Craig and His Concept of Eternity: A Critique from the Standpoint of the Kālām

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Publisher: Athens Institute for Education and Research
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ISBN: 978-960-6672-48-4

Craig and His Concept of Eternity: A Critique from the Standpoint of the Kālām

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Engin Erdem
Publisher: Athens Institute for Education and Research
Category: ISBN: 978-960-6672-48-4
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Craig and His Concept of Eternity: A Critique from the Standpoint of the Kālām

Craig and His Concept of Eternity: A Critique from the Standpoint of the Kālām

Publisher: Athens Institute for Education and Research
ISBN: 978-960-6672-48-4

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

It is mentionable that this book is thirteenth chapter of the


Editor: Patricia Hanna".

So, we did not change the chapters, introduction, Editorial Board's names and Board of Reviewers' names and others. We can say that this book is the one part of the encyclopedia.

Craig and His Concept of Eternity:

A Critique from the Standpoint of the Kālām

Author: Engin Erdem




Patricia Hanna

University of Utah


Editorial Board

Gerald Doppelt

University of California, SanDiego


Yeorgio Maniatis

University of Cyprus


Carol Nicholson

Rider University


Donald Poochigian

University of North Dakota


T. Ann Scholl

United Arab Emirates University


Board of Reviewers

Isham Ahmad, International Islamic University, Malaysia

George Bruseker, University of Athens, Greece

Chrysoula Gitsoulis, CUNY, USA

Jonas S. Green, Brikbeck College, UK

Keith Green, East Tennessee State University, USA

Jan-Christoph Heilinger, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany

Effie Papoutsis Kritikos, Northeastern Illinois University, USA

Ian O'Laughlin, University of Idaho, USA

Seung-Kee Lee, Drew University, USA

Joel Martinez, Lewis & Clark College, USA

Mark A. Michael, Austin Peay State University, USA

Chris Onof, Birkbeck College, UK

Elizabeth Schiltz, College of Wooster, USA

Ioannis Trisokkas, University of Warwick, UK

First Published in Athens, Greece by the Athens Institute for Education and Research.

ISBN: 978-960-6672-48-4

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, retrieved system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the  written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover.

Printed and bound in Athens, Greece by ATINER SA.

8 Valaoritou Street

Kolonaki, 10671 Athens, Greece

©Copyright 2009 by the Athens Institute for Education and Research.  The individual essays remain the intellectual properties of the contributors.


Table of Contents

Introduction. 13

Craig and His Concept of Eternity: A Critique from the Standpoint of the Kālām   15

Bibliography. 21


List of Contributors

Khosrow Bagheri Noaparast is Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Tehran and currently the president of Philosophy of Education Society of Iran (PESI). He is the author of Islamic Education (Tehran, Alhoda, 2001) and a chapter inAdvances in Personal Construct Psychology (Neimeyer, R.A. ed., London: JAI Press Inc, 1995). He has also published many articles on philosophy of psychology and philosophy of education.

Claudia Bianchi is Associate Professor at the Philosophy Faculty of the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan; she teaches Philosophy of Language. She has written many articles and reviews in Italian, French and English: her latest authored work isPragmatica del linguaggio (Laterza, Roma-Bari 2003, 6th edition 2008), and the most recent edited books areThe Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction (Stanford, CSLI, 2004) andFilosofia della comunicazione (Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2005, with Nicla Vassallo). She works in the field of Analytic Philosophy. Her main research interest lies in the field of Philosophy of Language and Pragmatics. Other research interests include Epistemology and Philosophy of Science.

Charles Bolyard is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA. He works on medieval epistemology and metaphysics generally, and he has published on the treatments Augustine, Siger of Brabant, Peter Auriol, and John Duns Scotus give of aspects of these issues.  His papers have appeared in such journals asVivarium and theJournal of the History of Philosophy .

Massimiliano Carrara is assistant professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Padova, Italy. He graduated and received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Padova. His main research interests are in philosophical logic and metaphysics, in particular on the notions of identity and existence.

Julio César Diaz is an Assistant Professor at Chinese Culture University, Taiwan. His most recent work,Being in the Pampas , discusses the reception of Parmenides’s notion of being in Argentine Literature. His article on luck andpoesis in ancient Greek thoughts was published inInternational Studies in Philosophy in 2006. He is now working on Foucault’s epistemology.

Gerald Doppelt is a Professor of Philosophy and Science Studies at University of California, San Diego and also holds the title of UCSD Academic Senate Distinguished Teacher. His research focuses on issues in philosophy of science such as Kuhn, Scientific Rationality, Values in Science, Scientific Progress, and Scientific Realism. His research in Political Philosophy focuses on Rawls, Political Liberalism, Multiculturalism, Feminism, Theories of Social Justice, the Philosophy of Technology, and Critical Theory of Race. Professor Doppelt teaches large required courses on public issues and the ethics of science, technology, and society.

Engin Erdem is Researcher at Divinity School in Ankara University, Turkey. He received his MA and PhD in Philosophy of Religion from the Faculty of Divinity from Ankara University. His philosophical interests lie chiefly in the Nature of Divine Eternity, Philosophy of Time, Medieval Islamic Philosophy, and Kantian ethics especially his later philosophy.

Davide Fassio is PhD student at the University of Padova, Italy. He graduated in Philosophy at the University of Turin with a thesis on the Knowability Paradox. The topic of his PhD thesis will be the analysis of logical problems for epistemic notions of truth. His main research interests are in epistemology and epistemic logic.

Chrysoula Gitsoulis is an Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy at City College of the City University of New York. She received a B.A. in Philosophy, B.S. in Mathematics, and Minor in Classics from Rutgers College, New Jersey, in 1991. She earned her doctorate in philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in Oct. 2008. Her thesis was on Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Language, supervised by Paul Horwich, Professor of Philosophy at New York University. Her research interests focus on the History of Philosophy (especially Plato, Aristotle, and Wittgenstein), and Contemporary Moral and Social Issues.

Patricia Hanna is Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Linguistics at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA. She has published on philosophy of language, ethics, children's rights, philosophy of mind, belief and reference, ontology, and Wittgenstein. She is the co-author, with Bernard Harrison, ofWord and World: Practice and the Foundations of Language. Her current work focuses on issues in theory of meaning, philosophy of mind, justification, and Chomskyan theoretical linguistics; with Harrison, she is developing a realistic ontology of interpretation which finds it roots in the late writings of Wittgenstein.

Nicole Hassoun is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University. She is affiliated with Carnegie Mellon's Program on International Relations and the Center for Bioethics and Health Law at the University of Pittsburgh. Nicole writes primarily in political philosophy and ethics and focuses, in particular, on global economic and environmental justice. She is also interested in methodological issues in philosophy and the other social sciences.

Hsuan Huang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, Chinese Culture University, Taiwan. Her research interests include the political philosophy around the time of the Enlightenment, and the idea of happiness and the possibility of its realization in civil society. Her most recent publication, “No Safe Place: A Reflection on Humanity” (inHumanity at the Turning Point: Rethinking Nature, Culture and Freedom), discusses Kant’s political ideas. In 2008, she presented a paper, “Kant’s Concept of Radical Evil,” at the 9th Global Conference: Perspectives on Evil and Human Wickedness.

Hammad A. Hussain is a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK, U.S.A. He specializes in Ancient Greek philosophy and Aristotle in particular. He is currently working on his dissertation on Aristotle’s theory of induction. He has presented his paper “’More Familiar to Us’ vs. ‘More FamiliarSimpliciter ’” at the 41st meeting of the North Texas Philosophical Association at the University of North Texas in April 2008; at the 3rd International Conference on Philosophy, sponsored by ATINER, in Athens, Greece in June 2008; and at the “Aristotle, Ethics and Science” Conference in Philadelphia, PA, in October 2008.

Christos Kyriacou is a Ph.D student at the Philosophy Department of the University of Edinburgh, where he is currently writing a thesis entitled 'The Epistemic Justification Puzzle' under the supervision of Prof. M.Ridge and Dr M.Chrisman. His research interests focus on the semantics of normative sentences (moral and epistemic) and the relevant ramifications in metaphysics, epistemology, mind and action theory. He is also interested in Plato scholarship and in the ways that can be compared and/or contribute in contemporary debates on normativity.

Victoria O. Levinskaya obtained her PhD degree in Social and Political Philosophy at the National University of Uzbekistan, where she taught different courses in Philosophy for more then 10 years. Currently she is working at the Westminster International University in Tashkent. She has participated in many International programs including Visiting Fulbright Scholarship program and Fulbright Visiting Specialist program “Direct access to the Muslim world”. Organized a number of International Summer schools for young faculty members of NIS in Uzbekistan, including the “Islam and Civil Society” summer school. She has also taken part in international conferences, and given a number of guest lectures to ten US and European universities; in addition, she has published on different topics of Social, Political and Environmental Philosophy.

Roderick T. Long is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Auburn University, Alabama (U.S.A.); author ofReason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand (2000) andWittgenstein, Austrian Economics, and the Logic of Action (forthcoming from Routledge); and President of the Molinari Institute. He works chiefly in ancient philosophy, moral and political philosophy, and philosophy of social science, and maintains a blog at

Mark McEvoy is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Hofstra University in New York. His primary research interests are in philosophy of mathematics and epistemology. His work has been published in several journals, includingPhilosophia Mathematica, Dialectica, Metaphilosophy, andPhilosophical Forum.

Alan McLuckie is a PhD student in philosophy at Stanford University. He received his B.A. Honours (2005) and M.A. (2007), both in philosophy, from the University of Alberta. His interests are in the history of philosophy more generally, and the intersection between classical philosophy and 18th and 19th century German philosophy in particular.

Carol Nicholson is Professor of Philosophy at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, USA. She has written on political philosophy, philosophy of education, and feminism and is currently working on an article, "Education and the Pragmatic Temperament," for theCambridge Companion to Pragmatism.

Joachim L. Oberst has a joint-appointment in the Religious Studies Program and the Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures at the University of New Mexico. He studied at the University of Marburg (Germany), Goshen College (Indiana, USA), and the University of Heidelberg (Germany) before completing his doctorate in Philosophy at McGill University (Montreal, Canada). His teaching and research interests span 19th & 20th Century Continental Philosophy, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Ethics, and 20th Century

Theology. He is presently finishing up a book on Martin Heidegger,The Bounds of Being: Heidegger on Language and Death—The Existential Connection under contract with Continuum.

Anne Peterson is a Graduate Presidential Fellow pursuing a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, USA. She received her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 2007. Her areas of specialization are Metaphysics, with a particular interest in the problem of universals and modality, and Ancient Philosophy, with a particular interest in Aristotle. She is currently working on the issue of prime matter in Aristotle, both as a problem of Aristotelian scholarship and as it relates to contemporary metaphysics.

Ursula Niklas Peterson is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, IN, USA. She received her Ph. D. from the University of Warsaw, Poland. She teaches a variety of courses in the history of philosophy (including seminars on Machiavelli and Heidegger), and a course on philosophy and literature. Her research focuses on philosophy and literature, especially tragedy and utopia; hermeneutics; Heidegger: published articles in philosophical journals, such asHistory of Philosophy Quarterly andClio ; she is working on a book-length research project on philosophical interpretations of tragedy. 

Dimitris Platchias is a Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy, University of Essex and an honorary research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience, University of Glasgow. His research centres on issues in the philosophy of mind, psychology and perception and he has published widely in these areas, including recent articles inPhilosophia andTeorema . He is currently editing a book on Representationalism (with Fiona Macpherson, MIT Press).

Howard Ponzer is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Molloy College, Rockville Centre, NY, USA. His work has focused primarily on Hegel’s dialectic and its relation to analytic logic, but he has also worked extensively on Plato, Aristotle, and Kant.  He has presented papers in the United States and Germany, where he taught for two years in Bremen and Dresden. His most recent publication is entitled, “Reconciliation in Hegel’s Idealism.” He is presently working on an article that explores whether philosophy has a voice in the discussion of gender equality.

Donald V. Poochigian is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA.  His current research interests focus on, but are not limited to, identity theory and set theory.  Illustrating his somewhat eclectic concerns, forthcoming publications include articles entitled “Human Nature and Human Rights” and “An Epistemological Critique of Computer Learning.”  Forthcoming presentations include articles entitled “Mathematical Identity: The Algebraic Unknown Number and Casuistry” and “An Economic Paradox: Entropy and Growth.”

Elias E. Savellos is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York, Geneseo, NY, USA. He is the coauthor ofReasoning and the Law (Wadsworth, 2001), coeditor ofSupervenience: New Essays (Cambridge University Press, 1995), and author of various articles on philosophical logic

and analytic metaphysics. His current philosophical interests lie in ethics and the philosophy of language.

Makoto Suzuki is a Research Fellow at Nanzan University Institute for Social Ethics, Nagoya, Japan. He received his BA and MA in Letters from Kyoto University, and his PhD in Philosophy from The Ohio State University. His research interests include moral philosophy, moral psychology and history of modern philosophy.

Ioannis Trisokkas is currently an Early Career Fellow in the Warwick Institute of Advanced Studies, Warwick, UK. His research focuses on continental epistemology, philosophy of language and metaphysics. He has published extensively on Hegel and the problem of the expression of truth. He is currently an Early Career Fellow in the Warwick Institute of Advanced Studies.

Bart Vandenabeele is Professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art at Ghent University (Belgium). He is the author and editor of several books in aesthetics, philosophy of art and philosophy of communication. He has published on philosophical aesthetics, the history of philosophy (especially Kant and Schopenhauer) and the philosophy of culture in English, German, Portuguese and Dutch. He has been a Visiting Professor at Missouri Western University and Stellenbosch University (South Africa), and is the editor ofA Companion to Schopenhauer (forthcoming with Blackwell’s).

Stijn Van Impe has studied philosophy at Ghent University (Belgium) where he obtained his master degree (summa cum laude) in 2007. He is currently employed as Fellow of the Scientific Research Foundation Flanders at Ghent University and is preparing a PhD on Kant’s realm of ends. He is member of the Centre for German Idealism, the Kant-Gesellschaft Bonn, the Société d’Etudes Kantiennes de la Langue Française, and the Dutch Association of Aesthetics. He has presented papers on several international conferences both in Europe and the United States and for associations such as the United Kingdom Kant Association and the European Communication Research and Education Association.     

Nicla Vassallo is Full Professor of Theoretical Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Genova and is part of the teaching staff of the Doctorate in Philosophy. Her primary research and teaching areas are Philosophy of Knowledge and Epistemology. She also has serious research interests in Feminist Philosophy, Metaphysics, Philosophical Naturalism and Scepticism. Her latest sole-authored work isTeoria della conoscenza (Roma-Bari 2003) and her latest co-authored work isFilosofia delle donne (Roma-Bari 2007). Her most recent edited book isFilosofia delle conoscenze (Torino 2006), and her most recent co-edited book isKnowledge, Language, and Interpretation: On the Philosophy of Donald Davidson (Frankfurt, 2008). She regularly writes for the Sunday Cultural Supplement of the newspaper Sole-24 Ore.

Andrew Ward is currently teaching Philosophy at the University of York, UK. He has also taught at the Open University, UK and at the University of Florida at Gainseville, FL, USA. He writes mainly in the areas of Personal Identity, Aesthetics, and the Philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Publications include:Kant: The Three Critiques (Polity Press: Cambridge, 2006) and

numerous articles in philosophical journals, includingMind ,American Philosophical Quarterly ,Philosophy and Phenomenological Research , andHistory of Philosophy Quarterly .

C H A P T E R   O N E


Patricia Hanna

The International Conference on Philosophy sponsored by the Athens Institute for Research and Education (ATINER) has now been held for three years. Each year, we have worked to make it better, and this volume, the third that has been produced in connection with the conferences, shows the results of these efforts. 

We now have a five member Editorial Board which works closely with the Editor in putting together the final volume. More importantly, however, we have now established a pool of reviewers which allows us to send each paper to at least two reviewers for their recommendations on the suitability of the papers for publication. It is our aim to treat the papers in a manner which parallels the review standards for professional journals in philosophy; while blind reviewing is not entirely possible, we take this as our model. Starting with Volume II (2007 Conference), we have asked reviewers to base their recommendations on the same standards they would use for reviewing papers for professional journals; for the past two years, approximately 35% of the papers presented at the conference have been accepted for inclusion in these proceedings. 

One of the strongest motivations for raising the level of expectation is that this conference is one of a vanishing breed: a small international philosophy conference which is open to all areas of philosophy. It provides an almost unique opportunity for philosophers from all over the world to get together and share ideas with the aim of expanding our understanding of our discipline, and to do so in a venue which allows all of the participants to get to know one another. It is the hope of the Editor and the Editorial Board that the conference will flourish in future years, and that it will draw the best philosophers from every country, regardless of their area or the specific approach or methodology they follow.

The world faces new challenges in terms of shrinking oil supplies, climate change and an uncertain political and economic future. Now, more than ever, bringing philosophers from around the world together to address the most fundamental questions confronting us as a species is needed. At the 2008 conference, held from 2—5 June 2008, 71 philosophers from over 20countries (including, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, The Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, United Kingdom and the USA) met and talked with one another about the human condition in the shadow of the Parthenon.

We have chosen to organize the volume along traditional lines. This should not, however, mislead a reader into supposing that the topics or approaches to problems fall neatly into traditional categories. The selection of papers chosen

for inclusion here gives some sense of the variety of topics addressed at the conference. However, it would be impossible in an edited volume to ensure coverage of the full breadth and variety of subject matter or the issues brought to the conference itself by the participants, some of whom could not travel to one another's home countries without enormous difficulty.

Chapter Thirteen:

Craig and His Concept of Eternity: A Critique from the Standpoint of the Kālām

Engin Erdem

The issue of divine eternity which was dominant in medieval philosophy and theology also has a very important place in the debates of modern philosophy of religion. Looking at the views of the medieval philosophers and theologians such as Ibn Sina (d. 1037), St Anselm (d. 1109), and St Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), we see that they interpret divine eternity as timelessness, being outside of time. According to these philosophers there is a sharp distinction between God’s mode of being and that of the creatures. A created being has its life in a succession; past, present and future are real parts of its life. However, because of the fact that God is a perfect, simple, necessary and an immutable being, there is no change and succession in His life. So Boethius (d. 524) defines eternity, as having an illimitable life all at once. (1981, 430)  Here the term ‘all at once’ means not a moment of time but the absence of temporal succession. (Helm, 2007)  Also, Anselm depicts God’s relation to time as follows:

Thou wast not, then, yesterday, nor wilt thou be to-morrow; but yesterday and to-day and to-morrow thou art; or, rather, neither yesterday nor to-day nor to-morrow thou art; but simply, thou art, outside all time. For yesterday and to-day and to-morrow have no existence, except in time; but thou, although nothing exist without thee, nevertheless dost not exist in space or time, but all things exist in thee. For nothing contains thee, but thou containest all. (1962, 71)

For the medieval philosophers, whatever is in time is bounded by it; it cannot stop the process of change and of time; so, it is subject to time not its master. (Helm, 2007) Therefore, God must be timeless.

As for the modern philosophers of religion, their approach is radically different from the medieval philosophers. These philosophers oppose the classical view of eternity, saying that a timeless being cannot be God of religion, especially ‘the Christian God’. (Davies, 1983, 11) According to many of them, God, in scripture, is described as a loving, suffering, redeeming being, in brief, an acting being. But if God is unchangeable and immutable he cannot do such activities; thus, a being that is not changeable cannot be an agent. Hence, it is necessary to ascribe change and temporal properties to God and God must be temporal. What does God’s being temporal mean? Almost all of modern philosophers of religion answer this question in different ways. For example, Swinburne, one of the leading defender of divine temporality, holds that eternity means to have an everlasting life in time. He says that God exists throughout all periods of time; God exists now, he has existed at each period of past time and he will exist at each period of future time. (1994, 137)  God exists in time but there is no beginning or end for Him; so ‘a being who is both backwardly and forwardly eternal we may term an eternal being.’ (1993, 218) Similarly, Wolterstorff maintains that God exits in time and he does have a history like the creature. (2001, 211) Although modern philosophers of religion have

relatively different views on the nature of divine temporality, they all share the same opinion: God cannot be a timeless being.

As it is seen, there are mainly two views about the nature of divine eternity: divine timelessness and divine temporality. But we see that there is also a third way which is held by William Lane Craig. Craig has a distinguished place among modern religious philosophers. According to him, God is neither timeless nor temporal; God’s life has two stages: the first is timeless and the second is temporal. It seems that, as we shall see below, the turning point in his view of eternity is creation. For he claims that God is timeless without creation and than becomes temporal with creation. (2000, 152; 2001, 236) Why is God timeless; more importantly why did he become temporal when he created the universe? In what follows I shall deal with these questions in turn.

Let me begin with the first question. I think the answer of this question is closely connected with Craig’s concept of creationex nihilo ; because, according to him a robust/strong doctrine of creation implies that God is the Creator of everything except Himself and the universe was created a finite time ago in the past. (2004, 161) To prove such an idea of beginning for the universe he utilizes many scientific and metaphysical arguments. Especially the cosmological argument plays a key role in his thought. According to him, some Muslim thinkers such as al-Kindi and al-Ghazali introduced a different version of the cosmological argument, which he calls ‘The Kalām Cosmological Argument’ (2000). According to this argument, God is not only ontologically prior to the universe but also He temporally precedes it. The argument can be formulated as follows:

1- Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

2- The universe began to exist.

3- Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence. (2000, 48-49) 

For Craig, the crucial premise in this argument is the second one. He asserts that the impossibility of actual infinity, The Big Bang Theory, Thermodynamics and other many scientific evidences show that the universe has a beginning. (2004, 219-248) Introducing those arguments in detail he tackles the question whether the beginning of the universe also entails the beginning of time. According to him, on the relational theory of time the universe was created not in time but with time. (1979) The view that there was an empty time before the beginning of the universe gives rise to an old metaphysical question: ‘Why did not God create the world sooner?’ (2001, 21) Craig argues that this question is unanswerable in the absolute theory of time. (2001, 31) So there is no time ‘before’ the beginning of the universe; the first event, that is, the creation of the universe also indicates to the first moment of time. (2001, 31; 1979) ‘When the first event occurred, the first moment of time began.’ (1979) Craig concludes that time did start with the beginning of the universe and without creation there was no time but God only; therefore, in the first stage, that is without creation God is timeless.(2001, 31 )

Now, we are coming to the second question, ‘Why God becomes temporal with creation?’ According to Craig, as I said above, God is timeless without creation and if God did not will to create the world he

would exist timelessly. (2000, 152) In other words, God could have never stood in temporal relations with a temporal world had he not willed to create the world. But Craig says that God has willed from eternity to create and to become temporal at that moment. (2000, 152) Because of the fact that with creation God enters into a new real relation which he did no have before He changes and becomes temporal. (2000, 152) Craig summarizes his view as follows:

4- God is creatively active in the temporal world.

5- If God is creatively active in the temporal world, God is really related to the temporal world.

6- If God is really related to the temporal world, God is temporal.

7- Therefore, God is temporal. (2001, 141)

Thus, for Craig, ‘the first event is the event of creation, the moment at which the temporal phase of God’s life begins.’ (2001, 31) I think what has been said so far outlines sufficiently Craig’s main thesis of eternity. Now, in light of the discussions between the classical and modern philosophers on the nature of divine eternity, we can say that Craig holds a hybrid view of eternity, partly timeless and partly temporal. It is a well known fact that, taken separately, each of the classical and modern interpretations of eternity brings about different kinds of problems, either philosophical or theological. But it seems that a mixed type of eternity held by Craig gives rise to further difficulties.

Firstly, I think the main problem arising from a hybrid view of eternity is the question that how the relationship between the timeless and temporal parts of divine eternity can be explained. As Leftow said, the expression that ‘God becomes temporal’ (1997, 259) means that God is timeless first and later becomes temporal. So God’s timeless phase comes earlier than His temporal phase, but the term ‘earlier’ or ‘before’ shows that there was a time before God’s becoming temporal and He did exist in that time. (1997, 259) And this means that God had been already temporal before having become temporal. Another problem is related to the state in which God decided to become temporal. If God, as Craig argued, did decide to become temporal, it might be asked: when did he do so. ‘He could not’, says Leftow, ‘have done so timelessly, for then He would have had to become temporal… If He did so at any time it was then too late. As He was already at that time, He was already temporal.’ (1997, 259-260) It is seen that Craig’s idea that God decided to become temporal requires a time in which God already has been.

The second problem I would like to discuss concerning Craig’s view of eternity is the question that whether the act of creation really requires God’s becoming temporal. I think it might be helpful on this issue to look at the views of the defenders of divine timeless eternity, especially to whom Craig refers in order to support his concept of creation ex nihilo, such as al-Kindi (d. 873) and al-Ghazali (d. 1111). We see that those thinkers never approve of the view that God changes and becomes temporal with creation. To these philosophers, God, as a necessary, simple, and an immutable being by definition is timeless and there cannot be any change in Him, before or after creation. Let us take al-Ghazali as an example. He criticizes the Muslim Aristotelian philosophers, al-Farabi (d. 950) and Ibn Sina, from a religious

point of view and objects to their view of eternal creation which implies that God is only ontologically prior to the universe. (1997, 31) He maintains that without creation there was only God and than the universe began to exist in accordance with God’s timeless will. (1997, 31) But he also argues that the inception of the universe does not require God’s becoming temporal. (1962, 104) For, according to him, only a timeless being can create temporal beings and can have an absolute control over them.

In order to better understand his approach to this issue I would like to touch upon his views on the relationship between God and time. He defines time, like Aristotle, as the measure of motion in terms of before and after. (1990, 172) In view of the fact that he sees an essential relation between time and motion, a question as to divine eternity might be, basically, answered in accordance with the answer given to the question of whether God has been subjected to a change or not. (Erdem, 2006, 3) Al-Ghazali tries to give an answer to this question by pointing out the radical difference between God’s mode of being and those of the created beings. (2006, 3) For him all the creatures are temporally created (hadith ), which means that they came into existence after they had not existed previously. (1962, 25; 1997, 61) The coming into existence of the temporally created is either possible or impossible; its being impossible is not possible, because what is impossible cannot come into existence. (1962, 25) Hence it is necessary for a temporally created to be possible before it exists; a possible being is at the same of level with regard to existence and non-existence. (1962, 25) So, it needs a cause/decider that would prefer its existence to its non-existence. (1962, 25-26) But, since the chain of causes cannot continue infinitely, there must be a first cause which does not require any other cause but itself. (1962, 35) Thus, this first cause, with regard to its mode of being does not need to any other cause, is said to be a necessary being. A necessary being is different from a temporally created being, not only because it does not require any cause except itself but also it is not subjected to any motion or change. (2006, 3) Because, for him, motion is the actualization of a potentiality; in order for a motion take place an agent is required to actualize the potentiality. (1990, 172) So if a change and a motion were to happen in God, this would mean that God had a potentiality and thus God would need an agent apart from Himself to put this potentiality into actuality. (2006, 3-4) In another words, if God changes, He would be at the same level of being with the created and He cannot be regarded as a First Cause. However, according to al-Ghazali since God is a necessary being, there cannot be any potentiality and any change in Him and therefore He must be timeless. (2006, 4) He expresses his view thus:

God, just like He was in eternity, in the infinite pasts, is always the same today. Just like He was before He created the universe and heavens, He would be exactly the same in the infinite future, too. Because change and alteration can not be ascribed neither to His being nor to His attributes. If one of His attributes were to change, He would be imperfect or flawed; therefore, be imperfect and would be in need of perfection and excellence. He who is in need can not be God. (1969, 112)

For al-Ghazali, God’s essence and all of His attributes, as well as His will, are timelessly eternal. (1962, 142) God decides timelessly to create the world in eternity. (1962, 104) God’s contemplation of unactualized

possibilities and His decision to actualize one of them is one timeless act. ‘This does not mean that different phases of that act cannot be distinguished, but such a distinction can only be a conceptual, not a temporal distinction. Consideration of possibilities is logically prior to actualizing one of them, but both contemplation and actualization are one eternal act of the divine nature, if God is timelessly eternal.’ (Helm, 1988, 179) To al-Ghazali, even though God’s decision to create is a timeless act, the effects of this decision come into being temporally. But the temporality of the effects does not require the temporality of the cause. For, God’s act of creation is a different kind of causation, it is a timeless causation. Timeless causation is a relation of a cause and an effect between the Creator and the creation. (Markus, 2004, 32-33) To understand timeless causation, I think it might be helpful to compare, as Davies does, the relation between the cause and the effect with the relationship between a teacher and a student. When the student learns some truth he changes from a state of ignorance to state of having knowledge. It is a real change for her/him. But the learning of the student does not require a change in the teacher. Similarly, it might be coherently thought that God’s creation does not necessarily imply a change in Him but only a change in the creature. (Davies, 1993, 147)   

At this point it might be asked that why al-Ghazali and other medieval philosophers insist so much on God’s immutability and timelessness and why they do not accept the view of God’s becoming temporal. To these philosophers, the attributes of necessity and timelessness are the marks of the Creator and the contingency and the temporality are the signs of the creature. For that reason, any explanation which implies God’s being temporal, in fact, is not a philosophically coherent explanation. Because in such a case, it would be nearly impossible to make any distinction between God and His creature and this would lead to an anthropomorphic conception of God. So from al-Ghazalian point of view, Craig’s idea that God created the universe and became temporal with creation, in fact, means that God created the universe at the expense of His perfection. Craig might reply to this, saying that God ‘willingly’ did decide to become temporal at the moment of creation. (2000, 152) But such a response also seems questionable. Because questions such as follows always reasonably be asked: ‘Is it really possible that a being can change his mode of being by her/his own will?’ and more importantly, !For what reason did a perfect and a timeless being abandon His mode of being?’ I think it is very difficult to find any philosophically coherent answer to these questions in Craig’s view of eternity.

Lastly, I would like to add one point. Metaphysically thinking, an effect is ontologically dependent on its cause, not vice versa. In the classical view of eternity, God is conceived as a First Cause and everything apart from Himself wholly dependent on Him. Accordingly, the classical philosophers argue that the act of creation does not imply a real change in God but only in the creature. But in Craig’s conception of eternity, the effect is so much powerful that it can change the mode of being of its cause substantially. I think such a view brings about the question: ‘Which one, in fact, is the real cause, God or the universe?’

In conclusion, in the classical philosophy and theology God is conceived as an ultimate principle. In this view, God is the First Cause and everything except him came into being thanks to His act of creation. The fact that God is the First Cause means that there is a radical, sharp distinction between God and his creatures in terms of mode of being. For that reason, medieval philosophers never approve of the idea of God’s becoming temporal and try to explain God’s relationship with the temporal world in accordance with this metaphysical framework. But in Craig’s view of eternity, because he concedes that God becomes temporal with creation, it is very difficult to explain, at least after creation, the difference between the Creator and the creature. Likewise, his idea that God became temporal because of His relation with temporal beings is controversial. For, if God, as Craig claims, becomes temporal due to His relations with temporal beings it might also be thought that He becomes spatial due to His relations with spatial things. Of course, God might be conceived as a temporal and even a spatial being but it is clear that such a conception of God is more anthropomorphic than the timeless one.