|The "first cause" according to the 1985 views of American astronomer Allan Sandage, as that which precedes the big bang, aka the "first event". |
In 1647, French thinker Pierre Gassendi revives atomic theory, with the publication of On the Life and Death of Epicurus, followed by Arrangement of the Philosophy of Epicurus (1649), wherein he coins the term “molecule”, but avoids the “charges of atheism” by locating the physical "causal" agency in atoms, albeit connected back to the creator, i.e. first cause, as follows: (Ѻ)
“The first moving cause in physical things is atoms; while they move through themselves and through the force which is continually received from the author from the beginning, they give motion to all things. And therefore, the atoms are the origin, principal, and cause of all motions that are in nature.”
In 1794, Erasmus Darwin, in his Zoonomia, explained the following, in the context of his origin of life theory: 
“Would it be too bold to imagine, that in the great length of time, since the earth began to exist, perhaps millions of ages before the commencement of the history of mankind, would it be too bold to imagine, that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament, which the great first cause endued with animality, with the power of acquiring new parts, attended with new propensities, directed by irritations, sensations, volitions, and associations; and thus possessing the faculty of continuing to improve by its own inherent activity, and of delivering down those improvements by generation to its posterity, world without end!”
In circa 1870, James Maxwell stated the following about first cause: 
“First causes are not known to us, but they are subjected to simple and constant laws that can be studied by observation and whose study is the goal of natural philosophy … Heat penetrates, as does gravity, all the substances of the universe; its rays occupy all regions of space. The aim of our work is to expose the mathematical laws that this element follows … The differential equations for the propagation of heat express the most general conditions and reduce physical questions to problems in pure analysis that is properly the object of the theory.”
In 1985, American astronomer Allan Sandage, during a conference on science and religion, as a Christian, telling the audience that the big bang was a supernatural event, that science had taking us to the “first event”, but it could not take us further to the “first cause”, i.e. the sudden emergence of matter, space, time, and energy, which pointed the need for some kind of transcendence. 
The following are related quotes:
“By predicating a first cause, the theist removes the mystery a stage further back. Such a belief is a logical absurdity, and is an example of the ancient custom of creating a mystery to explain a mystery. Moreover, if it is reasonable to assume a first cause as having always existed, why is it unreasonable to assume that the materials of the universe always existed? If everything must have a cause, then the first cause must be caused and therefore: who made god? To say that this first cause always existed is to deny the basic assumption of this theory. To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy.”— David Brooks (1933), The Necessity of Atheism 
“I think only an idiot can be an atheist. We must admit that there exists an incomprehensible power or force with limitless foresight and knowledge that started the whole universe going in the first place.”— Christian Anfinsen (c.1989) (Ѻ)
1. Myint-U, TYn, and Debnath, Lokkenath. (2007). Linear Partial Differential Equations for Scientists and Engineers (pdf) (pg. vii). Springer, 2011.
2. Strobel, Lee. (2004). The Case for a Creator: a Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence that Points Toward God (pg. 103). Zondervan, 2009.
3. (a) Darwin, Erasmus. (1794). Zoonomia (XXXIX: On Generation, pgs. 373-442). Publisher.
(b) Darwin, Erasmus in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
4. (a) Huberman, Jack. (2007). The Quotable Atheist: Ammunition for Nonbelievers, Political Junkies, Gadflies, and those Generally Hell-Bound (pg. 52-53). Nation Books.
(b) Strobel, Lee. (2004). The Case for a Creator: a Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence that Points Toward God (pg. 133). Zondervan.
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