Playing the Links

December 28, 2006

Here are a few recent posts worth checking out:

Victor Reppert has a post entitled “Dawkins on C. S. Lewis and the trilemma.” Go to his blog here, scroll down some, and check it out. At the end he has linked to a few relevant articles.

Though a bit dated, William Lane Craig has an article on God and the Beginning of Timeon his website. Be ready, it’s a bit demanding.

Paul Copan‘s review of The Impossibility of God, edited by Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, may be read here.

Ross at Reason for the Hope Within has a brief post entitled Tolkien on Ethics. If you’re a LotR geek interested in ethics (like me), you’ll like it. Read the rest of this entry »

Presentism and Truthmakers

April 15, 2006

According to Presentism, whatever exists, exists now, in the present. The past has flowed away and the future is yet to come. Only the present exits. But what of things like abstract objects? This view appears to rule out in one swift stroke, any view of abstract entities, for such things do not exists at times, present, past, or future. Many presentists would want qualify a bit. According to this qualified view, for any x, x exists if and only if x obtains in the present, and x is non-abstract. This way room is made for the existence of atemporal objects—objects like properties or numbers which exist but do not exist in the present since they do not exist at any time.

But as attractive Presentism is, it faces a serious objection: How exactly are truths about the past grounded? This question of the grounding past truths is a consequence of the truthmaker thesis:

TM: Every truth has a truthmaker—that in virtue of which a proposition or sentence is true.

Traditionally, facts or states of affairs are taken to be the sort of things that qualify as truthmakers, so that for any true proposition P, there exists a corresponding fact or state of affairs S such that P if and only if S. But perhaps this definition is too strong. There are some truths, e.g. analytic ones, which seem to require no truthmakers. For example the proposition

1) All bachelors in are unmarried,

is just true by definition. Similarly, contingent negative existential propositions like

2) Cerberus does not exist,

are also thought to not require truthmakers since they do not posit the existence of anything and, so, do not require the existence of anything in order to be true. But save for the likes of 1) or 2), truthmakers are apparently needed for all other propositions. If it is true that I am now writing this post, then necessarily, it is the case that I am now writing this post. But what about the post I wrote last Saturday? What is it that grounds a proposition like:

3) Xavier wrote a post last Saturday.

Given Presentism, apparently, nothing in the past could, since past events do not exist. Further, nothing in the present does either, for my typing last Saturday’s post occurred last Saturday. How then does Presentism account for the truth of something like 3)?

Eternity, Divine Knowledge, and Theories of Time

March 14, 2006

The guys over at Prosblogion have been really going at it in a couple of recent posts over the questions of atemporalism, A and B theories of time, libertarianism, Banezianism and Molinism, and a host of others. The first post by Kevin Timpe, Divine Eternity and Libertarian Free Will, addresses the question of…well, divine eternity and libertarian free will. Jeremey Pierce follows up with another post on Divine Atemporality and Tensed Facts. Check it out when you get a chance.

Atemporalism & the Argument from Simultaneity

November 10, 2005

One often repeated argument against atemporalism is the argument from simultaneity (hereafter “AS”). For the life of me, I cannot figure why this argument persists even though there are much better arguments against atemporalism available (e.g. the argument from God’s knowledge of tensed propositions, or the argument from temporal becoming). Swinburne and Kenny’s formulations of the argument are usually taken as standard. According to Anthony Kenny (“Aquinas on Divine Foreknowledge & Human Freedom” in Reason and Religion, 1987):

Indeed, the whole concept of a timeless eternity, the whole of which is simultaneous with every part of time, seems to be radically incoherent. For simultaneity as ordinarily understood is a transitive relation. If A happens at the same time as B and B happens at the same time as C, then A happens at the same time as C. If the BBC programme and the ITV programme both start when Big Ben strikes ten, then they both start at the same time. But, on [the atemporalist’s] view, my typing of this paper is simultaneous with the whole of eternity. Again, on this view, the great fire of Rome is simultaneous with the whole of eternity. Therefore, while I type these very words, Nero fiddles heartlessly on.

So according to AS,

1) If atemporalism is true, then eternity is simultaneous with every event in history.

2) If eternity is simultaneous with every event in history, then by transitivity, every event in history is simultaneous with every other event in history.

3) But every event in history is not simultaneous with every other event in history.

4) Therefore atemporalism is false.

Now this argument is valid. 2) simply appeals to the principle of transitivity, and 3) is evidently true. 4) follows by modus tollens. If atemporalism results in the notion that the burning of Rome is simultaneous with the Kenny’s writing, then atemporalism is to be rejected. But AS has not shown this to be the case: 1) is plainly false, for according to atemporalism, God exists, but He does not exist at any time. Hence eternity is not simultaneous with every event in history; indeed eternity is not simultaneous with any event in history. So then, when Aquinas uses the language of simultaneity to discuss the relation between time and eternity, he is only doing so analogically and not literally. The latter is required to make argument work, but unfortunately for AS it turns out, this is the very thing makes the first premise false.