Theology, B Theory, and Infinity

I (problematically) maintain the following:

  1. Christianity
  2. Christianity ⊃ Catholicism
  3. Catholicism ⊃ B Theory
  4. B Theory ⊃ Actual Infinity

The problem is that along with maintaining 1-4, I also maintain:

5. ~Actual Infinity

I maintain 5 due in large part to arguments such as those presented by William Lane Craig, in his Kalam Cosmological argument. The reason the B-theory of time implies an Actually Infinite number of things, it seems, is that B-theory implies that there are infinitely many true propositions about the future given that, even with the end of our world, Christianity has a commitment to an eschatological end of everlasting heaven. However, if heaven is everlasting, then it seems there would be infinitely many true propositions about the future in heaven, since it is literally without end.

However, if we accept that propositions aren’t real things, as I have become convinced, then it seems that there are not infinitely many propositions. However, there would still be, it seems to me, infinitely many events in the future which, according to the B theory, are as real as is the present event, or any and all events in the past. If one denies that events are ‘real things’ then it seems that one also loses the Kalam cosmological argument.

Also, doesn’t it seem logically possible that God could create an infinite number of concrete real things? Of course, I suppose that depends on whether one thinks the notion of an actual infinite is coherent. If the notion of an actually infinite number of things is not coherent, it isn’t logically possible, and thus God can’t do it precisely because ‘it’ isn’t anything (it isn’t intelligible, therefore to say God could do it is equally unintelligible, and to say God could not do it would be unintelligible as well).

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About tylerjourneaux

I am an aspiring Catholic theologian and philosopher, and I have a keen interest in apologetics. I am creating this blog both in order to practice and improve my writing and memory retention as I publish my thoughts, and in order to give evidence of my ability to understand and communicate thoughts on topics pertinent to Theology, Philosophy, philosophical theology, Catholic (Christian) Apologetics, philosophy of religion and textual criticism.
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7 Responses to Theology, B Theory, and Infinity

  1. David Ochabski says:

    Actually WLC maintains that there isn’t a true infinity (hence his example of marbles). He has a caveat, however that says God “transcends time at least without the universe.” Therefore, from the moment of creation, God entered time. Though this leaves a problem for Craig because he then has to explain how God could be “changeless” at the same time “change” when creating the first moment of time. This also differs from the Catholic theology of Aquinas who believed that if we even have a notion of infinity, then it can’t not exist.

    I think your problem lies within your ideas of time. As C. S. Lewis points out (while impersonating George McDonald),

    “Ye cannot fully understand the relations of choice and Time till you are beyond both. And ye were not brought here to study such curiosities. What concerns you is the nature of the choice itself: and that ye can watch [souls] making.”

    When you use words such as “everlasting, eternal, infinity” what is it you really mean in a timeless “place” called Heaven? We can’t fully know until we experience it.

    My personal view is that both WLC and Aquinas are right in some sense. If the adequate cause for finite time is a greater (or transcendent) time, and God is the “Greatest possible (or Transcendent) Being,” then there is an infinite series of consecutive moments while we are in Heavenly dwelling.

    I believe time is an aspect of eternity, which is why Jesus said that “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” in Mat. 16:19; and why John says that “the Lamb [was] slain from the foundations of the cosmos.” (Rev. 13:8; Lexicon Amplified)

    God is eternal and made the “heavens and the earth”; logically.

    • Hello David Ochabski,

      First, I am pretty familiar with the work of William Lane Craig, especially given that I am pursuing a thesis on God’s relationship to time and Craig’s position is fascinating. Notice though that Craig admits that he cannot maintain that God is metaphysically simple, and therein lies the conflict with the Catholic faith, since both the fourth Lateran council, and the first Vatican council, declared God to be metaphysically simple, and it seems that God being in time ‘since’ creation logically entails that he is not metaphysically simple. I probably should have added this step:

      3a. Catholicism ⊃ Metaphysical Simplicity
      3b. Metaphysical Simplicity ⊃ B-theory of time

      I would like to say that I am familiar with Aquinas, but if you could provide me with some reference to his work wherein I could find him expressing the conviction that if we merely have a notion of the infinite then it must exist I would be much obliged.

      Finally, there is an important point to be made about heaven here. The ‘heaven’ I am referring to is that hoped for new heavens and new earth in the Eschaton, which is obviously spacial and temporal. I don’t even understand what it would mean to say that we have bodies (given the resurrection) which can interact freely with some world, and that there are no successive events (that we are not temporal).

      Your last two paragraphs, it seems to me, want of some arguing or elaboration. I would invite you to do either or both in order to help me make sense of what you are saying.

  2. David Ochabski says:

    First

    You said,

    “I maintain 5 [~Actual Infinity] due in large part to arguments such as those presented by William Lane Craig, in his Kalam Cosmological argument.”

    I’d like to know where you have heard him state that he affirms that actual infinities exist. I’ve never read that. He’s always alluded to his analogy with marbles.

    “In each case [of trying to use infinite marbles in equations], we have subtracted the identical number from the identical number, but we have come up with nonidentical results. For that reason, mathematicians are forbidden from doing subtraction and division in transfinite arithmetic, because this would lead to contradictions. . . . Substitute ‘past events’ for ‘marbles,’ and you can see the absurdities that would result.” (Lee Strobel’s Interview with WLC, The Case for a Creator.)

    Also, could you please show me where WLC thinks that God is metaphysically complex? In his book, Reasonable Faith he affirms Alvin Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology that God is the most basic (even sub-foundational) of beliefs.

    Second

    Aquinas’ quote is found in Article 1, Question 12, of the First Part of Summa Theologica:

    “For as the ultimate beatitude of man consists in the use of his highest function, which is the operation of his intellect; if we suppose that the created intellect could never see God, it would either never attain to beatitude, or its beatitude would consist in something else beside God; which is opposed to faith. For the ultimate perfection of the rational creature is to be found in that which is the principle of its being; since a thing is perfect so far as it attains to its principle. Further the same opinion is also against reason. For there resides in every man a natural desire to know the cause of any effect which he sees; and thence arises wonder in men. But if the intellect of the rational creature could not reach so far as to the first cause of things, the natural desire would remain void.”

    Finally

    When you said in your article that “Christianity has a commitment to an eschatological end of everlasting heaven” I don’t know what you are referring to. The “heavens” mentioned in 2 Peter are not the same as the “new heaven and new earth” mentioned in Revelation 21. The first is temporal and the second is everlasting.

    In the last 2 paragraphs of my comments, I was just making a logical deduction using causality and ontology. In causality, there must be an adequate cause for everything. In ontology, God is defined as the “Greatest Possible (or Transcendent) Being”. Put them together and you get a cause that is a greatest (or transcendent) form of what we call time. Though if Eternity ⊃ our universe, then our universe has an influence on Eternity. And the Bible shows that this idea makes sense Theologically.

    In your article it seemed to me that you couldn’t conceive of God and the idea of infinity coherently existing. I was just giving a possible way that it can.

    • Ah, I see, maybe you’re not familiar with the ‘not’ symbol in Logic. ‘not’ is typically symbolized as ‘~’. When I say that he maintains ~Actual Infinities, what I am saying is that he maintains that there are not Actual Infinities.

      Also, God’s being metaphysically simple has nothing to do with the epistemic status of belief in God. If you check out the Reasonable Faith podcast you can find an episode called “Relationship with God and Divine Simplicity” where he explains his view there. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/relationship-with-god-and-divine-simplicity

      “The “heavens” mentioned in 2 Peter are not the same as the “new heaven and new earth” mentioned in Revelation 21. The first is temporal and the second is everlasting.”

      Something can be temporal and everlasting. In fact, in order for something to be everlasting it must be temporal. In any case, however, I am speaking of the hoped for new heavens and new earth, with the resurrection of the dead and so on, all of which is realized after the second coming, and which is clearly temporal and everlasting (perhaps you think temporal means temporary? – that would be a confusion).

      ” Put them together and you get a cause that is a greatest (or transcendent) form of what we call time. Though if Eternity ⊃ our universe, then our universe has an influence on Eternity. And the Bible shows that this idea makes sense Theologically.”

      I don’t follow connecting God as a cause of the universe, along with the greatest conceivable being (maximally great), to his being the form of what we call time. I am not sure it makes sense to say that God could be the ‘form’ of what we call time. Perhaps you could explain yourself? Further, even if Eternity entailed our universe (which it doesn’t) then I still fail to see how that would lead deductively to the conclusion that our universe has an influence on Eternity. I am comfortable with you making such a case in theological language, but I can’t imagine how it would go.

      “In your article it seemed to me that you couldn’t conceive of God and the idea of infinity coherently existing. I was just giving a possible way that it can.”

      That’s not quite what I intended to communicate. I was arguing that my belief in classical Theism (including a commitment to Divine Simplicity), was incompatible with that premise of the Kalam argument presented by Craig which says that no actually infinite set of things exists. Problem is that I want to accept both.

      • Also, Aquinas’ quote has nothing to do with what we call ‘Actual Infinities’.

      • David Ochabski says:

        Haha. You’re right. Almost everything we discussed was just miscommunication.

        – I didn’t know the ‘~’ was a symbol for “not”.
        – I didn’t distinguish the word “temporal” as “within history”.
        – And I didn’t understand the incompatibility rested on you commitment to Simplicity.

        I get where you’re coming from much better now. I’m sorry for my side of the miscommunication.

        Aside from that, I wasn’t trying to say that God was synonymous with time. The word ‘form’ would probably be better replaced with ‘version’. I’m saying that it is possible that eternity is a perfect version of our temporary universe and that it would make sense by the law of Cause & Effect. There wouldn’t be a “moment of creation” point because our universe would be an aspect of eternity; and it makes sense theologically with the two verses. I’m not holding to it. It’s just a possibility. Though it doesn’t matter because your problem was with the idea of simplicity and not infinity.

        Btw, the Aquinas quote only makes sense if you add to it that he also thought God as the only on that is actually infinite.

      • David Ochabski says:

        *one

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