This is a Q & A blog post by our Visiting Scholar in Philosophy, William Lane Craig.
I recently read a paper titled 'Is the Cause of the Universe God? Troubles with Craig's Theory of God's Relationship to Time in the Kalam Cosmological Argument.'
One of the paper's arguments seeks to point out that the notion of a timeless cause of time is self-contradictory:
“GE = the event of God exercising His causal power to create the universe.
UE = the event of the universe’s creation.
(1) GE is timeless
(2) GE is simultaneous with UE at t1
(3) GE occurs at t1 (from 2)
(4) GE is both timeless and temporal (from 1,3)”
Another seeks to point out that the notion of a timeless free will is logically contradictory:
“1) A condition of having a will is the capability of having desires.
2) Having desires requires temporal location.
3) To be timeless is to have no temporal location.
4) Something cannot both have desires and no temporal location.
5) Therefore, nothing can be timeless and have a will.”
Are these arguments correct? If not, where do they fail?
William Lane Craig’s Response
I may as well take the opportunity afforded by your question to refer folks to what I have already written in response to these objections. See the following:
“No Trouble: A Reply to Wielenberg.” Theologica 5/1 (2021). https://doi.org/10.14428/thl.v4i3.58143.
“A Reply to Wielenberg on a Timeless First Cause.” Theologica 5/1 (2021). https://doi.org/10.14428/thl.v5i1.60693.
“God, Time, and Creation.” Philosophia Christi 23/2 (2021): 359-65.
To get right to the point, in the first argument:
1. The event of God exercising His causal power to create the universe is timeless is false. Rather, that event is simultaneous with the beginning of the universe (when else could it be?). Both occur at the first moment of time. Remember that on my peculiar view God enters into time at the moment of creation. He is timeless sans creation and temporal since the moment of creation.
As for the second argument,
2. Having desires requires temporal location is false. There is nothing problematic about timeless desires. For example, God, existing timelessly alone sans creation, timelessly desires His own goodness and the fellowship of the Trinitarian persons. I suspect that our objector has rashly assumed that one can desire only future states of affairs. It’s true that sans creation God does not will future-tense states of affairs. But in addition to willing timeless states of affairs, God can timelessly will and desire tenseless temporal states of affairs like that Columbus discovered America in 1492 (the italics indicating that the verb is tenseless). Once time begins, future-tense propositions suddenly become true, so that God desires that Columbus will discover America in 1492.