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Basic Worldview:
102 Atheism vs. Theism


Footnote 1

Prelude: "Atheism/Theism" vs. "Science, the Bible, & Creation"
Atheism: Introduction and Charges
Charge 1, Deduction and Induction
Charge 2, Question 1
Charge 2, Questions 2 and 3
Charge 2, Summary and Question 4
Charges 3 and 4, Definitions
Empirical Evidence
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 1
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 2
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 3
Occam's Razor and Conclusions
Footnote 1
Footnote 2 and 3
Proof of Life
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 1
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 2
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 3
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 4
Scientists: Life on Earth Imported from Outer Space
Atheisms Circle of Reasons
Is God a White Crow?



No. 1.
Perhaps it might be suggested that the endless series of causes (infinite regress) could itself function as an eternal cause. However, such a suggestion is absurd. There are two problems with suggesting an endless series of causes could act as an eternal cause.

First, to do so would, in fact, be asserting that an infinite series of insufficient causes functions as a sufficient cause. This would imply that sufficiency is conveyed by quantity. Or in other words, if there are enough insufficient causes, they become sufficient simply by virtue of their quantity. But quantity has nothing to do with sufficiency where causes are concerned.

Second, and more importantly, each cause in the endless series of causes is by definition also acting as an effect (of some previous cause.) Therefore, in an infinite series of insufficient causes, what you would really have is an endless series of effects without ever arriving at a cause sufficient to produce those effects. Thus, infinite regress, one way or another, is ultimately a process of procrastinating the problem of the need for a sufficient (and by definition eternal) cause. The existence of the universe requires a sufficient cause. And in general, the existence of a thing (unless it is eternal) requires the existence of something sufficient to cause that thing. Therefore, each insufficient cause further demands the existence of an initial sufficient cause.

To make such a suggestion (of an endless series of insufficient causes) acknowledges two things. First, it acknowledges the need for an eternal cause. And second, it acknowledges that only an eternal cause (a cause extending infinitely back into time) can be considered a sufficient cause. But, because of the problems described above, we cannot accept the theory of an infinite series of causes. Instead, we are left only with the fact that such a theory would itself corroborate that an eternal cause is required for a sufficient explanation of the universe's existence.

Similarly, some might posit that the universe (and/or a series of preceding causes) actually function in a cyclical (rather than a linear) string of causation. Thus, one thing causes another, which causes another and so on until the last thing actually causes the first thing. Such a hypothetical cycle is logically absurd. In reality it is simply a reformulation of the notion of self-creation because ultimately in cyclical causation, one event will have to perform the act of causation that will in turn, lead to its own causation. Or in other words, an event will have to perform the act of causing before that event has itself been caused.

It is a simple fact. If A cannot occur unless B occurs first and B cannot occur unless A occurs first, then neither A nor B will ever occur. Why can't A occur? Because B has not yet occurred. Why hasn't B occurred yet? Because A hasn't yet occurred. Cyclical causation is not possible. Cyclical causation is circular reasoning.

And there are two additional points worth making on this topic. First, an endless cyclical view of causation contradicts the Big Bang Theory, which states that the universe had a beginning and did not exist as part of a repeating eternal cycle. So, for an Atheist to suppose cyclical causation, rather than a linear causation, would contradict the prominent view held in modern science, and the Atheist would forfeit any objection to Theism on the grounds that Theism is not in concert with at least some aspects of modern scientific views.

Second, the notion of the universe existing eternally as part of a repeating cycle of causation is outside the boundaries of what can be empirically tested and it contravenes Occam's Razor. If the empirical evidence tells us, as modern scientists claim it does, that the universe began around 10 to 20 billion years ago, then what evidence tells us that the universe went through a cycle of expansion and contraction (or any other cycle) prior to the Big Bang? None, how could we possible know that? Such a theory is pure speculation. The simplest explanation is for one Big Bang at a beginning and with no evidence to suggested prior activity before the Big Bang, we must reject a cyclical view of the existence of the universe. To suggest additional expansions and contractions when only one expansion is necessary to explain the empirical evidence would violate the scientific rule of Occam's Razor.