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Is the debate between "first-cause" and "dependent origination" a fool's debate?

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Please make sure that you read this carefully, especially read the ending. I'M NOT SAYING THEH RELIGIONS ARE COMPATIBLE OR ARE SECRETLY TEACHING THE SAME THING. I'm merely saying that on this one, peculiar, particular concept, there may actually be reconciliation.

One of the fundamental disagreements between religions is causality within the universe -
religions like Islam, Christianity, Judaism will argue that the universe had "one single cause" from which all things originate, whereas religions like Buddhism and Daoism will argue the foolishness of "one single cause", believing that causality is bound by the rules of the universe and everything causes reality (essentially, infinite causation).

However, here's the kicker.

In Saint Basil the Great and Saint Maximus the Confessor's writings, you will find that these two brilliant Fathers of the Church argued that God has three modes of being related to time  - aidios, aeon, and chronos. "Aidios" is "time beyond time" itself - incomprehensibly, God how he exists before He "created" anything (as God is beyond time and space altogether). "Aeon" is eternity - it itself is a creation of God, but it's eternity - and it's where the angels dwell. "Chronos" is linear time, which is where we live.

However, here's my question - if God exists beyond time and space itself, in "aidios", how does He "cause" things as a "first cause" (because isn't quantifying causality as a "first" cause suggesting boundness to the rules of time itself - in fact, is using the language of "cause" correct, considering "cause" suggests boundness to space itself)?

And now, dependent origination - if you look within something like Daoism or Buddhism, you will find that each of these religions teach some greater ultimate reality that is beyond time and space itself from which all things emanate - "The Dao", "Emptiness of Nature" (that is, emptiness of categorization)", etc.

In Daoism,

"The Tao is what gives Taoism its English name, in both its philosophical and religious forms. The Tao is the fundamental and central concept of these schools of thought. Taoism perceives the Tao as a natural order underlying the substance and activity of the Universe. Language and the "naming" of the Tao is regarded negatively in Taoism; the Tao fundamentally exists and operates outside the realm of differentiation and linguistic constraints."

In Zen Buddhism,

"The field of boundless emptiness is what exists from the very beginning. You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies you have fabricated into apparent habits. [Those tendencies are the clouds in our eyes.] Then you can reside in a clear circle of brightness. Utter emptiness has no image. Upright independence does not rely on anything. Just expand and illuminate the original truth unconcerned by external conditions. Accordingly, we are told to realize that not a single thing exists. In this field birth and death do not appear. The deep source, transparent down to the bottom, can radiantly shine and can respond unencumbered to each speck of dust [each object] without becoming its partner. The subtlety of seeing and hearing transcends mere colors and sounds. The whole affair functions without leaving traces and mirrors without obscurations. Very naturally, mind and Dharmas emerge and harmonize"

It seems that, as far as East Asian philosophy is concerned, the pure antagonism towards the idea of "first cause" is rooted in a hostility towards attributing causality or "firstness" to the "source" of everything, because that would assume the source of everything is bound by time and space. They don't deny that there is, in fact, a common source of the essence of everything - but rather, attributing "firstness" to it means attributing time to it.

Look - I'm not saying that these religions are compatible. The Karmic religious systems with their systems of Karma, and infinite universal cycles of these religions, are certainly incompatible with Christian ideas of us being the center of the universe. Additionally, while God may be the source of everything within the Abrahamic religions, the Abrahamic religions do not identify the essence of everything with God Himself (rather, God is omnipresent and sustains [consistently causes] everything to exist) - whereas both Daoism and Buddhism identify the essence of everything with "the source" of everything.

However, I think as far as "time" and "causality" is concerned, I wonder if both philosophical traditions are talking past each other.

Both seem to recognize a single common "source" that is beyond causality and time altogether, but they are trying to use linguistic usage of "causality" and "time" (firstness and causality) to describe this "source".

What do you guys think?

Here's a picture that tries to explain what I'm saying

I think the whole picture in black both religious / philosophical systems agree with

Same answer as last time.  The universe is zero bound on both ends.  On one end we have zero entropy.  You can not go lower, as there is no such thing as negative entropy.  We call this end "The Beginning".  On the other end we have zero Gibb's Free Energy, where all potential is spent.  We call this "The End".

Any philosophy that disagrees with this is absurd.


--- Quote from: james03 on August 16, 2021, 08:56:29 PM ---Same answer as last time.  The universe is zero bound on both ends.  On one end we have zero entropy.  You can not go lower, as there is no such thing as negative entropy.  We call this end "The Beginning".  On the other end we have zero Gibb's Free Energy, where all potential is spent.  We call this "The End".

Any philosophy that disagrees with this is absurd.

--- End quote ---

Is God subject to / identical with the laws of physics (including entropy / enthalpy), or beyond it? And for that matter, if there was a point of zero entropy that led to the creation of our particular universe (ala something like the Big Bang), how do you know there was never a time prior at which there was non-zero entropy? Couldn't something with non-zero entropy could eventually return to zero entropy?

And for that matter, do you think we have complete knowledge of the physical world (as in, all forms of matter and dimensions of existence)?

I do think you have a fair point that the monotheistic conception of the first cause, by itself, may not necessarily imply dependent origination when you refer to "first cause" in the context of our universe, and additionally, non-physical first causes may be identical with physical causation from a monotheistic conception (visa vi, Saint Augustine's "instantaneous creation" - the natural laws of the universe may have only come into existence by God's Will only for this physical universe).

However, I do think it's worth considering that I think there's an implicit recognition between both systems of some kind of "first cause" that is beyond causality and the physical rules of the universe per se - in addition to the fact that "eternity" itself, per Saint Maximus the Confessor and Saint Basil the Great, is a creation of God.

Per Saint Maximus the Confessor and Saint Basil the Great, God is beyond time (eternal or linear) itself; time is merely a creation of God.

If eternity itself is a creation of God, it stands to reason (unless I'm missing anything) that any "causes" occurring within "eternity" must necessarily dependently originate (because nothing can be "first" within eternal time itself, which is without beginning or end - unless something beyond eternity created it within eternity). As an example, angels are completely ageless, they are eternal, and they will never end - within eternal time itself (which is without beginning or end), there was never a time that angels were "not" (as eternity doesn't have a beginning or an end). However, before "eternal time" was created, angels didn't exist - meaning there was a point where angels "originated", just outside of time itself (it would explain "instantaneous creation", because non-instantaneous creation implies being subject to time).

I guess my question is this - in traditional Augustinian / Thomistic thought, is God synonymous with eternity, or is "eternal time" created by God, with God existing beyond eternity?
Would Augustine and Thomas Aquinas dismiss the idea of "aidios time" as mystical, illogical, nonsensical gobly gook? Or is there room within Augustinianism and Thomism to say that eternity itself is a creation of God, and God Himself is beyond time?

I know I'm borrowing a lot from Eastern Chalcedonian theology (so Byzantine Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology) which may necessarily not be compatible with Roman, Thomistic theology - but Saint Basil the Great is a Doctor of the Church, and Maximus the Confessor is an incredibly famous theologian.


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