The nature of God: God, eternity and free will



Divine eternity and divine action in time

Aristotle- God is unchanging and quite indifferent to the universe.

Boethius- God is 'remaining' 'enduring'. - these bring the issues of time. 'the complete possession all at once of illimitable life'. God does not experience past, present or future. All time is present to God at same time. Eternity: "the whole, simulateous and perfect possession of unending life". 

Aquinas- God's existence is unending- without beginning or end. Time and change are inseperable- God can't change so cannot be in time. Aquinas agrees with Boethius "eternity exists as a simulataneous whole and time does not"

Anselm- God is eternal because nothing can contain God. 


Kenny: notion of time being simulataneosuly present to God is incoherent. 

How can God be personal and act in creation?

Love involves a two way process and ability to respond.

How can God respond to people's prayers?

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Eternal as Everlasting

God always exists and will always exist without end but time passes for God.

Supports a present and active God answering prayers/granting miracles.

Swinburne- God being eternal as his being everlasting rather than him being timeless. An everlasting God fits more satsifactory with the God revealed in the Bible.

Wolterstorff- Only way to understand some of God's actions in the Bible is too see them as resposnses to human behaviour. He also argues that you cannot criticise and everlasting God for knowing the events of the future because God's omniscience only includes knowing what has happened. 

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Philosophical Problems

Eternal- timeless:

Support's God's: 

Omniscience- has all knowledge. Omnipotence- has all power to create and remain seperate from time. Perfect- no limits, constraints. Immutabeable- not changed by time. 

But Questions God's: Omnibenevolence- not present in time. Personal- not answering prayers/miracles. 

Eternal- everlasting 

Supports God's 

Omnibenevolence- active in human lives. Personal: answers prayers/miracles. 

But questions God's:

Omniscience: If God doesn't know the future can God be all-knowing. Immutable- if time/humans change God can God still be perfect? Perfect: Is God limited by time?

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