Causal Time Loops and the Immaculate Conception
The doctrine of the immaculate conception, which is a dogma binding on all Roman Catholics and also held by members of some other Christian denominations, holds that Mary the mother of Jesus Christ was conceived without the stain of original sin as a result of the redeeming effects of Christ’s later life, passion, death, and resurrection. In this paper I argue first that, even on an orthodox reading of this doctrine, the immaculate conception seems to result in a kind of causal time loop. I then consider several common philosophical objections to causal time loops, showing how each is either not a serious problem for causal time loops in general or is not a serious problem for the immaculate conception time loop in particular because of some particular features of that particular loop. The upshot of this discussion is that it shows that anyone who is committed to the dogma of the immaculate conception is also committed to the possibility, and, indeed, the actuality, of at least one causal time loop, but also that this is no reason to reject the dogma, since all of the major worries for causal time loops can be resolved in one way or another.