Let's say that we grant that item "X" is eternal. By "eternal" we mean that it has always existed and that it always will exist.

Because "X" is eternal, does it follow that it MUST be uncaused?

  • I made some edits. You may roll these back or continue editing. Welcome to this SE! Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 18:23
  • Only if it's outside of time. Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 19:59
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Does causality always require time? The answer is no. Hence something eternal can be caused by something atemporal, e.g. by God in traditional metaphysics.
    – Conifold
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 20:55
  • 1
    Your definition of eternal is flawed. Infinity has no start or end point. Born now.. live forever.. am eternal. The 15 bm years before my birth are the blink of an eyelid to eternity
    – Richard
    Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 0:32
  • @Matemagia D13G0. I have had to delete your answer because it is not clear and the argument needs elaboration. But don't be discouraged. Most of us start a little shakily. Read through a range of answers and you will get an idea of the standard required. I look forward to your future contributions. Best - Geoffrey.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


Causality and time are so intertwined that they’re nearly synonymous.

Time is a frame which we construct in order to capture causality. If you remove causality, you remove time, and if you remove time, you remove causality.

A cause comes before its effect. That is in fact how we understand “before”, the meaning we assign to it. A clock measures time by counting up how many pendulum swings or crystal vibrations or atom transitions have occurred before you looked at it. It is measuring change, counting effects.

If the effect is eternal, atemporal, then the concept of “before”, and therefore “cause”, is empty, meaningless, nonsense. It unasks the question by a priori embedding its answer. By saying the words “it has always existed”, you are saying the words “it is uncaused”.

  • What about the illustration from Kant, a heavy ball’s resting on a cushion is the cause of a depression in the cushion, even if the ball has been resting on the cushion from eternity past, and thus, the depression has existed from eternity past?
    – user35830
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 22:07
  • @user35830 If the depression has always been, it was not caused. If you break up the film into a bunch of still images in order to say weight of the ball is currently causing the depression, due to the instantaneous action of gravity, then you have an infinite series of instantaneous depressions, and not one of them is eternal. But use a skeptical eye when examining any such mental images or thought experiments. He's smuggling in a bunch of stuff, like gravity, or matter, or what-have-you, material we only have intuitions about from coexisting with them in our current temporal existence.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 22:23
  • (And, if you then want to drag in physics, we know of no such ball or cushion which is or could be eternal; even gravity has changed since the beginning. This is all stuff Kant didn't know, of course, but I do think it would be better to discard the experiment as misleading and ultimately useless.)
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 22:24

Yes. Because "X" is an eternal, its cause must also be the continuity of that eternal. Otherwise you will get a discontinuity or you will have to agree that its cause existed before that eternal. This implies that the eternal you grated the item "X" is not eternal. And it becomes a folly. This necessitates or asserts that the thing you believed as the cause of the eternal must be that eternal itself. So the eternal object must be uncaused. Indian philosophers have already named it 'Brahman'. It is the causeless cause or the Uncaused. I believe, in some religions the word 'God' is also used synonymously to represent the Uncaused.


This link might also be useful: Kāraṇa, the Causeless Cause

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .