Does Causality Apply Outside of Space and Time?
By Frank Turek
During a radio debate I had with an atheist recently, I pointed out that the universe had a beginning and thus needs a cause. He responded by claiming that since there was no space or time prior to the creation event we shouldn’t appeal to the law of causality to claim that the creation event was caused.
Dr. Lawrence Krauss cites a slightly different objection. When Dr. Krauss says that every physical thing requires a physical cause, he is talking about what Aristotle called “material” causality—namely, what the cause is made of. But the objection my radio opponent made deals with what Aristotle called “efficient” causality. An efficient cause is what most people think of when they think of a cause. It is the primary source of the effect: an author writes a book, a spider builds a web, a quarterback throws a pass. They are efficient causes.
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Atheists who make this claim are saying that there is no efficient cause of the universe because it didn’t take place in space or time. Let’s look at that argument in a syllogism.
- The law of causality only applies to physical things in space-time.
- The creation of the universe did not occur in space-time (it was the creation of space-time).
- Therefore the law of causality does not apply to the creation of the universe.
This argument doesn’t work because the first premise is false. Notice that there is no physical relationship between the premises and the conclusion of the argument above (or any argument). Also notice that the premises are not objects in space-time. Yet, there is a causal relationship between the premises and the conclusion. In other words, true premises cause valid conclusions…