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WLC’s Time, Part 4: General Relativity

When I first began my discussion on William Lane Craig’s ideas about time, I framed it as a debate between two competing models. To briefly recap, Dr. Craig supports the Tensed Theory of Time, which states that events only become real as they occur and that, therefore, the future exists only in potentiality, not in reality. In contrast, he opposes the Tenseless Theory of Time, which asserts that all moments in time– past, present, and future– exist equally in reality, even though we only observe them at the present. In order to support his case, Dr. Craig has offered a genetic fallacy regarding Einstein’s personal philosophy, an assertion which falsely equates Lorentzian relativity with Einstein’s, and complete misunderstandings of the implications of quantum entanglement and the cosmic microwave background. In this fourth installment of this series, I am going to discuss the ideas which Dr. Craig presents about General Relativity, ostensibly as a means of supporting his Tensed Theory of Time.

Almost comically, William Lane Craig’s math and science illiteracy prevent him from realizing that all the evidence which he offers from General Relativity stands in direct and diametric opposition to the Tensed Theory of Time.

Before I address the points which Dr. Craig has made, let me first give a very brief overview of General Relativity. In 1905, when Einstein first published his paper on relativity, he realized that his initial model had a very severe limitation. The math in his paper depended on observers moving at constant velocities, and the model essentially broke down if an observer’s velocity was continuously changing– for example, if the observer was accelerating. Since the model only applied in special cases, scientists began referring to it as Special Relativity. However, Einstein was obviously not satisfied with an incomplete model, however revolutionary it might have been. So, over the next ten years, Einstein worked extremely diligently in an attempt to generalize his Special Relativity to space and time, as a whole. His breakthrough was in the realization of the Principle of Equivalence. Thinking back to Special Relativity, we saw that if we have two astronauts, Buzz and Tom, out on a spacewalk, Buzz might feel like he is totally stationary while Tom is moving away from him, while at the same time Tom feels like he’s at rest and watching Buzz move away. Motion, we concluded, was relative to the observer, and therefore both Buzz and Tom are equally correct in their observations. In thinking about General Relativity, Einstein realized that there is no difference between an observer that is accelerating and an observer that is being affected by gravity. If we take Buzz and place him in a rocket with no windows which is accelerating at 9.8 \frac {m}{s^2}, while we put Tom in a similar vehicle which is at rest on the surface of the Earth (whose gravity pulls Tom down at 9.8 \frac {m}{s^2}) both men experience the same effects. Gravity and acceleration are equivalent. This realization allowed Einstein to evaluate the mathematics of the situation far more intricately than had been possible before, and it is this mathematics which had an enormously profound effect on just how it is that we understand Time.

In 1907, soon after Einstein had first published on the Special Theory of Relativity, a mathematician named Hermann Minkowski realized that the best way to understand the implications of relativity was as a 4-Dimensional manifold, a geometrical object wherein three of the dimensions described our familiar 3D space while a fourth dimension described time. In 1917, astronomer Willem de Sitter built upon the foundation of Minkowski space with an interest in better understanding General Relativity. Since that time, the best models of the cosmos have described the universe as a de Sitter space. We now generally refer to this sort of 4-Dimensional view of our cosmos as Space-Time.

Now, we can move on to Dr. Craig’s arguments. He says that General Relativity restores a sort of cosmological perspective to our view of the universe. He notes that space-time, under these models of GR, takes on a sort of hyper-cylindrical shape with three finite spatial dimensions plus one infinite dimension of time. For the purposes of this discussion, it will be helpful to think of space-time like an infinitely long pepperoni before it has been cut into slices. Dr. Craig then states that, while GR does not require any specific method for “slicing” this space-time into units, there seems to be a preferred method determined by the symmetries of the objects involved. Going back to our pepperoni example, you don’t have to slice pepperoni perfectly vertically; but if you do slice it vertically, you get beautifully symmetric circular slices. Similarly, Dr. Craig notes that a certain symmetry can be found in space-time which might lead to a preferred slicing. He then labels this symmetry as “cosmic time,” and concludes that, “cosmic time serves to restore to us our intuitive notions of universal time and absolute simultaneity which [Special Relativity] denied.”

Unfortunately for Dr. Craig, the “cosmic time” which he proposes has extremely little to do with our “intuitive notions of universal time,” nor does it do anything to restore absolute simultaneity. Craig seems to be associating “cosmic time” directly with an incremental invariant interval separating different points in space-time. There is nothing intuitive about classifying such an interval as a unit of time. This is not a depiction of the uniform, monolithic flow which time had been regarded to be, prior to the development of relativity. This is an incredibly complex concept of hyperspace non-Euclidean geometry. For example, think of a photon leaving a star 8 light years away from us which reaches the Earth at the precise moment to be captured by a telescope. Now, using our intuitive understanding of time, we would say that it took 8 years for that photon to travel from the star to our telescope. However, using the definition of “cosmic time” which Dr. Craig proposes, there has been absolutely no passage of time between the photon leaving the star and reaching its destination. That single photon exists simultaneously at every single point along the path which it is traveling, essentially placing a single object in an infinite number of places at once.

However, there’s an even more problematic issue which Dr. Craig doesn’t seem to see. William Lane Craig wants to argue for the Tensed Theory of Time. To do so, he argues against the Tenseless Theory of Time. In order to do that, he needs to show that Special Relativity does not accurately describe time. For that, in turn, he needs to show that there is a “cosmic time” to which inertial reference frames are relative. His support for this “cosmic time” is based upon a 4-Dimensional space-time. However, a 4-Dimensional space-time, by its very definition, requires the Tenseless Theory of Time, since it posits that all points in time– past, present, and future– are extant in reality to act as a coordinate dimension with space. Because he doesn’t understand the science and mathematics which he is trying to cite, Dr. Craig has inadvertently disconfirmed his own supposition by reductio ad absurdum!

William Lane Craig has an overwhelming desire to cling to an antiquated understanding of Time because of his theological concerns. He does not comprehend the math and science behind current understandings of Time. Even worse, he actively misrepresents the science in an attempt to validate his view in the minds of his audience. Elsewhere in his work, Dr. Craig has gone on record as saying that it is “just hugely embarrassing that over half of our ministers really believe that the universe is only around ten-thousand years old,” criticizing this Young Earth position because “scientifically, it’s nonsense.” Yet, when it comes to the subject of the nature of Time, William Lane Craig engages in exactly the same sort of theologically-inspired science denial and misrepresentation that he decries in these literalist Christians. Dr. Craig is not simply taking an unbiased look at the evidence and following to its logical end; William Lane Craig has already decided on the conclusion he wants to find, and he’s trying to twist the evidence to make it fit.


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20 thoughts on “WLC’s Time, Part 4: General Relativity

  1. Did a simpler treatise on this with my poem: “A LOOK TOWARD THE FUTURE”, at http://thenewcaz.wordpress.com/

  2. Reblogged this on THE MARVELOUS MUMFORD and commented:
    A REALLY HOT ARGUMENT ON SPACE-TIME THEORY!!!!!

  3. Thank you for this post. This is probably the best rebuttal of any of Craig’s talk about time that I’ve seen in a great while. And what really galls me is that he talks with so much authority (that he doesn’t actually posses) that people who are disinclined to look this up or learn this science themselves, but listen to him, think he knows what he’s talking about. I simply don’t have the patience to debate these things with people who do nothing but post clips and links about what WLC says, as if that’s a good response.

    Of course, I don’t have your level of knowledge on the math end of this stuff, but I would feel pretty comfortable talking about this in layman’s terms to someone. I especially like how you point out Craig refuted his own argument. That was great.

  4. To be fair, your description of Craig’s ‘photon trajectory over time’ scenario seems to be in accord with the Sum Over Many Paths model

    • Are you talking about Feynman’s Sum Over Paths model? If not, I’m not sure I’m familiar with the model you’re talking about. If you are talking about Feynman’s model, I’m not sure how that would alleviate the problems in Dr. Craig’s assertion that an incremental invariant interval of space-time is at all equivalent to our intuitive notions of universal time.

      Thanks for reading and replying!

      • Thanks for the correction, I misremembered it with ‘many’ thrown in.

        I wouldn’t say that a SoP model would validate Craig’s overall mistakes about spacetime, but under Feynman’s mathematics, photons are in multiple places at once, and it’s only once we integrate their (pseudo) trajectories that we arrive at a ‘classical’ picture of the photon’s trajectory. IIRC it was Feynman who proposed a ‘one electron universe’, which would jive with a quanta ‘being’ in ‘multiple places’ at ‘the same time’.

        P.S. I completely agree with your position in general. I’ve been working on a blog post titled “William Lane Craig and Science: A Picture of Perfect Parasitism”, myself.

        • Ahhh, okay. I see what you mean, now. My example is a different case than the one which SOP is intended to resolve. SOP is meant as an interpretation of the photon’s quantum state. My example is meant to discuss determined positions of the photon– places where the wave function has collapsed or been resolved.

          Emending my example, let’s say that the photon passes through several detectors spaced evenly along its trajectory before being detected on the Earth. Each of those detectors resolves the photon’s quantum state into a determined position. On Craig’s definition of cosmic time, no time at all elapses between the photon’s detection at these multiple points in space.

          I look forward to your post on Craig!

  5. Matthew Damore on said:

    Your entries on Dr. Craig are riddled with problems and misunderstandings. I do hope you read his academic publications and not just his popular talks on YouTube.

    • I am indeed familiar with Dr. Craig’s published work, both his academic writings and his work for popular audiences.

      What problems and misunderstandings have you found in my work? I’d be more than happy to discuss them.

      • Matthew Damore on said:

        I have an issue with almost every sentence you write, honestly. The framing and the tone are mildly irritating but I’m willing to look beyond it. Let’s start with your accusation that Dr. Craig committed the genetic fallacy. I think that’s absolutely baseless. The link even admits you’re only 50 pages into the book. Care to take that down now?

        • I’ll start by addressing your last point. You might have noticed that the article I wrote in regards to Einstein’s verificationism was posted well over 7 years ago. I completed reading that book not long after writing that article.

          As to removing my claim that Dr. Craig is committing a genetic fallacy, you’ll need to give me a bit more than that you find it baseless. I explain in the article why I believe it to be the case. Dr. Craig has stated that he feels Einsteinian Relativity is likely untrue because it had its origins in verificationist philosophy. To affirm that a proposition is untrue on the basis of its origins rather than its merits is the very definition of a genetic fallacy.

          • Matthew Damore on said:

            You linked to it here, so that’s why I brought it up.

            Anyway, you’re just wrong. Unless you can back it up by a direct quotation, I don’t believe it. I can back up my position with a direct quotation.

            Craig says, “With the demise of verificationism, the philosophical underpinnings of STR have collapsed. In short, there is no reason to think that premise

            1. STR provides the correct description of time

            is true” (Time and Eternity, pg. 51).

            You do know the difference between “no reason to think something is true” and “reason to think something is false” (or reason to think that something is likely false) is, right?

            There is no genetic fallacy going on anywhere here.

          • If you have read that chapter of “Time and Eternity,” then I am sure you will agree with me that Dr. Craig concludes that the Einsteinian understanding of Special Relativity is so dubious as to warrant its abandonment. In defense of this position, he offers up only two points– one of which is that Einstein’s model originated with his verificationist views.

            The only other reason Dr. Craig gives for abandoning Einsteinian Relativity is his dedication to the theological belief that God must be in Time. So, rather than take a dispassionate view of the evidence in order to follow where it actually leads, Dr. Craig starts with his desired conclusion and attempts to shoehorn physics into his theology. This is the very reason why Dr. Craig spends so much focus on Einstein’s verificationism, since he knows full well there is no other reason to find Special Relativity dubious.

            You may not be convinced that Dr. Craig is committing a genetic fallacy, here. That’s all well and good. But neither have you convinced me to the contrary; and as such, I have no intention of removing that point from my posts.

  6. Matthew Damore on said:

    This is rich. And I won’t be distracted by all the other things you’re bringing up (Craig isn’t denying STR; he’s denying Einstein’s initial physical interpretation of the mathematical formalism of STR).

    You’re reasons for thinking Craig committed the genetic fallacy are both pathetic.

    The verificationism-point was to underline the fact that there’s no good reason it’s (Einstein’s initial physical interpretation) true (not provide a reason it’s false).

    The theological-point wasn’t (as you falsely say) to undermine the fact of STR; it was to illuminate a neo-Lorentzian take on STR.

    NEITHER of these reasons comes remotely close to demonstrating Craig committed the fallacy because none of these reasons is affirming the falsity of STR, period. Since you’re fond of saying Craig doesn’t understand mathematics, perhaps you don’t understand informal logical fallacies.

    I can only tentatively conclude that you’re not convinced by my DIRECT QUOTE because of your ‘dedicated belief’ that Craig is committing a fallacy even though all the evidence points in the opposite direction. So, you’re not taking “a dispassionate view of the evidence in order to follow where it actually leads”. You’re starting with your “desired conclusion” and “shoehorning” your poor knowledge of this informal fallacy onto Craig’s argument.

    It’s okay to admit you were wrong, man. We all get things wrong sometimes. Do us all a favor and retract this point. Be intellectually honest.

    • This is rich. And I won’t be distracted by all the other things you’re bringing up (Craig isn’t denying STR; he’s denying Einstein’s initial physical interpretation of the mathematical formalism of STR)

      I’m not sure you are actually reading the things which I have been writing. I explicitly noted that Dr. Craig rejects the Einsteinian understanding of Relativity. At no point did I suggest that Dr. Craig rejects Relativity, in general. I am well aware of the fact that Dr. Craig prefers the Lorentzian view of Relativity and have discussed that very fact at length on this blog in the past.

      The verificationism-point was to underline the fact that there’s no good reason it’s (Einstein’s initial physical interpretation) true (not provide a reason it’s false).

      Do you agree that Dr. Craig rejects the Einsteinian view of Relativity? If so, can you point to any reason which Dr. Craig offers for this rejection OTHER than Einstein’s verificationist views and Dr. Craig’s preconceived theological positions?

      No one in contemporary times cites verificationism as the reason they believe Einsteinian Relativity to be an accurate description of the world around us. The fact that Einstein originally posited the view on the basis of verificationism is completely irrelevant to whether or not someone should reject that view now.

      It’s okay to admit you were wrong, man. We all get things wrong sometimes. Do us all a favor and retract this point. Be intellectually honest.

      I have absolutely no problem in admitting when I am wrong. I actually quite enjoy it. It is, in fact, one of the main reasons that I started this blog and invite comments upon my posts. There have been several times in the past in which my positions have been critiqued and I have been shown to be in error– including once or twice in my discussions of Dr. Craig’s views– and I am more than happy to admit my mistakes and correct myself in those cases.

      You offered a single quote-mine lifted from an entire chapter of a book. The rest of that chapter makes perfectly clear that Dr. Craig rejects the Einsteinian view of Relativity. It also offers no reasoning for that rejection other than Einstein’s verificationism and Dr. Craig’s theological commitments. As such, you have not convinced me that I am in error, in this situation, and I have no intention of altering my view, just yet.

      If you can show that Dr. Craig has some other, more convincing reason or reasons to reject the Einsteinian view of Relativity and that his reference to verificationism was intended only as a historical footnote rather than as a premise in support of his rejection, I’ll be more than happy to correct myself and will gratefully credit you for that correction.

      • Matthew Damore on said:

        I don’t need to do what you’re asking me because Craig ‘rejects’ Einsteinian relativity on the basis of his verificationism in the sense that he sees that there’s no good reason to think it’s true, not that this gives him good reason to think it’s false. You keep making this conflation.

        I don’t care about your red herring about anyone citing verificationism. I disagree but that’s not the point. Craig isn’t committing a genetic fallacy in doing this. He may be wrong to tie verificationism to the idea that we no longer have a good reason to think it’s true. But being wrong about that isn’t the genetic fallacy.

        It wasn’t a simple quote-mine. It was the quote that was the summation of Craig’s conclusions in his discussion of verificationism. The fact that you think it’s a quote-mine is really irritating, honestly. I gave you the quote that disproves that Craig is committing this genetic fallacy.

        You keep bringing up irrelevant stuff. I don’t need to show that Craig’s discussion of verificationism has to be a historical footnote. I need to show that Craig’s discussion of verificationism was to show that there’s no good reason to think Einstein’s early interpretation of STR is true, not that the interpretation is false, which you need for your genetic fallacy to go through.

        Brief, brief, brief sidebar: I see where you’re getting this ‘theological beliefs’ canard. The chapter in the book is called ‘Divine Timelessness’. That’s what the entire section on Relativity is in reference to. So, when Craig switches from talking about Einstein’s verificationism to discussing Henri Poincare’s ‘infinite intelligence’, he’s fleshing out what relativity looks like when you put God in time. It’s not functioning as a reason for thinking Craig’s neo-Lorentzian view of STR is true. It’s functioning as a reason for thinking that if God is in time, then the neo-Lorentzian view of STR is probably the way to go. It’s a reason for a conditional claim. Craig doesn’t get to reasons for ‘preferring’ the neo-Lorentzian view until page 55 when he discusses Quantum Physics and Bell’s Theorem and its implications about absolute simultaneity.

        • Craig ‘rejects’ Einsteinian relativity on the basis of his verificationism in the sense that he sees that there’s no good reason to think it’s true

          This would only be relevant in the case that Einstein’s verificationism was the sole reason for believing Einstein’s view of Relativity to be correct. It is not. We can throw verificationist philosophy to the wind and Einstein’s model still has a great many good reasons to think that it is true. It is a parsimonious and empirically verified model which accurately describes the phenomena in question without unnecessarily multiplying entities.

          The fact that you think it’s a quote-mine is really irritating, honestly. I gave you the quote that disproves that Craig is committing this genetic fallacy.

          You ripped a single quote out of an entire chapter without any regard for its surrounding context. That is the very definition of a quote-mine.

          The goal of Dr. Craig’s discussion in that section of the chapter is to convince his audience to reject the Einsteinian view of Special Relativity. The only support Dr. Craig offers for this position is that verificationism is false and that he wants to find a physical model which would more parsimoniously account for his deity being in time.

          I need to show that Craig’s discussion of verificationism was to show that there’s no good reason to think Einstein’s early interpretation of STR is true, not that the interpretation is false, which you need for your genetic fallacy to go through.

          Once again, the point of that entire section is to convince his audience to reject the Einsteinian view of Special Relativity. Dr. Craig’s claim that there is no good reason to think Einstein’s interpretation of STR is true is the only support from the world of science that he offers to convince his audience to reject the Einsteinian view.

          It’s not functioning as a reason for thinking Craig’s neo-Lorentzian view of STR is true. It’s functioning as a reason for thinking that if God is in time, then the neo-Lorentzian view of STR is probably the way to go.

          So, it’s not functioning as a reason for thinking Lorentzian STR is true, it’s just a reason for thinking that Lorentzian STR is PROBABLY true. That’s what you are arguing? Considering the fact that almost all of physical science is an inductive endeavor and can only offer us a position on what is PROBABLY true, in the first place, I fail to see how this alleviates the issues at hand. Once again, Dr. Craig is rejecting Einsteinian STR solely on the basis of only two things: Einstein’s verificationism and Dr. Craig’s prior theological commitments.

          • Matthew Damore on said:

            I’m really beginning to doubt your reading skills, dude.

            You clipped out the rest of what I said about the ‘quote mine accusation. It’s not out of context at all. I didn’t rip anything from anywhere (I’ll prove it below). Why are you being dishonest? It’s literally the summation of the entire section on verificationism in the section on Relativity in the chapter called Divine Timelessness.

            You’re still obsessed with the idea that the discussion of Einstein’s verificationism isn’t the sole reason to think that Einstein’s early interpretation of STR isn’t true. That’s a whole other debate, my dude. Craig could be wrong on that, but that’s a whole other debate. My contention (and you keep trying to distract with an array of red herrings here) is that this line of argument (even if you think it involves a questionable premise somewhere) is not guilty of committing the genetic fallacy.

            You keep using the word ‘reject’. Take any proposition P. There are two ways to ‘reject’ P. I can suspend belief as to P’s truth (when I don’t have a good reason to think P is true) or I can believe that P is false (when I get good reason to think P is false). Where P is “STR provides the correct description of time” (and by STR, Craig means Einstein’s early interpretation of STR), considerations that P relies on a “defunct and untenable epistemology” (pg. 51) supports Craig’s thesis that there’s no good reason to think P is true. In order for a genetic fallacy to be committed, Craig needs to say that the aforesaid considerations give you a reason to think that P is false. Craig didn’t do that. So, it’s not a genetic fallacy, dude. This is not that hard. Your whole case depends on your unfounded and absurd accusation that I’m taking that quote I gave you out of context when that quote is literally the summation of the entire section of his discussion of verificationism and STR.

            I tried to explain to you (and you’re getting closer, I guess) that Craig’s discussion of verificationism is in the context of Chapter 2 entitled Divine Timelessness where Craig is discussing and critiquing arguments for Divine Timelessness (this means that this particular debate between these particular participants are BOTH THEISTS: one thinks God is timeless; one thinks God is temporal).

            The first argument is an argument from Divine Simplicity and Immutability.

            The second one is the argument from Relativity. In that section, Craig discusses Newton’s concepts of Absolute Time and Space, Absolute vs. Relative place and motion, Newtonian and Galilean Relativity, Electrodynamics, the Michelson-Morley experiment, Lorentz-FitzGerald contractions and transformations, Einstein’s empirical method of determining simultaneity, Einstein’s consequent abandonment of the aether and Absolute Time and Space, the consequent relativity of simultaneity, Time dilation, Length contraction, and then on page 43, we reach the reason why Craig is talking about all of this: “What impact does STR have on the nature of divine eternity? Well, if God is in time, then the obvious question raised by STR is: Whose time is He in?” Defenders of Divine Timelessness argue that if you think God is temporal, STR confines God to a particular inertial frame (a frame that can’t be privileged) and if you put God in all the inertial frames He gets a fractured consciousness. The argument of the defenders of timelessness are given on pg. 44.

            Then, at the bottom of pg. 44, Craig is critiquing that argument. The first premise of that argument is “1. STR is correct in its description of time.” Discussing Newton’s idea that Absolute Time can exist in the absence of objects, Craig mentions accurately that Newton’s position here depended on his theological (and so metaphysical) views of God’s eternity and infinity: Time and Space are “an emanent- or emanative—effect of God” (46). “In Newton’s view God’s “now” is thus the present moment of absolute time” (46). “Thus, the classical, Newtonian concept of time is firmly rooted in a theistic worldview” (46). Einsteinian STR doesn’t affect Absolute Time and Space at all because of the distinction between metaphysical and physical time; STR showed that Newton only got physical time wrong.

            The only reason presented by folks who disbelieve in Absolute Time and Space is the inability to empirically detect them. This is where Craig transitions to discussing this verificationist criterion and how Newton wouldn’t have been impressed by it because of the philosophical, metaphysical, and theological reasons he had to believe them. “Thus,” according to historian of science Gerald Holton, “the RT [Relativity Theory] merely shifted the focus of space-time from the sensorium of Newton’s God to the sensorium of Einstein’s abstract Gedankenexperimenter-as it were, the final secularization of physics (47). Then, at the bottom of pg. 47, we get the extremely plausible move: “What justification did Einstein have for so radical a move? How did he know that absolute time and space do not exist? The answer, in a word, is verificationism.”

            In context, this is nowhere near the idea that Craig is using verificationism to show that STR is false. Verificationism is coming up in an epistemological context: how did Einstein ‘know’ that Absolute Time and Space didn’t exist? You can’t appeal to STR all on its own. Newton would have been totally cool with all of that. It would have only corrected his understanding of physical time. Einstein jumps from that to the idea that Absolute Time and Space don’t exist. Talk about a non-sequitur! Verificationism is the only thing that could possibly justify that move. And if verificationism goes, so does that move, along with thinking that there are good reasons for thinking that Einstein’s early, physical interpretation of STR is true. “The introductory sections of Einstein’s 1905 paper are predicated squarely upon verificationist assumptions” (48). “That is why Einstein’s theory, far from disproving the existence of absolute space, actually presupposes its non-existence. All of this is done by mere stipulation. Reality is reduced to what our measurements read; Newton’s metaphysical time and space, which transcend operational definitions, are assumed to be mere figments of our imagination” (48). “But if verificationism belongs essentially to the foundations of STR, the next thing to be said is that verificationism has proved to be completely untenable and is now outmoded” (49). “Contemporary physics has in any case ignored the constrictions of verificationism” (50).

            And then we get to my alleged ‘quote-mine’: “With the demise of verificationism, the philosophical underpinnings of STR have collapsed. In short, there is no reason to think that premise 1 [STR provides the correct description of time] is true” (51). He didn’t say Premise 1 is false. That would be the genetic fallacy. He said there is no reason to think that premise 1 is true (in the context of an argument for Divine Timelessness).

            So, your representation of this chapter is complete bunk. Craig isn’t saying, “Hey! Einstein’s STR is false. Here is my theory that fits better with my deity.” The context of the chapter is Craig’s critique of an argument for Divine Timelessness. Both people in this debate are theists, dude! Why can’t you see this? Craig is arguing that THEISTS who appeal to relativity to demonstrate Divine Timelessness rely on a premise we have no reason to think is true because it relies on an epistemology that both theists would equally reject! So, when you say, “Once again, the point of that entire section is to convince his audience to reject the Einsteinian view of Special Relativity.”, that is just complete bullcrap. Sorry! First, that’s not the entire point of the section. The point of the section is to discuss whether Einstein’s STR implies that God is timeless. Since it relies on an epistemology that both the theists would reject, Einstein’s STR doesn’t have a reason for being true. It could still be true, but there’s no reason to think it is. So, Mr. Defender of Timelessness, here’s another view of STR that doesn’t rely on that defunct epistemology and isn’t incompatible with a privileged reference frame. You’re completely misrepresenting the chapter in this vain attempt to pin on Craig a fallacy he didn’t commit at all in a context that is a figment of your imagination.

          • Before I say anything else, I do want to say that despite the adversarial tone which we are both taking, I really am enjoying this conversation and I would like to thank you for taking the time to read and reply, here. I do truly appreciate it and I absolutely think that my blog is better for it.

            You clipped out the rest of what I said about the ‘quote mine accusation. It’s not out of context at all. I didn’t rip anything from anywhere (I’ll prove it below). Why are you being dishonest?

            I was making an attempt at brevity in my reply. I was not attempting to ignore any points you were making nor was I trying to be dishonest. The whole text of your reply is still right there, for anyone to read. If I was attempting to dishonestly edit or ignore your response, it’d be fairly silly of me to leave the original intact just above my reply.

            If I didn’t respond to a particular point which you made, it’s because I did not find it relevant. If you want to highlight and provide greater commentary on any such point, you are welcome to do so– as you have just done in this most recent comment.

            You’re still obsessed with the idea that the discussion of Einstein’s verificationism isn’t the sole reason to think that Einstein’s early interpretation of STR isn’t true.

            Yes. Because that’s the entire basis of the issue at hand. Dr. Craig is attempting to convince his audience to reject Einsteinian STR, and the only reasons he offers for this are that Einstein was a verificationist and that Einsteinian STR being true would cause problems for Craig’s theology.

            My contention (and you keep trying to distract with an array of red herrings here) is that this line of argument (even if you think it involves a questionable premise somewhere) is not guilty of committing the genetic fallacy.

            I’m fully aware that this is your contention. Just as you are fully aware that it is my contention that he IS committing a genetic fallacy. There are no red herrings in play, here. Dr. Craig is proposing that Einsteinian STR should be rejected. One of his premises for that proposition is the verificationist origins of Einsteinian STR. That is a fallacious premise.

            The only reason presented by folks who disbelieve in Absolute Time and Space is the inability to empirically detect them.

            This is not true, in the least. The reason presented is that inertial reference frames are indistinguishable from one another. It has nothing at all to do with whether or not they can be detected. Even on Lorentzian STR, the only difference between the “absolute” inertial reference frame and any other reference frame is the arbitrary distinction labeling it as “absolute.” There is nothing, in and of itself, which distinguishes that inertial reference frame as being any more “correct” than any other.

            Even if God exists within some inertial reference frame, that reference frame has no better claim on being the “correct” frame than does the inertial reference frame which I occupy, or which you occupy, or which a molecule of methane on Jupiter occupies.

            So, your representation of this chapter is complete bunk. Craig isn’t saying, “Hey! Einstein’s STR is false. Here is my theory that fits better with my deity.”

            You’ve literally just spent your entire reply discussing exactly how Dr. Craig is trying to convince his readers to reject Einsteinian STR and adopt Lorentzian STR because it fits better with his theology.

            As you have stated, this chapter is intended as a discussion between theists, one arguing for a timeless deity and one arguing for a deity which is in time. Dr. Craig falls flatly into that latter category. After noting that Einsteinian STR presents problems for his theological position, he rejects it solely on the basis of Einstein’s verificationism and attempts to supplant it by shoehorning his God into Lorentzian STR.

            You’re completely misrepresenting the chapter in this vain attempt to pin on Craig a fallacy he didn’t commit at all in a context that is a figment of your imagination.

            Honestly, I don’t think either of us is likely to make any real headway on this point. If you’d like to continue discussing some other particular mistake which you believe me to have made, I’ll be happy to move on to that conversation with full respect for the notion that you do not consider this to be a genetic fallacy.

  7. Matthew Damore on said:

    I see what you’re doing! Being nice and complimentary won’t work! You’ll still be wrong! Just kidding. Yea, no problem. Thanks for what you said. I’m sure we’re both grown up enough to see that an adversarial tone doesn’t have anything to do with the arguments and we can look beyond that to the core.

    I hear you that we’re not going to make headway. So, rather than just respond line by line (I think we’ll end up in the same circles), let me ask four questions and make some final comments. Since it’s your blog, you can have the last word, and we can move on to other points. But I’m worried, honestly. If you can’t see something this clear, I don’t think you’re going to budge on anything. But I guess it’s worth it just to see that Craig or people who read Craig aren’t automatically morons on these issues. You can be wrong and still have good grounds for thinking that a wrong idea is true. I hope that that’s what we think about each other.

    If you show there is no reason to believe P (all by itself), does that mean that P is false, even if you give up a belief in P, and in THAT sense, ‘reject’ P?

    Isn’t it true that the so-called ‘quote mine’ mentioned that the quote provided was the ‘summation’ of Craig’s thoughts on the topic of verificationism and STR before transitioning into Poincare’s ‘infinite intelligence’ to begin his case that IF God is in time, and so God’s time is the privileged reference frame, then here’s a plausible case that can be made for relations of absolute simultaneity?

    Isn’t it true that chapter 2 of Divine Eternity, Divine Timelessness, is all about critiquing arguments for Divine Timelessness, one of which was the Argument from Relativity, according to which God must be outside of time, because, if He were in time, then either God would be confined to the time of a particular inertial frame or, if put in all the inertial frames, God’s consciousness would be fractured?

    Isn’t it true that the theists who endorse Divine Timelessness and the theists who endorse Divine Temporality would both reject verificationism, and, if they do, it is ‘these’ people that have no reason to think that Einstein’s physical interpretation of STR is true?

    Final Comments

    Let’s just say Craig is a doofus on STR and verificationism. I’ll assume that for the sake of argument. Still, there is no genetic fallacy at all. You keep using loose, non-logical language like ‘reject’. And that’s where your case falls apart. There are at least two ways to ‘reject’ a thesis T in the sense that reasons are present for no longer believing T: (1) You now believe T’s falsity, (2) You now no longer have reason to believe T is true. Craig is doing the second. You need Craig to do the first for the genetic fallacy to go through. I think I’ve said this three or four times now and you keep using the word ‘reject’ and using that word to justify the accusation that Craig committed the fallacy. It just doesn’t sound like you’re reading Craig or me carefully and you’re just so sure of yourself that you can’t see the correct perspective here. If I were you, I would drop the fallacy and just say that Craig is wrong to only consider verificationism in his mini-case in the chapter that it was the sole epistemological reason for using STR to shave away Absolute Time and Space. Just because Craig is wrong HERE doesn’t mean he’s committed the fallacy (that’s the red herring I’m talking about). You say, “One of his premises for that proposition is the verificationist origins of Einsteinian STR. That is a fallacious premise.” There aren’t fallacious premises; there are fallacious inferences to premises or propositions. You should argue that the premise is false (the premise that verificationism is the only epistemological foundation by which you can use Einsteinian STR to shave away Absolute Time and Space) and therefore Craig’s conclusion that there’s no reason to think Einsteinian STR is true doesn’t follow. NONE of this is a genetic fallacy. To think that it does would make every single conclusion inferred from a false premise an instance of the genetic fallacy, which is absurd.

    The rest of your post is just arguing with the truth of other premises, arguing that Craig is wrong to think that this or that premise is true based on whatever reasons he provided. None of this is relevant to the genetic fallacy. The closest you get is with the word ‘reject’, which isn’t enough, as explained above.

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