Nature of God

Eternity

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XenoMorph

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The Incoherence of Craig's God
« on: August 19, 2011, 11:34:12 am »
Hi,

Bill Craig claims that time had a beginning, that it will have no end, and that God is also omniscient.

If God is all-knowing then God will know every detail of the infinite future.

From God's perspective, time is a line with a beginning but no end. God can see the totality of time, with its beginning, yet lacking any end.

Is this not logically incoherent?

Surely, that which has a beginning must have an end?

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Killjoy

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The Incoherence of Craig's God
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2011, 02:50:14 am »

XenoMorph wrote: Hi,

Bill Craig claims that time had a beginning, that it will have no end, and that God is also omniscient.

If God is all-knowing then God will know every detail of the infinite future.

From God's perspective, time is a line with a beginning but no end. God can see the totality of time, with its beginning, yet lacking any end.

Is this not logically incoherent?

Surely, that which has a beginning must have an end?


I don't think this is a problem in itself. There's no reason why something can't be infinite in one direction and not in another.

What is a problem for Craig is that he repeatedly claims that you can't have an actual infinity of things. The only sort of infinity Craig allows is a potential infinity. Yet if God knows the entire infinite future then he would know an actual infinity of things right now,
I am an atheist - just so you know

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XenoMorph

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The Incoherence of Craig's God
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2011, 07:09:15 pm »
I don't think this is a problem in  itself. There's no reason why something can't be infinite in one  direction and not in another.


Yes, it is a problem, especially for Craig.

Craig argues that time MUST have a beginning because if the past were infinite you would have to have reached the end of eternity in order to have reached the present moment. Such an idea as the 'end of eternity' is a contradiction.

So, why am I right in claiming that Craig's conception of God is totally incoherent?

Because if time has a beginning but no end you are faced with the same problem of 'traversing the infinite' when you take into account God's omniscience  as when you say the past is infinite.

How so?

From God's perspective, time is irrelevant as his omniscience means he has knowledge of everything at once. This would mean that, from God's omniscient perspective, time's beginning is as much an 'end to eternity' as the present moment is when taking into account an infinite past.

So, not only is Craig's conception incoherent, it's incoherent based on argumentation almost identical to that which Craig himself uses.

This argument of mine is fatal to Craig and any Craig hating atheists would do well to learn and promote it.

Also, I agree with what you're saying Killjoy, Craig is at fault there also.


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Matt

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The Incoherence of Craig's God
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2011, 07:52:55 pm »

Craig argues that time MUST have a beginning because if the past were infinite you would have to have reached the end of eternity in order to have reached the present moment.

This is pretty incoherent. That's not what Craig claims at all. Craig firstly claims that an actually infinite amount of things cannot exist, and also sometimes says that in traversing an infinite quantity at a finite rate is impossible, and that impossibility is certainly what traversing an infinite past would entail.


From God's perspective, time is irrelevant as his omniscience means he has knowledge of everything at once. This would mean that, from God's omniscient perspective, time's beginning is as much an 'end to eternity' as the present moment is when taking into account an infinite past.

It's not clear what you're contending here, and I suspect that this is borne of your own misunderstanding, and not any defect in Craig's philosophy. God's omniscience entails that he knows all of the events throughout time, but in addition to that also knows what time it is now. Time's not irrelevant for God. I'm not sure what you mean by taking into account an infinite past, since it's not clear that you've shown that an infinite past can overcome the apparent incoherence of traversing an infinite quantity at a finite rate.

You certainly haven't shown, at any rate, that God has the same "traversing the infinite" problem that an infinite past does.

As for Killjoy's post,


What is a problem for Craig is that he repeatedly claims that you can't have an actual infinity of things. The only sort of infinity Craig allows is a potential infinity. Yet if God knows the entire infinite future then he would know an actual infinity of things right now,

Craig's provided an answer to this objection here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8618

(the Q&A should really come with a search feature, heheh)

In case you're not up to clicking through, Craig basically says that God has a single intuition of all reality, and does not know reality as an infinite number of discrete propositions. There's not multiple realities or ideas that God keeps track of, though when talking about it we can break it down into components, but only a single appearance of the truth. An analogy he uses is the perception of a field. That perception itself is an undifferentiated whole, a single thing, not a plurality of things.


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Killjoy

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The Incoherence of Craig's God
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2011, 03:17:21 pm »

silentmatt wrote:

An analogy he uses is the perception of a field. That perception itself is an undifferentiated whole, a single thing, not a plurality of things.


This analogy does not work very well. We perceive a field as a single undifferentiated whole only to the extent that we are not aware of the details of each individual blade of grass. To say that any being - including God - can have a detailed perception of every part of reality as an "undifferentiated whole" is something of a contradiction.

I am an atheist - just so you know

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Veritologist

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The Incoherence of Craig's God
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2012, 09:42:11 pm »
XenoMorph wrote: Is this not logically incoherent?

Surely, that which has a beginning must have an end?


Not at all. The natural numbers have a beginning, but no end. Time has a beginning, but no end (and no 'infinitely distant point' or 'end of eternity' as you say since every point in time is a finite magnitude from the first moment of time, just like every natural number is always a finite magnitude from zero).

XenoMorph wrote: Because if time has a beginning but  no end you are faced with the same problem of 'traversing the infinite'  when you take into account God's omniscience  as when you say the past  is infinite.


Not really, Xeno. We haven't traversed the infinite. There has only been a finite amount of time since the beginning, and there will always be. For any time t, t will always be a finite magnitude from t0. I suspect you know that very well.

XenoMorph wrote: From God's perspective, time is  irrelevant as his omniscience means he has knowledge of everything at  once.


Time is not irrelevant to God's knowledge, especially since Craig clearly has a dynamic view of time. God's knowledge of tensed facts does change, so God's knowledge at t1 is not the same as God's knowledge at t2.

XenoMorph wrote: This would mean that, from God's omniscient perspective, time's  beginning is as much an 'end to eternity' as the present moment is when  taking into account an infinite past.


No one has said anything about the 'end of eternity,' Xeno. That is a concept you came up with, and not Dr. Craig.

It seems what you're trying to get at is the confusion between an actual infinite and a potential infinite (i.e. if the past cannot be infinite, then how can the future be infinite?).

In the case of an infinite past (like a man counting down from infinity to zero) the time is actual. The future, on the other hand, is potentially infinite. Think of limits in mathematics. A limit is the value a function approaches. In the case of an asymptote, the function approaches this limit, but never actually reaches it. This is a potential infinite, infinity as a limit.

The case of an infinite past, on the other hand, presents us with another kind of infinite, an infinite that is actual. The past is not merely potentially infinite, in this case, but actually infinite. It has a transfinite cardinality. It is not a limit, but an actual set. The cardinality of the set, in this case, is aleph null or greater. But in this case we have a problem. The situation of an infinite past is like that of a man who has just finished counting down to zero from infinity. An actual infinite cannot be formed by successive addition. In the future, you can add more and more time, but the amount of time that has elapsed since the present will always be finite. This is why the future is only potentially infinite, but the past is not.

This, as we have seen, is impossible, so time cannot be infinite in the past. Time must have a beginning, but may or may not have an end.

Killjoy wrote: What is a problem for Craig is that he repeatedly claims that you can't have an actual infinity of things. The only sort of infinity Craig allows is a potential infinity. Yet if God knows the entire infinite future then he would know an actual infinity of things right now,


This is one of the issues I have with the arguments from infinity. However, that does nothing to undermine the argument from the impossibility of the successive construction of an actual infinite, or the argument from the impossibility of an infinite but terminating sequence. Your objection does not therefore undermine the philosophical/mathematical support for the Kalam argument (I would go so far as to agree with it), much less its a posteriori considerations.

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Jacob Pressures

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Re: The Incoherence of Craig's God
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2015, 09:32:53 pm »
This was a very interesting topic started here.  Veritologist, i think, articulated some of my thoughts exactly. (That is not to say I'm any expert on these things.)

I think we have to also keep in mind that our understanding of time is limited. We don't fully understand it. So we should be cautious about putting limits on what a "theoretical" God can do. I say theoretical because we can only theorize about these things and the possibilities. The Bible doesn't tell us how God knows anything. Does all-knowing means he knows everything at a point in time? That statement is problematic because God doesn't EXIST IN A POINT IN TIME! 

God, for one, is outside time and space. We don't know what that means since everything we see, know, and experience has been within the space-time continuum.

How do we describe the "time before time's beginning?" Based on all our understanding it did not exist. But our robotic minds can't even fathom that because that is all we know.

I hope this brings something to the discussion of this 3 year old thread.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2015, 09:36:05 pm by Jacob Pressures »