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On Metaphysics, The Divine, and the Dichotomy of Motivation vs. Causat

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I have spent the last few hours listening over more theist/atheist debate, and I have drawn an interesting notion. Theists keep producing one argument, over and over again, and that is a fallacious statement that science has no cause for “why” the universe exists. This question is a curious one. They do not challenge that the universe exists, or inquire as to how it goes about exists, mostly because these are not tenets of Christianity. If and How, are taken as axiomatic, yet Christians constantly asserts that there is an unanswered Why. I will, in this paper, attempt to demonstrate, the fallacious nature of such a question and why it is a non-issue as far as science is concerned.

I. Definition

Part of the problem of Christianity’s obsession with the question of why the universe exists is a misunderstanding of what exactly a “why” entails.

If you have man who has just been murdered, and you are asked “How did he die?” the answer is a rather simple one. He has been stabbed three times in his chest, causing one lung to collapse and damaging the other enough for him to drown in his own blood as he bled to death. The next question you might get is “Why did he die?”

...Well, he was just stabbed three times in the chest...

When Christians ask “Why does the universe exist?” they are not asking for “How does the universe exists?” they are asking “What motivation does the universe have to exist?” as opposed to “What causes the universe to be as it is?” This dichotomy of motivation vs. causation, of why vs. how, is vitally important to understanding the fallacious nature of the question of “Why does the universe exist?”

II. Causation vs. Motivation

Causation can be defined as the totality of how and why something happened. Motivation is simply the abstract reason a volitional being performed an act of its own free will. There is often seen as something of a dichotomous relationship between causation and motivation. There are seen as separate things in and of themselves, but this is false. Motivation is subsumed by causation. As such, motivation is itself only a fraction of causation, and only in relation to volition, which is to say, consciousness. Motivation only exists where there is a conscious mind studying, processing, and reacting. This shows the fallacious nature of the question of “why?” in relation to the causation of the universe. It makes an assumption that the formation of the universe had motivation, and therefore, consciousness, i.e. God. Not only does motivation imply consciousness, but it also implies an outside force. It is no wonder they claim that no atheist can give them a good “why.” It is because no true atheist believes that a why even exists.

Now, there may be some objection to my dismantling of the phrase “Why does the universe exist?” Some may raise the point that “why” can also be used as synonymous with “how,” and that I am jumping at shadows. I refute that this is the case in terms of the metaphysical creationist’s constant question. This is illustrated by the constant example of how, when a Christian is presented with an explanation of “how” the universe came to be or came to its current configuration, they often toss this aside and demand, once again, why did this happen? They are not content that our cosmological universe could have rolled out of a massive singularity that has always existed, or that fluctuates between a singular and expansive state, or that was spawned by a larger and older universe. One metaphysical creationist I saw scoffed at the anthropomorphic principle, and then once again posed the question of why. When they are given a purely material cause for the universe’s formation or causation, they deny it out of hand and insert their god into it. They demand motivation for the universe, and to do so is to make a circular argument for God.

III. Refutation

As stated before, to ask for the motivation for the universes existence is to make an assumption of the universe having a volitional cause. In other words, that a consciousness had a hand in crafting the universe. Creationist dismiss material causes for the universe and demand motivational ones. This is circular logic of the worst sort. They assume their conclusion, that universe was caused by or has volition, force a question upon the rest of humanity that relies solely on the contested premise, and then declare victory when no answer is given. To say that God exists because scientist have no answer to “Why does the universe exist?” is to say that God exists because scientists know nothing about him. It is fallacious, malicious, and ignorant.

The universe has no “why,” only a “how” or an “is.” Why does the universe exist? Because it does. It is a philosophical axiomatic concept. Existence exists. To argue otherwise is to commit the stolen concept fallacy. The laws of thermodynamics imply an infinite regression of causation. The totality of existence has always existed, even if not in the same configuration or operation. Sum qua sum. Ex nihilo qua ex nihilo. How the universe goes about existing is a question of its operation and therefore in the realm of science. Which brings about the final point.

To ask a motivation question of material science such as biology or physics is faulty in the extreme. The material sciences (physics upwards in scope to physical cosmology) deal with hows, not whys. If one wants cognitive questions, such as motivation one should deal with cognitive sciences. Of course, creationists are not interested in a psychoanalysis of God, they simply want to foist their blatantly false world view upon the rest of us. To ask a material scientists “why the universe?” is idiocy. Their realm deals with “how.”

What is worse though is when they declare that since a scientist cannot answer a philosopher’s question, God must exist. The problem with this is that God is a total and integrated system. Total in the fact that it encompasses everything (Omniscient/present), and integrated (Omnipotent) in that all parts are interrelated. God, as described by Christianity, is constant and total. A scientist that demonstrates that God does not exist within biology has no need to answer the question of a philosopher. When God is shown to be absent from a single part of the universe, he must, due to his nature, be absent from all. For a Christian to ignore this fact is to commit a contradiction. God cannot be both absolutely controlling (Omnipotent), everywhere (Omnipresent) and yet not exist somewhere. The question of a volition for the universe is a non-issue for a scientist or any atheist to answer because if he can demonstrate that God does not exist at one point, then he demonstrates that God is either non-existent or not God.

IV. Conclusion

As stated before, the question of “why does the universe exist?” has been shown as not only fallacious, but a non-issue and a red herring. To ask “why does the universe exist?” in relation to God is to assume that God exists by implication. When the question is used to support the existence of God, it is a very subtle form of circular reasoning. Not only that, but the question is a non-issue as that if God is physically demonstrably false in any manner, than he is false in totality (or, once again, not truly God).

In the end, the question of why the universe exists is a question that cannot be answered from where we stand, not without mysticism and falsehood. Truly then, the question is within the realm of religion, and not reason or reality.

Edited by Nyronus
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I think this all goes back to the Aristotlean distinction between the efficient cause and the final cause, which was also adopted by Aquinas and integrated into Christian doctrine. A final cause is inherantly teleological - its enquiring about the ultimate purpose of an object or action, and what it was done for ("the cause of the man being stabbed 3 times in the chest was the mafia boss who wanted to kill him for sleeping with his wife"). However modern science has largely rejected teleology and hence final causation, and is mainly interested in efficient causes - the physical processes which explain how events occur. The reason why your Christian doesnt accept the scientific answer for why the universe exists is because he is a seeking a final cause rather than an efficient one - he's asking a different question (even though he may not be aware of this).

Edited by eriatarka
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The reason why your Christian doesnt accept the scientific answer for why the universe exists is because he is a seeking a final cause rather than an efficient one - he's asking a different question (even though he may not be aware of this).

Which was my point. :)

They assume that there needs to be a "final cause," which, when used in argumentation for God, is to beg the question.

Edited by Nyronus
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