How can one not believe in god as the root cause of the universe?

  • How can you lack belief in the existence of god?

    I define god here as prime cause. As the world is a sum of collections of events, causally linked to the past through time, then there must be a prime cause.

    As of now the Big Bang singularity has been discovered, but to say this Big Bang occured in nothingness, where there is no volume, no time, no energy, completely nothing...isn't it a bit far fetched? There ought to be cause(s) to this singularity, and cause(s) to that cause(s). In the end it should still lead to god.

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    To begin with, "As the world is a sum of collections of events, causally linked to the past through time, then there must be a prime cause" is false. Nothing here prevents the world from being a never-starting and never-ending sequence of interlinked events.

  • The alternative between existence and non-existence of a creator god cannot be decided by the argument of the first cause.

    Whoever argues that a first cause is needed and that this first cause is god, has to answer the question:

    What is the cause of the creator god?

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  • The most compelling argument I've heard in this vein is that the existence of God just adds an extra step.

    As Jo Wehler has pointed out, claiming God is the first cause raises the question: "What is the cause of the creator god?"

    The most common response I've heard is that God requires no first cause; that's part of what makes God God. However, this raises another question: if you're willing to accept that there exists something which does not require a first cause, why could that something not just be the universe?

    In other words, there are two possible ways the universe came to be:

    1. God simply was, requiring no first cause, and created the universe.

    2. The universe simply was, requiring no first cause.

    Many non-believers look at these two possibilities, and by Occam's Razor choose the latter. To them, there is no reason God is necessary to solve the issue of a first cause.

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  • God here I defined as prime cause.

    If you simply define god as the prime cause, then that is simply word-play. You obviously understand that the vast majority of people do not use the word 'god' simply as the definition of the first cause. They attach much more meaning to the word. The vast majority of people who believe in 'a god' believe in some being, which--currently or in human history--has had direct effects on the world. Your definition of god comes closest to the deistic version of god, although even deists believe that god exists (whatever that means. By the way, question: does the "first cause", which you define as god, exist?).

    When you ask

    How can people disbelieve in god?

    It is very loaded question (or at worst, a very dishonest question) because you use the word 'god' much differently than what people ordinarily understand the word to mean.

    If I asked you

    How can people disbelieve in unicorns?

    Then you might respond with something like "because there is no positive evidence that unicorns exist", and then I respond with "I define unicorns as being horses." Of course, by my definition of the word, most people actually believe in 'unicorns', but it would be silly of me to expect people to go around and say that they believe in unicorns, because my definition does not match the common usage of the word.

    Why not simply skip the word 'god', and be much clearer and simply say "first (or primary) cause"?

    Lastly, there is a bigger philosophical issue at hand. That is that we simply do not know if there is such a thing as the "first cause". Our understanding of the physical world basically breaks down near the creation of the (observable) universe, and our intuitions are often completely wrong about how physics work at the quantum level. Therefore, the honest thing to say is simply that we don't know.

    +1 I would argue "How can people disbelieve in unicorns? I define unicorns as prime cause." Defining the prime cause as unicorn does not make the horse shaped one horned creature that people identify the word 'unicorn' real.

    From a physics standpoint, I'd like to add a small clarification: our understanding of the physical world breaks down a tiny bit of time *after* the origin of the *observable* universe (whether "our" universe is singular or just part of some other universe etc., things that complicate everything further). But if time didn't exist before the universe, the idea of "first cause" makes little sense even in principle. General relativity alludes to that, though of course it cannot say that "our" Big Bang is the first one.

    William Lane Craig makes a fine point of this when he discusses his Kalam Cosmological Argument, saying that despite what we know about relative time and its co-origin with everything else at the Big Bang, it is nevertheless appropriate to ask what is *logically prior* that caused the Big Bang.

    @TheDoctor It's wordplay because using the word 'God' implies results that the argument would be incapable of proving even if it was flawless. It's claimed that the word 'God' here is just an arbitrary variable, but it's clearly motivated - otherwise you could substitute 'Peanut Butter Jelly Toast' for it and expect the result to be the same.

    @elliotsvensson The problem is that WLCs argument depends on a separation of "causes" into "material causes" and "immaterial causes", claiming that the latter can exist without the former. He doesn't really make a good argument for why this separation makes sense.

    This answer seems to assume that the OP doesn't believe in unicorns, but there is no such statement in the question.

  • What is "nothing"?

    This is Argument From First Cause. This exists in several variants...

    The short rebuttal to this is: what is "nothing"? We do not know what was "before" or "outside" the Big Bang. We do not even know if the concepts of "before" and "outside" are valid in this context, since the concepts of "before" and "outside" implies that the things that were created at the Big Bang — time and space — already existed before they were created. We have never seen a "nothing" and cannot picture what it is. We cannot step outside our own timeline of a mere 14 billion years, and our local space of a puny 93 billion light years and examine what exists beyond our "something". Hence we cannot say this supposed "nothing" and from that tell with certainty that "something" cannot come from this "nothing".

    And if there was a creator, what created that creator? To say "Nothing created the creator, the creator had no cause … it was eternal", that is Special Pleading.

    Lawrence Krauss's lecture "A Universe From Nothing" also pokes big holes in the Argument From First Cause.

    Finally, Hitchens points out, that:

    [You] may not wish to abandon the idea that there must be some sort of first or proximate cause or prime mover of the known and observable world and universe.

    But even if you can get yourself to that position […] all your work is still ahead of you. To go from being a deist to a theist — in other words to someone who says: God cares about you; knows who you are; minds what you do; answers your prayers; cares which bits of your penis or clitoris you saw away or have sawn away for you; minds who you go to bed with and in what way; minds what holy days you observe; minds what you eat; minds what positions you use for pleasure — all your work is still ahead of you, and lots of luck. Because there is nobody, there's nobody, even Aquinas had to give it up, there's no one who can move from the first position to the second.

    In short: even if you believe there is a first cause, you cannot say if the first cause is God, Brahma or The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or simply other laws of nature that are unknown to us.

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  • There are a few different ways to show that this argument doesn't necessarily lead to the idea of a god.

    1. Special pleading: You get to claim that everything must have a cause...except a god. But, a) how do you know that?, and b) why do gods get this property but the universe--following the model of an eternal series of Big Bang and Big Crunches--cannot have it? ("Religious texts told me so" is not a reasonable answer.) [At least one physics model claim such an eternal series of bang crunches is impossible, but it may be incorrect.]

    2. False dichotomy: "It's either a god or it just happened". What if (beyond the idea that something always existed; see #1) there are other explanations? Maybe it's The Force. Maybe our universe is an eddy in the toilet water of a toilet in a civilization in some other plane of existence. Maybe our whole existence is a simulation in a computer (a trendy idea lately). Maybe there are no gods but there are souls, and our souls somehow "desire the universe into existence". Sure, these are kooky ideas, but keep in mind: You're supposing that basically one person made all this using magic.

    3. Multiverse: It may be the case that our universe is, despite the name ("uni" = "one") is just one of many universes in a multiverse. This idea is pursued seriously by astrophysicists.

    4. Mystery: When we think about the "Ultimate Origins of Everything", we should exercise some serious intellectual humility. (Philosopher Daniel Dennett makes this point somewhere on YouTube; sorry, can't find the reference yet.) To say that we know with certainty what must have happened prior to an event 14 billion years ago (an event that if it doesn't merit the adjective "inconceivable", I'm not sure what does) seems unreasonable. I add this point beyond point 2 about False Dichotomy because it may be the case that the Real Answer to all this is so far beyond our ability to understand it can't even be put into words, let alone comprehended. I'm not being defeatist--we should try to figure this out if we can. I just don't know whether we can or not at this point in history.

    +1 You make a good point with "The Force" which would be impersonal and hence not a God though potentially causal. However, anything eternal does not need a cause to begin existing since it never began existing by definition of eternal. That is not special pleading.

    @FrankHubeny I think it is special pleading if you say everything *but* God/gods cannot be eternal. See here: the first example, and within the atheist literature generally.

    I think you are referring to this: *In the Thomistic cosmological argument for the existence of God, everything requires a cause. However, proponents of the argument then create a special case where God doesn't need a cause, but they can't say why in any particularly rigorous fashion.* The reason why is simple. Being eternal means it did not have a beginning. The universe could be eternal as well. Then it would not need a cause for beginning either. Is it eternal? It's the cosmic microwave background that suggests it is not--not an assertion. Not even a philosophical argument.

    I don't know what you mean by "--not an assertion. Not even a philosophical argument". In any case, if the OP were admitting that the "universe-or-at-least-something-like-it" might be eternal in some fashion (see my eternal Big Bang/Big Crunch cycle mention above), than he wouldn't be posting the question. He seems to only be affording the possibility of eternalness to his conception of a god. That's special pleading.

    @FrankHubeny The microwave background is a reflection of our local spacetime, but that's not necessarily "the universe".

    @FrankHubeny It's special pleading to choose to call this eternal thing one step beyond the universe "God", instead of "prime mover" or "first cause" or "multiverse". The word "God" comes with a load of unnecessary and contradictory connotations and cultural baggage.

    Note that the multiverse idea does not affect the original problem. You just have to explain the existence of even more universes.

    @Thern The multiverse idea allows you to more easily suppose that *something* physical always existed, and that although our local patch of observable spacetime may have begun 14 billion years ago, it was birthed from a larger set of eternally preexisting natural things. In that regard, one would not need a God. Without a multiverse view, to escape the something-from-nothing issue, you (probably?) need an eternal cycle of Big Bang/Big Crunches. That's why I listed it.

    @Chelonian That doesn't really help you in the primary argument, it just adds a layer of abstraction. But if our universe is just a part of the multiverse, you still have the problem of something from nothing. Instead of explaining how the universe came to existence from nothing, you have to explain how the multiverse came to existence from nothing. If you feel that the multiverse needs no beginning, you can also argue that the universe needs no beginning. It does not explain anything more, and as it moves outside measurability, it adds nothing from a scientific point of view.

    While you're not wrong, I think my inclusion of the Multiverse idea was motivated by the OP's exact language: "But to say this big bang to occur in nothingness, where there is no volume, no time, no energy, completely nothing. Isn't it a bit far fetched?". I may edit my answer to clarify.

    You should add **Strawman Argument** as the OP seems to believe Big Bang theory states that it "*occured in nothingness, where there is no volume, no time, no energy, completely nothing...*" which is a theory I have never heard before; there was an infinite amount of all the aforementioned things (besides volume) as the big bang occurred, theoretically.

  • In addition to the excellent answers given, a physicist would have problems with the following.

    There ought to be cause(s) to this singularity, and cause(s) to that cause(s).

    This takes causality as axiomatic. That everything everywhere follows time's arrow, even things before the Big Bang and outside the known Universe. Everything follows causality, right? Time always flows forward, right?

    Well... it turns out our universe is not so simple.

    Our universe at the very small (quantum) and very large (astronomical) scales acts rather differently than the mid-sized macroscopic universe we observe and interact with day-to-day. Yet these familiar macroscopic behaviors come from those rules governing the very small and very bizarre, the quantum universe. A lot of what we take as the "common sense" rules of our (mostly) classical macroscopic universe are actually emergent properties of a very strange (to us) quantum universe where the rules are very, very, very different. One cannot assume that these emergent classical rules apply to the very large or the very small or the very high energy, such as near the Big Bang. And yes, even causality is at risk.

    While "time" shows up all over the equations, it's never been shown to be a fundamental property of our universe. "Time" may be an emergent property of mass, entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics, a property that may have taken some "time" (for lack of a better term) to merge after the Big Bang, and may have no meaning "before".

    So when talking about a "first cause" outside the rules of our universe, or in the very different conditions at and just after the Big Bang, you must first show that causality exists then (or there). There may well be, literally, a time before time.

    If you want to know more, PBS Space Time is has a playlist on The Origin Of Matter And Time.

    But to say this big bang to occur in nothingness, where there is no volume, no time, no energy, completely nothing.

    There are similar problems with "nothing". True "nothing" violates the Uncertainty Principle. It says there's a limit to how accurate a system's position and momentum can be. "Nothing" means a thing's position and momentum (or lack thereof) has at a very high accuracy, too accurate for the Uncertainly Principle, so every system must always have "something". (This is why we can never reach absolute zero.) This "something" has been described as the quantum foam, or zero-point energy (no, we can't use it as an energy source), or the quantum vacuum state, and gives rise to things like virtual particles.

    So there's no such thing as "completely nothing". PBS Space Time also has a playlist on The Quantum Vacuum (aka "Nothing").

    More mind bending ideas about time and causality and nothing from PBS Space Time and others.

    So you are saying that there might exist a cause which happen after the effect, in the primordial singularity?

    @NikFaris I'm saying the whole idea of cause and effect may make no sense in the conditions near the Big Bang (also "nothing" is not nothing at the quantum scale) It becomes very difficult to talk about it without math because causality is woven into human language and thinking. I'd suggest you watch that PBS Space Time playlist, it does a good job building up the necessary context.

    @NikFaris It's best if you don't think of singularities as a thing that exist in space. Singularities are things that exist in *equations* and are basically another way of saying "the model doesn't really work well in this specific situation". To the best of my knowledge, physicists have a pretty good idea of what happens as we rewind the clock to a fraction of a second *before* everything would be in one point, but once the universe gets small enough, the models break down and all we can really say is "Yes, it is definitely very small and hot and rapidly expanding at this point in time".

    To expand on Ray's comment, they're referring to the Plank Epoch before a Plank Time (10^-43 seconds) had passed, the time it takes light to travel one Planck Length. This is all because of the Planck Constant which defines the smallest possible packet, or quanta, of energy. This is the "quantum" in "quantum mechanics". At this scale our theories do not work. In particular gravity dominates and we have no theory of quantum gravity.

    Rather than considering position/momentum pairing for the Uncertainty Principle you might want to look at time/energy instead. In essence, the shorter the period you look at a piece of space, the more uncertain is the amount of energy it contains. Hence virtual particles.

    Taking causality and logical reasoning as axiomatic is something that physicists and theologians have in common. Which is why I'm personally attracted to the idea in John's Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word (logos)". Don't ask about where the universe came from; ask instead about where logic came from. Generally though, the main effect of 20th century physics has been to demonstrate that there's an awful lot out there that physics can never reach: that is, there is room for metaphysics. But proving exactly what's there is another matter.

  • If the notions of actual or potential infinity are coherent, why is the notion of an infinite series of causes not also coherent ? The series of prime numbers is infinite - why not the series of causes.

    Also, even if there does need to be a first cause, that blocks the regress (if you must block it) but introduces a notion itself in need of explanation. If God is the first cause, then God must be causa sui - (a) the cause of Godself or (b) without cause. (Spinoza scholarship is riven by these two interpretations (Charles Jarrett, 'The Logical Structure of Spinoza's "Ethics", Part I', Synthese, Vol. 37, No. 1, Spinoza in Modern Dress (Jan., 1978), pp. 15-65 : esp. 39.)

    It is hard to make literal sense of God as self-creator : God would have to exist before God's own existence in order to bring Godself into existence. I think I am not alone in having difficulties with that idea.

    Also if, on the other interpretation, God is without cause, why can the universe itself not be without cause ?

    Finally, in this brief discussion, if you demonstrate the necessity for a first cause you still have to cover the extra step of identifying that cause as God if by God you mean a being possessed of omnipotence, omniscience, and benevolence. All that is not packed into the mere idea of a first cause.

    In any event, the first cause would not need to be omnipotent but only possessed of enough power to create the universe. The same goes for omniscience : God would only need enough knowledge to create the universe. Moreover there is no inference from first cause to benevolence, no logical connexion at all.

    +1 If the universe is eternal then it doesn't need a cause to begin since it never began. The same goes for God. Beside a possible philosophical argument a reason today to consider the universe to have a beginning is the discovery of the cosmic microwave background and the conclusion from that of some kind of beginning. You make a good point that the cause of the universe beginning need not be an agent making a free choice however that remains a possibility as well.

    I agree that if the universe is eternal it doesn't need a cause, and that the same goes for God. But the Questioner was assuming that the universe is not eternal and that it does need a cause, namely God. If God does not need a cause, as in the 2nd def. of causa sui, it doesn't follow that God is eternal. God may have come into existence causelessly at any time. The whole answer was dialectical, arguing from different angles. Actually my favourite point was in the last para. God doesn't need to be omnipotent, only to have enough power to create the universe. Ditto for omniscience.

    I agree with you about God's omnipotence and omniscience. It would be an interesting question to ask. It would be special pleading to expect causeless events either at the big bang or when quantum systems collapse if one expected there to be causes everywhere else--unless one can claim why those cases deserve to be separated. Without some kind of causation (agent or event) one has indeterminism which doesn't seem right since reality appears orderly. The cause of the universe need not be God but some event. I think Craig argues around that point successfully, but I need to think about it.

    Is the quantum world orderly ? It's lawlike but the laws are only probabilistic and does an individual case of radioactive decay have a cause ?

    From my perspective, it needs a cause just like the big bang and everything else. That cause may not be an event cause. That's where the problem comes in. By referencing randomness or indeterminism those looking for an event cause have given up without explicitly admitting defeat. People like Conway and Kochen in their Free Will Theorem pick up the ball and say the quantum system has free will if we do. That is they grant agency to the quantum system.

    @GeoffreyThomas Cause is a tricky concept. We tend to pretend that events have a single cause, but that clearly isn't the case - while there are causal relationships between events, they form a network that ultimately stretches all the way to the beginning of causality itself. And there are physical descriptions of the universe that don't include time at all - it isn't required, strictly speaking. The universe might just be one gigantic blob of spacetime that *exists*, and doesn't evolve at all (I really don't want to go any deeper into this, that'd take forever :D).

    @Luaan. I take your point. But I was not even endorsing the concept of cause. I was working within the assumptions of the Questioner and trying to show that, granting those assumptions for the sake of argument, the existence of a First Cause does not follow - and even if it did, an extra, separate step would be necessary if the First Cause were to be identified with God as traditonally conceived. Thanks again

  • How can you lack belief in the existence of god.

    Simple - "X believes in god" is a statement/predicate about human X.

    For a non-believer, the state of believing in god is exactly as inconceivable as the state of not believing in god would be for a believer. Both need mind-shattering experiences to truly switch around, there is no way through simple logic to change that (proof: if there were a way - in either direction - the issue would be resolved by now, and we would not be having this discussion).

    Even indoctrinating gullible young humans for many years through childhood and adolescence does not with certainty work to instill either belief or disbelief in them, as demonstrated frequently by young adults switching to the "other camp" when out of the control of their parents or community.

    God here I defined as prime cause. As the world is a sum of collections of events, causally linked to the past through time, then there must be a prime cause.

    There are several (simple, logical) fallacies in those sentences:

    • "God is a prime cause" is a definition, and has no "true or false" meaning; at this point in your argument it gives an attribute/predicate ("is a prime cause") to a concept ("god"). That is certainly applicable for mono-religions because humans simply created that definition. But from this definition there does not follow "Every prime cause must be god".
    • If, at this point in your argument, you imply "God is" (that is, "God exists"), then you can stop right there - then you will have started the argument with the fact you wanted to prove, in the first place.
    • "[All events are] causally linked to the past through time" - that is false. All spacetime points/events which are outside of each others light cone are not causally linked. And this predicate of not-being-causally-linked survives back right up to the instant of the Big Bang.
    • "there must be a prime cause". No. There may, or may not be a prime cause, but "must" is patently false here. We can easily think of ways that the universe could start without a prime cause. It could be an infinitely repeating meta-process of universes being separated by infinitely many Big Bangs. It could be that the concept of "cause" itself breaks down at the singularity. It could be that the next Hawking resolves the error in our formulas and the singularity simply disappears. It could be that our universe sprang into being spontaneously the same way we know/assume that certain virtual (but still real) quantum particles spontaneously appear and disappear even in the deepest vacuum, with no single other particle anywhere around. Plenty of possibilities, none of which anyone can disprove just yet.
    • You did not write it, but there is an invisible statement at the end of your argument: "Therefore, god is that prime cause". This is not the case either. You can define God to be a prime cause, but you cannot define it to be the only prime cause. Hence, even if there were a prime cause (which I am not arguing against!), nothing tells us that that must have been god.

    As of now big bang singularity has been discovered.

    No. The Big Bang has not been "discovered", almost all of it is just one theory on top of another on top of another. The only thing that is certain is that we have not witnessed anything that disproves the Big Bang. That is the nature of science. Until we disprove the Big Bang, it is a possibility. We can get ever more sure about it, but we will never know with absolute certainty.

    Every scientist underwrites that contract. The scientific method is about "formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses". We can, by principle, never "prove" the Big Bang, we can only disprove it by witnessing something that conflicts clearly with it. Science has rewritten itself over and over again. Being 100% irrevocably sure of something is a clear sign of pseudo-science or religion.

    Specifically, while we are pretty sure that "something happened" back then, we also know perfectly well that our current mathematical model of the Big Bang is wrong (or at least incomplete). Not wrong in the sense of "false", but wrong in the sense that we need a much more complicated theory. Similarly to how Newtons laws are not quite false in everyday cases, but are patently wrong in the big picture. We are still thinking about it...

    But to say this big bang to occur in nothingness, where there is no volume, no time, no energy, completely nothing.

    To say that would be extremely false. The opposite was true. From the Brief Answers to Cosmic Questions, by Harvard University:

    ``No. The Big Bang was not an explosion IN space. It was a process that involved ALL of space. This misconception causes more confusion than any other in cosmology. Unfortunately, many students, teachers, and scientists(!) mistakenly picture the "Big Bang" as an explosion that took place at some location in space, hurtling matter outward.

    In reality, ALL of space was filled with energy right from the beginning. There was no center to the expansion, and no magical point from which matter hurtled outward. The confusion arises in part because of the amazing conclusion that the OBSERVABLE portion of the universe was once packed into an incredibly tiny volume. But that primordial pellet of matter and energy was NOT surrounded by empty space... it was surrounded by more matter and energy (which today is beyond the region we can observe.) In fact, if the whole universe is infinitely large now, then it was always infinite, including during the Big Bang as well.

    To put it another way, the current evidence indicates only that the early universe - the WHOLE universe - was extremely DENSE - but not necessarily extremely small. Thus the Big Bang took place everywhere in space, not at a particular point in space.´´

    On to your argument:

    There ought to be cause(s) to this singularity,

    Maybe there ought, maybe there ought'nt. We certainly do not know enough about the universe to know. Maybe the physical, real phenomenon that is represented by our mathematical singularity is precisely something that precludes any causality (insofar as causality is a "physical" thing in the first place, and not just a mental crutch we need in our limited understanding of reality, the answer to which I'm pretty sure nobody knows with certainty).

    But even if it is that way, then...

    In the end it still lead to god.

    ... that last argument is again a fallacy. You start out by proposing that everything is caused by god, and therefore everything leads back to god. Logic does not work that way. In the best case (if there is a real god which functions the way you propose), you can just skip everything in your argument, and be done with your first assertion. And if there is not, then you are starting from a false statement, from which you can, by logic, prove anything. Hence, this argument proves nothing.

    Be sure to understand that I am not telling you that it needs logic for god to exist. But for some people, including scientists and philosophers, you do need logic to convince them of something... hence, to go full circle to your first question:

    How can you lack belief in the existence of god.

    Simple - nobody has found a logical, irrefutable proof that works without the assumption of the existence of god, yet. Hence, some people, who require such, do express a lack of belief.

    In your last sentence, I think you mean 'irrefutable proof that **does not** works without'.

    For your Harvard quote, note that it's not even required for the big bang to have occurred in a larger universe - when people try to imagine the topology of the universe, they usually use analogies like "warped piece of paper", which intuitively lead to the idea of something being "out there", beyond the bounds of the paper. But that isn't *required* at all - for example, if you represent wind direction as a 1 dimensional quantity (N->E->S->W->N), it clearly loops back on itself (no start or end), can be *pictured* as a circle, but has no "inside" or "outside". There's so many possibilities.

    @Luaan, yeah, a frequent analogy would also often be a balloon being pumped up, which is wrong on so many levels... the part you brought up stated (that it may not even require a infinite universe) is included in the very small "if" in `In fact, if the whole universe is infinitely large now`; I would leave the quote as is, the answer is quite long already. Or did you feel it's really misleading as it stands now?

    @AnoE Nah, it's probably the appropriate level of response considering the question - it's not like the OP asks for all that we know and don't know about the Big Bang. And it's not really *wrong*, it just doesn't explore all the plausible possibilities (which again makes sense in the context of who the document is targeted at). No need to include even more caveats.

  • The problem with discussions like this is that you rarely see any definition of terms. Define god. For some, it is simply the mysterious fact that there appear to be laws of nature discernable by humans (at least). We may never know why there are laws of nature, but I'm pretty sure this is what Spinoza and Einstein had in mind when they used the g word. In my view telling someone that you believe in god conveys zero information without a corresponding definition.

    I agree. I did list some of the attributes of God, those relevant to the discussion. But all the terms used in the answers beg for further explication. +1.

    This. If you just say "first cause", that could be literally anything - a subatomic particle spontaneously coming into existence for no particular reason. That's a far call from what is commonly understood when you use the word "god".

  • One of the problems with the "first cause" argument is that it really says this:

    "All things require a cause except for the prime cause."

    But once you start carving out exceptions, you start running in to trouble. That "first cause" argument says that's it's possible for something to exist without a cause. By why limit yourself to just one thing? If one thing can exist without a cause, then what's to keep some other thing from also existing without a cause? Or a third thing? Or a billion things? Or all the particles in the universe? Why couldn't two things— both existing without cause— have collaborated to create the rest of the universe?

    I don't have an answer to those questions. But to build an argument for the existence of God on something that is so far removed from traditional notions of cause and effect is specious at best.

    I don't want to start an argument, but one possible interesting answer to your "why not" question is, if quantities themselves only exist within the context of the created universe.

    @Wildcard. No argument, I agree with you. Your comment is an example of what I meant by "so far removed from traditional notions of cause and effect." I mean, if notions of *quantity* exist only within the context of the created universe, isn't be equally plausible that the notion of *sequence* or even causality only exist within the context of the created universe? Entertaining and mind expanding discussion? Yes. Logical proof of God? I don't see how.

    Excellent response. Although "logical proof" was not mentioned in the question at all. Perhaps that could be the basis for another answer to this question: belief in God is not necessarily logical, and cannot even be declared to be *il*logical. It can be a thing quite apart. Some have the fundamental belief that only things demonstrable by logic (starting from certain assumptions which they choose to believe) should be believed as true.

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