The First Cause Argument, sometimes known as The Cosmological Argument, states that absolutely everything has been caused by something else prior to it: nothing has just sprung into existence without a cause. Because we know that the universe exists, we can safely assume that a whole series of causes and effects led to it being as it is. If we follow this series back we will find an original cause. This first cause, so the first cause argument tells us, is God.
Criticisms of the First Cause Argument
The First Cause Argument begins with the assumption that every single thing was caused by something else, but it then proceeds to contradict this by saying that God was the very first cause. It argues both that there can be no uncaused cause, and that there is one uncaused cause: God. It invites the question “And what caused God?”
Someone convinced by the First Cause Argument might object that they did not mean that everything had a cause, only that everything except God had a cause. But this is no better. If the series of effects and causes is going to stop somewhere, why must it stop at God? Why couldn’t it stop earlier in the regression, with the appearance of universe itself?
Not a proof:
The First Cause Argument assumes that effects and causes could not possibly go back for ever in what is termed an infinite regress: a never-ending series going back in time. It assumes that there was a first cause that gave rise to all other things. But must this really have been so?
If we used a similar argument about the future, then we would suppose that there would be some final effect, one which would not be the cause of anything after it. But, although it is indeed difficult to imagine, it does seem plausible to think of causes and effects going on into the future to infinity, just as there is no highest number because we can always add one to any number which is supposed to be the highest one. If it is possible to have an infinite series at all, why then shouldn’t the effects and causes extend backwards into the past to infinity?
Limitations on conclusion:
Even if these two criticisms of the argument can be met, it does not prove that the first cause is the God described by the Theists. There are serious limitations on what can be concluded from the First Cause Argument.
First, it is true that the first cause was probably extremely powerful in order to create and set in motion the series of causes and effects which resulted in the whole universe as we now know it. So there might be some justification for claiming that the argument shows the existence of very powerful, if not an all-powerful, God.
But the argument presents no evidence whatsoever for a god who is either all-knowing or all-good. Neither of these attributes would be needed by a first cause. And, a defender of the First Cause Argument would still be left with the problem of how an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God could tolerate the amount of evil that there is in the world.
Source: Philosophy: The Basics, by: Nigel Warburton