Articles exploring God’s relationship to time with a view toward determining whether divine eternity should be construed timelessly or temporally.
This paper is an unpublished response to Yuri Balashov and Storrs McCall which was presented at a session of the Philosophy of Time Society devoted to Dr. Craig's
Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity
(2001). Dr. Craig responds to criticisms offered by Balashov and Jensen as well as McCall of his defense of a neo-Lorentzian interpretation of the equations of the Special Theory of Relativity.
Philosophical theologians have been sharply divided with respect to God's relationship to time. What are the principal arguments which they have offered for divine timelessness and temporality?
"Divine Eternity." In The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology, pp. 145-66. Ed. Thomas Flint and Michael Rea. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. By permission of Oxford University Press, Inc. www.oup.com
A difficulty for a view of divine eternity as timelessness is that if time is tensed, then God, in virtue of His omniscience, must know tensed facts. But tensed facts, such as It is now t, can only be known by a temporally located being.
Defenders of divine atemporality may attempt to escape the force of this argument by contending either that a timeless being can know tensed facts or else that ignorance of tensed facts is compatible with divine omniscience. Kvanvig, Wierenga, and Leftow adopt both of these strategies in their various defenses of divine timelessness. Their respective solutions are analyzed in detail and shown to be untenable.
Thus, if the theist holds to a tensed view of time, he should construe divine eternity in terms of omnitemporality.
"Omniscience, Tensed Facts, and Divine Eternity."
Faith and Philosophy
17 (2000): 225–241
Leibniz's question to Clarke, "Why Did God Not Create the Word Sooner?" posses a difficult problem for theists holding to a neo-Newtonian view that God is omnitemporal and that time is beginningless. Kant's escape route—denying that the universe began to exist—is rendered implausible by contemporary cosmology. Unless we are prepared to say that the universe popped into being uncaused, we must face Leibniz's conundrum.
Leibniz's argument, when properly formulated, leads to the conclusion that time began to exist. The individual premisees are examined and found to be plausible.
But if time therefore began to exist, how is God's relation to the beginning of time to be construed? It is argued that God is plausibly timeless sans the universe and temporal with the universe. This paradoxical conclusion is defended against objections.
"God and the Beginning of Time."
International Philosophical Quarterly
41 (2001): 17-31.
A classic difficulty of the conception of divine eternity as timelessness is that it seems impossible for an atemporal deity to be causally active in the world. Stump and Kretzmann, in their seminal article "Eternity," claimed to be able to resolve this problem by formulating a new species of simultaneity, viz., eternal-temporal simultaneity. Although their proposal has received extensive criticism, little has been said concerning the notion of the "eternal present" which underlies their analysis. It is argued that apart from construing divine eternity as a sort of embedding hyper-time, it does not seem possible to make sense of Stump and Kretzmann's description of the eternal present.
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
73 (1999): 521-536.
How shall we construe divine eternity and God's relationship to time? The view that God is simply timeless faces two insuperable difficulties: (1) an atemporal deity cannot be causally related to the temporal world, if temporal becoming is real, and (2) timelessness is incompatible with divine omniscience, if there are tensed facts about the world. On the other hand, we have good reasons to think that time and the universe had a beginning. Therefore, God cannot be infinitely temporal in the past. Perhaps we could say that God sans the universe existed in a topologically amorphous time in which temporally ordered intervals could not be distinguished. But such a state is not different from a state of timelessness. Therefore, the best understanding of eternity and time is that God is timeless sans creation and temporal since creation.
, Series 2, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2000, pp. 29-33.
Brian Leftow argues that timeless beings are metaphysically superior to temporal beings in view of their truer presence and unity. Leftow's argument that a timeless being has truer presence is based on a systematic misconstruction of tensed vs. tenseless theories of time, which invalidates his argument. Leftow's argument that temporal beings have less unity is based on a misunderstanding and reductionistic interpretation of the Special Theory of Relativity. Whether one adopts a presentist or non-presentist ontology, Leftow's further claim that temporal beings do not have their existence all at once is erroneous.