Although more than willing to admit an outwardly sounding unshakable belief in their god, Christians are typically less than enthusiastic to offer up an actual working definition for it. Ask the average baptised-without-consent congregant and you’ll assuredly get as many half-baked guesses of what their assigned god is as there are believers. Ask an apologist, however, and they will generally deploy all sorts of diversionary tactics just to avoid the subject like it was the plague itself; skirting any detailed commentary in awkward loops while dodging questions and evading all reasonable requests for delineation. It’s a song and dance performed with alarming predictability because there simply is no agreed upon definition to be offered. Even such an elementary question as is the Middle Eastern Christian god material or immaterial? will not be answered by even the most astute apologist for if they commit to one it’ll instantly bring their god into conflict with the other… and that will always end in tears.
What is left for the apologist therefore is just the qualities and skills which they believe their god has, but even this less-than-satisfactory attempt at definition is fraught with all sorts of problematic needles, and it’s for this reason that the word aseity is always dancing about frantically on the tip of an apologists tongue but typically never quite makes it out in any confident fashion. Attributed to Plato, aseity is (at its simplest) the idea that a capital “G” god is the cause and sole reason of itself; a concept that was borrowed by Judean copywriters when they penned, I am who I am (Exodus 3:14). God, here, is self-determining, self-sustaining, and exists by its own will; uncaused and self-contained. This isn’t however a definition of what this creature is, nothing is actually being described, rather these are qualities the creature should have (in the mind of the believer) so as to be awarded the capital “G.” The important part of aseity, though, is this: it is (capital “A”) Absolutely self-originating and Absolutely self-contained, which on first inspection sounds like an apologist’s wet dream, foot massage, and summer ice cream all rolled into one obnoxiously tidy, gift-wrapped package. That is until the second inspection. Aseity is riddled with a self-annihilating pox. Being Absolutely self-contained means the creature in question is incapable of changing, which is to say, immutable. Change denotes development, and development indicates something less-than-perfect. If the capital “G” god is Absolutely Perfect there should be no requirement, or indeed capacity, for change… and Christian scripture confirms just that: (Malachi 3:6) “I the Lord do not change.” The problem here is that to be immutable nothing at all could ever happen. Nothing. Ever. Not even a thought, let alone a change of mind:
“And it repented the lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Genesis 6:6)
The larger, more pressing problem with aseity is however that if a thing is Absolutely self-contained then nothing can exist outside it, which in-turn means the being with aseitic qualities cannot also be the causal agent of itself. Being the causal agent of itself is however the central assumption made in the Kalām Cosmological Argument which posits god as the uncaused cause; the first cause or prime mover. This sounds nice but as its been pointed out time and time again since the Middle Ages the concept is logically inconsistent, although for the Kalām to work (on paper) the theist will insist an exception to the rule of causality does in fact apply to their god. How, precisely, they arrive at this notion is unclear, but if the theist is willing to give an exemption to their god (by removing the magical creator creature from the chain of cause and effect) then to be credible they must simultaneously offer a reasonable and rational explanation for why they won’t also grant that very same exemption to the universe itself. If it’s good for one, why is not good for the other? It’s a conspicuously straightforward question but it is one never answered, and it is for this reason alone why the Kalām Cosmological Argument still exists to this day… but thankfully it won’t exist tomorrow because it ceased existing yesterday.
At the beginning of 2012 researchers led by Xiao-song Ma and Prof. Anton Zeilinger of the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information at the University of Vienna published a paper in Nature Physics (April 22) detailing a series of experiments which demonstrated that (in the quantum world) future actions can in fact influence past events. That is to say, reverse causality where an effect occurs before its cause, otherwise known as Retrocausality. The experiment was a spin-off from research into quantum entanglement where two particles are inseparably bonded regardless of distance; a state of being that was described by Einstein as “Spooky action at a distance.” Simply put, the team proved that photons can be entangled (the effect) before the cause occurred… meaning at the quantum level information travels fasters than light (instantaneously, in fact), particles can randomly pop in and out of reality (leaving positive energy residues in quantum vacuums = something from nothing), and causality does not have to follow logically.
(physics.org, Apr 23, 2012) “The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. ‘We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured,’ explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.”
Is retrocausality real? Do particles really behave this way without having their parameters altered through optical cavities? Researchers led by the University of Washington’s John Cramer working at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider think so and are testing for just that, but what Xiao-song Ma and Zeilinger have already proved is that causality is not as rigid as anyone had previously imagined. As physicist, Sean Carroll, said: “causes and effects aren’t really fundamental. It’s the laws of nature that are fundamental, according to the best understanding we currently have, and those laws don’t take the form of causes leading to effects; they take the form of differential equations, or more generally to patterns relating parts of the universe. So the question really is, ‘Can we imagine laws/patterns which describe a universe without God?’ And the answer is “sure,” and we get on with our lives.” And with that the central components of the Kalām Cosmological Argument are invalidated, leaving apologists with an awful gap-filled headache and the painfully awkward realisation that they are further away today at defining their particular god than they were yesterday.