Fatalism vs. the divine mind

-A block universe, whether we make it exist by fatalism or theology, is a universe where every moment in time exists at the same time. This is incoherent, as it asserts there is a time in addition to all time.

-Or this: if all time is known by God, it is like a film that has already been shot. But a film that has already been shot has a crucial difference to the universe known by God: the whole film is determined because it exists at one time, but the universe in the divine mind does not exist at one time, but in eternity.

-God sees all things when they happen, but not before they happen. “When” indicates unity, which can happen between ontologically distinct things (like spirit and body, meaning and sound, divine and human nature) but “before” indicates division or separation in time.

-If you see things before they happen, you either see a representation or the event itself.

A representation would not suffice for knowledge unless it came from one who saw the event itself.*

But if one sees the event itself before it happens, then he sees, say, 2025 in 2015.

But this means 2025 itself occurs in 2015, which is a contradiction.

So if one knows he sees the future, he does not see it before it happens.

*Even if some machine infallibly delivered you snapshots of things that came to happen the next day, your trust would be in the judgment that it wasn’t just hitting a lucky streak of prediction but was based on some process that had contact with the event itself.

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8 Comments

  1. mike said,

    November 12, 2015 at 10:15 am

    interesting but a bit hard to follow for an untrained newbie like me 😉

  2. swordfishtrombone said,

    November 14, 2015 at 7:37 am

    If God is “outside of time”, how is he able to tell which time is ‘now’? It seems to me you’re trying to have your cake and eat it here. If God is outside time, he’s either unable to ‘see’ anything, or he’s able to see everything *including* the future.

    • November 14, 2015 at 7:59 am

      I think you’re confusing transcendental unity of multiplicity with the mere mixing or confusion of the multiple things. So far as you’re speaking with an eye to Relativity theory, see the next comment.

  3. swordfishtrombone said,

    November 14, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Another problem is that time is inextricably linked to space anyway. Could God *in principle* tell me what is happening *now* on Pluto? Presumably he could, but then he’s seeing five hours into the future (from my perspective).

    • November 14, 2015 at 8:07 am

      To speak of his accomplishment in a way that’s relevant to what I’m speaking about here, Einstein showed how time, like all things given in sensation, has part of its being from the side of the subject, just like “hot” and “smells nice” or what color a deer-hunting jacket is.* In other words, if God wants speak about what “smells nice” he’s going to have to specify whether he’s talking to humans or dung-beetles, and there is no in-principle way to answer the question apart from this. But this does not mean there is no correct answer to the question under this specification.

      As a philosophical account of time, I take relativity as showing the necessity of transcendent mind, since Relativity demands that all times be real, but all times cannot be real at one time. This is both impossible in itself and from the account of time that Relativity gives, which makes it impossible that any one observer be all possible observers.


      *Berkeley proved the same thing centuries ago, though he might have taken it a step too far. The fact is that all that is given to sensation as such is a melange of elements taken from bother the object and the subject.

  4. swordfishtrombone said,

    November 15, 2015 at 5:21 am

    Looking at your two replies, I’m not at all sure I understand either of them 🙂

    Perhaps I should have started with your first paragraph instead. AFAIK, a ‘block universe’ doesn’t imply that “every moment in time exists at the same time”, rather that when time is viewed as a fourth dimension, the whole of space-time can be interpreted as a four-dimensional ‘block’. This higher-dimensional perspective doesn’t itself exist at any particular time so isn’t contradictory. By analogy, if the world was flat and had only two spatial dimensions, it would be possible to view it entirely from a third-dimensional perspective (height) but that third dimension wouldn’t exist at any particular two-dimensional point.

    • November 15, 2015 at 8:31 am

      a ‘block universe’ doesn’t imply that “every moment in time exists at the same time”

      I would hope not, because then it would be impossible, and all of Relativity along with it.

      This higher-dimensional perspective doesn’t itself exist at any particular time so isn’t contradictory.

      We agree about this. I even gave a proof and a reason for why it must be so. Agreeing that the block universe cannot exist at a single point in time is my starting point. The next step is to give an account of how it can be whole and one.

      when time is viewed as a fourth dimension, the whole of space-time can be interpreted as a four-dimensional ‘block’

      But what does it say about our intellect that we can view this? What more do we have to say when we notice that our viewing can’t account for the existence of such a thing? If all parts of time are equally real, we need some sense in which they are all equally real now, but given everyone agrees that we cannot appeal to the now of time, how describe that “now” or account for its real existence? I suggest the now or at once of transcendence. What about you?

      if the world was flat and had only two spatial dimensions, it would be possible to view it entirely from a third-dimensional perspective (height) but that third dimension wouldn’t exist at any particular two-dimensional point.

      You’ll have to say more. I agree with the claims about flatland but it does not apply to our present case from what you say here.

  5. swordfishtrombone said,

    November 18, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    “how describe that “now” or account for its real existence”

    Isn’t it just subjective? If we were living in the fourteenth century, we would see ourselves as living ‘now’.


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