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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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Craig William Lane (2001b) Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time (Wheaton IL: Crossway).
Craig William Lane (2008a) Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd edn (Wheaton IL: Crossway).
Craig William Lane (2008b) ‘Time, eternity, and eschatology’, in Walls J. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook on Eschatology (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 596613.
Craig William Lane (2009) ‘Debate on the kalam argument’, Reasonable Faith Podcast ( Accessed 24 June, 2012.
Craig William Lane (2010a) ‘Question 163: past and future in the kalam cosmological argument’, Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig ( Accessed 24 June, 2012.
Craig William Lane (2010b) ‘Taking tense seriously in differentiating past and future: a response to Wes Morriston’, Faith and Philosophy, 27, 451456.
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Craig William Lane (2011b) ‘Why are (some) Platonists so insouciant?Philosophy, 86, 213229.
Craig William Lane & Sinclair James D. (2009) ‘The kalam cosmological argument’, in Craig William Lane & Moreland J. P. (eds) The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell), 101201.
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Lewis David (1973) Counterfactuals (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press).
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Morriston Wes (2002) ‘Craig on the actual infinite’, Religious Studies, 38, 147166.
Morriston Wes (2003) ‘Must metaphysical time have a beginning?’, Faith and Philosophy, 20, 288306.
Morriston Wes (2010) ‘Beginningless past, endless future, and the actual infinite’, Faith and Philosophy, 27, 439450.
Plantinga Alvin (1976) ‘Actualism and possible worlds’, Theoria, 42, 139160.
van Inwagen Peter (2009) ‘God and other uncreated things’, in Timpe K. (ed.) Metaphysics and God: Essays in Honor of Eleonore Stump (New York: Routledge), 320.
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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
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