Critically asses the traditional Christian concept of God being eternal
The idea of God being eternal has been strongly influenced by classical philosophy particularly Plato and his unchanging true reality of the world of Forms, and the later philosophy of Boethius. However Nicholas Wolterstoff has suggested that the eternity of God has appealed to people not just because of the influence of classical Greek philosophy but also because the eternal God is different from humans’ experience of life in the physical world. In this world the notion of God being other and always existing, as revealed in the Bible, leads to the philosophical understanding of God’s nature as eternal and makes believers’ conviction that God is eternal more understandable.
In Judaeo- Christian philosophy the concept of God being eternal can refer to God existing outside of time or on the other hand refer to God having no beginning and no end, but time does pass for Him. The traditional Christian concept of God being eternal is maintained because the Bible suggests that God has always existed and will cease to exist. “I the Lord do not change.” However others may argue whether we can use the word “eternal” to talk about God because our understanding of the word “eternal” is only of human comprehension. It could be argued that Christians cannot fully understand the concept of God being eternal nor use it to talk about God because all language which speaks about God is without meaning and purpose.
The Christian belief that God is eternal was strongly influenced by the philosophy of Boethius. Boethius argued that God is changeless and does not exist in time. Boethius argues that God exists eternally and all of time is present to God at the same time. God does not see the future as it happens instead Boethius argues all time is present to God “simultaneously”. Christians base their understanding of God being eternal on this ideology of Boethius. Conversely Anthony Kenny argued that the notion of all time being simultaneously present to God is incoherent. Anthony Kenny argued this because he believed that if all time is simultaneously present to God the meaning of the word “simultaneous” entails that all of time is happening at the same moment which appears to be incoherent. This criticism of why the traditional Christian idea of God being eternal doesn’t work is very coherent and thus could further go on to suggest the Christian idea of God being eternal is extremely flawed.
Contrastingly Anthony Kenny’s criticism can be counter-argued if you abandon the idea of eternity involving events being simultaneously present to God. As Paul Helm suggests…