- You’re correct, serious atheist philosophers have raised that objection. What I should’ve said is that most serious contemporary atheist philosophers acknowledge that this is not a valid objection to First Cause arguments, for the simple but important reason that no serious First Cause argument, and no serious proposer of First Cause arguments, ever makes the claim that “everything has a cause.” Read what philosopher W. Norris Clarke wrote about this issue, as quoted in an article by philosopher Ed Feser:
“Let it first be agreed without qualification that if one does admit the principle “Every being has a cause,” then the refutation is inescapable and devastating. But the very ease of this refutation, if nothing else, should have aroused some suspicions in the minds of its users, one would have thought, as to whether their supposed opponents were actually using this principle. And it is in itself a highly suspicious fact that no one among the many in this Hume-Russell tradition whom I have read ever quotes any specific theistic philosopher who does make use of it. So constant is this pattern, in fact, that I am willing to wager that this family trait is found also in those I have not yet run across…We can only conclude, then, that the Hume-Russell tradition of anti-theistic argument, on this point at least, somehow got off to a bad start by completely misunderstanding and misrepresenting the very argument it was trying to refute, and that it has continued to repeat itself ever since, talking only to itself, and without ever bothering to inquire whether the supposed other party to the debate was still there at all, or had ever been there. In a word, it has become a tradition in the worse sense of the word, truly in a rut and apparently unaware of it.” (Quote and article can be found here: http://www.strangenotions.com/if-everything-requires-a-cause-what-caused-god/).
2. Referring to the Stephen Hawking quote, he’s correct that Aristotle that the world is eternal, and even Aquinas thought that it was impossible to prove that the world isn’t eternal; but it’s false that Aristotle’s “motivation for believing in an eternal universe was the desire to avoid invoking divine intervention to create the universe and set it going.” On the contrary, as I say in my articles, Aristotle did invoke “divine” intervention, not to create the universe, but to sustain it each and every moment. Aristotle thought a prime mover must exist here and now to keep the universe going here and now.
3. I’ll ignore the hopelessly confused comments on theology as a subject and instead point out that my quote referred to “theistic philosophers”, not theologians. Philosophy and theology are related, but still very distinct, very different fields.
4. If the First Cause is sound (at least, if certain First Cause arguments are sound, such as Aquinas’s which I defend in my article) then deism is actually an impossibility, for the same reason why Aristotle thought that a prime mover must here and now exist to sustain the universe and keep it going. If the argument works, the attributes of God flow naturally from it, and deism isn’t left as an option.
Thanks for the recommendations, I’ll check them out.