God & Time

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info.gif Time: "The relation that successive events in the universe have to each other. It seems impossible to describe the nature of this relation without employing some notion such as 'before and after.' This confirms Augustine's famous comment that he knows what time is until someone asks him to define it. Philosophers have disagreed vigorously about the reality of 'tense' and 'becoming.' Time is experienced by us as a series of 'nows' that quickly become past and that anticipate future 'nows.' However, many philosophers have argued that temporal events are simply an ordered sequence (the 'B series') and that what might be called 'becoming' is only an appearance. Theologians have disagreed over the relation of God to time, with the majority of traditional theologians holding that God is eternal in the sense of being timeless."
info.gif Timelessness: "One way of understanding the eternality of God. Those who accept a strong view of divine immutability typically think of God as a being who completely transcends time and for whom there is no 'before and after,' though God knows the temporal relations all events have to each other. The contrary view thinks of God as everlasting and thus sharing in the temporality of creation in some way."
info.gif Eternity/Everlasting: "Contrasting ways of thinking of God's relation to time as well as the nature of the life hoped for by Christians now and after death. There is a dispute between those who think of eternity as everlasting time, with no beginning or end, and those who conceive of eternity as an atemporal (timeless) mode of reality. Defenders of the notion of eternity as everlasting argue that this is the Hebraic concept and that the concept of a timeless eternity is a product of Greek thinking that distorts the biblical view. Defenders of timeless eternity argue that God is the Lord of time and that he could not create time without himself being timeless."

Evans, C. (2002) Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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    Clouser, Roy A.


    Is God Eternal?

    "In what follows, I will argue in part 1 that there is in fact biblical warrant for thinking God created and transcends time. In part 2, I will show that each of Wolterstorff's arguments against God's eternality are enthymemes the missing premises of which beg the question. Finally, in part 3 I will point to a deeper issue which, though crucial to this debate, is not considered in 'God Everlasting'. If my treatment of this issue is correct, it results in a position I believe can reconcile Wolterstorff's concerns with the traditional view of God as eternal."
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    Co, Adam


    On the Relation of God and Time: A Temporalist Rebuttal of an Atemporalist View of Divine Immutability

    "Can the logical tie that binds the doctrine of divine immutability in the strong sense and the atemporal view of God be broken? This paper has answered that question in the affirmative. It has shown that the alleged logical entailment argument cannot be supported by Scripture, sound logic based on biblical theology, and advocates of the view themselves. In fact, the proper biblical view of the doctrine of divine immutability is that God cannot change in His being, purposes or will. But He can and must be able to change relationally if His immutability attributes and qualities are to be preserved."
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    Ganssle, Gregory E.


    Thinking About God & Time

    This is the introductory chapter of God and Time: Four Views. Ganssle provides a good overview of some of the issues related to God and his relationship to time. He also summarizes the divergent arguments of the contributors to this work on the subject.
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    Ganssle, Gregory E.


    God and Time

    "Any theistic view of the world includes some notion of how God is related to the structures of the universe, including space and time. The question of God's relation to time has generated a great amount of theological and philosophical reflection. The traditional view has been that God is timeless in the sense of being outside time altogether; that is, he exists but does not exist at any point in time and he does not experience temporal succession. 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. He exists at each moment in time. 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."
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    Helm, Paul



    "Concepts of eternity have developed in a way that is, as a matter of fact, closely connected to the development of the concept of God in Western thought, beginning with ancient Greek philosophers; particularly to the idea of God's relation to time, the idea of divine perfection, and the Creator-creature distinction. Eternity as timelessness, and eternity as everlastingness, have been distinguished. Following the work of Boethius and Augustine of Hippo divine timelessness became the dominant view. In more recent times, those who stress a more anthropomorphic account of God, or God's immanence within human history, have favored divine everlastingness. The debate has been sharpened by the use of McTaggart's distinction between A-series and B-series accounts of temporal sequence."
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    Huss, Albin


    God and Time: Entailments on the Freedom/Foreknowledge Issue for Determinists and Indeterminists

    "Two questions which have received considerable attention among classical writers as well as contemporary theologians and philosophers are: (1) Is God’s eternal existence atemporal (outside of time) or temporal (within time)? AND (2) In light of Scripture, logic, and/or philosophy, is the divine foreknowledge-human freedom dilemma best resolved by a determinist or an indeterminist position? As these two questions have been the subject of massive theological treatises over the centuries, this author will not attempt to offer any fresh solutions to resolving these issues. That is, this paper will not seek to specifically answer either question. Rather, we will endeavor to evaluate the positions held by leading scholars in an effort to delineate the key interrelations between the two questions and to determine whether, for example, one’s position on the atemporal/temporal eternity question logically necessitates one’s position on the freedomforeknowledge (FFK) issue, or vice versa."
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    Rogers, Katherin A.


    Anselm on Eternity as the Fifth Dimension

    "Among the various arguments for the contemporary rejection of the view that God is eternal is the claim that a timeless God could not be omniscient in that He could not know what time it actually is right now, and the complaint that invoking divine eternity fails to solve the dilemma of freedom and foreknowledge. I argue that Anselm’s doctrine of divine eternity avoids these criticisms by adopting what I call the 'four-dimensionalist' theory of time; all times, what we call past, present, and future exist equally and are all immediately present to divine eternity."
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    Stump, Eleonore and Norman Kretzmann



    "The concept of eternity makes a significant difference in the consideration of a variety of issues in the philosophy of religion, including, for instance, the apparent incompatibility of divine omniscience with human freedom, of divine immutability with the efficacy of petitionary prayer, and of divine omniscience with divine immutability; but, because it has been misunderstood or cursorily dismissed as incoherent, it has not received the attention it deserves from contemporary philosophers of religion. In this paper we expound the concept as it is presented by Boethius (whose definition of eternity was the locus classicus for medieval discussions of the concept), analyze implications of the concept, examine reasons for considering it incoherent, and sample the results of bringing it to bear on issues in the philosophy of religion."
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    Sudduth, Michael C.


    Is It Coherent to suppose that there Exists an Omniscient Timeless Being?

    "In the present paper I want to consider the plausibility of an argument against the doctrine of divine timelessness...After considering two forms of this argument, I will argue that if either of the forms of argument is sound, then parallel arguments can be constructed to show that if God is a temporal being, he cannot be omniscient, for there will always be things even a temporal God cannot know...After this I shall subject the doctrine of divine omniscience to closer scrutiny in the light of Anselmian perfect being theology. I will conclude that it is coherent to suppose that there exists a maximally perfect, timelessly omniscient being."
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    Wierenga, Edward


    Timelessness out of Mind: On the Alleged Incoherence of Divine Timelessness

    "Recent objections to the doctrine of divine timelessness have appealed either to the claim that continued omniscience requires existence in time or to the claim that divine action is only possible if God is located in time. The former claim has been fairly thoroughly investigated and, it seems to me, must be judged inconclusive. The latter claim has not received the same detailed attention. In a recent article and book, however, Richard Swinburne has developed the objection with characteristic attention to the underlying metaphysical issues. Swinburne's approach is to propose and defend some principle about the nature of time and causation. He then applies these principles to divine timelessness and claims that the concept is 'incoherent'. I argue that Swinburne's principles are not as plausible as he thinks and that, in any event, it is unclear that they have the consequences for the doctrine of divine timelessness that he thinks they have."
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    Zimmerman, Dean


    God Inside Time and Before Creation

    "There are many serious questions a divine temporalist must answer. One of the most frequently discussed is whether a temporal God could know ahead of time what I will freely do, or how any indeterministic system will behave. I shall leave the most theologically pressing questions to others, however. Here I address two closely related, more purely metaphysical questions facing divine temporalists: (i) Does time necessarily involve change? and (ii) Did God have a sufficient reason for creating when he did? The latter raises the further question whether a divine temporalist can say that, in some sense, time had a beginning."