What beginning to exist implies in terms of “cause”

If it was proposed that a particle came into existence, then the claims that may be made about this event are that it was:

  1. Necessary
  1. Possible
  1. Impossible

There is no 4th alternative. Moreover, the 3rd can obviously be dismissed. Thus two cases remain to be considered as follows:

If it was supposedly necessary, then this necessity could either be claimed to be:

  1. Intrinsic to the particle or
  1. Extrinsic to the particle

There is no 3rd alternative. The first is clearly self-contradictory, because the event did not exist, and what does not exist cannot be intrinsically necessary in existence. It follows that the supposed particles’ supposed necessity of existence must be from other than it.

If it was supposedly possible, then it follows that the possibility of its existence must have outweighed its prior non-existence. Otherwise it would have remained non existent. This outweighing could either be claimed to be:

  1. Intrinsic to the particle or
  2. Extrinsic to the particle

There is no 3rd alternative. The first is clearly self-contradictory, because the event/particle did not exist, and what does not exist cannot have any influence on anything. It follows again that the supposed particles’ existence would have to be from other than it.

With this understanding of “cause”, it is clear that to propose that something can begin to exist without a “cause” is absurd.

Hence, the atheist contention that we do not know if something can begin to exist without a cause is absurd.

14 Responses to What beginning to exist implies in terms of “cause”

  1. Muslim Answers says:

    Salam alaykum,

    Would there be a special sub-division of this “causality proof” to use against (1) Vedanta Hindus, who say that the observable Universe is merely an illusion superimposed on the “Absolute Reality” or (2) Buddhists, who say that everything emerges through dependent co-origination, that is that not one cause, but a multiple series of causes gives rises to any given event in the Universe?

    • wa3alaykumussalaam, no. I don’t think it is needed for those claims either. The first case seems like a form of idealistic sophistry that involves denying that the world is real. The second leads to a problem of infinite regress.

  2. Supernova Kasprzak says:

    The atheist contention that “we do not know if something can begin to exist” is based on skepticism. Your contention that you know something which hasn’t been observed is an Argument from Ignorance.

    • You imply that you know that one cannot know something one has not observed. Tell me, do you know that by observation?

      (PS, We can deal with the rest of your contentions later, because it is pointless to discuss them without having settled this. I don’t want to spend my time herding cats.)

      • Supernova Kasprzak says:

        Yes, “one cannot know something one has not observed” through logic and definitions. Knowledge is “facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education” (according to an online dictionary) and observation is “the action or process of observing something or someone carefully or in order to gain information”. So to put it logically:

        1. Knowledge is information that is acquired.
        2. Observation is the process of acquiring information.
        Conclusion: We cannot have knowledge without observation.

        Your argument here was pedantic. It doesn’t explain how you can know things without evidence, nor does it address my contention that it is logically fallcious (because it is an argument from ignorance, again known by definition).

      • So you rephrased your original absurdity and avoided answering my question. My question is not “pedantic”, but succinctly points out the performative contradiction in your claim that knowledge can only come from observation.

  3. Imran says:

    Salam.

    Sidi, did the ulema figuratively interpret the Sifat ul Ma’ani just as they did for words like “coming”, “descending”, etc? And if not, why not, sidi? Jazakallah khair.

    • The reason why words like nuzuul, whose literal translation is “descending” are interpreted figuratively, is because descending is movement, and movement is only for bodies, and bodies need a Creator.

  4. hbazzari says:

    Salam,
    I know this is of topic, but do you recommend that laymen read Ghazali’s “Incoherence of the Philosophers”?

  5. Imran says:

    Jazakallah khair, sidi.

    So would we say that the reason that attributes like Life, Knowledge, Will, Power, Hearing, Seeing, etc aren’t interpreted figuratively, even though humans have them (albeit acquired and limited), is because these can be attributed to a Being who is beyond having a body?

    Jazakallah khair, sidi.

    • Don’t say, “even though humans have them.” This implies that these meanings are shared, which is kufr. We are permitted to use these words to refer to Allaah’s attributes, so that we can reach a certain understanding, but only on the condition that it is accompanied with a denial of resemblance in meaning. This is my commentary on Al-Tahaawiyy:
      ——————————————
      Al-Tahaawiyy: {Whoever attributed to Aļļaah an attribute that has a meaning among the meanings that apply to humans has committed blasphemy.}

      Explanation: The fact that Aţ-Ţaĥaawiy mentions this verdict of blasphemy as a part of the belief of Sunnis, is something that should be pondered carefully by those who think that such verdicts are fringe issues of Islamic Law, not required knowledge, or of concern for judges only. They base this on spurious quotes found in various scholarly books and letters, without solid authentication or any viable proof other than appeals to emotion.

      Note the categorical sense of “a meaning,” which tells us that this is true for any meaning that applies to humans, not just some. For example, sequential speech, having a direction, a body, changing or the like.

      Note also that he states “meaning”, and not “word,” because the important thing is the meaning of the word, not the word itself. Because of this, scholars may differ in their verdict of blasphemy based on what a person literally says or writes, but not in terms of what he means by the words. After all, the meanings and connotations of a word differ from time to time and from place to place. That is also why if a person says something about Aļļaah that has only one meaning in his language, he is made accountable for that meaning, as what the meaning meant will be clear. If the meaning is that of a human attribute, then the one who says it will be judged as a blasphemer. It will not make a difference if the one who said it claimed that he did not mean that meaning, or was not serious, because he has in this case shown scorn towards Aļļaah. Al-Bazdawiy, the leading scholar of belief and foundations of jurisprudence, said in Uşuul Al-Bazdawiy: “Not being serious in blasphemy is blasphemy. Not because of believing the words he said while not serious, but by the act of not being serious… because it is disrespectful of the religion.”
      ——————————————

  6. Mohd Ibn says:

    Assalamualaikum Sheikh,

    Can you define “existence” without using any word or concept that uses any temporal (time dependent) concept? Jazakallah.

    • I don’t think you should attempt or even need to define “existence”. If every word in the dictionary needed a definition we would end up with circular reasoning. Hence, there are words that we have an understanding of without needing a definition. That is why in the dictionary you’ll find something like “not non-existent”.

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