What about a self-caused universe?

“The fact that our best scientific theory of the origin and evolution of the universe supports a self-caused universe is much more likely on naturalism than on theism, and thus provides very strong evidence for naturalism over theism.”

The Great Debate 2008, infidels.org

I believe the quote can be attributed to the editor Paul Draper, who I had the pleasure to have as a professor in the early days of my philosophical journey. It was through his class in philosophy of religion that I first began to understand the cosmological argument.

So I’m interested in continuing the conversation, and thought this quote, and even the published debate, which includes an exchange between Draper and Plantinga, would rekindle the topic.

It took some hunting, but I think I tracked it down to: Collins on Cannons and Cosmology


Here’s the header page. Sorry for the oversight.

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Nature is self caused, except when in God, whereas God is uncaused.

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Good Lord! Somebody should have posted a sign warning “all who enter here” to bring their overnight camping gear. This puts “the wall of text” that you whined about to shame.


Totally optional for you to go there. I have only read bits and pieces myself.

Sure it does. Talk about about argument by mere assertion. Making presumed likelihood equal to evidence is just a little bit of a non sequitur.

It would be “totally optional” if somebody hadn’t left all the cookie crumbs to lead the way.

You may want to avoid further nibbles. An “Infinite regress” argument and the “Big Bang-alternative-to-God” are ahead.

Not true.

This is the sort of logic which says…

  1. Since all the living things on earth are produced by biological reproduction, the planet they reside upon must also be produced by biological reproduction.
  2. Since all factory workers acquire energy by eating food, then the factory must acquire energy by eating food.

@heymike3 – Infinite regress advocates are cat flea lovers. ; - )

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Quentin Smith deserves more credit than this. Sadly I just learned he passed away in 2020.

They also like really big icebergs

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Thought you’d like this:

“Eternity as non-temporal duration: On this view, for God to exist eternally is for him to exist simultaneously with every instant of time. George Washington’s eating breakfast in 1776 and your reading this blog post in 2021 are not simultaneous events for either you or Washington. But on the “non-temporal duration” view, they are simultaneous for God, who “sees” every moment of time all at once, like someone viewing every part of a town all at once from a vantage point on top of a mountain.”

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This notion of a self-caused universe is compelling for me. So far I like what I am reading, as I do appreciate non-theistic accounts being rationally possible

“What I mean by “the universe is self-caused” is that (a) the universe is a whole of parts, specifically, a sequence of states of the universe, with each part or state being an individual; (b) the existence of each part (state) of the universe is caused by earlier parts of the universe; and (c) the reason the universe as a whole exists is either because it is composed of or is identical with these successively caused parts.”

Quentin Smith??? Never heard of him.

The first thing that pops up on google is the character of the film “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” LOL

Stephen Hawking went with this idea for a while, then He seems to have abandoned it.

The point is that any ideas for the origin of the universe is something for which we have no evidence whatsoever and therefore the idea of some atheist is in no way superior to the idea theists have had for millennia. But likewise the idea of theists that God created the universe is not something anyone must accept by default.

Possible? sure. Compelling? Not for most of the people in the world.

As for that divine eternity nonsense, I have always been a vocal opponent of that. This is a logical mire people fall into from clinging to obsolete notions of absolute time which physics has long discarded. But the same challenge confronts Quentin Smith and I have seen no comprehension in him of relativity and the problem of absolute time.

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That looks promising (I won’t be reading it this second). Just from the excerpt though,

Since God is omnipresent, and ‘omnipresent in time’, he not only ‘sees’ every moment, he is at every moment in time

There are incoherent claims, like the existence of nothing, which require no evidence to not believe.

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There was a reason why I didn’t pursue an academic career, well a few, but one was the overly complicated text that a paid philosopher must wade through.

I’m disappointed in how Feser handled the subject. After the fine statement of God’s omnitemporal existence, Feser says:

“As Smith points out, this view won’t work… This criticism is correct, and I would add two more points. First, “simultaneous” and “duration” are temporal notions, which should already make us suspicious…”

Then a big parenthetical comment, “(To be sure, it is very hard to avoid all temporal language when speaking of eternity, which means that we need to rely heavily on the analogical use of terms and explicit negation of all of the temporal implications of univocal usage. More on that in a moment.)”

What caught.my attention, is Feser then concludes the article with seeing the Thomistic position as the answer, “that while the world bears a real relation to God, God does not bear a real relation to the world.” That sounds important, but I don’t know what it means.

And then a final comment from Feser, “I would also say that the analogical use of theological terms… are absolutely crucial to a proper understanding of divine eternity, yet are not considered in Smith’s discussion.”

I would call that coming back to where you started. It looks like the omnitemporal nature of God works as long as the language is understood analogically.

It’s impossible to avoid in the English language, anyway – all verbs are tensed as are many words in other parts of speech. (There may be such, but I cannot imagine a language that isn’t that way.)

I don’t know about the analogical part, but yes, we need to keep saying that any temporal language with respect to God needs to be explicitly qualified. We can talk about the logical sequence or the logical progression of a set, say a set of ideas, without necessarily implying a temporal sequence, but that is a special case.

Yes, that is strange. How there can be a special relationship without it being reciprocal I don’t know.

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The first mistake, IMO, is creating a dichotomy between naturalism and theism. Both can be true at the same time.

If we use a cloud as an analogy, a cloud has a beginning and it forms through natural processes. Does this observation somehow falsify theism? I don’t think so.

If we likewise discovered a natural process that produced our universe, would that mean God doesn’t exist? No. God could exist at a deeper level in the process.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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