1. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    06 Jun '10 07:59
    For theists on this site who hold that God is "eternal", could you please describe what exactly this means to you?

    I was reading an essay by Alvin Plantinga, and here is how he describes it (or roughly outlines it):

    "Many theists, however, hold that God is eternal, and that this eternity involves at least the following two properties. First, his being eternal means that everything is present for him; for him there is no past or future....And, secondly, God's being eternal means that God is atemporal, 'outside of time' -- outside of time in such a way that it is in error to say of him that he knew some proposition or other at a time....the truth, instead, is that he knows this proposition eternally.

    So, in short, Plantinga is saying that God's eternality is a thesis involving, minimally in his view, both that God is atemporal or beyond temporal relations and that everything is present for God. Plantinga himself does not endorse such a thesis; in fact, he goes on to say "I am inclined to believe that this thesis -- the thesis that God is both atemporal and such that everything is is present for him -- is incoherent."

    So my next question is, is this view of God's eternality coherent?

    And, lastly, even if it is in fact coherent up to this point, don't we run into incoherency if we then conjoin this with other common and basic theistic commitments? For instance, how could an "eternal" God as described above ever also be a causal agent? I would think a causal agent is, minimally, one who acts; actions are events; and events occur in time. So, how could a God who is atemporal and whose existence is beyond any temporal relations ever be an agent; or carry out any acts; or ever be causally responsible for anything?

    Basic and traditional theistic commitments would have us believe that God is causally responsible for acts of creation; that He has interacted in various ways with His creation (causes miracles, hears and answers prayers, whatever else have you); that He has undergone change in the acquiring of different properties (as an example, in Christianity, that He became instantiated in human form). As far as I can tell, none of this is compatible with his also being "eternal" in the sense outlined above.

    Ideas? I am looking for either different takes on what it means for God to be "eternal"; or potential ways to reconcile the above -- for example, alternative accounts regarding causation.
  2. Standard memberDasa
    Dasa
    Account suspended
    Joined
    20 May '10
    Moves
    8042
    06 Jun '10 08:24
    to Lemon Jello

    god is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent.

    so this omni means all, so god is all things, meaning that god is just not very BIG, but also very small, god is not just positive, god is also negative.

    this is possable because god is all things.

    so god is incoherent you say, but maybe to you but not to god, bacause god nows all things, all the time, in all circumstances, meaning past present and future.

    how does one understand this, (they dont, ) its a paradox and mystical

    eternal means simply no beginning or end, and if you try to get your head around that, you will just get a headache.

    just sit back and wonder at the complexity of god creation, and have a mood of gratitude and wonder.

    if you try and analyse the sunset, you will spoil the exsperience

    cheers vishvahetu
  3. Joined
    30 May '09
    Moves
    28126
    06 Jun '10 10:371 edit
    I'm still thinking about this in the light of bbarr's revision of your argument.

    In the meantime, I think an interesting theological attempt to reconcile the concept of an eternal and/or atemporal god with the notion of god as an agent, is a form of kenosis - god engages in a process of self-emptying thereby in some way 'voluntarily' giving up access to the vantage point of the view from nowhen. I think the incarnation in Christianity gives this idea a narrative form whilst attempting to engage strong emotions around ideas of god choosing to be like one of us for our salvation.

    However, this doesn't get very far in my view. I think we mostly lack the cognitive apparatus to frame meaningful questions about such a god. As with Kant and the noumenal, such things are beyond the bounds of possible human knowledge.
  4. Standard memberKellyJay
    Walk your Faith
    USA
    Joined
    24 May '04
    Moves
    148422
    06 Jun '10 11:501 edit
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    For theists on this site who hold that God is "eternal", could you please describe what exactly this means to you?

    I was reading an essay by Alvin Plantinga, and here is how he describes it (or roughly outlines it):

    [b]"Many theists, however, hold that God is eternal, and that this eternity involves at least the following two properties. F o reconcile the above -- for example, alternative accounts regarding causation.
    [/b]God always was, is, and will be.
    God is everywhere in His completeness at all times.
    Kelly
  5. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    06 Jun '10 21:19
    Originally posted by vishvahetu
    to Lemon Jello

    god is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent.

    so this omni means all, so god is all things, meaning that god is just not very BIG, but also very small, god is not just positive, god is also negative.

    this is possable because god is all things.

    so god is incoherent you say, but maybe to you but not to god, bacause god nows all ...[text shortened]... onder.

    if you try and analyse the sunset, you will spoil the exsperience

    cheers vishvahetu
    god is all things.

    so god is incoherent you say


    You seem to be taking some artistic license here. I did not say that the notion of god as "all things" is incoherent. I presume you are referring to some form of pantheism here. I do not see at first glance how this notion of 'god' is incoherent (I also do not really see how it is interesting or what the motivation could be for stipulating that all things is 'god', particularly when this term has other, very different connotations. Perhaps the idea is that this is part of a healthy reverence for nature and the universe; but surely I can "sit back and wonder" about nature and the universe as you later instruct without the need to call, for whatever reason, all things 'god'😉. I would prefer here to just call all things, all things; if we are talking about the mereological sum of all things, then just call it that; why would I want to call it 'god'? In this discussion, I would prefer to leave 'god' in reference to a personal sort of creator. If that discussion does not fit your notion of 'god', then that is certainly fair enough.

    eternal means simply no beginning or end

    You mean without temporal beginning or end? If that is the only thing meant by 'eternal', then I do not see any tension here with the idea of agency. God could be without temporal beginning or end and also active in time.
  6. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    06 Jun '10 21:22
    Originally posted by Lord Shark
    I'm still thinking about this in the light of bbarr's revision of your argument.

    In the meantime, I think an interesting theological attempt to reconcile the concept of an eternal and/or atemporal god with the notion of god as an agent, is a form of kenosis - god engages in a process of self-emptying thereby in some way 'voluntarily' giving up access t ...[text shortened]... with Kant and the noumenal, such things are beyond the bounds of possible human knowledge.
    Thanks, I would be interested in your continuing thoughts.
  7. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    06 Jun '10 21:40
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    God always was, is, and will be.
    God is everywhere in His completeness at all times.
    Kelly[/b]
    God always was, is, and will be.

    This appears to me to be similar to the above idea of eternal as being without temporal beginning or end.

    God is everywhere in His completeness at all times.

    I've thought about this for a bit, but I am not sure I understand what you mean. Are you saying, like Plantinga mentioned, that everything is present for God?
  8. Standard memberAgerg
    The 'edit'or
    converging to it
    Joined
    21 Aug '06
    Moves
    11458
    06 Jun '10 21:536 edits
    When any theist says God exists outside of time, the question always occurs to me: how then does God "get things done" if there is no temporal separation between any events?
    Assuming for this entity, things do get done (from it's perspective), and not all at once then I imagine perhaps one can suppose that time can be considered a line for us (ie: one-dimensional) but for god as a plane (surface?) or higher dimensional object.
    With this set up one can fix any point on some other time-axis, and play out the entirety of our timeline. From our perspective it would then seem God is timeless. Furthermore, one could imagine that all the different branches that could have played out in our timeline (but didn't) would be found by traversing some other axis or axes

    I may be barking up the wrong tree though.
  9. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91540
    06 Jun '10 22:381 edit
    Originally posted by Agerg
    When any theist says God exists outside of time, the question always occurs to me: how then does God "get things done" if there is no temporal separation between any events?
    Assuming for this entity, things do get done (from it's perspective), and not all at once then I imagine perhaps one can suppose that time can be considered a line for us (ie: one- be found by traversing some other axis or axes

    I may be barking up the wrong tree though.
    Sounde like the right tree to me.
    I think that was well put.
    Certainly we have to get out of our linear ways of thinking to approach god-like concepts.
    And then what? We must throw them away🙁 ...
  10. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    07 Jun '10 05:311 edit
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    [b]god is all things.

    so god is incoherent you say


    You seem to be taking some artistic license here. I did not say that the notion of god as "all things" is incoherent. I presume you are referring to some form of pantheism here. I do not see at first glance how this notion of 'god' is incoherent (I also do not really see how it is interesting ency. God could be without temporal beginning or end and also active in time.[/b]
    Just an aside, LJ: rejecting non-dualist (pantheistic) expressions that use god language as “not interesting” (since they might as well, for example, use the word “nature” ) is to declare a whole lot of such expressions, from Stoics to (at least some) Advaita Vedantists to Kashmiri Shaivites to... as somehow deficient, at least in terms of their language.

    One might not see the need in terms of metaphysical propositions, but--from my point of view--the aesthetics are certainly interesting (and I think that aesthetics in these matters tends to get short shrift--from theists as well as non-theists; many theists seem to tend not to like having what they see as truth propositions labeled symbolism). In a sense, it seems as if you are critiquing them for not playing the “language game” that you would prefer. To my mind poetry, myth, allegory and (even quasi-theistic) symbolism and metaphor can be aesthetically stimulating--and a great part of my life is living aesthetically, perhaps the greatest part. And I’m not convinced that, for one growing up as a Hindu, say, those uses of god terms are unconventional--since they are not starting from the “other, very different connotations” of “western” theism; some of these alternative uses of god language are quite ancient.

    To be sure, such expressions are not interesting from the perspective of this discussion, since the same questions of coherency do not arise. So I will not derail your thread further.

    Besides, I know that you are a lover of Hafiz… 🙂
  11. Standard memberKellyJay
    Walk your Faith
    USA
    Joined
    24 May '04
    Moves
    148422
    07 Jun '10 05:422 edits
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    [b]God always was, is, and will be.

    This appears to me to be similar to the above idea of eternal as being without temporal beginning or end.

    God is everywhere in His completeness at all times.

    I've thought about this for a bit, but I am not sure I understand what you mean. Are you saying, like Plantinga mentioned, that everything is present for God?[/b]
    God gives everything His full attention at all times everywhere, He is not
    distracted anywhere, nor is He limited anywhere at any time either by
    what He is doing else where. He give each speck His all everywhere at
    once as He does the largest things or systems too.
    Kelly
  12. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    07 Jun '10 06:21
    My questions would be from a purely scientific point of view:
    1. if an entity can exist external to time does it mean that there is a single fixed future?
    2. if said entity interacts with time in any way, does it not necessarily lead to time paradox's?
  13. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    07 Jun '10 06:242 edits
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    For theists on this site who hold that God is "eternal", could you please describe what exactly this means to you?

    I was reading an essay by Alvin Plantinga, and here is how he describes it (or roughly outlines it):

    [b]"Many theists, however, hold that God is eternal, and that this eternity involves at least the following two properties. F o reconcile the above -- for example, alternative accounts regarding causation.
    [/b]It seems that theists (those who embrace what Plantinga rejects, anyway) have difficulty themselves, since they continually use temporal language--e.g., the universe began at the moment when God created it: “In the beginning…”.

    What can it mean to say that the beginning of the creation was not also a beginning for God: when God became a creator? (This in addition to your comments about God acting in creation, of which time is a part.)

    When someone says something like “God sees/does everything ‘all at once’”, I am not sure that they know what they mean. Even the words “seeing” and “doing” seem to imply temporality. Even present tense does not seem “atemporal” to me (what would an “untensed” language be like?).

    And, when people say that we can’t see things from God’s perspective, but only from our own (which is inescapably temporal), I agree. But that means, again, that we/they have no knowledge about God that is not warped by our human consciousness--no matter what the source. Trying to convey things about God that go beyond the limits of our (time-bound) consciousness can only result in saying things that are not coherent to that consciousness: yours, mine, theirs. And to say that such things are nevertheless coherent to such a God is not to say that we understand anything at all about it.

    In the end, I think some of this is what Wittgenstein meant about “bewitching” ourselves with our own language. Just because we can form a word--”atemporality”--and put it into a grammatical sentence, does not mean that we know what such a word could possibly signify. What can we possibly grasp, within the context of the “grammar” of our consciousness, of what that word might signify? (I can only think that one would repeat the same problematic “concept” in different, equally problematic terms--such as, “Well, it signifies a state without time…”.)

    A word about paradox: paradoxical language has long been used by many traditions to indicate precisely what cannot be coherently said (or thought). But using paradox is not the same thing as affirming actual contradiction or incoherence (or at least it should not be used that way).

    ______________________________________________


    Note: Since I have used a lot of God references here, I hasten to add that I don’t believe there is such a God-being as theists assert; I remain a non-dualist.
  14. Standard memberDasa
    Dasa
    Account suspended
    Joined
    20 May '10
    Moves
    8042
    07 Jun '10 06:51
    to lemon jello

    god is certainly active in time, out of time, before time, after time, and

    god is all things means, god,s energy is all things and gods energy supports all things, not god personally but gods eternal spiitual energy.

    you see god is multi dimensional, and if you want to understand that, you better reach for the panadol forte,

    cheers vishvahetu
  15. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91540
    07 Jun '10 08:58
    Originally posted by vistesd
    It seems that theists (those who embrace what Plantinga rejects, anyway) have difficulty themselves, since they continually use temporal language--e.g., the universe began at the moment when God created it: “In the beginning…”.

    What can it mean to say that the beginning of the creation was not also a beginning for God: when God ...[text shortened]... o add that I don’t believe there is such a God-being as theists assert; I remain a non-dualist.[/b]
    So basically, we should not mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself. We have evolved our language(s) so we can start making sense of our "fallen state".
    My conclusions are that we must remain "open" and that our words must be alligned with our thoughts.
    What I first took to be a solid, unmistakeable concept has turned into a "step" to higher understanding. In the absence of satori we must remain vigilant about the INTEGRITY of our thoughts . Also we must understand that simple, everyday things are just as important as our "higher" ways of thinking.
    Not everyone is going to agree with you, however we must not force our concepts onto them, no matter how convincing they may seem to you.
    By these basic principles we start to understand what the bhudda meant by "compassion" .
    We have to gain knowledge of the valid approaches to such things.
    Indeed our language is our best friend and worst enemy at the same time. The only thing we need to conquer in life is "ourselves". All other "victories" in "earthly life" remain hollow and subject to change .
    And lastly,(for now), we must understand that since all things are of god, all things,(and especially people), have the potential to teach us the ways of the greater universe. Directly or indirectly we must realize that the "gaps" that we have left in our everyday life draw energy away from our true purpose.
Back to Top