desires, whereas it actually is a conflict between different ordered desires. Therefore, Augustine does not establish that we necessarily have power over our will. Luckily, there is a better solution for Augustine that modifies premise (1) instead of denying premise (5). Augustine in his Confessions describes God as a timeless being who created the temporal world through an act of “speaking.”x This act of speaking, however, has a divine twist. Human speech is successive – one word follows another in a temporal sequence (e.g. “Joe eats sandwiches” is a sequential set of Joe, eats, and sandwiches). But Augustine believed that God’s “speech” (i.e. creative act) is non-successive. This reveals two insights about God’s creative act. First, because God’s speech is non-successive, it must be a single act. There is no
God Rests in the “Bibel in Bildern,” 1860
God, like his speech, is both omnitemporal and atemporal. point where one word “follows” another. Because there is no sequence, there is no point where God’s speech changes or comes out of existence to “make way” for different words. Therefore, if God’s creative act is a single act that encompasses all of creation past, present, and future, it must be non-sequential, changeless, and eternal.xi Second, because God created everything, including time itself, it means that God’s “speech” is atemporal, coming from a source outside of time. In other words, not only does his creative act encompass all of time, it also transcends time itself. Assuming that God is the source of creation, we can infer a further insight about God’s nature. God, like his speech, is both omnitemporal and atemporal – his omnitemporality extends from God’s existing eternally in the past, present, and future, but his atemporality extends from God’s being the source of creation, which requires that he exist independently from time itself.
14 • The Dartmouth Apologia • Spring 2016 ]
Of course, it appears as if God’s speech is temporal, since our understanding of speech is influenced by our temporal perspective. But it does not mean that God’s speech is actually temporal. This insight can be applied to God’s other actions. If God acts from an atemporal perspective, then many of the terms that people use to describe God’s actions are temporal analogies of what really are atemporal actions. Just as our act of speaking is related, but not identical, to God’s act of speaking, our understanding of foreknowledge is related, but not identical, to God’s foreknowledge. God’s “foreknowledge” is analogous to our common understanding of foreknowledge because God has knowledge of all future events. It is substantively different, however, because his foreknowledge is both omnitemporal and atemporal. This understanding of foreknowledge is admittedly difficult to comprehend, since the term foreknowledge
Volume 10, Issue 2