Monday, 16 May 2011

Religion: My problem with the first cause argument

I'm going to do my usual thing and talk about how awesome my life is (apart from being dirt poor) before i get into the main meat of the post. Yesterday I was conscripted into a nice little family outing with my two older sisters, their friends and of course my adorable niece and nephew. We spent the day at Seaworld, it was fun, but I guess as you get older amusement parks seem less and less fun.

Mostly my older sister took care of my niece which consisted of having to sit with her on the merry-go-round all day. I spent the day accompanying my nephew on all the exciting rides he could barely go on and then cheering him up after being told he was too short for some of the rides. The highlight of the day was high ropes course with maybe the dolphin show coming a close second (I think I shall have to do a post on how humans treat dolphins at some stage).

My neice's souvenir from seaworld, which I kidnapped from her room.

The high ropes scared me. I was shuddering in fear the whole way through. I was there accompanying my young and therefore too-short-to-go-on-the-course-unaccompanied nephew which meant that any 50m high tightrope he walked, I had to do too. If he was scared he certainly didn't show it, he just kept walking rickety rope after rickety rope.

It was a fun day and I came back exhausted. Which is interesting because this next topic is not quite so fun but equally exhausting.

Why does the universe exist in the state it is in? Every effect must have a cause, ergo the universe must have a cause... 

So what caused the universe? Well, duh, it's god. Who else could have done it? It would have had to have been a god!

This little argument is called the first cause argument. At first it seems like a solid argument for the existence of god. That is until we start applying the same logic to god:

So what caused god's existence? God himself must have a cause otherwise he wouldn't exist? Did another god create god? If so then where did the other god come from, who created HIM?

To which christians and theists alike will claim "ah but God exists outside of time!"

That is a contrived statement. It sounds like absolute bullshit. Big-Banging atheists are just as bad (as opposed to gang-banging atheists who seem quite "gansta"). You ask them what caused the big bang and they will not know. They will claim that the question is ludicrous because time did not exist before the big bang.

Another contrived answer. All events must have causes! Even the popping into existence of time itself!. At this point in the discussion, quantum mechanics, fresh from repairing physicist Bob's old quantum will say that causality didn't exist in the big bang. Quantum mechanics does my head in with the rusty old ratchet he uses to fix singularities in black holes.

Now the scientific community ain't all that bad with respect to this conundrum. There are a few hero phsyicists, vainly trying to prove/disprove string theory so that their explanation of "universal membranes colliding together to create big bangs" will solve this puzzle.

Sound confusing, doesn't it? It isn't as bad as you think though...
The premise is that if a universe can be imagined as a big rubber sheet with gravity creating dints in it then what happens if there are two or more universes in close proximity with each other? What happens if their gravitic dints touch each other? The answer is a big bang. Thus the universe has a cause.

I hope string theorists have success with proving their hypothesis, because  right now the unexplained first cause conundrum is the biggest concept leveling the playing field between Theism and Atheism.


  1. I understand where you're coming from. I had a lot of doubts from both ends too, but eventually decided on theism. It's not perfect and I have times that I do doubt it, but creation is so abstract in general that the idea seems more supernatural than "logical" imo

  2. but string theory is as a whole unprovable :s, making it akin to religion itself

  3. Great post! Keep up the good work.

  4. The difference between science and religion is however, that science doesn't ask for "Why" does something exist but rather "How" it works.

    Science claims, there is no sense in asking what happened before the big bang because the universe with its space and time was created there.

    How can time be created: Well its quite obvious if you think about it. Time is represented by change, when nothing changes (including something moving from one point to another), there is no time passed. And for change there has to be space where the change appears in, therefore there is no time before space exists and as Einstein said, time and space are an unity.

    Anyhow, if there was no time and no space before big bang there was also nothing that could happen before big bang and therefore everything before that point is irrelevant to scientific interest.

    Religion can call it God, but in fact, if it exists or not does have no influence on our existence today. Thats the agnostic scientific view.

  5. very well said, mindph :D

  6. really interesting blog article, a lot of good things for debate!

  7. It does sound confusing :p

  8. String theory, 11 dimensions, complex...

  9. It's easier if you do what I do, just don't bother with understanding anything :) Nice post though

  10. I'll take science over religion

  11. I don't like when people rip on religion, however im not a believer myself.

  12. I don't think we as a civilization are technologically advanced enough to assume how something as massive as the universe was created. Earth is less than a speck in relation to the rest of the universe, so how can we who haven't even mastered our own planet, assume to know how existence was created. Big Bangers and creationists have the same characteristics.

  13. Love the blog work! keep it up!

  14. Great post! Keep up the good work.

  15. I full heartedly believe in God of the Gaps. If we find out HOW we formed, the WHY may be easier to explain.

    Also, dolphins are awesome!

  16. I definitely understand where you're coming from. Nice post yet again gman.