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Infinite regression

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An infinite regression is an alleged chain of causation in which each purported cause itself requires another event of exactly the same type to cause it. The logical problem with such an argument is that it begs the question of what set the original chain in motion. It thus becomes an example of perpetual motion, something no inventor has ever been able to achieve.

An example

Many evolutionists in the field of astronomy theorize that the Big Bang was only the latest in a series of explosions, each of which created a universe that expanded, stopped expanding, and then re-collapsed, only to explode again. According to this theory, one need inquire no further as to a supernatural cause of the explosion that created the universe. The cause was the collapse of the previous universe upon itself.

And yet that earlier universe must have exploded, and that explosion must have resulted from the collapse of yet another, even earlier, universe upon itself. And that earlier universe must also have exploded, and that explosion must have resulted from yet another collapse of another, even earlier universe.

For each step, the observer must regress one age into the past. The problem is that he never stops regressing. An infinite regression cannot have an identifiable first cause.

Classical illustrations of infinite regression

The oldest practical illustration of the concept of infinite regression requires the experimenter to erect two mirrors facing one another, and then to stand between them. He will see his own image looking back at him, and then the back of his own head, and then his face, and so on, an infinite number of times.

A more modern experiment requires a television camera and receiver. If one sends the signal from the camera to the receiver, and then aims the camera at the receiver, the receiver will show a picture of itself, holding a picture of itself, holding a picture of itself, holding a picture of itself, and so on to infinity.

See also

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