Short Communication

Is the Universe Self-caused?

Robert J. Deltete 


Quentin Smith has been arguing for more than a decade that the universe is uncaused. For nearly as long he has also argued that it appeared spontaneously from literally nothing. I have replied to these arguments in many places, including a recent essay in Philosophy. Now, apparently, Smith has changed his mind: in his most recent contribution to Philosophy, he argues not that the universe is uncaused, but that it is self-caused. His motives for so doing remain much the same, however: he would like to undermine the efforts of theists to show that the universe requires an external cause, by arguing that the universe can cause itself (580). I do not think that the arguments he gives for this new position are any more plausible than his older ones for an uncaused universe, so I don't think that he has advanced the cause of atheism. This essay defends that evaluation.