“An efficient cause is what most people think of when they think of a cause. It is the primary source of the effect: an author writes a book, a spider builds a web, a quarterback throws a pass. They are efficient causes:
Atheists who make this claim are saying that there is no efficient cause of the universe because it didn’t take place in space or time. Let’s look at that argument in a syllogism:
1. The law of causality only applies to physical things in space-time.
2. The creation of the universe did not occur in space-time. (It was creation of space-time.)
3. Therefore the law of causality does not apply to the creation of the universe.
This argument doesn’t work because the first premise is false. In order to see why, let’s put our inspector hat back on. Notice that there is no physical relationship between the premises (1. and 2.) and the conclusion (3.) of the argument above (or any argument). Also notice that the premises are not objects in space-time. Yet, there is a causal relationship between the premises and the conclusion. In other words, true premises result in valid conclusions.
If the above argument were sound, then no argument could be sound. How so? If the law of causality only applied to physical things, then no argument would work because premises and conclusions are not physical things. For any argument to work- including arguments against God- the law of causality must apply to the immaterial realm because the components of arguments are immaterial.
In other words, logic itself wouldn’t work if the first premise were true! But since logic works, the law of causality applies metaphysically, not just physically. In fact, to deny causality beyond space and time would be to deny logic, which would be self-defeating and would negate our ability to argue anything.
You can also see why it is self-defeating to deny the law of causality by simply asking anyone who doubts it, “What caused you to come to that conclusion?” Or more precisely, “What reasons do you have for your positions?”
If an atheist wants to say that the creation of space-time and matter didn’t need a cause- that it is an effect which is an exception to the law of causality- then he has to support his claim with evidence. But any attempt to get such evidence creates a big problem. If the person cites scientific experiments or observations as the source for his evidence, then point out that experiments and observations presuppose cause and effect. You couldn’t make those observations or draw any conclusions without the law of causality. Likewise, any process of reasoning he uses would also use the very law of causality he would be denying. In other words, it’s self-defeating rationally and scientifically to conclude that effects do not need cause. That’s because any denial of the law of causality uses the law of causality. Again, the atheist attempts to exempt himself from his own theory.”
(Turek, Stealing From God, 15-16)