Technical Ben wrote:So does it follow that whatever we observe, within the bounds of confidence, we can assume it will have a "cause" (that is something previous to it)? When you say "nothing observed is a first cause", implies they are causes or that they are only caused?
Sorry if you think someone else's ideas are stupid Griffin. But I was just using the term "first cause" as a generic logical representation of the phrase "Thing that has always existed (thus needs no cause of it's self). This thing is also the first to act/change/effect anything". This meets many, though not all, concepts of a god in types of theism. That is, an eternally existing God (or god) whom was the first to act and cause (through whichever mechanism required) the universe (universe = "everything else" not "everything"!).
Well the idea here would be that additional uncaused causes would break things in the definition of a first cause.
First off, an object doesn't have a single direct cause, it doesn't even have a linear chain of causes. If I have an object, and an atom collides with it, then that's a cause for its current movement. But if that object was earlier struck by another atom, and that caused its movement to change and get struck by the more recent atom, you could also say that that was a cause for its current movement. Likewise, if something struck those atoms that struck it, causing their movement to change such that they struck the object in question, those could also be causes for the objects current movement.
Which means, that the cause of any given object or event being what it is, is an exponentially expanding tree of events into the past. And what it causes is an exponentially expanding tree of events into the future. If we have an uncaused event, then that is a point where a branch of the tree ends (looking backwards), or looking forwards, the root of a tree of causality.
If a first cause is simply an uncaused cause, then any given object or event could have many uncaused causes. If the decay of an atom, or hawking radiation or so on is uncaused, then anything that is then effect by that, or effected by anything effected by that, or anything effected by anything effected by (etc., etc.) that, would have that endpoint exist in its past tree of causality. And therefore many objects could have many first causes in their past tree of causality.
If a first cause is the cause of everything in the universe, that the past tree of causality for all events converges back to a single point, then the existence of other first causes in the universe would invalidate that. Since not everything would trace its history back to that cause, there would be broken branches that lead back to later uncaused causes, which do not converge on that point.
Technical Ben wrote:How does something eternal cause the universe or take action? Well, what reason is there to say it cannot? Could we look at the statement "A is eternal. One property of A is to cause a single universe". In this instance, even in an eternal state, A proceeds to cause a single universe. Do we need to change the properties of A in the processes or after the universe is caused? Or have we been able to comprehend A keeping it's properties even after the universe is caused?
Because taking action is a change. And without time, there is no change, and therefore can be no action.
It also means you lose a lot of the other things associated with a god. Say for example, that we could make it so your mind did not change, what would that be like for you? The answer is that it wouldn't be like anything, if your brain were frozen in time, you would have no awareness of anything, your mind would be stopped. If such a thing would later be undone, you would be completely unaware that anything had even happened (other than the sudden changes outside of yourself). A mind is a process, thoughts, intelligence, awareness, all of these things are processes, and processes require time, require change; Without time, they cannot exist.
jules.LT wrote:What about using the additional time dimensions from string theory&co? An entity could be eternal as far as our usual dimension of time is concerned, but "cause" things along another dimension?
That would be a way around it. In such a scenario the cause of the universe wouldn't be eternal or timeless, it would just be on a different, perpendicular timeline. Hypertemporal rather than atemporal, which would at least allow for change and actions. Although not any within our own universe, unless the process of making it took time, which seems more plausible, since otherwise it would take an infinitely small span of time. (and in which case such a cause would not be eternal or unchanging to us, breaking the assumption, not would it be a completely perpendicular timeline). Our universe itself, from such a viewpoint, would just be an unchanging 4-dimensional object.