Monday, December 8, 2014

God and Time

I did a short response to Dr. William Lane Craig's model of divine eternity:





Providentially this reply is fitting for WLC's newest podcast on God and time.  

9 comments:

steve said...

Would you say your proposal requires you to jettison divine simplicity? I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Just considering the implications.

R.C. Dozier said...

Steve,

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I just became a father so I've been taking care of my recovering wife and son :)

I don't know. In my proposal I was arguing from Dr. Craig's modified view of divine simplicity.

I don't see why it must. Upon reflection of the incarnation of the Son, we do not take this to compromise divine simplicity. So why must my proposal be taken to do so?

However I think Helm would say it does. His reply to Dr. Oliphint might very well apply to my proposal:

"So let us summarise this in the form of a dilemma: Either the 'covenantal properties' identified by Scott are creaturely or they are divine. If creaturely then they are possessed by God contingently, and the Logos, being God, nevertheless has human properties. This impairs the divine unity."

http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2014-07-01T06:23:00Z&max-results=3&start=12&by-date=false

Indeed, my proposal needs to be further teased out. This is why I've pointed men I greatly respect, like yourself, Dr. Anderson and Tiessen, to my proposal for feedback.

But as you point out a modification to divine simplicity is not necessarily a bad thing. And as I read Dolezal's take on the Trinity, simplicity, and personal relations, he doesn't adequately mesh together Trinitarianism with a robust doctrine of divine simplicity.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijst.12016/abstract

steve said...

As far as divine simplicity goes, I espouse mereological simplicity rather than Thomistic simplicity.

R.C. Dozier said...

Isn't that the same position as Dr. Craig's?

I agree.

steve said...

One issue is whether you're discussing what we might call God's indexical knowledge. If God lacks certain examples of indexical knowledge, does that deny divine omniscience?

This question is often raised in specific reference to tensed propositions, which are implicitly or explicitly indexical.

The thing about indexicals is that indexical expressions are implicitly or explicitly self-referential. They make a statement about the speaker in relation to something else, like his placement in time and place, viz. "Today I went to the bank," or "I'm here."

That, however, introduces an element of equivocation into whether God has indexical knowledge. If these are self-referential, then in the nature of the case they are only about the speaker–not about a second-party.

God can't think to himself, "Today I (God) went to the bank"–because God didn't go to the bank today.

God can know what the statement means. Indeed, God created the truthmaker.

But it's not something that God can know by acquaintance. It was never about him. It's a first-person statement about somebody else. Somebody other than God. God can't truly assume that first-person viewpoint, because he is not, in fact, the person who went to the bank today.

But that's not a denial of omniscience. I don't know that Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo. Indeed, i can't know that Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo.

But that's not an admission of ignorance on my part. Rather, I can't know that because he lost the battle of Waterloo.

The question of indexical knowledge raises related issues. Can God know what it's like to experience fear or embarrassment?

In the nature of the case, God is not the kind of being who can experience fear or embarrassment. So God can't know that by acquaintance.

On the other hand, knowledge by description seems inapt.

Rather, God is more like a novelist who knows whatever his characters experience because he gave them that experience in the first place.

steve said...

"Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I just became a father so I've been taking care of my recovering wife and son :)"

That must put a serious crimp in your skateboarding. And here we were counting on you to be the Ryan Sheckler of philosophical theologians.

R.C. Dozier said...

“One issue is whether you're discussing what we might call God's indexical knowledge. If God lacks certain examples of indexical knowledge, does that deny divine omniscience?

This question is often raised in specific reference to tensed propositions, which are implicitly or explicitly indexical.

The thing about indexicals is that indexical expressions are implicitly or explicitly self-referential. They make a statement about the speaker in relation to something else, like his placement in time and place, viz. "Today I went to the bank," or "I'm here."

That, however, introduces an element of equivocation into whether God has indexical knowledge. If these are self-referential, then in the nature of the case they are only about the speaker–not about a second-party.

God can't think to himself, "Today I (God) went to the bank"–because God didn't go to the bank today.

God can know what the statement means. Indeed, God created the truthmaker.

But it's not something that God can know by acquaintance. It was never about him. It's a first-person statement about somebody else. Somebody other than God. God can't truly assume that first-person viewpoint, because he is not, in fact, the person who went to the bank today.

But that's not a denial of omniscience. I don't know that Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo. Indeed, i can't know that Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo.

But that's not an admission of ignorance on my part. Rather, I can't know that because he lost the battle of Waterloo.”


This I think is what Helm argued in defense of classic timeless eternity against Craig. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. But how do we mesh this with an A-theory of time? I think this is Craig’s point. It seems difficult to explain how God can, remain timeless, ordain and thus know a tensed fact, if the passage of time is real (i.e. the A-theory of time is the case). Or must we abandon the A-theory all together? My proposal is simply an attempt, perhaps a failed one, to allow both theories of time to be controlled and used by God for His glory.


“The question of indexical knowledge raises related issues. Can God know what it's like to experience fear or embarrassment?

In the nature of the case, God is not the kind of being who can experience fear or embarrassment. So God can't know that by acquaintance.

On the other hand, knowledge by description seems inapt.

Rather, God is more like a novelist who knows whatever his characters experience because he gave them that experience in the first place.”


I agree. Dr. Frame, you and Anderson make this point that is extremely helpful.

R.C. Dozier said...

"That must put a serious crimp in your skateboarding. And here we were counting on you to be the Ryan Sheckler of philosophical theologians."

No, now I have graduated to wear an adult full body pad when I skate, so I cannot get injured :)

Lol! With such pressure, one will be left disappointed.

steve said...

Freewill theism requires the A theory in a way that I don't think Reformed theism requires the B-theory. So long as every event is predestined, I'm not at all sure which theory of time we espouse is especially germane.