St. Thomas Aquinas and "uncaused first causes" My primitive understanding is that St. Thomas Aquinas, in discussing from a philosophical perspective the way things have come to be as they are, raised the necessity of there being an "uncaused first cause" at the beginning of any chain of cause and effect, no matter how long. He was offering a justification for his belief in God. I came across this philosophical argument in a recent article by Burton Richter on modern theoretical physics, at http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-59/iss-10/p8.html. I know little about "uncaused first causes", but I hope that the knowledgeable folk in this forum will be able to amplify and correct my perceptions, which are as follows: In the nineteenth century Philip Gosse proposed, in his book Omphalos, that the Earth had been created (perhaps in 4004 B.C. as bishop Ussher calculated) complete with all signs of an earlier existence, such as fossils. It could thus have sprung into existence --- as it were fully equipped to evolve and function as we have subsequently discovered it does. There is of course no real reason to fix such a creation at 4004 B.C. One might argue that it happened only five minutes, or a microsecond ago. We can't tell. This makes such "Omphalos Cosmology" look ridiculous in the eyes of folk who have a scientific perspective, like me. But when you boil it down, modern ideas about the "beginning" are similar, even when they are cast in the mould of our very persuasive Big Bang consensus. Here the long and complex causal chain of evolution starts with a statement something like: "In the beginning there was an inflaton field". Again, the stage is set by unknown means, mysteriously equipped for evolution to produce our present situation. The fact that we now understand (even if imperfectly) how both the universe we live in and ourselves subsequently evolved doesn't vitiate St. Thomas's arguments. I find it disturbing that modern cosmology is at heart only a souped-up version of "Omphalos Cosmology". A way out could be to realise that St. Thomas was no topologist. He was intimidated by the idea of an infinite regressing chain of cause and effect. But maybe the chain is a web, and the web is multiply connected and has no ends. What do the philosophy folk think?