This is a page for questions to be submitted. Just fill out the form below, and I will post the questions and answers (anonymously, if you wish). From time to time I may have others answer the questions as it may come up.
Enjoyed your review of the debate. Would you like to comment on your blog about Krauss' use "falsifiable" in the debate?
Krauss mentioned, in his opening statement, the “other” aspect of any evidence: “evidence must be falsifiable.” He went on to give several examples of claims which are not falsifiable: Dr. Craig’s having three legs with one disappearing if you try to check, the world being created just a few seconds ago with memories intact, etc. These are all in and of themselves good examples. However, it’s telling that he places the category as “scientific” evidence. This affects how he sees Craig’s evidence. It’s also not the topic of debate per se. The topic is “Is there evidence for God?,” not “Is there scientific evidence for God?” To claim that the only type of evidence is scientific evidence is strictly unprovable. The reason? He must either use science to prove this claim, in which case he is begging the question (since showing the evidence for this will only show scientific evidence itself alone, which presumes what it wants to prove), or he must use philosophy. But if he uses philosophy he has defeated his own claim that all evidence must be scientific!
Further, this also ignores that Craig did in fact discuss scientific theories, which are in principle falsifiable in the relevant sense. The argument from fine-tuning and the science behind the second premise of the kalam cosmological argument are two such examples. He also seems to insinuate that unless a proposition is void of any epistemic possibility of falsehood that it does not count as evidence. But this of course is absurd; no one need be certain of a proposition in order to have evidence for that proposition! He goes on to say “the only thing that determines evidence is empirical reality.” The major problem with this is that it ignores logic such as modal logic. Modal logic can prove the necessary or contingent existence of things non-empirical. Further, once again this standard is not provable. We just have to take it as a datum, which I am not prepared to do.
Sorry to be so dense, but could you briefly explain what is meant by "To deny the causal principle is to admit that not even the potential for the effect existed in the case of the universe!"
That's not being dense; that's a great question! In the kalam, it is sometimes asserted that the universe needs no cause, and thus the first premise ("whatever begins to exist had a cause") is false. However, it's important to note that if the universe began to exist and had no cause, then it just popped into being. Because the universe is meant in this discussion to be all of space and time and reality, there was literally nothing that existed "before" or without the universe. But if this is the case, we must also accept that not even the potential for the causation of the universe existed. This is because, since nothing existed, not even physical laws or any other such things existed (else we would say these were the causes). In short, if we accept the universe began to exist with no cause, we accept that, prior to its beginning to exist, not even potentiality existed. One may just shrug their shoulders, as this is a corollary of accepting the universe began to exist uncaused, but to me, this screams irrational. After all, if the potential for its existence wasn't even there, how is it we may rationally affirm the universe came into being uncaused?
What are your thoughts on the B-theory of time? Many say that it follows from modern physics, but I haven't been able to find a good book or article on the subject for the affirmative position.
I believe the KCA depends on the A-theory, so I'm interested to better understand why special relativity would lead to the B-theory. I'm also unclear on why it would defeat the KCA. Is it because it would rid us of the infinite regress problem?
I enjoy the site. Thanks.--Mike
You are correct that the dominant view of physics currently is the B-theory or view of time. I don't believe that physics necessitates such a view of time (in fact some physics theorists seem totally unaware of the philosophical underpinings related to time). I haven't heard any convincing philosophical argument from special relativity which connects to such a theory. The B-Theory is very counterintuitive as it states that temporal becoming--that is, things really passing into and out of existence and events truly occurring in a tensed way--is unreal (or not an objective feature of reality). On a B-theory, events are sequentially ordered in an earlier than, simultaneous with, or later than structure, but this is only a mind-dependent fiction (A good analogy might be a sequence of playing cards. Even if a particular sequence were arranged, the second card does not actually come into being after the first. The dealer or player merely experiences the second card next.).
This analogy helps to answer your question which says: "I'm also unclear on why it would defeat the KCA." It would enable us to deny premise 2 of the argument, which says "the universe began to exist." But if objective becoming is unreal, then no moment really comes into existence after any other given moment (see what I mean by counterintuitive?!), so that the universe never began to exist. An infinite regress then just becomes a side issue, a triviality which is irrelevant (although it would be true an infinite regress is not a problem for the B-theorist). Craig explains his thoughts on "begins to exist" this way:
"For any entity e and time t,
e comes into being at t if and only if (i) e exists at t, (ii) t is the first time at which e exists, (iii) there is no state of affairs in the actual world in which e exists timelessly, and (iv) e’s existing at t is a tensed fact."
On a B-theory, the kalam fails because the universe did not begin to exist (since there are no tensed facts).
He also goes on to give the 1492 voyage of Columbus as an example of a tensed (or A-theory) fact: it is now past (it would be wholly nonsense on this view to say "Columbus is sailing to the New World"). On a B-theory, there is no "now" strictly speaking.
To answer your last question, I haven't found many contemporary works from a pro-B-theory perspective, but I can recommend looking into D.H. Mellor's Real Time II, London: Routledge, 1998. A.N. Prior discusses this as well in Papers on Time and Tense, Oxford: Clarendon, 2003. Finally, Quine comes at it from the quantum physics perspective in his Word and Object, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1960. To be honest, I am completely unfamiliar with these resources (with the exception of Quine, and only passingly) and these are listed on Wikipedia! But it's a decent place to start. I will also look into academic journals to which I have access. I believe quite a few Christians subscribe to a B-theory without even realizing it (or its concomitant implications). Thanks for the question!
I have enjoyed looking at your blog especially concerning your post on Molinism. My question revolves around the strange statement of Matthew about individuals coming out of the grave. I'm curious how you interpret this passage? Keep fighting the good fight! - Shelby
Thanks for the kind remarks! Matthew 27:52-53 do seem, at first glance, to be strange. After all, people just don't come bursting out of their graves. One possible interpretation of this passage is somewhat theological or allegorical. That is, according to this we need not take it literally. It holds symbolic value in placing Christ's death (and the resurrection which was guaranteed and would be accomplished by God) as the transition point from the Old Testament to the New.
However, I believe a look at the context shows no reason to think the writer was being allegorical. It comes within the immediate context of Jesus' death, and the Temple veil being rent in two (cf. Luke 23:45 and Mark 15:38). There is every reason to expect the dead rising here is also meant as literal.
Chamblin points out "the raising of the saints is more closely associated with what follows than with what precedes...and we can more readily conclude that the 'raising' of the saints (not just their emergence from the tombs and their appearances) occurs after Jesus' resurrection." (Third Millennium Ministries) This is helpful, since the "traditional" interpretation is strange. That the Old Testament saints who did rise would just stand there for three days, waiting. I might add that under this intepretation no one apparently noticed the opened graves!
It seems the Old Testament saints who did rise were raised at the point of Christ's resurrection and came forth. I suspect, though I cannot be dogmatic, that Matthew's placement of this part of the narrative indicates they were raised only for a time and taken to Heaven (rather than to live out several more years and then die--indeed, assuming most died of natural causes, how long should they live? Five more years? Ten? What's to preclude them from living forever!). Theologically, this is great symbolism. Here, Jesus Christ truly is the firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-23), and the Jewish expectation of a final resurrection along with the rule of Messiah is wonderfully illustrated. The suffering Messiah of Isaiah 53 is vindicated when God raised Him from the dead, and His connection to the Jewish people is only strengthened with the literal resurrection of some OT saints.
Will babies and young children go up in the Rapture?? I never thought about it...but now I wonder about it a lot! I'm hoping Yes, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of Scripture explanation about it. Well thanks for your time!
Hey yeah I'd be glad to help if I could. You're right that Scripture is not explicit on whether or not babies would go in the Rapture. That is to say, we don't actually have a verse that spells it out in so many words. But I think we can solve this with some theological reflection.
First, we should know who it is that goes in the Rapture. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 say "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." So we can see it is those who believe in Christ (v.14) who get to go. Obviously, babies do not believe in Christ. However, before we jump to any conclusions, let's consider one thing: it's not belief itself that gets you to go in the Rapture, it's being saved (which is brought by belief)! It's those who have imputed righteousness. No one who has imputed righteousness will be left behind, which is the point of the passage. So it seems to me that the question of whether or not babies will go in the Rapture is directly correlated to whether or not babies who die are given imputed righteousness.
2 Samuel 12 may indicate (depending on what is meant) that David expected a reunion of sorts with his dead child (and David was considered righteous), and Jonah 4 indicates a situation of innocence in terms of imputed guilt to those who cannot tell their right hand from their left (which would include children, mentally handicapped people, etc.). One can make a case biblically God only holds people responsible for their response to the light that they do have (Romans 1). Because I believe one may make a somewhat biblical and definitely theological case (we don't think, for instance, that a newborn is morally justly punished for things she or he have not even done--why would we think God would do that? Are we more just than God? Surely not!) for imputed righteousness to infants who die before making any moral choices or actions whatsoever, it follows that the Rapture would also include those infants who are incapable of making any such moral choices (or believing in God in any real way). I hope that helped. Some people may have some objections to what I have said, but I think they are largely non-Biblical and simply theological or philosophical objections. In that arena, I think we are fairly covered.
One last, quick point: Verse 18 says "comfort one another with these words." What comfort would people have knowing their precious babies or mentally handicapped loved ones would be left behind, probably to die in the ensuing chaos?! Instead of the Rapture being a joyous anticipated event, it would become a dreaded, looming threat. Paul, much less God, would never think these words to be comforting. At least, that's how I see it. I think we have good reasons to think infants would be included in the Rapture (even though I wouldn't be too dogmatic about it). In this, we just have to trust God and go with the evidence we do have (which is all in favor of it, at least). What I want to know is how old the infants will appear! What a great time that will be....It's no wonder eternity lasts forever: we'll be too busy worshipping the Lamb and fellowshipping!
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