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Journal of Philosophy, Inc. Eternity Author(s): Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann Source: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 78, No. 8 (Aug., 1981), pp. 429-458 Published by: Journal of Philosophy, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2026047 . Accessed: 03/04/2013 11:52 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. . Journal of Philosophy, Inc. is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Journal of Philosophy. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded from 140.209.2.26 on Wed, 3 Apr 2013 11:52:10 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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Eternity Author(s): Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann Source: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 78, No. 8 (Aug., 1981), pp. 429-458 Published by: Journal of Philosophy, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2026047 . Accessed: 03/04/2013 11:52Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

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THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHYVOLUME LXXVIII, NO. 8, AUGUST 1981I - t- * -F 0.I, --'-

the considerationof a varietyof issues in the philosophy of religion, including, for instance, the apparent incompatibility of divine omniscience with human freedom,of divine immutability with the efficacy of petitionary prayer, and of divine omniscience with divine immutability;but, because it has been misunderstoodor cursorilydismissed as incoherent,it has not received the attentionit deservesfromcontemporary philosophers of religion.' In this paper we expound the concept as it is presented by Boethius (whose definitionof eternity was the locus classicus for medieval discussions of the concept), analyze implications of the concept,examine reasons forconsideringit incoherent, and sample the results of bringing it to bear on issues in the philosophy of religion.* We benefited by severalpeoand suggestionsoffered a greatdeal fromcriticisms of thispaper. We cannot mention themall, ple who read or listened to earlierdrafts comments,in some cases veryextenbut we are especially gratefulfor thoughtful sive, from William Alston, John Bennett,Richard Creel, John Crossett,Anthony Kenny,William Rowe, JudithSlein, Richard Sorabji, and Richard Swinburne. turnedhis attenphilosopher of religion has recently 'At least one contemporary in orderto rejectit as incompatiblewith bibtion to the concept of divine eternality lical theologyand, in particular,with the doctrineof divine redemption."God the Redeemercannot be a God eternal. This is so because God the Redeemeris a God "God Everlasting,"in CliftonJ. Orlebekeand who changes" [Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lewis B. Smedes, eds., God and the Good (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1975), forhaving supplied us pp. 181-203,p. 182]. (We are gratefulto KennethKonyndyk withcopies of thisarticle,which is obviouslyhighlyrelevantto our purposes in this complete by the timewe paper. The work we are presentinghere was substantially work.) Although it is no part of our purposes had access to ProfessorWolterstorff's arguments,it will become clear that we think he is here to discuss Wolterstorff's mistakenin his assessmentof thelogical relationshipbetweenthedoctrineof divine including thedoctrineof reand otherdoctrinesof orthodox Christianity, eternality demption,even in theirbiblical formulations.Passages thathave been or mightbe include Malachi 3:6; in evidenceof a biblical conception of divine eternality offered John 8:58; James 1:17.

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Eternality-the condition of having eternityas one's mode of existence-is misunderstood most often in either of two ways. Sometimes it is confused with limitless duration in timesempiternality-and sometimesit is construedsimply as atemporality,eternity being understoodin thatcase as roughlyanalogous of eterto an isolated, staticinstant.The second misunderstanding but a considerationof nality is not so faroffthe mark as the first, the views of the philosophers who contributedmost to the develalone does not exopment of the concept shows thatatemporality haust eternality as theyconceivedof it, and thatthepictureof eternityas a frozeninstantis a radical distortionof theclassic concept. in two places: The Consolation of PhiBoethius discusses eternity Chapter 4.2 The immelosophy, Book V, Prose 6, and De trinitate, diatelyrelevantpassages are these: is thecommon ofall wholive CP That God is eternal, judgment then, thismakes whateternity consider is, for byreason.Let us therefore is and knowledge. Eternity, then, plain to us boththedivine nature This becomes life. all at onceofillimitable thecomplete possession livesin Forwhatever clearer withtemporal things. bycomparison from thepastinto thefuture, as something timeproceeds present can embrace thewholeexand there is nothing placedin timethat itdoesnotyet tent ofitslifeequally.Indeed, on thecontrary, grasp butyesterday it has already lost;and evenin thelifeof tomorrow moment. thanin a mobile,transitory today youliveno morefully of thewholefullness ... Therefore, and possesses whatever includes is absent future illimitable lifeat once and is such thatnothing itand nothing from away,thisis rightly judgedto pasthas flowed boththat be eternal, and of thisit is necessary beingin fullpossesithavetheinfinand that sionofitself it be alwayspresent to itself ityof mobiletime present [to it] (422.5-424.31). DT he is always, indeed signifies a Whatis said ofGod,[namely, that] as if he had been in all the past,is in all the presentunity, Thatcan be however that might be-[and] will be in all thefuture. to thephilosophers, oftheheaven and oftheimpersaid,according ishablebodies;butit cannotbe said of God in thesameway.For he is alwaysin thatforhim alwayshas to do withpresent time. Andthere is thisgreat thepresent ofouraffairs, difference between whichis now,and thatof thedivine:our now makestimeand as ifit wererunning along; but thedivinenow,resempiternity, still,makeseternity. If maining, and not moving, and standingI. BOETHIUS'S DEFINITION

2E. K. Rand, ed., in H. F. Stewart,E. K. Rand, and S. J. Tester,Boethius: The Theological Tractatesand The Consolation of Philosophy (London: Heinemann; Cambridge,Mass.: Harvard, 1973).

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theperpetual to 'eternity', you getsempiternity, youadd 'semper' now (20.64-22.77).3 tireless theflowing, from resulting running and explains in CP and elucidates The definitionBoethiuspresents in theearlierDT is not original with him,4nor does he argue forit in those passages.5 Similarly,we mean to do no more in this section of our paper than to presentand explain a concept that has theologyand metabeen importantin Christianand pre-Christian physics. We will not argue here,forinstance,that thereis an eteror even that God must be eternalif he exists. It is a matnal entity ter of fact that many ancient and medieval philosophers and in theologians were committedto the doctrineof God's eternality it,and our purpose in thissectheformin which Boethius presents tion of the paper is simply to elucidate the doctrinetheyheld. is the complete possession Boethius's definitionis this: Eternity all at once of illimitable life.6 in thisdefinition.It We want to call attentionto fouringredients is clear, firstof all, that anything that is eternal has life. In this3There are at least two misleading features place, Boeof thispassage. In thefirst always has to do with presenttime. In the second thius says that God's eternality is mistaken.'Sempiternitas'is an abof 'sempiternity' place, Boethius's etymology on 'semper', somewhatas we mightconstruct'alstractnoun constructeddirectly is not only falsebut misleading,associating 'sempiternity' waysness'.His etymology in a contextin which he has been distinguishingbetweensempiterwith 'eternity' nityand eternity. a 4Its elementsstemfromParmenidesvia Plato, and Plotinus had alreadyframed on which Boethius's seems to have been based. See n. 6 below. definitionof eternity Filosofia, della nozione boeziana di eternita," Cf. Romano Amerio,"Probabile fonte i(1950): 365-373. 5The argument that is concluded in the last sentenceof passage CP is based on and omniscienceand is not an argumentin support premisesabout God's eternality of thedefinition. possessio," Rand, 6 "Aeternitas vitae totasimul et perfecta igiturest interminabilis ed., p. 422.9-11. This definitionclosely parallels the definitiondeveloped by Plotinus in Enneads III 7: "The life,then,which belongs to thatwhich exists and is in is what we being, all togetherand full, completelywithout-extension-or-interval, ed., Plotinus (London: Heinemann; are looking for,eternity"[A. H. Armstrong, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1967), vol. iii, p. 304.37-39]. The way in which Boea familsuggeststhathe considershimselfto be presenting eternity thiusintroduces iar philosophical concept associated with a recognizeddefinition.The parallel between the Plotinian and Boethian definitionsis closest in theirmiddle elements: "zoe homou pasa kai pleres"/"vitae tota simul et perfecta."Plotinus describesthe possessorof thislife,and Boethius does not; but, in view of thefactthatBoethius is as "that talkingabout God, he, too, would surelydescribethepossessorof eternality betweenthe twodefidifference which existsand is in being." The most interesting and the nitionsis thatthe Plotinian has "completelywithout-extension-or-interval" to include Boethian has "illimitable," which suggests that Boethius takes eternity duration but Plotinus does not. In the restof Enneads III 7, however,Plotinus goes on to deriveduration fromhis definitionand to stressits importancein theconcept. and time,see For an excellent presentationand discussion of Plotinus on eternity am WernerBeierwaltes,Plotin uiberEwigkeit und Zeit (Enneade III 7) (Frankfurt Main: Klostermann,1967).

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sense of 'eternal',then,it will not do to say thata number,a truth, or the world is eternal,although one mightwant to say of the first two thattheyare atemporaland of the thirdthatit is sempiternalthatit has beginningless,endless temporalexistence.7 The second and equally explicit element in the definitionis illimitability:the lifeof an eternalbeing cannot be limited;it is impossible that therebe a beginning or an end to it. The natural understandingof such a claim is that the existence in question is infinite duration, unlimited in either "direction." But there is that must be consideredin this contextdeanother interpretation spite its apparent unnaturalness. Conceivably the existenceof an eternalentityis said to be illimitable in the way in which a point or an instant may be said to be illimitable: what cannot be extendedcannot be limited in its extent.There are passages thatcan is what Boebe read as suggestingthat this second interpretation with thius intends. In CP eternalexistenceis expresslycontrasted temporal existence describedas extending fromthe past through the presentinto the future,and what is eternal is describedcontrastingly as possessing its entirelife at once. Boethius's insistence in DT that the eternal now is unlike the temporal now in being that hint with the suggestion fixed and unchanging strengthens that the eternalpresentis to be understoodin termsof the present instant "standing still." Nevertheless,thereare good reasons, in of the concept of eterand in the history thesepassages themselves nitybeforeand afterBoethius, forrejectingthis less natural interBoethius uses place, some of the terminology pretation.In the first if eternity were to be conceived would be inappropriateto eternity as illimitable in virtueof being unextended.He speaks in CP more than once of thefullnessof eternallife. In DT and in The Consolation of Philosophy immediately following our passage CP he as remainingand speaks of the eternalpresentor an eternalentity to say of God that enduring.8 And he claims in DT thatit is correct to God in he is always, explaining the use of 'always' in reference such a way thathe can scarcelyhave had in mind a life illimitable in virtueof being essentiallydurationless.The more natural reading of 'illimitable', then,also provides themore natural readingof thesetexts.In the second place, the weightof traditionboth before illimitable life as and afterBoethius stronglyfavorsinterpreting7The many medieval discussions of the possibility that the world is "eternal" and most oftentheirconcernis reallyconcern the possibilitythatit is sempiternal, only with thepossibilitythattheworld had no beginningin time.Thomas Aquinas providesan importantsummaryand critique of such discussions in Summa contra gentiles,Book II, Chapters32-38. 8 See, e.g., p. 424.51-56.

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involving infiniteduration, beginninglessas well as endless. Boethius throughoutthe Consolation and especially in passage CP is plainly workingin the Platonic tradition, and both Plato and Plotinus understandeternalexistencein that sense.9Medieval philosophers afterBoethius, who depend on him fortheirconception of also clearly understand'illimitable' in this way.'0 So, for eternity, both thesesetsof reasons,we understandthispartof Boethius'sdefinition to mean that the life of an eternalentityis characterized by beginningless, endless,infiniteduration. The concept of duration thatemergesin the interpretation of 'illimitable life' is the thirdingredientwe mean to call attentionto. Illimitable life entails duration of a special sort,as we have just seen, but it would be reasonable to think that any mode of existence thatcould be called a lifemust involve duration,and so there may seem to be no point in explicitlylistingduration as an ingredient in Boethius's concept of eternality.We call attention to it here,however,because of its importanceas part of the background against which the fourth ingredient must be viewed. The fourth ingredient is presented in theonly phrase of thedefinition still to be considered:"The completepossession all at once." As Boethius's explanation of the definitionin CP makes clear, he conceives of an eternal entityas atemporal, and he thinksof its atemporalityas conveyed by just that phrase in the definition. What he says shows that something like the following line of thoughtleads to his use of those words. A living temporalentity may be said to possess a life,but, since the eventsconstituting the lifeof any temporalentity occur sequentially,some later than others,it cannot be said to possess all its lifeat once. And since everything in the life of a temporal entitythat is not presentis either past and so no longer in its possession or futureand so not yetin its possession, it cannot be said to have the complete possession of its life." So whateverhas the complete possession of all its life at once cannot be temporal.The life thatis themode of an eternalen9See Plato, Timaeus 37D-38C; Plotinus, Enneads III 7 (and cf. fn 6 above). '0See, e.g., Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae I, q. 10. Augustine,who is an earlierand in general an even more importantsource formedieval philosophy and untheologythan Boethius and who is even more clearlyin the Platonist tradition, derstandsand uses this classic concept of eternity (see, e.g., Confessions,Book XI, Chapter 11; The Cityof God, Book XI, Chapter 21); but his influenceon themedieval discussion of eternityseems not to have been so direct or important as Boethius's. " Notice thatthesecharacteristics possession of its lifeapply of a temporalentity's endless not just to finitetemporallives but even to a temporallifeof beginningless, duration-a sempiternallife.

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not only by duration but also tity'sexistenceis thus characterized by atemporality. With the possible exception of Parmenides,none of the ancients as a real, atemporal mode of exor medievalswho acceptedeternity of time or to suggestthat to deny the reality, istencemeant thereby all temporalexperiencesare illusory.In introducingtheconceptof such philosophers,and Boethius in particular,were proeternity, is a mode of posing two separate modes of real existence.Eternity existence that is, on Boethius's view, neitherreducible to time nor incompatible with the realityof time. In the next two sectionsof this paper, we will investigatetheapWe will begin with a parentincoherenceof thisconcept of eternity. consideration of the meaning of atemporalityin this connection, and including an examination of therelationshipbetweeneternity time;and we will go on to consider the apparent incoherencegenwith durationand with life. eratedby combining atemporalityII. THE ATEMPORALITY OF AN ETERNAL ENTITY: PRESENTNESS AND SIMULTANEITY

no is atemporal,thereis no past or future, Because an eternalentity its life earlieror later,within its life; thatis, theeventsconstituting But, cannot be orderedsequentiallyfromthestandpointof eternity. or eventcan be earlieror laterthan in addition, no temporalentity or past or futurewith respectto the whole lifeof an eternalentity, would itselfbe part because otherwisesuch an eternallifeor entity of a temporal series. Here it should be evident that,although the completelypossesses its lifeall at stipulation thatan eternalentity once entails thatit is not part of any sequence, it does not rule out the attributionof presentness or simultaneityto the life and relais, or nor should it. Insofaras an entity tionshipsof such an entity, it is appropriate to say thatit has has life,completelyor otherwise, presentexistencein some sense of 'present';and unless its lifeconsists in only one event or it is impossible to relate an event in its or event,we need to be able to consider life to any temporalentity relaan eternalentity or eventas one of therelata in a simultaneity the applicability of presentness tionship. We will consider briefly to somethingeternaland thenconsiderin some detail the applicabilityof simultaneity. If anythingexists eternally, it exists. But the existingof an eternal entityis a duration without succession, and, because eternity excludes succession, no eternal entityhas existed or will exist; it only exists. It is in this sense thatan eternalentityis said to have presentexistence.But since thatpresentis not flankedby past and it is obviously not the temporalpresent.And, furthermore, future,

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the eternal,pastless,futureless presentis not instantaneousbut exentails duration.The temporalpresentis a tended,because eternity durationless instant,a presentthat cannot be extendedconceptually without falling apart entirelyinto past and futureintervals. The eternal present,on the other hand, is by definitionan infinitelyextended,pastless,futureless duration. taken to Simultaneityis of course generally and unreflectively mean existenceor occurrenceat one and the same time. But to attributeto an eternalentity or eventsimultaneity with anythingwe need a coherentcharacterization of simultaneity thatdoes not make it altogethertemporal.It is easy to providea coherentcharacterization of a simultaneity relationshipthatis not temporalin case both the relata are eternal entitiesor events. Suppose we designate the of temporalsimultaneity ordinaryunderstanding T-simultaneity: = existence or occurrenceat one and the (T) T-simultaneity same time. Then we can easily enough constructa second species of simultaneity, a relationship obtaining between two eternal entities or events: = existence or occurrenceat one and the (E) E-simultaneity same eternalpresent. What really interests us among species of simultaneity, however, and what we need forour presentpurposes, is not E-simultaneity so much as a simultaneity relationshipbetweentwo relataof which one is eternaland theothertemporal.We have to be able to characterizesuch a relationshipcoherently if we are to be able to claim thatthereis any connection betweenan eternaland a temporalentityor event. An eternal entityor event cannot be earlier or later than,or past or future withrespectto,any temporalentity or event. If thereis to be any relationshipbetweenwhat is eternaland what is temporal,then,it must be some species of simultaneity. Now in formingthe species T-simultaneity and E-simultaneity, we have in effect been takingthegenus of thosespecies to be somethinglike this: (G) Simultaneity= existence or occurrence at once (i.e., together). And we have formedthose two species by giving specificcontentto thebroad expression 'at once'. In each case, we have spelled out 'at once' as meaning at one and thesame something-time, in thecase of T-simultaneity; eternalpresent,in thecase of E-simultaneity. In other words, the relata for T-simultaneityoccur togetherat the same time,and the relata for E-simultaneity occur together at the

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sameeternal present. Whatwe wantnow is a speciesof simultaneitycall it ET-simultaneity (for eternal-temporal simultaneity)-that can obtain betweenwhat is eternaland what is temporal.It is only natural to tryto constructa definitionfor ET-simultaneityas we did for the two preceding species of simultaneity, by making the broad 'at once' in (G) more precise. Doing so requiresstarting with the phrase 'at one and the same ' and filling in the blank appropriately.To fill in thatblank appropriately, however,would be to specifya single mode of existence in which the two relata exist or occur together, as the relata forT-simultaneity co-exist(or co-occur) in time and the relata forE-simultaneity co-exist(or cooccur) in eternity.12 But, on theview we are explaining and defending, it is theoretically impossible to specifya single mode of existence fortwo relata of which one is eternaland the othertemporal. To do so would be to reduce what is temporal to what is eternal (thus making time illusory)or what is eternalto what is temporal (thus making eternity illusory) or both what is temporaland what is eternal to some third mode of existence; and all threeof these alternatives are ruled out. The medieval adherents of theconceptof held that both time and eternity eternity are real and that thereis no mode of existencebesides those two.13 Against this background,then,it is not conceptuallypossible to a definitionforET-simultaneityanalogous to thedefiniconstruct tions for the other two species of simultaneity, by spelling out 'at ' and filling in the blank aponce' as 'at one and the same propriately.What is temporaland what is eternalcan co-exist,on the view we are adopting and defending,but not within the same mode of existence;and thereis no single mode of existencethatcan be referredto in filling in the blank in such a definition of ET-simultaneity. The significance of this difficulty and its implications for a can be better workingdefinitionof ET-simultaneity appreciatedby to thedefinition of T-simultaneity fora closerlook. Philreturning osophers of physics, explaining the special theoryof relativity, have taught us to be cautious even about the notion of temporal is relasimultaneity;in fact,the claim that temporalsimultaneity tive rather than absolute is fundamentalto the special theoryof relativity._

12 we will forthe most part speak only of In the interest of simplicityand brevity, co-existencein what follows,takingit as coveringco-occurrencetoo. seems to us to be not the 3The medieval concept of the aevum or of aeviternitas concept of a third mode of existence, on a par with time and eternity.See, e.g., Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae I, q. 10, arts.5 and 6.

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For all ordinarypractical purposes and also forour theoretical purposes in this paper, time can be thoughtof as absolute, along Newtonian lines. But, simply in orderto set the stage forour characterizationof ET-simultaneity,it will be helpful to look at a standard philosophical presentation of temporal simultaneity along Einsteinian lines.14 Imagine a train travelingvery fast,at 6/lOthsthe speed of light. One observer(the "ground observer")is stationed on the embankmentbeside the track; another observer (the "train observer") is stationed on the train. Suppose that two lightningbolts strikethe train,one at each end, and suppose that the ground observersees those two lightningbolts simultaneously. The trainobserver also sees the two lightningbolts,but, since he is travelingtoward the light ray emanating fromthe bolt thatstrikes of the trainand away fromthebolt thatstrikestherearof the front the train,he will see the lightningbolt strikethe front of the train beforehe sees the other strikethe rear of the train. "This, then,is the fundamentalresult:eventsoccurringat different places which are simultaneous in one frameof reference will not be simultaneous in another frameof reference which is moving with respectto the first. This is known as the relativity of simultaneity"(76). We want to leave to one side the philosophical issues raised by this example and simply accept it for our presentpurposes as a of standardexample illustratingEinstein's notion of the relativity temporal simultaneity.According to this example, the verysame two lightning flashesare simultaneous (with respectto the reference frameof the ground observer)and not simultaneous (with respect to the referenceframe of the train observer). If we interpret'simultaneous' here in accordance with our definitionof T-simultaneity,we will have to say that the same two lightning flashesoccur at the same time and do not occur at the same time; thatis, it will be both trueand false thatthesetwo lightningflashes occur at the same time. The incoherenceof this resultis generated with a by filling in the blank for the definitionof T-simultaneity reference to one and thesame time,wheretimeis understoodas one of relativity single uniformmode of existence.The special theory takes time itselfto be relativeand so calls fora more complicated than thecommon, unreflective definitionof temporalsimultaneity'40ur adaptation of this example is a simplifiedversionof Wesley C. Salmon's of it in his Space, Time, and Motion (Encino, Calif.: Dickenson, 1975), presentation pp. 73-81. We mean to do littlemore here than cite theexample. An understanding of its significanceforrelativity theory requires a considerationof a presentation as full (and clear) as Salmon's.

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definitiongiven in (T), such as this relativizedversionof temporal simultaneity: = existence or occurrenceat the same (RT) RT-simultaneity timewithin the reference frameof a given observer. This relativizingof time to the reference frameof a given observer resolves the apparent incoherence in saying that the same two lightningflashesoccur and do not occur at one and thesame time. They occur at the same timein the reference frameof one observer and do not occur at thesame timein thereference frameof a different observer.'5 Once this is understood,we can see that,if we persistin asking whetheror not the two lightningbolts are reallysimultaneous,we are asking an incoherentquestion, one that cannot be answered. The question is asked about what is assumed to be a feature of reality,although in factthereis no such feature of reality;such a question is on a par with 'Is Uris Libraryreally to the leftof Morrill Hall?' There is no absolute stateof being temporally simultaneous with, any more than thereis an absolute state of being to the left of. We determinethe obtaining of the one relationshipas we determinethe obtaining of the other,by reference to an observer and the observer'spoint of view. The two lightningflashes,then,are RT-simultaneousin virtueof occurringat thesame timewithinthe reference frameof theground observer and not RT-simultaneousin virtueof occurringat different timeswithin the reference frameof the trainobserver.And, Einstein's theory argues, thereis no privileged observer(or reference frame)such that with respectto it we can determinewhetherthe two eventsare really simultaneous; simultaneityis irreduciblyrelative to observersand theirreference and so is timeitself.Consequently,it would be a mistaketo frames, thinkthatthereis one single uniformmode of existencethatcan be referred to in specifying'at once' in (G) in orderto derivea definition of temporalsimultaneity. These difficulties in spelling out even a very crude acceptabledefinition for temporal simultaneityin the light of relativity theory foreshadowand are analogous to thedifficulties in spelling out an acceptable definitionof ET-simultaneity.More significantly, they demonstrate thatthedifficulties of theconcept of eternity defendersIS It is importantto understandthat by 'observer'we mean only that thing,animate or inanimate, with respectto which thereference frameis picked out and with of eventswithin the reference frame is determined. respectto which the simultaneity In the train example we have two human observers, but the example could have been set up just as well if theobservers had been nothingmore than devices,primitiveor sophisticated,forrecordingflashesof light.

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are by no means unique such a definition encounterin formulating in the and cannot be assumed to be difficulties to theirundertaking Finally,and themselves. conceptsof ET-simultaneityor of eternity theway in which we cope with such difficulties most importantly, in workingout a definitionfor RT-simultaneitysuggeststhe sort of definitionneeded forET-simultaneity.Because one of the relata forET-simultaneityis eternal,the definitionforthis relationship, to one and the same present must refer like thatforE-simultaneity, ratherthan to one and the same time.And because in ET-simultaneity we are dealing with two equally real modes of existence, neitherof which is reducible to any other mode of existence, the frames and of two reference in terms must be constru.cted definition in this way. ET-simultaneity two observers.So we can characterize Let 'x' and 'y' range over entitiesand events.Then: x and forevery y, x and y are ET-simultaneous (ET) For every iff (i) eitherx is eternal and y is temporal,or vice versa; and A, in theunique eternalreference (ii) forsome observer, frame,x and y are both present-i.e., either x is eternally present and y is observed as temporally or vice versa; and present, many B, in one of the infinitely (iii) forsome observer, x and y are bothpresentframes, temporalreference i.e., either x is observed as eternallypresentand y is temporally present,or vice versa. condition (ii) provides that a temGiven the concept of eternity, poral entityor eventobservedas temporallypresentby some eternal observerA is ET-simultaneous with every eternal entityor event; and condition (iii) provides that an eternal entityor event observedas eternallypresent (or simply as eternal) by some temor B is ET-simultaneous with everytemnporal entity poral observer event. On our definition,if x and y are ET-simultaneous, then x is neitherearlier nor later than, neitherpast nor futurewith respect essential to any relationshipthatcan be considered to,y-a feature if x and y are ET-simultaneous, a species of simultaneity. Further, x and y are not temporallysimultaneous; since eitherx or y must be eternal,it cannot be the case thatx and y both exist at one and frame.ET-simulthesame time withina given observer'sreference of course, but, since no temporal or eternal taneityis symmetric, entityor event is ET-simultaneous with itself,the relationship is

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not reflexive; and thefactthatthereare different domains forits relata means thatit is not transitive. The propositions(1) x is ET-simultaneous with y.

and(2) y is ET-simultaneous with z.

do not entail(3) x is ET-simultaneous with z.

And even if we conjoin with (1) and (2)(4) x and z are temporal.

(1), (2), and (4) together do not entail(5) x and z are temporally simultaneous.

(RT) and the Einsteinian conception of time as relative have servedthe only purpose we have for them in this paper, now that theyhave provided an introductory analogue forour characterization of ET-simultaneity,and we can now revertto a Newtonian conception of time,which will simplifythediscussion withoutinvolving any relevantloss of precision. In thefirst place, at least one of the theological issues we are going to be discussing-the problem of omniscience and immutability-depends on the concept of an absolute present,a concept that is oftenthoughtto be dependent on a Newtonian conception of absolute time. But the concept of an absolute presentwhich is essential to our discussion is not 16Everyconscious temporalobserver discredited by relativity theory. has an undeniable, indispensable sense of the absolute present, now, and that thoroughly of temporalconsciouspervasivefeature ness is all we need. We do not need and we will not try to providea philosophical justificationfor the concept of an absolute present; we will simply assume it forour presentpurposes. And if it must be said thattheabsolute presentis absolute only withina given observer'sreference frame,that will not affect our use of the concept here. In the second place, in ordinaryhuman circumstances,all human observersmay be said-should be said-to share one and the same reference frame,and distinguishingindividual reference framesforour discussion of timein the restof thispaper would be as inappropriateas takingan Einsteinian view of timein a discussion of historicalchronology.160n this issue see William Godfrey-Smith, "Special Relativity and the Present," Philosophical Studies, xxxvi,3 (October 1979): 233-244.

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If x and z are temporalentities,theyco-existif and only if thereis some timeduring which both x and z exist. But if anythingexists eternally,its existence,although infinitely extended,is fullyrealis ized, all presentat once. Thus theentirelifeof any eternalentity co-existentwith any temporal entityat any time at which that temporalentity exists.'7From a temporalstandpoint,thepresentis ET-simultaneous with the whole infiniteextentof an eternalentity'slife. From the standpointof eternity, everytime is present,cowith the whole of infiniteatemporal duration.'8 occurrentSince no eternalentity or eventcan itselfbe an elementin a temporalseries,no temporalentityor eventcan be earlieror later than the whole lifeor than any part of the lifeof an eternalentity.It is not clear thatit makes sense to thinkin terms of partsof atemporal duration (cf.Aquinas, ST I, q. 10,art. 1,ad 3), but even if it does, it cannot make sense to thinkof any such part as earlieror laterthan anythingtemporal. If the Battleof Waterloowereearlierthan some partof atemporalduration,it would be uniquely simultaneous with one other part of atemporal duration, in which case one part of atemporal duration would be earlier than another,which is impossible. 18 In the developmentof the classic concept of eternity, geometricalmodels were sometimesintroducedin an attemptto clarifythe relationshipwe are calling ETsimultaneity.There is a passage in Boethius, for instance (Consolation, Book IV, Prose 6; Rand, ed., pp. 364.78-366.82),which suggeststhathe took the relationship betweentimeand eternity to be analogous to thatbetweenthecircumference and the centerof a circle. Aquinas developed thissortof analogy in connectionwith an account of an eternalentity'sapprehension of temporalevents:"Furthermore, God's understanding, just like his being, does not have succession; it is, therefore, always enduringall at once, which belongs to the natureof eternity. The durationof time, on the other hand, is extendedin the succession of beforeand after.Thus the relationship of eternity to the whole duration of time is like the relationshipof an indivisible to a continuum-not indeed of an indivisible that is a limit of the continuum, which is not present to each part of the continuum (an instant of time bears a likeness to that), but of the indivisible that is outside the continuum and nevertheless co-existswith each part of thecontinuumor witha designatedpoint in which is the continuum. For, since time does not extend beyond change, eternity, entirely beyondchange, is nothing belonging to time;on the otherhand, since the being of what is eternalis neverlacking,eternity in its presentness is presentto each timeor instantof time.A sortof example of thiscan be seen in a circle. For a designated point on the circumference, although it is an indivisible,does not co-existtogetherwith another point as regardsposition since it is the order of position that produces the continuityof the circumference. But the center,which is outside the circumference, is directlyopposite any designated point on the circumference. In thisway whateveris in any part of timeco-existswith what is eternalas being present to it even though past or futurewith respectto another part of time. But nothingcan co-exist with what is eternal in its presentness except as a whole, forit does not have the duration of succession. And so in its eternity the divine understandingperceivesas presentwhatevertakesplace during the whole course of time. It is not the case, however,thatwhat takes place in a certainpart of time has been existentalways. It remains,therefore, that God has knowledgeof those thingsthat, as regardsthe course of time,are not yet" (Summa contragentiles,Book I, Chapter 66).17

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We can show the implications of this account of ET-simultaneityby consideringtherelationshipbetweenan eternalentity and a future contingentevent. Suppose that Richard Nixon will die at noon on August 9, 1990, preciselysixteen years afterhe resigned the Presidency.Nixon's death some yearsfromnow will be present to those who will be at his deathbed,but it is presentto an eternal entity.It cannot be that an eternal entityhas a vision of Nixon's death beforeit occurs; in thatcase an eternaleventwould be earlier than a temporal event. Instead, the actual occasion of Nixon's dying is present to an eternal entity. It is not that the future pre-exists somehow, so thatit can be inspectedby an entitythatis outside time, but ratherthat an eternal entitythat is wholly ETsimultaneous with August 9, 1974, and with today,is wholly ETsimultaneous with August 9, 1990, as well. It is now true to say 'The whole of eternity is ET-simultaneous with thepresent';and of course it was true to say just the same at noon of August 9, 1974, and it will be trueto say it at noon of August 9, 1990. But since it is one and the same eternal present that is ET-simultaneous with each of those times,thereis a sense in which it is now true to say that Nixon at the hour of his death is presentto an eternalentity; and in that same sense it is now trueto say that Nixon's resigning of the Presidencyis presentto an eternalentity.If we are considering an eternal entitythat is omniscient,it is true to say that that entityis at once aware of Nixon resigning the Presidencyand of Nixon on his deathbed (although of course an omnisciententity understandsthat thoseeventsoccur sequentiallyand knows thesequence and the dating of them); and it is true to say also that for such an entity both thoseeventsare presentat once.'9 Such an account of ET-simultaneity suggests at least a radical epistemologicalor even metaphysical and perhapsplain relativism, incoherence. We know that Nixon is now alive. An omniscient eternal entityknows that Nixon is now dead. Still worse,an omniscient eternal entityalso knows that Nixon is now alive, and so Nixon is apparently both alive and dead at once in the eternal present. These absurditiesappear to be entailed partly because the full implications of theconcept of eternity have not been takeninto account. We have said enough to induce caution regarding'present''9In The Consolation of Philosophy Boethius introducesand develops the concept of eternity primarilyin order to argue that divine omniscience is compatible with human freedom, and he does so by demonstrating thatomniscienceon thepart of an eternalentityneed not, cannot, involveforeknowledge.See also sec. vi below.

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and 'simultaneous',but it is not difficult to overlook the concomitant ambiguityin such expressionsas 'now' and 'at once'. To say that we know that Nixon is now alive although an eternalentity knows thatNixon is now dead does not mean thatan eternalentity knows the opposite of what we know. What we know is that: (6) Nixonis alivein thetemporal present. What an eternalentityknows is that (7) Nixonis dead in theeternal present. and (6) is not incompatible with (7). Still, this simple observation does nothing to dispel the appearance of incompatibility between (7) and (8) Nixonis alivein theeternal present. and, on the basis of what has been said so far,both (7) and (8) are true. But Nixon is temporal,not eternal,and so are his life and death. The conjunction of (7) and (8), then, cannot be taken to mean that the temporalentityNixon existsin eternity, wherehe is simultaneouslyalive and dead, but rathersomethingmore nearly like this. One and the same eternal present is ET-simultaneous with Nixon's being alive and is also ET-simultaneous with Nixon's dying; so Nixon's life is ET-simultaneous with and hence presentto an eternalentity, and Nixon's death is ET-simultaneous with and hence presentto an eternalentity, although Nixon's life and Nixon's death are themselves neither eternalnor simultaneous. These considerationsalso explain the appearance of metaphysical relativisminherentin theclaim thatNixon's death is reallyfuturefor us and really present for an eternal entity.It is not that thereare two objective realities,in one of which Nixon's death is reallyfutureand in the otherof which Nixon's death and life are reallypresent;that would be incoherent.What the concept of eternityimplies instead is that thereis one objective realitythat contains two modes of real existence in which two different sorts of duration are measured by two irreduciblydifferent sortsof measure: time and eternity. Given the relationsbetween time and eternityspelled out in section ii of this paper, Nixon's death is really future or not depending on which sortof entity, temporalor eternal, it is being related to. An eternal entity'smode of existenceis such that its whole life is ET-simultaneous with each and every temporal entityor event, and so Nixon's death, like everyother eventinvolving Nixon, is really ET-simultaneous with the life of an eternalentity.But when Nixon's death is being relatedto us, on

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[today'sdate], then,given our location in the temporalcontinuum, or in any otherway) Nixon's death is not simultaneous(temporally with respectto us, but reallyfuture.20 With this understandingof the atemporalityof an eternalentity's existence,we want to consider now the apparent incoherencegenerated by combining atemporalitywith duration and with life in the definitionof eternity. The notion of atemporal duration is the heartof the concept of and, in our view, the original motivationforits developeternity way in which to dispel the apparent inment. The most efficient coherenceof the notion of atemporal duration is to consider,even The thedevelopmentof theconceptof eternity. if only verybriefly, its it finds concept can be found in Parmenides, we think,2'but in working of it use first detailed formulationin Plato, who makes out the distinctionbetweentherealms of being and becoming;and it receivesits fullestexposition in pagan antiquity in the work of Plotinus.22The thought that originally stimulatedthis Greek dewas apparentlysomethinglike velopmentof theconcept of eternity gives us an impression duration this. Our experience of temporal an of timeconvinces which analysis of permanenceand persistence shows us that, Reflection an or at least a distortion. illusion us is duratemporal impression, familiar but superficial to our contrary find to what one would expect duration, just is tion only apparent in the realm of becoming. The existenceof a typicalexistenttemporal entity,such as a human being, is spread over years of the but thepast past, throughthe present,and into yearsof the future; is not, the futureis not, and the presentmust be understoodas no timeat all, a durationlessinstant,a merepoint at which thepast is20The claim that Nixon's death is really futurerestson the assumption around which we all organize our lives, the view thatthe temporalpresentis absolute, that the expressions 'the present', 'the past', and 'the future'are uniquely (and differexpressionson each occasion of theiruse, that 'now' is an essential ently)referring "The Problem of indexical. On the notion of an essential indexical see John Perry, the Essential Indexical," Nous, xiii, 1 (March 1979): 3-21. We are gratefulto Marilyn Adams for lettingus see some of her unpublished work which bringsout the importanceof the notion of the absolute presentin discussions of thissort,particularlyin thediscussion we will take up in sec. vi below, and forcalling our attention to Perry'sarticle. 21 Most clearly in fr.8, as we read it. For excellent examples of both sides of the in Parmenidessee G. E. L. over the presenceof the concept of eternity controversy Owen, "Plato and Parmenides on the Timeless Present," The Monist, L, 3 (July Ar1966): 317-340; and Malcolm Schofield, "Did Parmenides Discover Eternity?", Geschichteder Philosophie, LII (1970): 113-135. chiv fiur 22See nn. 6 and 9 above.IV. ATEMPORAL DURATION AND ATEMPORAL LIFE

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continuous with the future.23 Such radically evanescentexistence cannot be the foundation of existence. Being, the persistent, permanent, utterlyimmutable actuality that seems required as the bedrockunderlyingthe evanescenceof becoming,must be characterizedby genuine duration, of which temporal duration is only theflickering image. Genuine duration is fullyrealizeddurationnot only extendedexistence(even thatis theoretically impossible in time)but also existencenone of which is alreadygone and none of which is yet to come-and such fully realized duration must be atemporal duration. Whateverhas atemporal duration as its mode of existenceis "such thatnothingfuture is absentfromit and nothing past has flowed away," whereas of everything that has temporal duration it may be said that fromit everything futureis absent and everythingpast has flowed away. What has temporal duration "does not yetgrasp tomorrow but yesterday it has already lost"; even today it exists only "in a mobile, transitory moment," the presentinstant. To say of something that it is futureis to say thatit is not (yet),and to say of somethingthatit is past is to say thatit is not (any longer). Atemporalduration is duration none of which is not-none of which is absent (and hence future) or flowed away (and hence past). Eternity, not time,is the mode of existence thatadmits of fullyrealizedduration. The ancient Greek philosophers who developed the concept of were using theword 'aion', which correspondsin its origieternity nal sense to our word 'duration', in a way thatdepartedfromordinaryusage in orderto introducea notion which, howevercounterintuitiveit may be, can reasonablybe said to preserveand even to enhance the original sense of the word. It would not be out of keeping with the traditionthat runs through Parmenides,Plato, and Plotinus into Augustine,Boethius, and Aquinas to claim that it is only the discoveryof eternity that enables us to make genuinely literal use of words for duration, words such as 'permanence' and 'persistence', which in theirordinary, temporalapplication turn out to have been unintended metaphors. 'Atemporal duration', like the ancient technicaluse of 'aiJn' itself, violates established usage; but an attemptto conveya new philosophical or23 For some discussion of thisanalysis of timein Aristotle and Augustine see Fred Miller, "Aristotleon the Reality of Time," ArchivfurGeschichteder Philosophie, i.vi (1974): 132-155; and Norman Kretzmann,"Time Exists-But Hardly, or Obscurely(Physics IV, 10; 217b29-218a33)," AristotelianSociety SupplementaryVolume i.(1976): 91-114.

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concept by adapting familiarexpressionsis not to be rescientific jected on the basis of its violation of ordinaryusage. The apparent incoherencein the concept is primarilya consequence of continuthroughtime." ing to thinkof durationonly as "persistence Since a life is a kind of duration,some of the apparent incoherence in the notion of an atemporal lifemay be dispelled in rendering the notion of atemporal duration less readilydismissible. But life is in addition ordinarilyassociated with processes of various sorts,and processes are essentiallytemporal,and so the notion of Now what an atemporal entitythat has life seems incoherent.24 Aquinas, for example, is thinking of when he attributeslife to eternal God is the doctrinethatGod is a mind. (Obviously what is atemporal cannot consist of physical matter;we assume for the in the notion sake of theargumentthatthereis nothingincoherent existent mind.).Since God is of a wholly immaterial,independently in important atemporal, the mind that is God must be different ways froma temporal,human mind. Consideredas an atemporal or plan ahead, mind, God cannot deliberate,anticipate,remember, for instance; all these mental activities essentially involve time, (like deliberation)or in reeither in taking time to be performed quiring a temporal viewpoint as a prerequisite to performance But it is clear thatthereare othermentalactiv(like remembering). ities thatdo not requirea temporalintervalor viewpoint.Knowing take seems to be the paradigm case; learning,reasoning,inferring time,as knowing does not. In replyto thequestion 'What have you been doing forthe past two hours?' it makes sense to say 'Studying but not 'Knowing logic'. Similarly,it logic' or 'Proving theorems', makes sense to say 'I'm learning logic', but not 'I'm knowing logic'. And knowing is not the only mental activityrequiring neithera temporalintervalnor a temporalviewpoint.Willing, for example, unlike wishing or desiring,seems to be another.Perceiving is impossible in any literal sense fora mind thatis disembodied, but nothing in the nature of incorporealityor atemporality seems to rule out the possibilityof awareness. And thoughfeeling angry is impossible for an atemporal entity-if feelingsof anger are essentiallyassociated,as theyseem to be, with bodily states-we24 William Kneale has taken this notion to be genuinely incoherentand among the most importantreasons for rejecting the classic concept of eternity. See his "Time and Eternityin Theology," Proceedings of the AristotelianSociety, LXI (1960/61): 87-108; also his article "Eternity"in Paul Edwards,ed., The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (New York: Macmillan, 1967), vol. 3, pp. 63-66. Cf. Martha Kneale, "Eternityand Sempiternity", Proceedings of the AristotelianSociety,LXIX (1968/69):223-238.

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do not see thatanythingpreventssuch an entityfrombeing angry, a state the components of which might be, for instance, being aware of an injustice, disapproving of it, and willing its punishment. It seems, then,that the notion of an atemporal mind is not incoherent,but that, on the contrary,it is possible that such a mind might have a variety of facultiesor activities.Our informal, incompleteconsiderationof thatpossibilityis not even the beginning of an argumentforsuch a conclusion, but it is enough forour purposes here to suggest the line along which such an argument might develop. The notion of an atemporal mind is not prima facie absurd, and so neitheris the notion of an atemporal life absurd; forany entitythathas or is a mind must be consideredto be ipso facto alive, whatevercharacteristics of-otherliving beings it may lack.V. THE NOTION OF AN ETERNAL ENTITY'S

The difficulties we have considered so far are difficulties in the concept of eternity itself. We have by no means dealt explicitly with all the objections to the concept which have been raised in contemporary discussions, but many of those objections involve difficulties over simultaneity, and such objectionscan, we think,be dealt with adequately in thelightof our previousdiscussionof ETWe hope, forinstance,to have revealedthemisundersimultaneity. standing underlyingsuch attemptedreductionsof the concept to as this one: absurdity But,on St. Thomas' view,mytyping of thispaper is simultaneous withthewholeofeternity. fire of Rome Again,on his view,thegreat is simultaneous withthewholeof eternity. while I type Therefore, these very words, Nerofiddles on.25 heartlessly We want now to turn to fundamentaldifficulties in theological applications of the concept, particularlythose which arise in consideringthepossibilityof interaction betweeneternaland temporal entities. There are several reasons for thinkingthat an eternalentity, as we have characterizedit, could not affect or respond to temporal entities,events,or state of affairs.Justas an eternalentitycannot exist in time,so, we mightsuppose, (I) an eternalentity cannot act in time. It might seem, furthermore, that (II) the nature of a tem25 AnthonyKenny,"Divine Foreknowledgeand Human Freedom " in Kenny,ed., Aquinas: A Collection of Critical Essays (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday-Anchor, 1969),pp. 255-270; p. 264.

ACTING IN TIME

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poral action is such that the agent itselfmust be temporal.Nelson Pike providesthe followingcase in point: 17,000 feet high,cameinto Let us supposethat yesterday a mountain, explains existence on theflatlands of Illinois.One of thelocal theists action.He claimsthat thisoccurrence byreference to divinecreative Of course,if God produced (created, brought about) themountain. themountain yesterday. God is timeless, He could nothaveproduced and thustheindividThis would require thatGod's creative-activity claimis that ual whoseactivity it is haveposition in time. The theist's a 17,000feethigh it about thatyesterday, God timelessly brought of Illinois. . . .[But] mountain came into existence on theflatlands a temporal object(suchas the The claimthat God timelessly produced is absurd.26 mountain) On this basis Pike denies thatGod, consideredas atemporal,could produce or createanything;whateveris produced or createdbegins to exist and so has a position in time. And it might be argued could not preserve along similar lines that(III) an atemporalentity anything temporal in existence because to do so would require temporalduration on the part of the preserver. If God is taken to be eternal,considerationsI, II, and III are incompatible with some doctrinescentralto most versionsof theism, such as the divine creation and preservation of the world, and divine response to petitionary theymilitate prayer.More specifically, since theincarnationof against thecentraldoctrineof Christianity, Christentails that the second person of the Trinityhas a temporal nature and performstemporal actions during a certain period of time. We thinkall threeof these considerationsare confused. In connection with considerationI a distinctionmust be drawn between (a) acting in such a way thattheaction itselfcan be located in time and (b) acting in such a way that the effect of theaction can be located in time. For temporalagents the distinctionbetween(a) and however,(a) is (b) is generallynugatory;foran atemporal entity, impossible. An agent's action is an event in the agent's life, and therecan be no temporalevent in the atemporal life of God. But such an observationdoes not tell against (b). If an eternal God is also omnipotent,he can do anythingit is not logically impossible forhim to do. Even though his actions cannot be located in time, he can bring about effects in time unless doing so is logically impossible forhim.26Nelson Pike, God and Timelessness (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970), pp. 104/5.

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ConsiderationsII and III may be construedas providingreasons forthinkingthatit is indeed logically impossible foran atemporal Pike's versionof consideration entityto produce temporaleffects. II, however,involvesa confusion like theconfusionjust sortedout forconsiderationI. He says: themountain He could nothaveproduced (9) "[I]fGod is timeless, yesterday." a temporal object(such produced God timelessly (10) "The claimthat is absurd." as themountain) Both thesepropositionsare ambiguous because of thepossibilityof scopes to 'yesterday'and to 'timelessly' (or assigning different 'atemporally'),and the ambiguitiescan be sortedout in this way: it about he cannotyesterday havebrought (9a) If God is atemporal, a temporal objectcameintoexistence. that itaboutthat bring he cannot (atemporally) (9b) IfGod is atemporal, a temporal yesterday. objectcameintoexistence a brings itaboutthat God atemporally (lOa) It is absurdtoclaimthat objectcameintoexistence. temporal it about thata temporal (lOb) It is absurdto claim thatGod brings atemporally.27 objectcameintoexistence Apparentlywithout taking account of the ambiguityof propositions (9) and (10), Pike understandsthemas (9a) and (lOb) respectively.Propositions (9a) and (lOb) are indeed true,but theydo not support Pike's inferencethat an atemporal God cannot produce a Pike seems to be relying temporalobject. In drawing thatinference on an assumption about a temporal relationship that must hold The assumption is not entirely between an action and its effect. clear; in some passages of his God and Timelessness it looks as if must be simultaneous,an Pike thinksthatan action and its effect assumption that is plainly false in general regardingactions and their effects as ordinarilyconceived of. But if we do adopt coas a theoretically occurrence justifiableconditionon causal connecwe can point out thatany and tion betweenan action and its effect, is ET-simultaneous with any temeveryaction of an eternalentity ascribed to it. And, since it would simplybeg thequesporal effect tion to insist that only temporal simultaneitybetween an actionThese ambiguities, like the two interpretations provided for considertion I investigated by medieval logicians under theirdisabove, are of the sortextensively tinctionbetweenthe compounded and divided sensesof propositions.Thus (9a) and (lOa) presentthe compounded senses of propositions (9) and (10), whereas(9b) and (lOb) presenttheirdivided senses.27

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and its effect can satisfy this necessary condition of causal connection,we see no reason fordenyingof an eternal,omnipotententity thatits atemporal act of willing could bringit about thata mountain came into existence on [yesterday's date]. Consequently, we can see no reason forthinkingit absurd to claim thata divine action resultingin theexistenceof a temporalentityis an atemporal action. In other words, we think that propositions (9b) and (lOa) are false, although they are legitimate senses of the ambiguous propositions (9) and (10). And so we rejectconsiderationII as well as I. Our reasons forrejectingthesefirsttwo considerationsapply as well, mutatismutandis,to considerationIII. If it is not impossible foran omnipotent,eternalentityto act in eternity (by atemporally willing) in such a way as to bring it about thata temporalentity begins to exist at a particulartime,it is not impossible foran omnipotent,eternal entityto act in eternity (by atemporallywilling) in such a way that that temporalentity continues to exist during a particulartemporalinterval. A different sortof difficulty arises in connectionwith answering prayersor punishing injustice, for instance,since in such cases it seems necessarythat the eternal action occur later than the temporal action; and so our reasons forrejectingconsiderationsI, II, and III, based on the ET-simultaneityof eternalactions with temporal events,seem inapplicable. The problemof answeringprayers is typicalof difficulties of this sort.An answer to a prayermust be later than the prayer, it seems,just because ( 11) Something constitutes an answer to a prayer onlyifit is donebecauseof theprayer. and (12) Something is donebecause ofa prayer onlyifit is donelater than thepraying of theprayer. We thinkthat (11) is true; (12), on the otherhand, seems doubtful even as applied to temporalentities.If at 3:00 a motherpreparesa snack forher littleboy because she believesthatwhen he getshome at 3:30 he will ask for one, it does not seem unreasonable to describeher as preparingthefood because of the child's request,even though in this case the response is earlier than the request. Whatever may be true regarding temporal entities,however, if (12) is true,it obviously rules out the possibilityof an eternalentity'sresponding to prayers.But consider thecase of Hannah's prayingon a certainday to have a child and her conceiving severaldays after-

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ward.28 Both theday of her prayer and theday of herconceivingare ET-simultaneous with the lifeof an eternalentity.If such an entity atemporallywills that Hannah conceive on a certainday afterthe day of her prayer,then such an entity's bringing it about that Hannah conceives on that day is clearlya response to her prayer, even though thewilling is ET-simultaneous with theprayerrather than later than it. If ET-simultaneityis a sufficient condition for thepossibilityof a causal connectionin thecase of God's bringing about theexistenceof a temporalentity, it is likewise sufficient for thepossibilityof his acting because of a prayerprayedat a particular time.29 The principal difficulty in the doctrineof the Incarnationseems intractableto considerationsof the sort with which we have been tryingto alleviate difficulties associated with an eternal entity's willing to bring about a temporalevent,because according to the doctrineof the Incarnation an eternalentityitselfenteredtime. If we take the essence of the doctrineto be expressedin (13) "Whenthefulness ofthetime wascome,God sent his Son, forth bornofa woman"(Galatians4:4). it is not difficult to see, in the lightof our discussion so far,how to providean interpretation thatshows that,as regardsGod's sending his Son, the doctrineis compatible with God's eternality: (13') God atemporally wills thathis Son be bornof a womanat the appointed time. But the possibility of making sense of an eternal action with a temporaleffect does not settlethis issue, because the principal difficulty here does not lie in the nature of the relationshipbetween an eternalagent and a temporaleffect. The difficulty here is rather thatan eternalentityis also a component of the temporaleffectan effect which is, to put it simplistically,an eternal entity'shaving become temporal without having ceased (per impossibile) to exist eternally.Formulating the difficulty in the doctrine of the Incarnation simplistically,however, simply exacerbates it. And whereas this formulationof it may presentan insuperable difficulty for one or more of the heresies of the Patristicperiod that took theperson of Christto be only divine or only human, it is ineffective against theorthodoxdoctrinesof the Trinityand thedual28

ISamuel 1:9-20.

prayersee Eleonore Stump, "PetitionaryPrayer,"American Philosophical Quarxvi, 1 (January1979): 81-91. terly,

29For a discussion of other philosophical problems associated with petitionary

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of thosephilosophically intricate natureof Christ.A full treatment doctrineslies outside the scope of this paper, but we will consider of them themverybriefly on thebasis of our limitedunderstanding in orderto suggestsome reasons forsupposing thatthedoctrineof the Incarnation is not incompatible with the doctrine of God's eternality. The doctrine of the Trinity maintains that God, although one substance,consistsin threepersons,the second of which is God the Son. The doctrine of the dual nature maintains that the second person of the Trinity has not merelyone essence or nature, like everyotherperson divine or human, but two: one thedivine nature common to all the persons of the Trinity,the otherthehuman natureof the Incarnation. One of the explicitlyintendedconsequences of thedoctrineof thedual natureis thatany statement predicating somethingof Christ is ambiguous unless it contains a phrase one or the otheror both of his two natures.That is, the specifying proposition died. (14) Christ is ambiguous among these threereadings: (14a) Christ withrespect to his divinenature (orqua God) died. (14b) Christ withrespect to his humannature (orqua man)died. (14c) Christwithrespect to his divineand humannatures (or qua bothGod and man)died. From the standpoint of orthodox Christianity (14a) and (14c) are as denyingthat false,and (14b) is true.(14b) is not to be interpreted God died, however-such a denial formsthe basis of at least one Christian heresy-but to deny that God, the second person of the Trinity,died with respectto his divine nature. Such an account is loaded with at least apparent paradox, and it is not part of our purpose here even to sketchan analysis of it; but, whateverits internaldifficulties may be, the doctrineof the dual natureprovides of God's eterprima facie grounds fordenyingthe incompatibility nalityand God's becoming man. A Boethian account of the compatibility of divine eternality and the Incarnation might be developed along these lines, we think.30of the Incarnationand thedual natureof Christin his Boethius treats 30Although expecially in his Contra Eutychenet Nestorium (in Stewart, theological tractates, in those discusRand, and Tester 1973), he does not apply his concept of eternity sions as we thinkit ought to be applied.

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The divine natureof the second person of the Trinity,like the divine natureof eitherof theotherpersonsof the Trinity,cannot become temporal;nor could the second personat some timeacquire a human nature he does not eternallyhave. Instead, the second person eternally has two natures;and at some temporalinstants, all of which are ET-simultaneous with both these natures in theirenthe human natureof the second person has been temporally tirety, actual. At those timesand only in thatnaturethe second person directlyparticipatesin temporal events. We need no theologian to tell us how rudimentary this outline is, and no otherphilosopher to tell us how paradoxical it looks; but we are not now willing or able or requiredby our main purpose in thispaper to undertake an analysis or defenseof the role of the doctrineof thedual nature in establishingthe compatibilityof divine eternality and the Incarnation. We hope simply to have pointed out that the doctrineof the Incarnationcannot be reduced to the belief that God became temporal and that,if it is understoodas including the doctrineof the dual nature,it can be seen to have been constructed in just such a way as to avoid being reduced to that simple belief.And those observationsare all we need for now in order to allay the suspicion thateternalitymust be incompatible with the centraldoctrine of orthodoxChristianity. It seems to us, then,that the concept of eternity is coherentand thatthereis no logical impossibilityin the notion of an eternalbeing's acting in time,provided thatacting in time is understoodas we have explained it here. The doctrinethatGod is eternalis obviouslyof criticalimportance in theconsiderationof any issue involving therelationshipof God to temporalentitiesor events.We will conclude our explorationof the concept of eternity by sampling its effect on threesuch issues concerningeitherGod's knowledge or God's power in connection with the future, the past, and the present, respectively. First, the short answer to the question whetherGod can foreknow contingenteventsis no. It is impossible thatany eventoccur later than an eternalentity'spresentstateof awareness,since every temporalevent is ET-simultaneous with that state,and so an eternal entitycannot foreknowanything.Instead, such an entityconsideredas omniscientknows-is aware of-all temporalevents,including those which are future with respect to our current temporalviewpoint; but, because the timesat which those future eventswill be presenteventsare ET-simultaneous with the wholeVI. OMNISCIENCE AND IMMUTABILITY

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is aware of themas theyare an omniscienteternalentity of eternity, Second, the short answer to the question whether God can change the past is no. But it is misleading to say, with Agathon, thatnot even God can change the past;32God in particularcannot change the past. The impossibilityof God's changing the past is a consequence not of the factthatwhat is past is over and done with but ratherof the fact that the past is solely a featureof the experience of temporalentities.It is just because no eventcan be past cannot altera with respectto an eternalentitythatan eternalentity An omnipotent,omniscient,eternal entitycan affect past event.33 events only as theyare actually temporal events,but it can affect occurring.As fora past event,the timeat which it was actually ocand so curringis the time at which it is presentto such an entity; the affect can and God to God, present the battle of Waterloo is Napothat bring it about battle. Suppose thathe does so. God can leon wins, though we know thathe does not do so, because whatever God does at Waterloo is over and done with as we see it. So God cannot alter the past, but he can alter the course of the battle of Waterloo.343' What we presenthere is essentiallyBoethius's line against the suggestion that divine omniscience and human freedomare incompatible,a line in which he was followed by many medievals,especially Aquinas. On Aquinas's use of the Boethian solution, see Kenny,op. cit. (fn 25 above); see also fn 18 above. Nicomachean Ethics VI 2. 32Aristotle, 33Although the concept of the past, dependent on the concept of the absolute foran omniscienteternal has no application foran eternalentity, temporalpresent, as of January1, entitythereis theawareness of yourpast, yourpresent,yourfuture as of January1, 1980,and so on for yourfuture 1970,and of yourpast, yourpresent, as of any date in its duration. everytemporalentity These observations regarding God's relationship to the past might suggest issues regardingpetitionaryprayer.It is obviously absurd to pray in 1980 further that Napoleon win at Waterloo when one knows what God does not bringabout at Waterloo, but it might not seem absurd-at least not in the same way-to pray in all, your prayerand the battleare alike 1980 that Napoleon lose at Waterloo. After presentto God; whyshould yourprayernot be efficaciousin bringingabout Napoleon's defeat?But, as a petitionaddressed to the will of God, a prayeris also an expression of the will of the one who praysit, and any temporalentitywho prays in 1980, 'Let Napoleon lose at Waterloo,' is to that extentpretendingto have atemporal knowledge and an atemporal will. The only appropriate version of that prayeris 'Let Napoleon have lost at Waterloo,'and forone who knows theoutcome yearsago, thatprayeris pointlessand in of the battlemore than a hundredand fifty thatsense absurd. But a prayerprayedin ignoranceof theoutcome of a past eventis not pointless in that way. (We are thus disagreeing with Peter Geach, when he reclaims that "A prayerfor somethingto have happened is simply an absurdity, knowledgeor ignoranceof how thingswent" [God and the gardlessof the utterer's Soul (London: Routledge &rKegan Paul, 1969), p. 90]; but we findmuch else to admire in his chapter"Praying forThings to Happen".) On the hypothesisthatthere is an eternal,omniscient,omnipotentGod, the prayingof such a prayerwould in-

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Third, the shortanswer to the question whetherGod can know what time it is is yes. There is a published attemptto prove that, both omnisalthough fororthodoxChristianity God is necessarily are in factincient and immutable,omniscienceand immutability The proofreads as follows: compatible characteristics." to change. [1] A perfect beingis notsubject everything. beingknows [2] A perfect whattimeit is. everything alwaysknows [3] A beingthatknows it is is subject to change. whattime alwaysknows [4] A beingthat to change. .: [5] A perfect beingis subject . [6] A perfect beingis nota perfect being. being. .: [7] Thereis no perfect and omniscienceclaims. Step Steps [1] and [2] are the immutability [3] is intendedas the claim that an omniscientbeing knows what time it is now in the absolute present, what part of historyis neitherpast nor futurebut presently occurring.In explaining [4] the author takes 'It is now ti,'as the formof propositions that say what time it is. Thus a being that always knows what time it is knows first thatit is now t1 (and not t2), then thatit is now t2 (and not t1), and so on; and in that way such a being's knowledge is constantlychanging. And, if a being's knowledge is changing in such a way that it no longer knows what it once knew, then that being itselfis also changing.

deed qualify as "the only instanceof behavior,on thepart of ordinary people whose mental processes we can understand, designed to affect the past and coming quite naturallyto us" [Michael Dummett,"Bringing about the Past," The Philosophical Review,ilxxiii, 3 (July1964): 338-359; p. 341]. We are grateful to members of theSage School of Philosophy at Cornell forpointing out the relevanceof Dummett'sdiscussion. Dummettdoes not draw on theconcept of divine eternality, but, if it is acceptable in its own right,its introduction would lead to a modification and strengtheningof some of the claims he makes-e.g., "I am not asking God that,even if my son has drowned,He should now make him not to have drowned; I am asking that,at the timeof the disaster,He should thenhave made my son not to drown at thattime" (342). 35Kretzmann, "Omniscience and Immutability," thisJOIURNAI., I.XIII, 14 (July 14, 1966)): 409-421. This article has been discussed and criticizedby a numberof writers, including Hector-Neri Castafieda, "Omniscience and Indexical Reference," ibid., i.xiv, 7 (April 13, 1967): 203-209; Richard Swinbume, The Coherenceof Theism (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1977); Kenny,The God of thePhilosophers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), esp. ch. iv, "Omniscience, Eternity, and Time." We are grateful for having been shown two as yet unpublished discussions: Marilyn McCord Adams, "Can God Know What Time It Is?", and WalterHorn, "God and CurrentEvents." None of the criticisms of the argumentin "Omniscience and Immutability" which we have seen take the line we take in the restof this discussionnone of thedefenseswe have seen are effective against our line of attack.

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But God's eternality is as much a partof orthodoxChristiandoctrineas are God's omniscience and immutability;36 and, when not only time is taken into account but also eternity, as the mode of God's existence,then,as we have seen, such expressionsas 'now' and 'present'are equivocal. Given the way in which theconcept of eternity affects theinterpretation of such expressions, it is clear that the weak point in theproof is premise[3], which contains two implicit references to the present.The first of theseis in the tenseof 'is', since the point of the premise is that an omniscientbeing always knows what time it is now; the second is in the tenseof the second occurrenceof 'knows', since part of the idea underlyingthe proof is that knowledge of what time it is must be presentknowledge or knowledgeone has at the presenttime. If we analyze [3] to bring out the equivocations at those two points, we produce the followingfourpossible interpretations: [3a] A being thatknowseverything alwaysknowsin the temporal it is in thetemporal present whattime present. [3b] A being that knowseverything always knows in the eternal whattimeit is in thetemporal present present. [3c] A being thatknowseverything alwaysknowsin the temporal whattime it is in theeternal present present. [3d] A being that knowseverything always knowsin the eternal present whattimeit is in theeternal present. Interpretations [3c] and [3d] can be dismissedat once as incoherent in virtueof the expression 'what time it is in the eternal present'. [3a] is obviously the intendedsense of premise[3]; but [3a] is true just in case only a temporalentitycan be omniscient,since an omniscientatemporal entitycannot be said to know in the temporal present,and it begs the question at issue to assume that no atemporal entitycan be omniscient.The evaluation of the proof,then, depends on the evaluation of [3b]. What ex[3b] is hard to evaluate because it is hard to interpret. actlyis being picked out as the temporalpresent? If it is the timeat which you are reading these words, then [3b] may be taken to be true,forit is truethat an as present [3b'] For any timeexperienced by a temporal entity, omniscient eternal entity knows all theevents actually occurring36in this connectionit is interesting to note thatAquinas bases his attribution of eternality to God in Summa theologiae I, q. 10, on his attribution of immutability to God in q. 9.

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at thattime(as wellas thedatingof thattime and itsbeingexperienced as present bya temporal entity). as it But if premise [3] is interpreted as [3b'], it will not contribute is designed to do to thesupportof subconclusion [5] in theproof;a being thatalways knows what timeit is in theway laid out in [3b'] is not a being subject to change in virtueof its always knowing what timeit is. If premise[3] is read as [3b'], then[3] is truebut [4] is false. The defenderof the proof we are criticizingmay feel that [3b'] restson a notion of the temporalpresentas merely relative.He may well want to insist that some thingshave actually happened, some thingsare actually going to happen, and some thingsare actually happening; and what he wants to know is whetherGod knows what is actually happening as it is happening. The answer to that is ET-simultaneous question, too, is yes. The whole of eternity with each temporaleventas it is actually happening; the only way in which an eternalentity can be aware of any temporaleventis to be aware of it as it is actually happening. And from the eternal viewpointeverytemporaleventis actually happening. There is no single temporal viewpoint; even when the temporal present is taken to be absolute, the temporalviewpoint that is correctly designatedas now is incessantly changing. [3b'] has alreadyexpressed what we have to say about an eternalbeing's epistemicrelationship to temporal nows, but perhaps our analysis of premise [3] will be clearerif we providea simplerversionof thatinterpretation alongside an interpretation involving the single eternalnow. are events [3b"] Forevery temporal now,God knows whichtemporal now. actually happening events whichtemporal [3b"'] Fortheuniqueeternal now,God knows now. areactually happening The temporal events picked out in [3b"] are, for instance, those which are temporally simultaneous with yourreading thesewords; the temporaleventspicked out in [3b"'] are all of them.Taken together,[3b"] and [3b"'] ascribe to God all thereis to be known regarding the actual occurrenceof temporalevents,and thereis no sense in which to press the question whetherGod knows further what timeit is. The proof we have been criticizingmay be said to succeed in showing the incoherenceof the concept of an omniscient,immutabut thatis not theconceptof theperfect ble, temporalentity; being

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that has been identifiedas God in orthodox Christian theology, which takes God to be eternal.ELEONORE STUMP

Virginia PolytechnicInstituteand State UniversityNORMAN KRETZMANN

Cornell University

ulation or conventionand as extensionallyequivalent to analytictruth. Criticismhas tendedforsome timeto focus on the notion of analyticityratherthan apriority.The result has been to obscure the underlying epistemological considerationsthat give philosophical point to both notions. In the traditionthatgoes back through Kant at least to Descartes,apriorityis the primary notion. The point is perhaps most obvious in Kant, forwhom the two notions were emphaticallynot extensionallyequivalent. I am going to propose a train of philosophical reflections that seem to lead to recognitionof a priori truth.But my concern is more to expose a point of view than to urge acceptance of what it seenls to show. I begin with some suggestionsfroma recentarticle by Hilary Putnam, "Analyticityand Apriority,"twhich has the virtueof placing the emphasis whereI thinkit belongs,on thenotion of apriority.Throughout most of the paper I am concerned only with the apriorityof logical truth.In the final two sectionsI comment briefly on the relation of apriorityto analytic and synthetictruth. Some truthsof logic may be "so basic that the notion of explanation collapses when we tryto 'explain' why theyare true." So suggests Putnam. As an example of such a truth,he mentions "the Minimal Principle of Contradiction(Not every statement is true)." In suggestingthatthe notion of explanation collapses when we try* I am gratefulto Raymond Geuss, ArthurMelnick, Richard Rorty,and David Shwayderfortheircriticisms of an earlierdraftof thispaper. t"Analyticityand Apriority,"in Midwest Studies in Philosophy,,vol. VI (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1979),pp. 423-441. Unless otherwisespecified,all quotations fromPutnam are fromthe last two pages of this article.

A

ON A PRIORI TRUTH*

PRIORI truth is commonly regarded as truth created bystip-

0022-362X/81/7808/0458$02.50

? 1981 The Journal of Philosophy, Inc.

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