I just wanted to say hi, and that I enjoyed reading your post about time this morning. If I may interject my penny’s worth for a moment. I agreed with your post, and thought it was insightful. However, when you said the following statement, I thought it lacked justification on your part:
“Therefore, time is itself a product of creation from nothing (creatio ex nihilo), and it must itself be the creation of divine mind or, as one might say, God. The Creator must, necessarily, exist outside of time, which means it cannot be time-bound.”
Yes, I agree with you concerning these points. However, I think such points deserve more elaboration. As your reader, I want to know why an unembodied mind outside of space, time, and so on, is the only way time and, therefore, the Universe, could have ever started as it did. I hope your well, friend.
Hi Scott. There are two things I believe that we’d need to look at here. Firstly, the concept of an unembodied mind and, secondly, time.
An unembodied mind is best defined as an immaterial, unchanging, and spatially extended entity. Conceptually, it is a remarkably simple entity. It possesses no physical parts, it is entirely non-physical. This mind could also have complex ideas and thoughts. Some skeptics have argued that God must be more complex than the universe and that we make no explanatory advance by postulating his existence (1). So, why believe that he created the universe? However, the mistaken assumption here is that the creator, as an unembodied mind, is analogous to the physical universe, which itself is a complex thing composed of complex things. The two are quite unalike so the challenge isn’t a fair one.
Now, it appears that you and I agree on several points, one of which would I assume is that the universe had a finite beginning and, as a result, has a creator, hence a cause. This is based on the logicality of the Kalam Cosmological Argument: 1- whatever begins to exist has a cause, 2- the universe begun to exist, 3- therefore the universe has a cause. One might add a fourth premise to this argument, namely, that this cause must be metaphysically necessary (because of the logical impossibility of an infinite regress of causes), spaceless (since it created space), timeless (it created time), transcendent (it exists beyond the universe it created), and overwhelmingly powerful (it created the universe without any material cause). It is the contention of the theist that an entity of this nature wouldn’t be a far cry from the sort of god that classical theism proposes.
Now, in his Excursus on Natural Theology, philosopher William Lane Craig identifies two entities that can match these characteristics: an unembodied mind or an abstract object (2). The question then is over which one of these is the better candidate to have caused the universe. However, as Craig argues, an abstract object, like a number or another mathematical object, is causally impotent, it has no causal power; this is a definitive characteristic of what it means to be an abstract object. If this logic follows then the cause of the universe is due to an unembodied mind. To avoid this, the skeptic would be required to propose other candidates that could fit the characteristics of such an entity as proposed above and then argue that such an entity is a better candidate for causing the universe than an unembodied mind, or he can propose the logical incoherence of the concept of an unembodied mind.
Now, there are numerous alternatives that hope to account for the beginning of the universe without a creative mind, creator, behind it. These proposals are logically incoherent, for example, atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett, who accepts that the universe has a cause and that it began to exist a finite time ago, argues that the cause of the universe is itself (3). This is logically incoherent. It is essentially arguing that the universe had to exist before it existed. Others have argued that the universe came into being from nothing. This is also logically incoherent. Nothing, in the sense of no-thing, the absolute lack of anything, has no causal power (ex nihilo nihil fit: “from nothing, nothing comes”). Stephen Hawking surprisingly argues that the origin of the universe is explainable by the law of gravity (4). A man of Hawking’s intellectual and scientific brilliance should know much better. Laws are descriptive. They describe nature and how the physical world functions. But that is as far as they go, they are powerless to bring anything into existence (5). This is not to mention that Hawking is already presupposing the existence of gravity because, according to his proposal, gravity brought the universe into existence. So, Hawking essentially hasn’t explained at all how the universe can come into existence from nothing. The most reasonable explanation, then, is that the universe owes its existence to an unembodied mind.
I believe that this answers your question, namely that you “want to know why an unembodied mind outside of space, time…” It is outside of space-time simply because space and time owes its existence to it. Now, I hold to a relational and A-theory view of time. As opposed to what the B-theorist might propose, I believe that time is a real thing, in other words, that there really is a past, present, and future. Our experience of the world, a world in which events in the present recede into the past, supports this. By holding to a relational theory I believe that time came into being in the first creative act, or first event, at the beginning of the universe. Therefore, I find this logically appealing, and best explained by the creative act of an unembodied mind.
1. Dawkins, R. 2006. The God Delusion. p. 157-8
2. Craig, W. Excursus on Natural Theology (Part 7). Available.
3. Dennett, D. 2006. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. p. 244.
4. Hawking, S. The Grand Design. p. 180.
5. Lennox, J. 2010. As a scientist I’m certain Stephen Hawking is wrong. You can’t explain the universe without God.