Essay on Now and Then: A Discourse on Issues of God and Time

Essay on Now and Then: A Discourse on Issues of God and Time

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Now and Then: A Discourse on Issues of God and Time

The classical understanding of God's relationship with time, eternity, and his knowledge of the future, as exemplified by Classical thinkers such as Boethius, Aquinas, and others, creates problems in regards to creaturely freedom. The question is typically phrased, "Since God is never wrong, if God knows at one moment that one of his creatures will perform some act at a moment which will occur after the moment he knew of the act, then will his creature perform this act?" I maintain that God does not know the future, because, first, God's knowledge of the future destroys creaturely freedom, second, God is always ever Creating, and, finally, the future is not knowable.

According to Thomas Aquinas, time is "the measure of before and after in movement"(Summa Theologica,1.10.1). Time, says Aquinas, having been created by God, has a beginning and an end, as do all things that are in time. Further, things that are in time change. Eternity is defined as that which is interminable, or without beginning or ending, and that which is eternal is unchanging. Hence, God is eternal because he is immutable and has no beginning or end (Summa Theological, 1.10.2). In relation to time, eternity does not move. Rather, it eternity is an eternal now, a now which stays the same in subject and aspect, while the now in time can change. In his discussion of God's knowledge (Summa Theological, 1.14), Aquinas states that because God sees everything in light of eternity, all of time is ever present to him, including that which is future contingent to us. Therefore, God knows our future, even though he does not experience it directly.

If God knows the future, creaturely free-will is denied. Further,...

... middle of paper ...

...the table upon which this paper rests or the hand which holds this paper or both, the sun above us and the movement of the Earth relative to the sun, the very movement of time from the beginning to the end of this paper—all of this is sustained by God, who is always ever Creating the present, without whom all things would cease to exist


Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica. Part I, Qs. 10 and 14.

Padgett, Alan G. "God and Time: Toward a New Doctrine of Divine Timeless Eternity." Religious Studies 25, no. 2 (June 1989): 209-215.

Ware, Kallistos. The Orthodox Way. Rev. ed. Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995.

Yong, Amos. "Time and Eternity, Divine (Fore)knowledge and Creaturely Freedom: Historical and Contemporary Issues."(Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction to Issues; Kansas City: Nazarene Publishing House, Forthcoming).

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