An Objection to the First Cause Argument

Last time, we discussed the first cause argument for the existence of God.

“The fact that the universe began to exist implies that something brought it into existence – that the universe has an ultimate ‘causer.’”

Critics of the first cause argument often try to rebut it by asking a question: Who created God? This question is supposed to present the theist with a serious dilemma. If the theist concedes that God does have a creator, then is it not God’s creator that we should be worshiping rather than God? And who created God’s creator? The danger looms of an infinite regress of creators, each postulated in order to explain the existence of that subsequent to it. If there is an infinite regress of creators, though, then there is no first creator, no ultimate cause of the universe, no God. Perhaps, then, the theist should maintain that God does not have a creator, that he is an uncaused cause. If uncaused existence is possible, though, then there is no need to postulate a God that created the universe; if uncaused existence is possible, then the universe could be uncaused. However the theist answers the question of who created God, then, what he says will undermine the cosmological argument, and he would be forced to abandon it. So, at least, runs this objection to the argument.

However, this objection is far less powerful than it first appears. In fact, it rests on a simple misunderstanding of the first cause argument. If the first cause argument was that everything has a cause, and that the universe therefore has a cause, and therefore that God exists, then the question “Who created God?” would indeed present the theist with a grave dilemma. But that is not the argument. The first cause argument is the argument that everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause, that the universe has a beginning of its existence, and that the universe therefore has a cause of its existence. The theist can therefore confidently answer the question of who created God with, “No one created God”, without fear of compromising the first cause argument. The theist’s position is that everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence. If something comes into existence, then there must be something else able to bring it into existence. Nothing comes out of nothing – not even God. God, though, unlike the universe, did not begin to exist. God is eternal. He exists outside of time, and has neither beginning nor end. The theist can therefore posit that uncaused existence is possible in the case of God, without being forced to say that uncaused existence is possible in the case of the universe. God and the universe are two entirely different sorts of things. Now many claim that they believe the universe has simply existed forever, but leading scientists all know that the universe clearly began to exists at some point. It’s just a matter of how, and when.

The cosmological argument is an argument from the mere fact that a temporal universe exists to the existence of an eternal Creator of it. The next argument, the argument from design, takes a much more detailed look at the universe in search of evidence for God’s existence.

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About Tweed Tavern

We exist to exhort passionate followers of Christ to think more deeply about their faith, and to challenge deep thinkers to become more passionate followers of Christ. Throughout history, taverns have provided a venue for theological and political debate. Hoping to honor that tradition, welcome to the Tavern!
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