Monday, November 15, 2010

Eternity, etc.

This is the first of 17 posts that, collectively, defend Open Theism against Mawson’s Divine eternity (2008). As I write them, I shall be polishing up what I was writing over the summer, i.e. Eternity, Mawson’s belief and Cantor’s paradox, which was itself the result of a very slow revision of the first half of my 2008 reply to Mawson, Omniscience and the Odyssey Theodicy. The Abstract for the current paper is:
T. J. Mawson believes that the God of Open Theism is liable to bodge things up, by not infallibly knowing all about the future. But I argue that Mawson misconstrued the Open Theist view of divine action. And since the God of Presentist Open Theism ould infallibly know all there is to know, I also argue that Presentism, whose falsity Mawson presupposed, is not implausible if God is the Perfect Being. Furthermore, if God can create arbitrarily many things, then because of Cantor’s Paradox, His knowledge of whole numbers is plausibly growing forever. Yet even such a powerful and hence changing God could, under Presentism, know all the truths of arithmetic. I conclude that the Presentist Open God could be the Perfect Being.
According to T. J. Mawson [i], even those Perfect Being Theists who take a libertarian view of free will should reject Open Theism, so long as they accept what he calls “the reality of the future,” i.e. “that some statements concerning what is now the future are true.” [ii] Mawson argued that because of future contingents, the Open God lacks “infallible knowledge of at least some aspects of the future,” [iii] and that such incomplete omniscience makes “whatever goodness (in the sense of beneficence, not just benevolence) God has a matter of luck.” [iv] I will be uncovering several lacunae in Mawson’s reasoning (in sections III to V), and then arguing more directly (in sections VI to VIII) for my conclusion, that such Theists should not reject Open Theism. The underlying question concerns how God is eternal (sections I and II). The 16 posts will be:
............I Introduction
............II Divine Attributes
............II Divine Attributes cont.
............III Future Contingents
............III Future Contingents cont.
............IV Theistic Presentism
............IV Theistic Presentism cont.
............IV Theistic Presentism again
............V Bodging Up
............V Bodging Up cont.
............VI Possible Worlds
............VII Cantor’s Paradox
............VII Cantor’s Paradox cont.
............VII Cantor’s Paradox again
............VIII Omniscience Again
............VIII Omniscience Again cont.
......Notes:
......[i] T. J. Mawson, “Divine eternity,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 64 (2008): 35–50.
......[ii] Ibid, p. 37. Statements are basically possible assertions. For more details, see T. J. Mawson, Belief in God: An introduction to the philosophy of religion (Oxford Univ. Press, 2005), p. 239 n. 6. Questions of truth are essentially questions of how well our words describe the world, of course.
......[iii] Mawson, “Divine eternity,” p. 37.
......[iv] Ibid, p. 49.

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