This is the eighth of 17 posts, which are collectively Eternity, etc.
......The Presentist present is not so much a time as reality. A line with dynamic (and continuous) branches may give Presentists a reasonably accurate picture of how continuants change, but that dimension is only figurative. Nothing real is literally inside it. And while it’s only common sense that we exist within time, we are dependent creatures, currently subject to physical laws in the shadow of death. By laying down our temporal constraints, the Presentist God in a sense created time as we know it, which He transcends. Furthermore He was, is or will be at all such times, and is everywhere immanent. The atemporal God also created time, of course (as a real dimension), and is in a sense spatiotemporally omnipresent [i]. So while there is a sense in which the everlasting God is inside—the timeless God outside—time, it is often more accurate to think of the former as able—the latter not liable—to change.
......As Mawson discussed atemporalist spatiotemporal omnipresence, he mentioned—the second of our three reasons—that “of course scientists are happy to talk of space and time as merely two aspects of a unity, space-time”[ii]. But to begin with, such talk is generally an unreliable guide to ontology [iii]. And in particular, the evidence for relativistic physics is quite compatible with there being an absolute present [iv]. Furthermore, many physicists are unhappy with the picture of time as quasi-spatial, because they take quantum mechanics to be describing the collapses of wave-functions that represent current physical tendencies towards the possible outcomes of such collapses [v]. Such physical possibilities interact as such, even though most won’t have been how things actually were. And that implies the current reality of (what will have been) the non-actual—in the sense of the Actual World of popular (4-Dimensionalist) Possible Worlds semantics—or in other words, that the future is partially unreal.
......[i] Mawson, Belief in God, pp. 48–51.
......[ii] Ibid, p. 51.
......[iii] Similarly, neuroscientists are generally happy to talk of the mind as though it was nothing but an aspect of the brain, and such talk hardly means that we are unlikely to be incarnate spirits if there is a God; ibid, pp. 93–9; Swinburne, Is There a God? pp. 70–94.
......[iv] Richard Swinburne, Space and Time, 2nd edition (Macmillan, 1981), pp. 177–205; William Lane Craig, Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity (Kluwer Academic, 2001); John Polkinghorne, “Time in Physics and Theology,” in Poe & Mattson, What God Knows, pp. 61–74; Dennis Dieks (ed.), The Ontology of Spacetime, Vol. I (Elsevier, 2006); Bourne, A Future for Presentism, pp. 141–203.
......[v] For more details, see Roger Penrose, The Road to Reality: A complete guide to the laws of the universe (Jonathan Cape, 2004), pp. 493–608; Karl R. Popper, The Open Universe: An argument for Indeterminism (Hutchinson, 1982), pp. 87–109.
Diversifying the Canon: Interview with Julia Borcherding - Julia Borcherding is currently a Bersoff Faculty Fellow in Philosophy at NYU. In the fall of 2019, she will take up a position as a ... Read more...
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