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Atheism vs. Theism
Charge 2, Questions 2 and 3
"Atheism/Theism" vs. "Science, the Bible, & Creation"
Introduction and Charges
1, Deduction and Induction
2, Question 1
2, Questions 2 and 3
2, Summary and Question 4
3 and 4, Definitions
Acting as Mechanisms, Article 1
Acting as Mechanisms, Article 2
Acting as Mechanisms, Article 3
Razor and Conclusions
2 and 3
Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 1
Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 2
Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 3
Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 4
Life on Earth Imported from Outer Space
Circle of Reasons
God a White Crow?
Assumption 1: Assume the universe is not eternal, that
it had a beginning.
Question 2: If the universe is not eternal, did it
cause itself or did something else cause it?
It is logically absurd for anything to be self-causing because
it requires a nonexistent entity to perform an action at a
time when that entity does not exist (specifically the action
of creating itself). Since a nonexistent thing cannot perform
an action, this option is ruled out. This leaves us with only
one option. If the universe is not eternal, and cannot be
self-causing then something other than the universe must have
caused the universe to come into being.
Because of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and recent experiments
such as those at the NEC Research Institute at Princeton,
where particle physicists are said to have accelerated light
pulses 300 times their normal speed, there has arisen in science
the question of whether or not causation (the law of cause
and effect) actually exists at all. However, even if it were
to be shown that on a subatomic level, events were empirically
observed without any empirically identifiable cause, this
would not demonstrate that no cause exists for these effects,
but would only demonstrate that causes may exist which are
beyond direct empirical detection. This is perfectly consistent
with our previous assumption that since the universe is not
eternal its cause must exist outside the universe, which,
by definition, would mean that this cause is unavailable to
direct empirical detection.
And this does not constitute an infraction of Occam's Razor,
since Occam's Razor does not prohibit suggesting what is empirically
undetectable, but only prohibits suggesting what is unnecessary
to explain the empirical evidence (or effects). A cause is
necessary to explain an effect even if that cause is itself
not directly empirically detectable. Therefore the above conclusion
does not contravene Occam's Razor.
This leads us to our second of our three initial assumptions.
Since the universe is not eternal and no thing can cause itself,
then the universe must have been caused by something outside
(apart from) the universe.
Assumption 2: Something apart from the universe exists
and the universe was created by that something, which exists
outside (apart from) itself.
Question 3: Is the thing, which caused the universe
Logically speaking we have only two options here. If we assume
that the thing that caused the universe is not eternal, then
that thing would itself require a cause (since according to
logic, nothing can be self-creating.) This very quickly would
lead to what is logically known as "infinite regress."
Infinite regress is logically undesirable because it necessarily
lacks a sufficient explanation (i.e. sufficient cause). Because
each suggested cause cannot exist without a cause, it requires
a cause of its own, which in turn, being not eternal, is not
sufficient either and so requires yet another cause of its
own, and on and on into infinity without a sufficient cause.
A sufficient cause is a cause that requires no additional
cause to explain how it came into being. Without a sufficient
cause, the universe would not exist. Yet the universe does
exist. So there must have been a sufficient cause, a cause
that was not itself caused by anything else. Or in other words,
because the universe exists, there must be at least one cause
(the first cause in the entire sequence of causes) that is
eternal and, therefore, required no cause before it. A sufficient
cause is a cause that requires no cause itself and therefore
a sufficient cause is, by definition, an uncaused cause or
In summary, infinite regress is an illogical explanation of
the universe because it necessarily lacks a sufficient cause
whereas the fact of the universe's existences demands the
existence of a sufficient cause.
(See Footnote 1 - on hypothetical
infinite series of causation and cyclical causation.)
To avoid infinite regress we must identify a cause, which
has no cause, an uncaused cause or first cause. Logically,
a first cause is necessitated by the existence of the universe.
And logically speaking, we should assume the shortest possible
series of causes. It is logically extraneous to create a series
of causes leading back to a first cause when only one cause,
the first cause, is needed to explain the existence of the
universe. This principle, known as Occam's (or Ockham's) Razor,
is also called the Law of Parsimony.
The American Heritage¨ Dictionary of the English Language,
Fourth Edition defines Occam's Razor as follow:
"Ockham's razor - A rule in science and philosophy stating
that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule
is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing
theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown
phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already
known. Also called law of parsimony."
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition says it this
"In the area of logic, where he had great influence, he is
remembered for his use of the principle of parsimony, formulated
as 'Occam's razor,' which enjoined economy in explanation
with the axiom, 'What can be done with fewer [assumptions]
is done in vain with more.' "
This is what we mean by an argument for simplicity. Simply
put, the simplest SUFFICIENT explanation should be accepted
because more complicated explanations include elements that
are unnecessary to a sufficient explanation.
In fact, this argument for simplicity is exactly the charge
that Atheists bring against Theists. Atheists claim that natural
forces (laws) are sufficient to explain the existence of the
universe as we know it. Thus, for the Atheist, when the Theist
suggests the existence of god, the Theist is suggesting more
than is necessary to explain the existence of the universe.
Therefore, the Atheists charge that the Theist is breaking
the logical mandate for the simplest sufficient explanation.
(We will cover this point in more detail later on when we
answer Question No. 4.)
Since we have no evidence suggesting a series of causes rather
than a single cause for the universe, it is logical to assume
that the universe was preceded by only one cause, the first
cause, the uncaused cause, the eternal cause.
Because of this we arrive at the third and last of our initial
Assumption 3: Assume that the thing that caused the
universe is eternal. (It is the uncaused cause. There are
no intervening causes.)