Is God the first Cause?


By BibleAsk Team

The concept of God as the first cause is deeply rooted in philosophical and theological traditions. This idea posits that the Creator serves as the ultimate or primary cause of all existence, setting in motion the chain of causation that leads to the creation and sustenance of the universe.

In essence, the argument goes like this:

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

This cause, according to proponents of the argument, must be something that itself did not begin to exist, otherwise, it would require a cause, leading to an infinite regress. Therefore, they posit that there must be a First Cause, which is eternal and self-existent. This First Cause is what many refer to as God.

This concept is deeply intertwined with discussions about the nature of reality, causality, and existence itself. Proponents argue that the existence of the universe points towards the existence of a transcendent, necessary being, which is commonly understood as God in many religious traditions.

Historical Development

  1. Classical Theism: Classical theism, rooted in the writings of ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, developed the concept of an ultimate and transcendent deity. In this tradition, God is considered the source and foundation of all reality, embodying attributes such as perfection, immutability, and simplicity.
  2. Scholastic Philosophy: During the medieval period, scholastic philosophers like Aquinas engaged in systematic theological inquiry that further developed the concept of the Creator as the first cause. These provided intellectual rigor to the understanding of His role in causation.

Philosophical Foundations

  1. Cosmological Arguments: The notion of the Creator as the first cause is often connected to cosmological arguments in philosophy. These arguments seek to establish the existence of a necessary and uncaused Being that serves as the ultimate explanation for the existence of the universe. This argument was popularized by the Wesleyan theologian William Lane Craig.
  2. Principle of Sufficient Reason: The principle of sufficient reason, a foundational concept in philosophy, suggests that everything must have an explanation or cause. If the universe exists, there must be a reason or cause for its existence. The Creator, as the first cause, is posited as the ultimate explanation for why anything exists at all.

Theological Perspectives

  1. Creator and Sustainer: Within theological traditions, Jehovah is often understood as both the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. The biblical narrative presents Him as the initiator of creation, bringing the cosmos into existence (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3). Additionally, theological reflections emphasize His ongoing role in sustaining and upholding the created order (Hebrews 1:3; Psalm 145:16-17).

    Colossians 1:17 (NKJV): “And He (Christ) is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” This verse underscores the idea that Christ is not only before all things but also actively maintains the coherence and existence of the created order.
  2. Uncreated and Eternal: Theological considerations of the Creator as the first cause highlight His nature as uncreated and eternal (Deuteronomy 33:27; Revelation 1:8; 22:13). Unlike contingent beings within the universe, the Creator is posited as a necessary being whose existence is not dependent on anything else (John 14:6).

    Exodus 3:14 (NKJV): The Creator said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”” In this passage, the Creator reveals the divine name as “I am,” signifying self-existence and eternal being.


The concept that God serves as the First Cause emerges from a line of philosophical inquiry known as the cosmological argument. This argument starts from the premise that all things which come into existence do so due to a cause. It then considers the nature of the universe itself, asserting that the universe itself began to exist at some point in the past.

This leads to the logical deduction that there must be an entity – God, which initiated the existence of the universe, but which itself was not caused or brought into being by anything else. This entity is posited as the First Cause, the prime mover that set everything else into motion. Crucially, it is believed to be eternal and self-sufficient, not reliant on any external factors for its own existence.

Thus, the conclusion that God is the First Cause represents an attempt to grapple with profound questions about the origins and underlying structure of reality. It suggests that beyond the observable phenomena of the universe lies a deeper, underlying reality that is both foundational and beyond the grasp of ordinary human comprehension.

Related FAQs

What is an example of the first cause?

An example often used to illustrate the concept of the First Cause is that of a series of dominoes falling. Imagine a line of dominoes arranged in such a way that when the first domino is pushed, it topples onto the next one, causing a chain reaction where each subsequent domino falls because the one before it fell.

In this analogy, the first domino represents the First Cause. It initiates the entire sequence of events, setting off the chain reaction of dominoes falling. Without the initial push of the first domino, the entire sequence would not occur. Similarly, proponents of the cosmological argument posit that there must be an initial cause—a First Cause—that sets everything else in motion, including the existence of the universe itself.

What did Aristotle mean by the first cause?

Aristotle, one of the most influential ancient Greek philosophers, discussed the concept of the “First Cause” in his philosophical works, particularly in his metaphysical treatise called the “Metaphysics.”

For Aristotle, the First Cause, or “Unmoved Mover” (often translated from the Greek term “ακίνητος κινούμενος” – “akinetos kinoumenos”), is a key component of his cosmological and metaphysical framework. He argued that everything in the universe is in a state of constant change or motion. However, Aristotle posited that this chain of causation and motion cannot regress infinitely; there must be a starting point, a prime mover that initiates all other motions without being itself moved.

The First Cause, according to Aristotle, is an eternal and unchanging entity that serves as the ultimate source of motion and change in the cosmos. It is pure actuality, devoid of potentiality, and transcends the material realm. Unlike in some later theological interpretations, Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover is not necessarily a personal deity with consciousness or intentions. Instead, it represents the highest principle of order and perfection in the universe.

Aristotle’s concept of the First Cause was deeply influential in shaping later philosophical and theological thought, particularly in the medieval period, where it played a significant role in the development of Christian theology, particularly in the works of thinkers like Thomas Aquinas.

Categories God

We'd love your feedback, so leave a comment!

If you feel an answer is not 100% Bible based, then leave a comment, and we'll be sure to review it.
Our aim is to share the Word and be true to it.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments