So here’s where we are – we know that existence exists, and we know that one of the cardinal rules of existence is causality. We also know through the rules of causality that the finite universe in which we live had to have a First Cause (a cause without a preceding event). And we know that the First Cause has to be supernatural since there is no natural way to have energy and matter come into existence out of nothing. What else can causality tell us about the First Cause?
Under the rules of causality, not only must the cause be greater than the effect, but it must also be independent to, or “outside of” the effect. So the First Cause of the physical universe has to be outside of the universe (the technical term for this is to say that the First Cause is “transcendent”; it transcends the physical universe).
The universe consists of time, space, matter, and energy. We dealt with matter and energy in the last post, now we need to address time and space. Space is locality. Space defines “where”.
Ok, so where exactly is “outside the universe”? Well that’s actually not a valid question because “where” implies that the First Cause occupies some specific location or space…and “space” is a part of the physical universe that the First Cause must be outside of (stay with me).
Our perceptions and senses are rooted in the physical universe so it’s tough to wrap our minds around the idea of something that exists without being in a “where”. We can only conceive of transcendence conceptually.
But wait, it gets worse
“Time” is also a part of the physical universe, so the First Cause has to also be outside of time. Physical time is how we perceive and measure events sequentially (first, one thing happens, then another, then another, etc.). We perceive time in a linear way – everything has a beginning, middle, and end. Think of the time-lines your school teachers would draw on the chalkboard during your history lessons (I apologize for any trauma these memories may cause you). Time defines “when”.
But since the First Cause is outside of time, it does not have a “when”. From our perspective, it has always been. It never “wasn’t” and it will never “not be”. It has no beginning, middle, or end. It simply…is.
The First Cause is eternal. The “where and when” that the First Cause occupies is referred to as “Eternity”. Again, this is something that we can only conceptualize. We have no ability to perceive it with our senses. We can only conceive of eternity in the abstract (or as a cologne I wore in high school that did not make me nearly as popular as I had hoped. Although it was a significant step up from Old Spice)
So far I have been examining the First Cause as it relates to the physical universe, but all the terms I’ve used to describe it (causeless, eternal, transcendent, supernatural, etc.) are all non-physical. What if it’s because the First Cause is non-physical (immaterial)? If the First Cause of existence is immaterial, what are the implications? More next week.
Where did God come from?
How does God experience time?
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