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God and Time: relational facts are not illusions

I've been having a discussion of the meaty topic of God and time on Facebook recently. Some philosophers (in this context, we were discussing the views of William Lane Craig) have held that God is in time. One argument given for this conclusion is that one must hold to an "absolute now" because the flow of time does not seem to be a mere illusion but rather an objective fact. If there is an "absolute now," then that "absolute now" must be known by God, must bear some objective relationship to God, and therefore in some sense God must be in time. That, at least, is how I understand the argument. I gather that the picture is of God in some sense going through our time with us so that God knows the tensed fact, "It is now Monday, January 20, 2014" (or whatever day it "really is" right now).

This argument is very puzzling to me, because it seems to me rather blindingly obvious that a term like "now" is just like all other indexicals ("I," "you," "here," etc.) in being understandable only in context, changing its meaning depending on who is speaking, and hence being as far as possible from the sort of thing that is absolute. Just as "I am the king of France" is either true or false depending on who is speaking, so "It is now Monday, January 20, 2014" is true or false depending on who is speaking and when he is speaking--on where, so to speak, the speaker is actually located in time. I cannot for the life of me see why one would think that there must be an absolute "now," which is the ever-moving "now" for the history of the entire universe and even for God (!), any more than there must be an absolute "I" or an absolute "over there."

The question then arises as to whether the passage of time is an illusion. But there, too, the problem is not clear to me. It seems to me that "this is an illusion" or "this is absolute, even for God" constitutes a false dichotomy. Consider location in space. It is objectively true that Lydia McGrew lives in the United States of America as opposed to living in the Sudan. That is a fact about a particular finite, embodied creature, and the relation that that creature has, via her own body (where her body is her chief means of interacting causally with the world), to a particular planet, Earth. I may say, "I live here, not in the Sudan," but this is no problem. We can get rid of all the indexicals and give a nice, clear, relational, but objective meaning to that statement. We can give that meaning quite readily because I am a finite creature and therefore am in one place rather than in another place.

My location in space is not an absolute in the sense that, for every entity now in existence, there is some "here" which applies to everybody and by which all others must orient themselves! Different finite beings will say "here" about a different finite location in space. And they can be speaking the truth as well, because they are related to the earth and the physical universe, as finite beings, in a different way from the way that I am related to the earth and the rest of the physical universe. Relational facts are not illusory. They are just relational rather than being the same for everyone.

There seems to me every reason to think that something similar applies to time. My "now" is different from Abraham Lincoln's "now." In fact, none of my "nows" overlaps with any of Abraham Lincoln's "nows." It would be as arbitrary to say that universal, absolute time really is moving along, has just (relatively recently) gotten to me, and that my "now" is the real now as to say that my location in space is the real "here."

This does not, however, mean that the passage of time is an illusion. We finite creatures really do change and really do grow older. Finite bodies really do move. Planet Earth really does turn, and it did really turn a certain number of times between the moment when Abraham Lincoln's physical body ceased to function and the moment when my body was conceived. These temporal facts are not illusory, but they are relational.

It is usually pointed out at this point in the discussion that time, unlike space, goes only in one direction. There are good logical reasons for holding real time travel to be strictly impossible. Put briefly, the problem with real time travel (with causal efficacy upon the past) is that it would in principle allow a being to cause itself never to have existed in the first place. A common example is my going back in time and doing something that prevents my grandparents from meeting, thus preventing my own eventual conception. How can I be causally efficacious in such a way as to make it the case that I never existed? For if I never existed in the first place, I could never be causally efficacious. Time travel allows the possibility of my both being causally efficacious and not being causally efficacious in the same sense at the same time, which is a contradiction. This seems to me an excellent argument against real time travel.

In this way we can give a meaning to time's arrow--a causal meaning. There is only a single direction to the possible causal efficacy of finite beings, since their existence, and hence the very possibility of their having causal efficacy, has a beginning. Without too much trouble we can extend a similar analysis to non-personal entities and events. The Civil War could not have causal efficacy prior to its occurrence, for if it could do so, then someone might been caused by the Civil War to prevent the Civil War, in which case it both did and did not happen, which is incoherent.

But it does not seem to me that putting a single-directional arrow onto the created order is at all the same thing as putting an absolute "now" into the created order, much less putting God in time. It goes without saying that God created in a coherent fashion. Hence, God created beings with limited causal powers. Among other things, those powers are logically limited; those finite beings cannot possibly cause themselves never to have existed. Therefore, they cannot be causally efficacious in the created realm prior to their own existence. In that sense God created a finite universe with a temporal arrow on it. But an arrow and an ever-moving, absolute-for-everybody, present "now" are two different things.

We can readily imagine, if we must have a picture, an object (our space-time universe) with a one-directional arrow painted on it. Nonetheless, the whole object is there, both the parts "at the beginning" and the parts further "to the right" (i.e., further along in the timeline). The temporal universe need not appear as nothing but an ever-moving dot or infinitely fine present moment. What came before the present location of a "present line" need not disappear as the present moves on; nor is what comes after some "present dot" literally unreal. The timeline is all there. It just has a temporal-causal arrow on it. Nor does the existence of the arrow necessitate in any form whatsoever a single, moving point denoting an ever-changing, canonical "now."

This seems to me quite a coherent picture of the created universe with a single causal-temporal direction, but without an absolute "now." Since God, the Incarnation aside, is not located within the finite confines of His own creation, He sees the whole of space-time. He also sees and knows what direction history goes in a causal sense. He knows which finite entities have which causal powers, and He knows that these causal power are based, in part, on where/when in the story they first came into existence. He knows all of their objective relations to one another, including the fact that Abraham Lincoln died, on the timeline, long before I was born. Or perhaps we should say, to try to get the faintest echo of a God's-eye view, that Abraham Lincoln (tenselessly) dies long before Lydia is (tenselessly) born. These temporal relations are not an illusion, but neither are they absolute in the sense that God must have some particular temporal perspective within the timeline of the created order.

As far as I can see, there is nothing at all incoherent in the picture that I have sketched. I have yet to see a good reason to take God to be in time, and this one--that otherwise time is strictly an illusion--is unsuccessful.

Previous post on this topic almost exactly a year ago here.

Comments (28)

Lydia, this debate has to do with the debate about which theory of time is correct: A-theory or B-theory. (Here is a page describing these theories, as well as other related issues that are important in this debate: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time/

.)

According to an A theory of time, some events are in the past, some are in the present, and some are in the future. This presupposes that there are such things as the past (i.e. an objective past), the present (i.e., an objective present), etc. Why would someone believe in the A theory of time? Well, if you are a presentist then that's a good reason. According to presentism the present is ontologically privileged over the past and the future. This could mean, for instance, that objects in the present exist, while objects that are in the past and not the present do not exist. For example, think of a destroyed object. There is a sense in which we say that the city of Troy used to exist, but that it does not exist anymore. Take the claim, "The city of Troy does not exist" -- it sounds plausibly true. The city of Troy used to exist in the present, so it used to exist. It no longer exists in the present, so it no longer exists.

In the B theory of time, there is no fact of the matter about what time it is. Some events are earlier than others, and some events are simultaneous with others. All talk about the future and the past in this theory is indexical. So, when I say, "January 20th, 2014 is in the past" I mean that the time of my utterance is later than January 20th, 2014. On this view, there is no fact of the matter about what time it "really" is, which suggests that it would be silly to hold it against God's omniscience that He does not know "what time it is". If one is a 4-dimensionalist, one has a good reason to believe in the B theory of time. According to 4-dimensionalism (named "eternalism" in the SEP article I cited above), all (a) "future" and (b) "past" events and objects exist -- they simply exist (a) later than now and (b) earlier than now, respectively. So, the city of Troy still exists -- it just doesn't exist *now*, but rather in the past. Whatever one experiences as the present (there is, on this view, no objective present) is not in any way ontologically privileged.

Some people think that 4-dimensionalism (which entails the B theory) endangers free will, and they reject it on those grounds. If one goes on to reject the B theory of time, it's tougher to hold on to God as an eternal (and thus atemporal) being. Assume that God is eternal (and thus atemporal). On the A theory, God simply cannot know what time it is. An atemporal being cannot change, and so God cannot revise His belief about the present time. So, either God will at some point (very quickly) have a false belief about what time it is, which is absurd (omniscience), or He will simply fail to know what time it is, also absurd (omniscience). We can fix things by dropping omniscience, but we don't want to do that. So, the thinking goes, we must drop God's eternal nature.

But does 4 dimensionalism really endanger freedom? The argument goes roughly like this -- freedom is the ability to do otherwise. If I am free, then there will be times at which it is within my power to choose one of many different options (or, at any rate, at least two). Let's say (plausibly) that I will have a choice about what to eat for breakfast tomorrow. However, if 4 dimensionalism is true, then there is already a fact of the matter about what I will have for breakfast tomorrow. The future, in a sense, "already exists" -- it exists at a time that is later than my writing about it here. If there is already a fact of the matter about what I will eat for breakfast tomorrow, then I can't do anything about it. Whatever it is that I eat in the future is the only option I have. I no longer have multiple options, and thus I no longer have freedom. And this will be true of all future putatively free decisions.

I reject this argument because I don't think "the ability to do otherwise" is a good summary of the essence of freedom. (Perhaps, for instance, we can define freedom in such a way that an act is free iff the choice to carry out the act is contingent on the agent's will in a way that is irreducible to external causal factors. This is vague and imprecise, but it's a start, I think. We can accommodate our intuition that genuine freedom requires that our free acts are not causally determined without saying that freedom is "the ability to do otherwise".) So, I don't think 4 dimensionalism rules out freedom. I accept 4-d-ism and also the B theory of time.

Even if you don't accept 4-d-ism, however, it is not clear to me that you are committed to the A theory of time. I just know that, for whatever reason, there are apparently dozens of open theists who insist that we need the A theory to have genuine freedom. I think that's wrong, but this is the best account I can give for why they think it's a problem.

Since Dr.Craig is not an open theist, I doubt that he rejects the B-theory for reasons concerning free will.

I have never understood the strong attraction of a strong A-theory. I can certainly see an insistence on an objective _direction_ to time, for the causal reasons I outlined in the post, but that does not require a strong A-theory as I understand the strong A-theory.

I think one could try to reconcile some version of an A-theory, stronger than any I would accept, with Divine timelessness by saying that the "moving dot" is a feature of the created universe which God simply knows about, but that this knowledge does not change God, because God tenselessly knows about it, just as he knows other contingent facts about the space-time continuum. This would be rather like the existence of the "block" but with a blinking red light going along on it, and God's being able tenselessly to see the blinking red light and "where" it is on the block.

I doubt that this works, though, because it is difficult to give a meaning to that moving red dot which is the "real now" except by reference to some perspective outside the Universe. In other words, it _seems_ prima facie that, if you don't hold to strong presentism but do want to be some sort of A-theorist, the meaning of a "real now" has to be explained or grounded in some way, and one obvious way to ground it would be to say that the present is "God's present." But that does put God in time.

By the way, I think that a statement like, "Troy does not exist," as made by any actual finite subject, has an implicit indexical "now" attached to it, just as "It is not raining outside" has a tacit indexical "here" attached to it. I realize that that is a fairly predictable B-theory answer. That also means, however, that to say, "Troy still exists, it just doesn't exist now" should be ruled out by the B-theorist as confused. Troy doesn't still exist because the word "still" itself implies the indexical "now," so the statement, "Troy still exists, it just doesn't exist now" is contradictory.

Yes, I was sloppy when talking about Troy existing. It isn't, according to the B theory, that Troy doesn't exist now. It's that Troy's existence is not simultaneous with the present (i.e., the time of our posting on this thread).

As for an objective direction to time, I'm not even sure I will grant that so easily. Certainly my perception of time is such that it always moves in one direction, but we can easily explain that in subjective terms. Say, for instance, that my perspective is what "moves" and not time itself. As for the worry about backward causation, time travel considerations seem to rule out only a subset of the instances of backward causation. Certainly things cannot shake out so that my choices cause me never to be born (and thus to have no choices), but such considerations do not rule out my causing something in the past that has no bearing on my existence. Backward causation might turn out to be incoherent for other reasons, of course.

As for Dr. Craig, I apologize for not being more clear that he is not an open theist. By way of doing penance, I'll share his reasoning:

"...[Once] time begins at the moment of creation, either God becomes temporal in virtue of his real relation to the temporal world, or else he exists just as timelessly with creation as he does without it. If we choose the first alternative, then... God is temporal. But what about the second alternative? Can God remain untouched by the world's temporality? It seems not. For at the first moment of time, God stands in a new relation in which he did not stand before (since there was no "before"). Even if in creating the world God undergoes no intrinsic change, he at least undergoes an extrinsic change. For at the moment of creation, God comes into the relation of sustaining the universe or, at the very least, of coexisting with the universe, relations in which he did not stand before. Since he is free to refrain from creation, God could have never stood in those relations, had he so willed. But by virtue of his creating a temporal world, God comes into a relation with that world the moment it springs into being. Thus even if it is not the case that God is temporal prior to his creation of the world, he undergoes an extrinsic change at the moment of creation which draws him into time in virtue of his real relation to the world." (P. 140-141 of Four Views: God & Time)

So, according to Dr. Craig, God was eternal (i.e., atemporal), but when He created the world He underwent an extrinsic change and became temporal. This account strikes me as extremely confused. Dr. Craig is surely correct to say that for some object x to undergo a change entails that x is temporal -- after all, change is a temporal notion -- but why need we suppose that God changes in His creation of the world? Craig speaks as if at one time God is not in a sustaining relation with the world, and then at another time is in such a sustaining relation. This begs the question, however, because it assumes that there was a time in which God was not in a sustaining relation to the world. But the believer in an eternal God denies this claim. When God created the world, He created time as well -- there is no time before the creation! If there is no time at which God did not stand in a sustaining relation with the world, then there is no need to suppose that He changed. We simply say that God always stood in a sustaining relation in the world. To be sure, God is free, so His standing in that relation to the world is contingent, but it does not follow that He hasn't always stood in that relation.

I hope this atones for my sloppiness!

It will not surprise you to hear that I don’t think there is anything incoherent in the Boethian picture you have sketched, Lydia. And it simply does not follow that if God is not in time, then time – which is to say, temporality, creaturity, the condition of being caused – is strictly illusory (NB: “condition” *just is,* etymologically, to be such as is caused; for “condition” was construed from the beginning under the terms of Genesis 1 and the Prologue to John; “conditor alme siderum,” etc.).

The keyboard I’m typing on is in front of me. It is not in front of God in the same way. I mean, I don’t doubt that (among all other things) God is looking out of my eyes at the keyboard, right along with me. But what is just my perspective *can’t* be just his, or it wouldn’t be my perspective at all, but rather only and exclusively his.

God sees the keyboard from my perspective, and from all other perspectives (including those of the keyboard and its constituent events). Such is omniscience. But from the fact that God does not see the keyboard just from my perspective, it does not follow that my perspective is false (if it did, I wouldn’t exist as a subject of experience), but rather only that my perspective is a portion of the truth. Indeed, it is very hard to see how I, or for that matter the keyboard, could possibly have the perspective that we do (i.e., be the things that we are), had God not vouchsafed them to us as a partial participation in his. The keyboard is then really truly in front of me in virtue of God’s creative act, that has given rise to the keyboard, to me, and to our relations – and, by extension, to all the causal relations that bind the world together, side to side, front to back and beginning to end, and so constitute it a world at any and all of its moments.

That last sentence begins to get at the true relation. It’s not that time is illusory if God is not in time, but that time is illusory if time is not in God.

Joshua,

I'm strongly inclined to think that the argument against backwards causation in time is universal. I think that the point about my causing myself not to exist just *shows* the incoherence of allowing me to have causal efficacy prior to my own existence. In other words, it shows that backwards causation in time isn't really taking seriously the fact that, as a finite creature, my existence has a true beginning. So, in my view, time's arrow is real, which means that the perception of movement need not be merely my "impression" on a B-theory, though the movement is a fact about causal relations rather than a fact about an absolute now.

I note in passing that the impossibility of time travel does not also rule out the possibility of actual other worlds (like Narnia) with different time-lines which may move in some sense faster or slower than our time. Sometimes A-theorists lump these two together (time travel backwards within our universe and other timelines), stating that both must be impossible, but in fact they are quite different.

Yes, I have always been completely and utterly unsympathetic to Craig's hybrid idea that God is "atemporal sans creation" but in time "after" creation.

And here's an odd thing: Every word he is saying there in what you quote would make _more_ prima facie sense if he adopted a different view from his actual view--namely, the view that God is _intrinsically_ in time, in some kind of "God-time" or "meta-time" that runs "over top of" created time. If Craig held that, he could speak literally, in terms of God-time, of there being a time when God was not in a particular relationship to creation because he had not yet made the universe. Such a position would also obviate the, to my mind, extremely worrisome aspect of Craig's position that it makes the creation itself a kind of mini-Incarnation and places God literally in _our_ time, makes God's alleged temporality a direct function of a feature of the creation. At least if one posits an overarching "God-time" which is intrinsic to himself, one has some *some sort* of notion of divine transcendence over his own creation.

However, of course positing a "God-time" has its own problems, most notably that it would require God to traverse an actual infinity of moments of his own time prior to making the universe. Craig has argued, rightly IMO, that traversing an actual infinity is impossible.

Kristor,

It’s not that time is illusory if God is not in time, but that time is illusory if time is not in God.

Very interesting way of putting it.

I don't know if this is closely related or not, but I am quite puzzled by Christians or even any kind of traditional theists who are strict presentists and who also hold that God is in time. A strict presentist holds that the past and future *do not exist*. Now, if one puts God *in* time while also holding that, strictly, only the present moment exists, this would seem to have some very radical consequences for truths about and God's knowledge of both the past and the future. I have seen one presentist in a discussion of this issue recently argue that God knows facts about the past in the same sense in which God knows counterfactuals about what "would have happened if." That is very strange indeed. Jesus' resurrection, for example, is not a counterfactual truth. It really happened. So it seems highly problematic for God's knowledge of it, or our knowledge either for that matter, to be strongly similar to knowledge of a counterfactual truth.

Letting us suppose for a moment that some version of B-theory is more true, it remains that nothing about the typical versions really help nail down WHY WE PERCEIVE a specific present as real and as momentary only and don't perceive an extended period (the way we can experience an extended line or plane), and why we think of the present as real in a different sense than we think of the past as real. Until B-theories can answer these, A-theories have a leg in the race.

But what about the second alternative? Can God remain untouched by the world's temporality? It seems not. For at the first moment of time, God stands in a new relation in which he did not stand before (since there was no "before"). Even if in creating the world God undergoes no intrinsic change, he at least undergoes an extrinsic change. For at the moment of creation, God comes into the relation of sustaining the universe or, at the very least, of coexisting with the universe, relations in which he did not stand before.

If I recall correctly, some theists reject this conclusion by saying that although the creature's relation to God is a real relation on the part of the creature, God's relation to creation is not a real relation, only a logical relation. Thus it is not necessary to explain God's relation to creatures with a temporal fix. See, for example, St. Thomas.

It is logically possible that a weak A-theory is more true and still allow for past events to be real in some imperfect sense, while future events are real in some third (and incomplete) sense. Such a scenario would leave room for the perception of coming-to-be of things to be more valid than illusory, while not imposing on such perceptions a completely supposed outsiders view of the "real" situation, that the perceiver is stuck "in" a temporally extended wholly existing worm-cross-section of reality.

What seems to me more consistent with the entirety of our experience and understanding is that we shouldn't try to wrap temporal extension into a visually effective metaphor for it as if it were "like" the physical dimensions, just in a 4th direction. Causality has a definite "direction" in time not because of an arbitrary constraint on temporal "direction" but because "direction" itself is a poor metaphor for temporal relations: becoming is a variation on being from potential to actual, and THIS means that coming-to-be has a built in direction. This direction does not apply equally to creation, because creation is not a "coming-to-be" of something having the potential to be completed actually, it is a wholly different sort of event - the created thing had NO real potential about it needing completion, the only possibility was the logical possibility that God could create it. Nevertheless, the inherent underlying relation of effect to cause applies to both the made thing and the created thing, which is probably why we mistakenly try to treat these as if they were the same situation.

For God, it seems to me sufficient to note that God's knowledge of individual things and events is sufficiently different from our mode of knowing that we should be cautious in trying to speak of it too definitively. For example, things which are and happen are the measure of our knowledge (they determine whether our mind is correct because they are the cause of our knowing them), whereas God's knowledge of things is the cause of the things, he doesn't receive knowledge of them. Splice the eternal simultaneity into that, and I think that some weak version of B is plausible from the perspective of the Divine absolute cause of all but not necessarily from any other "independent" perspective. The simultaneity of eternity kind of makes hash of the temporality of time anyway, and it is not clear how to make them play nicely. While B-theory could be a sort of attempt at that, it fails to account for our perceptions, for the temporality of time.

it remains that nothing about the typical versions really help nail down WHY WE PERCEIVE a specific present as real and as momentary only and don't perceive an extended period

Hmmm, that doesn't seem problematic to me. I take it to be pretty well explained by

a) our finiteness

and

b) our embodiedness.

I _would_ be inclined to attribute it all to b (our embodiedness), since that explains so much. I move through time in no small part by means of my relations to space and other bodies. God has chosen to have embodied creatures whose perceptions and causal powers are both enabled and limited by spatial, physical entities--their bodies and other bodies. ("Time is the number of motion.") The earth turns, I therefore experience day and night, the passage of the moments, the seasons, my own aging and the aging of others. My body is literally only capable of taking in so many neural sensations at a time, and my brain both enables and limits my mental capacities. I can only physically do so many things at a time. My heart beats and I breathe, and in this way I experience the passage of time continuously, except when. e.g., under deep anesthesia.

However, I can pretty easily imagine being a disembodied alien or something and still having mental "room" only for a limited number of thoughts and mental experiences simultaneously and hence experiencing "mental time" as a series of such thoughts and mental perceptions.

So it seems that finiteness will do the trick of giving us "mental time" even without embodiedness, and we who are both finite _and_ embodied get our limited temporal perspective in both ways.

why we think of the present as real in a different sense than we think of the past as real.

Because we are related to it in a special way via our finite embodiedness. For example, we can, at least in principle, influence it causally, because it is "here now."

For God, it seems to me sufficient to note that God's knowledge of individual things and events is sufficiently different from our mode of knowing that we should be cautious in trying to speak of it too definitively.

The thing is, Tony, that as A-theorists understand their own position, it is sufficiently totalizing, if I may use such an ugly term, that it seems almost inevitable that it must include God in its ambit. The most die-hard B-theorist is happy to admit that from our perspective what is now is real and what happened last year is not real. It is precisely at the point where the A-theorist says, "And that's really the truth of the way things are. So there," that the two diverge. Now, once we start saying that we shouldn't apply this to God, there is a sense in which we are already tacitly B-theorists, at least to some degree. I do not think that any Christian should say that, from the fundamental God's-eye perspective, the death of Jesus Christ is "less real" than my writing at this keyboard at this moment, because Jesus' death happened 2,000 years ago from the perspective of the Ultimate and Absolute Now. Aside from being a kind of ultimate chronological snobbery, that traps God in time in the most invidious of senses.

Unfortunately, that appears to be precisely how the argument goes: The A-theory is true, so it must be true for God, so God is in time.

So I'm afraid you're a de facto B-theorist of some sort, Tony, like it or not. :-)

Well, so far as I understand it, all of the B-theories de-temporalize time itself. That is to say, in painting a picture that is consistent with the simultaneity of eternity, they lose the non-simultaneity of time. If they bother, they try to recover the non-simultaneity as only the limited sensation of us physical creatures, but fail to actually explain that. While that doesn't quite make our sensation a mere illusion, it doesn't leave far from that. We are left in the same boat as the 2-dimensional plane-dwellers trying to observe a cone in the process of penetrating their plane.

What I am suggesting is that rather than trying to analogize eternity as a seeing the whole of time-elapse events laid out as if another spatial dimension, instead analogize it not even using extended dimension at all. Instead of imagining SEEING all the events from one stance, like a Zeus sitting on high over the whole breadth of time-elapse and picking special points to operate in (and thus related to different times in different ways), suppose we imagine it as hearing all parts of the orchestra playing at a single moment, but hearing each instrument clearly (rather than having to have each instrument play consecutively). Or some other sensible conglomerate that doesn't depend as much on extension.

It has been a long time since I tried to really study a philosophical account of God's way of knowing and causing events which are separated in time, but my faint recollection suggests that there is room for more than merely positing God's "simultaneous" eternity as a like a temporal moment. I suspect the real meaning of "simultaneous" in reference to eternity is wholly negative, not partially negative: Taking an analogy with geometry again, Euclid defines the point as "that which has no part", meaning, of course, within the envelope of extensional type reality. Angels are not points, God is not a point, nor is the concept of equality a point. Similarly, a moment is that which has no part, within the envelope of temporal reality. A moment, then, is "like" a period of time, but we consider that location within the period under the aspect of not being extended, so the negation is a negation of extendedness to the specific location but not a negation of its attachment to an extended reality like a line, as belonging in the envelop of extended things.

While eternity is not extended, either, there is no need to posit that it falls within the envelope of temporal reality. If you negate temporal extendedness to a chess arrangement, you don't thereby designate a "moment", because a chess arrangement is not as such temporal. Likewise, if you negate extendedness to eternity, it does not therefore mean that you thus designate a moment that is "all at once" only because you are considering it without considering the (rest of) the period attached to that moment. Eternity is elsewise.

When we posit God knows everything because (among other aspects) he causes everything that is positive reality, that doesn't mean that he knows them the way we know things we cause. For example, God causes some things to occur necessarily, while he causes other things to occur contingently, and (unlike for us) the things he causes to occur in a contingent manner do not come to pass only SOME of the time because other causes intervene. So, unlike us, his knowledge of the events that he causes to occur contingently do not rest on outside or additional factors that he has to "wait and see" about. However we understand his causing my child Sam to exist after he causes me to exist, we don't have to posit temporality on his part even while we posit temporality on our part.

It seems to me that what B-theory does is it posits a time-like aspect to eternity so that there is a way for God to operate in time without his being a part of or within time itself. But this quasi-temporal notion of eternity is unnecessary if you simply do away with the need to understand God's creative acts as operating in time in the sense we operate in time. Negating extendedness to God's activity shouldn't mean reducing it to a moment of God-time.

(I can live with being a weak B-theorist, if you can stand the notion of a weak B-theory that allows that the present moment is real in a way that past moments are NOT real, and not just "from a perspective" of a physical being but independently of all such perspectives.)

Hmmm, that doesn't seem problematic to me. I take it to be pretty well explained by

a) our finiteness

and

b) our embodiedness.

I _would_ be inclined to attribute it all to b (our embodiedness), since that explains so much.

I don't think you have addressed the problem. If a person can only hear one wavelength of sound, exactly 420 cycles, and as a result he hears a trombone's continuous sliding up the scale as just a moment's sound instead of a 5-second interval, we would be able to account for the perception being more limited than the reality by direct causes that limit the perception: we could identify things in the ear that prevent other sounds from registering.

If reality is made of intervals of temporal extension all existing "together" (all without a specializing aspect to moments considered of themselves), and our perception cannot REGISTER the intervals but only moments in the intervals, then one would expect to account for that by some facet of our sensing apparatus that is built so as to be unable to cope with extendedness. But nobody has posited (much less proven) such a thing, so far as I know. Have we even LOOKED for a possible apparatus that directly perceives the extendednes of time intervals as grasped together? Is there some metaphysical basis that you think it is impossible for physical beings to be directly aware of temporal extendedness as they are aware of moments? If not impossible, why don't we have the apparatus to perceive it?

Our perception of the passage of time is accurate to a degree. Time isn't uniform, but there is a homogeneity of rather dynamic quantum distortions that lend themselves to a macroscopic stability of the passage of time apparently localized at least to our neck of the universe. Given that, if God were in time, one might ask to what extent his temporal existence is homogeneously stable.

I propose rather that time is part of the means of creation, of generating a physical world from non-physical substance. So it's entirely possible that elements of A-theory and B-theory are true where God's creation and providence are essentially the same thing and the form of continuity in the passage of time is a matter of provident sustenance and the means of revelation to a world of bivalent reason. So the passage of time is orderly and validates God's communication epistemically through prophecy and miraculous signs.

The "God-time" idea is definitely not a B-theory. It's a sort of A-theory applied to God. I happen to think it preferable in some ways to a simple A -theory which puts God in _our_ time, because the latter denies divine transcendence. But I don't buy God-time either.

As for your point that we aren't looking for some kind of apparatus that could perceive ever-larger amounts of time "together," I don't think that asking for such a thing really takes seriously the radical nature of embodiedness. Everything about us and our instruments is _moving_ and limited in its lifetime.

But if you want _some_ notion of people who perceive time differently, imagine that the earth turned more slowly, that our own hearts beat more slowly, and that we lived much, much longer than we do. Presumably we would use terms like "a moment" rather differently than we presently use them. In somewhat of the same way that human beings apply words like "smooth" and "bumpy" differently than an ant or microbe would use those terms.

Or think of the ents in LOTR. They don't consider things "slow" and "fast" or time periods as "long" and "short" in the same way that hobbits and humans do. Presumably this is a function of their size, their longevity, and other physical features about them.

But if you want _some_ notion of people who perceive time differently, imagine that the earth turned more slowly, that our own hearts beat more slowly, and that we lived much, much longer than we do. Presumably we would use terms like "a moment" rather differently than we presently use them. In somewhat of the same way that human beings apply words like "smooth" and "bumpy" differently than an ant or microbe would use those terms.

No, that doesn't get at it. I am looking for beings whose "present" that they perceive all together in one act as consisting of intervals of time, perceiving, say, an ENTIRE baseball game as present to them all together. I don't think that an Ent-like being is different enough to experience a now that lasts a couple hours, or even a minute.

I don't think that asking for such a thing really takes seriously the radical nature of embodiedness. Everything about us and our instruments is _moving_ and limited in its lifetime.

I am not sure why everything about us moving requires that we must perceive what is "present to us right now" as being momentary rather than extended. What about the motion makes it necessary that we perceive it moment by moment only, so that we cease to experience the "past" moment when we experience the next moment, instead of experiencing them both together? (Assuming, of course, that there is nothing ABOUT the prior moment such that it's reality is less real than the later moment's reality, such that there is nothing special about the moments OTHER than our experiencing them sequentially.)

What about the motion makes it necessary that we perceive it moment by moment only, so that we cease to experience the "past" moment when we experience the next moment, instead of experiencing them both together?

I would say that it's the fact that we ourselves, via our physical causal connection to the events, our physical apparatus for perceiving and for interacting, are in the same timestream and are moving along with the events, as it were, and that there is no way to change that. There is no way to change the fact that our eyes take in light and process the scenes in front of us at so-and-so many frames per second, for example. In that case, since we have cameras that _can_ "see" more than our eyes can see, that do break things down more and don't skip and meld things together as our eyes do, we get some idea of what it would mean to see _more slowly_ than we humans see. But whether we're talking about the camera or the human eye, the perception of what counts as "a moment" of the event is a function of the nature of the physical interaction with the event.

One can vaguely imagine an extremely large and coarse-grained, long-lived alien who processes light and sound differently than we do, a being say the size of a galaxy, to whom our perception of the length of a baseball game would seem like slow-motion film seems to us.

Think how different is our relationship to a narrative in a book. There really is a sense in which different moments in the book are all present at the same time in the book on my shelf, which is one reason why we who write about literature so often use the narrative present tense when writing, whether about the youth or the age of the character in the book. Both the character when young and the same character when old are, in one sense, present simultaneously in the book as I possess it. And I get a little hint of the God's-eye view when I think of the character *as a whole* as his being has acted and has been formed and manifested in the course of the story.

Of course, my act of _reading_ the book takes place along a time-line, with the speed of that reading timeline depending on how quickly I am able to read with understanding.

I would say that it's the fact that we ourselves, via our physical causal connection to the events, our physical apparatus for perceiving and for interacting, are in the same timestream and are moving along with the events, as it were, and that there is no way to change that.

I a willing to grant that our exterior sensory apparatus is limited that way, just as you say. I don't see an argument that this also constrains our non-sensory capacity. Our souls have non-physical aspects. What makes it so that we cannot experience (interiorly, as distinct from what the senses report) the whole of the baseball game all together? What about having senses makes our non-physical capacities so limited?

Angels have none of the physical limitations of humans, and considering them in themselves (i.e. not with respect to interacting with humans and other physical beings) one would not need to suppose that they have any temporal aspect at all (this is the aeviternity of which Boethius speaks). My suspicion is that they too are limited in understanding the whole of temporal reality, being limited to accessing it as it unfolds for physical beings, because they are CREATED, not because they are physical. Not even the angels know when the 2nd coming will occur (they "know not the day nor the hour".) The limitation of being creatures makes them not eternal, and thus unable to access time in the eternal mode (except by participation in Divine life by grace, something wholly above their natures). Which to me implies a sense of specialness of the now that resides in the very fabric of created reality, not in the perspective of the physical being that is undergoing the changes that constitute time's unfolding.

If angels could apprehend a person's life like apprehending the contents of a book, able to consider as present any moment of the story or the whole story all at once, then I would suspect that such a capacity is inherent in man too by reason of his immaterial, spiritual component, even if his senses cannot possibly participate directly in that.

I a willing to grant that our exterior sensory apparatus is limited that way, just as you say. I don't see an argument that this also constrains our non-sensory capacity. Our souls have non-physical aspects. What makes it so that we cannot experience (interiorly, as distinct from what the senses report) the whole of the baseball game all together? What about having senses makes our non-physical capacities so limited?

In return, I ask you a question: Why can I raise my hand by willing it but not a rock?

Why do I ask that question? Because both questions point at the fact that we are, truly, embodied agents. It's rather funny in a way that *I* should be emphasizing this to *you*, since I am the "modernist" dualist and you are the hylemorphist. Allegedly, it is the hylemorphist who takes embodiment more seriously and as a more integral part of our being than does the Cartesian, but it seems to me that this is playing out in somewhat the opposite way.

As I see it, what it means for God to have made us embodied is that our limitations as finite creatures are naturally bound up with our bodies. That's natural to us. That's part of our being human. For example, a person who is dead cannot _naturally_ speak to his loved ones who are still alive. The way that God has naturally made man able to speak and interact with the world is by giving man a body, which simultaneously enables and limits inputs, outputs, and normal modes of thought. That's why humans don't (apparently) have ESP or telekinesis. It's also why humans interact with the temporo-physical world in the way that they do.

I think of this, I believe accurately, in terms of law-like relations that God has set up that govern the psycho-physical realm for creatures such as ourselves. Now, there can be paranormal things that transcend those laws. God could give someone ESP. It just doesn't appear to be a normal human capacity. God could give someone a glimpse of the eternal view of time, though I suspect even so it would be only a partial glimpse. But it's not the normal human mode of life.

As for angels, we really know very little about them. In all the places where they appear in the Bible, they are indeed embodied! Contra the view that angels have no bodies. What does that mean? Are they usually disembodied or usually embodied? Do they usually have some different type of body? Do they _normally_ interact with the human realm? If so, what psycho-physical laws has God set up for their interaction? For example, I don't strictly speaking think it was a miracle when the angel rolled away the stone in front of the tomb. I just think angels are normally very powerful and capable of rolling away a large stone.

Once we start thinking in those terms, I think we will end up deciding that whatever limitations angels do have in their relationship with time, those are related to the way that God has set up their physical bodies (if they have them) and their finite capacities.

You'll recall that above I said that *both* finiteness and embodiedness constrain us to be limited in how much of a "now" we perceive. I think we therefore agree that even disembodied finite agents will still be limited and will still experience some type of mental time.

One more thing: If God has created more than one time-line, which seems to me not at all improbable, and if beings in one time-line can know what occurs in another time-line, that raises all sorts of fascinating questions. For example, it might be that beings in timeline #1 are given access to knowledge of a large swathe of the history of timeline #2 which stands in no causal relation to their own (except insofar as God has allowed them to know about it) and can therefore think of that whole swathe of the history of timeline #2 much as we would think of a story of a fictional world in a book. Hence, in a sense, "all at once" rather than "before" or "after" their own moment in their own timeline.

That might explain how the angels, living in their timeline, normally think of our history.

On the other hand, perhaps that's *not* what it's like. Perhaps instead, God could create more than one timeline but with a sort of mapping relationship among all of them, so that even if the times in some sense move faster or slower between the "worlds," a person in one world could always meaningfully state, "That already happened in the other world," or "That hasn't happened yet in the other world."

It's rather funny in a way that *I* should be emphasizing this to *you*, since I am the "modernist" dualist and you are the hylemorphist. Allegedly, it is the hylemorphist who takes embodiment more seriously and as a more integral part of our being than does the Cartesian, but it seems to me that this is playing out in somewhat the opposite way.

As I see it, what it means for God to have made us embodied is that our limitations as finite creatures are naturally bound up with our bodies. That's natural to us. That's part of our being human. For example, a person who is dead cannot _naturally_ speak to his loved ones who are still alive. The way that God has naturally made man able to speak and interact with the world is by giving man a body, which simultaneously enables and limits inputs, outputs, and normal modes of thought.

Heh, it is rather funny. But in reality, what I was doing was pushing a line of thought on the assumption that a straight-up strong B-theory is right. On that hypothesis, I it seems to me that non-physical angels (of which I am also confident) should indeed be able to apprehend the whole of time - as extended - all at once: that sort of perspective is precisely the sort of intermediate sort of thing aeviternity would lend itself to. They are not themselves temporal, but timeliness and before and after can attach themselves to angels' apprehension as a side-car to their natural non-temporal state. But this is precisely distinct from the God's-eye view through eternity, which is not temporal and to which temporal before-and-after cannot be appended even accidentally.

Admittedly, even a supposition that angels could do it doesn't mean that spiritual man could have the apparatus to do so, and it is indeed possible that hylephorphic man could not possibly have such an apparatus. But I view that only a probable sort of argument, and finally its strength rests on aspects of the underlying meaning of form and matter and soul - which themselves are (I think) what preclude the straight-up strong version of B-theory being entirely valid. That is to say, it is precisely what potency and act, material potency and formal cause and final cause mean that makes it more correct to say that the outcome of the 2016 elections is not real rather than that a present awareness of the outcome has not yet been reached by those of us in time.

I don't think that either men or angels are able to say "Christ's second coming happened here at X moment in time" in the same sense that they can rightly say the Battle of Waterloo happened in June of 1815, not because of their limited perspective on time, but because the limitations of time itself and temporal being. Only God can speak outside of the before-and-after of time, and he doesn't do it by collapsing all of time into one moment (for him), he does it by being altogether non-temporal in every sense.

I see that we are going to have to simply disagree on whether Christianity really implies B-theory. But we do agree that Christianity does preclude inserting God into time as if time were more absolute than Him.

But if the 2016 election were _really_ not real, then God couldn't know it either, except perhaps (perhaps)in some probabilistic sense in which he's guessing about it like the rest of us.

Actually, it may even be worse than that. A position called "open theism" holds that, _since_ future events are not real, there are no truths or falsehoods about them, so divine omniscience doesn't extend to them.

So you're going to have to lean on some kind of "in a sense the 2016 election isn't real but in a sense it is." I'm not convinced that that's right, if it is set up as an alternative to, "In relation to us the 2016 election isn't real."

Btw, embodied or not, I strongly suspect that angels do have a mental timeline and a "now" that relates them, e.g., *to each other* via some kind of law-like system, even if they are in a sense laws about angel ESP with one another. It's a natural concomitant of the sheer finiteness of their minds.

In my opinion, our trying to make good sense of a "larger" framework of time like B-theory could only work if we could express the relationships appropriate to it in a completely different verb tense than past, present, or future (or their derivatives). If there were a separate tense form that allowed us to express event A being before event B in "ordinary" time, while the theoretical "independent observer" could access both of them --concurrently-- or --simultaneously-- we might get somewhere. Note that both the --concurrently-- or --simultaneously-- expressions were also defective, using an ordinary-time embedded set of concepts. Hypothetically, in such a construction, we might be able to get away with saying the election in 2016 --is-not-yet-real-- but nevertheless --is-accessible-- or something like that, where (again) both --is-not-yet-real-- and --is-accessible-- here are wrong in form because we didn't use the right conceptual construction. We simply don't HAVE the right verb forms or concepts in which to express ideas separate from of ordinary time about events are still embedded in time and related as to before and after. The language we have now implies tenses in the ordinary senses, so if you want to say something that abstracts away from the ordinary temporal relationships, you CANNOT express it in the language we have now with the known tense forms.

I am having trouble seeing how my "in a sense it is real and in a sense not" and your "In relation to us (i.e. in a sense) it is not real and in another sense it is real" are separated by some horrible philosophical chasm. Except that (if I have understood your thesis), your "In relation to us" is wholly overtaken by simply saying "as to our present". That is, (according to B-theory) the entire truth of "the election of 2016 is not real" can be captured and re-expressed as "with respect to our present of 2014, the election of 2016 is not real, but with respect to a different present in 2016, it is real". Of course, that DOES represent a larger gulf distancing from what I said. I think the statement can only do the work it should if it is re-stated as "with respect to our present of 2014, the election of 2016 _frable_not_real, whereas with respect to a different present in 2016, it _fruble_ real", where _frable_ and _fruble_ are some currently inconceivable verb tenses that reflect that you are speaking APART from ordinary time, because IN ordinary time the election of 2016 will be but that means it IS NOT. (A single temporal event cannot both BE and also going to be in the future, so we cannot use "is" to call it real and not real).

I have doubts that we humans can come up with the necessary concepts for frable and fruble, as embedded as we are in time. But I am leaving the possibility open.

I agree that all our language is ineluctably tensed. The best we Boethians have been able to do is to talk about God's timeless perspective as the "eternal present," a term to which I gather some people take offense. It seems to me as good as any at capturing what you are describing as God's inconceivable extra-temporal perspective. Whatever else is true, there is this incredible all-at-once-ness about the Divine perspective. Kristor mentioned, as well, God "looking out of everyone's eyes." I have always found that a fascinating point. Since God is omniscient, God must know what it is *like* to be a bat, for example, and not via the incarnation (since God was not incarnate as a bat!). So God has this inconceivable omniscience and omnipresence that lets him literally know everything *all at once*. But we can only get at this by tensed terms, because that's the only kind of experience of personal existence that we have access to. This doesn't bother me. It just entrenches me all the more firmly in my Boethianism.

The thing is, Tony, I gather that you are a Boethian as well, so our agreement is much bigger than any disagreement. The people you would _really_ disagree with are those who say that any sort of A-theory automatically requires that God be in time. I gather that that was the conclusion argued for in a short modular course that Dr. Craig lately taught on the subject.

Approximating to the everything-together-all-at-once of omniscience by analogy to a timeless eternal now that is like one of our present moments but much bigger can indeed seem rather weak and unsatisfactory. It seems to render all our experiences, however vivid or important they are to us, pallid and insignificant in the true scheme of things. If everything happens at once, then how can any of it matter – how can we actually do anything?

If theism is true, then somehow it must deliver just the opposite; must enable us to see how even the smallest, most insignificant thing carries immeasurable depths of meaning, significance and value to God.

But this critique of the Eternal Now is not quite fair to its analogue in our moments of now, of novel ("now" is "novel") experience, in which disparate feelings of disparate objects are somehow creatively integrated into a coherent whole. How is that togetherness obtained? It's a total mystery. I don't see how that mystery could be penetrated. Experiential binding is probably metaphysically basic. When we realize that even the most humdrum moments of our careers are dazzling ontological achievements of composition, why they start to look pretty good as a way of approaching the understanding of omniscience.

Notwithstanding all that, it has long seemed better to me to think of God, not as timeless, but as timeful; not as a Divine Now, but as a Divine All.

Interesting that you bring up the bat. Another timeless (Hah!) question is whether God has a sense of humor, to which many of the philosophers say no. In my opinion, the answer to both is that God does have the perfection of "seeing as a bat" and that of humor, but has them in an inexpressibly higher mode of being than bats or humans have these perfections. Kind of like (but more distant) both humans and dogs have an estimative faculty to judge the end result of a given motion, but men have it embedded with an intellectual capacity to reflect on it as well, and thus inform it with non-physical judgments.

Yes, I am very much opposed to Craig's thesis on God in time, I think that simply won't wash. But then, since he appears to be a theistic personalist, it doesn't surprise me that he goes this route.

Oh, I forgot to add that, in addition to Tony's summary concerning what I wd. say about "The 2016 election is not yet real," there is this: No rubber band fired during the 2016 election can hit the "Lydia now." So there is that arrow in time/causality thing, which is IMO an objective relational fact. One can throw that into the kitty if one wants additional senses in which a B-theorist can spell out "The 2016 election is not yet real."

"Another timeless (Hah!) question is whether God has a sense of humor, to which many of the philosophers say no."

This is a problem I have to deal with more than most philosophers who have no real idea what humor is, since I do work in humor theory. One philosopher qualified to have an opinion, in my opinion, is John Moreall, at William and Mary College. In his book, Taking Laughter Seriously, he asked if God had a sense of humor (or, if God laughed). His opinion was in the negative, but I wrote him a long letter, many years, ago, answering in the affirmative. It seems to me that God's humor is more restrictive, but also more real, than ours. Basically, this depends upon how one understands God's impassibility - his inability to be changed or to respond with passions (which indicate that a change is occurring).

Tony has a good start on the answer - humor is a type of distant instantiation of hope - more technically, it is a type of seeing that there is hope (at least in some strange way) where this is, apparently, not hope (in some strange way) brought about by a statement or action that occupies two partially contradictory possible worlds, simultaneously (the hope resides in one possible world, the despair in the other and neither can be excluded from realization). One might call it a type of cyclic, unresolvable hope that proves that hope exists, but that it may not be simply obtained. Humor is a marker of hope, but it is not precisely the same as hope, per se (which is its own virtue).

For example, a typical joke:

Did you hear about the guy who fell into a vat of gum at work? The boss chewed him out.

In one possible world, being "chewed out," is a good realized. In the other possible world (we don't, yet, have a proper vocabulary for the two contrasting worlds in humor studies), "chewed out," is an evil to be avoided. Because the joke-teller decided to use exactly this word, the listener has no choice but to see, alternating hope and despair, depending on what sense of the words, "chewed out," he fixates on. All humor seems to have this embedded double possible world structure. I have, probably, not been clear, but, this is not a post on humor, so I will move on.

One may argue that God does not have hope - which is defined by Aquinas (ST II.II Q. 17. Art 7.) as, "For the object of hope is a future good, arduous but possible to obtain." Since God needs to obtain nothing, as he is perfect in himself, he has no hope. This is not the same thing as seeing that he does not see the hope that other's might have or perceive. In fact, since God is perfect actuality, one might say that he sees nothing but hope for others, while not, himself, having hope. Of course, this leads to seeming paradoxes when applied to Christ because the Cross was a perfect example of what God might understand as humor. In the possible world where Christ is simply man, the Cross is the folly of suffering and despair, but in the possible world where Christ is God, the Cross is a shining beacon of the successful redemption of man. On the Cross, one might be tempted to think: there is no way out, while another voices says: this is the way out.

God cannot experience the passions associated with humor. That is true, but it is a far cry from saying that God does not have humor. Moreall argued that, since God cannot be surprised and humor requires surprise, that God cannot have humor. I argued that humor does not require surprise. This is easy to prove, since we often laugh at the same joke more than once and we are hardly surprised the second or third time we hear it. Humor is an answer to a question: is there a way out? God always answers, yes, so we may take it that God has the perfection of seeing and, hence, the perfection of humor.

Now, about time and God, I don't think the idea of an absolute now makes any sense, just as the idea that God is either in time or outside of time makes any sense. God is unchanging in his divinity, so he, himself is not subject to time, but he, himself subjects time to himself. Since we do not know what is outside of time, we have know way of knowing if time, itself, is moving. Is time a fixed path along which we move or does God create it, moment by moment, or does the path exist, but like a flexible chain that can be reshaped? What about the sense, in Scripture, of God repenting of some evil he intends. If the evil took 5 hours, but, because of God repenting, it does not happen, has not time been modified? In other words, if different contingencies are like branches, do the different branches all have to have the same length of time?

Finally, it has recently been postulated in quantum mechanics that time comes into being because of quantum entanglement. Everything in the universe experiences quantum entanglement and, therefore, time, but outside of the universe, time is seen as a single totality.

https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/d5d3dc850933

The Chicken

P. S. Sorry I'm not being very clear, today. Combination of things.

Chicken, I think the 2 contrasting worlds does a lot to explain humor, though I always heard the term "incongruity" to refer to the concept generically.

As to time, I always become really wary when physicists think they have "explained" something with respect to "outside the universe". In this case, the description of the experiment as:

The experiment involves the creation of a toy universe consisting of a pair of entangled photons and an observer that can measure their state in one of two ways. In the first, the observer measures the evolution of the system by becoming entangled with it. In the second, a god-like observer measures the evolution against an external clock which is entirely independent of the toy universe.

The experimental details are straightforward. The entangled photons each have a polarisation which can be changed by passing it through a birefringent plate. In the first set up, the observer measures the polarisation of one photon, thereby becoming entangled with it. He or she then compares this with the polarisation of the second photon. The difference is a measure of time.

In the second set up, the photons again both pass through the birefringent plates which change their polarisations. However, in this case, the observer only measures the global properties of both photons by comparing them against an independent clock.

gives me pause, while I quell my laughter. "creation of a toy universe", hey? Is the experimenter a tin god that he can create toys and universes? Of course, what actually happens isn't creation at all, it's only a making, the ordinary making of a new set-up out of an old set-up. And while that is perfectly fine for most experiments, it simply won't do for this one, since the REAL test would indeed actually require an independent universe. Couldn't they just order one off Amazon?

More locally, there is another problem with the experiment, in that the "two set-ups" and two observers run, not concurrently on the SAME photons, but consecutively with different sets of photons. Which means that they are not actually testing the hypothesis, they are testing something similar to the actual hypothesis, similar "enough," if a few assumptions are made. Which, by definition, means that their results are subject to additional assumptions.

Anyway, one of the problems of supposing that time (or "the present"?) might be moving is that it would have to be moving with respect to something else not moving. That something else cannot be God, since God is not stationary or moving, not temporal or momentary, he is apart from these. Seems like there would have to be another level of reality (distinct from God) that would be the ground against which the movement would take place. Perhaps not an insurmountable problem, but it requires more assumptions.

Of course God has a sense of humor. Just look at the giraffe. Don't tell me God designed that thing in a serious mood.

Objectivity is an illusion, since everything is related to humans. Even if you let a computer 'think' for you, you're still using a program that's human made... If life was a dream, you'd never be able to prove that, because, for instance, it's possible to keep waking up in a dream, only to find out your waking up was part of that dream too (and so on). It's the same with objectivity, because to think or reason, one has to use 'facts', but those are known to chance in time, so how can you ever be sure you've got your facts right? By counting how many people agree on them?

Ain't life a kick in the butt! :-)

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