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Why Must the First Cause Still Be With Us Today?


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's exchange follows up on last week's, so be sure to read those two posts first. We'll share the second email question today and Friday we'll share Dr. Augros' response. Enjoy!

Hello Dr. Augros,

Thank you for the time and effort you put in for your lengthy response. I have read it many times and, while I still don't completely understand all your arguments, at least I can take it on faith where I don't understand.

The greatest thing that I can't figure out is why the first cause, which you say is God, still has to be with us today. I get your point that we should not be looking at God as a first cause through time, like creating the Big Bang, but should instead be looking at simultaneous present causes for which only one cause is not dependent on any other.

Still, in your analogy of your will moving your brain, moving your hand, moving your paint brush, wouldn't the first cause there be your will rather than God?

If God is to be recognized as the first cause of all things, haven't you provided an example that disproves that theory?

Could you provide some further insight as to how God is the first cause of all things presently being caused today?

Thank you.

(Image credit: Pexels)

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  • Mike

    Check out this animation of the smallest things known to us to the biggest: http://htwins.net/scale2/?bordercolor=white

    the idea here i think is what causes the smallest thing to be the thing that it is, to have any causal power at all. it can't be the thing itself therefore it must get its causal power from something more fundamental

    don't think of it as something happening in the past but something occurring right now in ever instant of reality. for anything to be occurring at all there must be some kind of metaphysical - beyond physics - unmoved mover.

    what gives an electron its causal power, or a neutrino or whatever? if you go down far enough you'll poke a hole in God's ceiling.

  • Mike

    Sorry off topic slightly but just have to send up this quote from feser bc i think it nicely summarizes the various views of 'laws of nature' that we carry around with us:

    " If “laws” are what Newton and Descartes thought they were -- divine decrees about how otherwise inert matter will operate -- then the ultimate explanation lies in the divine decrees themselves, not in the laws. If “laws” are something like Platonic entities in which the material world participates, then we need an explanation of how the world comes to participate in the laws, and why these laws rather than some alternative. If “laws” are mere descriptions of regularities, then they merely re-describe what is to be explained rather than actually explaining what needs to be explained. If “laws” are a shorthand description of the way material substances will tend to operate given their natures (the correct account of laws, in my view) then the existence of laws presupposes the existence of the material world and thus cannot explain the existence of the material world."

  • Peter

    In his previous post, Dr Augros made the distinction between successive and simultaneous causes, the former occurring naturally and the latter being instigated by God. However, what we perceive to be simultaneous causes are in fact imperceptible successive causes. In reality there are no simultaneous causes; all causes are successive. Dr. Augros' distinction does not exist.

    This raises the fundamental question of what it means to be. Our existence at every moment, indeed the existence of every object in the universe, and perhaps even of the universe itself, depends on an imperceptible succession of causes. If existence itself is sustained by successive causes that we cannot perceive, then these are no different from successive causes that we can perceive.

    And if God is not responsible for successive causes, how can he be responsible for existence itself if that too depends on successive causes? For God to be the source of existence, he would have to be the first in a series of successive causes. But that, according to Dr Augros, is not where God is. So where is God?

  • Lazarus

    I bought Dr. Augros' book soon after it was published, but then it got buried under other seemingly more deserving must-reads. This series has convinced me to go drag it up and read it over the weekend.

  • John Smith

    For anything to come into existence that was not there previously takes conscious will and intent.

    The pc laptop or whatever you are using now is an example of this.

    The mind shapes your reality.

    As above so below springs to mind

    • Paul Brandon Rimmer

      This is an interesting idea. How does it work for stars? Some gas collapses and a star forms. Where is the will and intent? Is it in the star? In something outside the star that willed the star to form? Or are there fundamentally no such things as stars, so we don't need to worry about the question?

      • Peter

        There is elegance in the way heavy elements are forged in the death throes of one star then irradiated into organic compounds through the birth pangs of another. It's as though stars exist for the purpose of creating and nurturing life.

        • Paul Brandon Rimmer

          I agree with the elegance part. Definitely with the elegance part.