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The first premise of the KCA is stated as:

Premise 1: Anything that begins to exist must have a cause.

The contrapositive statement for this should read. If something is not caused to exist then that something does not have a beginning.

My question is related to the trinity. Would it also be true that anything that has a cause must have a beginning? If applied to the second person of the trinity should it not follow that since the Son depends on the father for his existence. ie. The second person of the trinity is the only begotten Son of the Father, then the preexistent Son of God must have had a beginning?

Please help.

  • God is outside of the premise simply because He did not begin to exist. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and all three had no beginning. – Steve Mar 25 '17 at 19:45
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    @Steve I am thinking God satisfies exactly the equivalent contrapositive premise. – JEM Mar 25 '17 at 23:02
  • put another way, is there any good reason to believe that Premise 1 is an if and only if statement? ie. Something begins to exist if and only if it has a cause. – JEM Mar 25 '17 at 23:37
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    Answers to this question haven't been really focusing on the KCA itself. I'd recommending editing this question to specific ask whether proponents of the KCA have considered and discussed that contrapositive statement. – curiousdannii Mar 26 '17 at 13:44
  • You're asking multiple questions. Can you focus it down to one? – Geremia Mar 26 '17 at 21:43
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It sounds like you think generation of the Son by the Father implies there was a time when the Son did not exist; however, all three Persons are co-eternal.

St. Thomas, in Summa Theologica I q. 27 a. 2 ("Whether any procession in God can be called generation?") c., distinguishes between and compares the two senses of "generation":

The procession of the Word in God is called generation. In proof whereof we must observe that generation has a twofold meaning: one common to everything subject to generation and corruption; in which sense generation is nothing but change from non-existence to existence. In another sense it is proper and belongs to living things; in which sense it signifies the origin of a living being from a conjoined living principle; and this is properly called birth. Not everything of that kind, however, is called begotten; but, strictly speaking, only what proceeds by way of similitude. Hence a hair has not the aspect of generation and sonship, but only that has which proceeds by way of a similitude. Nor will any likeness suffice; for a worm which is generated from animals has not the aspect of generation and sonship, although it has a generic similitude; for this kind of generation requires that there should be a procession by way of similitude in the same specific nature; as a man proceeds from a man, and a horse from a horse. So in living things, which proceed from potential to actual life, such as men and animals, generation includes both these kinds of generation. But if there is a being whose life does not proceed from potentiality to act, procession (if found in such a being) excludes entirely the first kind of generation; whereas it may have that kind of generation which belongs to living things. So in this manner the procession of the Word in God is generation; for He proceeds by way of intelligible action, which is a vital operation:—from a conjoined principle (as above described):—by way of similitude, inasmuch as the concept of the intellect is a likeness of the object conceived:—and exists in the same nature, because in God the act of understanding and His existence are the same, as shown above (q. 14 a. 4). Hence the procession of the Word in God is called generation; and the Word Himself proceeding is called the Son.

  • Correct me if necessary and help me understand. Aquinas is drawing a distinction between creation and begetting as two independent aspects of generation. I understand his definition of the two classes of generation but have three questions: 1) A being whose life does not proceed from potentiality to act means what? 2) Could I have some help understanding how this precludes creation? and 3) How does this response address the original question? – JEM Mar 26 '17 at 19:27
  • @JEM (1) It means it is Pure Actuality (cf. Thesis 1 of the 24 Thomistic Theses). (2) Creation means at some point the created being did not exist; privation is a principle (beginning) of natural things (cf. De Principiis Naturæ, around ¶¶8-9). (3) My answer only addresses what seemed to be confusion regarding generation. – Geremia Mar 26 '17 at 21:52
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The Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, does not depend on the Father for his existence, as you suggest.

True enough, during his earthly sojourn, Jesus took great delight in doing the Father's will (see John 4:34; cf. John 17:4), even at great cost to himself, to the point, in fact, of shedding his lifeblood as the sacrificial Lamb of God who through his death took away the sin of the world (John 1:29 and 36).

In eternity past, however, Jesus, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, was self-existent by virtue of his deity. God in fact has existed from all eternity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The very notion of familial relationship originated in the Triune God by virtue of the Father-ship and Son-ship of the first and second persons of the Triune God.

Christians must not be too literal, as are Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims, in the way they interpret such honorific titles of Jesus as

  • the only begotten Son

  • the firstborn of all creation

  • the Son of God

Jehovah's Witnesses will say, "See, Jesus is the 'firstborn,' so he must have had a beginning, and if he had a beginning he couldn't possibly be God." Muslims, on the other hand, dismiss the entire concept of divine Son-ship, thinking that the very notion that God has a Son is blasphemous. To them, associating progeny with God is unthinkable. God's greatness, they believe (ٱللهُ أَكْبَر Allāhu Akbar), obviates having children.

To Christians, however, the honorifics "Son of God," "firstborn of all creation," and "only begotten Son" do not denote--nor do they imply--that God had progeny with a beginning; rather, they indicate the elevated status of the Second Person of the trinity.

True to its roots in the Jewish Scriptures, the Tanakh, the belief in primogeniture meant that to the firstborn child (Hebrew בְּכוֹר bəḵōr) went the father's (and sometimes the mother's) inheritance. If God blessed the father with more children, the firstborn would still get a "double portion," indicating the favored status of the firstborn son.

All this to say: the Son-ship of Christ is eternal, with no beginning and no end. All of creation owes its existence to him (see John 1:3), and one day the cosmic and eternal hierarchy will exist forever. As Paul phrased it,

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits** of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in [h]Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits**, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:20-28 NASB, my emphasis).

And, more simply and economically,

Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3 NASB).

In conclusion, the clear teaching of Scripture is that Son-ship is an eternal relationship within the Godhead. Our human notion of son-ship is but a shadow of that which existed forever in the bosom of God the Father (see John 1:18). As to the Father-ship of God to those within the human race who acknowledge Christ for who he is and receive him into their bosom, that too will be an eternal relationship, and we have His word on that:

He [i.e., Jesus] came to His own [people, the Jews], and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:11-13 NASB).

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The answer to your question lies in the difference between the Material and Spiritual realms. That difference is substance.

Items within the Spiritual realm do not have either a beginning or an ending. This is because there is no degeneration in the Spiritual realm, which is dominant in the Material realm. Things in the Material realm are made up of atoms and in turn molecules. Molecules are in a constant state of flux, in that they constantly change their makeup in atomic structure. Radio active materials are on a course to become sub atomic in that they give off radiation which is actually excess atomic particles. Electricity is actually the movement of atoms along a conductive material, the atoms are constantly receiving and expelling electrons. Even though atoms are in a constant state of flux in electrical conductivity, the material retains its original molecular construction when no longer subject to an electromotive force. That is substance in general terms.

The Spiritual realm does not have either atoms or conglomerations of atoms, or molecules. The easiest way to describe the Spiritual realm is compare it to thought. Thought is relative to the material realm in that is originated in materialism. That is to say that thought is manipulation of material objects, if we think of what we will do in a given situation; what we are actually planning is motions of substance to achieve a given perspective. The Spiritual realm is somewhat comparable to the electromotive force, in the above example, in that even though it has no substance of its own, it initiates action in substance within the Material realm.

The Spiritual realm is comparable to thought and the Material realm is comparable to enacting the thought. God; with whatever makeup you imagine; is of the Spiritual realm, while the Cosmos is of the Material realm.

What you have stated is that in Cosmology things in the Material realm have both a beginning and an end. Or in other words substance is in a state of flux. That is the study of substance. The Spiritual realm does not deal with substance in that it does not exist within the Material realm, but the Material realm, does exist within the Spiritual realm; much as manipulation of substance exists within thought.

Even though this is a simplification of The two realms I hope it helps.

  • According to what you're saying, angels and demons, which are spiritual beings would have no beginning - this seems to conflict with an orthodox understanding that they are actually created beings. Is that what you intend, or am I somehow misunderstanding the implications here? – bruised reed Mar 26 '17 at 16:30
  • @bruisedreed you appear to be totally misunderstanding. The existence of Spiritual and Material realms has nothing to do with the abilities of God. God can destroy souls >Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. My answer was intended to show the differences between the realms not the characteristics of the components. – BYE Mar 27 '17 at 10:49
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This application is not appropriate because you are attempting to apply a physical law to a metaphysical being. Rather than being something which exists, God is the Cause of existence.

"Beginning" in and of itself is a physical construct of our universe which measures our travel along the 4th dimension of time..

Therefore, only that which is subject to that 4th dimension requires a beginning. In other words, for the creator of that 4th dimension, they will exist outside of that realm (much as you do when you draw a 2-dimensional picture).

Furthermore, Premise I is a one-way syllogism, or deductive inference. So in formal logic, A -> B, then it does not necessarily mean B -> A. We cannot inductively infer that.

So for example,

1. All humans are mortal.
2. All Greeks are humans.
3. All Greeks are mortal.

Is certainly true, but it cannot be said that:

All mortals are Greek

Similarly, to say that

1. All things in time and space exist
2. All things that begin to exist in time and space must have a cause
3. Therefore all things that exist in time and space have a cause

It does not necessarily follow that

1. All things that *do* exist, do so in time and space
2. All things that exist have a cause

In other words, your conclusion that:

If something is not caused to exist then that something does not have a beginning.

Is a syllogistic fallacy. Just because A -> B does not mean that A = B and that B -> A. You are proceeding from a false premise.

  • I don't think I've made any conclusions. What you are calling my conclusion is simply the contrapositive equivalence of premise 1. I agree with your assessment that if A implies B then it is not necessarily true that B implies A. This is really at the heart of the question and you indeed attempt to address this point near the end of your post. I believe God exists without cause. The real question is how do we or can we deal with the Son of God having a cause. ie Is it possible to show that B implies A is indeed fallacious in this context? thx – JEM Mar 26 '17 at 19:50
  • You have concluded that there is a contrapositive to the premise and that the contrapositive is, in fact equivelent - a false premise. There simply is no way to show that B implies A and doing so is an exercise in futility. – James Shewey Mar 26 '17 at 20:34
  • Ok, I was naively assuming that if A implies B is true then not B implies not A must also be true. I've never seen this fail so I'll think about this for a while. Thx. – JEM Mar 26 '17 at 20:53
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    The contrapositive is equivalent. ((p -> q) -> (~q -> ~p)) See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraposition. The OP correctly identified the (valid) contrapositive and then asked the additional question of whether (q -> p) in this case. There was no logical fallacy committed in the OP. – zippy2006 Mar 27 '17 at 0:31

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