Without going into the arguments for this controversial thesis, Baber appeals to the claim made by Derek Parfit and others, that “identity is not ‘what matters’ for survival”. (p.6) Thus, a future thing can count as my surviving, though it is not (numerically) identical to me.
Suppose (I’m stealing this thought experiment from Richard Swinburne) some mad scientists, such as Pinkie and the Brain, are going to cut my brain in half, and put the left half in one body, and the right in another. The body which gets the left half will be tortured to death, while the body getting the right half will be given lifetime passes to all NFL games and a lifetime supply of good beer. If I’m to undergo this experiment, I want to know which of these resulting people will be (numerically identical to) me: the unlucky one, the lucky one, or neither.
Baber (following Parfit) wants to say that depending on how exactly the resulting people are related to me, both may count as the continuation of or survival of me. Specifically, she suggests that psychological continuity is enough – it is enough that the later people have the same or nearly the same beliefs, desires, and so on that I have.
I don’t think this is right, but back to the Trinity: In her view, the god which is a God-stage (temporal part of God) called the Father would, just before the Incarnation, be mistaken to think he’s about to be annihilated and replaced by the Son. Rather, since each would be omniscient and omnibenevolent, the two whould be very similar as far as their mental life, if not indistinguishable. So, although the Father isn’t identical to the (coming) Son, the Father should anticipate surviving as the Son. (pp. 6-7)
But can both Father and Son be omniscient and omnipotent at all? That remains to be seen. (p.7) She reasons that, as e.g. the Father and God are (to be counted as) one god, then whatever properties God has during the career of the Father will be properties the Father must have as well. Or more accurately, the “basic properties” God has at a time – properties had because of how things are solely at that time – will be shared by the Father at that time. (p.7)
God at the Father may differ in their “non-basic” properties. At a time t just before the Incarnation, God has, but the Father lacks this property: being about to be the Son. (p.8)
She then suggests that both omnipotence and omniscience are non-basic properties – properties never had because of how things are at one time, but which are always had, at any given time, because of how things are at other times. (p.8) Her idea is that being omniscient-at-t requires have a total set of beliefs about what happens at all times and places. That’s all at t. But being omniscient-at-t also requires that things are as you believe them to be, at all times and places. Hence, omniscience is a non-basic property.
“Omnipotence,” she says, “poses additional difficulties.” (p.8)
Next time: additional difficulties.