Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time

By Quarum, Merrit | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time


Quarum, Merrit, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time. By William Lane Craig. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001, 272 pp., $25.00 paper.

In Time and Eternity, Craig continues to provide philosophical arguments to support his enduring thesis: "God is timeless without creation and temporal since creation." The apparent dichotomy in this statement alone is intriguing enough to invite further investigation by scientists, theologians, and philosophers alike. As one would expect, the majority of the discussion and rationale relies heavily on philosophy rather than science or theology. The arguments presented require careful thought and consideration and can become tedious when the work is not viewed as a whole. Given the complexity of the subject matter, however, the necessity for a complete historical and analytical discourse is understood and appreciated.

The role of philosophy with respect to God's relationship to time is unabashedly presented in the preface of the book, in which Craig quotes from his previous work, The Only Wise God, "that someone desiring to learn more about God's attributes of omni-science would be better advised to read the works of Christian philosophers than of Christian theologians." He then states that "not only was that remark true, but the same holds for divine eternity" (p. 11). His insistence on philosophical deductive reasoning as the primary focus for understanding this subject matter is the major weakness of this book. This viewpoint stands in stark contrast to other popular authors on this topic, such as John Polkinghorne, who view the current debate as a useful forum for new insights and ideas and less as an academic pursuit of definitive conclusions.

Craig begins by providing two views of divine eternity along with his biblical and scientific bases. He quickly dismisses Stephen Hawking's concept of "imaginary time" or "quantum physical time" (p. 22) as not being time at all, but provides no explanation for this exclusion. Next, he nicely outlines the lack of biblical data available for a definitive understanding of divine eternity. Again, this is used to support the role of philosophical theology in the elucidation of a Christian doctrine of time. To answer the question of why this is important, he offers two reasons. First, he maintains that without a coherent doctrine of divine eternity, the biblical concept of God is open to attack. Second, he contends that there has been "a great deal of careless writing on this subject." In reality, very little has been written from a Christian viewpoint regarding either quantum mechanics or relativity, without question the major accomplishments of twentieth century physics and significant threats to biblical theism.

To highlight the first reason, Craig cites the opinions of two popular authors and celebrated theoretical physicists, Paul Davies and Stephen Hawking. Davies outlines the paradox of God's transcendence versus his immanence as a major question that requires an answer from a Christian perspective that presently offers no persuasive solution. On the other hand, Hawking's use of imaginary time is an apparent attempt to eliminate the singularity associated with the big bang, which also eliminates the need for a creator. Craig addresses Davies concerns directly, but the exclusion of "imaginary time" from his definition of time leaves Hawking's challenge unanswered. Admittedly, Hawking's arguments are somewhat peripheral to Craig's thesis and also remain highly speculative, even among physicists. Even atheists such as Quentin Smith argue that quantum gravity cosmology as promoted by Hawking does not eliminate the big bang singularity.

Returning to his second reason dealing with "careless writing on the subject," Craig cites two popular Christian authors, Philip Yancey and Hugh Ross. His analysis of both authors is condescending and unduly critical. His primary objection seems to be their use of extra dimensions in a biblical interpretation of time and eternity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.