The Unprovability of the Cosmological Argument for God

If we say that the Universe is Caused, ie nothing comes into existence, apart from it being caused by other entities, and that these entities themselves are caused, then we have to conclude that there must be an Uncaused First Cause, and this is necessarily something outside and not of the Universe itself.

To say that the Universe could have existed for all times and there was no instance of a ‘creation’ is beside the point; for notions such as time and infinity are all of the universe and hence caused, ie “negative infinite time” is also a caused entity.

And this is not as strange as it seems. For it takes an infinite number of steps to traverse an interval, if in each step you cover half the remaining interval, but yet you reach the other end of the interval in finite time. So something that have existed since negative infinite time can still be caused at a time when time didnt exist.

And so it is not an argument against the Uncaused First Cause.

The flaw in the cosmological argument is to conclude that this Uncaused First Cause is God. Now that is not necessary.

(The same flaws exist in the Ontological and Teleological arguments too, eg why should that for which nothing greater exist is “God”? why not just something for which nothing greater exist? period. At best it tells us that may be something beyond what we can possibly know, and that may the greatest significance of such arguments, but I am jumping ahead here … )

For there can be several hypotheses about such a First Cause.

For instance I can presuppose the existence of entities that are Self-Caused or Willed. Now there are several possible axioms about such entities, such as:1. There exist at least one Self-Caused entity.

  1. Self-Caused entity can create Self-Caused and Caused entities.

  2. That Self-Caused entities need not be causal factors in Caused entities created.

  3. That Self-Caused entities need not be causal factors for each other, although they are free to do so.Nowhere in these set of axioms is there a necessity for God. You can called such Self-Caused entity or entities Gog, god or gods, but that is simply a matter of semantics and nothing epistemological.

(Also there can be other hypotheses for the Uncaused First Cause, which is left as an exercise for the reader … :smiley: )

Now there are some interesting corollaries from the Axioms of Self-Caused Entities:1. There can be more than one Self-Caused entity.

  1. That we have no way of knowing whether or not Self-Caused entities “participate” in our Caused Universe.

[list]To participate means to be one of the causal factors in the events and reason for existence of objects - physical and abstract - in the Universe.

For even if we have comprehensive knowledge of all the causal factors and the mechanisms with which they interact and act to cause a certain effect, an instance wherein a Self-Caused entity participates to cause a new effect, we have to revise our knowledge again. We cant see nor say why a certain effect is possible or impossible, for the simple fact that it happened, and thus exist. We can only say that such events are improbable.

And so we cannot say that water cannot be changed to wine. Chemically we “know” that water is just hydrogen and oxygen atoms, but what is there to stop them from recombining in ways unknown to us to transmute to become carbon and nitrogen, etc? And neither can we preclude the hypothesis that it is due to the participation of a Self-Caused entity creating, without causes, these new molecules.

Thus the Universe as we know it does not preclude the participation of Self-Caused Entities.

Another view of this is the Relativity Principle, ie everything in this world is relative. And so if you are in a capsule in space without external references, you will not know whether you are stationary or moving at constant velocity.

And we do not even know whether there is such a thing as a Cause and Effect (the Humean dilemma).

The speed of light being constant is not a fact, but merely a conjecture.
3. That we can make such conjectures and create arguments like the cosmological argument is a tentative but frustrating fact, and clue, that the Universe is not all Caused. And to explain for this unsettling discomfit, we can make yet another conjecture, namely that within us exist a Self-Caused Entity itself, that can recognised other Self-Caused entities too.[/list:u]The important question now is how do we break out of this “infinite looping”, how do we step out of the causal Universe and see it totally unaffected by other causal factors, to discriminate between Caused and Uncaused factors.

The answer may be that it is impossible, in the absolute sense of the word. And the only way we know it is by Revelation, ie an Self-Caused entity making itself discernible to and comprehensible by us, to reveal what is Caused and what is not. And such is only possible if Self-Caused entities can participate in a Caused Universe.

I like your post, but there’s a few things I’m unsure of.


Why would you hesitate to call this God? If all that we’re dealing with is semantics it seems as though the words are interchangeable. Whether it’s necessary or not is irrelevant.

It seems like there is a prejudice against a word.


This I don’t understand.

A self-caused entity is necessarily infinite, that is, without possible limit or definition. This follows from it’s self-causation, right? If so, then how could there be two, as the one would limit the other?

If a self-caused entity were to create other self-caused entities, wouldn’t the created self-caused entities be, in fact, the first self-caused entity?
Though there would be many, they would all be the first.

I think there could be many, but the many would not be seperate from the first. Does that make sense?


As far as I understand it is an empirical fact. As close to a fact as the scientific method can take us.

I’ve heard the idea that the speed of light was faster in the past then it is now but that’s irrelevent. It doesn’t have to be constantly 186,000 m/s. It only has to be constant with regards to all other objects moving through spacetime at that point.

Am I making any sense because I’m not really sure?

You can. In fact you can call it anything. But it is meaningless, if not altogether misleading and even dangerous. Whatever it is called it is in effect a symbolic substitution for the “Uncaused First Cause” (lets called this UFC for short).

What we have not done by calling it God, intentionally or otherwise, is to confer on it all the attributes of God as you know it. But then this is not apparent; and different people have different ideas, notions of God, if at all. It will then be more likely than not that unintended ideas of “God” comes to be associated with the UFC when such ‘godly’ notions were never at all implied. And thus it is better not to call the UFC God. For example can you say the UFC is a “loving god”? Absolutely absurd I say!

Thus there is no prejudice only precision.

There is no reason merely from the notion of an UFC to conclude that there is only one such entity. It may well be a single such entity, but is is not necessary from what we know, from being in and part of, and seemingly inescapably from, the Universe.

I wouldnt say so. All I can say is that “infinite” is a notion of the Universe, a caused entity in itself. Whether there is such an abstract conceptual entity as “infinity” in the Self-Caused world is something unknowable to Caused entities like us. There may yet be stranger concepts than infinities, I would dare conjecture.

“First” is with reference only to this Universe of ours.

In fact there can be many universes and other types and categories of caused entities created by the potentially many Self-Caused entities. It is just that we dont and cannot know.

Now amongst the Self-Caused entities is there within themselves a First Cause? Ah! that is a very interesting question. I dont know; and it may be unknowable. But I cannot see why there is a necessity for a First Cause at all, since they are all Self-Caused entities.

Now as to Self-Caused entity creating other Self-Cause entities, this is certainly permissible from the very notion of a Self-Caused entity. In other words a Self-Caused entity can be a created one. It is Self-Caused only in the sense that it has the “capabilities” of a Self-Caused entity such as creating an effect without other causes other than itself.

Now as to the speed of light, thats another discussion, for another time.

It is a fair point that we cannot infer God from the cosmological argument. The purpose is to prove the existence of a necessary being, which would, on a certain view, raise the likelihood of there being a God. But this being need not be God and chanbengchin is right in that we haven’t shown that there isn’t more than one.

I think the notion of a self-caused entity is incoherent. In any case, the term seems to be used in different ways - either causally or in terms of free will. I’m not aware of any cosmological argument that argues for a self-causing entity, and it’s not clear, using the latter definition, what free will has to do with it.

Assuming a self-caused entity is even coherent, why does it entail being essentially infinite?

I personally think the vulnerability in the cosmological argument is in the version of the principle of sufficient reason that is used. Assuming it can even be demonstrated to hold, this is at best extremely difficult to do, and so the premise using it will typically beg the question. For example, does everything have a cause? I don’t think we have grounds to make this claim, and we conversely have positive grounds to reject it.

We cannot know from being in the Universe. We can say Yes, ie conjecture, that it true, and we find no contradiction; but on the other hand we say No, and yet there are no contradictions.

But the important insight is the latter, which imply that the notion of Self-Caused Entities participating in this Caused universe is a possibility. And such an entity could be in us, the source of our free will.

Now regarding the coherency of Self-Caused entities, yes I must say I have not established/argued how this notion leads to free will. It is still works in progress at the moment, but intuitively what I am saying is that unless you are a self-caused entity you do not have free will, as every thing that happens is caused. And free will itself can be a causal factor in other caused entities.

My point is that we are not justified in claiming everything has a cause whether or not it is in fact true. We cannot therefore use such a questionable premise in an argument. Furthermore there are plenty of examples of events that appear not to be caused in the quantum mechanics literature.

As for the coherence of self-caused entities, I’m referring to entities that cause themselves in the first place - and this seems incoherent for various reasons. It seems to defy causation altogether. An effect always logically follows its cause (the emphasis being on a logical, not a temporal, sequence). It’s hard to see how this happens with a self-caused entity.

You seem predominantly to be using the notion of self-cause with respect to free will. But a self-caused event, in this context, is very different from an uncaused event, and it’s not clear how free will links to the cosmological argument.

I love this argument, although, if it is intelligable, I’m pretty sure I don’t fully understand it. It sure is fun to think about, though. I came about it reading David Bohm’s Holographic Universe theory which I think is laced with the same logic. It also resembles Spinoza, I think, but what do I know?

My purpose here is to clarify the definition of God, not to compare with another’s pre-held definition thereof. Chenbenchin said he believed that identifying God with a self-caused entity was dangerous. I take the opposing position that allowing many different conceptions of God without reference to a single, logical theory is what is dangerous.

I could probably find a million quotes from various poets that would show that to at least some degree, the self-caused entity resembles the meaning of God that they’re trying to relate. In that case, prefering the clarity of logic over poetry and metaphor, I would call it God precisely for clarity’s sake. Even if, upon coming to a better theory, I scrap this one, why can’t God be a dynamic term.

I’m not really sure sure whether its coherent or not either. I’ve been working on it for a while and can’t really say yet. I would not argue that self-causality has anything to do with free will either, since I don’t understand the concept in relation to cause and effect. Although I can’t rule it out either.

A self-caused entity is not a part of the chain of causality because its cause and it’s effect are the same thing. In order to be a member of the causal chain it must have a seperate effect which follows from it or be the cause of a seperate effect. In other words, the self-caused entity has no meaning in the causal world, except as being self-caused.

Therefore it could not be defined by any caused entity except as being self-caused.

It must be infinite because if it is not defined by a caused entity, there leaves no other entity by which to define it. Thereby making it infinite according to my definition.

Chenbenchin, however, said there could be many self-caused entities. This I still don’t understand because if it is only defined as self-caused, then how can you seperate it from any other entity that you define as self-caused. Even if it creates other self-caused entities it would in effect only be creating itself. Which is, I think, the only thing it can do.

BTW- I didn’t mean infinite in the universal sense, I meant it in the mathematical sense, although I’m not sure whether they’re different.

I also don’t like to question causality because if you deny causality (which must be an option in order to question it) don’t you deny the negative answer to your question, as the answer would be an effect of the question (which would be the cause). In other words, you can’t deny causality because the denial itself is a causal system.

In any case I really don’t understand the whole thing…that’s why I’m looking for help! :smiley:

Of course you cannot use causal logic to understand self-caused entities. That they seems to “defy causation” is beside the point, for by definition these entities are self-caused, the mechanism for which may be incomprehensible to us. But if you find such a notion difficult to accept, do you not also then find similar difficulty in uncaused entities? Do not they too “defy causation”, again by definition.

In fact the notion of self-causation is less strange than the notion un-causation. For the former is merely at extension of the notion that every existence must be caused and therefore at the “beginning”, the very first entity (or entities) that started the entire causal chain in the Universe, must be self-caused, coming into its existence by its own essence.

And mine is that there’s not a great deal you can say about the necessary being of a cosmological argument, so you cannot clarify any one definition. There are lots of entities which could fit the bill, some of which are God, and some of which aren’t.

Could you explain this reasoning please, and what your definition of infinite is in this context? I don’t see how something is necessarily infinite, mathematically or universally, by virtue of what you say, at least not in a way that is relevant to God.

Causes, by definition of what causes are, logically precede effects. How can something precede itself? It sounds to me as incoherent as the notion of a man who is taller than himself.

In what way, then, are they self-caused? In any case, my criticism of the notion is above, and is in general logical terms.

By definition a square circle is both round and square; this doesn’t make the idea any less incoherent, and an argument from ignorance won’t help here.

There’s no obvious problem with the notion of uncaused events, unless one assumes that everything has a cause, and it’s not at all clear that that is a reasonable assumption. It would also be circular to use this to argue against causeless events. Furthermore, this type of argument does not aim at a self-caused entity, but a necessarily existent entity - an uncaused entity. Necessary existence is in this entity’s essence, but this is uncaused. Such an entity never came into existence.