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Quote for the Week (Slightly Belated)

That time either has no being at all, or is only scarcely and faintly, one might suspect from this: part of it has happened and is not, while the other part is going to be but is not yet, and it is out of these that the infinite, or any given, time is composed. But it would seem impossible for a thing composed of non-beings to have any share in being.

–Aristotle, Physics, as translated by Joe Sachs (Rutgers University Press: 2011), 217b30; courtesy of Wikiquote.

Quote for the Week


It Is Later Than You Think
Robert Service

Lone amid the cafe’s cheer,
Sad of heart am I to-night;
Dolefully I drink my beer,
But no single line I write.
There’s the wretched rent to pay,
Yet I glower at pen and ink:
Oh, inspire me, Muse, I pray,
It is later than you think!

Hello! there’s a pregnant phrase.
Bravo! let me write it down;
Hold it with a hopeful gaze,
Gauge it with a fretful frown;
Tune it to my lyric lyre . . .
Ah! upon starvation’s brink,
How the words are dark and dire:
It is later than you think.

Weigh them well. . . . Behold yon band,
Students drinking by the door,
Madly merry, bock in hand,
Saucers stacked to mark their score.
Get you gone, you jolly scamps;
Let your parting glasses clink;
Seek your long neglected lamps:
It is later than you think.

Look again: yon dainty blonde,
All allure and golden grace,
Oh so willing to respond
Should you turn a smiling face.
Play your part, poor pretty doll;
Feast and frolic, pose and prink;
There’s the Morgue to end it all,
And it’s later than you think.

Yon’s a playwright — mark his face,
Puffed and purple, tense and tired;
Pasha-like he holds his place,
Hated, envied and admired.
How you gobble life, my friend;
Wine, and woman soft and pink!
Well, each tether has its end:
Sir, it’s later than you think.

See yon living scarecrow pass
With a wild and wolfish stare
At each empty absinthe glass,
As if he saw Heaven there.
Poor damned wretch, to end your pain
There is still the Greater Drink.
Yonder waits the sanguine Seine . . .
It is later than you think.

Lastly, you who read; aye, you
Who this very line may scan:
Think of all you planned to do . . .
Have you done the best you can?
See! the tavern lights are low;
Black’s the night, and how you shrink!
God! and is it time to go?
Ah! the clock is always slow;
It is later than you think;
Sadly later than you think;
Far, far later than you think.

Been a Long Time, Been a Long Time, Been an Aeviternal Time

Yes, I know it’s a reach, but it is Zep.

We’ve been discussing the seeming paradox encountered if we posit an immortal being making a voluntarily irrevocable decision–that is, something like “I will never do X”, where X  is not forbidden by outside factors, but only refrained from as an ongoing act of will, then it seems as if he can’t have free will.  This is because if he succeeds in keeping his decision, then the probability that he ever does X is zero; but zero probability implies that something can’t happen; and if it can’t be that the being in question could ever do X, then he seems to lack free will, since by definition having free will to do X implies that there is a probability greater than zero that he could do it.  Conversely, if there is a non-zero chance of his actually breaking his stated decision and actually doing X, the implication is that sooner or  later, given all eternity, sooner or later a situation will arise in which he will break the decision.  But if this is inevitable, then once more free will takes a dive.  Since we’re interested in whether or not the damned in Hell or the saved in Heaven can ever change their minds, this is relevant to the theme of universalism.  In the last post, I argued that this paradox does not apply to God, for the reasons discussed there.

Here I want to make a couple points to avoid a possible error.  Part of the reason I gave that God can make eternal and irrevocable decisions voluntarily, keep them perfectly, and yet not be affected by the paradox is that He is outside of time completely; to put it another way, only God is eternal in the strict theological sense of that word.  Now it might at this point be objected that the angels, demons, and damned and saved humans are also outside of time, so they, too, can make irrevocable decisions without contradiction or paradox.  I don’t think this is correct, though, for reasons I’m going to explain.

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