The Law of Causality and the Uncaused Cause
The law of science known as the Law of Causality, or Law of Cause and Effect, says that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause (Miller, 2011). The Universe is a material effect that demands an adequate Cause, and atheism cannot provide one. The truth is, God exists. Often the atheist or skeptic, attempting to distract from and side-step the truth of this law without responding to it, retorts, “But if everything had to have a beginning, why does the same concept not apply to God? God needs a cause, too! Who caused God?”
First, notice that this statement is based on a misunderstanding of what the Law of Cause and Effect claims concerning the Universe. The law states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause. A law of science is determined through the observation of nature—not supernature. The laws of nature do not apply to non-material entities. The God of the Bible is a spiritual Being (John 4:24), and therefore is not governed by physical law. In 1934, professor of philosophy at Princeton University, W.T. Stace, wrote in A Critical History of Greek Philosophy concerning causality: “[E]verything which has a beginning has a cause” (1934, p. 6, emp. added). God, according to the Bible, had no beginning. Psalm 90:2 says concerning God, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (emp. added). The Bible describes God as a Being Who has always been and always will be—“from everlasting to everlasting.” He, therefore, had no beginning. Hebrews 3:4 again states, “every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God,” indicating that God is not constrained by the Law of Cause and Effect as are houses, but rather, is the Chief Builder—the Uncaused Causer—the Being who initially set all effects into motion.
Further, scientists and philosophers recognize that, logically, there must be an initial, uncaused Cause of the Universe. [Those who attempt to argue the eternality of the Universe are in direct contradiction to the Law of Causality (since the Universe is a physical effect that demands a cause), as well as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which indicates that nothing physical lasts forever (see Miller, 2007).] Aristotle, in Physics, discusses the logical line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that the initial cause of motion must be something that is not, itself, in motion—an unmoved mover (1984, 1:428). Thomas Aquinas built on Aristotle’s reasoning and said:
Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another…. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality…. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e., that it should move itself. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover…. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God (1952, 19:12,13, emp. added).
God, not being a physical, finite being, but an eternal, spiritual being (by definition), would not be subject to the condition of requiring a beginning. Therefore, the law does not apply to Him. Concerning the Law of Causality, renowned German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, said that “everything which is contingent has a cause, which, if itself contingent, must also have a cause; and so on, till the series of subordinated causes must end with an absolutely necessary cause, without which it would not possess completeness” (Kant, 2008, p. 284, emp. added). An uncaused Cause is necessary. Only God sufficiently fills that void.
Consider: if there ever were a time in history, when absolutely nothing existed—not even God—then nothing would exist today, since nothing comes from nothing (in keeping with common sense and the Law of Thermodynamics, Miller, 2007). However, something exists (e.g., the Universe)—which means something had to exist eternally. That something could not be physical or material, since such things do not last forever (cf. Second Law of Thermodynamics, Miller, 2007). It follows that the eternal something must be non-physical or non-material. It must be mind rather than matter. Logically, there must be a Mind that has existed forever. That Mind, according to the Bible (which has characteristics proving it to be of supernatural origin, cf. Butt, 2007), is God. He, being spirit, is not subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end (Psalm 102:25-27, emp. added).
Aquinas, Thomas (1952), Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago).
Aristotle (1984), Physics, in The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), https://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Behold%20the%20Word%20of%20God.pdf.
Colley, Caleb (2010), “Aristotle’s ‘Unmoved Mover’ and Those Who Are ‘Without Excuse,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3795.
Kant, Immanuel (2008), Kant’s Critiques: The Critique of Pure Reason, the Critique of Practical Reason, the Critique of Judgment (Radford, VA: Wilder Publications).
Lyons, Eric (2007), “What Caused God?,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2216&topic=93.
Miller, Jeff (2007), “God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective,” Reason & Revelation, 27:25-31, April, https://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3293.
Miller, Jeff (2011), “God and the Laws of Science: The Law of Causality,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/article/3716.
Stace, W.T. (1934), A Critical History of Greek Philosophy (London: Macmillan).
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