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Featured Is the First Cause argument Valid?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Tiberius, Dec 4, 2021.

  1. Tiberius

    Tiberius Well-Known Member

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    When I first heard of the First Cause argument, it said, "everything that exists needs a cause, and that cause is God." Now, this made no sense to me, as I immediately thought, "Well, doesn't God need a cause too if he exists?"

    These days, that version of the argument has apparently fallen out of favour, due (I suspect) to that very objection. Instead, I see the following version:

    1. Everything that exists had a beginning
    2. Everything that begins to exist has a cause
    3. The Universe exists
    4. Therefore the Universe had a beginning
    5. Therefore the Universe had a cause
    6. I call this cause, the creator of the Universe, God
    This attempts to get around the obvious flaw in the previous version by saying that only things that have beginnings require causes, so God doesn't require a cause because he never had a beginning. He is ETERNAL (whatever that means).

    It presents God as a "necessary being, " a being without whom nothing else would exist. It was originally proposed (at least in it's commonly known form) by Thomas Aquinas, who had four versions of this basic argument.
    1. First, he argues that the chain of movers must have a first mover because nothing can move itself. (Moving here refers to any kind of change, not just change of place.) If the whole chain of moving things had no first mover, it could not now be moving, as it is. If there were an infinite regress of movers with no first mover, no motion could ever begin, and if it never began, it could not go on and exist now. But it does go on, it does exist now. Therefore it began, and therefore there is a first mover.
    2. Second, he expands the proof from proving a cause of motion to proving a cause of existence, or efficient cause. He argues that if there were no first efficient cause, or cause of the universe's coming into being, then there could be no second causes because second causes (i.e., caused causes) are dependent on (i.e., caused by) a first cause (i.e., an uncaused cause). But there are second causes all around us. Therefore there must be a first cause.
    3. Third, he argues that if there were no eternal, necessary, and immortal being, if everything had a possibility of not being, of ceasing to be, then eventually this possibility of ceasing to be would be realized for everything. In other words, if everything could die, then, given infinite time, everything would eventually die. But in that case nothing could start up again. We would have universal death, for a being that has ceased to exist cannot cause itself or anything else to begin to exist again. And if there is no God, then there must have been infinite time, the universe must have been here always, with no beginning, no first cause. But this universal death has not happened; things do exist! Therefore there must be a necessary being that cannot not be, cannot possibly cease to be. That is a description of God.
    4. Fourth, there must also be a first cause of perfection or goodness or value. We rank things as more or less perfect or good or valuable. Unless this ranking is false and meaningless, unless souls don't really have any more perfection than slugs, there must be a real standard of perfection to make such a hierarchy possible, for a thing is ranked higher on the hierarchy of perfection only insofar as it is closer to the standard, the ideal, the most perfect. Unless there is a most-perfect being to be that real standard of perfection, all our value judgments are meaningless and impossible. Such a most-perfect being, or real ideal standard of perfection, is another description of God. (SOURCE)
    There have been different attempts to refute this argument. At best, some say, it proves just a creator of some vague description, without any connection to Christianity (or any other known religion). The argument could also be made that it contradicts itself by saying that everything needs a cause, then breaks this rule by making an exception for God. it also assumes that everything actually needed to have a cause. (SOURCE)

    So, does this argument really hold up? Is it a valid argument for God (or a creator/deity/etc)?
     
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  2. Lain

    Lain Well-Known Member

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    Some forms of it hold up I think, I wouldn't use the one you presented here ever due to the possible confusion concerning existence and "God's" existence that you point out. Neither would I say it proves the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for it does not do enough for that. So really I don't think I'd ever make use of an even better form much at all. Such is my opinion.
     
  3. Tiberius

    Tiberius Well-Known Member

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    Out of curiosity, what form do you think does hold up?
     
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  4. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    No, because the existence of God violates the first two premises of the argument: Either God is an uncaused effect, in which case, He/She/It/Them violates the principle of causality; or God is not uncaused, in which case He/She/It/Them is not the First Cause as per the argument.

    The First Cause argument is a paradox, because it can only exist in a universe where the principle of causality holds sway without exception, but the existence of a First Cause stands in violation of that very same principle of causality.
     
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  5. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    An uncreated creator can only exist as an exception to the principle of causality.

    But if we agree to exceptions to the principle of causality, we do not need to assume an uncreated creator in the first place!
     
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  6. Lain

    Lain Well-Known Member

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    Weird to do a intra-website callback, but the version you no doubt saw Firedragon put up I think is good and avoids that confusion issue by the phrasing.
     
  7. Nimos

    Nimos Well-Known Member

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    No, it is only valid if one agree to all the presumption, like God exist, that the Universe had a cause etc. But any argument where you "stack" or need someone to agree to something for it to hold true or being plausible is basically invalid.

    No different than if I said the following:

    1. Aliens exists
    2. Aliens are advanced enough to create an Universe

    Therefore alien could have created our Universe

    If you agree to 1 and 2, sure the conclusion is possible. But if you don't agree to either 1 or 2 for good reason, the conclusion is invalid.
     
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  8. F1fan

    F1fan Well-Known Member

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    So if a first mover acts to create, then it first decides to change it's static status to make a decision. What caused THAT change?

    Let's note that "movers" exist without having to be created, so.....that's a problem.
     
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  9. F1fan

    F1fan Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I cannot believe people keep valuing this whole argument.

    The only way to make any of the arguments work is assuming a creator that defies all the rules.
     
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  10. Ponder This

    Ponder This Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if "The Universe" can be treated as a meta-concept.
    The set of all things that exist is not itself something that comes into existence. It can be empty or it can have things in it, but it can't itself be created or destroyed. You can talk about all of the things in it, but can you really say that it is a member of itself?
     
  11. F1fan

    F1fan Well-Known Member

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    Zuckerberg? Is that you?
     
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  12. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    No. No "first cause" argument is valid.

    Even for the ones that don't contain self-defeating contradictions, the valid conclusion would be "... therefore at least one thing exists that is consistent with God."

    I haven't seen a first cause argument yet that bothers to explain why the number of "first causes" would be limited to one, or why a "first cause" would have to be a god.
     
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  13. Tiberius

    Tiberius Well-Known Member

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    Of course, believers who hold to the First Cause argument claim that the only things that require causes are those things that have beginnings, and since God is eternal and has no such beginning, He does not require a cause.

    Of course, I don't buy it, but I've seen believers trot that excuse out.
     
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  14. Tiberius

    Tiberius Well-Known Member

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    Damn, I should have added a poll to this...
     
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  15. ameyAtmA

    ameyAtmA ~ ~
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    Is the First Cause argument Valid?

    Hinduism Answer

    Yes and No

    No because "first" is in the boundary of time.
    Yes because "first" can mean the basis and foundation as the eternal cause

    NirguNa NirAkAr Brahman is the eternal quiet conscious existence that is the cause of all causes.

    We have to step out of this mind-set of linear time. First then next.

    This quiet conscious existence has 3 properties that when in perfect equilibrium are quiet, but it is part of the nature of existence for these 3 properties (modes of material nature) to fluctuate and give rise to changes within existence. [There is a school of thought that the perpetual fluctuations that come and go within existence are not to be treated as events but as appearances or projections on the ultimate reality.]

    Please do not mistake "fluctuations" to automatically be random.
    The avyakta mULa , the root unseen cause is the existence with infinite potential.


    This is NirguN Bramha' (Brahman). Formless, eternal, blissful conscious existence.
    The tremendous conscious potential and intelligence that is embedded in this NirguN NirAkAr (formless) Bramha' gives rise to the centers of galaxies that you mostly see spiraling out, when the equilibrium of the 3 material properties fluctuates.

    Our Gods and their energies created, became the centers of, expanded into, the galaxies. No one says they are the first cause.
    They are extremely subtle manifestations of this NirguN NirAkAr Bramha' to govern the infinite aspects of existence.

    [Bhagavad Gita : Lord Shri KRishNa says "I curve on Myself to create again and again" -- one aspect of this can be the spiraling out of galaxies ? ]

    First cause = existence that transcends time and space.
    Existence - sat - is eternal and always true.

    Sat = the Eternal unchanging Truth , which in turn is only applicable to existence,
    which happens to have infinite potential.

    The universe is the result and proof of this infinite potential of sat-chit-Ananda
    - blissful conscious existence.

    Namaste
     
    #15 ameyAtmA, Dec 4, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2021
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  16. We Never Know

    We Never Know Well-Known Member

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    One question.. If a god is supernatural, i.e. not of the natural, does it require a cause?
     
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  17. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

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    Well. Thats not the first cause argument as is known to the philosophical world.

    Thats a logically fallacious argument to make.

    Its actually nonsensical to ask for a first cause for a first cause. Or a series of causes for a first cause. I know this is a usually repeated argument of apologists, but its illogical.
     
  18. ameyAtmA

    ameyAtmA ~ ~
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    Please see my post above - #15

    The intrinsic property of the infinite potential of the eternal fundamental existence, to transform within itself due to the tendency of the 3 material properties to fluctuate, is what causes THAT change.

    The all-encompassing eternally steady truth can only be attributed to existence. It is a different story that this Truth is blissful conscious existence alone. Without having to act the change is the property , its nature to contain transformations within itself.

    It is the irony -- that the absolutely steady Truth (Purush) has an ever-changing Nature (Prakruti).
     
  19. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity ✔ a-OK RF member .99/lb
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    By the way there's a summary of Kant's usage of the term 'Necessary Being' in this linked article in the section titled "4.2 The Dynamical Antinomies" Kant’s Critique of Metaphysics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    I normally don't read master's level material, and I have only read this bit of the article. I found it difficult but readable and interesting.

    As Kant reveals, it has some problems. Arguing for a necessary being contradicts arguments for free will. Free will posits that there can be a non-termporal cause for some things (such as choices), but the argument for necessary being denies that. Kant tries to get around problems by positing that appearances may not be the same as actual things.

    He mentions something called 'Transcendental freedom', the idea that there can be uncaused choices such as free will choices and pits that against. Also saying that there must be a necessary being is drawing upon nature to describe something that is unnatural -- which is a restatement of what several other people in the thread have already said. You can't say that nature must have a cause that is uncaused. It doesn't make sense to draw from nature that cause is necessary and then say that the cause doesn't need a cause, suddenly not drawing from nature for your example.
     
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  20. ameyAtmA

    ameyAtmA ~ ~
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    The 3 problems that I foresee on this thread --

    a) A Necessary Being instead of just Being i.e. existence . We drop the 'a' because 'a' can imply one among many instead of being the Only Truth viz. conscious existence.

    b) Nature is not stand-alone, and is IT'S nature, and eternally present in the form of infinite potential -- this presence of infinite potential is uncaused.

    c) Linear time factor -- which is N/A because of the perpetually changing eternal nature of conscious existence.
     
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