We live in a world of myriad effects with underlying causes. We see a sunrise and ask, "What causes it to rise?" We experience that lightning is always followed by thunder so we conclude that lightning causes thunder. I am awaken by the sound of my alarm clock, so the cause of my awakening is the sound of the alarm clock. We see wood burning and ask, "What causes it to burn? Was it heat caused by friction? Was it a chemical reaction? Was it the fire of a match? Fire can be an effect of heat as well as the cause of heat, so cause and effect are linked together. An effect does not have to be tangible. For example, the comment of friend caused my hurt feelings.

 

What is a cause? The classical answer has been "Those upon which others depend for their being or becoming are called causes." (Thomas Aquinas)

Science only deals with immediate causality that can be scientifically proven by experiments and mathematics. As such, science deals only with efficient causality or the agent that caused the change. On the material side the cause of change is conceived as a force or energy. Scientists seek to predict and event by understanding its immediate cause. For example, what causes the rise and fall of sea water? Their answer, the gravitational pull of he moon which can be demonstrated. So we also seek to explain God action in the world as a physical force which seems to interfere with determined patterns of scientific law. "Albert Einstein senses this when he argued that there simply no 'room' in the universe for divine causality." (Thomistic Institute 2000:Dodds, nd.edu) Keith Ward writes: "Miracles are not violations of the laws of nature, for laws of nature are self-limitations of the personal influence of the Supreme Mind, which are necessary to allow finite, morally responsible, and relatively autonomous minds to exist and grow. A miracle is the withdrawal of this limitation, disclosing in a unique and unrepeated way the personal ground of all existance and something of the direction and goal of its ever-present sustaining influence." (Arthur Peacocke, All that Is, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2007, p. 159)

2. First Cause: Matter