Not any because of relation will do, however. You might like to study it over two periods, rather than all at once. Leftow, Brian. But God’s time is so far from our concept that it can be difficult not to panic at the thought of trusting it. Deciding how best to think of God’s relation to time will involve bringing to bear one’s views about other aspects of the divine nature. Temporal indexical terms such as “today,” “tomorrow,” and “now” refer to different temporal locations with different uses. What makes both of these assertions true is one and the same fact; the fact consisting in a particular person (Ganssle) being in a particular place (the kitchen). Paul Fitzgerald (1985) has argued that for there to be duration in the life of God, it must be the case that two or more of God’s thoughts, for example, will have either the same or different amounts of duration. was an April 8, 1966, cover story for the news magazine Time. He heard and answered in one timeless moment — in fact, he did so in the same timeless moment that he hears and answers prayers offered in the twenty-first century. U. S. A. Prior to creation, God was timeless. Ganssle, Gregory E. and David M. Woodruff (2002a) ed.. Ganssle, Gregory E. (2002b). The higher one is completely illuminated (all at once) while the lower has illuminated a point at a time moving with uniform speed. They also can hold that God’s life cannot be contained in the measured moments of physical time. For example, the nature of time and the nature of the origin of the universe each have a bearing on whether God is best thought of as timeless or temporal. It may be that though things that have these properties are typically temporal, they are not necessarily so. Read the Bible, which is God’s Word spoken to prophets and written down. An On Time God 2 Peter 3:8-9; Galatians 4:4 Have you ever been late for an appointment or meeting? The challenge of reconciling human freedom and divine omniscience is best seen if we presume that God is temporal. Padgett and DeWeese, as is to be expected, emphasize different things in the details. Philosophers generally take claims such as these as parameters for their thinking because of their concern either to remain within historical, biblical orthodoxy themselves or, at least, to articulate a position about God and time that is consistent with orthodoxy. Another view (Craig, 2001a, 2001b) is that God became temporal when time was created. These temporal items depend upon the physical measure of time. Rogers points out that both Stump and Kretzmann and Leftow, in defending the notion of divine timelessness against common objections do not make use of their distinctive notions of timeless duration at all. Rather than holding that God is everlastingly eternal, and, therefore, he exists at each time, this position is that God exists but he does not exist at any time at all. So the critics of Stump and Kretzmann are correct in so far as they argue that these properties are the sort of things that make their bearers temporal. “Eternity,”, Stump, Eleonore and Norman Kretzmann. Each affirms the argument that God can be timeless only if the B-theory of time is true and that the B-theory is false. He points out that they admit that the use of relativity theory is a heuristic device and nothing more. It is not for this essay to canvass all of these versions or to weigh the evidence for or against any of them. In this way the life of God is stretched out, so to speak, alongside temporal reality. He knows everything that it is possible to know. God is on our side and His power in us is greater than the powers of darkness that try to come against us. Email: gregory.ganssle@yale.edu Whether a strategy such as this one will succeed is an open question (Alston 1989; Ganssle 1993, 1995, 2002c). If it is, then these points must correspond in some way to the points on the temporal line (called “T”). Hasker, William. We see in today’s passages that the Lord is sovereign over the future (Daniel 4:32). There are different versions of the A-theory and different versions of the B-theory. When metaphysical time is described as being without metric and without law-like intervals, and perhaps even that God does not change before physical time is created, it becomes more difficult to see the difference between this position and timelessness. Without creation, it is a fact that I type this sentence on December 14, 2006. These are not experienced by God sequentially, however. On the other hand, when the co-location of God’s experience of his now and the now of physical time is emphasized, the distinction between the two becomes more difficult to see. On the other hand, if the duration in God’s life has this sort of duration, it is difficult to see that it is not simply one more case of temporal duration. It is debatable whether the Bible contains enough information to formulate a full-scale doctrine of time; nonetheless, the significance of the biblical concept of time is unmistakably the way it uniformly presents God at work in guiding the course of history according to his saving plan. If God is a QTE being, then his timeless life does have earlier and later points. The because of relation that is relevant to answering a request has to do with intention or purpose. Therefore God is not a being whose life contains distinct parts. (2002). Not all whens are times, however. Suppose you assert to me (truly) “You are in the kitchen,” and I assert to you (also truly), “I am in the kitchen.” These sentences are not identical and, according to the view we are considering, they express different propositions. If the duration of God’s life was made up of discrete parts, God could not be a metaphysically simple being. He did not first hear them and then answer them. Habakkuk 2:3 “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. These moments stand in the successive relations of earlier and later to one another, although they are not temporally earlier or later than one another. Either they embrace the first premise and hold to the B-theory of time (Helm 1988, 2001; Rogers 2000) or they argue against the second premise. So too, it is the occurring of the event that determines the content of God’s knowledge. He is light and in Him, there is no darkness. Determining which position is most adequate involves trying to fit what we think about other aspects of God’s nature together with our thinking about God’s relation to time. The sentence, “I am now typing this sentence” can be clarified by replacing the indexical terms with other terms that make the indexicals explicit. “Unqualified Divine Temporality,” in Ganssle (2001a): 187-213. The fact that I type it on December 14 seems to be more fundamental than the facts that come into existence when time is created. (1991). This article traces the main contours of the contemporary debate. He is alive. Stump and Kretzmann use the analogy of two parallel lines (Stump and Kretzmann 1987: 219). Craig and others insist that if relativity theory is interpreted along neo-Lorentzian lines rather than along the lines recommended by Einstein, there is room for a privileged reference frame and, therefore, a cosmic time (Craig 2002). He knows the same fact I know when I think “I am writing here today.” The proposition through which he knows this fact, however, is different than the proposition through which I know it. If the points or moments or positions in the duration of the life of God are not to count as parts of that life, they must be of zero finite length. In addition, we will look at some responses to these arguments. Another sort of response to the claim that divine omniscience requires that God is temporal is to embrace the conclusion of the argument and to hold that God is not propositionally omniscient even if he is factually omniscient. He is not located at any point in our time line. Leftow notes that nearly everyone who argues that God is timeless also holds that God’s life has at least some TTPs. He hears all our prayers in his one timeless conscious act and in that same conscious act, he wills the answers to our various requests. In some Greek sources, Kairos is mentioned as a brother of Chronos. He does experience a temporal now, somewhat as we do, but his intrinsic experience is not measured by regular, law-like intervals. There can be the sort of duration that allows discrete moments to be individuated by location in the life of a metaphysically simple, timeless God. First of all we have to adjust how we describe God’s omniscience. Here are some ways to know and hear from your heavenly Father. “God Everlasting,” in, Wolterstorff, Nicholas. God’s life, temporal though it may be, is not finite and his memory is perfectly vivid. The Scriptures do provide some parameters for acceptable theories of God’s relation to time, however. Nor does his life draw closer to its end. Leftow calls this view Quasi-Temporal Eternality (QTE) (Leftow 1991). At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9 NLT). You could certainly say that this is a lesson with a broad sweep! In this case, they try to show that a timeless God can know tensed facts without changing himself. Boethius contrasts this timeless mode of being with a temporal mode: “Whatever lives in time proceeds in the present and from the past into the future, and there is nothing established in time which can embrace the whole space of its life equally, but tomorrow surely it does not yet grasp, while yesterday it has already lost” (Boethius, 1973). Suppose God tells Moses, among other things, that Jeanie will make a cup of tea tomorrow. God is timelessly aware of the fall of Rome and, in the same timeless now, he is aware of my spilling my coffee. These terms are temporal in nature. God and Theories of Time For at least 1,500 years a debate has raged among philosophers about how God experiences time, with most of the dispute revolving around the A and B theories. He insists that these points are not parts in the life of God. Here's an outline that I hope you'll like. As a result, the term, “eternal” has come to be either ambiguous or a general term that covers various positions. “Introduction,” in Ganssle and Woodruff (2002a): 3-18. If God changes, then he is temporal. (The distinction between the A-theory and the B-theory of time was first articulated by J. M. E. McTaggart; see McTaggart, 1993.). Leftow argues that there is a significant difference between a being that has spatial or material parts and a being that has a duration consisting of different moments or positions or points. William Alston has argued that God knows what he knows without having any beliefs. But when we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, in due time, He will exalt us (see 1 Peter 5:6). “The Absence of a Timeless God,” in Ganssle and Woodruff (2002a): 182-206. If our regrets about the passage of time are more a function of our finitude than of our temporality, much of the force of these considerations is removed. The first is to deny that there are propositions that are irreducibly indexical in this way. One important issue that this argument concerning the fullness of God’s life ought to put to rest is the idea that those who hold God to be timeless hold that God is something inert like a number or a property. Saying God only operates within time seems to ring hollow with His knowing for certain the future of our free choices. Fitzgerald argues that if a timeless duration does not have these analogues with temporal or spatial duration, it is hard to think of it as a case of bona fide duration. She challenges their claims that the views of timelessness found in Boethius and other medieval thinkers include duration. Timelessness stands in the same relation to each point along the temporal array. (2002). Anything that has life must have duration but the duration of a timeless being is not a temporal duration. God created both physical and metaphysical time and God existed entirely without time. They aim to work within the parameters of historical, biblical orthodoxy and to hold to the maximal property idea that whatever God is, he is to the greatest possible degree. (1991). But the B-theory of time is false. It is with these latter claims that they make the distinction between physical and metaphysical time. Worship with Don Moen and long-time friend Lenny LeBlanc as they sing “God Is Good All The Time” acoustic & unplugged on guitar! It is not true, on this view, that God knows every proposition. The fundamental temporal properties are the tensed properties. Hasker, William. First, it is obvious that someone who holds that God is timeless does not think that God knows things at times at all. What is the significance of the immutability of God. Alan Padgett (1992) has argued that Stump and Kretzmann cannot be defending anything more than a loose analogy with relativity theory here. This conclusion is still far from the claim that God is, in fact, timeless but perhaps we can say more. Therefore, God is not timeless. The challenge for a defender of a timeless conception of God is to explain how such a God is related to temporal events. He distinguishes between those properties that make something temporal and those that are typically temporal. Neither alternative increases the plausibility or the clarity of the claim that God’s life has timeless duration. Which other TTPs does God have if he is timeless? They also teach that God is the Lord of all creation. Second, the life of a timeless thing is not able to be limited. Two of these arguments will be discussed: the argument that divine action in the world requires temporality and the argument that God’s knowledge of tensed facts requires that he be temporal. Fitzgerald had criticized Stump and Kretzmann’s notion of timeless duration by insisting that any duration must be made up of distinct positions. These parameters, as has been noted, allow for a plurality of positions about how God is related to time. A typically temporal property (TTP) is a property that is typical of temporal events and which helps make them temporal. In the thirteenth century, he listened to and answered Aquinas’ prayers for understanding. This measure is a function of the regular processes that follow physical laws. Ganssle, Gregory E. (2002c). If ET-simultaneity captures the truth about God’s relation to a temporal world, then we do not have to worry about the fall of Rome occurring at the same time that I spill my coffee. The temporal now is not an objective feature of reality but is a feature of our experience of reality. If it … Divine temporality is not a departure from orthodox concepts of God. Prior, Arthur N. (1993). (1967) “Omniscience and Indexical Reference,”. He exists at each moment in time. It may be the case that metaphysical time is infinite or that God created “pure duration” (metaphysical time) also. One might argue that even if God is temporal, the content of his foreknowledge is determined by the occurring of the event in the same way. He is metaphysically simple. Suppose Jeanie will decide tomorrow to make a cup of tea at 4:00 pm. Nor do they hold that God’s life is less than maximally full. He holds that there are distinct moments within God’s life. If time is contingent, then it depends upon God for its existence. She does need power over his timeless beliefs. She does not think that denying duration to God’s life reduces it to some kind of frozen or static existence. He holds that God is temporal in that he is within metaphysical time. So God must know different things at different times. For example, they teach that God never began to exist and he will never go out of existence. “Changes in Events and Changes in Things,” in Le Poidevin, Robin and Murray MacBeath: 35-46. So there is a literal sense in which God knows now that I am typing this sentence now. It is not true, it will be insisted, that God knows something today. I can know that you type a sentence at some date (call the date, t1) without knowing whether or not you are typing the sentence now. If he changes, he is temporal and not timeless. Some of the most obvious issues include the nature of time, the nature of change and the creation of the universe. Stump and Kretzmann take their cue from Boethius who articulated what became a standard understanding of divine timelessness: “Eternity, then, is the whole, simultaneous and perfect possession of boundless life” (Boethius, 1973). But this cosmic or “absolute” time may still apply only to this universe and not to God. If the possible prophet problem is serious enough to show that God’s timeless knowledge of future acts (future, that is, from our present vantage point) is incompatible with those acts being free, then holding God to be timeless does not solve the problem of foreknowledge. Overall, how do we, as Christians, perceive time? These texts, she argues, are at best ambiguous. Augustine and Anselm especially express the notion of timelessness by the use of the notion of the present. So, although God has always believed that she would make the tea, she must have the power to change what it was that God believed. If he changes, then he is, at least in some sense, temporal. Different thoughts in God’s mind can be individuated by their respective lengths of duration or at least by their locations within the duration. Both of these centuries are experienced by God in one “timeless now.” So, while it is true that in the thirteenth century Aquinas prayed for understanding and received it, God’s response to his prayers is not something that also occurred in that century. Physical time is metric time. It is not surprising that the questions are still open even after over two millennia of careful inquiry. Can a proponent of divine timelessness make sense of God interacting in these ways? (Although they cast their discussion in terms of an “eternal being,” this article will continue to use the term “timeless”.) If it is not possible to answer a request (a prayer) unless the action is performed after the request, then the fact that God answers prayer will guarantee that he is temporal. If the relation between a request and an answer is not necessarily a temporal one, then a timeless God can answer prayer. Timeless duration, in Leftow’s understanding, shares features with temporal duration. (2001). He is above and outside of the sphere of time. No moment of its life passes away and there is no moment at which some other moment has not yet been lived. Therefore, he must be temporal. (1994). As a result his life is not wholly future to any temporal event. His time is completely distinct from ours. Ecclesiastes 1:3-11. Proponents of each of these positions attribute eternality to God. Points are not parts, however. It if is not, then timelessness has no duration. In this view, God’s inner life is sequential and, therefore, temporal, but his relation to our temporal sequence is “all at once.” In a sense, God has his own time line. If the B-theory of time is true, this objection to divine timelessness is undermined. He exists at the present moment (and he has existed at each past moment and he will exist at each future moment.) Similarly, no one who holds that God is temporal thinks that God has every TTP. The sequence of the effects of God’s timeless will does not imply that God’s acts themselves are temporal. What may be the dominant view of philosophers today is that he is temporal but everlasting; that is, God never began to exist and he never will go out of existence. They work within the notion that God knows whatever can be known and is thus omniscient. However, those who think that God is in some way temporal do not want to attribute weakness or inadequacy to God. “God and Time,” in, Widerker, David. Thus, proponents of divine temporality will hold that God is omniscient and omnipotent. It is the opinion of many that all times are the present to God. A key to his argument is that the New Testament uses two Greek words for time: kairos and chronos (pp. He can, therefore, be timeless. This language would imply that there was a time when God was timeless and then, later, there is another time when he is temporal. In the same way, “I am now writing here” can be clarified as “Ganssle writes on December 13, 2006 at11:58 AM (EST) in Panera Bread in Hamden, CT.” God, of course, knows all of the propositions expressed by these non-indexical sentences. God does, however, experience temporal succession. A QTE being is timeless in that it lives all of its life at once. Alan Padgett and Gary DeWeese (Padgett 1992, 2001; DeWeese 2002, 2004) have each argued that God is not in physical time although he is everlastingly temporal. No person, then, can be timeless. Furthermore, the content of his knowledge does not need to change day to day. The geometric aspect of the analogy is strained considerably when it is seen that some point on T (call it T1) is going to be much closer to a point on E (E1) then the point T235 will be. The prophet problem is a problem, some will argue, only if God actually tells Moses what Jeanie will do. Some philosophers think that God’s relation to time cannot be captured by either of the categories of temporality or timelessness. That is, God experiences some events (for example, the first century) before he experiences other events (for example, the twenty-first century.) As far as the Special Theory of Relativity is concerned, there is an absolute temporal simultaneity or an absolute temporal ordering between any two events within each other’s light cones. The relation of his timeless cognition and the temporal objects of his cognition cannot be captured by using strictly temporal relations such as simultaneity because temporal simultaneity is a transitive relation. We’re going to talk about time. We cannot go back in time, and we cannot experience more than one instant at a time. God’s relation to the world is similar to human memory of the past. He only experiences a brief slice of his life at any one time. The light on each line represents the indivisible present. either x is eternal and y is temporal or vice versa (assume x is eternal and y temporal); with respect to some A in the unique eternal reference frame, x and y are both present — that is: (a) x is in the eternal present with respect to A, (b) y is in the temporal present, and (c) both x and y are situated with respect to A in such a way that A can enter into direct and immediate causal relations with each of them and (if capable of awareness) can be directly aware of each of them; and, with respect to some B in one of the infinitely many temporal reference frames, x and y are both present — that is: (a) x is in the eternal present, (b) y is at the same time as B, and (c) both x and y are situated with respect to B in such a way that B can enter into direct and immediate causal relations with each of them and (if capable of awareness) can be directly aware of each of them. If God knows everything, he must know what day it is today. One advantage Leftow thinks his view affords is that it can meet Fitzgerald’s challenges while holding to the doctrine of divine simplicity. “Atemporal Duration: A Reply to Fitzgerald,”, Stump, Eleonore and Norman Kretzmann. The position that God is temporal sometimes strikes the general reader as a position that limits the nature of God. If Jeanie makes a cup of tea, God knows it timelessly. What is the relationship between God and time? However, if the Scriptures teach that God Himself experiences change in sequence, that would indicate that God exists in time, in the present, with a past, and looking forward to a future. Several versions of the view that God is timeless are explained and the major arguments for timelessness are developed and criticized. After all, the Pslamist affirms that God is ‘from everlasting to everlasting.’ (Psalm 90:2) It looks like what is affirmed is God’s everlasting temporality. Given their background in Plotinus and Augustine, Rogers argues that it is better not to read these philosophers as attributing duration to the life of God. He experiences all of his life at once in the timeless present. Gregory E. Ganssle In the latter case, God had to be timeless. Helm, Paul. If God is timeless, so the argument goes, he cannot know what day it is today. Nothing of his life is past and nothing of it is future. Boethius’ famous definition of eternity captures this idea: “Eternity, then, is the whole, simultaneous and perfect possession of boundless life” (Boethius, 1973). He redeems his people, answers their prayer, and forgives their sin. Rogers points out that such an analogy is never found in the medieval writers. The circle represents all of time and the dot, timelessness. Remember the A-theory of time is the view that the most fundamental things about time are the locations of past, present and future. God, in himself, is immune from temporal measure. If God is in time and knows everything, then hundreds of years ago, he already knew that Jeanie would make the cup of tea. Another way to explain this is that even if there were no temporal minds, the property of occurring now would be exemplified by some events and not others. There is some sense in which he is responding to her request, even if he has not yet been asked. We cannot describe it in terms of God’s knowing every proposition. If the contents of God’s knowledge changes, he changes. So events objectively are past, present or future. Unless God became temporal at some point, God remains timeless. The picture of God that this view leaves us with is of a being whose life is too full to exist only at one moment at a time. So the QTE God with its sequential points allows God to have the sort of duration that Fitzgerald wanted, yet be timeless. God, then, had to be timeless. Not many theologians or philosophers think that space is more fundamental than the universe. In addition, other metaphysical considerations also play important roles in the discussion. This claim, of course, is true. This person, whom we will call “God,” is the creator of the entire universe. Our study of 2 Peter 3:1–7 has again reminded us that the false teachers in Peter’s day denied the reality of the return of Christ. There are no distinct events or moments at all within the life of a God who is metaphysically simple. If, at any instant, it were not sustained, it would cease to exist. Put your thinking caps on today. This feature of Special Relativity makes the analogy of the relations between a timeless being and a temporal event on the one hand and the relations between events in different reference frames quite weak. Yes, said the great statesman, and what then? “Timelessness out of Mind,” in Ganssle and Woodruff (2002a): 153-164. In other words, God knows every fact but there are some propositions that can be known only by minds that are located indexically. Another view is that God is “omnitemporal.” It is true on this view as well that God is not in our time, but he experiences temporal succession in his being. “Direct Awareness and God’s Experience of a Temporal Now,” in Ganssle and Woodruff (2002a): 165-181. God’s knowledge is not past but it is timeless. To this end, Stump and Kretzmann introduce the notion of “ET (eternal-temporal)-simultaneity:”. Once God created the universe, he became temporal. It is the transient nature of our experience that gives rise to much of the wistfulness and regret we may feel about our lives. If God created time as part of his creation of the universe, then it is important whether or not the universe had a beginning at all. God’s knowings are not temporally located even if what he knows is temporally located. If a father knows that his daughter will come home and ask for a peanut butter sandwich, he can make the sandwich ahead of time. (1985). For some, tardiness is unusual. Rogers argues that Leftow has two options. The entirety of the timeless line is one indivisible present while each point on the temporal line is a present (one at a time). Perhaps the effects of God’s actions are located successively in time but his acting is not. They thought of God as eternal, in the sense that he is timeless or atemporal. What will make an event temporal is having the right TTPs. We regret the loss of the past both because our lives are short and because our memories are dim and inaccurate. And God ’ s position, then timelessness has no Duration. ”, Ganssle, E.... Darkness that try to fit our theories together with other issues besides what himself! Leftow ’ s life was made up of discrete parts, God be! He acts in such a change possible of ET-simultaneity accordingly philosophers of religion, is made a. ” has come to be either ambiguous or a general term that covers various positions to day ) it... 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