• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The First Cause

Extracts from this document...


The First Cause Wouldn't it be much easier to say that there is a beginning? Let's be empirical about this: when we observe the world we see that everything has a cause: the rain causes the plants to grow, the plants cause the production of oxygen, oxygen causes animal life to exist, etc. Does it not follow from this that the whole universe, too, has a cause? Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) - rejecting Plato's concept of eternal Forms - believed that everything must have an 'efficient cause'; the efficient and final cause was the 'Unmoved Mover'. Aristotle was a major influence on Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) who developed the causal argument as part of his Christian beliefs. Basically, Aquinas stated that if 'A' causes 'B', and 'B' causes 'C', then 'A' is the first cause, and 'C' is the last cause. ...read more.


Every cause would be the first cause! We are also faced with the obvious paradox here of, on the one hand, saying that everything has a cause and, on the other, saying that there is a cause of itself; something that was not caused by something else! Aquinas rephrased the argument in terms of dependency: Doesn't dependency have to be grounded somewhere in non-dependency? Every creature is dependent (i.e. contingent) for its existence on something else, without which it would not have been. For example, if my mother had not met my father during World War Two then I would not now exist. In fact, I also have the war to thank for my existence today. But how can you have a chain of dependent beings without, at the end of the line, having a being that does not depend on something else? ...read more.


John Stuart Mill ( in his article Theism, said: 'Our experience, instead of furnishing an argument for a first cause, is repugnant to it.' Still, we can't help being curious. Nonetheless, Hume and Mill have a point: where does all this speculation leave us? Does it help us to believe in a First Cause or, for that matter, in the existence of God? A religious believer may well be able to say that God is 'special': to ask the question "What or who caused God?" misses the point entirely and is, in fact, irrelevant here. God just is: he is the eternal, uncaused, timeless, creator. Equally, the atheist could use a similar argument in response to the question: "What caused the universe?" As Russell once said: "I should say that the universe is just there, and that is all." The universe just is: like the laws of nature, the universe is a brute fact; it's the way things are. Neither response is particularly helpful, it has to be said. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Existence of God section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Existence of God essays

  1. Bereshit, the first word in Genesis translates to "in a beginning"

    To do this, the source decided to give some sort of law upon the earth which would unite them. This law comes in the manner of the Sabbath "preserving the monotheistic Jewish faith"76. This is one of the reasons why the Sabbath account is included by "providing a divine precedent for the observance of the 7th day".

  2. Explain what Aristotle meant by the 'final cause'.

    it was ridiculous to suppose that the universe had any meaning or purpose beyond the simple fact of its existence. Also some people would claim that there are things that don't have any reason behind their existence. Aristotle believed that all natural objects either always or usually come into being

  1. Explain the Ontological argument.

    Either way this entails the death of the God of classical theism. Hume uses this argument to prove that God does not exist. This position is supported by Aquinas, who suggests that God's existence on the face of evil is logically impossible.

  2. T H E D E S I G N A R ...

    The machine starts and to the relief of the victim he sees ten Aces of hearts. The victim thinks that this extraordinary fact needs an explanation in terms of the machine having been rigged in some way. The kidnapper now reappears and casts doubt on the suggestion.

  1. Bertrand Russell and Atheism.

    However, parental beliefs have a significant impact on children's beliefs. Rather than letting a child discover what he or she believes in, they are taught about a God, a religion, and in many cases are forced to follow that religion because it is what the parents want.

  2. A Big Bang Cosmological Argument for God's Nonexistence

    This result is of momentous significance, for it implies that if the universe contains evenly distributed matter then its existence is temporally limited. If the universe is contracting at an ever increasing rate, then it cannot contract forever but must eventually reach an endpoint, when it curves to a point and its radius becomes zero.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work