Saturday, November 03, 2007

What's so great about Dinesh D'Souza? Part III

After a hiatus, I went back to reading Dinesh D'Souza's book "What's So Great About Christianity?" starting with chapter 11. This is apparently the start of a long set of argumentation about how God's creation of the universe is supported by modern science. For example, D'S0uza writes (p. 116, author's italics):
In a stunning confirmation of the book of Genesis, modern scientists have discovered that the universe was created in a primordial explosion of energy and light. Not only did the universe have a beginning in space and time, but the origin of the universe was also a beginning for space and time. Space and time did not exist prior to the universe. If you accept that everything that has a beginning has a cause, then the material universe had a nonmaterial or spiritual cause. This spiritual cause brought the universe into existence using none of the laws of physics. The creation of the universe was, in the quite literal meaning of the term, a miracle. Its creator is known to be a spiritual, eternal being of creativity and power beyond all conceivable limits. Mind, not matter, came at the beginning. With the help of science and logic, all this can be rationally determined.
I think there's a serious problem here that D'Souza hasn't realized. First, let me introduce some more convenient terminology. Let's denote the sum total of everything in existence, in whatever manner, shape, or form by the capitalized term Universe. Let's denote the entity with the properties of space and time that we describe with general relativity and quantum physics by the uncapitalized term universe. Now, we can imagine three possible hypothetical Universes:
  1. There is the Universe where God exists independently of any notions of space and time.

  2. There is the Universe where God exists independently of space and time, but where God coexists with a universe that does have the properties of space and time

  3. The Universe consists solely of a universe with the properties of space and time. There is no God.

Out of this slate of choices, athiests are pretty happy to pick Universe 3, even if the current laws of science break down at sufficiently early times in the universe's history. D'Souza, on the other hand, wants to assert both Universes 1 and 2 by asserting that Universe 1 leads to Universe 2 through an act of creation by God. In other words, despite explicitly stating that Universe 1 has no temporal properties, D'Souza nevertheless asserts that there is, in fact, a temporal property of Universe 1 after all: time evolution from Universe 1 to Universe 2.

The problem for D'Souza is simple. To say that creation is possible presupposes the existence of time. To say that God can create time is therefore a contradiction.


Blogger james007 said...

Time has no meaning before creation and is only a property of the universe that we observe and inhabit. Whomever created the universe would therefore not be bound by time as defined in our universe. I don't see a contradiction in D'Souza passage.

4:46 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

Here's an analogy. Suppose you tell me that a certain spiritual guru is a strict, uncompromising vegetarian. I may or may not believe you, but I could accept that you might be correct. On the other hand, suppose you tell me that his same guru also likes eating hamburgers when he thinks nobody is looking. The chances that I would believe your claim about his vegetarianism would instantly drop dramatically.

D'Souza is insistent that God is eternal in the sense of being achronal. If D'Souza expects me to take that statement seriously, he's not allowed to use any chronal concepts to explain God.

My point is this: "creation", as is conventionally understood, implies the passage of time. So if you expect me to believe that an achronal God is able to create something -- time in particular -- you have to do one of two things:

1. Abandon the notion of an achronal God.
2. Explain how an act of creation can be performed in an entirely achronal way.

D'Souza does neither.

1:12 PM  

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