Sunday, November 08, 2015

Cursory Thoughts on Divine Temporality

Most orthodox theologians affirm the eternity (i.e., atemporality) of God ex professo. For instance, Paul Helm claims: "it makes no sense to ask how long God has existed, or to divide up his life into periods of time." Helm believes that God is eternal; the adjective "eternal" (in this context) refers to a presumed intrinsic property of the omnipotent Christian God whereby this deity is supposed to be outside of time. He is purportedly a divine being that transcends duration of time and temporal location (tempus).

Additionally, Thomas Aquinas reasons that God's timelessness is a fundamental truth: “From what we have said it is further apparent that God is eternal. Everything that begins to be or ceases to be does so through motion or change. Since, however, we have shown that God is absolutely immutable [i.e., not experiencing motion or change], He is eternal, lacking all beginning or end.” So God’s immutability (unchangeableness) ostensibly entails divine atemporality and the objective absence of de re potentiality in God.

This study will briefly examine two theories of divine atemporality posited by Boethius (ca. 475-526 CE) and Aquinas (1225-1274 CE). Both of the theories have been influential and they continue to mold contemporary discourse pertaining to God and time. After reviewing how Boethius and Aquinas construe the doctrine of absolute divine timelessness, I will talk about the observations of contemporary philosopher, Stephen T. Davis, then offer a provisional answer to the question, is God's putative eternity (atemporality) logically possible? The first issue that merits attention, however, is the relationship between God’s atemporality, divine foreknowledge and our human freedom. The first heading of this study will discuss the problem of free will and divine foreknowledge before undertaking an exploration of the Boethian and Thomistic views of God’s atemporality followed by Davis’ critique, an examination of objections to Davis, then my considered thoughts on the debate.

No comments: