is the evidence for God’s existence circular?

Rabbi: The existence of the universe undoubtedly demands a Creator; such perfect design, synchronism and harmony cannot exist by chance. But God’s existence—even if we say God’s nature is to create a universe—forces no circular argument. These claims form not 1 circular interdependency, but there are 2 separate points here: 1) proof of God as deduced through the wisdom embedded in the universe, and 2) that God caused the universe. The first statement deduces “how” we know God exists, and the second statement says God caused the universe, without any deductive claim. We are not saying the universe caused God, and God caused the universe. That’s not circular, but a contradictory, for such a claim says both God and the universe preceded each other. 

A circular argument would be, “God must exist, as He says so in His Bible.” Here, one uses circular reasoning, as he claims God’s Biblical existence is proved from that very book. Similarly, if one says, “This book is old because the book says so,” one uses circular reasoning: he attempts to prove the book’s age from the book itself. However, validation of X must come from Y, not from itself. Therefore we don’t accept God based on Bible, but based on something external to Bible, i.e., the event of mass revelation transmitted through time. Human transmission is external to Bible; Bible merely records actual transmission. But from Bible itself there is no proof of its words. That’s circular.

For this reason we reject all other religions, as they provide no transmission of events of divine revelation witnessed by masses. Their stories and claims lack the vital element of transmission by masses of attendees.