I realize that the "God of the Gaps" fallacy is based in delusion, but it is hard to argue against. Aside of Occams razor, I really can't come up with a good argument against the existence of an impersonal prime mover for the existence of the Universe. Is it more absurd to believe that matter simply happened or that it was created by something that always existed without a beginning?

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Simply saying "To state God did it, you must first prove God did it". Simple enough. Since no religion has even come close to adequately proving "God has done anything", there is not reason to suggest that anyone's GOD has in fact done anything in relation to the creation of the universe. And then assuming you find a way to prove exclusively "God did it" you must then answer what created GOD? And granted even after this alot of humans of faith are still not going to be happy only because even with the what, and the how....you're not answering the "WHY" which is what people are really after for the most part. They could care less as to the mechanisms, they really want to know "why". Which philosopher's have had a hard ass time answering since the begining.
I think it's important to focus on the "how" and not fall prey to the "who". If someone argues who caused then ask them how the "who" caused. You'll find that they'll have to face a gap of their own because while they'll try to explain away a first cause with "god did it", they won't be able to comment on how he did it which was the real question to begin with. If they can't explain how it was done then they have no footing from which to assert that a "who" did it.

I don't even see the first cause argument as pro-deist since a first cause need not be sentient and in fact from what little we know of the universe, things do happen without an intention or direction behind it.
How can it possibly be simpler to postulate an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who's existance is purely speculative and hopeful to a physical universe that is quite proveable?
My response to this kind of argument is that an impersonal prime mover is irrelevant and has nothing to say to us. Funny that this kind of argument so often comes from someone that wants to eventually circle around to the bible.
The reason you can't find a good argument against a prime mover is because you're thinking of the universe as a whole or thing of some kind. Aristotle demostrated in the metaphysics that IF you assume that the universe is finite, THEN a prime mover is a logical necessity. The actual character of this prime mover is unknowable so you can assign any properties you want to it. It can be a personal god, an impersonal big bang or a bowl of pea soup or any thing else you want to imagine (I like to think of it as a 1957 Chevy). Because it was the beginning of everything - the material, the immaterial, the physical, the mental, the matter, the mind, etc., etc. - it can be the initial cause of anything you want to imagine. Aristotle himself waxed religious about it and, via Thomas Aquinus' interpretations, the theory became a fundamental element in Catholic doctrine (I should point out that Aquinus took Aristotle religious remark a great deal more seriously than Aristotle did himself). I encourage all atheists to read Aristotle's metaphysics because it does, in fact, prove the logical necessity of a prime mover in a finite universe which one can call "god" if he wishes.

Big bang makes the situation worse, from the atheists standpoint, because it proves that a prime mover is a physical necessity as well a as a logical one. The sophisticated christian regards the big bang as a modern scientific proof of god's existence. Big bang is a mathematical argument that is isomorphic with Aristotle's logical argument. It demonstrates that an essentially unknowable prime mover is a mathematical necessity in a finite universe (for our purposes here, it is sufficient to say that big bang assume a finite universe - the technical meaning of "infinite but bounded" contributes nothing to this argument). Furthermore, because Einstein's theory is presumed to be about the physical world, big bang is also physically necessary. This is great for the christian because it provides the long sought explanation of god's imminence in the physical world. That's why the Catholic Church accepts the big bang theory. Any christian who rejects big bang either doesn't understand the theory, or doesn't understand church doctrine or both. Same goes for atheists who think big bang provides a way to deny god.

So, a prime mover has been proven the be a logical, mathematical and physical necessity in a finite universe. Arguments about whether this prime mover is god, or an atomic phenomenon or pea soup(or a '57 Chevy) are just speculations about its possible character, which is by definition unknowable. IF YOU ASSUME A FINITE UNIVERSE, then a prime mover is necessary to explain its origin. There's no getting around it and there are no good arguments against it. As to the "existence" of the prime mover, that depends on how you mix and match logical, mathematical and physical necessity, which is a whole other can o' worms.
Great post. I agree with this. If the universe is finite, then a prime mover is a logical necessity.

There are physicists that realize this dilema and are now trying to come up with an alternative theory that points towards an infinite universe. Nothing amazing has been done in this area from what I know yet.
IF you assume that the universe is finite, THEN a prime mover is a logical necessity.

I know I'm a johnny come lately on this, but could you please explain the logical necessity of the if-then conclusion. I'd be much obliged. Thanks.
Because anything that is finite, cannot cause itself. Only that which is infinite can do so, IE a necessary being. I agree with this logic, but recognize that humans cannot understand infinity. It's the whole argument of "something cannot come from nothing" because it leads to infinite regress. Which we claim cannot happen(I think this is debatable)

The problem is wether or not the universe IS finite. If it is then you are making a statment that it had to "begin". The big bang..is HUGE for christian doctrine. IE the universe had a "beginning", then something caused it. Something cannot come from nothing, something "had to exist". This is a logical imperative. Something..had to exist, for us to exist. If the universe is finite, had a beginning and end..what exists, is not the universe..it is something eternal. IE God.

So it really doesn't mean anything. Saying the universe is finite does imply a "mover". But there is nothing philisophically that can logically prove that the universe itself, may not be infinite.

This begins to get into the realm of belief and assumption. Physicists already see the dilema and are working on it. Nothing solid yet in that area :)
Maybe there is no beginning. The universe may be a cosmic heartbeat. The nature of the universe is expansion and contraction. The big bang began this expansion. This could end as it started then begin anew. It seems likely to me that the universe as we know it is merely one of endless universes, blinking in and out of existence, with each blink being an immense period of time. We begin as a single cell, and end as dust. Our hearts expand and contract. Stars explode and collapse. Why should the entire universe be different?
the prime mover argument assumes that there is a cause/effect relationship outside of time (time only came after the big bang), which I think is very unlikely ; cause/effect implies a cause, and as TIME goes on, an effect to that cause. if you take time out of the equation, it does not work. the cause/effect relation breaks down. so first, one needs to show that the cause/effect relation can even function outside of time. after that, one needs to show that the only thing that could have caused the creation of the universe is god, which not much points to. an incredibly empty, harsh, desolate universe we live in; it does not seem to want us here or have any purpose.
This is quite a hefty bit of work for the deist to do to provide convincing evidence for a creator or prime mover. this argument appears to be strong, but in fact, is quite erroneous.
When the prime mover discussion comes up, I like to find the nearest object and drop it on the floor. I then ask, did that hit the floor, or did it fall half way, then half way, then half way,etc. the other person always says, it hit the floor. good I say. for a minute I thought you were saying that the the universe was infinitely regressive. If that were the case, nothing would ever happen. This means that there can be no prime mover, or force outside the universe to act on it. the other person usually has no argument, since they themselves have just agreed that the universe is not infinitely regressive.
Alex, you must have forgotten to post that you copy-and-pasted from Agnosticism & Thomas Henry Huxley: How Did Huxley Understand Being an Agnostic? By Austin Cline, About.com




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