Jmac

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Theological arguments against B-theory
« on: April 09, 2012, 12:53:03 pm »
I am undecided about which theory of time is correct.

I have encountered a few theological (or at least semi-theological) arguments against the B-theory, and I am interested to see if there are any B-theorists who can rebut these arguments. All three of these arguments rely on at least one premise that is purely or primarily accepted on theological grounds:

First argument:

1. If the B-theory is true, evil never ceases to exist
2. If evil is defeated, it ceases to exist
3. God will defeat evil in the future
4. Therefore, evil will cease to exist (from 2 and 3)
5. Therefore, the B-theory is false (from 4 and 1)

Second argument:

1. If the B-theory is true, no entities ever began to exist
2. If God created the universe, then the universe began to exist
3. God created the universe
4. Therefore, the universe began to exist (from 2 and 3)
5. Therefore, the B-theory is false (from 4 and 1)

Third argument:

1. If the B-theory is true, then every future event (moment) exists
2. An actual infinity of existing entities is impossible
3. There is an infinity (either potential or actual) of future events (i.e. time will go on forever)
4. Therefore, if the B-theory is true, then there is an actual infinity of future events (from 1 and 3)
5. Therefore, the B-theory is false (from 2 and 4)

In each of these, I deem premise (3) to be a theological premise.

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belorg

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Theological arguments against B-theory
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2012, 03:22:57 pm »
Jmac wrote: I am undecided about which theory of time is correct.

I have encountered a few theological (or at least semi-theological) arguments against the B-theory, and I am interested to see if there are any B-theorists who can rebut these arguments. All three of these arguments rely on at least one premise that is purely or primarily accepted on theological grounds:

I am also undecided about which theory of time is correct, but I can see a few problems with some of your arguments.

First argument:

1. If the B-theory is true, evil never ceases to exist
2. If evil is defeated, it ceases to exist
3. God will defeat evil in the future
4. Therefore, evil will cease to exist (from 2 and 3)
5. Therefore, the B-theory is false (from 4 and 1)[/QUOTE]

I am not sure that, on a B-theory, 2 is correct. Even on a B-theory, although Napoleon did not actually cease to exist, we can say he exists (not existed) in the late 18th-early 19th century, but he cannot harm anybody living in the 21ste century. So it could be that God will defeat evil in 2030, which would mean that evil cannot harm anybody living after that time.
And if people, after they die (although 'after' is not really the correct word), end up in some kind of afterlife that is beyond time, eveil, temporally confined to the period before 2030, cannot harm anybody anymore.
Second argument:

1. If the B-theory is true, no entities ever began to exist
2. If God created the universe, then the universe began to exist
3. God created the universe
4. Therefore, the universe began to exist (from 2 and 3)
5. Therefore, the B-theory is false (from 4 and 1)

The problem here is, IMHO, again premsie 2. I do not think it follows from 'God created the universe' that the universe began to exist.
In fact, on a Aristotelean-Thomistic-view of God, 2 is false. In fact, Thomism entails a B-theory of time.

Third argument:

1. If the B-theory is true, then every future event (moment) exists
2. An actual infinity of existing entities is impossible
3. There is an infinity (either potential or actual) of future events (i.e. time will go on forever)
4. Therefore, if the B-theory is true, then there is an actual infinity of future events (from 1 and 3)
5. Therefore, the B-theory is false (from 2 and 4)

Again, there is no conclusive evidence for 2. Moreover, God's omniscience entails an actual infinity.



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Jmac

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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2012, 08:21:23 am »
I agree with you that the first and second arguments both have premise (2) as their weak points. Your analysis of the defeating evil argument is the best that I've heard. I've also thought that maybe the overal structure of the way evil is incorprated into the four-dimensional time-block might be regarded as a condition in which evil is defeated though still exists, because it is contained or manipulated in a certain way throughout history (if that makes any sense).

One thing I'm not certain of is a timeless afterlife. This certainly won't work on an A-theory, but do you think it could work on a B-theory? If so, this could solve the third argument, since we could deny (3).

The third argument is the one that I find the most difficult to, because i have not seen a response to Craig's arguments for (2) that I would deem successful. He responds to the omniscience objection by construing God's knowledge as a simple, unified awareness of all truth. We are the ones who divide it up into propositions for our own convenience, so the infinity of propositions that God can be said to know is a potential infinite rather than an actual infinite on Craig's view.

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belorg

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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2012, 09:19:56 am »
Jmac wrote:

One thing I'm not certain of is a timeless afterlife. This certainly won't work on an A-theory, but do you think it could work on a B-theory? If so, this could solve the third argument, since we could deny (3).

Yes, we could deny (3) is a timeless afterlife is possible. I am not sure why it won't work on a an A-theory, but given that timeless personal  existence has any meaning at all, I don't see why it wouldn't work on a B-theory. The 'block' universe would be divided into temporal parts and a-temoral parts.

The third argument is the one that I find the most difficult to, because i have not seen a response to Craig's arguments for (2) that I would deem successful.

There is no need for a successful response to Craig's arguments for (2) because Craig simply cannot prove (2) beyond mere intuition.

He responds to the omniscience objection by construing God's knowledge as a simple, unified awareness of all truth.

That's his cop-out, I know, but while this might work on some other view on divine providence, it most certainly does not work under molinism. It would mean that one truth determines all other truths. And that's disastrous for Craig's view on providence.



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Jmac

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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2012, 12:44:48 pm »
belorg wrote:
Yes, we could deny (3) is a timeless afterlife is possible. I am not sure why it won't work on a an A-theory, but given that timeless personal  existence has any meaning at all, I don't see why it wouldn't work on a B-theory. The 'block' universe would be divided into temporal parts and a-temoral parts.

Craig has said that even God can't return to a timeless state once he has entered temporal life on the A-theory. Craig argues that once God has entered into a temporal world, even if he were to somehow "leave" that world, it would still always make sense to say that he was in that temporal world, that he really did exist temporally. But if that remains true, then it seems he is still in time.

In order for a timeless afterlife to work on the B-theory, it seems that there would have to be some way for our lives to extend "beyond" the far edge of (or otherwise outside of) the time-block.

There is no need for a successful response to Craig's arguments for (2) because Craig simply cannot prove (2) beyond mere intuition.

He tries to show, using thought experiments, that assuming an actual infinite results in contradictions. If you could elaborate on your response to his arguments I would appreciate it. Frankly I would prefer if Craig's arguments against an actual infinite could be refuted, because it would open up a greater realm of useful possibilities elsewhere (such as this time issue), but I have not yet seen a good response.

That's his cop-out, I know, but while this might work on some other view on divine providence, it most certainly does not work under molinism. It would mean that one truth determines all other truths. And that's disastrous for Craig's view on providence.

I don't see how. The idea is not that God's knowledge reduces to a single proposition or anything like that. It's more like his knowledge is non-propositional.


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belorg

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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2012, 01:03:05 pm »
Jmac wrote:
Quote from: belorg
Yes, we could deny (3) is a timeless afterlife is possible. I am not sure why it won't work on a an A-theory, but given that timeless personal  existence has any meaning at all, I don't see why it wouldn't work on a B-theory. The 'block' universe would be divided into temporal parts and a-temoral parts.

Craig has said that even God can't return to a timeless state once he has entered temporal life on the A-theory.
Craig says that God is timeless sans and temporal with the universe.
If the universe ceases to exist (which it might under an A-theory), then God would be 'sans ' the universe again and could be timeless.
Mind that I am playing devil's advocate here, because I don't think the idea of an atemoral  persoanl being is coherent anyway.

Craig argues that once God has entered into a temporal world, even if he were to somehow "leave" that world, it would still always make sense to say that he was in that temporal world, that he really did exist temporally. But if that remains true, then it seems he is still in time.

If that's the case, then he has never been timeless, and every claim about timelss eternities is absurd.

In order for a timeless afterlife to work on the B-theory, it seems that there would have to be some way for our lives to extend "beyond" the far edge of (or otherwise outside of) the time-block.

If the block only consists of time, you are correct, but I would think it is possible for the block to also contain atemporal parts.
Anyway, lots of theists hold to a B-theory of time and still think God is outside time, so I do not see a direct contradiction.

He tries to show, using thought experiments, that assuming an actual infinite results in contradictions.

I am not aware of any real contradictions Craig has shown. Some things contradict what he personally thinks an actual infinite entails, but I think he is wrong altogether on what an actual infinity would be like if it existed.


If you could elaborate on your response to his arguments I would appreciate it. Frankly I would prefer if Craig's arguments against an actual infinite could be refuted,

They can be, but I really do not care to much for infinities. My world view does not need them anyway.

because it would open up a greater realm of useful possibilities elsewhere (such as this time issue), but I have not yet seen a good response.


I don't see how. The idea is not that God's knowledge reduces to a single proposition or anything like that. It's more like his knowledge is non-propositional.


The idea is that every true proposition can be derived from non-propositional knowledge. But in order for divine providence to work, God decised, under molinism, out of an actual infinite number of possible wolrds, the one which best fits his plans. To do that, God has to break up this non-propositional knoledge into an actual infinite number of propositions. If He doesn't , there is only one possible outcome and eevrything necssarily follows from God's non-propositional knowledge, which means there are no contigencies.


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Jmac

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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2012, 02:35:38 pm »
belorg wrote:
Craig says that God is timeless sans and temporal with the universe.
If the universe ceases to exist (which it might under an A-theory), then God would be 'sans ' the universe again and could be timeless.
Mind that I am playing devil's advocate here, because I don't think the idea of an atemoral  persoanl being is coherent anyway.
...

If that's the case, then he has never been timeless, and every claim about timelss eternities is absurd.

Craig's idea, I think, is that God is timeless without creation, and temporal with creation. So the idea is that in at least one aspect, creation is permanent. God could destroy the universe, and every being other than himself, but not time, which on Craig's view is part of creation.

If the block only consists of time, you are correct, but I would think it is possible for the block to also contain atemporal parts.
Anyway, lots of theists hold to a B-theory of time and still think God is outside time, so I do not see a direct contradiction.

Yes, it's not the idea of being outside of time on a B-theory that I fear is problematic. Its transferring from being in time to being outside of time on a B-theory that I wonder about. And since the fourth dimension of the block (which makes the block what it is) is time, I take that to mean that there cannot be timeless portions of the block. To be a part of the block is to be in time.

I am not aware of any real contradictions Craig has shown. Some things contradict what he personally thinks an actual infinite entails, but I think he is wrong altogether on what an actual infinity would be like if it existed.

He tries to show that if actual infinites could exist, then infinity minus infinity could equal zero, or infinity, or three, or any number you wanted. He argues that thought experiments show that these contradictory results could obtain.


They can be, but I really do not care to much for infinities. My world view does not need them anyway.

Do you have a theistic worldview? (if you don't mind me asking)

The idea is that every true proposition can be derived from non-propositional knowledge. But in order for divine providence to work, God decised, under molinism, out of an actual infinite number of possible wolrds, the one which best fits his plans. To do that, God has to break up this non-propositional knoledge into an actual infinite number of propositions. If He doesn't , there is only one possible outcome and eevrything necssarily follows from God's non-propositional knowledge, which means there are no contingencies.

I'm not so sure about this. It seems like God could have a simple apprehension of what is possible for him to do, and then just does something within that range of possibility. He doesn't necessarily think in terms of possible worlds.

I have a question about this argument, for clarification purposes. Could this argument you are making here be used against any account of providence where God can be said to select one of an infinity of possible worlds?

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belorg

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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2012, 03:28:48 pm »
Jmac wrote:

Craig's idea, I think, is that God is timeless without creation, and temporal with creation. So the idea is that in at least one aspect, creation is permanent. God could destroy the universe, and every being other than himself, but not time, which on Craig's view is part of creation.

Maybe. I do not really care to much about this. I don't think Craig has a very coherent view on time anyway.

Yes, it's not the idea of being outside of time on a B-theory that I fear is problematic. Its transferring from being in time to being outside of time on a B-theory that I wonder about.

I really don't know.

And since the fourth dimension of the block (which makes the block what it is) is time, I take that to mean that there cannot be timeless portions of the block. To be a part of the block is to be in time.

Maybe



He tries to show that if actual infinites could exist, then infinity minus infinity could equal zero, or infinity, or three, or any number you wanted.

That's exactly why I think he does not know what exactly he is talking about, beacsue infinity minus infinity is NOT zero or infinity or three or any number I wanted.



Do you have a theistic worldview? (if you don't mind me asking)

No, I am an atheist.


I'm not so sure about this. It seems like God could have a simple apprehension of what is possible for him to do, and then just does something within that range of possibility. He doesn't necessarily think in terms of possible worlds.

If he has middle knowledge, he does think in terms of PW.

I have a question about this argument, for clarification purposes. Could this argument you are making here be used against any account of providence where God can be said to select one of an infinity of possible worlds?

Yes, I think it probably can be used against any sort of providence.

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Jmac

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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2012, 03:45:56 pm »
belorg wrote:
That's exactly why I think he does not know what exactly he is talking about, beacsue infinity minus infinity is NOT zero or infinity or three or any number I wanted.

Craig would agree that infinity minus infinity is not equal to those things, I think. His point is that since that is true, and yet an actual infinity would lead to those results, therefore, an actual infinity is impossible.

If he has middle knowledge, he does think in terms of PW.

Yes, I think it probably can be used against any sort of providence.

As far as I know, nearly any view of providence can be thought of in terms of possible worlds, but no one believes that God literally thinks in terms of possible worlds the way we do. This is, again, our human way of thinking about God's knowledge.

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belorg

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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2012, 02:36:40 am »
Jmac wrote:
Quote from: belorg
That's exactly why I think he does not know what exactly he is talking about, beacsue infinity minus infinity is NOT zero or infinity or three or any number I wanted.

Craig would agree that infinity minus infinity is not equal to those things, I think. His point is that since that is true, and yet an actual infinity would lead to those results, therefore, an actual infinity is impossible.

An actual infinity would not lead to those results.Craig is treating an infinity as if it were a very high finite number. It's from that misconception that his 'contradictions arise'.


As far as I know, nearly any view of providence can be thought of in terms of possible worlds, but no one believes that God literally thinks in terms of possible worlds the way we do.

I have no idea how exactly God would thibk of possible worlds, but since His providence depends on these possible wolrds being actualized or not, He does in one way or another have to consider a whole bunch of them to give him a decent probability of the outcome, and all of them if He wants to have perfect knowledge of the outcome. And 'since all of them' enatils an actual infinity, the only way for God to know the outcome of every possible free choice performed by every  possible free agent, is by considering all these possible fere aganets in all their possible choices in all possible circumstances. That is unless the outcome is entailed in one  finite algorithm, which would make libretarian free will impossible.

This is, again, our human way of thinking about God's knowledge.

No, it is a logical implication of a human claim about God's knowledge.

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Jmac

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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2012, 08:31:48 am »
belorg wrote:
An actual infinity would not lead to those results.Craig is treating an infinity as if it were a very high finite number. It's from that misconception that his 'contradictions arise'.

Isn't that the point? If there were actual set of an infinity of existing entities, which, in virtue of being actual, could be moved around and exchanged and so forth, it seems like they would have to be treated as a very high finite number.


I have no idea how exactly God would thibk of possible worlds, but since His providence depends on these possible wolrds being actualized or not, He does in one way or another have to consider a whole bunch of them to give him a decent probability of the outcome, and all of them if He wants to have perfect knowledge of the outcome. And 'since all of them' enatils an actual infinity, the only way for God to know the outcome of every possible free choice performed by every  possible free agent, is by considering all these possible fere aganets in all their possible choices in all possible circumstances. That is unless the outcome is entailed in one  finite algorithm, which would make libretarian free will impossible.

Yes, he has to be aware of and consider all of the distinctions that go to make up possible worlds, but all I meant was that he doesn't necessarily organize them in terms of possible world semantics.

However, even if there was only one possible world, the idea that God's knowledge is simple still allows him to "see" all of the differences and distinctions between things in the actual world. Why does this suddenly become a problem with possible worlds? His way of thinking about all possibilities and actualities is in terms of a simple whole does not eliminate his knowledge of distinctions and details.

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belorg

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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2012, 02:32:43 pm »
Quote from: Jmac

Isn't that the point? If there were actual set of an infinity of existing entities, which, in virtue of being actual, could be moved around and exchanged and so forth, it seems like they would have to be treated as a very high finite number.

An infinite number is not a very high finite number, so it cannot be treated as one. But, as I said, I do not really care one way or the other  .



Quote
Yes, he has to be aware of and consider all of the distinctions that go to make up possible worlds, but all I meant was that he doesn't necessarily organize them in terms of possible world semantics.

Maybe not, but that does not make a difference.

However, even if there was only one possible world, the idea that God's knowledge is simple still allows him to "see" all of the differences and distinctions between things in the actual world     Why does this suddenly become a problem with possible worlds?  

Because in the  ctaul world, the number of 'things' may be very high, but it is  not necssarily an actual infinity, unless one takes into consideeration an infinite afterlife for some persons. Then, knwoledge about all diffrences and distinctions entails an actual infinity. If that's possible, no problem. But if we accept Craig's argument against AI's, this becomes a huge probelem for the theist.



.
His way of thinking about all possibilities and actualities is in terms of a simple whole does not eliminate his knowledge of distinctions and details.
Unless there is an infinity of distinctions and details. Anyway, this whole would be composed of lots os parts, so to call it a 'whole' seems a bit ad hoc.

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Jmac

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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2012, 02:45:51 pm »
belorg wrote:
An infinite number is not a very high finite number, so it cannot be treated as one. But, as I said, I do not really care one way or the other.

What would you say about this line of argument, then: To believe than an infinity of discrete entities can exist in reality is to treat infinity as a very high finite number. Therefore, an actual infinite is impossible.


Because in the  ctaul world, the number of 'things' may be very high, but it is  not necssarily an actual infinity, unless one takes into consideeration an infinite afterlife for some persons. Then, knwoledge about all diffrences and distinctions entails an actual infinity. If that's possible, no problem. But if we accept Craig's argument against AI's, this becomes a huge probelem for the theist.
...

Unless there is an infinity of distinctions and details. Anyway, this whole would be composed of lots os parts, so to call it a 'whole' seems a bit ad hoc.

I'm thinking that the issue comes down to whether a "simple omniscience" is coherent, rather than whether it is compatible with a possible worlds providence. Because in order for God to be omniscient he would have to be aware of all the infinite distinctions (which don't necessarily exist any more than possible worlds do) that go in to choosing a possible world, but the idea of simplicity here is that he can be aware of all these distinctions in a simple, significantly more unified way than we can. So it comes down to one's intuitions about whether such a thing could possibly be coherent. An imperfect analogy that is used is perception, where we have knowledge of a whole visual field, including distinctions within it, without breaking it down into fundamental parts like "pixels" or something.

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belorg

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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2012, 04:09:24 am »
Jmac wrote:

What would you say about this line of argument, then: To believe than an infinity of discrete entities can exist in reality is to treat infinity as a very high finite number.

I would say this is wrong, just as it wrong to treat pzdt eternity as if time began an infinite number of years ago. If the past is infinite, it did not begin.
So, if you keep looking at infinity as infinity, there are no problems. That's why transfinite mathetematics were invented.





I'm thinking that the issue comes down to whether a "simple omniscience" is coherent, rather than whether it is compatible with a possible worlds providence.
No, that's not true. While I think simple omniscience is incoherent, this has nothing to do with my current objection.

Because in order for God to be omniscient he would have to be aware of all the infinite distinctions (which don't necessarily exist any more than possible worlds do) that go in to choosing a possible world, but the idea of simplicity here is that he can be aware of all these distinctions in a simple, significantly more unified way than we can.

Maybe in a more unified way, but if there really are distinctions, not in a simple way, because infinite distinctions do exist as elements of God's knowledge.
Now this knowledge can be different from our knowledge, but it cannot be ultimately simple, since it comprises an actual infinity of possibilities.

So it comes down to one's intuitions about whether such a thing could possibly be coherent. An imperfect analogy that is used is perception, where we have knowledge of a whole visual field, including distinctions within it, without breaking it down into fundamental parts like "pixels" or something.

Perception is not knowledge. We actuallu do not have knowledge of this whole visual field. We can derive detailed knowledge about this field from observations and generalizations, and comparison to other knoweldge we have. So this analogy does not work.

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Jmac

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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2012, 07:25:33 am »
belorg wrote:
I would say this is wrong, just as it wrong to treat pzdt eternity as if time began an infinite number of years ago. If the past is infinite, it did not begin.
So, if you keep looking at infinity as infinity, there are no problems. That's why transfinite mathetematics were invented.

Interesting, so this opens the door to an actual infinite, which would also address the omniscience question.


Maybe in a more unified way, but if there really are distinctions, not in a simple way, because infinite distinctions do exist as elements of God's knowledge.
Now this knowledge can be different from our knowledge, but it cannot be ultimately simple, since it comprises an actual infinity of possibilities.

The idea is that the distinctions don't exist in God's mind. He has a simple cognitive state that corresponds to a complex to a complex state of affairs, and amounts to an awareness of the complexity. But on this model his awareness of complexity is not itself any sort of complex situation in his mind. The perception analogy actually does capture this to a limited degree, insofar as a visual image of the external world in our mind can be thought of as a single unit of awareness, but it represents a complex state of affairs.