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Heartbreak at Hilbert's Hotel


William Lane Craig's defence of the kalam cosmological argument rests heavily on two philosophical arguments against a past-eternal universe. In this article I take issue with one of these arguments, what I call the ‘Hilbert's Hotel Argument’ – namely, that the metaphysical absurdity of an actually infinite number of things existing precludes the possibility of a beginningless past. After explaining this argument, I proceed to raise some initial doubts. After setting those aside, I show that the argument is ineffective against proponents of presentism. The remainder of the article considers and rejects possible replies on Craig's behalf.

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William Lane Craig (2001a) ‘Middle knowledge, truth-makers, and the grounding objection’, Faith and Philosophy, 18, 337352.

William Lane Craig (2001b) Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time (Wheaton IL: Crossway).

William Lane Craig (2010b) ‘Taking tense seriously in differentiating past and future: a response to Wes Morriston’, Faith and Philosophy, 27, 451456.

William Lane Craig & James D. Sinclair (2009) ‘The kalam cosmological argument’, in William Lane Craig & J. P. Moreland (eds) The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell), 101201.

Terence Horgan (1978) ‘The case against events’, The Philosophical Review, 87, 2847.

Wes Morriston (2002) ‘Craig on the actual infinite’, Religious Studies, 38, 147166.

Wes Morriston (2003) ‘Must metaphysical time have a beginning?’, Faith and Philosophy, 20, 288306.

Wes Morriston (2010) ‘Beginningless past, endless future, and the actual infinite’, Faith and Philosophy, 27, 439450.

Alvin Plantinga (1976) ‘Actualism and possible worlds’, Theoria, 42, 139160.

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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