William Lane Craig: Time and Eternity

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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Divine eternity: God exists without beginning or end. But is God temporal or timeless? We will come back to this question, as Craig himself revisits it at the very end of the book. We see much about time and eternity, and the numerous tortured arguments from all sides, but little on (T/E’s) relation to God, per the book’s subtitle. That shouldn’t detract from the fine scholarship, though.

Much of the book is a sustained analysis of Einstein and the various debates concerning relativity. I’m going to skip those. The heart of Craig’s argument is setting forth two views of time:

Tensed time (A). This is the common-sense view of time (and the one Craig upholds). We can speak of past, present, and future. However, if God is timeless, as he must be if we deny that time is eternal, then it’s hard to see how he can relate to time.

Tenseless time (B). Time is an illusion, or at least speech of a past and a future is meaningless. This fits well with some models of relativity. If time is actually space-time, and space is a 3-D coordinate, and if space isn’t tensed (and it isn’t), then time is tenseless. While this is quite bizarre, and Craig offers a number of rebuttals, but its strength lies in its ability to comport with God’s eternity.

In conclusion, Craig argues that God is eternal before Creation but has a temporal dimension with respect to creation. And that’s my problem with his conclusion. I think there is something to it, but he does very little to develop it (Craig, 217-235, and much of that discussion is a summary of his Kalam argument). He adds a fine discussion on God’s foreknowledge as an appendix.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
I think it was Augustine who said something to the effect of “If I don’t think about time, I know precisely what it is, but as soon as I start thinking about it, I have no idea.”
 

Gforce9

Puritan Board Junior
Jacob,
1- Where do you find time to read all these books?
2- Do you have food slid under your door 3x/day like the military engineers that come up wIth new weapons technology? :p
3- This sounds kind of interesting....an area I haven't delved into.
4- I've heard Dr. Craig speak before....and he is very smart. Given that he is a modern-day cobbler for the Jesuit, de Molina, I'm rather disinclined to listen to anything he says about the knowledge of our God.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Jacob,
1- Where do you find time to read all these books?
2- Do you have food slid under your door 3x/day like the military engineers that come up wIth new weapons technology? :p
3- This sounds kind of interesting....an area I haven't delved into.
4- I've heard Dr. Craig speak before....and he is very smart. Given that he is a modern-day cobbler for the Jesuit, de Molina, I'm rather disinclined to listen to anything he says about the knowledge of our God.

~1. This was only 200 pages. Not too bad.
~2. No, but I read when I can. Usually when I take my daughter to the library or wherever.
~4. I understand. Molinism is mentioned but not expounded here.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
When I saw the title, I wondered if this was going to be about a Mormon book on marriage.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Divine eternity: God exists without beginning or end. But is God temporal or timeless? We will come back to this question, as Craig himself revisits it at the very end of the book. We see much about time and eternity, and the numerous tortured arguments from all sides, but little on (T/E’s) relation to God, per the book’s subtitle. That shouldn’t detract from the fine scholarship, though.

Much of the book is a sustained analysis of Einstein and the various debates concerning relativity. I’m going to skip those. The heart of Craig’s argument is setting forth two views of time:

Tensed time (A). This is the common-sense view of time (and the one Craig upholds). We can speak of past, present, and future. However, if God is timeless, as he must be if we deny that time is eternal, then it’s hard to see how he can relate to time.

Tenseless time (B). Time is an illusion, or at least speech of a past and a future is meaningless. This fits well with some models of relativity. If time is actually space-time, and space is a 3-D coordinate, and if space isn’t tensed (and it isn’t), then time is tenseless. While this is quite bizarre, and Craig offers a number of rebuttals, but its strength lies in its ability to comport with God’s eternity.

In conclusion, Craig argues that God is eternal before Creation but has a temporal dimension with respect to creation. And that’s my problem with his conclusion. I think there is something to it, but he does very little to develop it (Craig, 217-235, and much of that discussion is a summary of his Kalam argument). He adds a fine discussion on God’s foreknowledge as an appendix.
He is big on Middle Knowledge, Molinism, and bashing Calvinism, correct?
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Elsewhere he promotes Middle Knowledge, but not in this book. He isn't a Calvinist, but neither does he "bash" Calvinism.
Well, he may not "bash" in the sense of hyperbolic vitriol, but he has a position on the matter:

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/molinism-vs.-calvinism

In other words, per his own words, Calvinism is incoherent, irrational, makes God the author of sin, robs man of free agency, and is farcical.

Seems to me bash is probably an accurate descriptor, despite flowery language. ;)
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
One of the worst qualities of many reformed Christians is a refusal to read anything that might disagree with their positions. Yes, William Lane Craig is not reformed, and so yes, there are many reformed positions with which he will disagree. Regardless, there is much profit in reading works written by those outside of our particular tribe, if for no other reason than better understanding those with whom we disagree. Plus, we might actually learn something new.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
One of the worst qualities of many reformed Christians is a refusal to read anything that might disagree with their positions. Yes, William Lane Craig is not reformed, and so yes, there are many reformed positions with which he will disagree. Regardless, there is much profit in reading works written by those outside of our particular tribe, if for no other reason than better understanding those with whom we disagree. Plus, we might actually learn something new.
Indeed.

I profit much from reading Craig and many others that I disagree with, for how else could I make such a statement. Unfortunately, not a few disagree with so and so having never taken the time to fully digest their writings, contrary to taking every word captive for the glory of God.

Patrick
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Indeed.

I profit much from reading Craig and many others that I disagree with, for how else could I make such a statement. Unfortunately, not a few disagree with so and so having never taken the time to fully digest their writings, contrary to taking every word captive for the glory of God.

Patrick

Indeed. We must read critically and through the lens of biblical truth, but read we should. Like many of us, when I first heard of open theism, I was horrified. Regardless, I decided to read some works by Greg Boyd on the subject. I came away still horrified, but with a better understanding of what open theists actually believe. This has enabled me to better refute their position because I am able to attack their actual arguments and not just the straw men that some have constructed.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Well, he may not "bash" in the sense of hyperbolic vitriol, but he has a position on the matter:

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/molinism-vs.-calvinism

In other words, per his own words, Calvinism is incoherent, irrational, makes God the author of sin, robs man of free agency, and is farcical.

Seems to me bash is probably an accurate descriptor, despite flowery language. ;)
He does seem to have a real ax to grind with Reformed/Calvinist theology in regards to salvation and free will.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
One of the worst qualities of many reformed Christians is a refusal to read anything that might disagree with their positions. Yes, William Lane Craig is not reformed, and so yes, there are many reformed positions with which he will disagree. Regardless, there is much profit in reading works written by those outside of our particular tribe, if for no other reason than better understanding those with whom we disagree. Plus, we might actually learn something new.
Agree with that assessment, as its good to read and at least varying theologies within the Body of Christ, such as Arminian/Charismatic/Dispensational for example, in order to know what fellow Christians believe and why they see it that way.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Indeed. We must read critically and through the lens of biblical truth, but read we should. Like many of us, when I first heard of open theism, I was horrified. Regardless, I decided to read some works by Greg Boyd on the subject. I came away still horrified, but with a better understanding of what open theists actually believe. This has enabled me to better refute their position because I am able to attack their actual arguments and not just the straw men that some have constructed.
I think that many Calvinists and Arminians would do well to read through a good st of what each side really holds the scriptures teaching to us.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I think that many Calvinists and Arminians would do well to read through a good st of what each side really holds the scriptures teaching to us.

That's mostly what I do. I avoid modern Reformed literature for the most part. Most Arminians, though, don't write systematic theologies today.

Most of my reading is in the area of substance metaphysics, philosophy of mind, medieval theology, and the church fathers.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
That's mostly what I do. I avoid modern Reformed literature for the most part. Most Arminians, though, don't write systematic theologies today.

Most of my reading is in the area of substance metaphysics, philosophy of mind, medieval theology, and the church fathers.
I think Norman Geisler would be the modern Arminian ST to read and study to get their viewpoints.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
One of the worst qualities of many reformed Christians is a refusal to read anything that might disagree with their positions. Yes, William Lane Craig is not reformed, and so yes, there are many reformed positions with which he will disagree. Regardless, there is much profit in reading works written by those outside of our particular tribe, if for no other reason than better understanding those with whom we disagree. Plus, we might actually learn something new.

I see this a lot, but, frankly, I have a hard time recommending someone immerse themselves in books that teach serious error or even damnable heresy. If you are a pastor or teacher who has a calling to apologetics/polemics in the pulpit and in private you ought to be well grounded in the faith and will need to know what errors you may encounter so that can be a different story. For the average Reformed lay-person--they may be better read than your typical American but few have even scratched the surface of the greatest, most edifying texts in our own tradition. Why spend time reading Craig when you could read Gurnall? Or Boyd when you could read Turretin? The old adage about how the Treasury officials learn to detect counterfeit bills stands.

Some laypersons, like Jacob, have read so extensively that there is value in them branching out. My experience, however, is that most people need prompting just to read our own literature. I've actually read this book twice and I don't think I would even the first time if I had it all to do over again. It makes serious errors in theology proper. The time spent on relativity is interesting and a mental workout, but it's of limited value to anyone but a philosopher of religion.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I see this a lot, but, frankly, I have a hard time recommending someone immerse themselves in books that teach serious error or even damnable heresy. If you are a pastor or teacher who has a calling to apologetics/polemics in the pulpit and in private you ought to be well grounded in the faith and will need to know what errors you may encounter so that can be a different story. For the average Reformed lay-person--they may be better read than your typical American but few have even scratched the surface of the greatest, most edifying texts in our own tradition. Why spend time reading Craig when you could read Gurnall? Or Boyd when you could read Turretin? The old adage about how the Treasury officials learn to detect counterfeit bills stands.

Some laypersons, like Jacob, have read so extensively that there is value in them branching out. My experience, however, is that most people need prompting just to read our own literature. I've actually read this book twice and I don't think I would even the first time if I had it all to do over again. It makes serious errors in theology proper. The time spent on relativity is interesting and a mental workout, but it's of limited value to anyone but a philosopher of religion.

Depends on what your goal in reading is. If it is to grow in the faith, then I probably wouldn't go to Craig first. If it is to understand current apologetical discussions regarding Time and divine properties, then you have to go to Craig, no way around it.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
Depends on what your goal in reading is. If it is to grow in the faith, then I probably wouldn't go to Craig first. If it is to understand current apologetical discussions regarding Time and divine properties, then you have to go to Craig, no way around it.

Indeed. I don't have any problem with your reading of them and enjoy your brief reviews/synopses. I hope you didn't take it as a criticism--it wasn't meant as such though perhaps it was worded infelicitously. My post was regarding the encouragement to your average Reformed laypersons to read works advocating error when so few make time to read even the best works advocating truth and tending towards spiritual edification.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Indeed. I don't have any problem with your reading of them and enjoy your brief reviews/synopses. I hope you didn't take it as a criticism--it wasn't meant as such though perhaps it was worded infelicitously. My post was regarding the encouragement to your average Reformed laypersons to read works advocating error when so few make time to read even the best works advocating truth and tending towards spiritual edification.

No problem here. And Craig's works are often so technical that I doubt the average layman would read much of them. I almost didn't finish this book because it was too sciency.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
No problem here. And Craig's works are often so technical that I doubt the average layman would read much of them. I almost didn't finish this book because it was too sciency.
His take on Middle Knowledge has left me confused though, as he seems to still want to somehow preserve full and real free will?
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I see this a lot, but, frankly, I have a hard time recommending someone immerse themselves in books that teach serious error or even damnable heresy. If you are a pastor or teacher who has a calling to apologetics/polemics in the pulpit and in private you ought to be well grounded in the faith and will need to know what errors you may encounter so that can be a different story. For the average Reformed lay-person--they may be better read than your typical American but few have even scratched the surface of the greatest, most edifying texts in our own tradition. Why spend time reading Craig when you could read Gurnall? Or Boyd when you could read Turretin? The old adage about how the Treasury officials learn to detect counterfeit bills stands.

Some laypersons, like Jacob, have read so extensively that there is value in them branching out. My experience, however, is that most people need prompting just to read our own literature. I've actually read this book twice and I don't think I would even the first time if I had it all to do over again. It makes serious errors in theology proper. The time spent on relativity is interesting and a mental workout, but it's of limited value to anyone but a philosopher of religion.
I think that it is best to get really grounded before anything else in the Bible, and then read and study through solid reformed and Baptist writers, and then branch outwards from there.
 

KGP

Puritan Board Freshman

Point number 3 seems the most immediately out of place here.
Is it so hard for these folks to conceive that free will is not necessary to constitute real accountability?

God is continually at work restraining the evil of men. God does not make men to be evil; they are evil, and he minute by minute restrains their evil; he determines the bounds of evil and decides how far they will run in the way of their evil desires. "God moves people to choose evil" - no, people ARE evil, and God directs and restrains their evil. They are neither prompted by God, nor by the Holy Spirit, nor by their conscience unto these deceitful deeds, but by the mystery of evil within themselves and the love of darkness do men carry out their evil actions.

At this point, God is not the source of evil, but rather the immediate cause of restraint. Should God see fit to let men go and not restrain them; either to accomplish some task he wills to accomplish, or to make manifest and more obvious on the earth the greatness of evil that lies within men, or to express more fully his displeasure and wrath upon sin by abandoning the sinner more fully unto his captor (as he is a slave to sin and the devil); then who can object? On what grounds should anyone complain, that God should not leave off with men who hate him and spurn him moment by moment?

Until the 'problem of evil' becomes more than just an intriguing theological riddle to solve, the absolute sovereignty of God will remain a difficult pill to swallow.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Point number 3 seems the most immediately out of place here.
Is it so hard for these folks to conceive that free will is not necessary to constitute real accountability?

God is continually at work restraining the evil of men. God does not make men to be evil; they are evil, and he minute by minute restrains their evil; he determines the bounds of evil and decides how far they will run in the way of their evil desires. "God moves people to choose evil" - no, people ARE evil, and God directs and restrains their evil. They are neither prompted by God, nor by the Holy Spirit, nor by their conscience unto these deceitful deeds, but by the mystery of evil within themselves and the love of darkness do men carry out their evil actions.

At this point, God is not the source of evil, but rather the immediate cause of restraint. Should God see fit to let men go and not restrain them; either to accomplish some task he wills to accomplish, or to make manifest and more obvious on the earth the greatness of evil that lies within men, or to express more fully his displeasure and wrath upon sin by abandoning the sinner more fully unto his captor (as he is a slave to sin and the devil); then who can object? On what grounds should anyone complain, that God should not leave off with men who hate him and spurn him moment by moment?

Until the 'problem of evil' becomes more than just an intriguing theological riddle to solve, the absolute sovereignty of God will remain a difficult pill to swallow.
God predestined Judas to be the Christ betrayer, but Judas also freely accepted to fulfill that role/task. God did not have to force Judas to do that, nor make him a mindless robot.
 
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