The Promise of a New Past
Lebens (Samuel) & Goldschmidt (Tyron)
Source: Philosophers Imprint, Volume 17, no. 18, August 2017, pp. 1-25
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. If God found this paper offensive, would it now be too late for him to make it such that it was never written? Can God change the past? If he could, would he?
  2. Our treatment of these questions is based upon two Jewish traditions.
    1. On some ways of working them out, God will one day change the past by eliminating evil from it. This makes for a new kind of response to the problem of evil: the Divine Proofreader Theory.
    2. On other ways of working the traditions out, the past evil isn’t eliminated, but personal responsibility for certain sins is removed from the sinner. This makes for a new theory of atonement: the Agent Substitution Theory.
  3. Plan:-
    • In §1, we outline the two traditions.
    • In §§2–5, we explore theories of time in order to accommodate the traditions.
    • In §6, we respond to a number of objections.
    • In §7, we draw a distinction that helps us address why God might want to change the past.
    • In §8 we use that distinction to frame the Agent Substitution Theory.
    • In §9 we present the Divine Proofreader Theory. Our metaphysics of time makes the case that God can change the past, while our Divine Proofreader and Agent Substitution Theories explain why God might want to.
    • In §10, we respond to some objections.

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