The other day I posted a meme that at least one theist did not agree with. What I’d like to draw attention to today is the comments. One person insisted on wanting to have the last word, and one comment I initially brushed off, but that I gave more attention later, was the argument from first cause…
The basic argument seems to go something like this: Everything that happens comes about because of a cause. The first cause for everything in the universe is God. The commenter then stated that knowing this “is obvious” and that because atheists disbelieve it, they “wouldn’t know logic if it slapped them in the face”. Also this is supposedly a posteriori argument.
But this argument has a number of problems:
- It starts with the assumption that everything has a cause. Yes, we humans like there to be causes for everything and we are happy to fabricate causes when we don’t know any, or assume magical causes, but that doesn’t change that this is an assumption. It may be inconvenient to some minds that anything at all may be random and uncaused, but if anything is, the whole argument falls apart. (And of course, many things are uncaused.)
- The argument defines a single rule: Everything has a cause. It then breaks its own rule by assuming a first cause, then connects that first cause somehow with God (more on that further on), but the point is, God is somehow exempt from having a cause. That way, the person making the argument does not have to explain what the cause of God is, and simply states that God exists, expecting this to be accepted without evidence.
- Most importantly, the argument itself does not explain what the first cause is. How does one go from first cause to God? How does one conclude that this first cause is not only God, but a particular God? The argument itself does not supply any attributes that the supposed first cause will have. How anyone jumps from cause to God is a non sequitur. It does not follow. This whole argument is a smokescreen, a verbose semantic dance around a basic argument from ignorance: We do not know, therefore God.
It is clear to anyone who thinks rationally that for anyone to conclude not only that there is a first cause, and then take a leap of faith to say that this first God happens to be the God that they already believe in, all that’s going on is some post hoc rationalization, an illogical grasping at a way of confirming a belief that the person already has a considerable personal investment in.
There is nothing logical about this argument. It could only be a posteriori argument if it was based on evidence and observation. Insisting that something exists because you assume it to be so is not logical, not in the least. And while it may be a weak philosophical argument, don’t make this stupid argument with anybody and try to pass yourself off as logical or a critical thinker. That’s just fucking stupid.