Talk:B-theory of time

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William Lane Craig disputes[edit]

Temporal Philosopher[edit]

William Lane Craig was President of the Philosophy of Time Society from 1999-2006. That more than qualifies him as a temporal philosopher. If this was a Christian theology article, it would be appropriate to call him a Christian theologian. but the article is about the metaphysics of time, so I will revert any and every attempt to change his title from temporal philosopher. --TMD Talk Page. 03:30, 13 November 2014 (UTC) ____

It is worth highlighting some of the problems with the the Lorentz Ether Theory that Craig supports.

There are several major problems, which is why Einstein’s Special Relativity is accepted by the scientific community. The first problem is that the entire concept of the ether is left as a metaphysical idea, rather than any kind of testable phenomenon. This was done, because not only is there is no evidence for the ether to exist (see, but because the evidence for Special Relativity suggests the ether doesn't exist. This means that the point behind the Lorentz Ether Theory that differentiates it from Special Relativity “violates the demands of Ockam's razor by postulating excess entities whose effects cannot even in principle be detected.” ( This by itself renders the theory at the very least unscientific.

The only defense of the theory is that it cannot be proven false, and therefore is possibly true. The issue here is that this line of argument can justify belief in anything on any topic. One can always layer on unfalsifiable conjecture to any scientific theory to get the results that you want. The problem is that there is no good reason to justify believing in the unfalsifiable conjecture. The second problem with the Neo-Lorentzian view is that the understanding of a four dimensional space-time that came about through Special Relativity was critical to developing General Relativity. In fact under the “Neo-Lorentzian” interpretation of special relativity, the actual relativity principle is only accidentally true for all other reference frames besides the ether. This is to say that if Lorentz's view held sway over Einstein's view, we may have never derived General Relativity.

Arguments against the Neo-Lorentzian view:

There are two arguments related to the above problem is put forward by Yuri Balashov and Michel Janssen in their paper “Presentism and Relativity”. ( To summarize the first, in the Neo-Lorentzian view the well proven phenomenon of both time dilation and length contraction are not explained, in fact nothing in that view leads us to think we should find the phenomenon. A Neo-Lorentzian has to come up with ad-hoc explanations for why we find this in nature.

In contrast with Special Relativity and a Minkowski space-time understanding of the universe, both time dilation and length contraction are predictable, explainable phenomenon. The key here is that a Minkowski spacetime view predicts time dilation and length contraction, and we verify their existince via experiment. The Neo-Lorentzian view not only doesn't predict that it would occur, it has to come up with ad-hoc reasons to account for why we observe it.

Quite frankly, we have no reason to think space and time are Newtonian/Neo-Lorentzian in nature, where as the consistency of the behavior of physical objects in all observable reference frames suggests a Minkowski space-time. For these reasons, I suggest the theologically-motivated arguments against b-theory be removed from this article.Bdw5000 (talk) 14:10, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

When are objections by philosophers and when are they by William Lane Craig[edit]

As I've mentioned before in the edit history, I inserted specific references to William Lane Craig in the two cases where the source was only Craig's work. TMDrew has now twice reverted my changes, the second time without any explanation, though I clearly stated the reason why I undid the first reversion: If the opinions/objections are not solely Craig's, then extra sources need to be added to substantiate this. Claiming that something is the opinion/objection of "philosophers" (in general?) and then only citing a single work of Craig's is simply an example of not backing up a claim with solid sources and verges on weasel wording because it effectively lets Craig speak for "philosophers" (in general?). Furthermore, I changed the wording from Craig "Craig explains" and simply stating that B-theory is "burdened with heavy philosophical problems" because that implies that Craig (he's the only source for both objections) is definitely correct. Thus my version makes it clear that this is Craig's criticism, which is what the sources bear out.

The upshot is that I'm going to undo TMDrew's revert (again) in a day or two unless the sources are changed to reflect the wording or vice versa. Hopefully, this notice will prevent an edit war.

PS. I've posted this on TMDrew's talk page too, but as that page seems to be wiped regularly, I've made my actions and the reasoning behind them public here as well. Mojowiha (talk) 20:32, 18 November 2014 (UTC)

ADDENDUM: When I undo TMDrew's revert (again), I'm also going to fix the Arthur Eddington and John Laird citations to make it clear how old these quotes actually are. Eddington has been dead since 1944, and Laird since 1946. So the correct reference is to Eddington is not from 2010, but from page 7 his 1927 The Nature of the Physical World: Gifford Lectures. Likewise, the proper reference to Laird not dated 1969, but 1940 (based on his 1939 Gifford lectures). The quote can be found on page 145 in this 2013 republished version. Even worse, I think both of these are actually "stealth quotes" from/by Craig, since the Eddington quote found in Craig's The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination (p. 171) and the Laird one a mere 5 page further along (p. 176). It's simply unclear why Eddington's and Laird's view from, respectively, 87 and 75 years ago are somehow indicative of current thinking about B-theory and time in general, or whether it's just an example of Craig digging up some outdated scholarship which happens to support his views. Mojowiha (talk) 09:01, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

Why is there anything on the view of Craig at all, the guys an absolute crackpot, and is not at all reposted by the physics or philosophy community, he simply comments on theories, critiquing them if they do not fit with his religious beliefs. This needs to be taken out of this article. Heuh (talk) 16:03, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Craig was President of the Philosophy of Time Society, and the 12th most cited name in philosophy of religion. I have tried to eliminate the "WLC says this" and "WLC says that" from the article to keep it from turning into an advertisement for the guy. If you mess with these edits, I will take this to the admin boards.--TMD Talk Page. 00:02, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Eliminated all mentions of WLC in the article.--TMD Talk Page. 00:06, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
" the 12th most cited name in philosophy of religion." This is just the point B-theory of time is nothing to do with religion it is a meta physical and physics theory, religious individuals can have opinions on this but these opinions do not belong in an article that has nothing to do with religion, otherwise we are aimless adding people opinions on random matters. Heuh (talk) 03:06, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Philosophy of religion ties in with many other disciplines, especially metaphysics. Peter Van Inwagen is an example of this. Craig's opinions do belong into the article. You have been warned before by an admin to stop with the edit warring. I recommend you tread very carefully on this page.--TMD Talk Page. 02:50, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
You are just simply wrong, it seems clear you are serving a personal agenda, to include angry and unhelpful ranting by a christian philosopher on a metaphysics and physics page. I was warned in that I was told I should create a dispute on the admin page showing your vandalism instead of continuously undoing your vandalism, not that my edits were wrong. It should be you therefore that treads carefully as if you continue, I will report you, and you may be blocked from editing this page. Heuh (talk) 16:29, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Reasons for removal of William Craig content[edit]

There were a number of problems with the writing about Craig on the article. Hence I have removed them and considerably increased the quality of the article. The first problem is that most of the paragraphs did not even state that those beliefs were Craig or even that they were beliefs, for example, "B theory suffers a incoherence as all other theories, that time is illusionary. The Buddhist can consistently deny the reality of the physical world, since the illusion of physicality does not entail physicality, but this is not the case with temporal becoming", except this was not stated as a belief/opinion of Craig's, in did not start or end with Craig argues/believes either. Instead it was stated outright as a fact in the decryption section (a telling example of the bias and poor-quality of this article, pre-Craig removal). You should also note Craig (a Christian) making a dig at Buddhist philosophy.

The second is much more fundamental, the problem is that this type of writing does not belong on this type of page. The page is an academic page on Physics and scientific philosophy. The theme of the views (which were Craig's) were aggressive, they were also written in a format that mislead the reader into thinking this was by far the general consensus, or a major position on the matter (to give you an idea what I',m talking about, Craig views (though some not even stated as views) were placed in the description of B-theory section as opposed to a new section on opposition).

The 'philosophy' certainly wasn't worth any recognition in the academic community, and hence hasn't been. Reword the paragraphs you say? Well, most of it was even beyond that, it was just babble that had no academic founding, it was mostly just records of Craig's random ranting. The fact is the page was not much philosophy but a collection of Craig's religous-oriented rants and opinions (for lack of a better word). It was the type of information that belonged Craig biographical page under 'views and opinion' rather than a academic page.

I should note that there was perhaps one small paragraph potentially worth keeping, and me trying yo be open-minded, I kept it. However after further reading the statements contracted themselves, Craig argued against yet his quotes supported the theory, additionally the book where these views where from, was a book on theories of time and also the physics behind them (yes that's right, a book on physics by a fundamentalist Christian). The book was completely rejected by the community and labelled pseudoscientific (books reviews also tell of this, particularly Craig completely misunderstanding relativity). Hence I've removed this last piece. Heuh (talk) 01:38, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Craig is a respected philosopher, even in metaphysics, as George Ellis has noted. Your claims are false. Stop vandalizing this page.-- (talk) 16:44, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
TMDrew, logging out to appear as your IP address does not change anything. He is a respected christian philosopher, NOT in metaphysics. His books on the subject have been highly critiqued displaying a complete and utter misunderstanding of time theories and the physics behind them. The information as I said above was just ranting. It belongs on his biographical page not on this page. You are vandalising this page, adding biased opinions, porting them as general consensus and removing scientific information. You'll also realise that half the information contradicted itself. If you vandalise this page again, I will report you. Heuh (talk) 17:29, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
That wasn't me.--TMD Talk Page. 21:51, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Whatever the case, his ranting belongs on his biographical page. I'm not going to explain myself again, simply read the information above. Heuh (talk) 00:23, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Heuh - "the guys an absolute crackpot, and is not at all reposted by the physics or philosophy community.." Do you mean respected? Because he is. He has published work in numerous professional, peer-reviewed journals. And why the hostility? Calling WLC a crackpot does not help this discussion. This kind of commentary on a talk page is not productive or helpful. It's angry and distracts from collaboration. Based on WLC's professional credentials in philosophy, particularly in the philosophy of time, quotes by him are still warranted. Of course, discussion can be had about which quotes of his are most appropriate for this page. Bobby (talk) 03:45, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Bobby, yes I meant respected, typing error on my part. He is respected as a religious philosopher. He has been heavily critiqued for pushing A-theory despite its errors, and has been critiqued for pushing it purely because it coincides with his religion. But this not the point, half the quotes were attacks on buddhist philosophies of time (as opposed to B-thoery - note Craig is Christian), the rest of the aggressive ranting was not stated as opinion, but stated as facts outright (for example also written in the description of B-theory section despite it beings Craigs OPINIONS). User:TMDrew has made no attempt of improving the article, he continuously degrades it, removing scientific information etc.. In terms of the Craig content specifically, I have scraped together possibly the only salvageable parts of this piece, and placed it in the article. DocHeuh (talk) 17:32, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
If anyone wants a second voice, I've read over this page carefully, and know how it fits with WLC's arguments about time and relativity, and I have a PhD in theoretical (atomic) physics. William Lane Craig, in my opinion, raises interesting debates, but his views in them have very little scientific merit. The additions that are to do with WLC are all either simply wrong, simplistic or at best misleading. It is possible for people to get the impression that he is being dishonest because of how assertively he states things that have little resemblance to reality. He seems to have a massively complicated way to look at time --- neo-lorentzian? That seems to be just special relativity reformulated to be massively complicated and provide a special frame of reference to people who need it. Its core principle seems to be that each event has a unique "time", apparently the time that God sees. That's not going to work with general relativity. And to anyone reading this not familiar with the two, special relativity is a simplification of reality that works in the absence of gravity, so if WLC can't show that his "interpretation" works with general relativity (which he's not likely to be able to do for several reasons), then he hasn't shown that his interpretation of time is compatible with reality. To summarise, I would support Heuh0's opinion that the less WLC on this page the better. H123b wiki (talk) 20:15, 2 August 2015 (UTC)


I was unsure if the last paragraph that refers to William Lane Craig added anything that couldn't be inferred from the last few paragraphs, but the link to 'incoherence' is actually to a music album, not to an epistemological concept. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:52, 31 May 2014 (UTC)

It seems to summarize it at least, and I fixed the link to incoherence.--TMD (talk) 11:53, 1 June 2014 (UTC)

Support by physics[edit]

The B-theory is also not supported by physics. The Neo-Lorentzian interpretation of relativity is empirically equivalent to the traditional Minkowski interpretation of spacetime. The former has an absolute present. Furthermore, the topology of time is a metaphysical issue, not a physical one. --TMD Talk Page. 03:30, 13 November 2014 (UTC)

??? The B-theory is not supported by physics? Says who? How many physicists hold to A-theory of time? I was of the clear impression that B-theory was a pretty much inevitable corollary of the general theory of relativity, which is why (non-physicist) William Lane Craig has been criticised for pushing A-theory. Furthermore, the claim (I suppose it's Craig's, given that I think I recall him saying something like this) that the "Neo-Lorentzian interpretation of relativity is empirically equivalent to the traditional Minkowski interpretation of spacetime" is actually a problem for such a "Neo-Lorentzian" interpretation because it means insisting on an undetectable ether/privileged frame of reference. Mojowiha (talk) 15:21, 16 November 2014 (UTC)
It's not undetectable. the microwave background radiation serves as the aether frame.--TMD Talk Page. 19:09, 16 November 2014 (UTC)
Source, please. While I admit to being a non-physicist, I've never any suggestion that microwave background radiation has anything to do with a preferred frame, since the latter refers to how we distinguish between the "real" and "illusionary" time in Neo-Lorenzianism. Mojowiha (talk) 07:32, 18 November 2014 (UTC)
I am a physicst. And I can tell you that this theory is supported by a very large part of the physics community, to say otherwise is ridiculous. Heuh (talk) 01:41, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
You need to go to the talk page and get consensus before overhauling a page like this.--TMD Talk Page. 23:24, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Says the vandalist with a personal agenda. DocHeuh (talk) 00:05, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
That's WP:PERSONAL--TMD Talk Page. 04:10, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

Cleaning up the article[edit]

I will be spending the next week cleaning up the article. Some redundancy has already been removed, and I will be replacing the citation with Wikipedia proper citations, in order to improve the article. Please do not revert these changes. If you wish to make additional changes, please let us know on the talk page before running in and making those changes.--TMD Talk Page. 19:38, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

I just wanted to say that I appreciate all the work that is being done for this article.-- (talk) 18:53, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

WP:COAT - Excessive critisim[edit]

There needs to be a serious reduction in the criticism of B-theory on the page. It seems every possible piece of criticism on B-theory ever written by any philosopher, respected or not, has been dumped on his page, which is simply an incorrect way of editing, and creates poor quality articles. It is also misleading concerning the fact that B-thoery has the majority support over A-theory in philosophy but the 'criticism of B-theory' is the main body of the page.

As far as I can see, it goes into so much detail that is no longer relevant to the topic, decreasing the quality of the article, shown on WP:GA?'s criterion 3.b. Broad in coverage, but it stays focused on the topic without going into unnecessary detail. This article clearly does go into to much detail giving multiple paragraphs on a-theory, presentism, perdurantism etc. DocHeuh (talk) 15:57, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. Dirac (talk) 17:03, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
Every piece of criticism comes from peer-reviewed literature in mainstream philosophy journals. So the criticism is appropriate. Secondly, you don't just get to remove all sorts of well-cited information from the theoretical physics section. That stuff is also taken from peer-reviewed mainstream literature. It's appropriate considering that this is a metaphysics article.--TMD Talk Page. 21:20, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
You seemed to have completely missed my second point, regardless of whether the information is from respected philosophers or not, whether the views are well-cited or not, wikipedia is not a place to dump any and all material relating to the matter. For an article to be of good quality, only specifically relevant and high quality material must be chosen to be included in the article. At the moment, this is not the case. Not only does the criticism appear to be in the form of several collections of random rantings (due to the excessive amount), but there is also information that has nothing to do specifically with B-theory, but goes on instead talking about (in great detail) almost every other topic regarding the philosophy of time.
Concerning the removal of theoretical physics 'counter-arguments', firstly it belonged in the criticism section, wikipedia is not a discussion board. Secondly the 'replies'/counter-arguments were pseudoscientific in nature, hence did not belong in the theoretical physics section, well-cited or not. DocHeuh (talk) 02:24, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

The primary way of reconciling the A-theory of time with experimental observations of relativity is to take the Neo-Lorentzian interpretation of Special Relativity. This requires that one: 1.) Accept a much more complex theory to explain all of the available data supporting Special Relativity 2.) Assert the existence of an unnecessary and undetectable preferred reference frame (the ether), that we have absolutely no scientific evidence for. 3.) Accept that the principle of relativity, as well as the Lorentz invariance of the laws of physics, is true for every other frame of reference (aside from the ether), purely by accident. 4.) Accept a theory that has less explanatory power than its competing theory.

Given all this, why would philosophers take this view that is effectively rejected by the whole of modern physics?

William Lane Craig gives us the answer in his book "The Tenseless Theory of Time" (2000):

“The tenseless theory is theologically objectionable, since its claim that God and the universe co-exist tenselessly is incompatible with a robust doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.”

Similarly in his book “Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity” (page 179) Craig states:

“We have good reasons for believing that a neo-Lorentzian theory is correct, namely the existence of God in A-theoretic time implies it, so that concerns about which version is simpler become of little moment.

The quotes above illustrate the motivations for Craig's rejection of B-theory and (I suspect) the motivations of those trying to edit this article. These objections are theological in nature, require ad hoc assumptions to fit the data into an a-theory, and should therefore be removed from this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bdw5000 (talkcontribs) 10:10, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

I will declare my bias upfront and simply mention that I don't think much of WLC in general. It's also quite obvious that his efforts in trying to make B-theory of time appear like it's some sort of controversial point in current cosmology is intimately tied to the fact that WLC's hobby horse (and the subject of his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion), the Kalām cosmological argument, will not work under B-theory.
The problem in relying on Craig is not that he's a fundamentalist Christian out to prove the existence of (his) God, but that he encourage the elevation of faith over reason as demonstrated in the second quote here as well as here. If we can find some other current philosophers, or better yet current physicists, who agree with Craig, then by all means include them, but be very careful about overly relying Craig who has also claimed that macroevolution is somehow not well attested and that invoking divine interference makes the resurrection of Jesus more plausible as a historical hypothesis.
Craig has thus demonstrated his willingness to dispense with well-established scientific theories and the historical method as well as appealing to supernatural forces when it suits his apologetics. He has even said and written that such an approach is completely fine. In so many words: Craig's opinions are not exactly a solid foundation upon which to build a sound criticism of B-theory. Mojowiha (talk) 11:08, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
ADDENDUM: We ought to do better than YT videos for the B-theory in theoretical physics section. However, I was struck by the mismatch in the earlier version between title of the section and its content as none of the sources were apparently from the physics literature but from philosophy (incl. metaphysics). Mojowiha (talk) 11:34, 5 January 2015 (UTC)


COMMENT: It seems there is concern over both the use of WLC material and the excessive amount of criticism.

Concerning the use of WLC's arguments, the reason for such concern is as Mojowiha said "his willingness to dispense with well-established scientific theories and the historical method as well as appealing to supernatural forces when it suits his apologetics". It is obvious Craig's 'philosophical' arguments revolve solely around his faith. If Craig's criticism was the only criticism on the B-theory of time, I would be hesitant of its removal, however there is excessive amount of criticism on the page already, from a variety of authors, from much more respected philosophers than WLC, but also philosophy that is much less controversial.

The amount of criticism is excessive, and it seems the editor has simply tried to find any and all criticism of the theory to dump it on this page, this decreases the page quality (read WP:GA?). B-theory of time is not WP:FRINGE and there excessive dumping of criticism is an example of WP:COAT and would need to be removed. If we are going to remove some of the excessive amount of criticism either way, in order to improve the article quality, then it seems logical to remove the most controversial, and least-respected criticism first, which would be most of WLC's. DocHeuh (talk) 02:24, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

I want to stay out of editing myself regarding this discussion, and act more as a mediator. So far what you say is correct and seems to violate WP:COAT. I leave you editors in this discussion to make the edits yourselves. So far so good. Dirac (talk) 18:44, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

B-theory in metaphysics[edit]

Perhaps just a 'to-do' type entry, but it appears the x3 paragraphs that make up the 'B-theory in metaphysics' section seem to more or less say the same thing, just worded differently. The section probably needs fixing. DocHeuh (talk) 04:27, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

Fixed. DocHeuh (talk) 22:05, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

A-theory, B-theory Equivalence and McTaggart's Paradox[edit]

The article says this at present: "To assert that both are equally fundamental is to land in McTaggart's Paradox, since it would require of any event that it is both present and future, which is contradictory." This is supported by a citation to a paper by Craig Callendar.

I have some objections to this: Plenty of good philosophers have held that they are equivalent, that this statement seems to deny. Most physicists would agree that if formulated in a way compatible with relativity, the A and B "theories" can be made to be equivalent --- more akin to interpretations than theories. In fact, a lot of papers seem to be based more on "why on earth would McTaggart think there's a paradox here" than actually discussing the paradox. It is not clear that asserting that they are fundamental lands in McTaggart's paradox, even if it is a paradox. And it is certainly not the case that asserting that both are equally fundamental is equivalent to saying that an event is both present and future, not is it certain that that is contradictory (although this last point may be argued depending on definitions). It also looks like the paper in question says that hybrid theories (as defined in the paper) *only* are affected by McTaggart's paradox --- this is probably what the person writing "equally fundamental" meant, but that was not clear to me until I read the paper.

I think we can fix this by changing it to this:

"Some philosophers have criticised hybrid theories, where one holds a tenseless view of time, but asserts that the present has special properties, as falling foul of McTaggart's paradox."

The reasons why are too complicated to explain in a sentence, I think.

What do people think? My previous edit on a related topic was under "H123 Wiki", by the way.

I also think that more might be made on the equivalence. This page basically reads as if you need to choose between A and B, whereas there's a 3rd view that they're equivalent that is defensible (and possibly quite well discussed in the literature, not yet sure.)

H123b wiki (talk) 22:52, 1 August 2015 (UTC)