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Thread: Is "Why is there something rather than nothing?" a legitimate question?

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    tWebber mattbballman31's Avatar
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    Not sure if you're still on these forums, but I totally forgot about this discussion from the past. I hope you get it, as I have a lot more time, now that I'm finished with the ole' Masters degree and working on getting the ole' Ph.d.

    Precisely. For something to be "brought into existence" implies a state in which that thing did not exist. In the absence of such a state, the thing in question does not seem to have been "brought into existence."
    Sure. It implies a state in which the thing didn't exist. It's just not a temporal state. Perhaps the language 'brought into" has too much temporal baggage. Maybe 'actualize' or 'instantiate' is better. See below to cash out the ordinal measure.

    A creative act also involves the introduction of something previously absent. If an entity was not previously absent, in what way is it meaningful to say that it was created?
    The word 'previously' has temporal baggage as well. In the absence of time, it's inaccurate to say that the first instant was 'previously' non-existent; it's more accurate to say that it was just non-existent, sans time's creation. You keep bringing in temporal priority, when there's other priorities. There's causal and logical priorities, and like I keep saying, there's nothing incoherent about God's being causally prior to time's first instant, if causal priority is cashed out in terms of simultaneous causation (SC), for SC involves absolutely no temporal passage from cause to effect. That's what simultaneity means.

    It doesn't presume the B-Theory, at all. Even on the A-Theory, it is incoherent to claim that something Timeless can lose the property of Timelessness. If it is Timeless, it cannot change. If it can lose a property, it is not Timeless.
    I honestly forget what the point here was. But your problem seems to be that you think 'timelessness' is a necessary property of God's, and it's not. Even those who advocate His timelessness as being necessary have to connect it to other properties He does have necessarily, such as immutability or perfection, thus making timelessness a transitive property in relation to those other properties. This makes timelessness accidentally necessary, since many advocates of this position think there are possible worlds where such an accidental connection doesn't obtain.

    But this whole seeming paradox is akin to confusing the necessity of a proposition in sensu composito with its necessity in sensu diviso.


    1. Whatever is timeless can be temporal.

    is, in sensu composito

    1* Necessarily, there is a thing that is timeless that will become temporal.

    That's necessarily false. But in its necessity in sensu diviso, 1 becomes,

    1** Necessarily, there is a thing, that is timeless, that will become temporal.

    1** is speaking of the necessity of the thing (de re) while in possession of the property, which is compatible with the necessity of the property of 'timelessness' sensu diviso, while in possession of the property. 1* refers to the necessarily false, composite state of affairs of possessing two contradictory properties. If I don't think that timelessness is a necessary property, and I think there is at least one case such that, necessarily, a timeless thing, will become temporal, I don't see a problem with timelessness being a property one can lose.

    In what sense is a thing Timeless if it has states which are ordered temporally? It seems fairly obvious that the expression "God was Timeless before God was in Time," or that "God was Timeless but came into Time," or similar phrases are incoherent.
    I don't see why God's timeless existence consists of states that are ordered temporally. That's incoherent. And your 'fairly obvious expression' is, of course, incoherent, but that's not the way I had been phrasing it. You keep ignoring my periphrastic translations and reintroducing speech acts with temporal baggage.

    Again, if God is in time at T, and there is no moment of time prior to T, then there was never a state in which God was Timeless.
    I just don't see how this follows at all. Of course, there never was a state in which God was timeless. This harkens back to the points made above. That there is no moment of time prior to T doesn't imply that God did not possess the property of timelessness sans the universe. As a B-theorist, you're probably adept at doing tenseless translations of past-tense propositions; well, just to the same with God's timelessness sans the universe.

    This presumes that Time has a cause, which is the question under discussion. Why should one think that Time was caused, at all?
    Because the A-theory of time is probably the case, and actual infinites are metaphysically impossible.

    What do you mean by a "timeless state?"
    Subsisting with no temporal displacement. Necessarily, something is timeless if and only if that thing hasn't undergone temporal displacement. Necessarily, if something has undergone temporal displacement, then that thing is temporal. All of this is compatible with timelessness not being a necessary property, but being necessarily without temporal displacement if such a thing does possess timelessness.

    If a thing exists in state X, and then subsequently exists in state Y, the displacement between those states is precisely what we mean when we use the word "Time." Time is a manner in which change is measured. If a thing is Timeless, it seems perfectly obvious that this thing cannot change.
    It cannot change while it has the property, sure. That's just like saying that I can't be standing if I'm in a state of sitting. I can't be changing while in a state of timelessness. Cool. But since timelessness isn't a necessary property, all that happens when a change happens is that the thing sheds the property of timelessness, undergoes an extrinsic change relative to the gaining/losing of properties, and becomes simultaneously temporal at time's first instant.

    This analogy isn't just imperfect-- it's wholly inapplicable. In this scenario, there exists a time in which Y is taller than X, followed by a time in which Y is not taller than X. How is this analogy supposed to show that it is coherent for God to have been Timeless, but that God is now Temporal? There was never a time when God was Timeless, followed by a time in which he wasn't. Nor was there ever a time in which God wasn't Temporal followed by a time in which he was.
    It's imperfect insofar as the growing is happening in time; it's not wholly inapplicable insofar as the analogy was meant to underline the idea of extrinsic change only.

    It shows the coherency of God's being timeless sans creation (tenseless translation without the temporal baggage you always introduce), and God undergoing the kind of extrinsic change noted above. You have to do this at time's first instant, since the change is simultaneous with God's losing the property of timelessness. Losing such a property is completely compatible with God's being necessarily timeless while in possession of the property, just as the sitting man can't be at the same time standing. But the scholastic distinctions I introduced above fix this.

    Honestly, this analogy seems to be making my point for me. In the absence of Time, it is nonsensical to claim that something changed.
    Something can't change while, at the same time, such a thing possesses the property of timelessness. This does not make timelessness a necessary property, unable to be lost while undergoing extrinsic change, and it doesn't mean that while in possession of the property, such a thing was necessarily timeless, in accordance with the aforesaid scholastic distinctions.

    So by what ordinal measure is God's temporality subsequent to God's Timelessness?
    That ordinal measure that goes with the extrinsic change that simultaneously happened when God gained and lost a property simultaneously such that there's causal priority. That's where the ordinal measure resides: causal priority.

    In order for something to "cease to" exhibit a certain property, it must change, correct?

    If a thing is Timeless, it cannot change, correct?
    See above. It can undergo extrinsic change, especially since timelessness isn't a necessary property, even though God was necessarily timeless sans time. Just do a tenseless translation and the 'temporally prior state' talk is gone.

    Cool. Then let's discuss the metaphysical argument.
    I should, but it's probably apropos to settle the above first.
    Last edited by mattbballman31; 02-25-2018 at 08:51 PM.
    Many and painful are the researches sometimes necessary to be made, for settling points of [this] kind. Pertness and ignorance may ask a question in three lines, which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to answer. When this is done, the same question shall be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written upon the subject.
    George Horne

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