Updated: Oct 12, 2021
Welcome to Tuesday Morning Apologetics (TMA). Let’s talk about the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA):
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Before we fully move on to the second premise of the KCA, I’d like to address a challenge that, at least for now, will be the final challenge to the first premise. This challenge, like the last one from KCA 08, is against the first and second premises of the KCA. Today will be focusing on the part of the challenge that addresses the first premise.
Again going back in KCA 02, I mentioned that some people go so far in attacking the first premise as to say that nothing actually “begins to exist”. I said in that blog that the second way they attack the premise is by claiming that time itself is constituted in such a way that all events are equally “real”, therefore, there is no such thing as “begin” in the ontological sense.
This challenge deals with the two different theories about Time. In this case, the challenger to the first premise champions the, so called, “B-Theory”. These theories are not about how we measure or keep track of Time. With our days, hours or minutes. They are models describing how Time itself is constituted. Does it flow like a river? Is Time like a movie as it plays on our screens? Where only the now is real and everything comes into being and out of being. Or is Time like the movie as it is on the DVD? Where all the things and events of the movie are equally real as one entity.
A-Theory (1) and B-Theory (2)
The A-Theory of Time is the theory of “temporal becoming”. By “temporal”, I only mean, “relating to time”. Usually, temporal becoming is the notion that only the present is “real”. The past is no longer “real” and the future is not yet “real”. We are locked to the present and continually experience the future becoming real in a temporal sense. That’s why it’s called "temporal becoming". Though there is an “expanding block” version that gives a slightly different twist to the nature of the past.
The B-Theory of Time is a “tenseless” view of time. That’s different from the typical idea of there being future-tenses and past-tenses. For example, the statement, “I worked on my yard”, is a past-tense statement. It gives the impression that now is “real” while me working on the yard is no longer “real”. However, on a tenseless view of time, the me working on my yard is just as “real” as the me writing this blog. There is no past, present nor future. All events are more accurately described using “earlier-than”, “simultaneous with”, or “later-than” statements. Me working on my yard is earlier-than me working on this blog. Me working on this blog is later-than me working on my yard. The statement used depends on whatever our “anchor event” is. Our “anchor” usually being what we experience as the “present”. It just needs to be noted that, on the B-Theory, what we constantly experience as the present through “temporal becoming” is just an illusion. On the B-Theory, objectively speaking, there is no “present”.
Advocates of B-Theory of Time usually treat the universe as a “block entity”. That is to say, all space and all time exists as a single entity. That includes all future events. This is where the term “space-time” comes from. The universe is, at least, a four dimensional entity. The three dimensions of physical Space plus one dimension of physical Time.
They also tend to think that the universe is an eternal entity. So, ontologically speaking, if the universe has always existed, then every part of the universe has always existed. That includes us. It only appears to be the case that we begin to exist because, in a chronological sense, there is an “earlier-than” point in the universe in which we can’t be found. However, since all chronological (temporal) points are equally real, so are we. And so are all the actions of our whole lives.
Why do people think that the B-Theory of Time ought to be preferred? To most (probably everyone actually), it seems counter-intuitive and would need justification in order to believe it. And there are reasons to believe that it is the theory that better corresponds with reality. And we’ll be looking into those reasons in Part 2.
According to the A-Theory of Time, events are temporally ordered by tensed determinations of past, present, and future, and temporal becoming is an objective feature of physical reality.
According to the B-Theory of Time, events are ordered by the tenseless relations of earlier than, simultaneous with, and later than, and temporal becoming is purely subjective.
Craig, William. Reasonable Faith 3rd Edition (pg.121). Crossway
Craig, William Lane and Sinclair, James D.. The Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (pg. 114). Blackwell Publishing.