By Mufti Yusuf Mullan
The following six step argument has been formulated with the modern agnostic and atheist in mind. Each premise is accompanied with an explanation of the exact ‘manner of deduction’, so the reader may appreciate exactly what is being done.
The argument seeks to establish an Entity attributed with necessary existence (ithbat al-wajib) and attributes of perfection such as life, will, power and knowledge, and also free of all flaws, including resemblance to the creation in any way which would allow one to pose the question, “Who created him?” This will all be done based only on universally accepted absurdities (musta’hilat). Certain areas where attempts have been made to undermine the proof have been given extra attention. Most major objections have been dealt with in the main body of the article.
Assumptions and Summary
Due to the lengthy nature of the article, we will first list the hinges upon which the argument depends, and then a brief outline of the premises. This will be followed by detailed commentary on all of the stages of the proof, including preempting all major rebuttals. The issue is a serious one, and we ask our reader to please bear with us. The argument presupposes two matters that we believe are beyond debate. We will thus not engage in attempting to ‘prove’ these two issues. Instead, we would rather not discuss with anyone doubtful in these two issues. They are very obvious:
1. Firstly, the real existence of beings, attributes and events we observe in the world. Our direct observation of them is sufficient in acquiring knowledge of their real existence.
2. Secondly, the principle of non-contradiction. It is not possible for two directly opposing propositions to both be true, and likewise for both to be false. Necessarily, one will be true and the other will be false. Similarly if a proposition leads to contradiction – and we are able to demonstrate this – its opposite will need to be accepted as true on this basis alone. It is not warranted for someone to claim we have not proven our point, if we were successful in demonstrating contradiction within its opposite. Yes. If an opponent wants to contest our disjunction, claiming a third option is possible, they are free to do so. Throughout the article, we will preempt all such occasions. Naturally, the article will get lengthy at such places. For this reason we offer a brief summary before beginning. Below are the six stages of the argument listed in a summarised fashion:
Premise 1: [I lift my hand in real life, point to it and say,] This particular movement of my hand is something which began to exist.
Premise 2: Whatever begins to exist must have a cause.
Premise 3: Therefore, this particular movement of my hand must have a cause.
Premise 4: This cause will either be A: contingently existent [along with what that entails], or B: necessarily existent [along with what that entails]. There is no third possibility.
Premise 5: This cause is not a contingently existing cause.
Conclusion: Therefore, by rational necessity, it must have been a necessarily existent Being who created the movement of my hand [along with all of what this entails].
Just by viewing the summary above, one can gather the following:
* This is not your conventional cosmological argument that sets out to establish a finite beginning in time for the universe and argues for a “primary mover” or “first cause”. We ask our reader to please put aside preconceived notions of what they might think the argument is attempting and instead pay particular attention to the commentary which is to follow.
* From the premises above, one can clearly see that this argument is attempting to prove both the existence of a Creator and also occasionalism, all in one go.
* In establishing premise 5, the argument will invoke the absurdity of “infinite regress”, as we believe no sound argument for the existence of a Creator can be formulated without tackling this important angle. Again, we ask that the reader not jump to conclusions prior to reading our explanation.
After this brief introduction, let’s now begin with the commentary:
Premise 1: [I lift my hand in real life, point to it and say,] This particular movement of my hand is something which began to exist.
The purpose of the first premise is to prepare a subject and place it in a class based on a consideration relevant to our argument. Here the subject is a particular movement of my hand.1 Is this act something or is it nothing? Obviously, it is something. What do we call it? Let’s agree on a term. Given that prior to my initiating this movement, my hand was in my lap. When I lifted it, the particular movement which was not there earlier, only now began to exist. Based on this obvious reality, we suggest that the predicate for the first premise should be ‘something which began to exist’. We will ask our opponent, whether this is an accurate categorization or not. In the first premise we are not ‘proving’ anything. We rely on one-time direct observation in validating this first premise. It does not involve any experiment, induction or deduction.
‘Beginning to exist’ is a simple meaning which is clear. What it contains is the simple notion of a previously non-existent act entering into the realm of extra-mental existence, something for which it was always possible to exist in the mind’s eye. When something of this nature actually does exist, this is what we mean by ‘beginning to exist’. What else do we intend by this phrase? Do we have any elaborate notions regarding this phrase? We say, this is an irrelevant question. Please put aside what we believe, and focus on the reality of the hand being stationary, followed by the particular movement I later drew attention to. What problem can there then be, if we choose to call it exactly what it is?
If one needs to contrast the phrase with something which “did not begin to exist”, then this is very easy. Any imaginary movement can be used to illustrate the opposite of ‘beginning to exist’. We obviously believe in more than this which will be the ultimate conclusion of the entire argument. The point is that our first premise does not in any way depend on this conclusion. In order to accept the idea of ‘beginning to exist’ one is not required to acknowledge at the very outset an extra-mentally existing Entity which never began to exist, i.e. an Entity which is eternally existent. This is not the only opposite to our phrase ’something which began to exist’. The more obvious and universally agreed-upon opposite are those possible acts which have yet to begin. Any yet to exist possible act will suffice. We can now move to the second premise.2
Premise 2: Whatever begins to exist must have a cause.
In this second premise we have taken the predicate of the previous premise (something which began to exist) and have made a universal judgment upon it. If we are successful in demonstrating the truth of this universal judgment, then by rational necessity whatever we say here regarding ‘things which begin to exist’ as a class will need to extend to the subject of our first proposition, i.e. the movement of my hand. This is a self-evidently valid form of deduction. We call it the Great Rule of Equivalence.3 It involves two premises; a minor one which simply prepares a subject and makes it belong to a class, and a major premise which takes the class and makes a universal judgment on it. The purpose is to extend the judgment on the class to the particular contained within the minor premise.4
How then do we demonstrate the truth of the proposition ‘Everything which begins to exist must have a cause’? Is it by accepting this to be a self-evident axiom not in need of being proven, or is it done by surveying the particulars of the principle, i.e. by way of induction, or by way of some other method? We say, it is indeed a self-evident truth. It is one of those things which are ingrained in our very nature. This knowledge is not ‘acquired’ through experience. Instead it is used in arguments to prove other less self-evidently true claims. Had it been inductive, an old person 70 years of age would be more convinced of its veracity [because of having many more opportunities to have tested the principle] than say a child of 8 or 9 years. This however is definitely not the case. Children and old people share exactly the same degree of conviction regarding this principle. Furthermore, we draw attention to the fact that knowledge of real extra-mental things in the world is something we do not doubt. This knowledge however is based entirely on the causality principle. If you were to enter a room with your eyes closed, you would not know what is in the room. When you open your eyes, only then, knowledge of what is in the room will be gained for you. We say, if you do not have doubt regarding knowledge of the real existence of the things in the room, you should also not doubt the principle which was the basis for this knowledge. This is what we mean when we say that this principle is self-evidently true. Another example of something which is self-evidently true is the impossibility of contradiction.
As far as the truth of our second premise is concerned, many will be satisfied with what was mentioned in the previous paragraph. Some will naturally need more. Not a problem. We have a second method for demonstrating the truth of the proposition. This second method is nothing more than taking one first principle (the causality principle) and explaining it in light of another more clear first principle, namely the impossibility of contradiction. The questions to our opponent at this time would be: Do you accept that contradictions are impossible? Do you accept that every thesis has an antithesis? Do you accept that if one of two direct opposites is false on account of involving contradiction, then by rational necessity the other must be true? If these three obvious points are conceded, we may proceed:
The direct opposite of ‘Everything which begins to exist must have a cause’ is ‘Not everything which begins to exist must have a cause’, which is in the power of ‘Some things which begin to exist do not have a cause’. Anything which begins to exist by definition can not be necessarily existent [whether such a category actually exists or not is not the point currently. Our opponent is free to believe that it is purely hypothetical]. Otherwise it would have been existent since eternity past, since necessarily existent means its very nature requires for it to exist in which case it cannot have a beginning for its existence. Similarly, it can not be impossible because impossible things do not happen in which case it would not have begun to exist. Since such a thing can neither be necessary, nor impossible, it must be merely possible (another word for which is contingent). Therefore, with respect to the very nature of such a thing, both existence and non-existence are equal. That it is to say, there is nothing in its very nature which requires existence (since it is not necessary), nor is there anything in its very nature which requires non-existence (since it is also not impossible). Thus the two are indeed equal.
Whenever any contingent being [or attribute, act, event] leaves the realm of non-existence and becomes existent [such as the movement of my hand, subsequent to it being stationary in my lap] , it will necessarily need to be on account of some external cause preferring its existence over its non-existence. Otherwise, this is impossible on account of involving preponderance without a preferrer.5 This is a contradiction because it leads to non-equality in existence and non-existence of that wherein equality of the two was assumed [in the previous paragraph]. The thing we’re talking about like the hand-movement was not necessary, nor was it impossible. Its existence and non-existence were both equal, i.e. not required by its very nature.. so now, if it comes to be without a cause, then this means that existence [in relation to its very nature] is preponderant over non-existence, and just a minute ago we agreed that the two were equal. So how can something be such that both its existence and non-existence are equal and at the same time be such that its existence is preponderant above its non-existence? Since contradictions are impossible, our antithesis ‘Some things which begin to exist do not have a cause’ is definitely false. Since both a thesis and its antithesis can not be false, our original proposition ‘Everything which begins to exist must have a cause’ is necessarily true.6
The conclusion of the argument until this point is:
Premise 3: Therefore, the movement of my hand must have a cause.
The above concludes the first leg of our argument. We will now take the conclusion arrived at from the above, namely ‘a cause’ and make it the subject of a new argument using another mode of argument called the Rule of Opposition. But before this, let us remind that in all of the above steps what we did not do is mention the word God. Not even once. Even the term ‘necessarily existent’ only occurred once, and that too in a hypothetical context. The phrase ‘eternally existent’ similarly occurred once in order to illustrate that the first premise did not rely on our adversary’s acceptance of eternal existence. This is an important point, namely that the above steps were clearly traversed without any reliance on our ultimate conclusion or anything entailed thereby. Therefore, it is accurate when we say, we did not expect our adversary to entertain any notion which he does not already believe to be true.
Having arrived at the conclusion in step 3, we are now ready to introduce the Rule of Opposition. This is another intuitively deductive mode of argument the veracity of which no reasonable human being can doubt.7
In the previous argument we established with zero probability of the opposite alternative that the movement of my hand definitely has a cause. Now, we will restrict this conclusion of the previous argument within two exhaustive possibilities. One of them will be based on what our adversary understands from causality and existence. We will tailor for him a very specific analogy in order to demonstrate that the cause for the hand-movement cannot have been what he understands from both causality and existence. This will be because his side of the disjunction involves glaring absurdities which are universally accepted: “…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. This is universally agreed upon. This is the Rule of Opposition.
Premise 4: This cause will either be A: contingently existent [along with what that entails], or B: necessarily existent [along with what that entails]. There is no 3rd possibility.
This has been thoroughly explained in the previous section. The B side of the disjunction is our true claim. It is yet to be proven. Do not worry. We will do that towards the end of the argument. Placing it right there in the premise for the world to see is totally valid, since we are now dealing with a disjunction. It will be our task to illustrate how side A involves glaring absurdities, and how these absurdities can not be removed in any way except by accepting what we will place on the B side of the disjunction. This is what the Rule of Opposition is supposed to do after all.
Premise 5: This cause is not a contingently existing cause.
To claim that the cause which resulted in the movement of my hand was of the very same nature as the movement itself, namely something which itself began to exist, is not possible, because positing this necessitates that the movement of my hand remain in the realm of non-existence, whereas in premise 1 we confirmed that the hand did move.
If one assigns properties to causality and existence such as being confined within spacetime [and other such attributes entailed by contingency], then they are essentially claiming that an infinite series of cause/effect relationships must have been concluded before the movement of my hand could ever have had a chance to begin to exist. This however is impossible because infinity can not end. That would be a contradiction in terms. If it ends, it can never be infinite. If it is infinite, it can never end. You would need an infinite amount of time to conclude an infinite amount of beginnings and endings. This is like a car, if it needs to move from A to B, and the condition for its reaching its destination happens to be the concluding of its wheels rotating an infinite amount of times — in such a scenario for it to reach its destination is clearly impossible, since you would need an infinite amount of time to conclude an infinite amount of rotations. Anything dependent on this can never have a chance to occur.
At this point, our opponent will say something along the lines of the following: “Fair enough. We do not entertain an infinite regress. We have our reasons for this. According to us, we begin a journey from the present moment and keep going back in the past until we hit a certain event which occurred approximately 13.7 billion years ago. We maintain that all matter, energy, space, time and everything else came into being at this point in time. Prior to this there was no spacetime. Existence and causality can not occur independent of spacetime. Therefore, the journey stops at this event. If you want to continue the journey beyond this point, you must bring proof”.
We will reply thus: Your stopping of the journey itself at any finite time in the past [based on whatever consideration] does nothing to remove the absurdity we are highlighting.8
If we had a line of soldiers consisting of only 20. This line stops on 20. There is no 21st. Every soldier in the line has a gun and is capable of shooting, but there is one condition that needs to be fulfilled before any soldier in the line can ever have a chance to shoot. That condition is for the soldier before him to shoot. Keep in mind that the line stops at 20. Will a shot ever be fired? The answer is no, because the one closest to us will not be firing, on account of the one before him not firing, on account of the one before him not firing and so on. The final soldier does not have a soldier before him and yet his condition for firing is also unfulfilled. Hence, no shot will be fired and we are left with complete silence. Let’s now double the line. Will anything change? Obviously, no. Again, complete silence. Make it a billion soldiers? 13.7 billion years worth of soldiers? Same result. Same complete silence. So you see, making it infinite or entertaining an ‘abrupt cut-off’, either way, the result is exactly the same. The entire series remains restricted to ones imagination. The need attached to each and every unit remains unfulfilled, including the need attached to the very first unit in the series.
In utter desperation, he or she will now ask, “OK, you tell us, what happened? You will inadvertently say, ‘there was an Entity in the background all along (God) who pulled the trigger for the first soldier’. Where did this Entity come from? He was never part of the equation. This is absurd. If you can entertain this absurdity, I can claim that the very first unit in the series occurred causelessly. What’s the difference?”
We will respectfully remind them at this point that we are still discussing their side of the disjunction. There are no soldiers for us, as will become clear very shortly. Be patient. This whole analogy was carefully tailored to reflect only our adversary’s notions of existence and causality, namely that both causality and existence cannot occur independent of spacetime. This is why there is no such Entity as part of the equation. We are not being gratuitous. Not at all.
At this point, we particularly ask our reader to please focus on what is about to be said. In the upcoming paragraphs we will address some major rebuttals which have been presented throughout the ages. This will get intense, and it is possible that some might need to reread what we will mention a couple of times in order to get a clear picture.
What just happened in these last two paragraphs is very significant: The atheist thought we were getting ready to establish a “first cause” (after all, this is what the majority of arguments out there do), thinking we too must reply to the soldiers’ analogy. He found positing an entity outside spacetime to be absurd because according to him there is no existence, nor causality outside spacetime. He misunderstood and believed the soldiers were there to represent entities and attributes which exist in the world. Since we also believe in the existence of such entities and attributes, we also must offer a solution. He then assumed our solution was to invoke a first cause. Based on this, he attempted to put words in our mouth: “there was an Entity in the background..” We, instead, took this very objection of the atheist and made it a component of our proof, which we will later make use of in order to establish “occasionalism” which is our true belief.
The soldiers are not there to represent entities and attributes which began to exist. Therefore, not everyone who accepts the existence of these entities and attributes will be confronted with this ‘riddle’. Rather they are there to represent existing entities and attributes only in their capacity as causes leading to the movement of my hand. This is the understanding of our adversary. The analogy was tailored specifically for him. We do not adopt this position. Therefore the soldiers do not apply to us.
We claim there is absolutely no solution to this problem according to the principles held to be true according to the adversary, namely that causality and existence cannot occur independent of spacetime.9 As for the question of whether positing a first cause is a viable position, in and of itself, and if an agnostic chooses to forgo their principles (of spacetime dependency) and entertains “transcendence” solely in order to terminate the infinite regress, while of course claiming that the Entity is simply transcendent and beyond spacetime (in order to differentiate him from the rest of the soldiers), though life-less and unconscious… will such a positing undermine our fifth premise which states that the cause for the hand-movement is not a contingent cause? In other words, what problem is there in having an Entity set the series of contingent causes into motion at a particular point in time (for ease of reference, let’s choose the Big Bang singularity), and then have the contingent causes bring about their effects, one after the other, eventually leading to the movement of my hand? Moreover, why does this Entity need to be alive, or posses any consciousness? Perhaps he triggered the chain reaction inadvertently?
This is an important question. We will address this below:
We contest the notion that mere transcendence (being outside spacetime) is sufficient in terminating the infinite regress. Rather what is required is “necessary existence”. This was intended to be explained at stage 6, but we see no option but to exhaust the issue right here at premise 5. We thus begin:
The very first event in the series of contingent causes occurred, configured with a specific configuration of certain attributes, such as location, precise moment of existence, intensity, duration, etc. Take the time aspect for instance: The event occurred at a particular point in time which has been traced back to approximately 13.7 billion years ago. We argue that in the mind’s eye it was conceivable for this to have occurred before or after its actual time by an almost infinite amount of moments in either direction. All such moments were equal. There was nothing in the very nature of the event which required for it to come to be at its specific moment (otherwise, we would not have been able to even conceive other possible moments), nor was there anything within its very nature requiring for it to not exist at this moment (because impossible things do not happen). All moments were thus equal in relation to its very nature. Now, when it did occur at its specific moment, this must have been on account of an attribute within the Being that caused it which specified one of an almost infinite amount of moments above all others. We will call this attribute “will”, constitutive of which is “life”. Claiming that the Entity caused the chain reaction of contingent causes without being alive, or without possessing will, is absurd, because it entails a contradiction of non-equality within the total possible moments, all of which were deemed equal.10 Thus there must have been will, constitutive of which is life. So the attribute by which the actual coming into existence of the first event occurred is “power”, and the attribute by which the attributes of that event (location, moment of existence, intensity, duration, etc.) were specified is “will”. Moreover, an Entity capable of creating based on specification can not create what He does not “know”. We thus have the four attributes of life, power, will and knowledge. These are all necessary. Without them, the infinite regress cannot be terminated.
By the admission of the agnostic, transcendence was a requirement for terminating the regress. In addition to that, we have shown in the previous paragraph that the Entity must also have been alive, willing and knowing. Otherwise, He could not have caused the first event in order to trigger the chain reaction. We further argue, that the power, will, and knowledge of this Entity cannot have been restricted only to the first event, but rather, by rational necessity, these attributes must also be “perfect”. By perfection, we mean they must extend to all the subsequent contingent events in the chain leading up to the movement of my hand. Otherwise, positing that the four attributes are restricted to only the first event would disqualify this Entity from its role in terminating the regress, because He would then need another Entity in order to specify the application of His attributes to the first event and prevent them from applying to all others, in which case He would not be the Entity we were seeking. He would just be another contingent being posited outside spacetime. The regress would thus continue without being terminated. He wouldn’t be able to end the regress, rather he would just contribute to extending it.
Since for the very termination of the regress it is absolutely necessary for the Entity to have not only brought the first event into existence, but also all other subsequent events, it now becomes clear that it is absurd to posit a first cause outside spacetime which brought about the first event but remained disassociated from all others. Our premise that the cause for this hand-movement was not a contingent cause thus holds true.
From the above, it is quite clear that the movement of my hand can absolutely not have been caused by something which is of the same nature as the movement itself, namely contingent.11 This is because, for the cause to be contingent results in an infinite series of causes going back in the past which can never be traversed and concluded. Since the series can never be concluded, the movement of my hand can never have had a chance to exist, whereas we confirmed that the hand did move. Both the movement of my hand (Premise 1) and the non-existence of this movement (entailed by the contradictory of Premise 5) at the same time is a contradiction. Therefore, side A of the disjunction is clearly impossible.
Conclusion: Therefore, by rational necessity, it must have been a necessarily existent Being who created the movement of my hand [along with all of what this entails].
This brings us to the conclusion of our argument. There is not much left for us to do at this point. Everything has already been explained in sufficient detail. Having disproved the false side of the disjunction, naturally, the only way my hand could have moved, since that could not have happened causelessly (Premise 2), and it also could not have happened based on a contingent cause (Premise 5) — the true reason my hand moved must have been by the creation of a necessarily existent Being, free of all of the properties which led to the glaring absurdities discussed above. This must be so. This Entity can not have a beginning for its existence. Otherwise He too would need a cause [or Creator], thus bringing us back to the soldiers. Moreover, He does not need a Creator, because He is not attributed with events or any of the spacetime dependent attributes that things in the universe are attributed with. All of his Divine attributes are perfect and do not require specification. His knowledge, will and power apply to all possible things. In short, He is exalted and pure from all of the possible reasons why someone can ask the question, “Who created him?”
This not having a beginning coupled with positing the non-existence of the Entity leading to absurdity is exactly what we mean by necessary existence. Nothing else. At this stage of the argument it is not a claim. It is not something we are respectfully asking our agnostic to entertain. No. It is the very conclusion proven through a compelling argument, with zero probability of the opposite alternative. The whole point behind this is my hand did move. There is no doubt about that. Making the movement dependent on any of the things discussed until now leads to its non-occurrence, which contradicts its beginning to exist. Therefore, we will have to entertain whatever it takes to remove the absurdities. There is no other way.
Part of this ‘whatever it takes to remove the absurdities’ is will, power and knowledge, constitutive of which is life. Will, power and knowledge can not occur without life. Along with the essence of this necessarily existent being [which we cannot comprehend due to our limited intellects], we argue that there is something there on the B side of the disjunction which is specifying the time, place, quality, quantity, etc. of all the bodies, attributes and events occurring in the universe. We will call this ‘something’ will. So that by which the specification of the contingent beings occurs is will, and that by which they are brought into existence is power. Furthermore, a necessarily existent Being who creates based on specification, can not create what he does not know.
Finally, He must be one. Because if there were multiple such necessarily existent beings then the removal of the absurdities discussed above could have alternatively been attributed to either of the two, thus resulting in the other being dismissible. This contradicts the necessary existence of that other, whereas we assumed them both to be necessarily existent. This is a contradiction, and what led to it must be impossible, namely the positing of multiple necessarily existent beings. Therefore, He must by rational necessity be one.
- For the subject of the first premise we have chosen a particular event, as opposed to an entity, like the hand itself. This event happens to be a movement. It could have easily been a sound or a sensation, like the pain one feels when kicked in the shin, or anything else. Naturally, then, every place we use the word “thing” it should not be restricted to entities, but rather understood in a general sense inclusive of attributes and events also.
So please do not get caught up in the specifics of the hand-movement, [or worse, movement in a generic sense,] and miss the point of the argument. Also, the lengthy commentary under premise one is not because we want to make sure our opponent accepts the real existence of things in the world, since that was already mentioned above as an assumption without the acceptance of which we would rather not discuss. Instead, the point emphasized here is that our categorization of the hand-movement within “things which began to exist” is an accurate categorization. This is an important first step which should not be treated lightly. [↩]
- What this means is that the true division according to us is a three-way division: 1. Things which began to exist, 2. Possible things which are yet to actually begin. Instead they remain in the realm of imagination, e.g. a hypothetical movement of my hand which could have occurred, but did not, 3. The necessarily existent Entity which exists in a real sense and has no beginning.
The opponent agrees with us on the first two types but denies this third one. According to him everything which exists [period] has a beginning. According to him, there is no such thing as an Entity which exists and yet has no beginning. In other words, our opponent maintains only a two-way division, instead of a three-way division like we do.
The point behind this paragraph in the article is to illustrate that in order for the phrase ‘something which begins to exist’ to be meaningful, all we are requiring from our opponent is to accept the agreed upon two-way division. He is free to believe that everything which exists [without exception] has a beginning. We will force him to the third type (which is our ultimate conclusion) through the remaining steps of the argument. [↩]
- The Great Rule is very powerful and, as mentioned, self-evidently deductive. The brilliant example of this given by al-Ghazali in the Qistas is that of an animal with an inflated stomach. We see it in front of us and someone claims that it is pregnant. The animal happens to be a mule. In order to explain the error in this claim, you will have to do two things in a particular order. Firstly, you will have to demonstrate that the animal is indeed a mule. Otherwise, whatever claim you make about mules, even if you can prove it, will be totally irrelevant. Hence the first step would be to observe the animal and determine that it is definitely a mule. Once done, you can now draw attention to the fact that all mules (as a class) are sterile.
You will ask, Do you not know that this animal is a mule? The person will say, Yes… Do you not know that all mules as a class are sterile? He will reply, Yes… Now you know that the animal standing in front of us is not pregnant. [↩]
- Before moving on to demonstrate the truth of our second premise we need to clear up quickly one objection certain doubt casters like to use to undermine our proof. They claim that the statement ‘Everything which begins to exist must have a cause’ is a mere tautology, void of any real meaning. There is no room for this objection, but they like to keep repeating it. They are suggesting that our premise is a mere wordplay. According to them, ‘Everything which begins to exist’ [based on our elaborate understanding of it] already contains the idea of causality. Thus it is a redundant and repetitive statement similar to ‘All bachelors are unmarried’. Since that is the case, the premise does not even convey any new information.
We say, our adversary forgets that he already agreed with us, when we asked about the movement of my hand and whether it was accurate to call that movement something which began to exist. He forgets that it is this very term agreed upon between us in the earlier premise which is being carried forward to the second premise. Forget our own elaborate understanding. Concentrate on what the words actually mean. So, if the term already contains causality, then this is what we want from them in the first place. By agreeing to the term earlier, they have simply relieved us from one step in the argument. The truth is that this criticism was not even worth mentioning. They know very well that causality is not constitutive of ‘beginning to exist’ just like the angles of a triangle totaling 180 degrees is not constitutive of the reality of a triangle. Meaning it is possible to conceive a triangle which is nothing more than a figure encompassed by three sides without being aware of the reality of the angles needing to total 180 degrees. In exactly the same way, beginning to exist is something, and having a cause is something else. Yes. The two are definitely concomitant and it is not possible for something to begin to exist and not have a cause [as we will demonstrate in the main proof], just like a triangle can not exist without its angles totaling 180 degrees. But does that mean causality is contained within the very meaning of beginning to exist? This is nonsense. This is an objection brought solely to undermine our proof with no other justification besides not wanting us to use the premise. [↩]
- P w/o P is simply a name we are giving to the specific absurdity about to be highlighted in the article. Keep reading and from the main article alone it should become clear that P w/o P is not some assumed argument with premises of its own. The very contradiction detailed in the article IS the P w/o P.
This particular phrase is our own English rendering of the Arabic phrase rujhan min ghair murajjih, and for this reason, you will not find it used in other versions of the Cosmological Argument. [↩]
- The necessary truth of the proposition has been proven rationally. Now, recall what we said in the introduction, namely that this can no longer be contested by any emperical evidence, or scientific observation. Rather, if one presents anything along these lines to contest the universal application of the proposition, the reply will be simple: obviously, the most such an observation can show us is the lack of an observable cause. It does not solve the contradiction we highlighted just now.
Indeed, at this point, the opponent must refute our argument mentioned in the main article, and then present the scientific finding. He must do both in order to contest our premise. [↩]
- The example of it is that of a man whom we observe walking into a house through the door. The house has only two rooms and no windows. We then follow him through the door and look for him in one of the two rooms. We do not find him to be there. What is the conclusion? He must by rational necessity be in the other. He can not be in neither.
So, sometimes our knowledge of him being in a particular room is by observing him there directly, and at other times it is by finding the other room empty of him. [↩]
- This is very similar to how presenting scientific findings in the field of Quantum Mechanics does nothing to undermine our earlier proposition regarding the causality principle, as explained in the previous footnote.
Just as in the previous premise, here too, the adversary needs to remove the absurdity, not draw attention to Big Bang cosmology. [↩]
- Indeed there is no solution to the “riddle” once one has restricted causality and existence to the realm of four-dimensional spacetime, and it is this very absence of a solution which forces us to look at the B side of the disjunction, as we will do further down in the article.
So, our soldiers’ analogy is in no way similar to Zeno’s paradoxes, as some like to mention. Those have solutions which one can figure out with minimum difficulty, and what we’ve presented here is absolute impossibility. [↩]
- The reasoning adopted here is identical to what was presented earlier while establishing the second premise. It is the same “preponderance without a preferrer” absurdity discussed earlier.
Here, it is even more clear, since while discussing causality, the equal options were just two. One of two equal options attaining preponderance without a preferrer was shown to be absurd. How then can this occurring in an almost infinite amount of possibilities not be absurd? [↩]
- As for the observable causality which we see between fire burning and water quenching thirst and other events of this nature, we maintain that these are not the true reasons why things begin to exist. So, if one attributes the movement of my hand to immediately preceding organs, tissues and skeletal muscles, while attributing these earlier movements to the flow of blood and neurological phenomena– if one claims that these are the only reasons why things begin to exist, we will place the soldiers in front of them and ask for a reply. Does that mean we Muslims deny empirical observation and deny that there this is any correlation between these events? No. Not at all. We say, there is a correlation, and that is all it is, a correlation. It is not causality in the sense that was established in the second premise.
The Creator who created the movement of my hand through his will, power and knowledge and maintains my existence at each and every moment has chosen for the world to function in this way. He creates the earlier events and also creates the subsequent events. His habit is for these things to generally co-exist. To those who are unaware of the true reality, this gives the impression of causality between these events. The rational mind, however, understands that incomplete induction is no proof which could lead to absolute certainty. Our repeated observations of fire burning does not necessarily entail that it is the fire that does the actual burning. This is because no matter how many times we make the observation, we will never be able to make complete induction. We can thus never claim that it will always be the case. More importantly though, causality is a “meaning” which at most can only be inferred from observed events. You can not see it directly. The intellect will judge and point out the error in this inference of causality from the events we observe in the world. So, what is observed is correlation, and we accept this without any doubt; what is inferred is causality between the events, and we reject this based on the proof presented in this article. Our position thus is the only viable belief which is in full conformity to empirical evidence and the judgement of the intellect.
Every now and then, the Creator, Exalted be He, will do something which contradicts the normal pattern based on His infinite wisdom and in order to guide His creation to the truth. This is the basis for miracles. A miracle is an act of God done contrary to the normal pattern of observed cause and effect (what was earlier referred to as correlation). In the case of a miracle, He will do this in order to strengthen a Prophet in his claim to prophethood. The act thus stands in the place of the Almighty Himself saying, “My servant has spoken the truth”. [↩]