Neo-Lorentzian Relativity and the Beginning of the Universe

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (4):1-38 (2021)
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Many physicists have thought that absolute time became otiose with the introduction of Special Relativity. William Lane Craig disagrees. Craig argues that although relativity is empirically adequate within a domain of application, relativity is literally false and should be supplanted by a Neo-Lorentzian alternative that allows for absolute time. Meanwhile, Craig and co-author James Sinclair have argued that physical cosmology supports the conclusion that physical reality began to exist at a finite time in the past. However, on their view, the beginning of physical reality requires the objective passage of absolute time, so that the beginning of physical reality stands or falls with Craig's Neo-Lorentzian metaphysics. Here, I raise doubts about whether, given Craig's NeoLorentzian metaphysics, physical cosmology could adequately support a beginning of physical reality within the finite past. Craig and Sinclair's conception of the beginning of the universe requires a past boundary to the universe. A past boundary to the universe cannot be directly observed and so must be inferred from the observed matter-energy distribution in conjunction with auxilary hypotheses drawn from a substantive physical theory. Craig's brand of Neo Lorentzianism has not been sufficiently well specified so as to infer either that there is a past boundary or that the boundary is located in the finite past. Consequently, Neo Lorentzianism implicitly introduces a form of skepticism that removes the ability that we might have otherwise had to infer a beginning of the universe. Furthermore, in analyzing traditional big bang models, I develop criteria that Neo-Lorentzians should deploy in thinking about the direction and duration of time in cosmological models generally. For my last task, I apply the same criteria to bounce cosmologies and show that Craig and Sinclair have been wrong to interpret bounce cosmologies as including a beginning of physical reality.

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Dan Linford
Purdue University


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