Does God Continue to Cause Our Existence?
NOTE: Today we continue an occasional series of exchanges between Catholic theologian Dr. Michael Augros, author of Who Designed the Designer?: A Rediscovered Path to God's Existence (Ignatius Press, 2015), and various email interlocutors. Today we share Dr. Augros' response to the question we posted earlier this week. Enjoy!
I think I can address this one with just an email, no attachment. My will is the first cause (of my painting right now) in a qualified way, but not absolutely. Among created causes, it is the first, there is no creature prior to my will that is causing me to will to paint.
But God is causing my will to exist and to have its causal power, for so long as it exists. My will has no other cause than God, no created cause, and in that way it is first among created causes—but all its existence and causal power are continuously coming from God.
Something similar can be said in other cases—there might be a first cause (or many first causes) in nature, with no prior natural cause, but which does depend on some further cause outside nature. A first created cause, or a first natural cause, is not the same as a first cause simply speaking. A first created cause is one with no created cause before it—but one that still has a cause of some kind before it (if indeed it is created!).
How does one see that my will needs a cause of its being, even right now, and hence of its causal power? That flows out of the argument of Chapter 2 in my book, Who Designed the Designer?. (That chapter is also a bit tough.)
As far as Chapter 1 is concerned, it might well be that there are many “first causes” out there, things that depend in no way on any prior cause, but simply exist and act all by themselves. In Chapter 2, I present an argument against that, showing there can really be only a single thing that exists all by itself.
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