How To Prove The Universe Was Created: Part 2

How To Prove The Universe Was Created: Part 2

The Argument From The Impossibility Of Forming The Infinite By Successive Addition

I have been discussing FOUR classical arguments for the FINITE nature of the past meaning that the world has not always existed, it had to have a beginning point.

This is the SECOND argument of the four that shows the world cannot have existed forever in the past and this is The Argument From The Impossibility Of Forming An Actual Infinite By Successive Addition

The Nature of the Past

Before we get started I want to say something about the nature of the past. What exactly is the past? Well it is the series of events that has already happened for sure.

We have to say the past has two necessary properties:

  1. Formed Successively - one thing happened and then another, not everything happened at once
  2. Completed - over and done with


We have to hold that if we are going to be reasonable.

But what happens if we now say the past is also “infinite”? This leads to problems - the past is successive, completed AND INFINITE.

Because when you add infinite to the first two things we have to say about the past, you get this idea that something that was formed successively reached an infinite amount.

When you say that past is infinite you run right smack into this problem of forming an infinite by successive addition.

What does “successive addition” mean? It means just adding one thing after another.

My argument here in this video is that you can never get to an infinite number of anything by adding things one at a time.

The Impossibility Of Completing An Infinite By Successive Addition: Imagine if you started counting, starting with 1 and progressing through all the numbers. You could never reach the end. You could never get through all the numbers and reach the end because there is no end. 

In fact, no matter how high you count, you can’t even make any “progress” by getting “closer” to the end, because again, there is no end. 

It is not the kind of thing that can be formed or come into being part by part, step by step.

The necessity of the “infinitieth member” – to reach infinity by successive addition there must be an infinitieth member – one that is reached by adding one more. In other words, there must be a point where infinity is only “one step away”. But there is no such thing. Infinity is never just one step away from some finite number. 

In other words, you can’t just progress to an end step by step that is not there.

This is what philosophers call the impossibility of reaching or completing the infinite by successive addition. You cannot get an infinite number of things by just adding one thing after another. 

This is the problem of successive addition – finite plus finite always leaves you with finite.

But coming into being step by step, one thing and then another, is exactly how the past was formed. One thing happened, and then another thing, etc.

Why An Infinite Past Is A Contradiction

The past has been formed successively. 

But the infinite is that which cannot be formed successively.

So to posit an “infinite past” posits the following contradiction:

 “That which has been formed successively is that which cannot be formed successively”

 So, we can summarize the argument this way:

If the universe has always existed, then the past reached infinity step by step, by adding one thing after another.

But it is impossible for anything to reach infinity by adding one thing after another

Therefore, the universe has not always existed.

For this reason then the universe had to have a beginning and so, as we will see in a later video, must have been created.

The Aquinas School Of Theology And Philosophy


The Aquinas School Of Theology And Philosophy