Has Science Shown Some Things Begin to Exist Without Cause?
Christian Apologetics UK
An important premise in some arguments for God’s existence is that anything that begins to exist has a cause. That is, things that come into being don’t just pop into existence for no reason. There is some cause that explains why that thing started to exist when it did. There is a causal story involving your parents that explains why you exist, for instance, and it would be odd, to say the least, if there weren’t. This premise – anything that beings to exist has a cause – seems intuitive, reasonable and attractive to most people. Check out the video below for a neat summary of one argument for God’s existence – the Kalam Cosmological Argument – that features this premise.
We’ll call this premise the causal premise or “CP” for short. In an argument featuring CP it will usually be other, more controversial premises that draw critical discussion. In the Kalam Cosmological Argument, it is more common to question the second premise’s claim that the universe began to exist than to question CP. Most critical discussion of Kalam centres on whether we really do have good scientific evidence or philosophical arguments for thinking that the universe has a finite history. But sometimes CP draws critical attention and is challenged too.
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Sometimes it is asserted that, in fact, the recent findings of science have given us good reason to reject CP. It is alleged that research (usually regarding the quantum world) has actually shown us that some things (certain tiny particles) can come into being without any cause at all. When this assertion is made, what typically follows is a discussion of the particular research the challenger of CP has in mind, and whether it truly implies that some things have begun to exist without a cause. That’s all well and good but I think the question of whether science has refuted CP can be settled at a “meta” level. That is, when we reflect on the very nature of science, not just particular scientific endeavours, we see that science could never rationally lead us to conclude that CP is false. It’s just not within the possible scope of science to determine that anything has begun to exist without cause…
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