I saw Paul Copan write something on Facebook about my alleged failure to grasp the kalam argument for the existence of God in my essay on reductionism, ethics, and theism, but I can’t find it anymore. IIRC, he accused me of imagining that the infinitude of time stretching back is “qualitative not quantitative infinity.”

I assure him that I did not make a mistake so outrageous. Here is the argument, slightly expanded.

Whatever a “moment in time” is — and I’m not sure I know what it is exactly — it is definitely not a real object, like an atom, a chair, or a human being. I admit that an infinite multitude of real objects cannot exist. Consider now numbers or possible worlds. They are not real but ideal, as in, existing in the mind, and there are surely an infinity of them. Again, I disclaim any knowledge of whether a “moment” is real, ideal, or anything in between. Unless Paul is better informed, the conclusion that an infinite succession of past seconds or moments or whatever cannot exist cannot be reached so easily.

But there is a reason to think that it can exist. For, according to Catholic theology at least, God is eternal. Now I don’t know if Paul believes that or, if he does, exactly how he understands it. So, let’s go with the time-honored definition of eternity as “simultaneously-whole and perfect possession of interminable life.” What does that mean?

Experience teaches that our lives are fragmented into four parts: the past, the present, the future, and timelessness, such as enjoyed by abstracta like “2 + 2 = 4.” Our past is gone, our future is not yet, timelessness is accessed only when we do math or philosophy (with propositions apparently outlasting our own lives), and our present is fleeting and evanescent.

Far be it from God to suffer from so many imperfections. But He neither abolishes time nor keeps it unchanged but rather transcends and perfects it. For God those 4 time periods are folded up, unified as if in a package and present themselves as single eternal Moment of boiling divine life. It cannot be doubted that such a life is superior in intensity, poignancy, and happiness it can generate to our human experience.

In addition, it is another aspect of God’s simplicity, His not being composed of real parts that are prior to God and interact according to natural laws that define God. The union of the “tenses” is “seamless” and cannot be analyzed or dissected like a frog.

God’s eternity subsumes merely everlasting existence, including time stretching back into the past infinitely. So then if eternity as I have described it is how God lives, then surely, everlasting time is possible, too. God could be “co-eternal” or “co-everlasting” with the universe.

That He actually is not we know not from reason (and don’t give me these mutually contradictory fantasies from physicists) but from faith.


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