Friday, January 13, 2006

Old Contributor To Tu Quoque

After what has been a very long fall, I am finally able to get back into the swing of things. My schedule has lightened up a bit and I will now have time to post some thoughts once again. Just to catch you up, I have finished my studies at SES (for now anyway) and currently reside in Baltimore where I am teaching High School and taking the necessary steps to apply for a PhD. Program. Unfortunately my schedule and living circumstances - no internet connection at home right now (long story) and blogs are blocked where I work - I have not been able to participate in the conversations. I am really looking forward to mixing it up and helping the mold to spread throughout cyberspace. Hopefully I will have something meaningful up in the next few days. Look for the paper on the Ethics of Star Wars that I promised a while back and some shorter segments on Divine Simplicity. Glad to be back.

M. Hipsley . And here is the rest of it.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

God’s Knowledge of Time and Human Freedom

How God knows time plays an integral part in how His knowledge of time (i.e. the future) affects our freedom. For instance, granting that God is infallible in His knowledge of the future, i.e. God knows that A (John mows his lawn on July 4, 2007) will occur since A’s occurring is true, [1] then how can this be the case and yet man (i.e. John freely choosing to do otherwise) still have freedom?

Richard Sorabji makes mention of this problem in light of certain assertions from Boethius regarding God’s knowledge of time. Sorabji states, “there is a powerful reason in Boethius for wanting God’s knowledge to be timeless. Only so, he argues, can we avoid the knowledge in advance which would restrict our freedom? For if we make God’s knowledge of our doings to be both infallible and existent in advance, then what he foresees as happening will have been inevitable all along.” Thus Sorabji concludes, “It is then doubtful that we can either morally or responsibly be free.” [2]

Therefore, the question remains, how does God know time? Furthermore, how does God’s knowledge of the future maintain freedom in man? Or is man simply not free?

There is an exclusive and ultimate disjunction between the timeless and the temporal. However, there is a connection, though not ontologically, between an eternal being (God) and a temporal being (man). It seems implicit in the created order that since successions (i.e. temporal occurrences of successive moments of time) occur, God in some way must understand, comprehend, and know these successions. However, according to the classical philosopher and theologian (e.g. Aquinas, Augustine, Boethius, et. al), God Himself is not in time and thus is not affected by the temporal order. Therefore, the classical philosopher and theologian concludes that epistemologically, all things are present to God with regard to the whole of time and creation; although, all things are not actually present (i.e. in the present tense) in the world metaphysically.

Though God’s knowledge does not undergo succession, as does the reality of creation in its existence, God, nonetheless, in His eternal epistemic foundation, understands succession via the reality He Himself has assigned to creation. Albeit, this assigned reality has in no way caused God’s knowledge to be in succession, since this would place created reality before God’s knowledge, thus becoming the cause of what God knows. This distinction is crucial to our understanding of how God does and can relate and act in and upon the created order. He must in some fashion understand this succession without being affected by it if He is to remain timeless (and especially immutable).


[1] What is meant by declaring that A’s occurring is true is simply that A is the proposition, for example, ‘John will mow his lawn on July 4, 2007,’ and in our granting that God’s knowledge of the future is infallible, then granting that God knows that A will occur is true, then it is inevitable that A will occur; if in fact A did not occur then God’s knowledge of A would be otherwise. Simply put, God would not have knowledge of A since the latter option (A’s not occurring) would be false.

[2] Richard Sorabji, Time, Creation, and the Continuum: Theories in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Ithica, New York: Cornell University Press, 1983), 254. Emphasis is Sorabji’s. Sorabji alludes to Boethius work The Consolation of Philosophy, 5.6. Sorabji seems to conclude that if Boethius is correct and “God’s knowledge of our doings is to be both infallible and existent in advance, then what he foresees as happening will have been inevitable all along,” then men would not be free since this knowledge leads to an inevitable conclusion based solely on God’s knowledge (i.e. men could not do otherwise). Sorabji addresses this issue in his book titled Necessity, Cause, and Blame (London, N.P., 1980), 112-13.Here is the beginning of my post.

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