The beginning is not the origin

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Parent debateThis argument is used in the debate Does God exist?.
Argument againstThis argument is an objection to The universe has no beginning.
Keywords: Cosmological argument, First cause, God, Time[ edit ].



“It's important not to confuse two ideas: the idea of beginning and the idea of origin. To begin is to have a first moment of existence in time. To have an origin is to depend on another being in order to exist. That which begins to be necessarily has an origin (a cause); but that which has an origin (a cause) does not necessarily have a beginning in time. Consequently, that which has no beginning is not necessarily without origin. Let's suppose, for example, that daylight never began to exist, that it has existed for an infinite time. Would it then cease to depend on the sun as its cause? No. The fact that light has always existed would not give it the status of being in itself, capable of subsisting without a cause. If light were eternal, it would be eternally dependent on the sun. The sun would not have produced it at a given moment in time; it would have produced it continuously for an eternity. So effect and cause can be exactly contemporaneous, without in the least eliminating the asymmetrical causal relationship between one and the other. The lesson to be drawn from this distinction between the idea of dependence and the idea of antecedence is that it is not enough to be eternal in order to be incausal. What we need to understand is that the radical question we are asking is not how the universe preserves, transforms and transports itself from one moment to the next without ceasing to exist. The question is why it exists. Science has no answer to this question.”

Frédéric Guillaud, God exists, p.113-114, Éditions du Cerf, Paris, 2013.


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