Nature of God - God as eternal/timeless Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Nature of God - God as eternal/timeless Deck (35)
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1

god's res with time scripture

- 2 Peter 3:8 – There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to him the two are the same.

2

god's res with time different parts

- God is eternal/timeless
o Classical theists e.g. Boethius, Anselm
o Influence from Greek and early Biblical ideas
- eternity is the 'simultaneous possession of boundless life'

- God is everlasting and sempiternal/inside time
o Modern theologians e.g. process theologians (God is not omnipotent, but supremely great).

3

eternal, boethius - context

o Said he was raised in a Xian family, but that he turned to paganism. View is disputed.
o Translated Aristotle’s works from Greek to Latin, interest was in logic.
o In prison he wrote De Consolatione philosophiae, imaginary dialogue between himself and philosophy. In line with teaching of Plato: there is a higher power, everything else is secondary to divine providence.
o 3 key ideas in writings
♣ Universals are real apart from the concrete existents in which they are embodied
♣ There is a distinction between being and existence
♣ God is timeless as it reconciles providence with freedom
o Thought about the following issues
♣ If God knows the future, he knows our future decisions
♣ If God knows the decisions we will make, it’s wrong for God to reward/punish
♣ Yet, the Bible speaks of reward/punishment
o We are contingent, God is not
o Declared a saint in 1883

4

boethius, divine foreknowledge

♣ E.g. Mozart looking at a keyboard and knowing how it worked vs. someone born deaf, who will never know it in the same way
o Gods way of seeing the universe will be very different to human perception
o All rational creatures view God as eternal, must thus explain the nature of this eternity so it can reveal the nature of the Divine Being
o Eternity is the simultaneous possession of boundless life which is made clearer by comparison with temporal things
o God is outside the universe and not affected by time or space. Past, present and future is one simultaneous present. He does not see what we have/are going to do, but sees it rather all at the same time. (e.g. General Relativity)
o Allows for free will, as God lives in an unchanging present.


future cannot change as this would be 'fallible opinion' not knowledge. yet can't argue pre deterministic god and so god is eternal

5

boethius, types of necessity

o Boethius talks about providence vs. prevision – God sees things not from our inferior perspective, but from above.
o Divine knowledge does not change the nature or the properties of the individual things; it simply sees those things as present which we would regard as future.
o E.g. man out for walk on sunny day.
♣ Sun is simply shining, has no choice (simple necessity)
♣ Person has chosen to walk (conditional necessity) – free act
♣ God is a passive observer, like someone sitting on a hill watching the man walk. Knows the man is watching but doesn’t have any influence over it

6

b positives general

+ Maintains God’s omnipotence, in accordance with Biblical teachings
- However… is he really omnipotent if he can’t intervene/interact with people?
+ Maintains free will

7

b positives, augustine

Augustine
- Thy years are one day; and thy day is not daily, but today, seeing thy today gives not place unto tomorrow, for neither doth it replace yesterday. Thy today, is eternity.
- Augustine argues that if we place God in time, there is an issue of what God did before time.

8

b positives, aquinas

- Distinguishes God’s nature and will (unchanging and perfect) from his activity (relationship with people)
- If will is goodness itself, then it cannot change (immutable)
- It is God’s activity which connects him with people, his will remains eternal

9

b positives, creel

Richard Creel - God knows all possibilities of his reaction to all situations (immutable)

10

b negatives general and response

If God can see Hitler killing Jewish people, shouldn’t he do something to stop him? (not omnibenevolent or omnipotent)
- Boethius’ divine foreknowledge would argue that God’s knowledge is in a ‘simultaneous present’, cannot be held responsible.
- Therefore, when God knows that something is going to happen in the future, he may know a thing which will not happen out of necessity, but voluntarily; God’s foreknowledge does not impose necessity on things.
- So, God sees future things that are the result of human free will; these things, then, are necessary, on the condition that they are known by God, but considered only in themselves, they are still free in their own natures.
Can’t have a relationship with God
Can see future evil, should be held responsible?

11

b negatives, lucas

J. R. Lucas
- If God has infallible knowledge of the future, our will is not free. Thus, Lucas concludes, like the medieval Jewish philosopher Gersonides, that God in creating beings with genuinely free will, abdicates some of his omniscience as well as some of his omnipotence. Lucas holds, God could but does not foreknow our future choices since this would rob us of free will.

12

b negatives, réponse to lucas

- However… Richard L. Purtill
o The argument is perhaps best regarded as a variant of that 'master argument' which Epictetus described in the Discourses. The classical Master Argument can be reconstructed as follows:
1. The future follows from the past;
2. The past is unchangeable;
3. What follows from the unchangeable is unchangeable;
4. The future is unchangeable.

13

anselm

- Four-dimensionalist approach, develops Boethius’ work on how God relates to time
o Anselm argued that Boethius’ analogy is not pushed far enough. It is not ‘as though’ God can see all our choices, but rather he literally can because of his eternal timelessness.
- Past and future exist in the same way that the present exists, terms we use to describe the past/future are relative to the person using them e.g. ‘yesterday’. Time is relative to space etc. God sees it in a different way to humans.
- Time = fourth dimension alongside height, width and depth, which all relate to space
- God = past, present and future all at once just as time and space is in God – created and sustained by God
- Humans can still have free will as like Boethius, God sees time differently and has no impact on decisions within time. God can literally see us in our pasts, present and futures at the same time, but cannot impact them. Thus we are morally responsible and can be judged.

14

Anselm, humans v god

- Humans see time in a ‘presentist’ manner (i.e. the past is gone and cannot be altered, future hasn’t happened yet so neither exist in the way the present does)
- Anselm thinks that whilst humans think in a presentism manner, God does not. He is not constrained by time and space. God exists in a timeless manner. He is timeless and spaceless.. eternity is a non temporal concept

15

Anselm, positives scholars

+ Augustine
- Thy years are one day; and thy day is not daily, but today, seeing thy today gives not place unto tomorrow, for neither doth it replace yesterday. Thy today, is eternity.
- Augustine argues that if we place God in time, there is an issue of what God did before time.
+ Aquinas
- Distinguishes God’s nature and will (unchanging and perfect) from his activity (relationship with people)
- If will is goodness itself, then it cannot change (immutable)
- It is God’s activity which connects him with people, his will remains eternal
+ Richard Creel - God knows all possibilities of his reaction to all situations (immutable)
+ C.S. Lewis claimed that God ‘does not ‘foresee’ you doing things tomorrow; he simply sees you doing them’

16

anselm, positives general

+ Maintains free will
+ Anselm distinguishes himself from Boethius, as he argues that God literally sees our past, present and future in one moment, thus making
+ Maintains God’s omnipotence, in accordance with Biblical teachings
- However… is he really omnipotent if he can’t intervene/interact with people?

17

anselm negatives and response

Can’t have a relationship with God e.g. seems contrary to RE experience
Wiles overcomes this criticism, as he argues that God’s perception of time means that he engages in ongoing creative activity

18

Anselm Lucas negatives and response

J. R. Lucas
- If God has infallible knowledge of the future, our will is not free. Thus, Lucas concludes, like the medieval Jewish philosopher Gersonides, that God in creating beings with genuinely free will, abdicates some of his omniscience as well as some of his omnipotence. Lucas holds, God could but does not foreknow our future choices since this would rob us of free will.
- However… Richard L. Purtill
o The argument is perhaps best regarded as a variant of that 'master argument' which Epictetus described in the Discourses. The classical Master Argument can be reconstructed as follows:
1. The future follows from the past;
2. The past is unchangeable;
3. What follows from the unchangeable is unchangeable;
4. The future is unchangeable

19

everlasting general

(God is everlasting – in time/sempiternal)
- God has always existed and always will exist
- God exists through time like other beings, but his existence has no beginning/end
- God is everlasting. Allows humans free will/reconciliation of problem of evil if God than if God is atemporal and aware of future evil
- BUT… how is God omnipotent/omniscient if he cannot fully know the future?

20

Swinburne

Swinburne (God is everlasting – in time/sempiternal)
- If God is timeless and therefore, immutable, God cannot have a relationship with people.
- A timeless God would not be able to love if he were unchanging
- If God had thus fixed his intentions ‘from all eternity’ he would be a very lifeless thing; not a person who reacts to men with sympathy, or anger, pardon or chastening because he chooses to there and then. Yet… the God of the Old Testament, in which Judaism, Islam and Christianity have their roots, is a God in continual interaction with men. (Coherence of Theism)
- God must be in time and everlasting
- Biblical God in which we are made imago dei seems to be changing and affected
- Swinburne rejects Greek influence of Plato, opts for more Biblical God so rejects perfection associated with an unchanging God
- This allows God to know all that is logical to know within time, whilst allowing human free will

21

Swinburne positives general

+ Avoids criticism made of Boethius and Anselm that God can’t interact if he is timeless
+ Fits better with Biblical ideas, reconciles omnibenevolence
+ Allows for free will, reconciles problem of evil more effectively than if God is atemporal and aware of future evil

22

Swinburne positive scholar

Wolterstorff (God is everlasting – in time/sempiternal)
- God needs to be sempiternal rather than eternal/in time if he is to conform with the God in Bible presented as redeeming.
- A redeeming God cannot be outside time
- Ontologically needs to have varying natures within his states to be a redeeming God
o E.g. God is spoken of as calling Abraham to leave Chaldea and later instructing Moses to return to Egypt. So, does God instructing Moses succeed his calling Abraham? Does not this sort of succession constitute a change on God’s time strand, but not his ‘essence’?

23

Swinburne negative and response

- Denies omnipotence, constrained by time
- God’s mutability would be criticised on the basis of Greek notions of change and imperfection
o Karl Popper – change does not indicate imperfection
o But… Brian Davies: anything that changes is part of the world and not distinct

24

tadeusz kotarbinski

time is the duration objects and not something separate

objects do not exist within time. if god is not an object, then perhaps he could e outside time

25

Anselm intro

major philosopher of 11th century

major works include proslogion, relies on belief in god as omnipotent

links this omniscience since as a consequence of his omnipotence, he is timeless and impassible (not affected)

26

Anselm on free will

freedom is linked to doing the right thing

god cannot choose evil, but still has free will since it is the ability to choose the right thing because one wants to

27

god as eternal bible

- 2 Peter 3:8 – There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to him the two are the same.

28

Swinburne background

interested in probability theory, which he applies to demonstrate the reasonability of faith

29

positives of Swinburne, barth

incarnation - god acting intentionally and decisive in and within human history

30

positives of Swinburne, Tillich

god outside the temporal process would be lifeless, yet believers speak of a 'living god'