The First Cause can itself have no cause, meaning, nothing that it needs to depend on for its existence. If there exists anything without which it would not exist, then that thing is its cause. Obviously, then, any physical entity that possesses form and substance cannot be a First Cause, since without its form and substance it would not exist. Without its body it would not exist. Without time or space it would not exist. Anything that depends on something else to exist is not causeless and thus cannot be the First Cause.
I have a question about the First Cause principle: Granted that the world needed a First Cause. But who says this First Cause is Hashem? Maybe it’s an angel or an alien? And also, why doesn’t Hashem Himself need a cause? If everything needs a cause then why doesn’t Hashem need a cause too?
Anything that, under different circumstances, would have not existed, cannot be a First Cause, since it depends on those circumstances for its existence, making those circumstances its cause.
In short, anything that is what we call efsher hametziyus – anything that could theoretically not have been here – cannot be the First Cause, since such a thing depends on other things for its existence.
Anything that could have not existed has a reason why in fact it does exist. Whenever there exists more than one possible scenario - in this case, scenario 1: “existence” and scenario 2: “non-existence” - there must be a reason why one scenario actually came about and not the other. Since they were both possibilities, there has to be something that caused one pos-sibility to become reality and not the other.
And therefore, the First Cause must be what we call muchrach hametzius or mechuyav hametzius – meaning, something for which non-existence was never a possible scenario. This is a different type of existence than that which we have ever encountered in our experience. Everything that exists in our experience could theoretically have not existed. Therefore, it has a cause that determined it should exist as opposed to not exist. But a First Cause, in order to be a First Cause, must have had no possibility of non-existence to begin with, which would eliminate the need for a cause of its existence.
Only something that theoretically could have not existed has a cause for its existence, but something that never had an option of non-existence does not need a reason why it exists – for existence is the only option!
And since the First Cause has no cause, the only way that could be possible is if the First Cause not only happens to exist, but could never have not existed. Everything else in the world exists, but theoretically could not have existed. The First Cause, however, could never have not existed.
Everything else but the First Cause happens to exist; the First Cause exists not because it happens to exist but because it could not have not existed.
The First Cause thus by definition cannot be subject to time or space, or to anything at all, because then its existence would have a cause. It cannot have any measurable or describable attributes such as length, width, breadth because those measurements and attributes would be its cause since without them this entity would not exist. It cannot have any describable nature whatsoever because if it would, then that nature would be what causes it to be what it is.
Since this First Cause exists without being subject to circumstances, nothing in the world can affect it. It cannot change, cannot disappear, cannot cease to exist. If its existence has not been determined by any circumstances or factors, then no circumstances or factors can affect it.
And since we can easily prove that there was indeed a First Cause – because an infinite chain of causes in the past is absurd - we know clearly that:
There exists a first entity which was not created but always ex-isted and will always exist, which is utterly Simple, is not composed of parts, and has no physical attributes, that exists not because of anything else, that could never have not existed, which caused everything else to come into being.
Call this entity whatever you like. This entity is what we worship. This is what we refer to when we say “Hashem Yisborach”. In fact, according to the Ran, the Mitzvah to believe in Hashem is not to believe that a First Cause/muchrach hametzius with all the attributes listed above exists. Rather, it is to believe that the First Cause/muchrach hametzius described above is in fact the entity that brought us out of Egypt and gave us the Torah etc. But the fact that this entity exists – that is not emunah. It is simple logic. This is what it means, the Ran says, by Anochi Hashem Elokecha asher hotzaisicha: Hashem is introducing Himself to us, kivyachol, and saying: “You all know of the entity that is First Cause. Well, I, Who brought you out of Egypt, I am that same First Cause that you always knew existed.”
People who do not understand this may ask: Yes, the universe has to have a First Cause, but who says Hashem was that First Cause? Such a question indicates a lack of under-standing of the entire principle. It is not that we worship Hashem and then claim that Hashem is the First Cause. In-stead, we know there is a First Cause and it is that First Cause that we worship and refer to as Hashem. Totem poles clearly exist, the sun and the stars clearly exist, and the First Cause clearly exists. Some religions worship totem poles; others worship the sun and the stars; Judaism worships the First Cause. We refer to it as Hashem.
This may be why many Rishonim, including the Rambam, when they discuss the Mitzvah of Emunah, first describe the existence of an “entity” that created the world and maintains it and is the cause of all existence. And then, afterwards, they say, “This entity is Hashem.” They are saying that this entity that created everything, this First Cause –that is what we refer to when we say Hashem.
The First Cause took us out of Egypt and gave us the To-rah; the First Cause spoke to the prophets; the First Cause manages the world. In Hebrew, we express this thought as: Hashem Hu HaElokim. Or: Hashem Elokeinu. Meaning: Hashem – the First Cause, Hu HaElokim – is the Manager of the universe.
That emunah – the belief that the First Cause is He Who gave us the Torah, brought us out of Egypt, and manages the world – that is the basis of the Jewish religion. Idol worship-pers also believed in a First Cause, but they held that it did not directly interact with the world, but rather created other entities for which it was more appropriate to be involved in worldly affairs. Judaism believes that it is the First Cause Itself that runs our lives.
This is the emunah that Avrohom Avinu espoused – that the First Cause itself is running the world. He spread that belief until one day, the First Cause spoke to Avraham, and introduced Himself, saying “I am the Baal Habirah.”
But perhaps someone will ask: Maybe it wasn’t the First Cause that created the universe – maybe it was the second or third cause?
The answer is, if it wasn’t the First Cause that created the universe, but a second or third cause, then consider those second and third causes part of the universe, for they are cre-ations, not the creator. They, like the rest of the universe, were created by the First Cause.
We worship the First Cause. We call it “Hashem.” The First Cause spoke to Avraham Avinu, introducing Himself as the creator of the world. The First Cause meted out plagues upon Egypt, escorted us through the desert, gave us the To-rah, and spoke to the prophets. The First Cause is aware of everything that happens in the world and exerts His Hashgachah over it; rewards and punishes; and will one day send Moshiach and revive the dead.
The First Cause caused everything either by choice or by necessity (meaning, it had no choice and had to create the world).
All right. You’ve proven that (a) there had to be a First Cause, (b-) that the First Cause can-not be more than one, © that the First Cause is eternal and (d) can never change or be affected by anything. I have one more question: How do we know that the First Cause is sentient altogether? Maybe this First Cause was just a non-conscious event?
If it was by choice, then it cannot be a non-sentient entity, since choice requires sentience.
If it was not by choice, then something necessitated the First Cause to create the universe.
And we know that nothing could prompt the action of the First Cause, because then whatever that factor was is a cause before the First Cause, which is absurd.
Therefore, nothing could have necessitated action on the part of the First Cause.
Therefore, the action of the First Cause had to be by its own choice.
And a requirement of choice is sentience.