Rafed English


Adapted from: "Three Topics in Theological Philosophy" by: "Dr. Ahmad Ahmadi"

If we consider the nature of a thing, we cannot say of it that it should necessarily have existed or not existed. To our rational mind its relation to existence or non‑existence is neutral. If the object exists in the external world, then there must have been a cause which has brought it into existence.

For, on the basis of the principle of causality nothing can come into existence without a cause, and that for every phenomenon or event there has to be a cause. A being which has the characteristic that its existence depends on that of another, is called a contingent being (mumkin al‑wujud).

A Necessary Being (wajib al‑wujud), on the other hand, is such that no reason can be found for attributing its existence to that of another being. Therefore, necessity, when applied to existence, means independence of existence; it is characteristic of a Self‑existing Being, which is self‑sufficient and independent of other things for Its exis­tence.

Having briefly explained these two terms, let us now see how we can employ the contingent and necessary argument to prove the exis­tence of God. There is no doubt that some things in the universe come into being which did not exist before.

We can see many examples of this in nature, such as blossoming of trees in spring after falling of their leaves and flowers during autumn, passing of nights and coming of days, ending of spring and beginning of fall, youth is followed by old age and old age by death, and so on. Right at this moment, I perceive sounds, flavors, sensations of touch which did not exist few moments ago (acquired knowledge or `ilm husuli).

At this very moment I have a feel­ing of love and affection for the people around me, and I am moreover conscious of such feelings; while only a few moments ago I did not have such sentiments, nor was I aware of them. Now, I have awareness of my own self and I am aware of this awareness (`ilm huduri).

All these things which did not exist before and are now existent are called phenomena. It is self‑evident that no phenomenon can be without a cause. This means that the existence of every phenomenon is entirely dependent on that of another, and, therefore, it is contingent. Now the question arises whether or not the cause of a phenomenon or any contingent being can also be a contingent being dependent on other beings, or if it has to be self‑existent, independent, or, what is called, a Necessary, Self‑existing Being.

In answer it may be said that both cases are possible; that is, the cause may be either contingent or necessary. Now, if this cause (the producer of the contingent effect), is itself a necessary being, then our claim of necessary cause is proven. But if it is contingent, then we are faced with two alternatives:

1. either it is the effect of another contingent cause, which in turn is itself the effect of another cause, and so forth till infinity (a linear or infinite series);

2. or the chain of cause and effect is not linear but circular; that is the cause at the beginning end of the chain of causation is itself the last effect at the end of the chain.

Therefore, in the case we accept the second alternative, that is, if we consider all causes in the chain of causation as being contingent, there are only two plausible hypotheses: (i) an infinite series (ii) or a vicious circle. Accordingly, the existence of the Necessary Being cannot be proved unless we follow Ibn Sina in showing that an infinite series or a vicious circle of causation is absurd and that the chain of causation should necessarily end in the Necessary Being. In other words, we have to show the impossibility of a linear or circular chain of causation which does not end in the Necessary Being.


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