God and Time, philosophy

“God, Time, and Creation”: A Seminar with William Lane Craig

Over the past weekend, I was privileged to spend some time in Georgia (Atlanta area) at the seminar “God, Time, and Creation” with William Lane Craig (in picture next to me). It was part of a class of the same name for the Master of Arts Program with Biola University.

The seminar was a blast. I took approximately 25 pages of notes. Craig’s lecture notes comprised about 440 pages. Awesome!

The seminar focused on God’s relationship to time. Is God timeless, or temporal? Interestingly, Craig holds that God was timeless without creation and temporal subsequent to creation. His book, Time and Eternity, expands on the issues at great length.

First, Craig covered the arguments for and against a timeless God. It seems like a timeless God is not philosophically untenable, and the argument for a timeless God based upon the idea of the imperfection of a temporal life has some plausibility. Then, Craig went over the arguments for and against a temporal God.

After that, we covered the static (B-theory) of time–which holds that all of time and space is a kind of 4-dimensional block–and the dynamic (A-theory) of time–which holds that temporal becoming and passing away is real. It seems that the B-theory of time is, at best, extremely counterintuitive. If the B-theory is correct, our feeling of passing through time is illusory. Further, the theological problems with the view make it really implausible. If time is static, then the J.W. from three hours ago is literally a different entity than the J.W. now, because each is a different “slice” of  a four-dimensional “block” of time. So, for example, it would seem as though the J.W. now could not be punished for the sins of a past J.W.–they are, in fact, different entities. Therefore, the doctrines of atonement, justification, sin, etc. seem to be at best vacuous. So a static theory of time, I think, is very implausible for the Christian to hold.

I’m reading through Paul Helm’s Eternal God: A Study of God without Time right now. He holds that God is timeless, and holds that time is static. I’m interested to see if he counters any of these theological issues.

Craig concluded that without creation, God is timeless–there is no change. But once God created, He underwent at least an extrinsic change, which Craig argues means God is temporal subsequent to creation.

This is one of the few areas I disagree with Craig on. I actually think it is more theologically plausible to hold that God is timeless, period. The main problem with this view is that many argue a timeless God entails a static theory of time. If I find on my further study into the area that this is the case, I may be forced to abandon the view that God is timeless. Therefore, I’m looking forward to delving into greater detail on this topic.

I’ve read Brian Leftow’s Time and Eternity and found it extremely interesting and thought-provoking. Craig is highly critical of Leftow’s view and charges that Leftow makes category mistakes throughout his work. As I said, I’m also reading Helm’s Eternal God, so I’ll see how that holds up. This is a very interesting topic which affects the core of study about the nature of God, how God relates to the world, divine providence, and many other areas. I’m excited to continue my research in this area.

On a side note, the Atlanta area is pretty awesome to visit! The weather was gorgeous. It isn’t that much fun driving there, however.

I visited a Christian Bookstore in the area–Lifeway Christian Bookstore–which had a huge sale on CDs. I couldn’t resist picking up some more Christian music (5$ cds!).

SDG.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

7 thoughts on ““God, Time, and Creation”: A Seminar with William Lane Craig

  1. How does cause and effect work on a static B theory view of time? If each thing in each moment of time is technically a separate entity, is it possible to say that one thing causes the other? It seems like any appearance of cause and effect would actually be illusory, or a coincidence. Basically, because each moment in existence is actually static, there is only the illusion of cause and effect (like a flip-book drawing appears to be in motion, when in reality it would be absurd to claim that a drawing on one page causes the drawing on the next page.)

    If my understanding of static B theory is incorrect, though, and one could theorize a true cause and effect relationship between two slices of time, then it seems to me that one could also successfully explain how the JW from three minutes ago is still the same JW that exists now.

    Posted by Me | March 3, 2011, 8:51 PM
  2. It seems to me the real issue is where the bounds of time begin and end. If time began with the universe, then it is in all likelihood subject to universal laws. That would also have an implicit “before time began,” but there can be no “before” or “after” if time didn’t exist.

    But if God exists outside of time, then time is simply a construct that is a part of our universe and has no bearing on God. God would see everything in sort of “the eternal now,” with nothing happening before or after anything else from God’s perspective. This would mean that God is timeless, and as a natural conclusion would follow, spaceless as well.

    That’s how I see it. God is either infinite AND a-temporal, or He is neither. And I think it would be a hard stretch of the imagination to look in the Bible and determine that God is not infinite based on His written Word. Ergo, I think I agree with you and disagree with Craig on this one.

    Good thing it’s a tertiary issue and has no bearing on our salvation. Thanks for sharing, JW!

    Posted by sabepashubbo | March 4, 2011, 2:30 PM
  3. Time Space Creation

    Allow me now please to attempt to show (with the aid of the Old Testament and help of one of Einstein’s theories) how the universe is a creation of God. We will try in words (not formulas) to show how science gives evidence of the existence of a “place” that could be Paradise a place that existed in THE ABSENCE OF TIME! We will try (with the help of God always) to “construct” this picture, by first talking about “How God created time”. All this to try to convince science that man did not evolve… he did not descendant from the monkey or the amoeba. I also intent to show (upon your request) how we were all created in the image of God, and how we can become in His likeness (of God) a way of being known as Sainthood, an ontological condition that is a physical transformation that has been verifiable by the Greek Orthodox Church for 2000 years.

    God, Creation and Time
    Stay with me please. Imagine your self laying in your bed “lights out”, holding a tennis ball on the side of the bed. The dark room resembles the void before creation, and the tennis ball a single molecule of matter. Raise the tennis ball (matter) in the air (void). You have just created space, the space that the tennis ball is in. By creating a single molecule of matter we can see how God simultaneously created space! Imagining now that we could be present (observers) this first part of creation; (matter/space) we can immediately scientifically establish that the existence of TIME (the ability to measure time) is not possible under these conditions. The measuring of the time needed for our ball to revolve once around its axis is impossible to establish because of the lack of a reference point. At this particular phase of creation speed or movement is also none existent for they are both also impossible to measure. God creates Time the moment a second molecule of matter is introduced in the space created by the first molecule. The 2 molecules now have a “reference relationship” that allows the measurement not only of time but of speed.

    We were able to “see”, how God created Space then time, by creating 2 molecules of Matter. We have also seen why Time, cannot exist in the absence of 2 molecules or less of matter. This characterizes time as passive (submissive), something that comes into being in the presence of matter alone.

    Time travel
    I think we can all safely agree that time can not possible exist in the absence of matter. This existence dependency of time on matter can be resembled like a shadow on a wall of a man walking by that comes to being because the man who walked by and created it. No man no shadow no matter no time! Even if one theoretically managed to turn all the planetary systems running backwards (in order to make the shadow on the wall walk backwards) (time travel), TIME would record that event forward because of the way it comes to existence by the movement of matter regardless of direction.

    The ability of measuring time through observing the universe was given to man alone in order to establish the perfection of movement (Creation) with which his Creator God created and is sustaining the universe. He gave this ability (logic) to an alone because he was created to be Gods image (Nous, Logos, and Pneuma). who was created as the King of nature.

    -TIME-

    TIME was born along with the appearance of mater (big bang),
    TIME accompanies events while they are in progress (creation as we know it)
    TIME will stop, when no more events are taking place (Our Lords Second Coming)

    TIME has a beginning, it began with the appearance of the material world we know it today, TIME is now in progress accompanying MATTER through the harmoniums expansion of the universe as an “on-the-scene” eye witness of the ever perfect movement of the universe that allows life on earth as we know it today…till the end of TIME when the universe STOPS TO EXIST…when He (the Creator) ordains it so!
    (Apocalypses 20:11) “Earth and Heaven fled from His presence and where seen no more”

    “Back in the future” in the mind of man alone!

    Let us now see if science helps theology to verify the writings in the scriptures!
    Paradise (as can be seen through science)
    Question: Are there scientific discoveries leading to proof of the existence of paradise?

    Einstein’s formula says YES.

    In the book of the Orthodox Archimandrite Asterios Chatjinikolaou named “The beginning and the end of the world” there is description of a study that attempts to present a scientific theory of an existence of a blinding light the beginning… that proves that there was indeed a voice that was heard saying… LET THERE BE LIGHT!

    A priest named Lemaitre who was a mathematician and a cosmologist, studied Einstein’s formulas in order to see “how would they exactly apply” to the beginning of the universe. In 1927 he formulated the concept of the primal atom. He thought of this by “turning evolution backwards” (using the formula) to a point at time all matter (galaxies) were concentrated into one sphere no larger than our sun!!!

    Allowing our selves to be “at the spot” observes of this particular stage of this early cosmic event, we will be hand on witnesses of certain “un questionable events or realities” that may have an ever-changing impact of our belief of God, the Holy Bible, and Creation.

    Remember the one tennis ball? The primal atom along with space came into being (coexist), in the absence of time!!! The absence of a second primal atom makes impossible the realization of time because of reasons of “lack of reference point” According to scientific research the primal atom, was “a fiery sea of radiance”, the light from which it all begun. Genesis :(3) “Let there be light-and light appeared’ (4) “God was pleased with what he saw” This means that we as human beings are creatures…that descended from an environment of light. We will further support this statement by seeing how science itself divides the history of the universe in Two Ages.

    The Two Ages of the universe
    We have seen the possibilities of an existence of a “planet of light” before the “big bang” and how it could “exist” in the absence of time (the one tennis ball)

    We are also able to post to our selves the following reasonable theological question. “If someone was to live on that “planet”…Adam and Eve… one sphere no larger than our sun… (Could this be Adams and Eve’s Paradise)?

    1st age.
    It is interesting to know that Science divides the history of the universe in 2 ages. They first speak of the age of the dominance of the radiance and afterwards they speak of the age of matter. During the first age that lasted 400.000 years the “representatives” of light the photons, and the “representatives” of matter the particles of the their nucleus, remained stable as far to their numbers.

    2nd age
    Science explains how matter can be created from light. “there was a time when temperatures were height enough that allowed collisions amongst photons to create particles of matter consisted from clean energy…2 quantum of radiance meaning 2 photons, can collide and disappear while all their energy and their boldness be disposed for the production of 2 or more particles of mater.

    Because of the photons immense energy, their radiation contributes much more to their energy than their matter. For these reasons the scientists support the approach that during that 1st age of the universe, the first matter was light.

    The “big bang”
    You can clearly see how the choice of scientist to use the words “big bang” that describe an uncontrolled explosion of unknown origins, excludes important scientific discoveries that are very essential to giving God “His appropriate place” in your lives AS GOD AND OUR CREADOR. When astronomer Barry Parker was talking of the first great explosion that gave birth to the universe he said: “You can think that this explosion (blinding light) took place in space that is infinite, however this is not the way things actually happened. The great explosion did not take place in space. It created space! Before the explosion neither matter, or space, or time existed.” God is the Creator; he created first matter… space… time!

    I really do think that we were blessed together to see the moment just before creation… were some human minds see a terrible void, a darkness a hopeless emptiness… while others who personally see and speak with HIM today, know of Him as Light, the Eternal Light the TRIAD humble God who is behind it all …

    I will finish with a translation of a verse of Revelation 21:6 of the untouched Greek ancient script in the Holy Bible as given to humanity by the Christian Church’s 2nd Ecumenical Synod in Constantinople the year 381 A.D

    Revelation 21:6 “Lord Jesus Christ is the ALPHA and the OMEGA, the CAUSE of the CREATIONAL BEGINNING, the CAUSATION OF CREATION, (who makes for this reason) the SUPREME and UPMOST PURPOSE (OF LIFE) FOR ALL CREATIONS (humans)”.

    ASSISTANCE: From the book of Archimandrite A.S.Chajinikolou, “The beginning and the end of the world”, cosmology and the Holy Scriptures

    ORTHODOX-PSYCHOTHERAPY

    http://www.greekorthodoxchurch.org/orthodox_psychotherapy.html

    Lord Jesus did not come to teach philosophically but THERAPEUTICALLY.
    The personal experience of the Saints begotten during conduct with Divine Light is the very base of Orthodox theology.
    The term “Orthodox Psychotherapy” does not refer to specific cases of people suffering from psychological problems of neurosis. Rather it refers to all people, for it is the darkening of the “nous” (mind) a condition disabling man to ever have communion (PERSON to person) with God.

    HOLY LIGHT

    http://www.oodegr.com/english/ekklisia/holylight.htm

    (Miracle of Holy Light in Jerusalem: Testimonies and Evidence)

    An awesome miracle on video that takes place Orthodox Saturday Easter (ONLY) during Divine Liturgy each year for about 1670 years at the spot our Lord Jesus was born, in the Temple of Nativity in Jerusalem

    Those who see this video, can reflect back to the Old Testament and clearly understand how the fire did not burn, (look at pictures at the very bottom) and how the fire was in essence Gods Holy Light, Gods Holy Fire.
    I belong to no organization and no one pays me.
    God bless,
    your friend and servant

    Constantinos (J.W) 357(Cyprus) 99873390 (mobile)

    Posted by james wiliams | March 15, 2012, 2:01 PM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Atonement and a Timeless God « - March 14, 2011

  2. Pingback: Omniscience, Substance Dualism, and Private Access « - March 28, 2011

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