Why you should think that the First-Cause has to be an Intelligent Cause


There is evidence that difficult childbirth significantly increased when humans began to farm. Diet and the body shape of mothers among other changes made it more difficult.



Gotcha. Your omnipotent God has a list. Higher on that list is having more people. Lower on that list is the survival of those producing them.

Do you really want to continue this line of argument?


There is no ‘evidence’. There is an article from a BBC website. Go to any maternity ward and see how many problems there are with the (literaly) most natural event in human history.


Post 1 of 2

Another argument for the First Cause’s intelligence can be found in Aquinas’ Fifth Way: the teleological argument. I think @IWantGod and @po18guy touched upon this, but the argument has gone off track and (1) has veered away from what’s minimally necessary for the argument to work and (2) has been muddled with the fine tuning argument in one of @Bradskii’s post, which is understandable though they are different things.

While moral theology based on natural law is interested in the final causes (ends, goals, teleology) of the human person, it is not necessary for all things to have teleology for the teleological argument to work. We can ignore the idea of teleology in humans, in dogs, in birds, in plants, and focus on the seemingly more fundamental pieces of reality, whether they be atoms (or even go beyond that to the most absolutely fundamental particles there are), vibrating strings, quantum energy states, or even fundamental laws of nature if you’re feeling like a Platonist. The teleological argument demonstrates God’s existence even if only one thing (which is not self-actualized without any potential) in all of our reality exhibits any teleology, that is that it tends towards A rather than B, C, D, or any other end. If an electron (which we’ll use as an example, though feel free to substitute it with a more fundamental particle/law/reality) is attracted to positively charged things and repelled from negatively charged things (normally, eliminating other factors such as nuclear forces, but really any set of explicable behaviors will do), it exhibits a determined behavior. It is determined (no need to assume intelligence at this point, while we are focusing on the most fundamental items of reality, if we focus on “higher up” things in the chain they could be determined in part by non-intelligent causes).


Post 2 of 2

The issue is that the electron cannot determine itself to obtain A as opposed to obtaining B or C. Perhaps we can explain its determined behavior in this very moment in terms of other non-intelligent causes (space-time, quantum vibrations, gluons and quarks, or what have you), but that’s passing the buck, as all of these things exhibit determined behaviors as well, an neither can they determine themselves to obtain their ends as opposed to some other ends. So if the electron is determined to its behavior by its quarks, and its quarks by certain quantum states, and its quantum states by something else, all of which are unable to determine themselves towards their own end, we’re endlessly passing the buck, in which case there’s no explanation for any causal power in the system, even if infinitely long. The First Cause or (First Determinator (a made up term) is the explanation of where any such system receives its causal power.

If the First Cause is not intelligent, if it’s simply a non-intelligent thing that determines electrons to A and protons to B, we have an issue, because it simply means the First Cause is determined to cause Set Of Behaviors Y instead of Set of Behaviors Z, in which case we require yet another external explanation or cause as to why the First Cause is determined to do Set Of Behaviors Y as opposed to anything else, which just means that this thing we thought was the First Cause is not the First Cause if it itself needs to be caused by something else. Rather, then, the First Cause must be intelligent in that it had the causal power to determine these ends without requiring any cause prior to itself. And if it chose of its own will to make a set of determinations, and could of made any conceivable set of determinations, and by other arguments (one presented earlier), it follows that it’s also omniscient.

I haven’t really tried using teleological argument before, so I hope I made an okay stab of it. It’s a different argument than the one I presented previously, and definitely not something in any way related to the idea of fine tuning as evidence. Even if only one thing in our experienced reality, even the most fundamental particle or fabric of reality, exhibited any type of teleology, and nothing else did, that would be sufficient to lead to a “First Determinator” that is intelligent.


So an apple falls from a tree…that you describe as teleology, therefore God.


The teleology of an apple would seem more related to the reproduction of a tree, but we’ve really no need to consider life forms for this analysis or consider whether they have or don’t have teleology. The properties/“behavior” of a hydrogen atom, or a proton, or a quark, or any such thing will do. Explaining an oxygen molecules teleology as explicable by the hydrogen and oxygen atoms that make it up isn’t fully explicable, as the teleology of both the hydrogen and oxygen atoms also require determination by their more fundamental parts, such as protons, electrons and neutrons, which also require determination from an extrinsic cause. The existence of something that does not require determination from something outside of it to give causal power to things that do not have such causal power to inherently determine themselves is necessary. This doesn’t need to be first in a line, exactly, the system could be infinitely long or a circle, ultimately if everything inside it has derived causal power and there’s nothing for it to have derived it from, the system shouldn’t exist to begin with. So rather than just “first in a line,” (it could be first in a line, but it doesn’t have to be) it could be first in terms of priority/dependency/primacy.


I think we’re going to end up talking past each other. I don’t subscribe to the idea that teleology is relevant within science. I don’t consider that the sentence ‘the purpose of an electron’ even makes sense. And it definately doesn’t relate to biology or more specifically human development.


Would a poker player fold a royal flush? I think not. I believe I’ll not only call your wager, I’ll raise you.
Here’s your argument.

Po18g: How could a stupid first cause envision, let alone create the human being?
Bradski: Have you seen an animal give birth? Pretty straightforward. Nice and easy. Hardly any problems. Now compare that to this wonderfully designed human being. … If the female body was designed then having a baby was pretty low on the list of things.

Having defeated your argument with 6 billion reasons demonstrating that woman is not a design failure at reproduction, let’s turn to your other embedded argument that animals are superior in design to humans.

Have you seen a mammal give birth in the wild (other than on TV)? Probably not. Just as their ancestors did 500,000 years ago, mammals hide when giving birth. Predation, you see, is always upon them and most dangerous during the birthing process. As a matter of fact, animals do just about everything exactly the same as they did since their species came to be. Their design doesn’t have too many forward gears.

On the other hand, humans dominate all the animals. So, who has the better design: The one in the zoo or the zookeeper?

Finally, can a cause give something it does not possess? No. Humans possess an intelligence complete with imagination, reason and abstraction only because our Designer possessed the same attributes.

Time to fold, friend.


Humans have four physical limbs and two physical eyes. Does God have them and has He had them unchanged since forever?

You are denying the existence of change. If everything in the effect is already present in the cause, then nothing can change. An acorn contains many generations of oak trees.



Perhaps we will talk past each other. But let me clarify that I’m not so much speaking as to the electron having a purpose so much as it exhibits certain “behaviors” (not that it is making choices since it lacks intelligence). It is attracted to positive charges and repelled from negative charges. It has certain interactions with the nuclear strong and weak forces. It takes on quantum states.

It has a set of behaviors. If it wasn’t, the idea that it could be modeled in any type of scientific way would be nonsensical. We know it’s attracted to positive charges and repelled by negative charges and don’t expect it to do the opposite or to poof into a bowling ball or some other such thing in and of itself without explanation. It exhibits Set Of Behaviors A. It does not exhibit Set Of Behaviors B or C or D or something else.

Edit: This part isn’t in reply to Bradskii, but a correction to yesterday’s posts which I can’t seem to edit. Some particles are made up of quarks, but I made an error in stating that an electron is made up of them. Protons and neutrons are made up of quarks. Electrons and their antimatter counterpart, the positron, are not. Electrons and positrons are what are known as leptons. You can substitute “proton” in for the previous illustrations that used electrons, or just understand I was only illustrating that explaining how a particle “behaves” by reducing it down to more fundamental parts doesn’t resolve the question, as those more fundamental parts (if there are any) are themselves determined to certain “sets of behaviors” as opposed to some other set. It’s “passing the explanatory buck,” if you will. These more fundamental parts themselves also require an external explanation for how they “behave,” and so on, and ultimately only can be explained by something which does not require an external explanation. I apologize for the error. It doesn’t affect the point being illustrated.


I don’t know what business you are in. But consider a guy who designs cars that only crash about 40% of the time. Or someone who designs bridges that don’t fall down that often. Or designs electrical tools that don’t electrocate most of the users.

Well hey, whaddya expect. They’re not omnipotent. Everyone makes mistakes and no-one is perfect. Wouldn’t you agree.

Oh, and there aren’t many predators hanging around the local maternity wards these days. But if those are the times you just want to consider, then yeah, not many babies get eaten by them. Then again, maybe God didn’t consider us worth saving back in the day. And there’s nothing like a 12 hour labour to draw a crowd. Generally of things that want to eat you whether you have given birth or not.

And a cause cannot give…what? So someone can’t cause a computer program to do things that they can’t?

Here’s some stop press news: Your distant ancestors were as dumb as a box of rocks. They got by by instinct and good fortune. But you (presumably) are not. Now I wonder how in the world that happened. Maybe, and I’m just pulling this out of thin air, maybe the intelligence evolved.

Just likes legs on land animals when they emerged from the oceans from aquatic creatures. And wings on mamals when they took to the air. Nothing had these attributes to start. But each link in the chain was a cause for links further down the chain.


Yes. In the Second Person, eternally.

The property existing in the cause may be actual or potential. But the first cause must possess all the properties existing in all its effects.

The OP does not argue that God is the first cause (another thread) but simply that the first cause possesses intelligence.


And the flowing white beard I trust. And a halo?


That’s not what Christians mean when they speak about God.

God doesn’t have a cause because He Is, He Was, and He Is to come, the Alpha and Omega, without beginning or end.


Then you are not discussing teleology. Which is concerned with purpose. Not behaviour. Whether you put that in quotes or not.


Fair. Though this in itself doesn’t undermine the argument I presented, other than to point out I should have worded it better for clarity.


For discussion of the principle of proportionate causality, I would suggest my first couple of posts in this topic. I fear even the other theists in this topic so far aren’t speaking to it well and are limiting themselves to thinking only in terms of the effect being in a cause formally (what I mean by this is discussed in my first couple of posts).


I’m sorry, Wes. But it means you weren’t arguing for teleology. As I said, it’s not apllicable to science. And just to confirm, if one is an atheist, it isn’t applicable to anything in the overall scheme of things.


To expand on this, in western theology, there is no argument that everything must have a cause. Rather, it’s things that have a potential being actualized, things that have a starting point to their existence, things that are composed of parts (physical or metaphysical), things that could possibly go out of existence, etc… that require causes, and can only be explained by something which is not composed of parts, which has no potential being actualized, which never had a beginning and which cannot ever end, etc…

And the premise of this topic is why such a thing, if we assume that there must be such a thing, must be intelligent or similar to a mind.

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