## An Argument for Eternalism

• 2.1k
Hi folks. It’s an argument in two parts. First I argue time has a start, then I argue eternalism (believe that past, present and future are all equally real) is true.

Time had a Start

If we assume time is infinite, then there are only two possible models of the origin of the universe:

X. ‘Can get something from nothing’, IE matter is created naturally. With infinite time, matter density would be infinite. So this is impossible.
Y. ‘Can’t get something from nothing’, IE matter has always existed. Meaning the matter had no temporal start. So this is impossible too*

So that exhausts the possibility space; time must have a start.

* A more detailed proof by contradiction:

1. Assume a particle does not have a (temporal) start point
2. If the particle does not have a start, then it cannot have a ‘next to start’ (because that would qualify as a start)
3. So particle does not have a next to start (by Modus Ponens on [1] and [2]).
4. And so on for next to, next to start, all the way to time start+∞ (IE now)
5. Implies particle does not have a (temporal) end
6. Implies particle never existed

(So it works exactly the same way for time as space: if an object has no identifiable spacial start point, it does not exist).

Eternalism is true

A. Assume only now exists (presentism)
B. So before the start of time there was nothing
C But creation ex nihilo / without time is impossible
D. So something 'other' than only now exists
E. The ‘other’ must be timeless (else we end up in a infinite regress of time1, time2, time3 etc...)
F. The ‘other’ must have created our time (at time=0)
G. So the ‘other’ ’sees’ time=0 and time=now simultaneously (its timeless)
H. Hence eternalism must hold
• 630
1. ‘Can get something from nothing’, IE matter is created naturally. With infinite time, matter density would be infinite. So this is impossible.
2. ‘Can’t get something from nothing’, IE matter has always existed. Meaning the matter had no temporal start. So this is impossible too*

Both of these arguments have been repeatedly rejected in other threads. Do you have any new justifications for them?

4. And so on for next to, next to start, all the way to time start+∞ (IE now)

Here your argument assumes a start of time in a scenario without a start of time.

Eternalism is true

A. Assume only now exists (presentism)
B. So before the start of time there was nothing
C But creation ex nihilo / without time is impossible
D. So something 'other' than only now exists
E. The ‘other’ must be timeless (else we end up in a infinite regress of time1, time2, time3 etc...)
F. The ‘other’ must have created our time (at time=0)
G. So the ‘other’ ’sees’ time=0 and time=now simultaneously (its timeless)
H. Hence eternalism must hold

B doesn't seem to follow from A. I also don't see the justification for F and G
• 2.1k
Here your argument assumes a start of time in a scenario without a start of time

No it assumes an 'end' of time: now. Thats all.

B doesn't seem to follow from A.

If there is only now and then you take away that there is nothing left at all. Nothing to create/cause time to start. So that is an impossible something from nothing (no time even).
• 12.4k
With infinite time, matter density would be infinite.

No it wouldn't. We could have a universe with infinite time and two elementary particles and that's it, for example.

Meaning the matter had no temporal start. So this is impossible too*

"Matter had no temporal start" isn't impossible.

If the particle does not have a start, then it cannot have a ‘next to start’

What does "next to start" refer to? It's difficult to evaluate this part of the argument when I don't know what it's referring to.

C But creation ex nihilo / without time is impossible

Just by fiat, or what?

F. The ‘other’ must have created our time (at time=0)

If time was created it had a start, but per your C, that wouldn't be possible.
• 2.1k
No it wouldn't. We could have a universe with infinite time and two elementary particles and that's it, for example

But how did they come into being? Or they existed for ever? See below:

What does "next to start" refer to? It's difficult to evaluate this part of the argument when I don't know what it's referring to.

The point in time following the start. It would qualify as the start if the start did not exist. So you can extend that argument through the entire life of the object to establish it never existed.

Just by fiat, or what?

Well creation with:
- No time
- No space
- No matter

Seems impossible?
• 630
4. And so on for next to, next to start, all the way to time start+∞ (IE now)

Emphasis mine. Your argument refers to a "start" that doesn't exist.

If there is only now and then you take away that there is nothing left at all. Nothing to create/cause time to start. So that is an impossible something from nothing (no time even).

But presentism doesn't assume the present started at some point. "Now" has no temporal extension, and hence neither a temporal start nor a temporal end.
• 12.4k
But how did they come into being? Or they existed for ever? See below:

It's just imagining a possible universe. There's no need to stipulate its origin (or lack of the same).

The point in time following the start. It would qualify as the start if the start did not exist.

If the start doesn't exist there can't be a point in time following the start.

Well creation with:
- No time
- No space
- No matter

Seems impossible?

It doesn't seem impossible to me, just counterintuitive.
• 2.1k
Emphasis mine. Your argument refers to a "start" that doesn't exist

The fact that the start does not exist means the rest of the object does not exist (so my argument goes). So time seems to behaves like space in this regard (IE if an object has no identifiable start point in space, it is not an object).

But presentism doesn't assume the present started at some point. "Now" has no temporal extension, and hence neither a temporal start nor a temporal end

Yes I was merely pointing out that 'a start of time' and 'only now exists' are incompatible.
• 2.1k
If the start doesn't exist there can't be a point in time following the start

Yes so the whole thing does not exist then. There has to be a temporal start point like an object has to have an identifiable spacial start point.
• 630
The fact that the start does not exist means the rest of the object does not exist (so my argument goes). So time seems to behaves like space in this regard (IE if an object has no identifiable start point in space, it is not an object).

If that is your argument, then you should present it without referring to a start (except to exclude it). It's easy to demonstrate that an object with infinite extension cannot be perceived. But an object with no start need not be infinite (as the surface of a sphere is not bounded but finite). And even if we did need an infinite time, that we cannot perceive such a time doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Yes I was merely pointing out that 'a start of time' and 'only now exists' are incompatible.

Then why does your argument concerning presentism even refer to a start of time?
• 2.1k
If that is your argument, then you should present it without referring to a start (except to exclude it). It's easy to demonstrate that an object with infinite extension cannot be perceived. But an object with no start need not be infinite (as the surface of a sphere is not bounded but finite). And eve

Nor can it exist IMO. Infinity is not logical. Nature is logical. Therefore infinity does not feature in nature.

It is not a quantity so it cannot be the value of real world quantities like the size or the age of the universe.

Interesting point about a sphere. Time could circle around. Big Crunch causes big bang in an eternal but finite circle. That would technically have arbitrarily many start/end points; the choice is arbitrary on a circle (often 0˚).

Then why does your argument concerning presentism even refer to a start of time?

If you read the start of the OP, there is an argument against infinite time given first. So I was presenting the argument as a 'what if you buy there is a start of time' argument.
• 4
B. So before the start of time there was nothing

Someone has surely pointed this out to you, but you might have said, "Nothing precedes time's start," as your current implies a misunderstanding of time. That is, that time is always occurring at the same speed, or at the very least progressing at some speed. This would be a fallacy. The problem though is that your argument hinges on this (without any accusations of intentionality) "straw man" of presentism, that does assume time always progresses without beginning or end. Rather the real epitome of presentism lies in the substantial belief that time is an illusion of place, and when there is no place, there is no progress. By this logic, time needn't have begun and it need not end.

• 2.1k
That is, that time is always occurring at the same speed, or at the very least progressing at some speed. This would be a fallacy. The problem though is that your argument hinges on this

If time is not progressing at some speed, that would seem to lead directly to eternalism?

By this logic, time needn't have begun and it need not end.

How would you then counter my argument in the OP that time has a start?

How would you explain the low entropy state of the universe?
• 58
* A more detailed proof by contradiction:

1. Assume a particle does not have a (temporal) start point
2. If the particle does not have a start, then it cannot have a ‘next to start’ (because that would qualify as a start)
3. So particle does not have a next to start (by Modus Ponens on [1] and [2]).
4. And so on for next to, next to start, all the way to time start+∞ (IE now)
5. Implies particle does not have a (temporal) end
6. Implies particle never existed

"time start+∞" in your point number 4 contradicts point number 1. You're identifying a start point when you've already said none existed. The proof itself assumes that the truth about reality itself has to conform with what makes sense in our organic brains. Maybe something came from nothing because that's just how it is even if it qualifies as a logical contradiction. It could be one of those "too bad, it is what it is" things.
• 2.1k
"time start+∞" in your point number 4 contradicts point number 1. You're identifying a start point when you've already said none existed

Step 4 is just steps 2 and 3 repeated an infinite number of times. If you object to step 4, you should object to something in steps 2 and 3. I don't see a problem, I'm using the absence of a start point rather than the presence of a start point in my argument.

If something cam from nothing, the that falls under case [X] in the proof.
• 896
Hi folks. It’s an argument in two parts. First I argue time has a start, then I argue eternalism (believe that past, present and future are all equally real) is true.

Time had a Start

If we assume time is infinite, then there are only two possible models of the origin of the universe:

X. ‘Can get something from nothing’, IE matter is created naturally. With infinite time, matter density would be infinite. So this is impossible.
Y. ‘Can’t get something from nothing’, IE matter has always existed. Meaning the matter had no temporal start. So this is impossible too*

So that exhausts the possibility space; time must have a start.

* A more detailed proof by contradiction:

1. Assume a particle does not have a (temporal) start point
2. If the particle does not have a start, then it cannot have a ‘next to start’ (because that would qualify as a start)
3. So particle does not have a next to start (by Modus Ponens on [1] and [2]).
4. And so on for next to, next to start, all the way to time start+∞ (IE now)
5. Implies particle does not have a (temporal) end
6. Implies particle never existed

(So it works exactly the same way for time as space: if an object has no identifiable spacial start point, it does not exist).

Eternalism is true

A. Assume only now exists (presentism)
B. So before the start of time there was nothing
C But creation ex nihilo / without time is impossible
D. So something 'other' than only now exists
E. The ‘other’ must be timeless (else we end up in a infinite regress of time1, time2, time3 etc...)
F. The ‘other’ must have created our time (at time=0)
G. So the ‘other’ ’sees’ time=0 and time=now simultaneously (its timeless)
H. Hence eternalism must hold

Hi, back at you, Devans,

Having a bit of difficulty understanding the certainty of your assertions in your arguments, but I want to leave that for a bit and ask you:

What is the point of all this?

If you are correct that "Eternalism is true"...what, in your estimation, are the inferences of that on the "human predicament?"

How, in your estimation, does it impact on the nature of REALITY?
• 58

In a universe with eternal time before now there would be no such thing as a moment an infinite amount of time before now because it's not possible to traverse an infinite amount of time. There would be a moment a million years ago, a billion years ago, or any other number of years ago. But not a moment "infinity" years ago. While at the same time having an infinite amount of time before now.

It sounds like you're projecting backward to a starting moment from "now" and then saying you cannot reach "now" from the starting moment because it never would have reached "now" from the starting moment. But premise 1, defines that no starting moment exists. It's a red herring because moments that exist an infinite amount of time ago do not exist anyway even if the univerrse were eternal in the way I framed it in the previous paragraph.
• 2.1k
There would be a moment a million years ago, a billion years ago, or any other number of years ago. But not a moment "infinity" years ago. While at the same time having an infinite amount of time before now

Yes, you have to come to the conclusion the age of some moments is greater than any number which is a contradiction. You cannot have past eternity without actual infinity.

It sounds like you're projecting backward to a starting moment from "now" and then saying you cannot reach "now" from the starting moment because it never would have reached "now" from the starting moment.

What I am doing is starting from the non-existent start point and adding infinity moments to it to get to a non-existent end point in the present.
• 58
Yes, you have to come to the conclusion the age of some moments is greater than any number which is a contradiction. You cannot have past eternity without actual infinity.

You can have no upper limit to the amount of time before now while at the same time having any number of age of any moment in history. So a million years ago exists, 10^434343 years ago exists, but "infinity" years ago does not exist because it's a malformed value. But any finite number of years ago exists.

What I am doing is starting from the non-existent start point and adding infinity moments to it to get to a non-existent end point in the present.

If the starting point is non-existent in your scenario then it serves no purpose to use it within that hypothetical reality to arrive at a contradiction.
• 896
You can have no upper limit to the amount of time before now while at the same time having any number of age of any moment in history. So a million years ago exists, 10^434343 years ago exists, but "infinity" years ago does not exist because it's a malformed value. But any finite number of years ago exists.

Can you get into this with a bit more detail.

It seems to me that if "any finite number of years ago exists"...that is infinity...because for any finite number of years ago...there is always a year earlier. It can never end.
• 58

Infinity is a description of a set of numbers. Any finite number is a number. If you count from 1, you'll never get to large because "large" is not a number. Using "infinity" as a number like that to disprove some claim doesn't work for that reason.
• 896
Infinity is a description of a set of numbers. Any finite number is a number. If you count from 1, you'll never get to large because "large" is not a number. Using "infinity" as a number like that to disprove some claim doesn't work for that reason.

Wow!

That was an excellent explanation, Coolguy.

So, using it the way Devans is using it (as a number) can make for an illogical conclusion. (Using it in many supposed logical inspections does go astray...as in the algebraic "proof" that 1.9999..to "infinity" = 2.)

BUT (and this is a question)...do you suppose infinity exists notwithstanding current ability to describe it (numerically or otherwise)?
• 2.1k
You can have no upper limit to the amount of time before now while at the same time having any number of age of any moment in history. So a million years ago exists, 10^434343 years ago exists, but "infinity" years ago does not exist because it's a malformed value. But any finite number of years ago exists

You are trying to make an actual infinity (past eternity) into a potential infinity. That's not possible, past eternity actually happened; implying whatever number we choose will be smaller than the number of moments elapsed; but there is no number with the quality it is bigger than all the others (there is no largest number X because X+1>X). Hence the nonsensical conclusion that the number of moments elapsed is not a number.

If the starting point is non-existent in your scenario then it serves no purpose to use it within that hypothetical reality to arrive at a contradiction

But that is the defining characteristic of objects that have 'always existed' - they have no start, so I am perfectly entitled to use that fact in a proof.
• 58
You are trying to make an actual infinity (past eternity) into a potential infinity. That's not possible, past eternity actually happened; implying whatever number we choose will be smaller than the number of moments elapsed; but there is no number with the quality it is bigger than all the others (there is no largest number X because X+1>X). Hence the nonsensical conclusion that the number of moments elapsed is not a number.

I get what you're saying but it's special pleading that it's not possible to traverse an infinite amount of time. When you try to prove eternal time is a contradiction by first assuming an infinite amount of time exists before now, we can prove that traversing any amount of time is possible with a proof by induction.

1) an infinite amount of time can exist before now
2) it is possible to traverse 1 second of time
3) if it's possible to traverse x seconds of time then it's possible to traverse x+1 seconds of time
4) therefore it's possible to traverse any number of seconds of time

That means that you can name me any number and it's possible for that second to exist. That is why the number of seconds before now that can possibly exist is "greater than any number". Since you cannot show me a single moment of time that cannot exist in an eternal universe there is no contradiction here. Because we're granting an infinite amount of time before now in 1), that allows for all moments before now to be traversed.

Another way to approach this problem is use another system of math like hyper reals. Maybe using real numbers to explain the universe is invalid and something else like hyperreals would work better. The archimedean property of real numbers says infinity and infintecimal numbers cannot exist but other number systems allow for their existence.
• 2.1k

But there is an actual physical property of the system, the age of the universe, which takes a numeric value. It must have some value. That value has to be greater than any number. Contradiction.

I think that reality is logical so it would not include illogical concepts like infinity.
• 58
But there is an actual physical property of the system, the age of the universe, which takes a numeric value. It must have some value. That value has to be greater than any number. Contradiction.

I think that reality is logical so it would not include illogical concepts like infinity.

But when you try to form a logical argument of an eternal universe you're assuming the age of the universe is an infinite value or without a value right away. Finite values and infinite values are opposite concepts. It does not need to have some finite value within a logical argument where it is assumed the value is infinite. An infinite regress is not something that is logically justified but not seeing a contradiction either. It would be one of those "is because it is" facts of life if it turned out to be true.
• 2.1k
An infinite regress is not something that is logically justified but not seeing a contradiction either

Look at it this way, say our eternal universe has a clock (its just a thought experiment). What time would it read?
• 58
Look at it this way, say our eternal universe has a clock (its just a thought experiment). What time would it read?

In a universe without a beginning, that scenario shouldn't be possible. A clock that begins from the beginning of that universe could not exist if a starting point of that universe does not exist.
• 2.1k
Look at it this way, say our eternal universe has a clock (its just a thought experiment). What time would it read?

“Eternal” means “outside of time” where an eternal being would experience all of our time (past, present, and future) as an eternal present time to her. That’s how Boethius explained it anyway.
• 2.1k
In a universe without a beginning, that scenario shouldn't be possible. A clock that begins from the beginning of that universe could not exist if a starting point of that universe does not exist.

Fair point, but I can then argue that the universe itself could not exist either. If matter cannot exist forever (IE a clock) then nothing can.
• 58

matter can exist forever. It's just that you're trying to extract an age from something that would be of infinite age. Infinity is not a number.
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