Since the William Lane Craig article was published, I have got into some fun arguments about the concept of time. If time and space were created by God, as creationists believe, there is a difficulty facing their position. The difficulty with it led me to abandon it when I became an atheist. My goal is not to silence creationists or disrespect them but they simply must admit the problem of time in respects to God. It isn’t trivial.
If there was a time God created the universe, then that means the universe had a beginning. The universe is then, not eternal. But there was a “time” when God existed and the universe did not. The universe has a beginning, remember. God does not have a beginning. The problem should be obvious.
God existed “before” the universe began. He initiated it, ergo, God acted as a cause which brought about the universe as an effect. The idea that a cause precedes an effect calls us to remember that if God acted with intent to bring about a future result–he had a concept of the future and participated in a preparatory action. The action of thinking the universe into being occurred prior to its fulfillment. Or was it simultaneous? These questions would be meaningless to us without a concept of time. But suppose we confirm God did create the universe as an effect to his cause. In this scenario, God is behaving in a chronological and sequential way. There was no universe…then there is. Time could not have begun in the most literal sense, with the creation of the universe. I don’t think atheism’s many attempts to explain this are more convincing than the creationists but once again, we see a thrilling challenge to our intellect and work hard to uncover some pieces of the puzzle. We attempt to arrive at a philosophically satisfying explanation that is scientifically feasible. Phrases like, “and then God created the universe” are meaningless without our sense of time. If time goes back infinitely, we would never arrive at a single moment in time because the starting point from which proceeded towards the present is moving backwards in time rapidly as is the infinite past. Infinite regresses are impossible. The Creationists like William Lane Craig AND the atheists like Richard Dawkins admitthat the universe must have had a beginning because we have arrived at a moment…but wouln’t it follow that God could not have an eternal past? How could he have arrived at the incident/moment/process of creating the universe? To posit God as a being with a personality, will and desires yet outside the constraints of time and space beg the question of how such a being can create things IN time and IN space…the limited domain of time and space would be extraordinary because God Himself would have made a domain in which things happen after other things…but wait–but when he did it he must have realized how familiar it felt. Thus, time is a pain in the ass for the Creationist and a non-threatening mystery of life for the agnostic or atheist naturalist.