nature of God

God as Eternal - timeless - like the wicked witch

  • he exists outside of time, he has no beginning and no end
  • bible hints towards an eternal god "who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy"

influenced by classical theist view - Plato eternal world of the forms.

Eternal god is different from humans experience of life in the physcial world.

Does God experience what is for us every event, every moment, in one ineffable moment? the “most real being” was that which existed perfectly and changelessly beyond the troubles and concerns of our world.

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God as Eternal - timeless


  • god does not experince past present and future
  • all time is present to god simultaneously
  • supported by quote: "the whole simultaneous and perfect posession of undending life".


  • supports Boethius
  • time and change are inseperable, god is immutable so cant be in time
  • "eternity exsist as a simultaneous whole and time does not
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Criticisms of a timeless God

  • Kenny & Swinburne - notion of time being simulatenous to God is incoherent.
  • if god is eternal how can he be personal with his creation i.e. answering prayers and granting miracles? Paul Helm - "god considered timeless cant have temporal relations with his creation.
  • love is a two way process how can god show love to his people/creation if he is timeless. language in the bible suggested that god acted personally contradicting this notion of god.
  • how can he reposnd to peoples prayers if he is timeless?
  • Boethius ends up defining a god who is intrinsically different from the classical theist view of how god should be.
  • accounts in the bible suggest god does/has acted in creation, but should these just be taken as mythsn not taken literally?
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God as Everlasting - God is on a bus with you

Eternal in the sense of everlasting, on the other hand, presumes a God who is part of and acts within history.

The concept of “everlasting” has tended to be more popular among average believers and even many philosophers because it is easier to comprehend and because of it more compatible with the religious experiences and traditions of most people.

God acts and causes things to happen — but actions are events and causation is linked to events, which are rooted in time.

Both Jewish and Christian scriptures point to a God who is everlasting, acting in human history, and very much capable of change.

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God as Everlasting

  • Christian and Neoplatonic theology, however, is often committed to a God who is so “perfect” and so far beyond the type of existence, we understand that it is no longer recognizable.
  • what constitutes “perfection.” Why must “perfection” be something which is beyond our ability to recognize and understand?
  • An everlasting God is more comprehensible than a timeless God; however, the trait of everlasting does tend to conflict with other Neoplatonic traits like perfection and immutable.
  • Either way, assuming that God is eternal is not without problems.
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God as Everlasting

Swinburne - everlasting God fits more satisfactory with God as revealed in the Bible.

Wolterstorff -
only way to understand gods actions as accounted in the bible is as responses to human free choices e.g. 10 plagues.

Gods omniscience only includes knowing what has happened. the future as it is does not yet exist.
therefore you cant critisize an everlasting God for not knowing the future.

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Philosophical problems - timeless God

  • omniscience - has all knowledge
  • omnipotence - has all power to create and remain apart from time
  • perfect - not bound by time or change he has no contraints
  • immutable - not changed by time
  • therefore he is greater than all beings seperate from humans

but this questions gods...

  • omnibenevolence - not being present in time/close to his people
  • personal level - how come he can grant miracles? answer prayer?
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Philosophical problems - Everlasting God

  • omnibenevolence - active in our lives, two way process of love <3
  • personal level - answer prayers and grant miracles
  • feel our pain when times are tough

but questions gods...

  • omniscience - he cant be all knowing if he doesnt know the future
  • immutable - if time can change for god can he still be perfect?
  • perfection - is he limited by time?

the main issue lies within the scripture and how you interpret the bibles messages aboout Gods nature. "the eternal god is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms".

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Attributes of God - omnipotence - logically imposs


  • god can do anything
  • god can change the laws of physics
  • paradox of the stone - can god create a stone so heavy he cannot lift? if he cant he is not omnipotent.
  • god can make circles square and 2+2=5
  • he may of appeared to violate the laws of nature in Descartes time because there wasnt much knowledge of physics, nowdays we have a much better understanding of things even like the weather.
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Attributes of God - omnipotence - logically possib


  • disagrees with Descartes.he cannot violate laws/maths.
  • if god can both create a stone so heavy he cannot lift it and lift it then he can do all things. god can on this understamding make contradictions.

Rejected by Mackie!

  • logically impossible actions are "only a form of words which fails to describe any state of affairs" logical imposibilities do not exist. but maybe they just dont exist for us because we cant imagine them?
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Paradox of the stone

  • can god create a stone so heavy he cannot lift it?
  • if he cant, this is something he cannot do, therefore he is not omnipotent.
  • if he can create the stone, but namely not lift it then he is therefore not omnipotent.
  • either way then God is not omnipotent. therefore he does not exist.

if god exists he is a being which can lift all stones. a stone that is so heavy god cannot lift is therefore an impossible object. god is able to do anything logically possible therefore creating a stone which god cannot lift is logically impossible. Aquinas approach survives the paradox well.

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Attributes of God - omniscience

perfection of gods knoweldge is unlimited of the past present and future. god is outside of time knowing the whole of time from beginning to end. Eternal god.

Limited omniscience - Limited to what is logically possible. God chooses to limit what he knows. his knowledge changes overtime. he is Everlasting god.

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divine foreknowledge

  • he knows all my acts what he foresees must come to pass.
  • if my acts come to pass then they cannot be free
  • supported by Calvin: predestination. God determine the fate of the universe. "in love he predestined us".
  • thisn contradicts his omnibenevolence.
  • we have no real control over our sins or free will
  • "moral determinisim makes god immoral and humans amoral. (lacking a moral sense; unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something.)
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Foreknowledge - Boethius

  • argues how can we still be free agents when god is eternal and has divine foreknowledge?
  • if he knows our future actions how are we free?
  • he has Providence = knowldege of the future
  • this future cannot change otherwise what god sees is just falliable opinion which isnt knoweldge and isnt perfect.

just because he is eternal does not mean he predestines us? although its hard to sepearte the two. surely if he knows our future he has the ability to change it yet not change himself? God sees all of time but does not distinguish whats in past present and future.

boethius confirms - its not knoweldge of future events but of never changing past.

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Summary of Boethius

  • god does not have divine knoweldge
  • him knowing past present and future is a human perspective of time passing, we cannot understand time passing for god.
  • he knows eveything in a single glance.
  • he is therefore justified in reward and punishment as we are free....or are we? its debatable.
  • god has eternal omniscience not divine foreknowledge.
  • he knows everything as a collective whole which is difficult for us to understand, but its ok if we dont understand because this is what sepeartes us from him and makes him so almighty.

Augustine = God simply knows our choices.

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Aquinas and omniscience

  • "god sees all things together and not successively" this means he sees everything but not linear - not like humans.
  • birds eye view that is theocentric.
  • he does not interfere with our free will, however can we really prove this claim, it cannot be falsified?
  • god is aware ofn all possible choices but we are free to choose as we wish.

possible solutions? Swinburne - God doesnt know what will happen in the future. an omniscient being knows every time proposition. But, a future action isnt true of false until it has happened so an mniscient being does not have to know them, just wait until it happens. what do we gain from believing he knows everything?

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god = perfect and lacks nothing

can he really know everything if he doesnt know what its like to change?

can god know new events as they happen if he cannot change? i guess these are the sort of problems an eternal timeless god faces.

Brian Davies = anything that changes is part of the world not distinct from it. so if god is creator god he needs to be seperate from it and thus unchnaging.

its just an ongoing problem really, maybe it would be better if we stopped questioning his nature altogether?

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Summary of philosphical problems

divine foreknowldege

  • how can humans be held reposbible for their actions?
  • how can we judge actions as evil/punish if there is no free will
  • no resaon to act morally - predestination.
  • does this make god responsible for suffering - problem of evil?

Boethius omniscience

  • can he know everything if he doesnt know what its like to change?
  • supports our free will and he can punish justly.

even if god cant see the future as it is logically impossible does this takeway his omnipotence?

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