Boxing Pythagoras

Philosophy from the mind of a fighter

Archive for the tag “time”

A Variation on the Grim Reaper Paradox

In one of my earlier posts, I addressed the Grim Reaper paradox and offered my input on a possible resolution of the thought experiment’s curious implications. However, some of my readers may have been dissatisfied with my answer, thinking that it sidestepped around the issue rather than addressing the conundrum directly. A few people asked me why I thought that obscure philosophy on the nature of Time might have any relevance to the question, in the first place. To that end, I have decided to offer a bit more clarification and to attempt to illustrate why I think the Grim Reaper paradox is inherently flawed.

Consider this slightly modified version of the thought experiment…

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WLC on the Speed of Light

I’ve been listening to a series from William Lane Craig’s Defenders podcast entitled “An Excursus on Natural Theology,” over at the Reasonable Faith website, of late. Needless to say, I have a lot I would like to say about almost the entirety of the series. However, today, I’m going to focus on a minor point which Dr. Craig makes in Part 6 of the series. Now, to be completely fair, this point is only tangential Dr. Craig’s overarching claims. By no means am I attempting to imply that the problems with this one issue somehow refute his whole Excursus– I’ll be dedicating a whole new series of posts to that, in the future. However, I chose to focus on this very minor point made by Dr. Craig for another reason entirely.

Once again, William Lane Craig has demonstrated himself to be rather ignorant in regards to the science which he attempts to discuss.

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The Universe Has Always Existed

As will be patently obvious to anyone who has read much of my blog, I am incredibly fascinated by the question of Time and the description of the universe’s history. The topic is incredibly complex and wonderfully intricate. Unfortunately, these peculiarities can very often lead to very common misconceptions. One of the misconceptions which I encounter most often is the idea that there was once a state in which the universe did not exist.

This misconception has arisen because, over the past century, it has become increasingly plausible that the universe may not extend infinitely into the past. Thanks to Big Bang Cosmology, the previously prevailing view of Aristotle that the universe is static and eternal has been almost entirely abandoned. It is entirely possible– and perhaps even likely, given certain assumptions– that the universe has a finite history. That is to say, there was a first Moment of Time. Given this, people naturally wonder, “Well, what happened before that?” Unfortunately, these people don’t realize that the question which they are asking is entirely nonsensical.

Whether the universe is past-finite or past-infinite, it has always existed.

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WLC on Time, Part 6: Did the Universe Begin?

William Lane Craig has dedicated a good portion of his career to the concept of Time. Unfortunately, he has not invested the time necessary into learning the mathematics and physics which are necessary to discuss the concept cogently. Dr. Craig is a philosopher of religion, not a philosopher of science. He is a theologian, not a scientist. So, when William Lane Craig posts a podcast to his Reasonable Faith website in which he upbraids someone who is an accomplished and well-respected scientist for that person’s understanding of science, I have to say that I am more than a bit skeptical.

In the podcast, Dr. Craig is responding to an interview of Dr. Sean Carroll, a prominent cosmologist, by Robert Kuhn for the program, Closer to Truth. If you would like to see the relevant portions of this interview, you can find them here, along with several other clips. Dr. Craig’s podcast makes specific reference to the clips entitled What would an Infinite Universe Mean? and Did the Universe Begin?, but I recommend the other clips, as well– particularly, Is Time Real?, as it is closely related to our topic at hand.

William Lane Craig has a very poor understanding of the science which he attempts to discuss, and as a result, he once again leaps to false conclusions.

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On Infinity and Eternity

As may be evident from my numerous past articles on the subject, I have an avid interest in the philosophy of Time. The nature of time is one of the oldest questions in philosophy, and one which has enormous repercussions on the physical sciences. Since the middle of the 20th Century, the evidence from cosmology has become stronger and stronger for the idea that our universe has a finite starting point, in the past. Many theistic philosophers– especially proponents of the Cosmological family of arguments— have jumped on these reports, claiming vindication for their belief that the universe was therefore created. When I disagree with this claim, I often find that the people with whom I am conversing becoming extremely confused. They ask me if I think the universe is eternal, and I reply that I do. Then, they ask me if I think that cosmologists like Alexander Vilenkin are wrong when they assert that the universe had a finite starting point. I reply that I actually agree with Dr. Vilenkin, and that I believe the universe has a finite past. This is where the confusion abounds: how can something be both finite and eternal?

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WLC on Time, Part 5: More Mathematical Misconceptions

After my last installment of this series, I had thought that I would be done critiquing Dr. William Lane Craig’s misunderstandings of the science and mathematics regarding time. After all, I’ve already shown that his arguments in support of the archaic Tensed Theory of Time are unfalsifiable, fallacious, ill-conceived, and self-contradictory. What more could there be for me to say? Well, in this week’s Reasonable Faith Podcast, Dr. Craig gifts me with more of his misconceptions about time. Starting at the 13:15 mark and lasting through the rest of the podcast, Dr. Craig addresses a question posed to him about the implications of the Tenseless Theory of Time on the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, which the questioner refers to as “the holy grail of atheism.” I’ll note that this questioner doesn’t seem to realize that even a great many devout Christians completely accept the veracity of Evolution by Natural Selection, and that it is no more an “atheist” theory than is the Pythagorean Theorem. However, the particular implications on evolutionary biology will take a back seat, today, to the more general implications which Dr. Craig claims are made by the Tenseless Theory of Time. Specifically, Dr. Craig asserts that nothing actually changes over time, on the Tenseless Theory. Read more…

WLC’s Time, Part 2: Einstein the Verificationist

Originally, I had intended my first article on William Lane Craig’s Theory of Time to be a one-time affair. I stated the basics of my position, laid out my conclusions, and was ready to move on. My final thought, in the article, was that WLC’s Theory of Time is circular: he adheres to the Tensed Theory of Time due to his acceptance of Lorentzian Relativity, and he accepts Lorentzian Relativity due to his adherence to the Tensed Theory of Time. However, on his podcast released this week, Dr. Craig addresses a similarly founded accusation of circular argumentation which was given by a blogger who calls himself, “A Counter Apologist.” While the claim from A Counter Apologist deals specifically with the Kalam Cosmological Argument, he does so by addressing WLC’s Theory of Time as it conflicts with Relativity, in much the same way as my article approached the subject. In his response, Dr. Craig claims that his support of the Tensed Theory of Time is supported by more than just his preference for it, and that he has laid out his arguments for this in his published works. It occurred, to me, that perhaps I was being unfair. My first article was based on a seminar which I had seen Dr. Craig give, rather than on his books. Perhaps, in his written work, I would find that WLC provides greater support for the Tensed Theory.

I’m starting with the arguments presented in Dr. Craig’s book for the popular audience, Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time (Crossway, 2001).  If I don’t find this work convincing or satisfactory, I’ll try to continue into his more scholarly works on the subject, The Tensed Theory of Time: A Critical Examination (Springer, 2000) and The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination (Springer, 2000).

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