Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Traditional Third Way

I have spent quite a bit of time defending the Modal Third Way. However, I think the traditional argument is compelling, as well. What Maimonides, Thomas, and others have argued is the following:

1. Every existing entity is either contingent or necessary. (Definition)

2. Something has always existed. (Premise)

3. There was a past time at which nothing contingent existed. (Premise)

4. Therefore, a necessary entity exists. (From 1 - 3)

Before moving on to a defense of each of the premises, a few words of "necessity" are in order. First, the conclusion is not necessarily to a logically necessary entity. It's not as if "nothing necessary exists" is contradictory in the same vein as "John is a married bachelor." Rather, the argument seeks to establish the existence of some temporally necessary entity, e.g. something indestructible, or incorruptible, if it exists at all. Moreover, as I have said on more than one occasion, a necessary entity must also be eternal and enormously powerful (if not omnipotent). After all, the weaker a thing is, the more inclined it is toward corruptibility.

Now, what about the argument's premises? (1) is obviously true: an existing thing either possibly fails to exist (contingency) or cannot fail to exist (necessity). (2) is based on ex nihilo nihil fit (out of nothing comes nothing). If there were a past time at which nothing exists, then nothing would exist now, which is patently false.

(3) is likely the most controversial premise, but "controversial" is not synonymous with "improbable." Given infinite time, all non-zero probabilities will be actualized at some point. The Scholastics put it like this: given infinite time, all real potentialities will be actualized. After all, infinity is just inexhaustible. In fact, it could even be argued that there are infinitely-many points at which nothing contingent exists. Either way, (3) appears to be in good shape. Yet, if nothing contingent existed at a past time, and something existed at the same time - per premise (2) - it follows that a necessary entity exists.

Therefore, something necessary, eternal, and enormously powerful exists. Whether or not this entity is the Christian God, or the deity of any other religion, is a matter for further inquiry.

Of course, one could always say that the universe's past is finite, and I would agree. However, that does nothing to undermine the Third Way. In fact, it actually gives us another argument for God's existence: the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA).

25 comments:

  1. Walter Van den AckerMarch 1, 2011 at 5:22 AM

    "Therefore, something necessary, eternal, and enormously powerful exists"

    The lasts bit is a non-sequitur, Doug.
    Even if something necessary exists, it does not follow that it must be enormously powerful, unless, being enormously powerful is "a real potentiality". If the necessary entity is e.g. an elementary particle and there is nothing powerful enough to destroy an elemantery particle, then every existing EP is necessary, yet it is not 'enormously powerful' (unless you want to stretch the definition of enormously powerful to include elementary particles, which would not do too much good if you want to proceed to the Christian God or the deity of any other religion.
    "Of course, one could always say that the universe's past is finite, and I would agree."

    Or that the universe is infinite but never began. That would undermine the third way, of course because there would have been no infinity of time to realize all real potentialities.

    BTW, Doug, the KCA actually proves the non-existence of the very being it wants to argue for.

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  2. Walter, if you think the KCA is self-refuting, you might consider submitting a question to William Lane Craig: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/Survey?SURVEY_ID=1180&ACTION_REQUIRED=URI_ACTION_USER_REQUESTS

    As for the other issues, we have already gone over them at some length. I really have no interest in going over them all again.

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  3. Walter Van den AckerMarch 2, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    I did consider submitting a question to Craig, Doug, but I found out some time ago such a question had already been submitted by someone else who had a similar counter-argument. And Craig answered with a lot of words but it was clear that he wasn't able to refute the counter-argument, but, as usual, he was able to side-step the question so as to make it look as if he really had an anwer. It was in fact Craig's 'answer' that removed any doubts I might have had about whether the KCA was really self-refuting.

    As for the other issues, I agree we have discussed them at length. I just do not wnat any potential reader to get the impression that what you are claiming is not problematic.
    And IFAIK we haven't discussed the possibility that the universe is finite in time but did not begin.

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  4. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on Craig's answer.

    Moving on, I wasn't sure what you meant earlier, since you used the term, "infinite," but now that you have clarified by using "finite," I can see you're talking about Stephen Hawking's theorem of a curved singularity. The issue with this is that the universe still had a beginning even on Hawking's model. It just didn't begin at a single point. It's much like if we compare a cone (the traditional singularity theorem) with a badminton birdie (Hawking's curved singularity theorem).

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  5. Walter Van den AckerMarch 2, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    If Hawking is correct, then the universe did not begin in any usual sense of the word 'begin'. But I wasn't talking about Hawking's theorem. That's just one hypothesis. I was talking from a philosopical POV, not from a scientific one.
    AFAIK, there is no real argument against the universe being eternal but having begun its temporal existence so many billion years ago.
    If that's correct, there was no infinity of time for all real potentialities to be realized, and the universe could be contingent.

    And as to the KCA, it's not a matter of agreeing to disagree. As it stands now, the KCA proves the impossibility of the very God Craig is trying to prove. If the KCA is corrcet, then the cause of the universe cannot possibly be eternal and timeless. It's not a matter of probability, it's a matter of logical possibility.

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  7. I'm not finding a whole lot of argumentation in your latest response. I see a number of conclusions, but arguments have premises. Should I really feel compelled to agree that a timeless First Cause is impossible (and not even just improbable) when you have given no reason to think that?

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  8. Walter Van den AckerMarch 3, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    I was under the impression that when you said we'll have to agree to disagree on Craig's answer you knew what Craig's answer was and what exactly the question was.
    If you want to discuss this, I'll give you my arguments, but since your article isn't primarily on the KCA, that would be quite a derail.
    But is there a real argument against an eternal universe that is finite in time or not?

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  9. I do know what Craig's answer is, but your response was that it was wordy and that he dodged the issue. I want to know what is wrong with his response, and not just how you feel about it. Also, what do you mean by an eternal universe that is finite in time? Are you thinking of eternity as timelessness or as infinite time? Either way, it's hard to understand how the universe could be one or the other.

    Let's bring the discussion back to the Third Way. Assuming that the universe is infinite, I gave an argument that a necessary entity is needed to explain why anything exists right now. But if the universe is finite, then we already know there was a time (or state of affairs) at which nothing contingent existed. So, the same conclusion is warranted.

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  10. Walter Van den AckerMarch 3, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    Craig's sees no reason why an eternal, timeless God couldn't wish from eternity for a beginning universe to exist. The reason why that is impossible is that God's eternal wish is a neceesary and sufficient cause for the existence of the universe and since that sufficient cause has always existed, so must the result of that cause. So, if we follow Craig here,we get a beginning universe that has always existed or, more precisely: a beginning universe that did not begin. Since wishing from eternity for a universe to have a beginning, leads to a contradiction, it follows that, if Craig's timeless and eternal God exists, the universe must be eternal. But that contradicts the KCA's second premise "the universe began". Ergo: the KCA is self-refuting.
    Now we've once and for all got rid of the KCA, let's concentrate on the Third way.
    If the universe is infinite but finite in time, (so timelessly eternal and, once in a temporal state, finite in time) then there never was a time or a state of affairs at which the universe did not exist. If the universe is contingent, then there was no time or no state of affairs at which nothing contingent existed. So the same conclsuion is not warranted. and there is nothing logically impossible about a universe existing timelessly and then becoming temporal. It may be a bit counter-intuitive, but it is not impossible. And because the timeless state of the universe would be a necessary but not a sufficient cause of the temporal universe, we do not run into the same contradiction as in the KCA.

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  12. Walter: "The reason why that is impossible is that God's eternal wish is a neceesary and sufficient cause for the existence of the universe and since that sufficient cause has always existed, so must the result of that cause."

    Craig doesn't view it quite that way. What he says is that God is timeless without the universe, and enters into time at the moment of creation. It's actually the reason he concludes that the first cause of the universe must be a personal agent. Now, I don't agree with Craig's view entirely, so I don't want to get into a defense of his position, but I point this out in order to prevent misconceptions about the man's belief.

    Walter: "Since wishing from eternity for a universe to have a beginning, leads to a contradiction, it follows that, if Craig's timeless and eternal God exists, the universe must be eternal."

    Part of the issue is whether willing from eternity requires an eternal effect. You call the act of willing a "sufficient and necessary condition," but why does this make the effect eternal?

    Walter: "Now we've once and for all got rid of the KCA, let's concentrate on the Third way."

    Once and for all? Lol okay, I mean, I'm willing to move on, but if you really think you have presented a compelling, knockdown objection to the KCA, then maybe you should consider publishing it.

    Walter: "If the universe is infinite but finite in time, (so timelessly eternal and, once in a temporal state, finite in time) then there never was a time or a state of affairs at which the universe did not exist."

    You didn't really answer the question I posed earlier: what does it mean to call the universe (the sum total of all space, time, matter and energy) eternal or timeless?

    Walter: "If the universe is contingent, then there was no time or no state of affairs at which nothing contingent existed."

    If the universe had a first moment in time, then it had a causal (even if not temporal) transition from non-being to being.

    Walter: "And because the timeless state of the universe would be a necessary but not a sufficient cause of the temporal universe, we do not run into the same contradiction as in the KCA."

    Why would it not be a sufficient cause? I'm not even offering an argument against this right now. I'm just trying to comprehend what it is you're saying. To begin with, the notion of a timeless universe just doesn't make any sense. Not only does this concept have linguistic and metaphysical problems, but it's opposed to modern science, as well. Part of General Relativity is that the existence of matter necessitates time. So, the existence of a physical object (the universe) means that the universe is in time. There's nothing atemporal about the universe.

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  13. Walter Van den AckerMarch 4, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    "Craig doesn't view it quite that way. What he says is that God is timeless without the universe, and enters into time at the moment of creation."

    That's what he says, and I don't agree with him, but this is completely irrelevant and not related to my criticism.

    "Part of the issue is whether willing from eternity requires an eternal effect. You call the act of willing a "sufficient and necessary condition," but why does this make the effect eternal?"

    Because the cause is sufficient and necessary as well as eternal and timeless. IOW the cause did not begin and was sufficient to bring about the effect throughout its eternal existence, which means that the effect was also present throughout the eternal existence of the cause. Otherwise the cause should be prior in time to the effect. But , according to Craig's argument, there was no time for anything to preceed anything else.


    "Once and for all? Lol okay, I mean, I'm willing to move on, but if you really think you have presented a compelling, knockdown objection to the KCA, then maybe you should consider publishing it."

    Actually, I'm thinking about it, Doug.

    "Why would it not be a sufficient cause?"

    Because I am considering the possibility that the eternal timeless state of the universe was indeterministic.

    "Part of General Relativity is that the existence of matter necessitates time. So, the existence of a physical object (the universe) means that the universe is in time."
    General Relativity is not the whole story, Doug, and nobody is saying that the universe was physical in its timeless state, at least, I am not saying that. The universe in its timeless state could very well have been non-physical.
    I agree that it is not an everyday concept, but in fact it is far less outrageous than a non-physical ultimaltely simple disembodied mind who can create all sorts of things out of nothing and can wish a universe into existence that is eternal and yet began to exist

    "If the universe had a first moment in time, then it had a causal (even if not temporal) transition from non-being to being."

    If God had a first moment in time, then he had a causal (even if not temporal) transition from non-being to being. Does that make any sense? I don't think it does, but you seem to think so.

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  14. Walter, "Because the cause is sufficient and necessary as well as eternal and timeless. IOW the cause did not begin and was sufficient to bring about the effect throughout its eternal existence, which means that the effect was also present throughout the eternal existence of the cause. Otherwise the cause should be prior in time to the effect. But , according to Craig's argument, there was no time for anything to preceed anything else."

    Part of why I mention what Craig's view is is in order to avoid misconceptions like the above. God can will from all eternity to create, but the action of carrying out that will is a separate thing. A man sitting down in a chair from eternity can freely choose to stand up. By analogy, Craig's position is that God does not remain changeless. The act of creation results in God's entering into time, so this whole talk of sufficient and necessary conditions is moot.

    By the way, I adopted a B-theory of time awhile back, and the argument you propose (which is defended by Wes Morriston) depends upon an A-theory.

    Walter: "Because I am considering the possibility that the eternal timeless state of the universe was indeterministic."

    So it's like a cosmic fluctuation?

    Walter: "General Relativity is not the whole story, Doug, and nobody is saying that the universe was physical in its timeless state, at least, I am not saying that. The universe in its timeless state could very well have been non-physical."

    This is shaping up to be a really weird form of atheism, then.

    Walter: "I agree that it is not an everyday concept, but in fact it is far less outrageous than a non-physical ultimaltely simple disembodied mind who can create all sorts of things out of nothing and can wish a universe into existence that is eternal and yet began to exist"

    Talk about not being the whole story...

    God's mind is a simple thing, but His thoughts may very well be complex. The mind and its thoughts are distinct. Otherwise, every time we had a different thought, we would suddenly have a different mind, and that's absurd. Anyway, that's just one issue I have with your caricature.

    Walter: "If God had a first moment in time, then he had a causal (even if not temporal) transition from non-being to being. Does that make any sense? I don't think it does, but you seem to think so."

    Let's think about it this way. Your position is that the beginning of the universe is an inexplicable fact about an inexplicable substance (or substances). Yet, all of this inexplicability resulted in the great explicability we observe now and throughout history?

    The fact of the matter is that one entity need not precede another in time in order to causally sustain it. That's the kind of causation the Third Way is addressing.

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  15. Walter Van den AckerMarch 7, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    "God can will from all eternity to create, but the action of carrying out that will is a separate thing."

    Oh, the action happens later then. But there was no time, so how could it be later?

    "A man sitting down in a chair from eternity can freely choose to stand up"

    To stand up when, Doug? If he wills from eternity to stand up, he stands up from eternity and he hasn't actually sat down.

    "The act of creation results in God's entering into time, so this whole talk of sufficient and necessary conditions is moot."

    God's will results in God's action and since God's will never began, neither did his creation. IOW God has always been in time, which means time never began, and time is an actula infinity, which according to Craig cannot exist.
    I really don't want to spend any more time on this Doug. If it's not by now clear to you how incoherent the concept of a timeless eternal personel creator is, then you will probably never get it.

    "By the way, I adopted a B-theory of time awhile back, and the argument you propose (which is defended by Wes Morriston) depends upon an A-theory."

    Under a B-theory of time, the KCA is moot anyway, so I don not need this argument under a B-theory.

    "God's mind is a simple thing, but His thoughts may very well be complex."

    Thought are a part of God's mind, so if a part of something is complex, the whole cannot be ultimately simple. And it's not a caricature, it's just a description of Craig's God concept. Everything I said here is borrowed from Craig, so if it's a caricature, it's Craig's, not mine.

    "Let's think about it this way. Your position is that the beginning of the universe is an inexplicable fact about an inexplicable substance (or substances)."

    I've never said it's inexplicable. But anyway, your position is that the beginning of the universe is an inexplicable fact about an inexplicable person. Why do you think your position is any better?

    "The fact of the matter is that one entity need not precede another in time in order to causally sustain it. That's the kind of causation the Third Way is addressing."

    I've never heard a good argument for that assertion, Doug, but even if it's true, that does not show it's impossible for something to sustain itself.
    BTW on a B-theory of time, everything is temporally necessary.

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  16. Let's take a look at your statements in reverse order. First of all, under a B-theory, it's simply not the case that everything is temporally necessary. It's true that every moment of time is equally real. However, there is a before-and-after relationship between moments and the objects that exist at those moments. The Battle of Waterloo took place in 1815. Is this moment equally real on a B-theory? Sure, but it's not temporally necessary. It doesn't obtain in 2011.

    Next, the beginning of the universe either has an explanation or no explanation. What do you say? Now, I don't think that God is an inexplicable person. God exists by a necessity of His own nature, which is an explanation.

    Third, you say that thoughts are part of God's mind, but you ignore my response. Is God's mind identical to His thoughts? If so, then every time He has a different thought, He would be a different mind, which is ridiculous. (Keep in mind that Craig sees God as changing in some sense.)

    Fourth, you call the KCA moot under a B-theory, but you don't explain why. Under a B-theory, the universe still has a beginning insofar as there are no before-moments that precede it. This first moment is either explained or it's not. If it is explained, then we can get into whether that explanation is God.

    Walter: "God's will results in God's action and since God's will never began, neither did his creation. IOW God has always been in time, which means time never began, and time is an actula infinity, which according to Craig cannot exist."

    God's will does result in God's action, but there's no reason to think that God could not will a change from timelessness to temporality. Unless you have some argument that doesn't merely repeat your former assertion, there's not much point in staying in this loop.

    Walter: "I really don't want to spend any more time on this Doug. If it's not by now clear to you how incoherent the concept of a timeless eternal personel creator is, then you will probably never get it."

    If you want to end the conversation, that's fine. I'm confident that I do understand your objections and that they fail to refute the KCA.

    Walter: "To stand up when, Doug? If he wills from eternity to stand up, he stands up from eternity and he hasn't actually sat down."

    How does your immaterial universe (whatever that means) avoid this "problem," then? Is it just because the necessary conditions aren't sufficient? Fine, then the same can be said of the man who sits from eternity and chooses to stand up.

    Walter: "Oh, the action happens later then. But there was no time, so how could it be later?"

    Nobody says it's later. Will and action just aren't the same thing, that's all.

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  17. Walter Van den AckerMarch 9, 2011 at 5:45 AM

    "It doesn't obtain in 2011."

    "In 2011", under a B-theory of time has no real meaning. The 'befores' and 'afters' of B-theory are just matters of speech. Time is a changeless continuum that we happen to perceive as changing. In fact, 1815 is not temporally prior to 2011. Nothing is really teporally prior to 2011 and nothing is temporally later than 2011. The past exists and so does the future and there was no past at which the past didn't exist and there wil be no future at which point the future wil not exist anymore. Everything is present and temporally necessary.
    And since there was no past at which the past didn't exist, there is no beginning of time. that's why the KCA does not work under a B-theory (and that's also one of the reasons why WL Craig desperately defends the A-theory, BTW)

    "God exists by a necessity of His own nature, which is an explanation."

    The universe exists by necessity of its own nature is an explanation too and so is: the universe is the result of a quantum fluctuation
    .
    "God's will does result in God's action, but there's no reason to think that God could not will a change from timelessness to temporality."

    Of course He could, but then he would be temporal since eternity. His temporality, in that case, would never have begun. And 'timeless enernity' wouldn't mean anything

    "How does your immaterial universe (whatever that means) avoid this "problem," then? Is it just because the necessary conditions aren't sufficient? Fine, then the same can be said of the man who sits from eternity and chooses to stand up."
    If this man's choice is not a sufficient condition for his sitting up, then that would avoid the problem. But I have never heard anyone claim that God's decisions aren't sufficient causes. So, you think God could wish "I want to be temporal" and then say "Oh, shit, it didn't happen, I'm still timeless, let's try a second time?" until He finally succeeds (or doesn't succeed) in becoming temporal. If you believe in such a God, Doug, then you are right, but then God is not a necessary and suficient cause for anything, which would make Him useless as a cause.


    "Nobody says it's later. Will and action just aren't the same thing, that's all."

    God's will is a sufficient cause for His actions and God's actions are a sufficient cuase for his entering time. God's will didn't begin, so meither did God's actions and neither did God's enetering time begin. He was always entering time, which means that time is eternal, and time is even an actual infinity, which, according to Craig, is impossible.

    Your responses here strongly suggest that you don't even have a clue what my objections are about. In any case, nothing you have claimed here has even begun to refute my objections.

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  18. I think you need to re-read what B-theories are all about, since to say that before/after relations are meaningless is simply false. A B-theory only rejects temporal becoming.

    Walter: "that's why the KCA does not work under a B-theory (and that's also one of the reasons why WL Craig desperately defends the A-theory, BTW)"

    Not only do you completely misinterpret the B-theory, but you also misinterpret the reason Craig defends the A-theory. The A-theory is essential to Craig's second philosophical argument against the infinitude of the universe's past, as well as the personhood of the first cause. That's it.

    Walter: "The universe exists by necessity of its own nature is an explanation too and so is: the universe is the result of a quantum fluctuation"

    You mean the same universe that was supposedly immaterial? Point being, these alternatives aren't good explanations, nor are they even relevant to the argument I defend in this post. Whether the necessary, eternal, and enormously powerful entity is part of the universe or transcends the universe is left as an open question.

    Walter: "Of course He could, but then he would be temporal since eternity. His temporality, in that case, would never have begun. And 'timeless enernity' wouldn't mean anything"

    He would be temporal since eternity? How do you figure?

    Walter: "If this man's choice is not a sufficient condition for his sitting up, then that would avoid the problem. But I have never heard anyone claim that God's decisions aren't sufficient causes."

    Probably because you conflate willing with acting.

    Walter: "So, you think God could wish 'I want to be temporal' and then say 'Oh, shit, it didn't happen, I'm still timeless, let's try a second time?'"

    Please no profanity. God's acting is causally subsequent to His willing, so there was no "trying" to begin with if there was no acting.

    Walter: "If you believe in such a God, Doug, then you are right, but then God is not a necessary and suficient cause for anything, which would make Him useless as a cause."

    Fortunately for me, then, it doesn't come down to that.

    Walter: "God's will is a sufficient cause for His actions and God's actions are a sufficient cuase for his entering time."

    God's will is a necessary condition of His actions.

    Walter: "Your responses here strongly suggest that you don't even have a clue what my objections are about. In any case, nothing you have claimed here has even begun to refute my objections."

    Right back at ya.

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  19. Walter Van den AckerMarch 12, 2011 at 6:39 AM

    "I think you need to re-read what B-theories are all about, since to say that before/after relations are meaningless is simply false. A B-theory only rejects temporal becoming."

    Before/after relations under B-theory of time mean the same as here/there relations. "I am here and Doug is there and Napolean is in 1815" that's all true under a B-theory of time.

    "The A-theory is essential to Craig's second philosophical argument against the infinitude of the universe's past, as well as the personhood of the first cause."

    So, under a B-theory of time the universe's past is infinite, and the universe didn't begin, in what way does that NOT destroy the KCA?

    "Point being, these alternatives aren't good explanations"

    Evidence, please.

    "God's acting is causally subsequent to His willing, so there was no "trying" to begin with if there was no acting."
    The question is not: is acting causally subsequent to willing. The question is: is it meaningful to say that, under non-temporal conditions, the 'will' didn't begin, but the action did?

    "Whether the necessary, eternal, and enormously powerful entity is part of the universe or transcends the universe is left as an open question."

    If it doesn't transcend the universe, then it began with the universe, Doug. And , more to the point, if I define this immaterial universe as necessary, it is relevant to your argument.
    So, let's agree,something necessary and eternal exists. The enormously powerful bit is a non-suquitur anyway.

    "God's will is a necessary condition of His actions."

    So not a sufficient condition? That means that there are things that God wills but don't happen. Now that may be true, but then you believe in some very weird God who is completely unlike the Christian God.

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  20. Walter: "Before/after relations under B-theory of time mean the same as here/there relations."

    Good enough. I like to imagine it as a ruler, in which all the centimeter points equally exist, but exist in different areas of the ruler.

    Walter: "So, under a B-theory of time the universe's past is infinite, and the universe didn't begin, in what way does that NOT destroy the KCA?"

    Who says the universe is infinite under a B-theory? If the length of a ruler is finite, there is nothing that precedes it, so it still makes sense to speak of a beginning point.

    Walter: "Evidence, please."

    Besides the fact that the universe is composed of things that regularly come into being and pass away?

    Walter: "The question is not: is acting causally subsequent to willing. The question is: is it meaningful to say that, under non-temporal conditions, the 'will' didn't begin, but the action did?"

    What's not to understand?

    Walter: "If it doesn't transcend the universe, then it began with the universe, Doug."

    Then don't call the universe necessary, especially if time is an essential component of the universe. Then again, you're the one saying the universe was at one state timeless, not me.

    Walter: "And , more to the point, if I define this immaterial universe as necessary, it is relevant to your argument."

    Define it as necessary? So, its immateriality is necessary but then not? What are you saying?

    Walter: "So, let's agree,something necessary and eternal exists. The enormously powerful bit is a non-suquitur anyway."

    I'm glad you're willing to agree on the first bit, but if if the sum total of contingent entities has an external cause (as these arguments claim), it follows that this external cause is enormously powerful. After all, there is a vastness about this sum total that requires an external cause to be at least as powerful as what it is explaining.

    By the way, I think I'm making a fairly modest claim in calling this necessary entity "enormously powerful." I didn't use the stronger term of "omnipotent," even though I maintain I could.

    Walter: "So not a sufficient condition? That means that there are things that God wills but don't happen. Now that may be true, but then you believe in some very weird God who is completely unlike the Christian God."

    Maybe you're not grasping how Craig uses "will." It doesn't mean "try" or "attempt." Rather, it simply refers to a resolution of some desired end.

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  21. Walter Van den AckerMarch 14, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    "Good enough. I like to imagine it as a ruler, in which all the centimeter points equally exist, but exist in different areas of the ruler."

    They don't exist in different areas of the ruler. There is no 'ruler' They exist in a certain order from a certain point of view, but there is no absolute point of view.


    "Who says the universe is infinite under a B-theory? If the length of a ruler is finite, there is nothing that precedes it, so it still makes sense to speak of a beginning point."

    It makes no sense, because the end or beginning of the ruler is only the end or the beginning from a certain point of view, it's not absolute. But the main reason I say this is because you said that he A-theory is essential to Craig's second philosophical argument against the infinitude of the universe's past. If he has to use the A-theory to argue against the infinited of the universe's past, that means that he thinks his argument does not work under a B-theory. And since the infinitude of the past is eesential to the KCA, the KCA fails under a B-theory and the case for a personal creator most certainly fails.

    "Besides the fact that the universe is composed of things that regularly come into being and pass away?"

    That's totally irrelevant. The way the universe is composed now has nothing to do with the fact that the initial immaterial universe is a necessery being or not.

    "Define it as necessary? So, its immateriality is necessary but then not? What are you saying?"

    I'm saying the exact same thing as Christians who claim that their immaterial God is necessary but became 'a thing that came into being and passed away'. if that's possible, then why wouldn't my universe be possible?

    Double standards again.

    "After all, there is a vastness about this sum total that requires an external cause to be at least as powerful as what it is explaining."

    This 'sum total ' may be explained by the Big Bang. At most you could asy that this neceesary entity had to have a lot of energy. If that's whta you mean by 'powerful' then I don't have too many objections. So, the universe was caused by a necessary Big Bang. OK, so what?

    "It doesn't mean "try" or "attempt." Rather, it simply refers to a resolution of some desired end."

    The question is: does God always get this 'end'? If He wishes a universe, is there any chance He ends up with bottle of beer?

    Now, Doug, I think it's time to end this discussion. We seemnot to get any further.

    Just one thing: I do not believe in an immaterial universe. It's a speculation that is not logically impossible, that's all. And that's the way I see it. I do not think I'm ratioanlly justified in 'believing'it. I haven't got enough basis to do so. But I think, for the same reason, that 'belief' in God isn't justified either. It could be thought of as a viable speculation, maybe.

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  22. Walter: "They don't exist in different areas of the ruler. There is no 'ruler' They exist in a certain order from a certain point of view, but there is no absolute point of view."

    An absolute point of view has nothing to do with it. The analogy simply shows how one point can precede another while simulatenously being just as real.

    Walter: "It makes no sense, because the end or beginning of the ruler is only the end or the beginning from a certain point of view, it's not absolute."

    Who says that? Where are you getting your information from?

    Walter: "If he has to use the A-theory to argue against the infinited of the universe's past, that means that he thinks his argument does not work under a B-theory."

    He admits as much.

    Walter: "And since the infinitude of the past is eesential to the KCA, the KCA fails under a B-theory and the case for a personal creator most certainly fails."

    No, only the second philosophical argument requires an A-theory. The first philosophical argument and the two scientific arguments are all consistent with a B-theory.

    Walter: "That's totally irrelevant. The way the universe is composed now has nothing to do with the fact that the initial immaterial universe is a necessery being or not."

    So everything in the universe is contingent, but the universe itself is necessary? Or, are you just saying that some part of the universe is necessary? The first option doesn't make any sense at all.

    Walter: "I'm saying the exact same thing as Christians who claim that their immaterial God is necessary but became 'a thing that came into being and passed away'. if that's possible, then why wouldn't my universe be possible?"

    Yeah, nobody says that the Christian God came into being and passed away. We have already talked about the Incarnation at length, and you're just ignoring the explanations I've already given.

    Walter: "The question is: does God always get this 'end'? If He wishes a universe, is there any chance He ends up with bottle of beer?"

    God actualizes the end at the moment He acts.

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  23. Walter Van den AckerMarch 16, 2011 at 1:57 AM

    This will be my last reply on this, Doug.
    There are several possible interpretetions of the B-theory, and most certainly mine is a possible interpretation.

    And, yes, it's possible that everything in the universe is contingent and the whole is necessary. The whole does not equal the parts.
    Ot maybe some part is necessary and gave rise to the contingent parts, or whatever. Lots of possibilities, in fact. And if I use some modal trickery, if the universe is possibly necessary it is necessary.

    "God actualizes the end at the moment He acts"

    This is such a typical illustration of your lack of understanding of my objection that I will let it speak for itself. There is nothing more I can say. So long, Doug.

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  24. Doug,

    2 can be held as a theorem in conventional predicate logic, perhaps. That something exists is a presupposition of the logic. Whether something always exists (which isolates the realm to the strictly temporal) is something i'm not too sure about.

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  25. Walter, we disagreed, but we did so without spewing venom at one another. That's a victory everyone can benefit from.

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