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Cosmological argument vs. LDS infinite regress


Mudcat

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One of the dividing points between LDS and other Christians in how we view things is related to our understanding of how things came to be. Most Christians believe that God was the First Cause of all things.

I for one, support the concept that there was a First Cause to all things and that First Cause was God. LDS seem to believe that God was not the First Cause. From my understanding, LDS believe God was caused/organized, and what caused God was caused/organized .. ad infinitum. I disagree with this.

The premise for the Cosmological argument is simple...

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.

2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.

3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.

4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

I would like you to either debunk this argument or defend an infinite regress of uncaused Gods as a logical alternative....

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One of the dividing points between LDS and other Christians in how we view things is related to our understanding of how things came to be. Most Christians believe that God was the First Cause of all things.

I for one, support the concept that there was a First Cause to all things and that First Cause was God. LDS seem to believe that God was not the First Cause. From my understanding, LDS believe God was caused/organized, and what caused God was caused/organized .. ad infinitum. I disagree with this.

The premise for the Cosmological argument is simple...

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.

2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.

3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.

4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

I would like you to either debunk this argument or defend an infinite regress of uncaused Gods as a logical alternative....

Mudcat:

I think the mathmatical concept of infinity negates your first cause argument. The concept of infinity denies a first cause. You can cut an infinite timeline and it appears that you have a first cause but if you look back you see you have only seperated infinity at that point but you have not found a first cause.

Take that concept and apply it to a being and all you can find is a cause at the point you cut the line of infinity for that being. If you presuppose a finite being the question becomes what comes before the beginning and what happens after the end. If you propose an infinite progression after a finite beginning the question becomes how can a finite being become infinite.

Another basic scientific concept is that matter cannot be destroyed only changed. That concept would belie a finite begining but would indicate that a being of matter would be infinite.

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One of the dividing points between LDS and other Christians in how we view things is related to our understanding of how things came to be. Most Christians believe that God was the First Cause of all things.

I for one, support the concept that there was a First Cause to all things and that First Cause was God. LDS seem to believe that God was not the First Cause. From my understanding, LDS believe God was caused/organized, and what caused God was caused/organized .. ad infinitum. I disagree with this.

The premise for the Cosmological argument is simple...

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.

We can stop there since LDS cosmology asserts that we are not finite or contingent beings but self-existent ones.

We say that God himself is a self-existent being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. (King Follett Discourse) See also D&C 93:29

A variant of infinity arguments was proposed by William Lane Craig and Paul Copan. Blake Ostler gave a reasonable response: Do Kalam Infinity Arguments Apply to the Infinite Past

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One of the dividing points between LDS and other Christians in how we view things is related to our understanding of how things came to be. Most Christians believe that God was the First Cause of all things.

I for one, support the concept that there was a First Cause to all things and that First Cause was God. LDS seem to believe that God was not the First Cause. From my understanding, LDS believe God was caused/organized, and what caused God was caused/organized .. ad infinitum. I disagree with this.

The premise for the Cosmological argument is simple...

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.

2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.

3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.

4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

I would like you to either debunk this argument or defend an infinite regress of uncaused Gods as a logical alternative....

Maybe "we don't know" really does mean "we don't know".

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One of the dividing points between LDS and other Christians in how we view things is related to our understanding of how things came to be. Most Christians believe that God was the First Cause of all things.

I for one, support the concept that there was a First Cause to all things and that First Cause was God. LDS seem to believe that God was not the First Cause. From my understanding, LDS believe God was caused/organized, and what caused God was caused/organized .. ad infinitum. I disagree with this.

The premise for the Cosmological argument is simple...

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.

2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.

3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.

4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

I would like you to either debunk this argument or defend an infinite regress of uncaused Gods as a logical alternative....

First let me say that the LDS position is that all things, matter, spirit, intelligence, light, truth are eternal or infinite. There was never a time in all eternity when these things did not exist, at least in their elemental state. The only things that are finite, is mortality. This earth life in with death exists had a beginning with the fall of Adam, it will also have an end with the resurrection of this earth at the end of the thousand year reign of Christ. This earth will become a Celestial sphere a fit habitation for those with Celestial bodies. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught this principle in the King Follett Discourse:
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith: Section Six 1843-44, p.342-361)"I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it had a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had not beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven. I want to reason more on the spirit of man; for I am dwelling on the body and spirit of man--on the subject of the dead. I take my ring from my finger and liken it unto the mind of man--the immortal part, because it has no beginning. Suppose you cut it in two; then it has a beginning and an end; but join it again, and it continues one eternal round. So with the spirit of man. As the Lord liveth, if it had a beginning, it will have an end. All the fools and learned and wise men from the beginning of creation, who say that the spirit of man had a beginning, prove that it must have an end; and if that doctrine is true, then the doctrine of annihilation would be true. But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself. Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement."
Our mortal existence is based on a fallen or finite body, however Christ's atonement is an infinite and eternal atonement, that is why this corruptible body can put on incorruption, this mortal can put on immortality. Thus Christ breaks the bands of death or rather changes the finite to the infinite (meaning our flesh and bones) and thus our spirits which already are infinite can raise our physical bodies to an infinite and eternal state. The Prophet states further:
"The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits."
There is no "First cause" here, no "Creation exnilo." As for a causal chain, when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, that was the beginning of a "causal chain" or the beginning of mortal existence. This existence is finite, it ends at death, and ultimately the resurrection, that is why their is no "sting in death" the only sting is sin, but if we are Christ's then death is swallowed up in the victory of Christ over death and sin.

I hope this explains the LDS position (at least as I understand it). Hopefully I have given a logical alternative,

Respectfully,

Lightbearer

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One of the dividing points between LDS and other Christians in how we view things is related to our understanding of how things came to be. Most Christians believe that God was the First Cause of all things.

I for one, support the concept that there was a First Cause to all things and that First Cause was God. LDS seem to believe that God was not the First Cause. From my understanding, LDS believe God was caused/organized, and what caused God was caused/organized .. ad infinitum. I disagree with this.

The premise for the Cosmological argument is simple...

1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.

2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.

3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.

4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.

I would like you to either debunk this argument or defend an infinite regress of uncaused Gods as a logical alternative....

I haven't spent a lot of time with Cosmological arguments, but that one isn't a good candidate if your intention is to mount an argument for a first cause. The reason is because the conclusion does not follow from the premises. The argument is invalid. One crude way to see that that is the case is to notice that premises 1-3 don't say anything about First Causes. In this crude way of looking at validity, the premises of an argument ought to contain the conclusion. Notice that that's not the same as asserting the conclusion. For exmaple her is a valid and cogent (sound) argument:

P1: If X is a cat, then X is a mammal.

P2: X is a cat.

C1: Therefore, X is a mammal.

Or,

P1: If X is a [A], then X is a .

P2: X is a [A].

C1: Therefore, X is a .

Notice that the conclusion is "in" P1. Of course, the conclusion isn't rendered as such unless P2 is present. So, all the properties in the argument are in P1 and P2, and when P1 and P2 are both asserted, then C1 follows. But, C1 doesn't contain any new properties. So, let's take a look at the Cosmological argument you're presenting.

P1: For any X, if X has the property of being [a being], then if X has the property of being [finite and contingent], then X has the property of being [caused].

P2: For any X, if X has the property of being [finite and contingent], then it's false that X has the property of being [caused by itself].

P3: For any X, if X has the property of being [a causal chain], then it's false that X has the property of being [infinitely long].

C1: There exists an X, such that X has the property of being [a first cause] and X has the property of [necessary existence].

or,

P1: For any X, if X has the property of being [A], then if X has the property of being , then X has the property of being [C].

P2: For any X, if X has the property of being , then it's false that X has the property of being [D].

P3: For any X, if X has the property of being [E], then it's false that X has the property of being [F].

C1: There exists an X, such that X has the property of being [G] and X has the property of [H].

Notice the properties in the premises: [a being], [finite and contingent], [caused], [caused by itself], [a causal chain], [infinitely long]. Now look at the properties in the conclusion: [a first cause], [necessary existence]. This is more apparent when you look at the argument with simple variables. The conclusion appears to contain properties that aren't mentioned in the premises. And, going by the crude definition of validity, this means that the argument is not valid. Note that when I say I'm using a "crude" definition of validity, I am not saying that the definition is not correct, I'm simply saying that there's a more technical way of putting it. Just to see this crude validity definition in action, look at the cat argument again:

P1: If X is a cat, then X is a mammal.

P2: X is a cat.

C1: Therefore, X is a Tabby.

It may in fact be true that the creature in question is a Tabby cat. But, the argument doesn't give us any reason to conclude that.

As to the cosmological argument you presented, a few things might be going on. First, the argument may contain unstated premises, which if stated would fix the validity problem. Second, this is just a bad cosmological argument. I think there are better cosmological arguments floating around that it probably isn't worth the effort to try to fix this one up.

So, Mudcat, I'd say this cosmological argument is debunked. Please be careful to note that I'm not saying all cosmological arguments are debunked. I'm pretty sure there are some nicer ones around that are more difficult to analyze. My suggestion would be to check out the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a good introductory treatment of cosmological type arguments.

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1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.

Are any beings finite and contingant?

2. Nothing finite and contingent can cause itself.

Yep.

3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.

Why not?

I would like you to either debunk this argument or defend an infinite regress of uncaused Gods as a logical alternative....

Part of the reason I believe in an infinite regress of Gods is because it is so incomprehensible. If humans could comprhend the idea then I would suspect that humans had created it(shades of Nibley and Tertullian).

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And once again we attempt the impossible question.

Logic states at least this much- If "all things" are numbered unto God, then it means there is an exact number of Gods, number of planets, etc. It also means however that because there is an exact number of Gods then there has to be a beginning God, otherwise all things truly can't be numbered with God. If there really was an infinite regress of Gods, then in reality no amount of new Gods in the future will ever equal even 1% of the Gods who have become such in the past. It then becomes just a basic philisophical argument of which is greater- an infinite past or an infinite future, which of coarse is completey pointless. But Logic also states that we are connected as family to any God in the universe at some finite point in the past. We will never run accross a God who we cannot trace our lineage back to at some finite point in the past. therefore, the past is only finite, not infinite. This logic thus means there has to a be a beginning God. I know it sounds ilogical, but an infinite regress makes no sense from a lineage directive. The universe is increasing in Gods, thus because something increases its future means that at some point it will double, triple, etc. Thus there has to be a beginning.

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Mudcat:

I think the mathmatical concept of infinity negates your first cause argument. The concept of infinity denies a first cause. You can cut an infinite timeline and it appears that you have a first cause but if you look back you see you have only seperated infinity at that point but you have not found a first cause.

I understand what you are saying about cutting infinity in half... However, I don't see how this negates first cause. The underlying implication of the argument is that the first cause is infinite, so the integrity of infinity is preserved.

Take that concept and apply it to a being and all you can find is a cause at the point you cut the line of infinity for that being. If you presuppose a finite being the question becomes what comes before the beginning and what happens after the end. If you propose an infinite progression after a finite beginning the question becomes how can a finite being become infinite.

Well I think there is a bit of difference. I would think the question would be better stated as how can a finite being become eternal.

Another basic scientific concept is that matter cannot be destroyed only changed. That concept would belie a finite begining but would indicate that a being of matter would be infinite.

I don't quite follow here. I ate a steak yesterday, does the cow I ate still exist. The cow seems a rather finite fellow IMO, but tasted quite good.

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The Prophet Joseph Smith taught this principle in the King Follett Discourse:

(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith: Section Six 1843-44, p.342-361)"I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it had a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had not beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven. I want to reason more on the spirit of man; for I am dwelling on the body and spirit of man--on the subject of the dead. I take my ring from my finger and liken it unto the mind of man--the immortal part, because it has no beginning. Suppose you cut it in two; then it has a beginning and an end; but join it again, and it continues one eternal round. So with the spirit of man. As the Lord liveth, if it had a beginning, it will have an end. All the fools and learned and wise men from the beginning of creation, who say that the spirit of man had a beginning, prove that it must have an end; and if that doctrine is true, then the doctrine of annihilation would be true. But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself. Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement."

Yes, I see. Emphasis Mine

Now from my understanding of LDS beliefs, God played an active role in organizing intelligences. The KFD seems to argue against that.

Underline Mine.

Seems he sent intelligences and that was about it. Have I got that right?

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Hi, Mudcat.

I've already laid out my argument re: the contradictory and illogical nature of LDS cosmology on another thread, as you well know.

As I've already said, I'm no logician. Still, LDS cosmology is so intuitively implausible that I think even my kindergartner could recognize the senselessness of it.

To briefly sum up my argument:

In LDS theology, gods are corporeal. They are perfected, resurrected, physical beings. They originally existed as eternal, uncreated intelligences, as did we all.

The process of fashioning gods from intelligences is, according to numerous LDS Prophets and Apostles, constrained to the following: perfected, resurrected, corporeal gods organize intelligences into spirit children. Those spirits have form. They consist of fine matter. Those spirits are sent to earth to obtain physical bodies and experience mortality. After death and resurrection, those worthy will continue progressing onto godhood where they will follow the same pattern of organizing spirits from intelligences as other gods did before them. So:

All intelligences are/were self-existent and co-eternal.

All gods are corporeal.

Corporeal gods existed previously as unembodied intelligences. There is not a god (or anyone else, for that matter) who wasn't once an intelligence.

Intelligences only obtain physical bodies by first being organized into spirits by gods with corporeal bodies.

There is no First Cause.

Huh? IMO, that is one Illogical Round.

Frij

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Are any beings finite and contingant?

I think so. However, I am trying to get my head around this concept of every single thing being infinite. Her Amun, do you believe you have always existed and you had no point of origin.

Why not?

Say a chain of causes exists, X caused Y and Y caused Z and Z caused etc..

Y is an effect of X, Z is an effect of Y and so forth. For one thing to cause another thing, the thing that was caused is finite, it did not exist before it was caused, you can take this out to infinity of course... but the point would be that finite causes can only fit within infinity they cant actually reach infinity because they are finite.

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I understand what you are saying about cutting infinity in half... However, I don't see how this negates first cause. The underlying implication of the argument is that the first cause is infinite, so the integrity of infinity is preserved.

Haven't much time so will try but have to go soon.

The hardest thing for most people is to get your head around infinity. I try and think I have succeeded but then I wonder. In an infinite reality there can not be a first cause. The only thing we can do is create an illusion of first cause by cutting the infinite at some point and begin our observation at that point. In reality there is beyond what we are observing no beginning.

Well I think there is a bit of difference. I would think the question would be better stated as how can a finite being become eternal.

The finite doesn't become infinite (eternal) it has always been infinite. We are only observing at a point so that it seems finite. at this point in our progression we have been limited to a view between two points in infinity.

I don't quite follow here. I ate a steak yesterday, does the cow I ate still exist. The cow seems a rather finite fellow IMO, but tasted quite good.

I will not attempt a theological approach to the cow. As far as the cow goes it is a scientific principal that matter can not be destroyed only changed so whether or not the cow exists I don't know. I am confident that the matter of which the cow was made of still exists. I leave that to others to decide.

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While we are looking for first causes, from the Mudcat point of view, what caused God to start the whole thing.

I mean, He sat from infinity in indolence (and darkness?), then suddenly worked very hard for six days (the creation). What cause Him to change from indolence to creator in the first place?

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As I've already said, I'm no logician. Still, LDS cosmology is so intuitively implausible that I think even my kindergartner could recognize the senselessness of it.

Round.

Frij

Awesome, thanks for the vote of confidence. So if we disagree with you then obviously we are senseless and not as smart as your kindergartner. Have some respect for others beliefs please.

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While we are looking for first causes, from the Mudcat point of view, what caused God to start the whole thing.

I mean, He sat from infinity in indolence (and darkness?), then suddenly worked very hard for six days (the creation). What cause Him to change from indolence to creator in the first place?

He did not sit from infinity in indolence. He was doing what he is still doing, helping others progress. It only looks like he was sitting in indolence because our view of infinity is blocked at a point. The creation you know is only a point in infinity and it is all you are able to look at at present. There are an infinite number of these points in infinity.

Don't be so dismissive. Try to get an understanding of infinity and your relationship to it.

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Awesome, thanks for the vote of confidence. So if we disagree with you then obviously we are senseless and not as smart as your kindergartner. Have some respect for others beliefs please.

Yes, all who disagree with me are senseless just like all apostates are lazy sinners who expected to be spoon-fed and never really had testimonies in the first place. :P

With a careful reading, I think you'll see that I called the "No First Cause" Mormon cosmology senseless, not those who may disagree with me. You may disagree with me, Mola, but I do not at all consider you senseless.

Also, my kindergartner is brilliant. There are very few people with an IQ higher than hers. I do not fall into the category of that very few myself. She's only six, so her knowledge base is quite shallow, but, oh, her potential! /ProudMomMode

I apologize for insulting you, Mola.

Now, can you tell me how the first intelligence/intelligences became corporeal gods?

Frij

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Yes, all who disagree with me are senseless just like all apostates are lazy sinners who expected to be spoon-fed and never really had testimonies in the first place. :crazy:

With a careful reading, I think you'll see that I called the "No First Cause" Mormon cosmology senseless, not those who may disagree with me. You may disagree with me, Mola, but I do not at all consider you senseless.

Also, my kindergartner is brilliant. There are very few people with an IQ higher than hers. I do not fall into the category of that very few myself. She's only six, so her knowledge base is quite shallow, but, oh, her potential! /ProudMomMode

I apologize for insulting you, Mola.

Now, can you tell me how the first intelligence/intelligences became corporeal gods?

Frij

Just to return the favor :P The, there has to be a first cause cosmology is sensless. It doesn't sqaure with infinity. ;)

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I would like you to either debunk this argument or defend an infinite regress of uncaused Gods as a logical alternative....

I'm not sure if I'm in a position to either debunk or defend, but when I first became aware of eternal life, it was easy to comprehend something that never ends. But the more I understood of what "eternal" meant, it was harder to comprehend something that never began, but there it was (is?). For awhile I adopted a sense of "one eternal round" -- that nothing begins or ends, all things are co-eternal, and just change from one form into another, from one perspective to another, or turning from one universe or another (as in D&C 88). Some act and some are acted upon in this process. The "actors" have a more complete and correct view of their always-being (never beginning and never ending, or to wax mysterious, always beginning and always ending) than the "acted-upons."

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Just to return the favor :P The, there has to be a first cause cosmology is sensless. It doesn't sqaure with infinity. ;)

ERayR, we're already going with the hypothesis that intelligences are self-existent and eternal. That they have no first cause.

Frij

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Increasingly, there seems to be interest in the concepts surrounding divine council and that 'God' is a state of being rather than a single being. Trying to assign a first cause to 'God' becomes problematic if one allows for this belief. If God is a they rather than a he or she, the concept of an infinitely existing God might be a little easier to comprehend. If we look at states of being using the eternal building blocks of matter there is opportunity for a progression of intelligences to and beyond what Christianity perceives as 'God'. Traditional Christianity and Mormonism can both be right (perhaps in part) if the concept of 'God' in each belief system is properly understood.

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Its quite interesting talking about infinity as something that actually exists! Its like being able to "see" the "invisible"!

At no pint in an endless future will I cease to exist. But this does not mean that I will live to infinity because infinity can never be reached. Every action that has happened in what may seem an endless past actually can be found within a finite past, otherwise it never happened! If we say that "x" event happened in the infinite past, then what we are really saying is that it never happened. If we know of an event that happened in the past then we can always trace it to having a precise point of beginning in only a finite past. If the future is representative of the past then it may properly be understood that although I may go on forever, at no time in the future will I reach the uncountable, as such, there is no point in the past in regress that is also uncountable.

The hard concept to understand in it all is this- there has to be a beginning to the Gods, and then- the big question becomes what intelligent cause created the first God? It may be left more to an open argument because it wouldn't make sense for us to debate what the first cause might have been and exactly where in the past that happened.

Philisophically, we can only assume that all things are countable, measurable, etc because that which is uncountable, inmeasurable, etc does not really exist- not for us, nor for the Gods. All thgings are numbered- that much is a fact of reality and the real universe we live in.

Another way of looking at this problem is this- a classic paradox, as I have stated other times on the board before-

Imagine a box 2 feet square. Inside the box were ever increasingly smaller balls filling in the ever increasing smaller voids made by the bigger balls. All the balls weigh according to their size. Because we know that each ball weighs according to a certain volume we can calculate exactly what the weight of all the balls are? The paradox however is that if you kept adding balls to keep filling the voids you would in theory do two things-

1. Add an infinite amount of balls of an infinite size in regress into the box and never be able to fill it

2. By continuing to add weight infinitly the box would thus have to weigh an infinite amount.

The paradox goes away though once we realize that the box itself is of a finite size. Because it has a finite size, everything inside of the box would also have a finite size and quality like weight and volume, etc. Therefore the paradox only exists in the mind and not in reality. This is also how we must view the eternities- we must view things from "outside of the box" because as long as we are stuck inside, infinity seems possible. We need to step outside of our comfort zones and realize there must be a first cause, there is no such thing as infinity, and all things in the universe including the measurement of events are all numbered.

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ERayR,

I was looking for Mudcat's non-mormon point of view. I understand your point, but I don't think that Mudcat subscribes to it. (However I could be wrong).

My point is that to just say that God is the first cause doesn't really address the issue. If nothing but God existed before the creation, then after sitting in nothingness for eternity, what made God change and do the creation thing? The issue of "first cause" then transcends God and is still left unresolved.

At least that is the way I see it.

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