Craig’s view of God’s choice to create the world entails a contradiction insofar as he affirms both a) that God is timeless, and b) that God is temporal. Craig believes God’s timeless decision to create, and his subsequent entering into time, is necessary because the world cannot be infinite in the temporal past. The world – or rather temporal becoming and time itself – cannot be eternal in the past direction on Craig’s view. For this implies a contradiction (he thinks), because it means that an infinite series would have to have been traversed to arrive at the present moment. No infinite can be traversed (for then it would be finite). Therefore, Craig concludes, the past cannot be infinite.
First – this objection is not new. The medievals knew it well. Aquinas answers it in about three sentences in the ST by saying that it rests on a category mistake. No one who thinks the past is is eternal supposes that that very eternity has somehow been traversed. Rather, what they are saying is that there is no contradiction in supposing that temporal becoming has always been, for forever in the past. The category mistake comes in when you use the word “traversed” and try to apply it to this past infinity. To traverse implicitly implies some completion of a finite movement through space and time. “I have traversed the distance between my door and my car.” I.e. I have walked that finite distance. But if the past is eternal, all that is implied is that “movement has always been occurring.” Thus it would be meaningless to refute this proposition by saying that “infinite movement has been completed” since the one term – “completed” – implies finite movement, which is the opposite of what the proposition is suggesting to begin with.
In short, when you try to describe a) “movement has always been occurring” as b) something that has been “traversed” you are just changing a) into the following sentence: “movement occurred.” But you see saying movement occurred is very different from saying that it has always been occurring. The first implies a finite completion. The second, never ending succession.
Second – there is an implicit contradiction in Craig’s view insofar as he says that God “was timeless” sans (i.e. without) creation and is temporal “since” creation. If God “was timeless” then this proposition is indexed – that is, it has a temporal location, which is the past. But nothing that did exist is timeless in the strict sense. It was either temporal, and continues to endure, or it was temporal, and did not continue to endure. I.e. it is either like the grand canyon, which did exist in the past and still exists today or it is like the meteor that caused the grand canyon, which did exist in the past but no longer exists today.
In other words, if God was timeless, he is temporal, and Craig is contradicting himself.
On the other hand, if Craig is simply describing God’s existence in himself, independent of the world, then he is saying that God is in himself timeless. But what is timeless cannot “become” or “change” or move or it would not be timeless. Further, it would make no sense to further nuance God’s timeless state by saying that he is temporal “since” creation. For what does this word “since” here mean? It is again just a copula of temporal index – akin to the phrase “since back at time such and such.” That is, what Craig’s phrase really means, when looked at grammatically, is this: “God exists timelessly without creation, but back at the first moment of creation, God entered into time.” But “entered” is a past tense word. It implies temporal becoming. It implies that God existed in the past and then took on some new mode of being – some mode of being accrued to him or he lost some – when he “became” temporal (a contradiction.) But then, God cannot “be” timeless.
Craig must break down how he is using the word “is” with respect to God’s relation to time. If God is timeless, it is contradictory to predicate of that same God (since God is identical to himself) temporality. God’s “is” is either timeless – like the medievals thought – or it is temporal. It cannot be both.
Here is Craig’s view of God and time in his own words: “God is timeless without creation, and temporal since the moment of creation.” When stripped to its bones, it is self contradictory. To see this more explicitly, one must ask of this view: did this same timeless God “become” temporal? If we answer yes, then this same God was never timeless (and so Craig’s view is false.) If we answer no, then we cannot predicate temporality to the same being we predicate timelessness to. And so again, the view is false.
Behind this problem of Craig lurks another, which is this.
Any change in God seems to be explicable ultimately only by some active principle that is itself unchanging. Suppose, for instance, God was always changing in the infinite past. One would have to ask why he was changing in just such a way. But the only possible answer to this question would have to come in the form of a changeless principle, an ultimate principle of sufficient reason, which was absolutely timeless. Or again, on Craig’s view God’s timeless state before creation “was” contingent. Since God “became” temporal (I’m entertaining the contradiction here), then it was evidently not necessary that he remain timeless. For what is necessary cannot cease to be – and God became temporal. But what explains this contingent state in God, in which he existed “before” creation timelessly? It must be some further necessary principle outside of God. It cannot just be God himself in this timeless state – for that state is contingent and becomes temporal. But in such a case, you have something acting on or causing or explaining God’s own contingent state sans creation. Of course, this is inadmissible.
Once again, classical theology seems to have the upper hand on the analytic guys.