Why do we expect the future to be like the past?

Why do we expect the future to be like the past?

“Because in the past, the future has always been like the past.”

This response begs the question. It assumes the very point to be proven. In the past the future has always been like the past, yes, but why do we expect that in the future the future will be like the past?

“We don’t know for certain that the future will be like the past.”

This response misrepresents the question. It assumes the question is asking about certainty with respect to the future. But the question is only asking about the expectation that the future will be like the past.

“We have no reason to expect that the future will not be like the past.”

This response is an attempt to shift the burden of proof. The question is not about whether we have reasons to expect that the future will not be like the past. Rather, the question concerns what reasons we have for expecting that the future will be like the past. (Even if there are no reasons to expect that the future will not be like the past, it does not follow that we have any reasons for expecting that the future will be like the past.)

“Because, in the past, it has always worked to expect that the future will be like the past.”

This response begs the question. It assumes the very point to be proven. In the past the expectation has worked, yes, but why do we expect that in the future the expectation will work?

“We do not expect the future to be like the past.”

This response denies human experience. While we do not expect the future to resemble the past in every respect, we do expect the future to resemble the past in many, if not most, respects. We get out of bed and expect gravity to hold us to the floor, the toothpaste to come out of the toothpaste tube when squeezed, the breakfast cereal to nourish us, the car to move in the direction we turn the wheel, and the like. We expect these events to come about and objects to act in these ways because they always have in the past, and we expect the future to resemble the past.

Non-Christians have great difficulty answering the question of why we expect the future to be like the past. Christians have an easy answer. God controls and orders the world such that the future resembles the past and gives us the expectation that the world will behave in such a fashion.