follow that I exist at later times, unless some cause keeps me in existence - one might say that it creates me afresh at each moment. Anyone who thinks hard about the nature of time will understand that what it takes to bring something into existence is also needed to keep it in existence at each moment of its duration. So I have to ask myself whether I have the power to bring it about that I, who now exist, will still exist a minute from now. For since I am nothing but a thinking thing - or anyway that is the only part of me that I am now concerned with - if I had such a power I would undoubtedly be aware of it. But I experience no such power, and this shows me quite clearly that I depend ·for my continued existence· on some being other than myself. Perhaps this being is not God, though. Perhaps I was produced causes less perfect than God, such as my parents. No; for as I have said before, it is quite clear that there must be at least as much reality or perfection in the cause as in the effect. And therefore, given that I am a thinking thing and have within me some idea of God, the cause of me - whatever it is - must itself be a thinking thing and must have the idea of all the perfections that I attribute to God. What is the cause of this cause of me? If it is the cause of its own existence, then it is God ; for if it has the power of existing through its own strength, then undoubtedly it also has the power of actually possessing all the perfections of which it has an idea - that is, all the perfections that I conceive to be in God. If on the other hand it gets its existence from another cause, then the question arises all over again regarding this further cause: Does it get its existence from itself or from another cause? Eventually we must reach the ultimate cause, and this will be God. It is clear enough that this sequence of causes of causes cannot run back to infinity, especially since I am dealing with the cause that not only produced me in the past but also preserves me at the present moment. One might think this: 15
Several partial causes contributed to my creation; I received the idea of one of the perfections that I attribute to God from one cause, and the idea of another from another. Each perfection is to be found somewhere in the universe, but no one thing has them all. That can’t be right, because God’s simplicity - that is, the unity or inseparability of all his attributes - is one of the most important of the perfections that I understand him to have. The idea of his perfections as united in a single substance couldn’t have been placed in me by any cause that didn’t also provide me with the ideas of the perfections themselves; for no cause could have made me understand that the perfections are united without at the same time showing me what they are.
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