The Cosmological Argument is regularly trotted out by the faithful as though it is some sort of proof of the existence of a god. It's also commonly referred to as one of the below:
- First Mover
- First Cause
- Argument from Universal Causation
It was first posited by Plato and later by Aristotle, but both stated caveats - mainly the requirement of another coexistent substance for the first mover to organise. But that's another story. The argument, as it is offered today, goes something like this:
Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
The universe began to exist.
Therefore the universe had a cause.
This to me sounds quite reasonable up to this point, although I wouldn't say I support the idea. I prefer to wait for relevant evidence. Theists then plug this line on the end of it:
God must have been the first cause – the uncaused cause.
There are numerous problems with this way of thinking such as the fact that the first cause violates the entire premise for the argument and that even if we accept a first cause, which is by no means necessary if we consider an eternally existing loop, then we are still left no reason whatsoever to consider that first cause to be a god or in anyway intelligent. I'm not going to go into this now as the argument is old and no one knows the answer – no one yet, and we may never. Instead I'd like to focus on how theists tend to view this.
First of all, in the theist view, there is a god. This god has existed for eternity. This is actually not compatible with our modern understanding of space-time since the beginning of the universe was also the beginning of the dimension of time and thus there was no eternity before the universe, but let's just accept for now, for purely hypothetical exploration, that time extended back before its own emergence.
So in the theistic view we have a god existing uniquely, with no other anything (remember that both Plato and Aristotle also required a coexistent substance along with the First Cause for it to manipulate), for eternity and then at some point creating this universe. This demands the question, why? Why sit around for eternity and then without any other stimulus, and no internal stimulus either as the omniscient nature of god means absolutely no possibility of decision making or thought, suddenly choose that moment to create a universe? It's a big problem because it requires a cause. It requires a motivation that existed at that moment and no other. It requires a cause to motivate god to pick that particular instant to kick the whole thing off after sulking around for eternity.
The argument is again victim of its own constraints. Suddenly we do not require just one First Cause but two.
Theists will say god chose to do it at that time, but god cannot choose – see my omniscience post. So god had to have a reason; a reason that cannot be internal to it since god is unchanging. Furthermore that motivational cause that selected that exact moment to create the universe also had to have a cause. And that cause would have needed a cause also. It becomes yet another infinite regress.
The result is that if we posit a god as a first cause what we actually end up with, when looking at the expansion of causes away from the point of creation, either from the post or pre-creation side, is an hour glass appearance of ever expanding causes crimped to one cause at the point of creation, with the only difference being that everything pre-creation, even if we accept god as a first cause, still needs another infinite regresses of non-god causes to push him into action.
An ideal candidate for Ockham's Razor, I think.
The Cosmological Argument is not at this time answerable but there really is absolutely no reason to conclude that even if there is a first cause, which is unknown and thinking there is may simply be a fault of our limited and linear perception of time, that it must be a god. In fact, positing a god fails to solve the problem and in fact exaggerates it if we are to also posit that this first cause is omniscient. I strongly suspect, and I will examine the logic in the near future, that giving this first cause any definable property whatsoever breaks the argument. Even if it does not, it might just as easily be the universe itself or any infinite number of other options that are the first cause. But if we do posit an omniscient and eternal god then that god needs a reason to select one moment in eternity to kick it off and not any other moment. God sitting around for eternity and then just making a decision just doesn't work – it defies his alleged omniscience.
That requires that god is either not omniscient or not eternal or is neither. Once again, a theistic logical claim for proof of the existence of god actually turns out to be the complete opposite, even when we allow the universe wide leeway of no evidence, no reason and no exclusion of equally baseless hypotheses.
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