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Law of Causality

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 3, 2020 12:01 am

Law of Causality

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 3, 2020 12:01 am

The laws of cause and effect prove there must be a self-existent origin, an uncaused cause of all that exists. Today, R.C. Sproul explains that only the God of Scripture can fill that role.

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We've heard that every effect has to have a cause.

But if we apply that assertion.

To the beginning of all things. It leads to the question. Did God have a cause. Stay with us Renewing Your Mind is next to the motorway God begin one of those questions that makes your head, but it is an important question to answer. If were going to give a reasoned defense of the Christian faith. This is a lesson that requires us to put on our thinking caps, but we are in the hands of a more than capable teacher, Dr. RC scroll.

They were going to continue our study of apologetics and what were in the middle of at this point is examining four principles of knowledge that are crucial for any sound defense of Christianity principles that are constantly under attack by those who deny the existence of God. So far we've isolated four of those what I call nonnegotiable principles that are necessary to human knowledge. Number one, and also principles that are assumed by all people and also assumed in the pages of sacred Scripture and the four that we've isolated. I remind you, are the necessity of the law of non-contradiction. Second, the law of causality. Third, the basic reliability of sense perception and forth.

The analogical use of language, and already we've looked at the law of non-contradiction and you recall I said that people certainly can deny the law of non-contradiction and its validity and people do that and they do it frequently, but when I pointed out was that all denials of the law of non-contradiction are forced and temporary because it's impossible to live and survive for 24 hours.

If you consistently deny the validity of the law of non-contradiction. You can't drive your garden intersection see a big Mac truck coming down the highway and save yourself, self. There's a truck there and not there at the same time and in the same relationship. There is no you may with your lips.

Deny the validity of long look contradiction you apply pressure on the break because you know you can't survive in that contradictory world. Well, let's move on now today to the second principle, which is the principle of causality and the principle of causality is one that was used in a formidable way. Throughout the history of Western theoretical thought to argue for the existence of God by reasoning from the appearance of this world back to an adequate or sufficient cause that would explain this world or this universe and so thinkers in the Middle Ages and down, even beyond that recent from a causal base back to God as the first cause. In fact we go all way back to Aristotle, who argued that God is the first cause because things require a cause no.

However, since the Enlightenment since the 18th century considerable skepticism has emerged against the law of cause and effect or the law of causality. If, for example, you've read nurture Russell's little booklet why I am not a Christian. He gives his own personal testimony of his pilgrimage with respect to theism. He said as a boy growing up, he was deeply impressed by the argument for the existence of God.

That was based upon the need for a first cause based upon the law of causality and so as a young boy, he embraced the idea of the existence of God until he read an essay written by the philosopher John Stuart Mill who raise this basic objection against causal thinking.

Mill said it this way if everything requires a cause then manifestly God would require a cause and whoever caused God would require a call so that you can't reason back to God on the basis of the principle that everything must have a car now when Bertrand Russell read that essay. At age 17.

He said it was an epiphany for him and he realized that the law of cause and effect would not lead you to the conclusion of a first cause, but would lead to on an endless regress that would get you in the final analysis, not to God but nowhere and so he therefore denied the utility of arguing for the existence of God on the basis of the law of cause and effect the limit just responded that very briefly and very simply that, here's one of those classic examples where Homer nonce John Stuart Mill was unarguably a brilliant philosopher very well trained in logic and skilled in analytical thought and cognition, who made a fundamental foundational error in his thinking with respect to causality. The primary error was an error in definition. He assumed that the definition of the law of causality is simply everything must have a cause.

Now if that indeed were the classical law of causality that his criticism of causal reasoning back to a first cause would be valid.

Let me put it in simple terms, I heard the story of two little boys that were having a discussion and the first little boy said the second little boy where did the trees come from and his friends said God made the trees. Then he said, what, where did they flowers come from his friend said God made the flowers in this principal.

Where did you come from, and he said God made me and then his body said will, who made God and his partner said God made himself now I remember. Also, my mother telling me that when I was but three years old. I asked our minister who made God and my minister was super impressed by that and told my mother. You know you have a child prodigy on your hands here and this boy is going to grow up to be a theologian or philosopher or something like that and my mother was fond of telling me that when I was pursuing a career in theology.

So I always knew you're going to do that because the minister told us that when you were three years old and I said mom Latoya sums what I said every three-year-old kid essay question were gone come from that's as normal a question as any child can never asked doesn't show any particular insight on my part three years older 10 years old. I said however we somehow stop us a bore that little kid is profound when he says, who made God is God made himself no no no no no, even God can't make himself and the point is we don't have to have an antecedent cause for God. God, as Aristotle rightly understood, is an un-caused because you don't have to provide a cause for an eternal being. As we will see in the course of the study, but just now by way of shorthand, let me just say that the error is in the definition the law of causality has never said that everything has to have a cause. Rather, the law of causality stated properly says every fact must have an antecedent cause every effect must have an antecedent cause now had John Stuart Mill been working with that definition of causality. They would never of gotten himself into the mess he did it never would've led Bertrand Russell astray into that morass of confusion which by the way, that principle that Bertrand Russell is brilliant as he was adopted at age 17 he maintained till the day he died. That error continued in the sink because the definition of the law of causality again is not that everything must have an effect because of everything you had to have a cause. God indeed would have to have a cause, but the law simply says every effect must have a call and if we could find something that is not in effect.

That is something that has the power of being within itself and is from eternity. Obviously, that being would not be in effect. And when we define the character of God.

We say that God is itself existing eternal being who is independent, underived, not contingent but he's eternal. He is not caused because he is not in effect only things that are made are effects. Now if we look at this definition we see get a just a little bit technical here that this definition every effect must have a cause is a statement that we say is formally true, not form early, but for Molly know that is to say it is a formal truth. Now what is a formal truth a formal truth is the truth makes try to make this easier and more abstract a formal truth is a truth that is analytically true. What's trying to simplify the making it worse right if it's a formally true. It's analytically true. What that means is that it's true by definition, that if you analyze this statement every effect must have a cause just by analyzing the words and their relationship in the statement you will see that the statement not only is true, but by definition has to be true and analytical statement would be one like this a bachelor is an unmarried man, now in an analytical statement like that a bachelor is an unmarried man, you have the subject, which is the word bachelor and then you say something about the bachelor to describe him you predicate something about the bachelors in what you say is the bachelor is an unmarried man, but what you find out about the bachelor in the phrase unmarried man that you didn't already know, with the word bachelor's in analytical statement. There is no new information given in the predicate from what's already there in the subject.

If I tell you, let me say I triangle has three sides. Is that true or not. Course it's true it has to be true because it triangle by definition, has three sides just like a bachelor by definition is in on married me that not all unmarried men are bachelors Summerwood orders right but all bachelors or on married men.

So what we say that something is formally true or analytically true. Another way of saying is it's logically true, it's true by definition. Now again let's look more carefully at the definition.

If we say every effect and just stop right there and we introduce the word affect what is in effect. How would you define an effect.

What is in effect something that happened or something that our affair will happen.

That's true. But something that has been made something that is been produced right or to use the language something that has been cost see an effect, by definition, is something that is been caused by something else. Now what is a cause.

What is a cause. What is a cause. Do it bring some kind of result what we call that result in effect, you can't have a cause that doesn't cause anything. What a cause causes is in effect so you can have a cause without an effect and anything that is identified as an effect, by definition, must have a cause, so that in a very real sense, this statement every effect must have a cause. This is simply a mental extension of the law of non-contradiction, because something cannot be in effect and not be in effect at the same time the same relationship something cannot be a cause you can't have a cause without an effect it can have an effect without a cause because otherwise you have a contradiction now the most primary answer we give to reality.

If I say why is this carpet here in this room.

The simplest answer I can say is because that's not going to satisfy you here and I want to push me a little bit further and you're going to say because why Josť well because the director of this studio wanted to construct a set that would have the look of us study were a den and so we went out and got this old carpeting and he put it on the floor here as part of the set. So now I'm giving you more of the complex reasons behind the presence of this carpet that is now underneath my feet okay now my director didn't cause the carpet. If I said what caused the carpet that would have to go back to the manufacturer and all of that sort of thing but we understand the use of that language at a very elementary what's one of the first things a parent learns how to say to a child when the child asked the question is because that's the answer to the rich were saying that flower has a cause that tree has a cause.

Something has produced because we also understand that something cannot come out with nothing now again I'm been asking to put your thinking Because I'm Going to Do Some Close Work with Your Minds Here When I Say This Is a Formal Principal Were Saying That It Doesn't Teach Us Anything Directly about Reality It Doesn't Tell Us That There Are Causes out There in the Real World.

It Doesn't Tell Us That There Are Effects out There in the World World. Maybe Everything in the World Is Eternal and Uncaused.

I Don't Believe That That's the Case, but I'm Saying Hypothetically Were Sitting Here in This Room and I'm Saying There's All Kinds of Things outside of This Room. There Cars and Trucks and Planes and Bees and Trees and All the Rest, and I Can Say This to You for Sure That If Any or All of Those Things That I've Just Listed Trucks and Trees and Cars and All of That Are Effects Then We Know for Sure That They Have What Causes the Maybe They Are Not Facts, but the Principle Is the Logical Principle Is If Something Is an Effect. It Must Have What It Must Have a Cots so That If You Can Establish That Something Is Indeed an Effect Then You Have Established That It Must Have Some Kind of Antecedent Caused Several Years Ago When We Produced Our Book on Classical Apologetics and It Was Reviewed by Scholars Round about the Country.

One Scholar Who Was a Philosopher Made One Criticism One Substantive Criticism of the Arguments Set Forth in That Book, and He Was Criticizing Me and He Said I'll Never Forget It. He Said the Problem Was Scroll None Looking to Give You People the Opportunity to Fill in the Blank There to What He Said Was He Was Referring Just to This Book Not to My Whole Life. But Are You Saying That the Problem Was Scroll in This Book Is That Scroll Will Not Allow for an Unknown Cause Effect.

That Was His Greatest No My Basic Rule of Thumb Is That What If I Receive One of My Books Criticized in a Review, I Never Bothered to Get Engaged in a Debate or Discussion with the Reviewer Adjusting of That's Their Job Is to Review It Much Brighter. They Say That's Fine on the Argument, but This When I Couldn't Pass up. So I Wrote to the Philosopher a Nice Letter and I Said You Indicated in Your Review That the One Problem You Had with My Book Was That I Wouldn't Allow for an Uncaused Effect and I Said Mea Culpa You're Right.

I Won't Allow for an Uncaused Effect, but I Thought That My Obstinate Refusal to Not Allow for Uncaused Effects Was a Virtue, Not a Vice. Now I Would Be Happy to Allow for an Uncaused Effect. If You Would Take the Trouble to Write to Me.

One Example Anywhere in the Universe of an Uncaused Effect.

Of Course I'm Still Waiting for His Response Because I Know and He Knows upon a Moment's Reflection That You Can't Possibly Have an Uncaused Effect Because in Effect by Definition Is Something That Has an Antecedent Call, but That's Only One of the Reasons Why an Avalanche of Doubt Has Been Leveled against Traditional Causal Thinking. The Other Reason, Which We Will Explore in Our Next Session Is the Critical Analysis of Causality That Was Launched by the British Empirical Philosopher David Hume, David Humes, Watershed Critique of Causality Has Led Many Thinkers after Him to Believe That David Hume Demolished Causality Altogether and in Our Next Session. I'm Going to Examine That Analysis of Hume and the Assumption That Goes with It That He and His Critical Fashion Demolished the Whole Arguments in the Whole Law of Causality Which I'm Going to Try Hope Prove to You That He Did Not at All, but I Again Let Me Just Recapitulate the Denials of the Law of Causality Are Frequently Found in Those Who Argue against Classical CDs Who Want to Avoid the Enormous Power of Causal Side Drives People to Give a Sufficient Cause for Effects We Recognize Instructors He Scroll with a Message from His Series Defending Your Faith, Your Listing to Renewing Your Mind on This Thursday Possibly Web and the Thank You for Being with Us Today That We Work through Some Heavy Material Today Concepts That to May Require a Second or Third Listen Would Be Happy to Send You the Entire Series for Your Gift of Any Amount. There Are 32 Lessons on 11 DVDs and If You Defended Christianity to a Skeptic. You Know How Important It Is to Be Prepared and That's Why Were Offering This Entire Series to You.

There Are 32 Lessons on 11 DVDs and Therefore Your Gift of Any Amount Will Be Glad to Send It Your Way. There Are Couple of Ways You Can Reach Us by Phone at 800-435-4343. You Can Also Find Us with Dr. John Tweedy Hill was with us here in the studio today. He is a professor of theology and academic Dean at Reformation Bible college for interesting to note that as John told us yesterday.

He actually said in on the series. When the doctor scroll taught it to some years ago. John, if you will assess for us how well prepared young people are to defend the faith as so often in talking to college students in churches where I have served or spoken at many of them are overwhelmed with questions and and they need robust answers to handle really complicated problems that they are facing in their own lives and the culture around them.

So I think there is need for greater education and greater teaching and more training.

That's why we exist here and looking here. It's why we exist at RBC is that we want to flood the world with good biblical teaching, and it's why were offering this series to you by Dr. scroll it's defending your faith for your donation of any amount will send it to you when you contact or when you call us at 800-435-4343 and if you'd like to know more about Reformation Bible college were Dr. Tweedy ulcers that you can check out their what your Dr. Tweedy will say that we want to flood the world with good biblical teaching that means translating our resources into multiple languages. I hope you join us tomorrow as we tell you about our latest outreach to the Spanish speaking world in an area that to my mortgage. The Reformation did not bring so please make plans to join his back your fine for Renewing Your Mind with RC scroll

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