God and Time: Essays on the Divine Nature

God and Time: Essays on the Divine Nature

God and Time: Essays on the Divine Nature

God and Time: Essays on the Divine Nature


Throughout the history of philosophical theology, scholars have reflected on the relationship between God and time. In the Western religious tradition, God has been thought to be eternal, in the sense that God is outside time. But many thinkers today hold that while God is everlasting, in that there was no beginning to God's existence nor will he ever cease existing, God exists within Time. In God and Time, Gregory E. Ganssle and David Woodruff have brought together 12 previously unpublished essays from leading philosophers on God's relation to time. Including work from today's most prominent thinkers in this fascinating field, God and Time represents the current state of the discussion between those who believe God to be atemporal (experiencing everything in the "eternal now") and those who believe God to be temporal (experiencing events sequentially, somewhat as we do). This collection highlights such issues as how the nature of time is relevant to the question of whether God is temporal and how God's other attributes are compatible with his mode of temporal being. By focusing on the metaphysical aspects of time and temporal existence, God and Time makes a unique contribution to the current resurgence of interest in philosophical theology in the analytic tradition.


Consider the most obvious question of all about the initial state of the universe:Why is there an initial state at all? Why, for example, is there something rather than nothing?

—Lawrence Sklar, Physics and Chance

Explanatory Atheism and Theism

Why does time exist? in the context of the “spacetime theories” of the special or general theory of relativity, this question should be more appropriately phrased as “Why does spacetime exist?” I will narrow the question further and adopt the results of contemporary general relativistic cosmology, namely, that spacetime began to exist about fifteen billion years ago. Accordingly, my question will be “Why did spacetime begin to exist?”

There are two familiar, contemporary responses to this question. the theist says that the question has an answer and that this answer is that God caused spacetime to begin to exist. the standard response of the atheist is to say that there is no answer to this question; spacetime's beginning to exist is a brute fact or has no explanation. This standard atheist response seems to give theism a prima facie theoretical superiority to atheism; theists offer a detailed explanatory hypothesis about why spacetime begins to exists, and standard atheists are content to leave spacetime's beginning to exist unexplained.

I reject standard or traditional atheism and side with theism on this issue. a theory that includes an explanatory hypothesis about some observational evidence e, such as spacetime's beginning to exist, is ceteris paribus epistemically preferable to any theory of the observational evidence e that does not include such an explanatory hypothesis. No atheist has ever provided a proof that the existence of spacetime is a brute fact and, consequently, standard atheism remains, in this respect, an unjustified hypothesis.

My agreement with theism runs deeper: I agree that there is a cause of spacetime's beginning to exist. Further, I agree with many theists that a simple being caused spacetime, where “simple” means here “has no parts. ” (Note that “simplicity” is used in many different senses and that I later use it in a different sense, a sense where “simplicity” expresses a property of hypotheses, not of concrete particulars.) I also agree . . .

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