The First Cause argument has been spewed many times by many different theists, ranging in intelligence from a1nonly to Saint Thomas Aquinas. It basically goes:
- All events have a cause.
- All beginnings are events.
- The Universe has a beginning.
- An event cannot cause itself.
- Therefore, the Universe has a First Cause.
- By premise four, that cause must be something outside of the Universe.
- This implies that something outside of the Universe, that is, a God, must have created the Universe
The problems with this arguement are manifold. Firstly, Quantum Mechanics has all but totally disproven the first premise. Secondly, the beginning of the Universe is, by definition, also the beginning of time. Since causality requires a temporal referrant (A causes B implies a time progression), by definition the beginning of time, and thus the beginning of the Universe has no cause.
However, even if one ignores the problems with those premises, there are still more problems. Premise three is questioned by some, although a lot of modern cosmology points to a Universe with a definite beginning point. OTOH, Stephen Hawking, one of the foremost minds in modern physics, supports a circular-time model with no definite beginning. The logical implications of asserting that the Universe has a beginning are also theologically troublesome, as many can respond by asking why the Universe needs a beginning but God doesn’t.
Finally, the conclusion is a non sequitur, in that it automatically assumes that the Universe’s cause is necessarily a God. Something transcendental to the Universe could just as easily be the Force or the Tao as a conscious entity.
Kalaam’s Cosmology Argument is a slightly dressed up version of the First Cause argument. It goes, basically:
- A causes B implies that A exists at the time A causes B
- Net entropy in a closed system must always increase towards the maximum.
- The Universe must either be eternal, have caused itself, or been caused by an external force.
- The Universe is a closed system.
- The Universe has not yet reached maximum entropy.
- Before something is caused, it does not exist.
- By premise two, a closed system which has been in existence forever would have at any present point in time P already been in maximum entropy for an infinitely long period of time.
- By premise four, if the Universe were eternal, it would have reached maximum entropy by this present point in time P.
- Thus, the Universe cannot be eternal by premise five.
- By the law of noncontradiction, something cannot both exist and not exist at the same time (not (A and not A)).
- If something caused itself, it would have to both exist, by premise one, and not exist, by premise six, at the same time.
- Thus, something cannot cause itself.
- Thus, the Universe could not have caused itself.
- By premise three, this leaves only the possibility that the Universe was caused by an external force, which would be a God.
This shares the same misunderstanding of cauasality as the First Cause, although it no longer contains the problem of assuming that the Universe could not have always existed, but rather demonstrating it by using the Second Law of Thermodynamics. However, premises two and four are still somewhat questionable. Also, one could argue that an eternal Universe would, by definition, be infinite in its extent and not a closed system.
Finally, Kalaam’s Cosmology makes the same blunder of assuming that a transcendental force is necessarily a conscious entity, rather than admitting the possibility that it could also be a nonsentient force.
I am unsure of the date of this piece. It dates back to some time in 1997; the first record of it in the Internet Archive is from 12 August 1997. —C.J. 2006-07-10.