Proof of God: Argument from Efficient Causes

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Chris McDearman's picture
I said deism or general

I said deism or general theist because I don't really have a term for it. I just believe in a mind that is the first cause. I don't make the traditional deist claim that it isn't active in the universe. That seems arbitrary and unintelligble. As far as benefit, I don't think it's relevant. I seek the truth. It doesn't matter if it's beneficial to me. Reality is what I find fascinating, not a helpful lie. I have read some of the OT and NT.

bigbill's picture
Thomas Jefferson one of our

Thomas Jefferson one of our presidents here in the usa where I live he was a confessing deist to and he use to cut out parts of the bible that sat well with him and others he would disregard. If you believe in a mind for the first cause what makes you doubt that this mind isn`t working currently in the lives of humanity?

Chris McDearman's picture
The mind is the first cause.

The mind is the first cause. This implies a goal from the beginning of time itself. All things within the universe were determined by the mind. This idea of nonintervention is irrelevant when you consider that the first cause knew all things that would follow from his / her initial causation. It doesn't seem to me that it matters if he / she intervenes or not. The goal is already determined.

Dave Matson's picture
How do you square the idea of

How do you square the idea of a predetermined future with quantum mechanics?

Dave Matson's picture


Actually, I think that atheists have the easier job by far!

bigbill's picture
maybe you can espouse this

maybe you can espouse this nonsence in your bible study or sunday school class but it lacks intellectual integrity.

Chris McDearman's picture
Well that would be foolish of

Well that would be foolish of me to do considering I'm not a Christian. I haven't set foot in a Church in years.

ThePragmatic's picture
Well, what are you then. You

Well, could you explain what are you then? You keep argumenting for the existence of a god. What god?

Chris McDearman's picture
All I know is that there is a

All I know is that there is a mind that is the first cause. I define god as such. I'm not arguing for a specific religion.

algebe's picture
@RW: "All I know is that

@RW: "All I know is that there is a mind that is the first cause."

Assuming that there is a first cause, how do you know that it's a mind? Is that position based on intelligent design? And where is the cause of your first cause?

Chris McDearman's picture
No I know it's a mind based

No I know it's a mind based on a different argument. And the first cause can't have a cause because then it wouldn't be necessary.

algebe's picture
So the first cause is

So the first cause is sentient and had no beginning? How does that work?

Dave Matson's picture
One man's "knowing" is

One man's "knowing" is another man's doubt. Philosophy is where smart people find sophisticated ways to fool themselves! I first approached philosophy wide-eyed, thinking that I would find exquisite reasoning that illuminated the dark depths of reality. In time I realized that philosophers were chiefly in the business of building their own sand castles in the sky. Some of them don't even need evidence, taking a "leap of faith" as it were! Christian philosophers generally proved Christianity, and Muslim philosophers had all the arguments for Islam. Every position that might conceivably be held has its own school of philosophers. I still think that there is good philosophy out there, somewhere, probably in philosophy 101 or in such philosophers as Bertrand Russell or David Hume, or even Kant, provided you bail out when the nonsense begins.

ThePragmatic's picture
@ RadicalWhiggery

@ RadicalWhiggery

- "...I'm not arguing for a specific religion."

Of course you're not arguing for a specific religion. That would be way too hard to defend with the Aquinas / W.L.C type of argument.

As I understand it, you're arguing for a Deist type of god (or gods!), the least specific definition possible.

- "All I know is that there is a mind that is the first cause. I define god as such."

To be clear, do you claim to "know" that there is a mind that is the first cause?

bigbill's picture
hey chimp I`m going to bed

hey chimp I`m going to bed now but give him your best 99% percent.thanks for the encouragement.

berghead's picture
Radical Whiggery bases their

Radical Whiggery bases their argument on Aquinas' elongated syllogism, which is not deductive reasoning, representing Craig argument. Falls on deaf ears as chimp 3 is rationalist materialist. They have irreconcilable differences stemming from stubborn belief that arguments have a point of origin.


Attach Image/Video?: 

Dave Matson's picture
If you are going to fly the

If you are going to fly the coup, then I'm not going to spend any more time on objections/comments on your premises. I think this text format gives one time to stop and reflect, even look up stuff, and in general produce a superior argument. My understanding of Skype is minimal, so I could be wrong about it. In any case this is where I choose to be for now.

If you decide to stay a while longer, I'll analyze your (I don't care who originated the argument) premises in some detail.

Chris McDearman's picture
Ok well if you choose to join

Ok well if you choose to join us on Skype, we'd be happy to have you.

Dave Matson's picture


Thank you for the offer. I probably got too many irons in the fire as is, and audio really isn't my preference.

Kataclismic's picture
You claim to have proof of

You claim to have proof of God but need me to join you on Skype in order to see it? Sounds like a silly proposition to me. Have fun!

mrkhaan's picture
Philosophical arguments are

Philosophical arguments are just that, philosophical. Therefor, they are theoretical until proven right. They are abstract and confusing which makes them unpractical and lacking substance. For that reason I will deliberately dumb down the debate by taking somewhat concrete examples to disproof the rationality of the thesis.

1) We perceive a series of efficient causes of things in the world.

We do and yet we don't. Every time I flip the switch, light turns on. I perceive the cause of the light coming on as being me flipping the switch. But, I do not perceive the electricity, which is the hidden cause of the light coming on, being produced at a power plant. I know there is a cause for the light turning on when I flip the switch but I only perceive part of the cause.

2)Nothing exists prior to itself.

Everything we see existed in another form before we encountered the said thing in it's present form. Before my cat, Victor, existed in it's present state it was fish and chicken and rabbit and all else that he consumes. Victor is Victor because he is all what he is composed of. Assuming that Victor is just a cat while completely negating the fact that victor is a sum of things in a perpetual state of change is a mistake and renders the argument moot from the very get go.

3)Therefore nothing [in the world of things we perceive] is the efficient cause of itself.

Victor did not make himself, his parents did, that is true. But, once his mother stopped feeding him, Victor at least partially made himself what he is today. Victor doesn't have only one state, he is continuously changing through his own and others actions. His cells are being replaced all the time so, even though I might not see a difference between today's and yesterday's Victor, he is not exactly the same, he, himself, is among the causes of his continuous change. Therefor he is one of the efficient causes of his present self.

4)If a previous efficient cause does not exist, neither does the thing that results (the effect).

I Explained in the previous argument that thinking of things as being just things is idiotic. It is also very convenient, if I do not define "things" I can generalize and remain abstract while "seemingly" proving something. This kind of rationality was probably very logical centuries ago (although this very statement is arguable) but it is utterly absurd today.

5)Therefore if the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series exists.

This part is arguably true. If Victor's parents didn't copulate to produce him, he wouldn't be what he is today. All the matter that composes his present state would be something or in something else.

6)If the series of efficient causes extends ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.

Here comes the ad infinitum argument. Infinity is the scale we are using when we do not or cannot comprehend the scale of a subject. The only way for me to accept the idea that a coin that I flip could end tails up, a billion times in a row, is to take infinity into consideration. If I want to make possible something seemingly impossible, because it has an absurdly low chance of happening concretely, I'll take infinity into consideration.

7)That is plainly false (i.e., there are things existing now that came about through efficient causes).

It is false because it is ad infinitum.

8)Therefore efficient causes do not extend ad infinitum into the past.

They do not because it is ad infinitum. Since we are using infinity as a scale we are perpetually, every single instant, at the perfect center of the scale. Efficient causes extend ad infinitum into the past because we do not know when and how it all started. This, in itself, is the essence of faith. We do not know, therefor we believe.

9)Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

Admitting a first efficient cause is not synonym of accepting either the existence or intervention of god. It is a ludicrous shortcut, pure nonsense. Plus it is by no mean necessary to admit a first efficient cause because we chose to take infinity as the scale of the problem.

Pretending to know something that we cannot know is outrageous and dangerous. The fact that you consider a philosophical argument as being a definitive proof proves that you do not understand the essence of the rational mechanism behind the argument. Saying that there is no other plausible explanation is not a proof of concept.
People forget too easily that they are the product of their lives. You were not born with faith, faith has been introduced to you by other people. You can chose to keep the faith and go on with your life ad libitum, it is your right but trying to prove your faith, to others, by only using words is useless. Faith is in essence the lack of proof because from the moment you have proof it becomes fact. If you think that a list of sentences is a proof of your god, you are either lying to yourself or to others.

Dave Matson's picture


I've re-written your argument to make it read a little easier. "Cause" is understood to mean "efficient cause." If I've changed the argument in any important way, I'll be happy to re-write it.

At the very start we must note an important inductive argument. A philosophical proof can't be considered safely proven unless it is accepted by a large majority of philosophers. A parallel exists in mathematics where complex proofs are not immediately accepted. Indeed, for an argument that has been around for ages, we would expect to see it acknowledge in every university and thrown at atheists from every pulpit! It would be all over Wikipedia and featured on every religious site! Whence, then, the huge silence? Obviously, a great many philosophers are not convinced. I find plenty of weak points as given below.

Proof of God: Argument from Efficient Causes
(St. Thomas Aquinas)

0. All things we notice in the world are caused/created. (This might be a deduction from #1, but it needs some specific comments.)

Notice that we are really observing changes in form that involve conservation of energy and momentum. There is no causation of the basic substance/energy and momentum. Every observed cause/creation event changes one form of matter and energy to another form, implying a prior existence of matter/energy.

Then there is also the matter of quantum mechanics where no cause is associated with an event.

1. We notice, in our world, series of physical causes/creations.

It's more like a web than a straight line. Multiple things might simultaneously be the agent for a cause. This web might have numerous starting places at different times (uncaused causes), meaning that it might take a million gods to do the whole job. Would you be satisfied with a super-weakling for a god?

2. No thing can create itself. (That would imply that it exists before it exists.)

True, but the substance of a thing, by changing form, can create the thing.

3. Therefore nothing in our world, of things we notice, is the cause/creation of itself.

Things are not all that we notice.

4. Something not caused/created is something that doesn't exist.

5. Therefore, if the first thing in a series of things does not exist, nothing in the series exists.

A series might have two, three, or many first contributing things that are each sufficient in themselves. You are also assuming that there is a first thing or things, which would not be the case if the series extended infinitely into the past.

6. If the series of causes extends ad infinitum into the past, then there would be no things existing now.

False. Integers less than 3 exist even though they extend infinitely into the past.

7. That is plainly false (i.e., there are things existing now that came about through causes).

Erroneous sub-conclusion due to a false premise.

8. Therefore efficient causes do not extend ad infinitum into the past.


9. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

There might be many first causes. It might have taken millions of them working together to create the universe--the case for the super-weakling god (one among many). The first cause might have ceased to exist. How would you feel about worshipping a dead god, a super-weakling god? The first cause might be a component of nature that we are unaware of, or it might just be empty space and quantum fluctuations. How would you feel about worshipping empty space and quantum fluctuations?

Finally, there is no need for a first cause. Remember, our observations of the world, on which this argument is based, see only the creation/cause of forms--not of substance. Hence, we have no need for a first cause!

Pitar's picture
Philosophy is just another

Philosophy is just another word for thinking, albeit in the context of the origins of the physical world and in direct relationship with resolving it to an origin, or a set of origins. In antiquity it did have a highly valued purpose but only because no renown science had been birthed by it to share or become a concurrent persistent focus. It has since seen itself largely obsoleted from society and relegated to the closed-door think tanks of a modern scholastic and research efforts.

In other words, the sciences it fostered have evolved beyond their preponderances (philosophy) and are now inwardly focused data studies that are, necessarily, philosophical in nature. The entire argument for science displacing (or even supplanting) philosophy is impossible as the one cannot exist without the other. We would like to consider noble work the charms of science alone but without speculation (philosophy) as the seed, no science can be conceived much less moved forward.

What I won't condone is a carpet-bagging use of noble thought to promote a favored deity, whether by name or essence, though I will credit the little scion with a B+ for trying.

Always entertaining.


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