Re: God and time, and warning labels

Garry DeWeese (
Thu, 13 Nov 1997 09:09:16 -0700

At 12:25 PM 11/12/1997 -0700, Don N Page wrote:

{snip} - Your list of the biblically-satisfying number of unknowables (or
only theoretically knowables) is interesting. I have some thoughts about
that which I'll save for a later post if sometone else does not express
them first.

> Is it the A-theorists that don't believe the future exists?

A-theorists believe that there is an ontological (not merely epistemic)
asymmetry between past and present, on the one hand, and the future on the
other. The past and the present are real, while the future is not.

>I am a B-theorist and believe that it exists in roughly the same sense
that the past
>exists, but that our concept of both is theoretical and not direct. Of
>the theory is not the same as the reality, but neither is our knowledge the
>same as the reality. I would say that my knowledge of conditions on earth
>tomorrow is less than my knowledge of conditions on earth yesterday, but
>than my knowledge of conditions on earth Nov. 12, 1897, which is more than
>knowledge of conditions Nov. 12, 8004 B.C., which is more than my
knowledge of
>the detailed conditions ten billion years ago, but that there are some
>about all those times that I would regard as knowing with high confidence.

Claims of knowledge about future contingent events must, for us
non-omniscient humans, always be hypothetical, unless revealed to us by God.

The fundamental issue here is not what can be known but what exists. There
is always the danger of conflating epistemic with ontological claims.
Knowing how long it will take a steel ball to fall from the top of the
Gamow Tower (in the physics building here at the University of Colorado) to
the sidewalk below is one thing (which still must be qualified by a number
of assumptions); the actual fall of the ball is something else. Even a bit
of knowledge which we hold with very high confidence is quite different
from the actuality or reality of that which we have knowledge about.

>One could always arbitrarily define some of these theoretical entities to
exist and
>others not to exist (e.g., the past before ten thousand years ago for
YEC's, or
>the future for A-theorists), but it seems a bit ad hoc to me to make such a
>distinction between things that we have high confidence in.

Again, knowledge or confidence are distinct from existence.

Garry DeWeese