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information and source of the following presentation, consider the last paragraph and reference.
Whatever has the possibility of nonexistence must be caused to exist by another because potentiality is not
actuality. What is but could possibly not be has only a potential existence. It has existence, but it also has the
possibility of nonexistence. Now the causal possibilities of the very existence of this potential existent are
self-caused, caused by another, or uncaused. But it cannot be self-caused since this is impossible. Neither
can it be uncaused. If it were uncaused, than mere possibility would be the ground of actuality. But nothing
cannot produce something. One must conclude, then, whatever has the possibility for nonexistence must be
caused to exist by another. Let us now elaborate the argument.
First, by causality we mean efficient causality or the actualization of a potential. A cause, then, is that
which effects a transition from potentiality to actuality. Further, no being, whether contingent or necessary,
can be self-caused. A self-caused being would have to be prior to itself. It would have to be simultaneously in
a state of actuality and a state of potentiality with regard to being, which is impossible. Potentiality is not
actuality; nothing is not something. A cause of being must exist in order to cause something. And what is to
be caused must not exist, or else its existence does not need to be caused. Therefore, in order to cause ones
own existence one must simultaneously exist and not exist, which is impossible.
Second, a being that could possibly not exist cannot be uncaused. Its being is only possible and not
necessary. It is not a must-be but only a may-be that is. But the possible is not the actual; mere possibility
does not account for actuality. The impossible cannot be, the possible can be, and the necessary must be.
The impossible can never arrive to be, the necessary can never arrive to be or cease to be, but the possible
can arrive to be and cease to be. But whatever can arrive to be must be caused to be, for something cannot
be caused by nothing; the mere potential for being cannot actualize itself. If it is an actualized potentiality,
then it either actualized itself or else it was actualized by something outside itself. But no being can actualize
its own existence. The actualization of a potentiality is what is meant by causality. Consequently, to actualize
ones own potential for being would mean to cause ones own being, which is impossible. However, since the
existence of possible beings has actualized, it follows there is a cause of existence outside them that
actualizes their existence. In short, the actual does not arrive from the potential unless something outside it
actualizes its potential. No potential can actualize itself. The potential for being does not account for the
existence of something. Many things that could possibly exist do not exist, such as centaurs, mermaids, and
Pegasus. Why, then, do other things that might not exist actually exist? The only adequate explanation for
why there is something rather than nothing at all is that something that could be nothing is caused to exist
by something that cannot be nothing. In brief, a necessary Being causes all contingent beings. Whatever is
but might not be is dependent on what is but cannot not be.
Another way to see the need for a Cause of all possible beings is to analyze the very nature or kind of
existence it has. If there were a necessary Being it would be pure actuality with no potentiality in its being
whatsoever. Impossible beings have neither actuality nor potentiality; they are not and cannot be. But
possible beings have both potentiality and actuality in their very being. They consist of co-principles of
being. Their being is composed of acts of existence and essence. But whatever is composed of acts of
existence and essence must be caused to exist by another. Acts of existence cannot cause itself, and essence
cannot cause acts of existence. What something is does not explain the fact that it is, unless it is a necessary
Being, whose very essence is to exist. But it is not of the essence of a possible being to exist. It is of my
essence that I might not exist even though I do indeed exist. Hence, since it is not of my essence to exist and
since it is only of the essence of a necessary Being to exist, it follows we must seek for the ground or cause of
every possible being such as me.
There is another way to see the need for a cause of every contingent or possible being. An infinite and
unchanging being must be uncaused. But there can be only one such being, for Pure Actuality is simple
indivisible, having no potentiality for division. Therefore, every other being must be caused by another,

since to be self-caused is impossible. Since I am not a necessary Being, it follows I and every other
contingent being that exists must be caused to exist by a cause beyond me and us.
Before leaving this point we should stress that all efficient causality of existence is current. What is called for
is not a cause for my becoming but for my continued be-ing. The argument rests on conserving causality, not
originating causality. The reason for this is very simple: I am right now a contingent being; it is not that I
once was contingent when I arrived to be but now am not. Whatever was once contingent will always be
contingent, for whatever can arrive to be is not a necessary Being. A necessary Being cannot arrive to be; it
must ever be and may never not be. This means that whenever I am contingent and however long I remain
contingent, I will always need a cause of my existence. It is misleading to speak of existence as though it
were something one could get all at once in a package to keep for the rest of ones life. More properly, we
should speak of our existing. What we have is not really existence but a continual, moment-by-moment
process of existing. We do not have being but continuous be-ing. What causes me to be when I need not be
nor continue to be? This is the real metaphysical question. All causality of existing or be-ing is
simultaneous and current. The cause of becoming may be before the effect, but the cause of be-ing must be
concurrent with the effect. The cause of my here-and-now existence must be vertical and not linear. The
artist is the cause of the becoming of the painting but not of its continued being. The artist dies but the
painting continues to be. Likewise, the parents are the cause of the arriving-to-be of the child, but something
else must be the cause of the childs continuing-to-be, since the child continues to exist without the parents.
The presentation here was influenced in large part from a book authored by Norman L. Geisler on pages 271
through 273, which I reference later in this website.