## A first cause is logically necessary

• 13.7k

Caused and uncaused exhausts all possibilities.

Is this Buddhism?
• 830
Caused and uncaused exhausts all possibilities.
Does it though?

A common mistake with causality is to attribute singular causes in a causal line. We might think of it like I hit a cue ball, and that strikes a 7 ball causing it to go along a certain path, which then hits the 3 ball causing it to go along a certain path, each collision also affecting the colliding ball. So the question "why is the 3 ball going this way" is traced to the 7 ball collision, and "why did the 7 ball go that way" to the cue stick. I imagine something like this is going on in the thought process here.

But this isn't really how causal chains work. Events can and often do have multiple causes. My car started because I turned the key... and, because it had gas in it... and, because the battery was charged... and, because the spark plug worked, etc. This atom is moving this way because it bounced off of that atom... and, because it has this charge and there is this particular field on it... and, because it's weakly tugged this way by space time due to a gravitational field... etc. Basically, all sorts of fields around the atom affect its movements, and those fields are a reflection of a large number of things around it. So causal chains don't really trace back along lines, but rather along branches.

And that's where the possibilities diverge. We can have an event partially have a cause and partially be uncaused. So there's your other possibility.
• 13.7k

Non sequitur!
• 830
Non sequitur!
A non sequitur is something that does not follow.
Caused and uncaused exhausts all possibilities.
I have presented another possibility (partially caused, partially uncaused). It therefore does follow that you haven't exhausted all possibilities.
• 13.7k
Does it matter to my argument?

Is nothing partially caused and partially uncaused?

There's nothing in nothing to be caused wholly or partially.
• 830
Does it matter to my argument?
What, this one?:
1. The first cause has to be uncaused.
2. Only nothing has no cause.
Ergo,
3. The first cause is nothing.
4. Nothing can't cause anything
Ergo,
5. The notion of a first cause makes zero sense.
No... that argument makes no sense anyway. It doesn't even allow for the uncaused possibility, much less the partially caused and uncaused. Furthermore, it kind of concludes the notion of a first cause it itself introduced (the one "only nothing" can be) does not make sense, making the entire argument a bit moot.

But it does matter to the thing I quoted, which claims to exhaust possibilities when the possibilities were not in fact exhausted.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to establish. You're arguing first causes don't make sense because nothingness is the only thing that cannot be caused; then you're saying something about caused and uncaused exhausting possibilities, and now you're saying partially caused and partially uncaused things don't matter. Weird.

How about you taking the question I asked about the 217Pb atom that, during a particular 20 second time span (span 1), remains a 217Pb atom, and in another 20 second time span (span 2), decays into a 217Bi atom. Regarding this, the question is whether the 217Bi atom is caused or uncaused. It certainly had a prior; the 217Pb atom, which has a property that it has a half life of 20 seconds. But there's no explanation for why this atom would decay in span 2 versus span 1, so we can't fully account for the cause of 217Bi. I'm not sure where your "nothing" would be in this example, unless you want to reify it to explain the decay during span 2, but said reification isn't interesting.
• 777
So causal chains don't really trace back along lines, but rather along branches.

And that's where the possibilities diverge. We can have an event partially have a cause and partially be uncaused. So there's your other possibility.

I agree 100% with causal chains, but I'm not sure how something can have some causes, but then also not have causes. If something is uncaused with in a chain that intersects with another causal chain, that's fine. But if there is something uncaused at the top of one of the chains, nothing caused that uncaused thing to be.
• 13.7k
No... that argument makes no sense anyway. It doesn't even allow for the uncaused possibility, much less the partially caused and uncaused. Furthermore, it kind of concludes the notion of a first cause it itself introduced (the one "only nothing" can be) does not make sense, making the entire argument a bit moot

1. The first cause has to be uncaused.
2. Only nothing has no cause.
Ergo,
3. The first cause is nothing.
4. Nothing can't cause anything
Ergo,
5. The notion of a first cause makes zero sense

Premise 1 can't be denied.

The sticking point is 2. I'll dial down the rhetoric and offer a more realistic argument:

1. The first cause is uncaused.
2. Nothing has no cause
Ergo,
3. The first cause could be nothing

Is this version of my argument more reasonable?

If it is, please give me an example of something as opposed to nothing that's uncaused. Oh, wait! That's precisely the problem we started off with. And, to top it all off the assumption was if it's something then it has a cause. The infinite regress that this entails being the thorn in our side and hence, a first cause. However, this leads to a contradiction: all things have a cause AND some things have no causes (first cause).

To avoid this contradiction, a way out of this quagmire, is to say that the first cause = nothing (no infinite regress & no contradiction).

See?
• 89

Perhaps the first cause simply has different properties than subsequent cause and effects? For example, we include 0 in the number line, even though 0 is the only number to not have a multiplicative inverse. Maybe the first cause willed itself into existence, and we didn't, because were just the first cause in it's subsequent actions(not to say that the first cause is God).
• 830
Premise 1 can't be denied.
Except there could be multiple first causes.
Is this version of my argument more reasonable?
I see a problem with it:
2. Nothing has no cause
"Nothing" is being reified here. Think of "south" as a prior on a globe. There are a lot of points on the globe, and they have points south of them, but there's a special place on the globe which has no points south of it: the South Pole. Yet that is itself a point. You are saying something silly, like there's a south to the South Pole that has no points on it. The way you phrase it is, nothing has no south to it. Either way, you're reifying. There's no such thing as a "nothing-place" that is south of the South Pole.

There's a second mistake being made here as well. To point that out, let's consider proof by contradictions generically. You start with some set of premises P={P1,P2,...}. From there you proceed with an argument that arrives at a contradiction: P⊢⊥. But from this, you only get to conclude that at least one of your premises is false.

And, to top it all off the assumption was if it's something then it has a cause.
...that would be a premise. The premise can be wrong; after all, you have a proof by contradiction and this is one of your premises.
To avoid this contradiction, a way out of this quagmire, is to say that the first cause = nothing (no infinite regress & no contradiction).
...and that's just introducing a reification.

It's not really a contradiction that a cardinal direction cannot infinitely regress (a cone with its point being a north pole has an infinite regression of south points), but the globe itself doesn't infinitely regress southward. But we need not hold the premise that there is such a thing as a place with no points that is south of a South Pole just to maintain that all points have a point south of them. We could simply reject the notion that all points have a point south of them (i.e., the South Pole has no point south of it).
• 1.2k
The First Cause has to be the the simplest partless state. If it has parts, then the parts were there before it.
• 13.7k
"Nothing" is being reified here.

If nothing is being reified and seeing that it's true that nothing is uncaused, the problem then lies in the first cause argument - it necessitates a reification of nothing.

Plus, you seem to be implying nothing is just a concept. Are you sure?
• 13.7k
:flower:
• 13.7k
@InPitzotl

Nothing can't be caused for there's nothing to cause.

The first cause can't be caused.

Both the first cause and nothing are uncaused.

However, the first cause is a cause but nothing is not a cause.

In terms of a prior cause, the first cause and anothing are identical but in terms of a post effect, they're not the same, the first cause has an effect but nothing can have none.

Ergo, hence, therefore, thus, there's something nothingish about the first cause.
• 830
If nothing is being reified and seeing that it's true that nothing is uncaused,
Nothing is uncaused like unicorns are uncaused. But unicorns being uncaused have nothing to do with anything; they're uncaused because they don't exist.
the problem then lies in the first cause argument - it necessitates a reification of nothing.
It has nothing to do with "the first cause argument". Unicorns are uncaused therefore the first cause argument reifies nothing?
Plus, you seem to be implying nothing is just a concept. Are you sure?
How many nothings are there?
Nothing can't be caused for there's nothing to cause.
Likewise, nothing can't cause for there's nothing to cause.
Both the first cause and nothing are uncaused.
So? Both the south pole and the color red don't have points south of them; the south pole because it's the southernmost point, the color red vacuously because it's nonsense to say something is south of it.
In terms of a prior cause, the first cause and anothing are identical
No, they aren't identical. They're like the south pole and the color red here. I can make sense of the south pole having no points south of it. I can't make sense of the color red being south of the south pole; it's just nonsense.

I am sorry, TheMadFool, but I cannot accept The Chewbacca Defense as a valid way to derive what exists or not.
• 13.7k
Ignoratio elenchi! Good day!
• 13.7k
The Chewbacca Defense

What that?
• 830
Ignoratio elenchi!
I quoted you! You're also obviously reacting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewbacca_defense
• 13.7k
I quoted you! You're also obviously reacting.

I'm simplifying. The sun, $1.989 \times 10^{30}$ kg in physics, last I checked, can be treated as a point mass.

:lol:

Just kiddin'. You're right! Happy? :smile:
• 777
The First Cause has to be the the simplest partless state. If it has parts, then the parts were there before it.

Yes, I think this is undeniable.
• 13.7k
Nothing is uncaused like unicorns are uncaused. But unicorns being uncaused have nothing to do with anything; they're uncaused because they don't exist.

Unicorns are caused - they are by our brains/minds depending on your philosophy.

It has nothing to do with "the first cause argument". Unicorns are uncaused therefore the first cause argument reifies nothing?

As uncaused, nothing is a candidate for the title of a first cause with respect to being uncaused. If that's reification then the notion of a first cause is such that nothing has to be reified.

How many nothings are there?

I don't understand the question.

Likewise, nothing can't cause for there's nothing to cause

Yup!

The rest of your post doesn't make sense.

P. S. I'm not expecting a reply.

:smile:
• 1.6k
I believe what you are talking about are limits like in calculus? Or are you talking about the limits of precision? For example, .1 becomes .11, becomes .111, etc?

Here's a mathematical analogue of a causation chain involving an esoteric kind of dynamical system that most math people would disown (but I have enjoyed them): Assume that each causality step is described as a function of the previous step, starting with a first cause $\alpha =f(\delta )$ taking a state point $\delta$ to a state point $\alpha$.

We go back n-time steps into the past and begin the chain there, ${{z}_{1,n}}={{f}_{n}}(\alpha )$

Assume the observed present result is $\beta$. For each value n there arises an observed present value that differs from $\beta$, but the discrepancies grow less and less the further back we start the causal chain.

${{z}_{1,n}}={{f}_{n}}(\alpha )$

${{z}_{2,n}}={{f}_{n-1}}({{f}_{n}}(\alpha ))={{f}_{n-1}}\circ {{f}_{n}}(\alpha )={{f}_{n-1}}({{z}_{1,n}})$

${{z}_{3,n}}={{f}_{n-2}}\circ {{f}_{n-1}}\circ {{f}_{n}}(\alpha )={{f}_{n-2}}({{z}_{2,n}})$

${{z}_{n,n}}={{f}_{1}}\circ {{f}_{2}}\circ \cdots \circ {{f}_{n}}(\alpha )={{f}_{1}}({{z}_{n-1,n}})$

So that $\underset{n\to \infty }{\mathop{\lim }}\,{{z}_{n,n}}=\beta$. We have a first cause but no first time.

This example has lots of holes.

Big Deal! :cool:
• 530
Physical or non-physical, that would be a prior cause
First, I am talking about the "first cause", not any "prior cause". Then, I assumed that there cannot be a physical thing that is cause of itself, which you have just accepted. Therefore, it must be non-physical. It doesn't have to be "God". I said "God, Supreme Being, Universal Consciousness, etc.". Its nature is not important here.

Physical and non-physical cannot be put in the same "basket". That's why I have excluded cause-and-effect chains regarding non-physical things (e.g. thoughts, ideas, etc.), otherwise the discussion becomes too difficult to handle. We must first establish the "first cause" iof the physical universe. We could then maybe talk also about non-physical, virtual, etc. universes ...
• 830
Unicorns are caused - they are by our brains/minds depending on your philosophy.
Confusing the concept with the thing? "What caused my car to start" my brains/minds depending on my philosophy?
As uncaused, nothing is a candidate for the title of a first cause with respect to being uncaused.
Apparently not... it can't cause:
Likewise, nothing can't cause for there's nothing to cause — InPitzotl
Yup!
I don't understand the question.
Presumably there's at least one, if it's a first cause.
The rest of your post doesn't make sense.
I'm just using your argument to derive the impossibility of a South Pole like you're using it to derive the impossibility of a first cause.
• 13.7k
Confusing the concept with the thing? "What caused my car to start" my brains/minds depending on my philosophy?

Possibly but then thoughts aren't caused by your logic and that, somehow, doesn't seem to be correct unless you believe in free will; an interesting topic no doubt but I'm sure you don't wanna go there.

Apparently not... it can't cause:

Yup! We're on the same page.

Presumably there's at least one, if it's a first cause.

:ok: Are you saying that there could be more than 1 first causes cause? Care to share why exactly? A team of gods? :chin: It seems a bit too extravagant; it's more than some of us can handle.

This got me thinking. Do the number of causes diminish as we go backwards in time? Does it have to? It would if causation is like a nuclear chain reaction. How would we measure the number of events taking place at any one time? What about the Big Bang?

I'm just using your argument to derive the impossibility of a South Pole like you're using it to derive the impossibility of a first cause.

:ok: Sorry but to be honest, it didn't do anything for me.
• 830
Are you saying that there could be more than 1 first cause? Care to share why exactly?
If there can be one, why can't there be more than one?
A team of gods?
Must a first cause be a god?
It seems a bit too extravagant; it's more than some of us can handle.
If you can handle one first cause, what's the problem with handling any arbitrary number? Is there some rule you're applying where you'll "allow" one first cause "but no more"? Why should the universe care about such a rule?
• 13.7k
If there can be one, why can't there be more than one?

Why not indeed! There can be many first causes! Kinda defeats the purpose though.

Must a first cause be a god?

That's the general assumption. I have no bone to pick with anyone on the issue but, the way the world is, I think too many cooks spoiled the broth. Whatever happened to two heads are better than one?

If you can handle one first cause, what's the problem with handling any arbitrary number? Is there some rule you're applying where you'll "allow" one first cause "but no more"? Why should the universe care about such a rule?

I dunno! Occam's razor?
• 777
I'm not trying to interrupt both your discussions, but I wanted to quote this again because its an important concept to grasp.

Are you saying that there could be more than 1 first cause? Care to share why exactly?
If there can be one, why can't there be more than one?
A team of gods?
Must a first cause be a god?
It seems a bit too extravagant; it's more than some of us can handle.
If you can handle one first cause, what's the problem with handling any arbitrary number? Is there some rule you're applying where you'll "allow" one first cause "but no more"?

A first cause by nature cannot have a prior cause for its existence, which means there are no rules. You cannot say, "There can only be one," or, "It must be God", because then I would ask you, "What causes this?" Since nothing can cause a first cause, you cannot claim there "must" be a first cause with particular rules by looking at something prior.

Now, if we worked back up the chain of causation, we might find there are some necessary rules, or even discover some first causes (though it would be extremely difficult, and impossible in some cases).

I want everyone to understand, this argument is not about God. If you think it is, I think you're missing the real picture.
• 384
So here's a question for ya. Assume for the moment that everything you say is correct. Does this have any bearing or influence on how I should live my life?

Should I sell all my worldly possessions, donate the money to charity,and live a life of poverty and service?
Should I separate from my spouse and spend all my money on fast women & booze?
Should I become a philanthropist and try to help starving people in Africa? (That one would be hard seeing as my capital reserves do not qualify me for philanthropist status.)
Etc?
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