Posts tagged ‘time’

November 25th, 2013

Might Some of Doctor Who actually be Possible?

by Max Andrews

The following is an article my PhD mentor, Alasdair Richmond, wrote for The Conversation


As Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary looms, time travel is everywhere – on the screen, at least. Famously, the Doctor can whizz through the years using a “dimensionally transcendental” machine, the TARDIS, and make changes to the past as and when he likes. But what is time travel – and how much of “Doctor Who” might really be possible?

A handy definition of time travel comes from philosopher David Lewis. Lewis says time travel involves a journey having different durations viewed from outside (in “external time”) or from inside (in “personal time”). Suppose you spend five minutes travelling aboard your machine, as measured by (e.g.) your watch and your memories. On arrival, you find 150 years have elapsed in the outside world. Congratulations, you have time-travelled. Five minutes of your personal time has covered 150 years of external time.

November 20th, 2013

When Asked if I was Surprised to Find Evidence for a Young Earth

by Max Andrews

Several years ago I was taking a [required] course that teaches creationism. I have a few comments about the course I’ll keep to myself [as in it shouldn't be in the university] but I think most readers know where I stand on university and academia issues and standards. I was asked the question, “Is it surprising that scientific evidence supports a young earth perspective?”

My response is simply that this is a loaded question.  I don’t think I can say there’s no evidence for a young earth; however, I find the record of nature to support the proposition that the universe is old (billions of years) by overwhelming evidence.  There is hardly any evidence for a young earth, if indeed there is any at all.

October 3rd, 2013

Q&A 34: Thomas Aquinas’ Understanding of Creation and Time

by Max Andrews


Hey Max I have a few questions about your cosmological argument from Thomas Aquinas:

(1) Did Aquinas believe in creation out of nothing?

(2) Did Aquinas believe that the universe existed eternally side by side with God even though it was contingent?

Also, how can be God be timeless on the view that the universe did not begin to exist? If God’s relation to the universe is always present, would that not imply an eternal relation of God with the universe, which would involve time itself? It is difficult for me to make sense of how God could be timeless on this view and not simply temporal.


Ben Williamson


Hi Ben,

Here’s the short answers:

1) Yes.

2) I don’t think Thomas would phrase it that way but Thomas is okay with a creation that has existed for an infinite duration in the past–emphasizing the radical contingency.

April 30th, 2013

Q&A 20: Does God Know Infinite Sets and Can God Learn Anything?

by Max Andrews



I have a question regarding God being all-knowing in light of the impossibility of an actual infinite set.
I assume the following premises:
·         God knows all true propositions of past, present and future.
·         God does not learn anything but has always known everything. If He was to learn something that would imply there was something He did not know, which would mean He is not all-knowing.
·         It is impossible to contain or hold an infinite set because such an action would imply that it is finite instead of infinite.
Are these three premises valid? If they are, does it follow that the number of events in the future are finite? If so, how does that cohere with the belief that we will be in relation with God for all eternity?

Bill Clute

April 10th, 2013

Q&A 18: The Metaphysics of Time and the Kalam Argument

by Max Andrews


Hi Max,I watched  a  debate between Phil  Fernandes  v  Jeffrey  Lowder. Lowder  rebuts   the cosmological argument saying that  indeed   it   is   only   in space and time  that  whatever begins to exist must have a cause,  but  that  out of the realm of space and time we do not know. He therefore argues that the universe is just there. About the beginning of the universe, Lowder says that naturalists who believe in the big bang model do not believe that the universe popped out of nothing. They believe that there was no time at which the universe did not exist, and there is no place the universe came from. On naturalism, the universe just is, and that’s  all. Secondly, there is no reason to believe that the universe had a cause.  He says the argument that everything that begins to exist (in space and time) is correct. However, when the universe came to exist, it was not in space and time. The origin of the universe is the very origin of space and time itself.Similarly, Peter  Millican in his debate with Craig asked Bill, where the evidence was  that whatever  begins to exist must have a cause. All we have in the universe are rearrangements of already existing  materials. I do not recall if Craig answered this argument directly.What are  your thoughts on the above arguments?

Kind regards,


February 8th, 2013

Defining Omniscience

by Max Andrews

As advocated by St. Anselm, God is a maximally perfect being.  If ignorance is an imperfection, all things being equal [according to Ockham’s razor], then it is greater to be knowledgeable.  To prevent initial detractions from the classical definition of omniscience, omniscience should be understood as knowing all truths.

O.  For any agent x, x is omniscient= def. For every statement s, if s is true, then x knows that s and does not believe that not-s.[1]

If there are truths about future contingents, God, as an omniscient being must know these truths.  Since there are truths about the future, that is to say, since statements about future contingents are either true or false, and they are not all false, God must therefore know all truths about the future, which is to say He knows future-tense facts; He knows what will happen.[2]  One may try to avoid this reasoning by contending that future-tense statements are neither true nor false, so that there are no facts about the future.  Since the future does not exist, it is claimed that the respective future-tense statements cannot be true or false, simply without truth.[3]  To make this assertion is a misunderstanding behind the statement’s truth claim.  For a future tense-statement to be true it is not required that what it describes exist, but that it will exist.  In order for a future-tense statement to be true, all that is required is that when the moment described arrives, the present-tense version of the statement will be true at that moment.[4]  Nicholas Rescher gives an illustration for this assertion: 

February 5th, 2013

The Thomistic Doctrine of Creatio Continuans

by Max Andrews

Traditionally, there are two models for how God preserves the existence of the universe.  The first is creatio originans (originating creation), which suggests that there has been one initial act of creation and God conserves that reality through a temporal duration.  Consider the following definition.

D1. God conserves e if and only if God acts upon e to bring about e’s enduring from t until some t* > t through every subinterval of the interval t –> t*.[1]

Thomas Aquinas de-temporalizes creatio ex nihilo.[2]  Thus, Thomas is not very concerned with divine conservation as described above since he does not offer a tensed version of creation nor does he differentiate between conservation and creation.[3]  Thomas’ model of creatio continuans (continual creation) can therefore be depicted as:

D2. God continuously creates x = def. x is a persistent thing, and, for all t, if x exists at t, then at t God creates x.[4]

Thomas certainly seems to make a commitment to creatio continuans given his doctrine of simplicity (since timeless follows).  However, Thomas tries to have the best of both doctrines by suggesting that God acts within creation and creation was within time yet, in turn, adopt a model of timelessness.  Thomas argues that the creation of things was in the beginning of time.  For Genesis 1 to include, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” suggests that beginning connotes time.[5]

January 8th, 2013

Time Travel and Bilking Arguments

by Max Andrews

In this chapter (Paul Horwich, “Time Travel” in Asymmetries in Time: Problems in the Philosophy of Science (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1987), 111-128.) Horwich discusses Gödelian time travel. He defends Gödel’s claim against the objection that time travel, as he envisions it, cannot occur since it would engender anomalous consequences. He then briefly deals with arguments for a Gödelian spacetime, which entails a closed universe and closed timelines. He then defends issues about anomalous changes and bilking arguments dealing with backwards causation. He concludes his arguments with a defense of Gödel’s thesis that there is a real possibility of trips to the spatially distant past (128).

As appears in Alasdair Richmond, ‘Gödelian Time-Travel and Anthropic Cosmology’, Ratio (New Series), XVII, 2004, 176-190

As appears in Alasdair Richmond, ‘Gödelian Time-Travel and Anthropic Cosmology’, Ratio (New Series), XVII, 2004, 176-190

August 6th, 2012

Nothing is in Time

by Max Andrews

J.M.E. McTaggart provides an objection to the A series of time but suggesting that it may be true that past, present, and future are mere illusions of the mind.[1]  McTaggart dismisses the argument’s subjectivity of time by simply defining it out of existence.

McTaggart’s Argument:

1. Anything existent can either possess the characteristic of being in time or the characteristic of not being in time.

2. Anything existent does not possess the characteristic of being in time [due to subjective references, a lack of indexing events from moment to moment or changing, etc.]

3.  Therefore, anything existent does not possess the characteristic of being in time (time is illusory).

The objection to the A series by the subjectivity of the individual mind is not so easy to dismiss as McTaggart seems to do.  With advances in relativity theory this objection may have phenomenological credibility.  Though McTaggart’s rejection of the argument is correct, there are better reasons for opposing the argument of the mind’s subjective relationship to time.[2]

May 5th, 2012

A Dynamic Theory of Time Preferred Over A Static Theory

by Max Andrews

The dynamic theory of time (A-theory) holds that God is not timeless and relates to the actual world within the bounds of time.  First advocated by J. M. E. McTaggart, this entails a tensed knowledge of God and that all events are not simultaneously real, there is only one absolute now.[1]  Given that the General Theory of Relativity is true, objects in motion tend to slow down.  This in no way takes away from an absolute now; Lorentz advocates that this absolute now cannot be measured because measuring devices are in motion.[2]  God’s relationship to time would be the absolute now.  Dynamic theory holds that façon de parler (in a manner of speaking), prior to creation (cf. Jude 25); God was timeless and so entered time to relate to man.[3]

The static theory of time (B-theory) holds that God is omnitemporal and continues to exist timelessly (atemporal) since creation.  There are no tensed facts.  Yesterday is just as real as today, which is just as real as the year 2039.  God is simple under a view of timelessness.  If God is simple then He cannot be temporal, for a temporal being is related to the various times at which it exists:  It exists at t1 and at t2, for example.  But a simple being stands in no relations.[4]