ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Problem of Infinite Causality

Updated on December 16, 2015

Infinity and Nothing

Infinity is a concept which applies to anything which has no limits. It is seen in math where the series of integers has no beginning and no end. This concept is discussed at great lengths in the scientific community. Ideas of circular time without end and cyclical expanding and contracting universes are very popular. In theology there is endless debate and discussion regarding eternal beings who exist outside of the boundaries of time. The belief and hope in the infinite permeates all of human history.

Nothing is a philosophical construct used to discuss a state of being in which there is an absence of anything. It is the property of nonexistence. It may seem that this definition seems lacking in substance. That is because, of course, nothing cannot exist. It is seen in it's very definition. "Nothing is a pronoun..."

Infinity and nothing are related in many ways, but the one that will be focused on is that neither exists within the boundaries of this universe. We have sufficiently stated that nothing cannot and does not exist. The argument for the nonexistence of infinity in this universe is extremely long and covers many topics. Far too many to list here. From math we have the example of .999... = 1. This implies that, since .999... can be shown to be a real number and that number is 1, there cannot be an infinite series of 9s. From science we see that the universe is, in fact, finite in size. Therefore, we know that the infinite cannot be housed within it. That would be much like trying to pour two gallons of milk into a one gallon milk jug! father before me, his father before him...

Where to begin?

One of the more famous sources of discomfort for the debate about infinite causes, is that of human origin. A man (or woman) begets a son (or daughter), who begets a son (or daughter), who begets a son (or daughter), and so on. It seems very benign and orderly when you look at it this way. So simple and complete. It's not until it is read in reverse that the truly mind boggling questions begin to form. A son (or daughter) has a father (or mother), who has a father (or mother), who has a father (or mother), and.... so on?

It has been discussed earlier that infinity cannot exist within the bounds of this universe (or any bounds at all). So, how could their possibly be an infinite chain of child to parent? The answer is simple. There cannot be. There must of been a first human. Some would remain obstinate stating that although there was indeed a first human, it evolved from another organism. Whether or not this claim is true, it does not solve this problem at all. For if it were true that humans came from a different organism, then it would be true that that organism came from yet a different one, and that from a different one, etc. Yet the problem of infinite causality remains.

It must be noted that in this example, begetting a child takes place in time. In other words, begetting is an action which requires time to pass. Therefore a quick discussion about the finite nature of time is in order. Since the future has not occurred yet, the present becomes the outer limit of time which has passed. Since an infinite amount of time would have no beginning or end, it is obvious that an infinite amount of time could not have passed BEFORE today. This logically implies a beginning of time.

If there was indeed a beginning of time, then it would be assumed that there was a "before" the first instant. Of course, nothing happened; happenings take time. It could be posited, however, that an intention could in fact exist before action. That is a subject for another article, however.

It is, however, interesting to note that neither this problem, nor the argument presented here has any implications whatsoever regarding an end. Although a beginning has been sufficiently discussed, it is not necessary that there is an end. It is entirely possible that once set in motion, time simply cannot end. Even if it were to end, there would always be a "before time ended". It is only shown here that there was a first cause.

Many people throughout history have come up with answers to the common questions brought about by this problem. Aristotle had his unmoved mover. Science has debated about the Big Bang theory for ages. The list goes on and on. One common misconception that permeates much of this debate is the idea that whatever caused time to come into existence itself had no cause. Logically, the very ideas of "finite causality" and infinite causality only apply to external causes. It was never posited by Aristotle that his unmoved mover was not in motion, only that nothing outside of itself set it in motion.

Another misconception is that there existed a "time before time". Time, however, is a singular strain. One moment after another after another after another. If there was a beginning, there must have been some reason that it started. At the very least, there was a first event. It begs the question of why? The important thing to note here is that a lack of temporal dependence does not rule out a logical dependence. Time is logically dependent on the "Eternal Instant."

So, why does it matter whether or not there can possibly exist an infinite number of causes? It is because if there cannot be an infinite regress of causes, then it must be inferred that there was a first, or prime cause. The implications of a prime cause are self-explanatory. At the very least, they will not be discussed here.


Did you find this article enjoyable?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Trucidus profile imageAUTHOR

      William Plaster 

      2 years ago from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

      I think of God as being the most real entity in our universe. Thus making him the most actual and therefore the most "knowable" thing. However, it's much like the sun. The sun is the most visible thing in our solar system but... you can't look at it. That's what the infinite is like. The most actual thing there is but our finite minds cannot know it.

    • cheaptrick profile image


      2 years ago from the bridge of sighs

      Nice argument;well laid out and well presented.Here's my take on it.

      The idea that 'now' even exists is an illusion.Time is ever flowing and always fluid.Human perception allows only a sense of what is coming until it becomes what is going.The mind(as it is prone to do) fills in the space which we refer to as 'Now' .The question of infinity vs the finite has been around as long as we have...because there are some things...there are many things humans are not capable of understanding ;infinity being one...God (if there is one) being another...and many more.The Absolutes serve as the 'carrot' at the end of the stick of metaphysical understanding....just out of reach but oh so tantalizing.Just my opinion...Enjoyed your hub...refreshing.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)