The Instigator
Rational_Thinker9119
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
InquireTruth
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points

If the B-Theory of time is true, then Christianity is implausible

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Rational_Thinker9119
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/3/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,875 times Debate No: 34451
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (47)
Votes (5)

 

Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

This debate will not be a debate on whether B-Theory is true or not. This debate will be about whether or not Christianity would still be plausible if B-Theory is true. Basically, we essentially assume B-Theory is true, and argue based on that axiom whether or not Christianity would still have a reasonable chance of surviving based on this notion. I will also be taking on the burden of proof, meaning all Con has to do is sufficiently undermine my claims better than I substantiate them.

First round for acceptance.

InquireTruth

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

I thank my opponent because I know this will be a challenge, as InquireTruth is quite the formidable debater.

Argument In Favor Of The Resolution


P1:
If the B-Theory of time is true, (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) are true:

(i) The Christian doctrine of Creatio Ex Nihilo is false

(ii) There is no creator of the universe (heavens and the Earth)

(iii) Free will does not exist

(iv) There is no God who can have a personal relationship with human beings

(v) There is no such thing as evil that can be objectively overcome

P2: If (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) are true, Christianity is implausible

Conclusion: If the B-Theory of time is true, Christianity is implausible

Defense Of The Premises

Defense of Premise 1

If B-Theory is true, then the past, present and future all exist tenselessly in a 4d or n+1d block, with the present image seen on progression through this four-dimensional space-time block, and being no more real than those before or after [1]. The "Big Bang" would just essentially exist as a point (or "points") on this block, and would not actually be a point in which the universe begins to exist. This means that the universe never comes into being, as William Lane Craig notes:

"On a B-Theory of time, the universe does not in fact come into being or become actual at the Big Bang; it just exists tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block that is finitely extended in the earlier than direction." - William Lane Craig [2]

Dr. Craig's philosophical definition even precludes a B-Theory universe as that which comes into being:

"e comes into being at t if and only if (1) e exists at t, (2) t is the first time at which e exists, (3) there is no state of affairs in the actual world in which e exists timelessly, and (4) e’s existing at t is a tensed fact." [3]

The universe existing at t would not objectively be a tensed fact if the universe is tenseless. Therefore, if B-Theory is true, then it should be self-evident that both (i) and (ii) with regards to premise 1 of my argument are indeed true. If the universe did not come into being, then it could not have been created out of nothing. There could be no creator at all. At best the Theist could claim God "sustains" the universe in being, but the Christian God is a creator not just a "sustainer" by definition.

How would we know (iii) is true if B-Theory is true? Well, i
f all past, present, and future points exist tenselessly on this block in question, then anything our consciousness picks up would be necessary because there is no chance to choose different (free will by definition is "the power of acting without the constraint of necessity") [4]. Therefore, if B-Theory is true, then (iii) is true.

What about (iv)? The only way for a timeless being to have a relationship with beings in the universe is if he puts himself in time right at the coming into existence of time. Otherwise it would be metaphysically infeasible due to the disconnection from beings who experience time tensed in the block, pertaining to a truly timeless being. William Lane Craig concludes that this is required as well:

"The decision to create on God's part, is a decision to enter into time to take on a temporal mode of existence in order to relate to his creatures." - William Lane Craig (Video Source 1:15)

If God is frozen and timeless then he cannot relate to human beings. Therefore, if B-Theory is true, (iv) is true.

We know (v) is true if B-Theory is true, because if the past is just as real as "now", then evil is never overcome because all evil of the past is as objectively as real as the present. Christianity relies on the notion that evil is overcome.

Defense of Premise 2

The negation of (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) is vital to Christianity. Therefore, I believe this premise is self-evident.

Sources

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[2] The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, pp. 183-184.
[3] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
[4] Google Dictionary

InquireTruth

Con

My opponent asserts that there are at least five propositions that both follow from a B-theory of time and are incompatible with Christianity. But what vexes me is that if this is true—and I very much doubt that it is—then Christianity would not just be implausible, it would be impossible! If these five facts follow necessarily from a B-theory of time and are truly incompatible with Christianity, then why would he assert implausibility when he is in fact arguing on the vanguard of a must stronger assertion?

I suspect that this preempted backtracking either betrays his confidence in his actual argument or shows us that he surreptitiously believes that his 5 facts either are no truly incompatible with Christianity or do not actually follow necessarily from a B-theory of time. If this is true, I very much understand his reluctance to fully commit to his position, because it is false or inscrutable for at least 3 reasons, only 1 of which needs to be true in order for his resolution to fail. Thus the three arguments I’ll be affirming are as follows:

(1) The five propositions are not truly incompatible with Christianity
(2) The five propositions are not true or important
(3) The probability of Christianity being true on a B-theory of time is inscrutable.

The five propositions are not truly incompatible with Christianity

(i) This has never been a central doctrine of Christianity. In fact, it really only trades one Christian doctrine for another, namely God’s timelessness. If the B-theory of time is true, then God can be timeless, if it is false and the A-theory of time is true, God is (or becomes) a temporal being who is himself bound by time. Both theories run afoul with ancient doctrines… but who cares? This is no more vital to Christianity than a rear view mirror is to the functioning soundness of a car’s engine.

(ii) Of course this all depends upon some semantics. But even so, the creation narratives of Genesis have long been held by a majority of theologians to be creation epics that utilize a popular Mesopotamian 7-day motif (clearly seen in the epic that precedes it, The Epic of Gilgamesh). Moreover, all that is being said is that there is no finite time ago where God created the heavens and the earth, because, as it were, there was no finite time ago!

(iii) You do realize that there are already huge swaths of Christians who believe this fundamentally? Think those of stricter Calvinism. If approximately 56 million Christians already believe this, how in the world could it truthfully be said that such an idea is vital to Christianity proper? [1]

(iv) Here my opponent is right, there would be no way for God to have a personal relationship with us unless he was part of time. The Trinity provides Christianity with the unique ability of being able to say that God participates in time and does not. In Revelation 13:8, it refers to Jesus as, “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” This indicates a B-theory like notion, wherein Jesus has ALWAYS been slain. This helps understand that God is personal inasmuch as he has always participated in time through the person Jesus the Christ and his Spirit.

(v) This one is true, but needs more explanation. If the past and the future are as objectively real as the present, then evil is ALWAYS objectively overcome. We exist upon a yardstick where all its inches exist objectively. We traverse this yardstick and thus experience its objective points within the continuum known as “the present.” However, the first inches of this yardstick evil was overcome, and in the final inches, evil is overcome. Thus it is a practice of bias to say that evil is never objectively overcome when in reality it would both never and always be overcome. I’m sure God cares little about that and cares more about how his human creatures experience that reality.


I’ll use my next round to expound upon my second and third arguments.

1. Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life (December 19, 2011)

Debate Round No. 2
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

My opponent comes out of the woodwork with a shotgun effect of straw-mans, which makes the majority of his arguments utterly trivial. I never claimed that the truth of (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) was necessarily incompatible with Christianity; I made it clear that my position was that they self-evidently lessened the likelihood or plausibility of Christianity being true precisely, for the reason that there are alternative views. However, these alternative views are either Ad Hoc or improbable in their own right, which is why most theologians do not adhere to them. It should be clear that my argument stands regardless of any vague epistemic possibilities which allow (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) or (v) to be compatible with Christianity as the essence of my argument need not be founded on strict incompatibility.

Con makes a rather useless claim to fuel this misguided agenda, which has me extremely baffled as it is based an embarrassing bastardization of the argument I put forward.

"(1) The five propositions are not truly incompatible with Christianity"

My argument was never founded on an assertion that the truth of (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), and (v) was necessarily incompatible with Christianity. This elementary straw-man argument is severely bizarre.

Rebutting My Opponent

(i) Con claims that Creatio Ex Nihilo this has never been a central doctrine in Christianity, however this is a flat out falsehood. The majority of biblical scholars maintain that the whole of Genesis 1:1ff, Psalms 33:6, Psalms 148:5, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, and Hebrews 11:3 clearly indicate a creation out of nothing [1]. This seems to indicate that any other obscure interpretations have a high probability of not remaining true to scripture. Therefore, Con's futile attempt to disarm me with regards to Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit sheds no negative light on my argument in the slightest.

(ii) With regards to there being no creator under B-Theory, it was essentially hand-waved away by my opponent in an erroneous fashion. Simply presuming that this line of argumentation from me is just "based on semantics" is a bare assertion without justification. Anybody who both:

a) Knows how to comprehend words

b) Has access to a Holy Bible

Can clearly see that God is strictly defined as a creator, and a being who brings things into existence. I urge voters to not be fooled by Con's tactics, as InquireTruth is the type of Christian that mischievously deviates from scripture to make certiain claimes compatible with The Bible, due to being overwhelmingly compelled by the evidence hidden within those statements which contradict The Bible. I maintain that (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) as a totality are not necessarily incompatible with Christianity, however (ii) is incompatible with Christianity. Since the universe would not come into being or be created under B-Theory then this line of reasoning from me alone affirms with resolution, and leaves Con left with no other choice but to either delve into radical epistemological skepticism, or flat deny scripture.

(iii) Con appeals to Calvinism to show free-will is not vital to Christianity, but Calvinism is a false gospel to most Christians because it teaches a radically different gospel than the true gospel given to the original Christians in question. The majority of theologians reject this view. Thus, if his argument relies on Calvinism then Christianity is still implausible given B-Theory.

(iv) My opponent conceded this point. Also, his biblical quote with regards to "always" was speaking about tensed time, which B-Theory does not ontologically include.

(v) Con essentially concedes this point, but argues that it may be better to say that evil is "always" overcome. This is false. The Bible speaks in a tensed fashion, and also for evil to be overcome it has to be "over". However, if all evil of the past exists; evil is never overcome.

As it stands, the resolution has self-evidently been affirmed.

Sources

[1] http://www.theopedia.com...
InquireTruth

Con

My opponent should now inform us how he is measuring these probability equations, wherein he can blithely denounce alternative interpretations as “improbable.” Certainly the 56 million reformed Christians would like to know why their logically interwoven theory of Christian theology has been seriously considered and found wanting of probability.

The five propositions are not true or important


(i) The scriptural passages to which we are referred mayhap have not actually have been read by my opponent. Nowhere do these passages refer to God creating space, time, and matter literally out of nothing at all. Indeed, they refer to creating the “heavens” and the “earth” and other such celestial bodies. It’s not clear why this doctrine is somehow MORE vital to Christianity than the doctrine of God’s timelessness. He’ll have to give us the probability of each doctrine respectively so that we can determine why trading one doctrine for the other results in a shift of probability.

(ii) Under a B-theory of time, if I swat a fly and kill it, it would have always been the case that I swatted that fly and killed it, inasmuch as the moment where I killed the fly is as real as all past and future moments (like staring at a timeline where all moments are documented). It does not follow that I therefore never killed the fly—that is literally absurd. We know as a matter of science that our universe came into existence, it only follows from a B-theory of time that the universe coming into existence is as objectively real as all moments in time. Thus, in many ways, a Christian could say that there is never a moment where God is not creator of the universe… This does not seem to weaken Christianity. I think it’s the LOGIC of a B-theory of time that is confusing my opponent. Just because there was never a time when the universe was not, does not mean it was not created. That’s like saying that just because there was never a time that I was not born I must have never been born! In fact, according to a tenseless theory of time, we must hold both to be true simultaneously! I am both not born and I am born forever and always.

(iii) Perhaps my opponent is unaware of Romans 9 or our early Christian forbear, Augustine. Nevertheless, his view on this point is perhaps just a failure of perspective. Free will is very much possible insofar as one remembers that the only thing that you must do necessarily in the present is that which you have already done. Just because there was NEVER a time that any action you do was not done, does not mean that the action was not done freely. The question begged is: is the action performed because there is never a time when it was not? or is there never a time when it was not because the action was performed? A slight difference with large implications. If there is a contradiction, there is some hidden premise we need.

(iv) This is false given the Christian proclamation of God as Trinity. God is both timeless and personal, wherein he participates in the timeline through Jesus and his Spirit. This may be what Peter was TRYING to get at using tensed language (because that’s all we have) when he said, “[to God] a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (Wrong given an A-theory of time.)

(v) My opponent speaks with tensed language even about the B-theory of time; it is simply how language works. Evil is never overcome because its duration on the timeline is just as ontologically real as the duration on the timeline where evil is overcome. This means that BOTH are true, that evil is both always overcome and is NEVER overcome, insofar as there was never a time when either was not! He just simply has trouble with the B-theory proper. My point is human beings, who experience reality in tenses, will experience evil as overcome! That’s probably what God cares about. There is NOWHERE in the Bible or in Christian doctrine that says that evil must be overcome in the way that my opponent thinks it needs to be.

Debate Round No. 3
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Equations are not necessary to determine plausibility or a basic probability. I do not need an equation to argue that the sun will probably come up tomorrow. Thus, this request from my opponent is nothing more than a desperate red-herring.

Rebutting My Opponent's Objections


(i) My opponent missed the mark with regards to my argument on Creatio Ex Nihilo, and has continued regurgitating as many straw-man arguments as possible. I never claimed that Genesis 1:1ff, Psalms 33:6, Psalms 148:5, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, and Hebrews 11:3 contained a specific claim of Creatio Ex Nihilo. I simply argued exactly what is true; which is the fact that the majority of modern theologian scholars conclude that the totality of those passages in context strongly suggest this is the case. This is a valid Argument from Authority because it clearly meets the requirements of such. Therefore, Con has done absolutely nothing to undermine my argument in this regard.

(ii) Con conceded my point here by dodging it while leaving behind a trail of more red-herrings. First, The Big Bang does not support a universe coming into being, it only supports the notion that their was a starting point. It's true, the red-shift of the galaxies and the Cosmic Microwave Background do not actually support a coming into being of the universe at all, but rather the existence of an initial point (acting like the two are synonymous or that one follows from the other is false). The Big Bang is just a point on a block and did not "happen" under B-Theory. All evidence of The Big Bang is completely compatible with B-Theory. I will repeat Dr. Craig's quote, because it is clear that Con does not even understand what B-Theory is:

"On a B-Theory of time, the universe does not in fact come into being or become actual at the Big Bang..." - William Lane Craig

The punchline is that I do not need to defend the notion that The Big Bang is compatible with B-Theory. This debate is under the assumption that B-Theory is true regardless of The Big Bang. If B-Theory is true then the universe did not come into being even if there exists a fixated Big Bang point on the block, and is not created because it is tenselessly eternal. If the universe is not created, there can be no creator. God is specifically defined as a creator in The Bible. Therefore, (ii) of my argument affirms the resolution. Any further argumentation from me Con should consider a favor.

(iii) Con argues that just because there was never a time that any action you do was not done, does not mean that the action was not done freely. However, this is false. Free-will by definition is the ability to act without necessity. If all points in time exist statically on the block, then all "actions" are out of necessity due to being fixed. Thus, free-will would be false by default. Also Matthew 23:37 and II Peter 3:9: clearly suggest free-will. Appealing to Calvinism will due my opponent no good.

(iv) Con says God is both timeless and personal. This is logically impossible. Either God is in time (and can personally relate to his creatures), or he is timeless. He cannot be both.

"To be in time is to have a temporal location and a temporal extension. To be timeless is simply, to have no temporal location or extension. So these are contradictories; they cannot both be true." - William Lane Craig

You would have to qualify the two, which is only possible under A-Theory; not B-Theory.

(v) Con says both propositions would be true, however this is a logical contradiction. Evil never leaves existence. Thus, it cannot be overcome by definition. Thus, the claim it is "always" overcome is false by logical necessity.

My argument is substantiated to the point where it pre-disarms any possible argument in favor of the notion that the probability of Christianity being true on a B-theory of time is inscrutable. The resolution has clearly been affirmed, but I hope Con's next round is fruitful. If the past is any indicator however, I will not hold my breath...

InquireTruth

Con

Believe it or not, justification is needed to determine even basic probability, whereby you use rules of induction or basic probability metrics. To justify the sun probably rising, you would be inferring background knowledge. The equation that you're using, but apparently don't know that you are, is, P(SR|k) >> P(SNR|k), where SR is the sun rising and SNR is the sun not rising and K indicates background knowledge. I have frankly not seen even a modicum of an attempt to establish probability even on this most rudimentary level.

(i) I'll simply call ipse dixit, inasmuch as my opponent has asserted something as true and hoped to God (or not) that we would take it as such. I have spent my many years in the field of theology and have no idea how he could have POSSIBLY come to the conclusion that the majority of theologians take his cited passages as some sort of proof for the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. He has not responded to the call to determine why swapping one traditional church doctrine with another somehow results in a shift in probability. The Bible never says anything whatever about God creating out of nothing and therefore no Christian need believe it.

(ii) I did not concede the point. I only concede that Pro doesn't quite understand the implications of the theory we are assuming. All moments in the timeline exist really with each other objectively. However, Mctaggart, the forerunner on the philosophy of time, said that events can, under a B-theory of time, be thought of as earlier than, simultaneous with, or later than others, though each moment is equally real. Thus, God is earlier than the heavens and the earth and brought it about. However, since the "future" is equally real with the "past," there was never a real moment when the heavens and earth was not. But my opponent misses the other implication, since the "past" is as equally real as the "future," there will always be a real moment when the universe was not. It is like looking at a timeline and seeing a moment when someone is alive and then another moment where that same someone is dead. Taking the timeline as a whole, the person being alive and dead are both equally true and real objectively. If my opponent does not like this, it has no implications on Christianity, only on the fact that he does not like the axiom he has asked us to assume.

(iii) This is two pronged. I deny that free will or determinism in any way affects the probability of Christianity. I cite Romans 9 and the doctrine of predestination and the long Christian history of those who follow Calvin and Augustine. I also deny his definition of free will. I refer to Frankfurt"s famous objection that showed free will is perfectly compatible with necessity. [1]

(iv) My opponent is not familiar with the Trinity. This we can forgive him, it is complicated after all. God can, of course, be both timeless and temporal, because God is tripersonal, inasmuch as he is composed of three persons, two of which are free to have temporal locations. On this point, Craig should really know better, especially since he is a Social Trinitarian. In fact, the Bible teaches as much. Peter tells us that time looks different to God (2 Peter 3:8) yet we also see the person of Jesus participating with us.

(v) Not to be too blunt, but I really do think my opponent is unfamiliar with the B-theory of time. Things in time have a relationship to one another, like before, after or simultaneous with, but each thing in time is equally real. Thus, before evil, there was no evil and after evil there is no evil! That is true on a B-theory of time. But the moments where evil is in existence are equally real with the moments that it is not. Thus it is true on the timeline of a B-theory that evil both does and does not exist objectively. If he thinks it's a contradiction, then he has assumed a contradictory axiom and it no more makes Christianity implausible then it does the existence of funerals.

1.http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 4
47 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Is God Temporal or Timeless?
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Craig believes God was timeless "prior" to creation, then puts himself in time at the moment of creation so he can have a personal relationship with his temporal creatures; but he cannot be both at the same point. He also believes God cannot return to timelessness, and that God is "locked" inside this temporal domain.
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
I had no idea that Craig things God cannot be personal and timeless. There's a whole section in his book, Time and Eternity, arguing that it's possible to be both timeless and personal. Doesn't he think there was a state of affairs without the universe in which all three persons were both personal and timeless?
Posted by InquireTruth 3 years ago
InquireTruth
R_M, with regard to Craig and the Trinity, most Social Trinitarians refer to the term God as the sort of fourth entity that defines the relationship that three distinct persons share (Father, Son and Spirit). Thus, when Craig says God cannot be personal and timeless, I take him to be saying that all three persons that comprise God cannot be simultaneously personal and timeless, which is probably true.

Drafterman, when you say that logically speaking it doesn't make sense, I find myself a bit puzzled. The only way for it to be logically incoherent, as I take you to be saying, would be if either timelessness or temporalness proper are logically impossible per se.
Posted by InquireTruth 3 years ago
InquireTruth
Giving source vote for more sources is a bit strange. I'm on my phone at present, but there are still a few comments I'd like to come back and respond to.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
I disagree with a couple of things you said there, but I thank you for taking the time to read the debate and vote.
Posted by Noumena 3 years ago
Noumena
Does HeartofGod's source vote bother anyone else?
Posted by Noumena 3 years ago
Noumena
Arguments to Con. Pro's arguments relied on 'Christianity' being a concept that must necessarily stand still in time. That is, he presumes that changes in beliefs within the system necessitate changes to the system as a whole. While a large enough succession of inner changes may necessitate some larger qualitative change at some point, Pro was insufficient in arguing that this case obtains that conclusion. Con was therefore able to admit most of Pro's premises as true while still maintaining that Christianity is still plausible. He simply changed certain inner-aspects of Christianity which he argued didn't necessitate calling it something different. The free will contention was the easiest to absorb given that theologians and believers alike have admitted it for centuries. On the ex nihilo issue, Con was aided simply by Pro's lack of explanation on his impact i.e., why *specifically* certain passages contradict ex nihilo theories of creation AND why the refutation of such is enough to refute Christianity as such (against alludes to the problem of any metric provided by Pro regarding probability assessment). The remaining three points were more or less covered by Con's contention on the nature of B-theory i.e., that every moment is equally real, yet each moment in time can still *be* (read: happen, exist). God can 'act' and evil can be vanquished. Good debate overall. Pro would have been better off first defining what and what doesn't count as being able to make an entire belief system implausible. Unfortunately that's what most of this debate turned into.
Posted by drafterman 3 years ago
drafterman
Logically speaking, it doesn't matter.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 3 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
Strange, because the argument I gave from that regard was from Dr. Craig. Does he not believe in the trinity?
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Noumena 3 years ago
Noumena
Rational_Thinker9119InquireTruthTied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by drafterman 3 years ago
drafterman
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Vote Placed by HeartOfGod 3 years ago
HeartOfGod
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Reasons for voting decision: B theory = eternalism and Christianity = creationism. Something eternal cannot be created. All pro had to do was point out the contradiction to win which he did. Con did a lot of stretching, but I found this debate interesting because dr. Craig has argued in philosophical work the same thing that Christian b theorists do not have a feasible stance. Presentism is the correct view anyway as B theory means an actual infinity which is impossible. PS. Pro had more sources
Vote Placed by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by danielawesome12 3 years ago
danielawesome12
Rational_Thinker9119InquireTruthTied
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Reasons for voting decision: It's a Tie!