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.
We’re continuing our look at a challenge to the first premise of the KCA that champions a particular model of Time.
The B-Theory of Time
In Part 2 we described some scientific evidences that seem to support the B-Theory of Time and I said that I find them to be pretty convincing. However, just because I'm convinced B-Theory is true doesn’t there isn't more to Time than what B-Theory is able to explain.
Most of the trouble I have with the B-Theory of Time deals with my own experience. My experience of Time and my experience of myself. I do seem to experience Time in an A-Theory like manner. And simply calling it an illusion or that we evolved in such a way as to make A-Theory seem true to us isn’t an adequate answer to the question. This experience of temporal becoming itself has a deeper implication that the “illusion hypothesis” seems to actually take for granted but I think is unexplainable given a B-Theory of Time.
The Unity and Continuity of Consciousness
It seems to me that in order for me to have the illusion of Time progressing, then there must be something about me that persists through Time. Something that persists from moment to moment.
As discussed previously, the Spacetime model says that the Universe is a four dimensional entity, having three dimensions of Physical Space plus one dimension of Physical Time. In order to describe the location of anything you’ll need to have the three Spacial coordinates and the Temporal coordinate. Princeton University professor of astrophysics, J. Richard Gott, compares the universe to a loaf of sliced bread when he describes this concept. The loaf of bread is a three dimensional entity and each slice represents a temporal unit (a measurement of Time). In order to find something in the bread you would need to know the slice (Temporal coordinate) and then the three spacial coordinates in that slice.
The difficulty starts to appear when the Temporal dimension is “sliced” in smaller increments. If sliced into something like “earth days” or “hours” or “seconds”, then it becomes the case that the same person can be found in many different Temporal coordinates.
And this is where my issues come in. If I am found at several Temporal coordinates, why is it that I only experience the “now” as the real “Simon” when all of the Temporal coordinates are equally “real” and have an equally “real” “Simon”? On top of that, why is it that the Temporal coordinates seem to be arranged with chronological coherence? Why are the events arranged in a way that they make sense (1)?
At this point someone could simply point out that the Temporal coordinates are arranged as they are because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The arrow of time is directed as it is because of the physics of our Universe. And I think that’s a fine explanation for why the Universe is arranged the way it is. Unfortunately, that rebuttal just misunderstands my concern. Which is focused on my subjective experience.
I’m of the impression that all the things and the actions of this universe can be exactly the same without these experiences I seem to have. Why am I here constantly experiencing the now and only the now as “real” and why does that experience seem to have chronological coherence rather than me experiencing all the Temporal coordinates randomly or, perhaps, all the coordinates as “now”? Especially if it’s the case that my experience has no impact on what my body does.
If the universe is a block entity and Time itself is not actually “real” then my actions are independent of my subjective perception of my surroundings. There’s no need for the “me” to be here for the actions to take place.
Why am I along for this ride?
And why do I experience it in a way that makes sense? And why does it actually seem to be the case that my subjective experience of my surroundings actually does have significance. That significance appears to be in the form of producing changes that I am responsible for. And not just my body causes these changes, but all that is “me”. Because change is only possible when coupled with an A-Theory of Time.
As far as I can tell, not only is there no need for this “me”, but there’s no explanation for why there is a “me” here to experience all this temporal becoming. At least, there doesn’t seem to be an explanation on a strictly naturalist/materialist/physicalist model. To me there must be a metaphysical element involved to reconcile the B-Theory and the A-Theory of Time. And We’ll be talking about that in part 4.
Please note that this is different than claiming that an event causes another event. This is just an observation that events seem to have a coherence that is hard to explain. It’s like a movie on a film reel, why is it not the case that all the "pictures" (events) of our "Universe Movie" arranged completely randomly?
McTaggart, J. Ellis, The Unreality of Time, MIND: A Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy. October 1908
Gott, J. Richard. Time Travel In Einstein’s Universe: The Physical Possibilities Of Travel Through Time (pg. ). Mariner Books.
Mareland, J.P.. Scaling The Secular City: A Defense of Christianity (pg. 89). Baker Book House