THE PRINCIPLE OF CAUSALITY

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Excerpted from The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John Clover Monsma. New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons, 1958

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By Andrew Conway Ivy, Ph.D., M.D., D.Sc, LL.D., F.A.C.P.

Dr. Ivy is a scientist of world-wide renown. He was appointed by the American Medical Association as its representative at the 1946 Nuremberg Medical Trial for Nazi doctors and is the recipient of decorations from many American and foreign scientific institutions. From 1923 to 1946 he was Head of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Northwestern University Medical School; from 1946 to 1953 he was Vice President of the University of Illinois. Presently he is Distinguished Professor of Physi­ology and Head of the Department of Clinical Science, U. of III. College of Medicine, Chicago. Among the positions he has filled in the past are: Scientific Director, Naval Medical Research Institute; Commander, Aviation Medical Naval Re­serve Corps; Consultant to U.S. Secretary of War; President, American Gastro-Enterological Association; and President, American Physiological Society. Dr. Ivy has written more than a thousand (1,320) scientific articles, and is one of the world’s outstanding specialists in cancer and functions and ailments of the gastrointestinal tract.

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A number of years ago several businessmen, a very promi­nent scientist, whom I had heard state that he was an atheist, and I were seated about a dinner table. Conversation lagged and one of the businessmen said, “I have read that most scientists are atheists. Is that correct?”

The businessman looked at me, and I answered in effect as follows: “I do not believe that statement is correct. In fact, I have found in reading and discussions that the greatest bene­factors of mankind in the field of science have not been atheists. Many have been misquoted or misinterpreted.” I continued: “Atheism or atheistic materialism is contrary to the way the scientist thinks, works, and lives. He operates on the basis of the principle that there cannot be a machine without a maker. He uses reason on the basis of the known facts; he exercises faith and hope when he enters his labora­tory. And most scientists work for the love of knowledge and love of man and God. Yes, the scientist uses mechanism as a tool; he talks about the machinery of the body. But he does his research on the basis of the principle of causality, of cause and effect, of the unity and the law and order of the universe. As in the case of everyone else, every decision is made, every thoughtful act is performed, on the basis of faith in the principle of causality.

In the science of physiology, when one studies growth, development, maintenance, and repair of the body, it is found that each cell almost without exception ‘knows’ its role in carrying out design or purpose for the welfare of the body as a whole. In the nervous system the simple reflex actions manifest purposefulness as one of their basic characteristics. On further study the inescapable conclusion is reached that the inherited machinery for the development of mind has been so constructed that when it reacts with sense experiences sufficiently, the principle of causality is an inevitable result. In other words, the machinery responsible for the purposeful nature of the reactions of all organisms becomes more and more specialized until the sense of consciousness [discrimina­tive awareness] becomes possible as a result of the interaction of sense experience with the machinery involved in the development of mind.

With the further development of discriminative aware­ness a sense of priority, or sufficient cause, results. Or, starting with the purposeful nature of the reactions of single cells, and given the possibility of an evolutionary process which would result in more and more awareness of the environment, one can logically predict the development of discriminative awareness followed by the formation of the judgment of the law of causation, the consequence of which has been the achievement by man of a greater and greater control over his environment.

The Thinker in The Gates of Hell at the Musée Rodin

In the science of physiology, the gills of fish demonstrate the priority of water; the wings of the bird and the lungs of man demonstrate the priority of air; the eyes of man the priority of light; scientific curiosity the priority of facts; the presence of life the priority of a natural law providing for the production of life. Now, I ask: Does deep insight, great clear rational thinking, great courage, great duty, great faith, great love demonstrate the priority of nothing? It is prepos­terous to argue that the most profound thoughts, sentiments and actions of man argue the priority of nothing. They demonstrate the prior existence of a Superior Mind, a Creator who is revealed in the world of experience to those who do not erect a barrier to the search for that Superior Mind or Creator.

The law of causality cannot be disproved. Without its operation all living things would die. The human mind can­not function except on the basis of causality. I submit that the law of causality is something real.

I have heard a few scientists say that causality ends where metaphysics or application of the principles of thought begin. I maintain that it is irrational to apply the basic prin­ciples of thought, of causality, or priority, as it suits one purpose and then dismiss it because one does not want to be bothered with it. The addition of a metaphysical link into the causal chain is not contrary to logic. We do it re­peatedly in science and everyday life. Whether the link turns out to be the truth is another question. But one never finds out whether the fink represents the truth unless the link is forged into place and the search started and seriously continued. The forging of such a link is the only way the searcher may be tied to the truth and the Ultimate Truth.

It appears that the atheists, or the agnostics with a barren doubt, have a blind spot, an anesthetized area in their minds which prevents them from realizing that our entire organized non-living and living universe becomes incomprehensible without a firm faith in the existence of God. As Einstein has written:

The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.’ I shall add that the only reason that he is not entirely disqualified for life is the hope, based on faith and reason, that he may be saved or reborn and start rethinking life as a child.

I then turned to my fellow scientist whose critical ability I and most everyone admired and asked: “Is what I have said correct?” He replied: “Yes, but the important question is —what kind of a God?”

I agreed that the first and most important question which confronts a thoughtful person is: “Is there a God?” The second is: “What kind of a God?” The third is: “What is the purpose in living?” And the fourth is: “What is right and wrong?”

I then said: “God as a Creator and Designer only, falls short of the Christian conception of God. I shall give you my answer to the second question, which basically is the Chris­tian conception of theism. To do this clearly and concisely, I shall continue with the analogy of ‘the machine and the maker.’ Before doing so I should say again that Christian faith goes beyond but does not contradict the truth which reason can demonstrate. When a rational maker makes a machine he has a design and purpose for it; and while making the machine he puts much of his spiritual or mental self into the machine; and then, after completing the machine, he has a sentiment for it and is interested in how it operates. I cannot conceive of a rational Creator to whom this analogy would not be applicable. The Creator, as demonstrated by His works, may be judged to be supremely rational. You should note that I believe in a God who, when people let Him enter their minds and hearts, builds good character and conduct, gives them noble purposes, and endows them with a spirit of love of God and of man.”

Space in this book and time do not permit a complete dis­cussion of the question we started out with. However, a few more points should be made before my answer to the ques­tion “Is there a God?” is completed.

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The Qualities of God

The qualities of God were considered at great length on the basis of logical analysis by the Scholastic or Classical phil­osophers. Through the use of logic it was concluded that God had certain qualities. The following is an incomplete summary of these qualities:

God is eternal and everlasting; is not matter; is not a body; is not an accident; is Divine perfection; is the good of every good; knows evil and evils; cannot be evil; cannot will evil; is infinite; is the purest truth; knows the infinite and all things; in God there is love and free choice; in God there are no passions of appetites; in God there are moral virtues which deal with actions and contemplative virtues.

These qualities of God largely conform with those found in the Bible, particularly with those in the New Testament. But most of the qualities of God provided in the Bible are pre­sented on an authoritative or self-evident, and not on a logical basis.

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One Comment on “THE PRINCIPLE OF CAUSALITY”

  1. heaventruth October 14, 2017 at 10:01 AM #

    people make causality too difficult. We sow what we plant.
    heaventruth.com

    Like

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