First cause

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Knowing through effects
Many men who are intelligent and of good faith say they cannot visualize a Designer. Well, can a physicist visualize an electron? The electron is materially inconceivable and yet it is so perfectly known through its effects[note 1] that we use it to illuminate our cities, guide our airlines through the night skies and take the most accurate measurements..."
Wernher von Braun[2] (acknowledgement: The American Minute)

The first cause is regarded by some as postulate[note 2], by others as conclusion[note 3], popular in philosophy, theology, and orthodox science (historically known also as Natural Philosophy) that, since everything that happens must have a cause, everything is traceable back to a first cause, usually referred to as God. For example, Newton is quoted as saying, "Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done."[5] According to T.G. Masaryk, without a first cause, without the first Creator and the mover, we cannot understand the formation, movement and development of the world.[3] This is the very essence of so-called cosmological argument, mentioned in the Summa[note 4] by Aquinas, where he addresses the question whether God exists.[4] Together with Teleological argument they are regarded for the strongest proof and/or rational arguments for acceptance of existence of Creator. The hypothesis of God existence, also referred to as theism, is for science a hypothesis, which is according to the requirement of the logic simpler, and therefore more justified than any other hypotheses.[3]

The first cause and infinite regress

A popular argument for atheism - advanced by atheist philosophers[6] as popular "scientific" rebuttal of intelligent design - is the notion of the infinite regress. Every action or being requires a cause, so if God exists, God must have a cause; that cause also had a cause, and so on, literally ad infinitum.

This is however a popular misunderstanding of important property of divine[7] and of the very essence of the first cause argument as Christian theology (and some other religions as well), professed also by orthodox scientists, states that God is the "uncaused first cause"; that He is "eternally self-existent",[8] or that He is "beyond time and space".[9]

What caused the first cause?[6]
Asking, "What caused the first cause?" is like asking, "What does a square triangle look like?" or, "What is the smell of blue?" It is a meaningless question. Triangles can't have four sides; colors don't smell; and first causes don't have causes because they are first.

The first cause argument

The first cause argument was presented by evangelical Christian philosopher T. Miethe in version resting on following premises:

  • Some limited, changing being(s) exist.
  • The present existence of every limited, changing being is caused by another.
  • There cannot be an infinite regress of causes of being, because an infinite regress of finite beings would not cause the existence of anything.
  • Therefore, there is a first Cause of the present existence of these beings.
  • The first Cause must be infinite, necessary, eternal, and one.
  • The first uncaused Cause is identical with the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition.[10]

Consequences of dismissing the First Cause

Pasteur criticized positivist Auguste Comte that his fundamental principle is to dismiss any metaphysical search for first and final causes and to reduce all ideas and all theories to facts, and to attribute the character of certainty only to demonstrations of experience. Conversely, instead of achieving for scientific rigour, this approach turned out to be an utopia and led Comte to end up with the lack of precision and clarity in stating his doctrine, with doubtful assertions, obscure precepts, and anecdotal examples.[11] T.G. Masaryk maintained that Comte had begun with criticism of myth and at the end have reached the point when he himself fabricated a full-fledged positivistic mythology.[3] According to G.K. Chesterton, the riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man[note 5] and the first effect of not believing in God [here as the first cause] is that person is losing the common sense or according to É.L. Cammaerts starts believing in anything.[13] The similar critique, published in the Spectator on 24 March 1860, was applied to Darwin by Adam Sedgwick who in his review of the The Origin of Species criticized Darwin's theory for unflinching materialism and for utterly repudiating final causes.[14] The philosophical positions stemming from this repudiation eventually degenerated into scientism and attracted totalitarian minds and adherents of radical anticlericalism who blindly sought to impose their own belief systems pertaining to morality and politics.[11]

Spread of anti-God philosophies

In science, the downfall of Metaphysical anti-theistic ideas has been the lumping together of operational and origins science. The obvious limitations of historical science began to be ignored and anti-God philosophies such as evolutionism started to masquerade as science. Despite many profound weaknesses, Enlightenment 'scientists' began to apply these philosophical ideas to the interpretation of the world in which we live. Men insistently demanding a naturalistic account of origins caused many doubting God’s Word. Biblical authority was rejected a priori[15] and the two most notorious and blood-soaked political movements of the twentieth century, Nazism and Communism, started their onset, building on this rejection and animating the idea of evolution.[16] The confusion continues to present day with many unable to distinguish between empirical science, and the philosophical naturalism underpinning so much speculation, especially about origins. These interpretations are believed as all amounting to the same thing, i.e. to the “Did God actually say?” Doubt in God’s Word that was first sown into minds of people by Satan back in the Garden of Eden.[15]


  1. cf.
    • "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." Romans 1:20 Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
    • "I cannot prove that electrons exist, but I believe frevently in their existence. And if you don't believe in them, I have a high-voltage cattle prod I'm willing to apply as an argument on their behalf. Electrons speak for themselves." Seth Lloyd[1]
  2. The literature atributes the first cause as postulate to Aristotle.[3]
  3. The literature atributes the first cause as conclusion to Aquinas.[4]
  4. Article 3 of Question 2: "The existence of God."
  5. cf."The true science has never opposed God."[12]


  1. (2006) "Seth Lloyd", in John Brockman: What we believe but cannot prove: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the age of certainty. Harper Collins, 55. ISBN 978-0-06-084181-2. 
  2. American Minute with Bill Federer Father of Modern Space Flight -Faith in Creator. Retrieved on 2 September 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Bohumil Sláma (2010). Zapomenutý prorok Tomáš G. Masaryk (in Czech). Atelier Sláma, 31, 93, 98. ISBN 978-8025-484333. “Víru v Boha obhajoval pouze racionálními argumenty. První, teologický (opírající se o účelnost objektivního světa a vesmírný řád) 'důkaz', byl nasnadě: "Účelnost světa, života, historického dění, našeho poznání i mravního úsilí me věde k uznání stvořitele a ředitele všeho - duchovní a nekonečně dokonalé osobní bytosti." Druhý, kosmologický důkaz založil na předpokladu, že "bez první příčiny, bez prvního tvůrce a hybatele nemůžeme rozumět vzniku, pohybu a vývoji veškerenstva."...místo hledání prvních příčin zjišťuje fakta a jejích řád a zákony. Ad voce Comte: začal kritikou mýtu a došel k tomu, že sám vyfantazíroval celou pozitivistickou mytologii. ... Druhý argument teismu, to máme důkaz řečený kosmologický /vyplývající z nauky o vesmíru/; bez prvé příčiny, bez prvého tvůrce a hybatele nemůžeme rozumět vzniku, pohybu a vývoji veškerenstva. Z hlediska příčinného musím klást nějaký začátek tohoto řetězu příčin; nestačí nám, myslím, přijímat druhotné příčiny do nekonečna. Myslím, že moderní přírodoveda svým učením o entropii /o výměně a zachování tepla/ potvrzuje Aristotelův postulát první příčiny...Existenci Boha dokazujete jen těmi dvoma argumenty? Ano. Přesněji řečeno, hypotézu o existenci Boha; pro vědu je teismus hypotézou, která je podle požadavku logiky jednodušší, a tedy oprávněnější než hypotézy jiné.” 
  4. 4.0 4.1 David Berlinski. "The Cause", The Devil’s Delusion. Basic Books, New York, 2009, 66–69. ISBN 978-0-465-01937-3. “... Dawkins writes that Aquinas "makes the entirely unwarranted assumption that God is immune to the regress." ... But Aquinas makes no such assumption, and thus none that could be unwarranted. It is the conclusion of his argument that causes in nature cannot form an infinite series.” 
  5. Christine Dao. Man of Science, Man of God: Isaac Newton. Institute for Creation Research. Retrieved on December 14, 2014.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks (1990). "10. Questions about Science and Evolution", When Skeptics Ask. Victor Books, Baker Books, 39. ISBN 978-0-8010-7164-5. Retrieved on 25.1.2012. 
  7. David Berlinski (2009). "Was there a Big Bang?", The Deniable Darwin. Seattle, USA: Discovery Institute Press (reprinted from Commentary February 1998 by permission), 226–228. ISBN 978-0-9790141-2-3. “a first cause exhibits an important property of the divine: It is uncaused 
  8. Werner Gitt et al.. 95 One Sentence Theses against Evolution: A scientific critique of the naturalist philosophy. “The causal proof of God’s existence formulated by Aristotle assumes that the series of causal movers cannot be infinite, so that there must be a prime mover (prima causa). In the ontological proof of God’s existence, Anselm of Canterbury draws his conclusion by moving from the logical, terminological level to the level of being. The teleological proof of God’s existence of Thomas of Aquinas (1225–1274) states that the ordered and obviously planned nature of the world must have an external cause. There are a number of variants on the cosmological proof of God’s existence. The earliest formulation argues that the universe requires a causal agent that must lie outside it. More recent proofs of God's existence can be derived from the natural information in the universe and the prophetic information in the Bible.”
  9. Edgar Andrews (2009). Who made God?. EP Books, 25. ISBN 978-0852-347072. “Because cause and effect is only proven for the physical world, we can no longer insist that cause and effect are relevant when it comes to the origin of a spiritual entity like God. Therefore God doesn't have to have a cause - he can be the ultimate uncaused cause, a being whom no one made.” 
  10. Antony Flew (2008). There is a God, How the world's most notorious atheist changed his mind. HarperOne, 70–71. ISBN 978-0-06-133530-3. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Patrice Debré (1998). Louis Pasteur. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 365–368. ISBN 978-0801-865299. 
  12. Lukáš Embe (1995). Úvahy: Podnety na zamyslenie pre veriacich i "neveriacich" (in Slovak). Mikuláš Lipták, 35. ISBN 80-88747-31-7. “Pravá veda nikdy nestála proti Bohu.” 
  13. See notes in: Singularity
  14. ibid.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Marc Ambler (19 May 2015). Evolutionists on the Bible: Philosophical naturalists ‘explain’ the Bible. CMI. Retrieved on 31 May 2015.
  16. Tom DeRosa (2006). Evolution's Fatal Fruit: How Darwin's Tree of Life Brought Death to Millions. Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Incorporated, 7–8. ISBN 978-1-9296-2625-0. “...Nazism and Communism, both rejected God and were animated by idea of evolution.” 

See also