Time’s Perplexities

The traditional Judeo/Christian/Islamic conception of God is of a being that is eternal & the original creator of everything. Human perception of time is always in the moment, although the French philosopher Henri Bergson maintained that such perceptions have a span, which he called “the specious present”. The notion that God is both eternal and omniscient has always posed a conceptual problem for theologians. It suggests that God already knows everything that anyone is going to do in advance of their doing it. This poses a problem for people, because most people believe in free will. Omniscience seems to logically imply fatalism, which has led many thinkers to embrace doctrines of predestination and grace. If free will suggests that the future is not determined, then it is a puzzle to understand how God could be omniscient. But on the standard conception, if God is not omniscient then He doesn’t exist.

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