December 10, 2011

First Quasi-Cause: Uncaused Timeless Nature

INTRODUCTION
John Philoponus, a Christian philosopher, scientist, and theologian in the sixth century, challenged Aristotle's theory of infinitely elapsed time.1 Philoponus argued that infinite time could never have elapsed, so elapsed time needed a finite origin. Philoponus also modified Aristotle's cosmological argument of a Prime Mover / First Cause by saying that the First Cause was originally timeless, which this essay calls a timeless cosmological argument. Since the time of Philoponus, numerous scholars developed timeless cosmological arguments.2 Furthermore, Immanuel Kant in his 1781/1787 Critique of Pure Reason noted that a timeless cause of elapsed time is empirically irrational because both cause and effect must exist within elapsed time.3 For example, How could something exist before elapsed time when the notions of before and after require elapsed time? This brief article responds to Kant's conundrum about original timelessness and the finite origin of elapsed time by clarifying that passage of time originated from not the first cause but the first quasi-cause. This piece also (1) explores various positivist and theistic constructions of the first quasi-cause and (2) conjectures monotheism.

The term first quasi-cause indicates that not a cause within elapsed time but a timeless quasi-cause began elapsed time. Furthermore, the first quasi-cause is the uncaused timeless nature. Also, the observed spacetime continuum might be the universe or a verse within a multiverse, while the universe or multiverse necessarily has a finite elapsed time.

INFINITY AND BEYOND
The conundrum of time compares to a never-ending clock. For example, assuming the observed spacetime continuum began fourteen billion years ago and the continuum never ends with a Big Crunch or Big Rip,4 then the continuum always continues with an ever-increasing finite age.

Similarly, there could not have been infinitely elapsed time. For example, if there was infinitely elapsed time, then infinitely elapsed time would precede every point in continuum history while infinitely elapsed time could never exist for any point in history to exist. Likewise, there was no (1) infinite past chronology of vacuum fluctuations or (2) infinite past cycles in a cyclic universe.

Some scholars stated to me in personal communication that infinitely elapsed time is possible because of different theories of time. For example, various philosophers challenge all empirical observations of cause and effect while proposing that all appearance of such sequences is essentially an illusion in an eternalist/block universe. Such eternalist theories ultimately propose radical simultaneousness of all supposedly past, present and future events while denying all distinction between the past, present, and future.5 This rejection of sequences disputes the impossibility of an apparent infinite elapsed time, but at the expense of rejecting the notion of elapsed time. Also, rejecting the notion of elapsed time incidentally disputes every theory involving cause and effect, which includes all scientific theory. In this case, nobody can possibly disprove that the universe is an eternal block while the appearance of elapsed time is merely an illusion, but such philosophical theories are incompatible with the notion of science.

NATURE OF TIMELESSNESS
As stated in the introduction, this theory proposes that the first quasi-cause is the uncaused timeless nature. Timelessness is changelessness such as absolute inactivity or absolute simultaneousness of all activity in a changeless unit. For example, timelessness has no sequence of phenomena that are empirically observed in waves, particles, and vacuum fluctuations. Likewise, since observed spatial dimensions inevitably have sequences of phenomena, then a timeless nature evidently has no spatial dimensions comparable to observed space. In other words, a timeless nature is a dimensionless nature beyond empirical observation. The uncaused timeless nature is an extraordinary nature in that it has no dimensions and no sequence of phenomena while it is able to generate the beginning of time.

The observed spacetime continuum might have originated from a dimensionless substrate. Another possibility is that the observed spacetime continuum is a verse preceded by dimensionality within a multiverse while the spacetime of the multiverse originated from a dimensionless substrate. In any case, the apparently fine-tuned spacetime continuum that enables DNA-based life had inexplicably originated from no dimensions.6

Positivist options for analyzing dimensionless origins include (1) continuing the exploration of the impossible assumption of infinite elapsed time with an infinite chronology of vacuum fluctuations or infinite cycles in a cyclic universe and (2) insistence that elapsed time began from inanimate timelessness.7

Objective analysis indicates the uncaused nature's constitution and ability is extraordinary in comparison to empirically observed nature. This extraordinariness such as dimensionless nature with the ability to generate the passage of time and life-enabling space justifies the reasonableness of calling the uncaused nature a supernature. The extraordinariness of this supernature also justifies a reasonable conjecture that the uncaused nature is not inanimate supernature but deity with will.

Deity with will has knowledge and power. Some might debate if the uncaused deity is (1) God with omniscience (all knowledge) and omnipotence (all power) or (2) a potentially conquerable deity with finite knowledge and finite power. For example, key characteristics of omniscience include exhaustive self-awareness and knowledge of all possibilities (natural knowledge), while the key characteristic of omnipotence is unlimited power constrained only by consistency. In this case, God with omniscience and omnipotence is able to generate the beginning of time and life-enabling space. However, an uncaused finite deity might have no ability to manage the unlimited knowledge of all possibilities and never generate the beginning of time. Likewise, the problems faced by finite deity justify a reasonable conjecture that God generated the beginning of time and life-enabling space.

Stay tuned for a follow-up article on theodicy—that is, the problem of evil.

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1. Wildberg, Christian. 2007. "John Philoponus." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/philoponus/.
2. Reichenbach, Bruce. 2008 "Cosmological Argument." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmological-argument/.
3. Williams, Garrath. 2009. "Kant's Account of Reason." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-reason/.
4. See Big Crunch and Big Rip in Caldwell, Robert R., Marc Kamionkowski and Nevin N. Weinberg. 2003. "Phantom Energy and Cosmic Doomsday." http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0302506.
5. See Markosian, Ned. 2008. "Time." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time/.
6. See "Cosmic Fine-Tuning" in Ratzsch, Del. 2010. "Teleological Arguments for God's Existence." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleological-arguments/.
7. The first edition of this paragraph included a mistaken interpretation of a physics article.

Major Revision 4/26/2012, Minor Revision 8/14/2012



Copyright © 2011, 2012 James Edward Goetz

June 2, 2011

Devotional 1

Praise the one true Lord God Almighty; praise the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Lord loves us with an everlasting love. The love of the Lord sent his Son the Lord Jesus Christ to become a human and die for our sins. All who believe and call on the Lord receive salvation in every area of their life. And the Lord sends his Spirit to saturate and empower all believers.

Lord I dedicate to love and serve you in every circumstance. Fill me with your Spirit. Saturate and purify my innermost thoughts and desires. Empower me to always love and serve you.

Thank you Lord for making me a new person, a participant in your divine nature. Thank you Lord that I will forever enjoy your presence.



Updated 10/25/2011

Copyright © 2011 James Edward Goetz

May 11, 2011

The Christian Code of Honor for Men

01. Men understand the love and forgiveness of the Lord.
02. Men trust and obey the Lord in every circumstance.
03. Men love the Lord above all else.
04. Men act with courage and honor.
05. Men speak with courage and honor.
06. Men respect all authority without disobeying the Lord.
07. Men respect and care for all humans.
08. Men never take advantage of females.
09. Men reserve sexual intimacy for marriage.
10. Men stand against injustice.



updated 05/12/2011

Copyright © 2011 James Edward Goetz

March 6, 2011

Simple Divine Partnership and Functional Limits of the Incarnation

INTRODUCTION
This brief article outlines development of my partnership law model of the Trinity and my restrained power (functional limits) model of the Incarnation.[1] [2] Also, this brief perspective of the Trinity and Incarnation is consistent with the ancient church ecumenical creeds and my creed I Believe that includes the following:

I believe in one God, the only uncreated, always existing with maximal power, knowledge of all possibilities, unlimited love, justice, and as three distinct persons of one indivisible divine nature. The three divine persons eternally and equally share the same indivisible glory, honor, and ability.[3]

SIMPLE DIVINE PARTNERSHIP
I briefly described how United States general partnerships provide an analogy for the Trinity. [4] A general partnership is a single entity with multiple persons who each represent all of the contractual powers of the partnership. In the case of a partnership with three partners, one partner has the same powers as any two or all three of the partners. Likewise, in some sense, each partner is identified as the single partnership. Moreover, this analogizes the ancient church fathers understanding of God as one indivisible divine essence existing as three distinct persons.

The analogy of a general partnership helps to explain the mystery of the Trinity with caveats. For example, general partnerships are a complex composite union with a beginning in time and an end while the Trinity is primarily simple with no beginning in time and no end. I describe the Trinity as "primarily simple" instead of the classical belief in absolute divine simplicity because primary simplicity evidently describes God and his relationship to creation. For example, Christ incarnated, which involved a person of the Trinity unifying with a specially created human nature. Likewise, the incarnation is a complex revelation of God to humanity. The divine nature never changed while God related to humanity with complex revelation.

This model imagines God apart from creation always existing as one simple God, three distinct persons, perfect love, justice, complete self-consciousness, exhaustive knowledge of all possibilities, and almighty power within physical consistency. All of these attributes of God are not parts of God, but God is a primarily simple entity. Also, God created the substance of everything else that exists while God personally relates to creation.

FUNCTIONAL LIMITS IN THE INCARNATION
I also briefly compared the Incarnation to a power ratchet wrench with variable power settings for torque:
For example, a particular power ratchet wrench has a maximum torque of seventy foot-pound force while the wrench torque adjusts from one to seventy foot-pound force. In some uses of the wrench, the seventy foot-pound force would destroy the bolt so the wrench is sometimes set to a lesser torque such as ten foot-pound force. Likewise, for a particular job, the wrench operates at no more than ten foot-pound force while the wrench was fully compatible with working at seventy foot-pound force. The wrench never lost its full power, but temporarily used a setting of a lesser power. Also, when the wrench goes back to it full power, it never loses its ability to operate at lesser powers.

The example of the adjustable power ratchet wrench is a powerful analogy for the incarnation. The Son of God, the Almighty, temporarily limited his power to human limits on earth while remaining fully capable of creating new universes and knowing all possibilities. There is no impossibility, self-contradiction, incoherency, absurdity, or unintelligibly in this analogy of the Incarnation. In fact, it appears absurd to insist that a maximally powerful deity could not temporarily limit himself to a finite human life on earth. [6]

The particular power ratchet wrench always has the same potential while functioning at different modes of power at different times. Likewise, the wrench is always a seventy foot-pound force wrench regardless of the foot-pound force in use.

I still need to clarify various details of my perspective of the Incarnation. I'll begin by looking at biblical visions of Christ in Philippians 2:5–8 and Hebrews 1:1–4:
(5) Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
(6) who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
(7) but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
(8) he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:5–8 NRSV)

Philippians 2:5–8 teaches that Jesus Christ was both God and human. He also emptied himself to servanthood and obedience to the Father.

(1) Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, (2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. (3) He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (4) having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1–4 NRSV)

Hebrews 1:1–4 teaches the following: the Son of God and the Father created the worlds; the Son sustains all things by his powerful word; the Son sat at the right hand of the Father after the Son made purification for sins. This vision of the Son as creator and sustainer of all worlds indicates that the Son is omnipotent (almighty power within physical consistency), omniscient, and omnipresent.

These biblical visions also include tension:
1. The Son of God is omnipresent yet took on human nature in the image of God with a finite-sized human body.
2. The Son of God is omniscient yet during his earthly ministry professed ignorance compared to the Father (Mark 13:32).
3. The Son of God created all things and sustains all things yet during his earthly ministry professed ignorance compared to the Father.

THE OMNIPRESENCE OF THE SON
In the case of the omnipresent Son, some may suppose that omnipresent nature is logically incompatible with a finite biological human body. However, the incarnate Son in no way was composed only of his biological body. There is no inherent incompatibility with an omnipresent nature joined to a finite biological body. Also, there is no inherent incompatibility with a human nature in the image of God extending omnipresently, regardless that human nature typically belongs to a finite creature.

My favorite analogy that helps to explain the mystery of the Son's omnipresence involves gravity. Gravitational force exists omnipresently in the spacetime universe while the root source of gravity is undetectable to science. In this case, theoretical physics speculation includes that the source of gravity exists in an empirically undetectable hyper-dimension. Also, the ubiquitous empirical evidence of gravitational force in the universe with an undetectable source resulted in science designating gravity as one of the four fundamental forces. Additionally, gravitational force from a body with a finite mass extends without limits.

THE OMNISCIENCE OF THE SON
In the case of the omniscient Son, some may suppose that omniscience is logically incompatible with temporary functional limits of knowledge (ignorance). However, there is no reason why an omniscient person cannot figure out how to temporarily function with limited knowledge for a special mission.

My model of functional limits in the incarnation pictures the ancient creedal interpretation of the Son incorporating human nature to his divine nature, which consequently resulted in the Son having a mind with two unified natures. The earthly life and death of the Son served multiple purposes that include exemplifying genuine dependence and obedience to the Father. The Son could always access to his omniscience but restrained his mind to limited knowledge while modeling dependence to the Father for our example. Also, a lack of temporary limits on the Son's omniscience might have trivialized his biological and emotional human experience.

Human long-term memory provides a powerful analogy for the temporary functional limits of the Son. Healthy adult humans have a large storage of long-term memory while most of that memory is never consciously thought about on a day-today basis. This vast storage of typically unconscious long-term memory helps to analogize how the Son remained omniscient while functioning with limited knowledge in his human body.

THE OMNIPOTENCE OF THE SON
The mystery of the Son sustaining the universe during his earthly ministry remains unclear. The Son temporarily emptied himself and knew less than the Father about cosmic rule. Eventually, the Son mysteriously ascended back to consciously ruling and sustaining all things.
__________



1. James Goetz, "The Partnership Law Model of the Trinity" (2010) URL = http://theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2010/03/partnership-law-model-trinity.html.

2. James Goetz, "Restrained Power Model of the Incarnation" (2011) URL = http://theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2011/02/restrained-power-model-incarnation.html.

3. James Goetz, "I Believe" (2011), URL = http://theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2011/02/i-believe.html.

4. Goetz, "The Partnership Law Model of the Trinity."

5. Goetz, "Restrained Power Model of the Incarnation."



The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 James Edward Goetz

February 22, 2011

Restrained Power Model of the Incarnation

The mystery of the Incarnation is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, remained fully divine while becoming fully human. Almighty divinity became a human.[1] Many philosophers say that such an incarnation is "impossible, self-contradictory, incoherent, absurd, and unintelligible" because the divinity that supposedly created the universe with almighty power cannot also be a human with finite power.[2] This brief introduction of the "restrained power model of the Incarnation" proposes an analogy of how an almighty deity can temporarily restrain himself to use only finite power.

As stated above, many philosophers claim that an almighty deity is incapable of temporarily limiting himself to human finiteness. However, there are many examples of power with temporary restraints. For example, a particular power ratchet wrench has a maximum torque of seventy foot-pound force while the wrench torque adjusts from one to seventy foot-pound force. In some uses of the wrench, the seventy foot-pound force would destroy the bolt so the wrench is sometimes set to a lesser torque such as ten foot-pound force. Likewise, for a particular job, the wrench operates at no more than ten foot-pound force while the wrench was fully compatible with working at seventy foot-pound force. The wrench never lost its full power, but temporarily used a setting of a lesser power. Also, when the wrench goes back to it full power, it never loses its ability to operate at lesser powers.

The example of the adjustable power ratchet wrench is a powerful analogy for the Incarnation. The Son of God, the Almighty, temporarily limited his power to human limits on earth while remaining fully capable of creating new universes and knowing all possibilities. There is no impossibility, self-contradiction, incoherency, absurdity, or unintelligibly in this analogy of the incarnation. In fact, it appears absurd to insist that a maximally powerful deity could not temporarily limit himself to a finite human life on earth.
__________


1. The term almighty requires a caveat. Almighty means "all power within the context of consistency." For example, an almighty deity cannot make an unbending rod that he cannot bend because this scenario is logically impossible and physically inconsistent. In other words, an almighty deity has maximal power, all possible power.

2. Murray, Michael and Rea, Michael, "Philosophy and Christian Theology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/christiantheology-philosophy/.

3. Murray, Michael and Rea, Michael, "Philosophy and Christian Theology."


Copyright © 2011 James Edward Goetz

February 14, 2011

I Believe

Revision:

I believe in one God, the only uncreated. God always enjoys inexhaustible love, perfect power, and knowledge of all possibilities. God is three persons who share identical indivisible original nature. God made the substance of all creation and revealed the three divine persons as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, remained fully divine while becoming fully human. He ministered teaching, prophecy, and miracles. He died on a cross for our salvation from sin, resurrected from the dead, ascended to the heavenly dimensions, and poured out the Holy Spirit while establishing the church of saints. Christ will return, judge the living and the dead, and fully establish his glorious kingdom on earth.



First version:

I believe in one God, the only uncreated, always existing with perfect power, knowledge of all possibilities, unlimited love, justice, and as three persons of one indivisible divine nature. The three divine persons eternally and equally share the same indivisible glory, honor, and ability.

I believe God made the substance of all creation. And God revealed the three divine persons as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Christ remained fully divine while becoming fully human. He ministered teaching, prophecy, and miracles. He died on a cross for our salvation from sin, resurrected from the dead, ascended to the heavenly dimensions, and poured out the Holy Spirit while establishing the church of saints. Christ will return, judge the living and the dead, and fully establish his glorious kingdom on earth.



major revision 9/5/14, minor update 9/7/14

Copyright © 2011–2014 James Edward Goetz

February 6, 2011

Divine Omniscience and Probabilistic Events

I submitted a question to William Lane Craig (http://www.reasonablefaith.org):

Dear Dr. Craig,

I'm a trinitarian and assume Molinist divine omniscience (middle knowledge [MK]) and exhaustive definite foreknowledge [EDF]). My Molinist assumption recently included that EDF in a universe (spacetime continuum plus possible hyper-dimensions for the heavenly realms and perhaps gravity) with probabilistic mechanics is possible for an omniscient deity when the deity creates the universe with static time, but EDF is not possible when the deity creates the universe with dynamic time. For example, I suppose that God could foreknow the outcome of a fair coin toss only if the fair coin toss occurred in static time. Moreover, if God doesn't know the outcome of probabilistic events such as a fair coin toss, then God doesn't know what circumstances his free will creatures would face unless God actually determines the outcome of most probabilistic events. Additionally, I assume that there is no middle ground between EDF and open theism. Given these assumptions, I felt surprised when I read your God, Time, and Eternity (2002) speech and saw that you're a Molinist who holds to a dynamic theory of time. Could you help to explain how God knows the outcome of probabilistic events in a universe with dynamic time?

I will clarify that I hope to find a better answer than saying that the Bible clearly teaches that God knows all truth about the future while philosophical evidence points to a dynamic theory of time. Perhaps somebody might argue that God knowing all truth about future events doesn't necessitate EDF, but I would need an explanation of that. I will also clarify that until I recently reread your 2002 article, I supposed that a dynamic theory of time necessitated open theism while a static theory of time necessitated closed theism, while Molinist closed theism appears to me as the best description of divine omniscience. However, I agree that there are major problems with static time according to your critique and the critiques of others. Likewise, I will try to humbly broaden my imagination of divine omniscience and time.

I suppose that I would reject Molinism if it insisted that most apparently probabilistic events are actually determined. (Hey, I made a counter factual prediction about myself.:) For example, Molinism implies that that God knows the truth about all future probabilistic events. Perhaps we should merely accept this mystery, but I suppose that the cat is out of the bag and the paradox needs an attempt of an explanation.

On my part, I'm contemplating a model that combines MK, EDF, and a dynamic theory of time. I also suppose that since the creation decision, God exists both transcendent to and immanent in the universe. I additionally suppose that God's decision to create the universe included foreordination of all divine intervention during the literal endless temporal progression of the creation that endures. Furthermore, this decision occurred in an instant, while decision making of an omniscient deity in regards to a universe with a literal endless temporal progression would never take longer than an instant. For example, no amount of time and temporal experience could ever help an omniscient deity make a better decision. Given these assumptions, perhaps in some way the creation is in quasi-static time only in the perspective of God's transcendence while the creation is in dynamic time in the perspective of God's imminence. Granted that I need a lot of work on this, but at least I have a thesis statement. Anyway, as I asked above, Could you help to explain how God knows the outcome of probabilistic events in a universe with dynamic time?

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

James Goetz