Wednesday, January 16, 2013

RC Sproul: Law Of Causality - Defending Your Faith Part 6

The second of the four principles of knowledge is the law of causality. This law is defined as "Every effect must have a cause." A right understanding of this law can lead one to the answer to one of the greatest theological questions the seven year old can muster: "Who made God?" A wrong understanding can lead to denying the existence of God. Thus, the importance of this law should not be minimized.

1. To see the seriousness of misunderstanding or ignoring this law.
2. To understand the nuances of the word "effect."
3. To understand David Hume's objections to causality.

The mind is good—God put it there. He gave us our heads and it was not his intention that our heads would function just as a place to hang a hat. (A.W. Tozer)
It doesn't take a great mind to be a Christian, but it does take all the mind a man has.
(R.C. Raines)
Nothing but faith will ever rectify the mistakes of reason on divine things. (William S.

I. Four principles of knowledge are crucial for dialog about God.

a) Law of non-contradiction
b) Law of causality
c) Basic reliability of sense perception
d) Analogical use of language

II. The Law of Causality

a) Prior to the Enlightenment (which emerged in 18-century France), the principle of causality was the foundational and unchallenged argument for the existence of God. Aristotle began this tradition by arguing that God was the "First Cause" or "Unmoved Mover."
b) Bertrand Russell believed in God as a young man, but after reading John
Stuart Mill, who objected to the causal argument for the existence of God, he was convinced otherwise.
c) But Mill and Russell, great philosophers though they may be, made an error of definition. They believed that using causality as an argument for the existence of God only led to a series of infinite regressions.
d) They defined the law of causation as, "Everything must have a cause." But the true definition of the law is, "Every effect must have an antecedent cause." The God we claim exists is not an effect; He is uncaused. Thus, He does not require a cause. Therefore, infinite regress does not occur.

III. Understanding Causality

a. Formal truth and analytical truth
b. Illustration: A bachelor is an unmarried man.
c. Formal principles do not directly teach us anything about the real world.
d. Illustration: Dr. Sproul will not allow for uncaused effects.

IV. Conclusion: Did David Hume destroy causality and therefore causal arguments for the existence of God?

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