+quot;FIRST CAUSE+quot; IS EXISTENCE, NOT GOD by Nathaniel Branden QUESTION: Since everyth

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"FIRST CAUSE" IS EXISTENCE, NOT GOD by Nathaniel Branden QUESTION: Since everything in the universe requires a cause, must not the universe itself have a cause, which is god? ANSWER: There are two basic fallacies in this argument. The first is the assumption that, if the universe required a causal explanation, the positing of a "god" would provide it. To posit god as the creator of the universe is only to push the problem back one step farther: Who then created god? Was there a still earlier god who created the god in question? We are thus led to an infinite regress -- the very dilemma that the positing of a "god" was intended to solve. But if it is argued that no one created god, that god does not require a cause, that god has existed eternally -- then on what grounds is it denied that the universe has existed eternally? It is true that there cannot be an infinite series of antecedent causes. But recognition of this fact should lead one to reappraise the validity of the initial question, _not_ to attempt to answer it by stepping outside the universe into some gratuitously invented supernatural dimension. This leads to the second and more fundamental fallacy in this argument: the assumption that the universe as a whole _requires_ a causal explanation. It does not. The universe is the total of that which exists. Within the universe, the emergence of new entities can be explained in terms of the actions of entities that already exist: The cause of a tree is the seed of the parent tree; the cause of a machine is the purposeful reshaping of matter by men. All actions presuppose the existence of entities -- and all emergences of new entities presuppose the existence of entities that caused their emergence. All causality presupposes the existence of _something_that_acts_as_a_cause. To demand a cause for all of existence is to demand a contradiction: if the cause exists, it is part of existence; if it does _not_ exist, it cannot be a cause. _Nothing_cannot_be_the_cause_of_something._Nothing_ does not exist. Causality presupposes existence; existence does not presuppose causality. There can be no cause "outside" of existence or "anterior" to it. The _forms_ of existence may change and evolve, but the _fact_ of existence is the irreducible primary at the base of all causal chains. Existence -- not "god" -- is the First Cause. Just as the concept of a causality applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole -- so the concept of time applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole. The universe did not "begin" -- it did not, at some point in time, "spring into being." Time is a measurement of motion. Motion presupposes entities that move. If nothing existed, there could be no time. Time is "in" the universe; the universe is not "in" time. The man who asks: "Where did existence come from?" or "What caused it?" is the man who has never grasped that _existence_exists._ This is the mentality of a savage or a mystic who regards existence as some sort of incomprehensible _miracle_ -- and seeks to "explain" it by reference to _non_existence. Existence is all that exists, the nonexistent does not exist; there is nothing for existence to have come out of -- and _nothing_ means _nothing._ If you are tempted to ask: "What's outside the universe?" -- recognize that you are asking: "What's outside of existence?" and that the idea of "something outside of existence" is a contradiction in terms; _nothing_ is outside of existence, and "nothing" is not just another kind of "something" -- it is _nothing._ Existence exists; you cannot go outside it; you cannot get under it, on top of it, or behind it. Existence exists -- and _only_ existence exists: _There_is_nowhere_else_to_go. *********************************************************** Copyright American Atheist Press. All rights reserved. Printed copies of this pamphlet can be obtained from: American Atheist Press P. O. Box 140195, Austin, Texas 78714-0195. Stock #8230. Please refer to current catalog and price list for pricing and availability. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: http://www.atheists.org * * PO Box 140195 FTP: ftp://ftp.atheists.org * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: avtv@atheists.org * * Info on American Atheists: info@atheists.org, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************

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