Edward C. Paolella
The "Cause and Effect" or "Unmoved Mover" argument to prove the existence of God is a patently flawed one.
Why can one not ask, "Where did God come from?"?
If it is fair to ask who created the universe, and believe that God did, why is it not equally fair to ask who made God? It is only by someone's definition or, in the case of Moses, a "personal revelation," that "God" means "that Being Who has no beginning and no end," or, to express it slightly differently, that God is the "Unmoved Mover" of the universe.
In his article "The Cosmological Argument," Charles W. Johnson makes a similar point and justifies the logic of it:
The logical implications of asserting that the Universe must have an
explanatory entity are also theologically troublesome: the belligerent atheist can respond by asking why the Universe needs a Cause but God doesn't. While at first such a question seems insipid and stupid due to the conception of eternal God, it is not stupid in the context of the Universe: for no apparent reason, the Universe is assumed to not be self-sufficient, while God is assumed to be so, which simply shifts the locus of the Uncaused Cause rather than resolving it. Thus, such a superficially trivial question in fact forges an important argument by analogy; the atheist is as justified in demanding, "What caused God?" as the theist is in demanding, "What caused the Universe?" (http://www.eskimo.com/~cwj2/atheism/cosmo.html
Furthermore, theologians and philosophers who believe in a God as "Prime Mover" do not make a distinction before the existence of the universe and the existence of time--they are not co-relatives. Before the Big Bang, the almost totally accepted scientific explanation of the origins of time as it exists in the universe in its current cosmological state of being, there was a universe without time. As Johnson notes, there was a time when the universe existed before the "Big Bang." when before time as it is understood since the Big Bang there was a cosmos that existed, but time did not:
The dimensional nature of time has been a fundamental part of physics since
Einstein, and its expansion in the Big Bang is one of the least controversial notions in cosmology today. Further,...[it is necessary to] realize the vast importance of the idea that the beginning of the Universe is the beginning of time. Yes, there is some finite distance into the past before which the Universe did not exist. But that is because time is part and parcel of the Universe, not some disjoint phenomenon in which the Universe exists. The Universe did not non-exist for a period of time and
then suddenly wink into existence; at the moment of the Big Bang, the
Universe simply was, and time only existed after that moment. The ultimate
cause cannot be traced back further because there is no frame of reference
in which to trace.
In the Hindu scriptures of the Rig Veda, "The Hymn of Creation" (Nasadiya Sukta 10.129:6-7) expresses the notion that even before the Gods existed there was a universe that always was:
Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? When was it [the universe]
produced? When is this creation? the gods came afterwards, with the creation of
this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?
Whence this creation has arisen--perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did
not--the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows--or
perhaps he does not know.
(The Rig Veda: An Anthology. Sel., trans., and annot. by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty. London: Penguin, 1981, pp. 25-26; see also http://www.boloji.com/hinduism/112htm)
With regard to the Hindus, their take on the origin of the universe is that of the ceptical position of a Montaigne--"Que sais-je?" ("What do I know").
If one buys the definition or another human being's "personal revelation" that God exists, then God exists. How can one argue against a definition or another human being's "personal revelation"? A definition is a given, and another human being's "personal revelation" is unverifiable.
Logic demands that if one has the right to ask who made the universe, then one also has the right to ask who made the Maker of the universe. But that kind of reasoning goes nowhere.
Why does the proverbial "buck" as to the origins of the universe stop at God? Why is it that only an assumed incorporal being--God--has an eternal nature? Why can't the universe, having corporeal being, have not always existed?
If one demands a logical answer to where the universe came from, then one also has the logical right to demand where God came from.
And even if a God created the universe, what proof does one have that He still exists? Because one "feels" His mysterious presence from within oneself? He may have created the universe, then He himself may have gone out of existence at some point thereafter. Why does one assume that the supposed Being that made the universe still has to exist (Paul Edwards, "The Cosmological Argument" in Critiques of God [Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1976], p. 46)?
Again--it is only by a definition created by theologians--human beings--or by the "personal revelation" of another human being that God has always existed and always will exist. What rational proof does one have of either? What makes the theologians' definition of God or another human being's "personal revelation" necessarily true?
All one can do is choose to believe that the definition or that the "personal revelation" is true--and that is called "faith"--or reject the definition or another's "personal revelation" makes the existence of God a reality.
However, neither the definition nor the "personal revelation" is provable or objectively verifiable. What the whole issue comes down to is a question of faith.
For what is faith? Faith is, after all, what St. Paul says it is: “Now faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the certitude of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Simply because it says in a book--the Bible--who some choose to believe is a "personal revelation" from God to one man named Moses, that "I am that I am"--is proof of God's existence because God supposedly said it to Moses does not necessarily make it so. One has the equal right to say that that "personal revelation" to Moses is a "revelation" to him and to him alone and only "hearsay evidence" to every other human being who choses to believe that God said that He, God, is eternal (Thomas Paine, "Age of Reason" [1774-75], Collected Writings, New York: Library of America, 1995, pp. 667-68):
I am that I am (Hebrew: אהיה אשר אהיה,
pronounced Ehyeh asher ehyeh) is the sole response God used in the Bible when Moses asked for his name (Exodus
3:14). It is one of the most famous verses in the Old Testament. Hayah means
"existed" or "was" in Hebrew; "ehyeh" is the first person singular
present/future form. Ehyeh asher ehyeh is generally interpreted to mean I am
that I am (King James Bible and
others). The word Ehyeh is used in many other places in the Old Testament. The Tetragrammaton itself may
derive from the same verbal root. [The Tetragrammaton (Greek: τετραγράμματον;
"word with four letters") is the usual reference to the Hebrew name for God, which is spelled (in
the Hebrew alphabet): י (yodh) ה (heh) ו
(vav) ה (heh) or
יהוה (YHWH). It is the distinctive personal name of the God of Israel.] It
stems from the Hebrew conception of monotheism
that God exists within each and everyone and by himself, the uncreated Creator
who does not depend on anything or anyone; therefore I am who I am ( "I am that
I am," from Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia).
And as for the "Cause and Effect" or "Unmoved Mover" argument for the existence of God, it is only logical to argue that if the universe has a cause, then the cause of the effect must have a cause also. Something does not exist merely because by definition or by personal "revelation" someone says it exists. What rational basis is there to say something exists because by definition it exists or by an unprovable "personal revelation" to one man it exists?
The claim that God exists must be scientifically provable; otherwise, it is merely an assumption based upon an arbitary definition or an unverafiable, supposedly "divine," revelation to one man, but "hearsay" to everyone else who choses to believe it. It may be a matter of faith, but faith, it must be remembered, is not based upon what is empirically known to be true. Faith is surely a belief, but a belief is surely not an assertable scientific fact.
Until there is scientifically verifiable evidence for the existence of God, there is no reason to believe that a God exists because someone argues that for every effect there must be a cause, but that the cause of the effect does not also have to have a cause.
What is equally arguable is that that God, who is supposedly eternal and the Creator or the "Unmoved Mover" of the universe, is a creation of man, not man or the universe in which man lives is the objectively, that is, empirically provable creation of an eternally existing God.