Anselm defines God as “that which nothing greater can be conceived”. This is his basic definition of God for the sake of his Ontological Argument. It’s interesting that he would use this definition as it seems to go against the medieval mysticism of the incomprehensible nature of God. It appears that human reason is fully capable to understand what God is since he is “that which nothing greater can be conceived”. Dionysius writes about the darkness in the mystery of the incomprehensibility of God. Anselm seems to take a stance that we can understand the nature of God. The Ontological Argument will argue this definition of God which presupposes comprehension of God. The Argument’s premises and conclusion can be stated this way:
Premise 1: God is that “which nothing greater can be conceived”.
Premise 2: The fool must admit that “that which nothing greater can be conceived” is conceivable.
Premise 3: If “that which nothing greater can be conceived” is conceivable, then it must exist outside the mind to be truly “That which nothing greater can be conceived”.
Premise 4: “That which nothing greater can be conceived” is conceivable.
Premise 5: Therefore, “that which nothing greater can be conceived” exists outside the mind.
Premise 6: “That which nothing greater can be conceived” exists in reality.
Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.
Alvin Plantinga’s version:
Anselm’s ontological argument has been revised by Philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Instead of Anselm’s definition of God, Plantinga defines God as the greatest conceivable being or a maximally great being. It’s more helpful since being is implied instead of a thing. Being implies personhood, which deals with objections that may ask: “Why does “that which nothing greater can be conceived” be personal? Plantinga’s argument will deal more with modal logic, which deals with possible worlds semantics. This does not mean multiple worlds or a multiverse. Rather deals with possibility and necessity of things. Model logic deals with how the world could have been and not been. We are contingent beings and could have failed to exist. Unicorns could exist in some possible world, but not all possible worlds. This is important to understand before this argument is laid out. Here is the argument in its logical form:
Premise 1: It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
Premise 2: If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
Premise 3: If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
Premise 4: If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
Premise 5: If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
Conclusion: Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
This argument states that if it is even possible for a maximal great being to exist, then this being actually exists. For this argument to follow, a maximally great being must have possibility of existence, so the world could have been this way. However, to be maximally great, this being would have to exist in every possible world. This is true because this maximal great being could only be maximally great if this being exists in every possible world. This argument basically argues that to be maximally great, necessity must be part of this being’s nature.
The principle of sufficient reason can be applied to this argument to help strengthen it. This principle states, that everything has an explanation for its existence, whether in the necessity of its own nature or something external. A maximally great being would not be contingent, but rather have the property of necessity. Necessity would imply that things with necessity have to exist in all possible worlds. Such as the laws of logic and truth itself. A maximally great being would have this in order to be maximally great. If there is a world in which this being could not exist, then it would not be maximally great. For this argument to be unsound, the objector would have to show that a maximally great being cannot exist in any possible world. To do this, they would have to show a logical contradiction in the idea of a maximally great being. Of course, the fool(non-believer) will have other objections.
Dealing with Objections:
Anselm did not receive as many criticisms in his day as Plantinga receives to this day. One of the main objections to Anselm’s version was the assertion that it’s possible to think of “that which nothing greater can be conceived” to not exist. Anselm simply replies that if this is the case, then it would not be “that which nothing greater can be conceived”. This can seem a bit circular since there might be a world in which the greatest thing conceived only exists in the mind. This is why Plantiga’s argument is better worded and employs model logic. A maximally great being would have to exist in every possible world to be maximally great.
Some objectors to Plantinga’s argument give an argument from analogy. Couldn’t there be a maximally great pizza? The answer is no because what would pertain to this pizza? Taste is subjective, so there’s no real way to get a true standard by which you could determine for a pizza to be maximally great. Plus, pizza can be eaten and not exist in a possible world. This of course is just exercising the thoughts that come from this silly objection. Another objection is the mere assertion that there is a world in which a maximally great being doesn’t exist. This of course is never demonstrated and is a mere assertion. As asserted before, to show this argument to be unsound, the objector would have to show a logical contradiction in the definition of a maximally great being.
A final, common objection to this argument is an epistemological one. Scientism is used to argue that science is the only real way to truth, so arguments from logic need empirical data to back up the premises. It can be simply asked, has scientism demonstrated scientifically why it should be accepted as the best epistemological methodology? The answer will be no, so the objection does not follow at this point.
For God to be “that which nothing greater can be conceived” he must be a maximally great being that exists in every possible world. Anselm was onto this and so is Plantinga with his argument. Anselm would say that to understand this being, we must first believe in order to understand. I would argue that since we do understand that God is a maximally great being, we should believe in order to understand him. The Ontological argument is one of many arguments in the cumulative case to show why we should have faith in God in order to understand him.
Anselm's Major Works: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006L2XMBK/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
Ontological Arguments Book: https://www.amazon.com/Ontological-Arguments-Classic-Philosophical-ebook/dp/B07GNJLV18/ref=sr_1_1?crid=13JV17YF6T1SJ&keywords=ontological+argument&qid=1555186229&s=digital-text&sprefix=Ontological+%2Cdigital-text%2C136&sr=1-1
Anselm’s writings carry the same theme as Augustine’s writings, that faith by nature seeks understanding. Anselm in the first chapter explains that he does not approach the existence of God as the fool but rather as faith seeking understanding. “But I do desire to understand Your truth a little, that truth that my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand (87).”
The fool to Anselm is the non-believer in God. In Chapter 2, he gives an ontological argument for God’s existence. He argues that God is “that which nothing greater can be conceived.” He says that the fool must admit that this exists in the mind. They of course will, but then deny that “that which nothing greater can be conceived” exists in the actual world. Anselm argues, that “that which nothing greater can be conceived” must exist beyond the mind in order to be “that which nothing greater can be conceived.” Because of this, there must be a thing that exists in reality, which is “that which nothing greater can be conceived.
The fool might respond by saying it’s possible for God to be thought to not exist so it follows that he does not. Anselm simply replies “And certainty this being so truly exists that it cannot be even thought not to exist (88).” If it could be thought not to exist than it would not be “that which nothing greater can be conceived”. This is a general summary of Anselm’s ontological argument for the existence of God.
Anselm’s epistemology has a starting point of faith so that you may understand. This is true, that one must trust something or someone in order to understand. Everyone as a child had to trust their parents and teachers in order to understand basic knowledge. At one point, we can understand on our own by having appropriate research skills, but you still trust your sources. Anselm’s epistemology of faith is true of all knowledge, you start with truth and trust that it is real to understand it. With God, you must first trust his revelation in order to know him. Even when the non-believer engages God’s revelation, they are seeking truth, which is faith seeking understanding.
Truth is usually defined as that which corresponds to reality. This is the correspondence theory of truth that deals with realism. If someone believes that they know true statements, then those statements must correspond to their reality. Anselm will give his thoughts on truth in a very similar way. This Book will take us through a dialogue between a student and teacher (Anselm). This dialogue is a way of how Anselm will show what truth is and what it entails.
Truth is eternal, meaning that there was never a moment in which truth never existed. For if there was a time in which truth did not exist, then it would be true that truth did not exist. This of course is self-refuting and contradictory because there is a reality in which things are true. Truth exists throughout all moments and even if there were somehow no moments, truth would still exist. This is the main point of Chapter 1 that Anselm makes about the very nature of truth,
Truth propositions describe right rectitude and or signifies something’s essence correctly. This is hinted at in chapter 2. “A statement then is right and true either because it is correctly formed or because it fulfills its function of signifying correctly (154).” Anselm gives the example of the proposition “Man is an animal”. This is an affirmation that denotes something positive over its negation that Man is not an Animal. This is defining the essence of man and makes ontological claims. A negative proposition “Man is not a stone” affirms that men do not carry the same ontological status of a stone. Affirmative statements are known as declarative statements with subjects and predicates. The point of all this is to show what something’s rectitude and truth is.
Truth has been defined, but rectitude has not. Rectitude has to do with statements that correspond to their orderness, casual relationships, purposes in reality, ect. These statements can only be known on realism, which says that we can know true things about reality. Anti-Realism would state that we cannot have precise claims about the nature of reality so we cannot know a thing’s rectitude. “Therefore if truth and rectitude are in the essence of things because they are that which they are in the highest truth, it is certain that the truth of things is rectitude (160).” If something has rectitude, then they “ought” to be that way. Anselm argues that rectitude is the highest form of truth that something can be.
Anselm shares in common with Augustine on the role of senses, the inner sense, and rationality. They both argue that we basically receive sensory information from the five senses. There is a type of inner sense that reflects on these and makes statements that are sense perception truths. The final stage would be the rational of these statements, for Anselm most likely, this would be the state that leads to the highest truth. When something goes through sense perception and the inner sense, then the rectitude of that thing can be discovered. “Therefore something is truly said to have been because it is so in reality, and therefore there is something past because so it is in the highest truth (165).”
Anselm is very similar to Augustine’s view of truth; they both would agree that all truth is God’s truth. The correspondence theory of truth is how we should perceive reality because in investigation of it presupposes this theory. Anselm truly shows this in his book on Truth. Things truly have rectitude and have purposes imposed by God since all truth is his. To know truth according to Anselm, it must first start with faith.
On Free Will:
“Therefore justice is not rectitude of knowledge or action, but of will (167).” This is Anselm’s definition of justice, which has to do will. “Therefore whatever does not will rectitude, even if it has it, does not merit praise for its rectitude. One who does not know it cannot will it (167).” It’s important to get his definition of justice in order to discuss his views of free agency since justice presupposes the acts of said free agents.
Every will according to Anselm has two components to it. “Every will wills both something and for the sake of something (168).” The Will is free, yet it is not an arbitrary act since willing has reasons. Every will has a what and why. Without the what and why, there is no willing. For a just will must will what it ought and the reason for why it ought to. This can be called a rectified will. This will follow moral obligations for the very reason it ought to.
Sin is what poisons the rectified will, which a true rectified will wills things of God. Sin by definition is willing against what God’s prescriptive will is and his moral obligations for his image bearers. It’s important to define what Anselm seems to hint at what the will is. The will is the capacity to act in some way according to the what and why. The will that abandons rectitude is sin itself. According to Anselm, man and angels free sinned prior to sin and needing the work of God for restoration. Man can abandon rectitude of will if he wills what temptation lusts after. Matthew 5 seems to hint at the desire that we can fall into, that why Christ says the lusting starts with the heart, which is used to say will. The rectified will that submits to God is more free than the will that submits to sin.
Anselm connects the will to the truth of things. Something’s rectitude is its truth and things should will towards what their rectitude is. God has created humans in his image which resembles his rectitude. Of course, this does not mean we are God, but are like him. Our own rectitude is similar with God’s rectitude. Our purpose is to will what God wants of his moral agents, to place their faith in him so that we may understand. Jesus Christ claimed to be the truth and to understand you must place your faith in him. All three of Anselm works here fit nicely on how salvation works. God’s will is for everyone to come to a saving knowledge of the truth, but humans must have a rectified will(faith) in order to understand him. These are true statements about God and his causal relationships with humans in the act of salvation.
Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works
(Owner of Inspiring Philosophy)
What is the Trinity? Many skeptics seem to misunderstand this important doctrine of Christianity as a pagan idea or a motorists idea, but a brief explanation of the Trinity will explain that neither of these are correct the core doctrine of the Trinity. It can be said in three sentences, there is one God. God is three Persons. Each person is fully God. This differs from a modeless understanding, which would say there is only one God who reveals himself in three different forms or persons. Whereas, the Trinity says there are three coexisting eternal persons who exist as one God. The Trinity also differs from a pagan grouping of gods who say there are three different gods who are simply one in purpose, but are fully separate. Whereas, the persons of the Trinity are not different gods but one God. Most of those who misunderstand the Trinity tend to classify the Trinity as one of these, but they are both incorrect the Trinity is not one God revealing himself as different forms. The Trinity is not three different gods the Trinity is one.
God is three persons and each person is fully. God the Father is first person of the Trinity. He is the source of the Godhead and all things. He has transcendent uncaused beyond mere existence. He simply is. The second person of the Trinity is the son, who is the word of the Father. He is eternally begotten of the Father and uncreated. His sources are in the father and humans can approach the father through the son. The third person of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit who is neither begotten nor created he. He eternally proceeds from the father. He is the active agent of God in the world and the guide of the church. His sources are in the father as well, yet he has always existed. It is important to mention that the members interact with one another.
In the world, the father sent the Holy Spirit like a dove onto the son at his baptism. The son sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Father created the world through the Son and the Holy Spirit. There is present interaction within the Trinity now, while the father is the ultimate source. The Son and the Holy Spirit are not less in power or divinity, they are all eternal and all fully divine. They all coexist as one God, yet are separate persons of one undivided essence. They are eternally loving in love one another in perfect harmony so there is no disagreement or division within the Trinity. They all share the same nature of God.
A not so perfect analogy has been likened to the Sun. There is the star, the heat in the Rays as long as the star has existed it has been generating rays and heat has proceeded from it. Likewise, as long as the father has existed, he has been pouring out his being into the Sun and the spirit has been proceeding from him. It is important to understand what the Trinity is, there are three persons of one God who co-exist eternally as one God. Each is fully God and fully divine. The Holy Spirit and the Son submit to the Father's authority because there cannot be two masters. They find their source in him, yet have always existed so again there is one God. God is three persons; each person is fully God. Now of course, there are many questions that stem from the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, but makes the most logical sense of what is taught in Scripture.
Inspiring Philosophy: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5qDet6sa6rODi7t6wfpg8g
By: John Limanto
1. Forekowledge Entails Fatalism
For one to endorse this argument, it would roughly proceed the way that Nelson Pike had introduced it since 2001, which had taken roots back in 1965. The scenario Pike comes across is of a man named Jones who is about to mow the lawn on one Saturday. Supposing that God knows that Jones will do it, then how can we suppose that Jones could have acted differently? In short, the objection says that definite foreknowledge entails that no one has the ability to do otherwise because the future is logically necessary. Hence, either foreknowledge must be rejected or libertarian free will (LFW) that Molinism so insists must be rejected.
At first glance, it should strike one to note that this is not an argument against Molinism exclusively. Rather, it is an argument against all theists who hold to both LFW and exhaustive foreknowledge of God. This fact alone should already raise eyebrows for the easy victory that it claims to have. Our detractor has committed the so-called modal fallacy. To commit a modal fallacy is to deduce status of necessities and possibilities inappropriately to propositions. In order to make the argument proceed, our detractor would have to involve an equivalent of the following three premises:
1. Necessarily, God knows all true propositions.
2. X is a true proposition.
3. Therefore, necessarily, God knows X.
This fallacy can be more extensively discussed than the space permits me. The bottom line is this: our detractors want to insist that the future is logically necessary—that no logically possible condition could have changed. Our detractors want to arrive at this conclusion from the premise that God necessarily knows every and all true propositions. I’m not here to dispute the premise; I’m here to dispute the conclusion. Just because, necessarily, God knows all true propositions, the content of those propositions don’t have to be necessary likewise. Molinists may avoid this problem by saying that God may know that Jones will mow the lawn on Saturday. Yet, Jones is free to have done otherwise. In all the worlds in which he did, God would have known differently likewise!
2. Libertarianism is Luck!
I shall not be the last to say that this objection would require volumes of treatments. Be that as it may, the trump card of the Calvinists is the objection that a free will known as libertarianism that Molinism insists on is unintelligible because it would entail freedom being random in libertarian free agents. To begin with, we shall define LFW simpliciter. In bare-boned terms, libertarianism is simply the conjunction of the following three propositions:
1) Free will is incompatible with determinism
2) Free will exists
3) Determinism is false
The bottom line is that the type of freedom stipulated by Molinists is the kind where freedom is not compatible with determinism.
Peter van Inwagen famously quips that this argument should be called the ‘Mind’ argument for how often it appeared in the philosophical journal article, ‘Mind,’ of the 1980s. This, in itself, should already be a proof of how prevalent this argument against LFW even in the sophisticated philosophical literature. As van Inwagen pointed out himself, the major folly of this argument is in its equivocating between randomness and indeterminacy. It is true—as per the determinists—that libertarian free actions would have to be undetermined to be free from causal determinism. However, to jump to the conclusion that this is luck or randomness seems to be a stretch. If God were to have the choice to choose between a range of options which are all consistent with his nature, then it is obvious that he would possess an undetermined will. Does this mean that God’s action would be random? Well no! Quite the contrary, it would be motivated by the reasons albeit not causally determined by them.
3. Molinism is not in the Bible
This is a remarkable objection. By far, it is the most celebrated bastard ‘brainchild’ of the Reformed camp. White often quips that all these talks of possible worlds and feasibilities in the Molinist scheme cannot be found in the Bible and hence, we must not adopt it on the basis of a principle akin to the Reformation’s beloved sola Scriptura.
A positive case for Molinism supported by the Bible is that the Bible often talks about the choices to do otherwise. To cite two examples, Deuteronomy 30:11 would be a prime verse which contains God’s advice to the Israelites: “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.” The famous pastoral message of 1 Corinthians 10:13 hits this point as well: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Molinists take these verses at face value to mean that men have genuine ability to have done otherwise through a series of options available to him in his fallen state—even if all of the options are sinful choices. A strong affirmation of the Bible is also exhaustive divine providence. Indeed, Ephesians 1:11 talks about God’s total control over everything to bring his purposes.
The tension between these two verses are evident: how may we reconcile them? Molinism, indeed, is not a concept explicitly expounded in the Bible, but neither does a lot of doctrines posited by theologians: different models of Trinitarianisms, hypostatic union, closed canon, etc. The point is not to undercut the genuine sense in which these doctrines may be supported by Scripture. Rather, the point is to show the importance of reconciling Biblical concepts into one coherent system. We take this reconciliation, in itself, an evidence for a doctrine from the Bible.
4. What Grounding is there for Molinism?
This idea is the hardest to chew on because of its technicality and the overwhelming support that the so-called ‘grounding objection’ has had from popular academics. To simplify the matter, the grounding objection says that middle knowledge cannot be true because there is nothing to ‘make’ these knowledge true. How one may interpret the word ‘make’ is up to the grounding objector. Jennifer Jensen has helpfully categorized between two senses of the word ‘make’: the ‘in-virtue-of’ or the ‘causal’ sense. In the former, a proposition is true ‘in-virtue-of’ when there is an exemplification of that proposition as a concrete object. Thus, the proposition <Cars exist> is made true in virtue of the existence of cars. In the case of middle knowledge, the objection says that there is nothing in virtue of the knowledge in middle knowledge to make the knowledge true for they are true prior to the agents’ existence. The causal sense of ‘make’ likewise has had its technical formulations with the advent of its most ardent defenders: William Hasker and Robert M. Adams.
In any case, the grounding objection needs to be scrutinized in terms of the plausibility of the principle it posits. The knowledge posited by the ‘in-virtue-of’ grounding objections can be answered by bringing exceptions to the principle. Propositions such as the following have always been suspect to this controversial principle:
(1) Ravens are black
(2) Unicorns do not exist.
Both of these propositions have been known to circumvent the principle while no one would deny their truths.
The grounding objection, numbered as the principal objection to Molinism by the Molinist Thomas P. Flint, remains a hotly debated objection. However, it seems that the following retort by Craig sums its best:
What is ironic about this situation is not merely the fact that the many Molinist responses to the grounding objection remain largely ignored or unrefuted in the literature, nor yet again the fact that Molinist solutions to the objection tend to be far more sophisticated philosophically than the almost casual statements of the objection itself; rather the irony is that this allegedly powerful objection has virtually never been articulated or defended in any depth by its advocates.
 Pike, Nelson. 2001. God and Timelessness. Wipf & Stock.
 Kane, Robert. 2005. A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will. New York: Oxford University Press. 32-33
 Determinism here is defined as the thesis that all events or creaturely actions of a world is sufficiently caused by either prior states of affairs or divine determination.
 Jensen, Jennifer Lynn. 2008. The Grounding Objection to Molinism. PhD Thesis, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame.
 I have personally written an academic exploration of this topic in a paper called: “Exploring the Grounding Objection: From Garrigou-Lagrange to Hasker.” https://www.academia.edu/37060747/Exploring_the_Grounding_Objection_to_Molinism_From_Garrigou-Lagrange_to_Hasker
 Craig, William Lane. 2001. "Middle Knowledge, Truth–Makers, and the "Grounding Objection."FaithandPhilosophy18(3):337-352. https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/scholarly-writings/divine-omniscience/middle-knowledge-truth-makers-and-the-grounding-objection/.
Augustine opens up book 11 of the confessions by declaring that eternity is the Lords. He asks two important questions about God’s relationship to time. If eternity is the Lords, can he be ignorant of what we will say to him or does he only know what happens at the moment in time when it occurs? Augustine ends chapter one by noting that the mercy of the Lord endures forever. Does his mercy last forever because God is eternal and timeless? How could it last forever if God only knows what happens at each moment of time?
In Chapter 2, Augustine explains that his time is too precious to waste so he has the burning desire to mediate in the Law of the Lord and reflect upon his knowledge of it, including what he does not know about it. Why pray to God if he already knows what you will pray for and even what you would pray for? The answer lies in the fact that we are temporal beings and need the help of him who created time. God knows our thoughts, intentions, and actions before we even produce such things. It is wise to pray to God who formed us in the womb, since he knows what we need and what we don’t. As beings stuck in time, we need to seek the help of the one who is in control of time, we do this by prayer and confessing our sins to him.
Chapters 3-4 explain that truth comes from God and not those who deliver the truth. Not even from Moses or from any other spoken language. Truth is universal throughout all people and languages. We should ask for the forgiveness of our sins to the one who knows all truth and grants truth to the imago dei’s. God gives us the power to understand these words and to speak them just like he did with Moses, The Prophets, and those who deliver the truth. All created things have an extrinsic beauty from their creation, but their creator has the most intrinsic value since he is the originator of all created things and beyond their limitations. All created things are temporal while the creator is timeless and creates all temporal things.
Chapters 5-10 reflect on the questions, how did God make the Heavens and the Earth? Did God use an instrument like the craftsman does? Surely not, since he created all material things and souls that can create through Aristotle’s four types of causes. The craftsman is the sufficient cause that turns the material cause into the formal cause with the final cause of the mind. Meaning that humans form material things into different substances with the mind and the tools they possess. Does God do this with the Heavens and the Earth? God is the efficient cause of the universe, but did not need any material cause to do this since the beginning of the universe implies the beginning of all material things? This is known as creatio ex nihilo, creation out of nothing. How did God do this? Augustine ponders how God spoke the universe into existence. Was it the same voice that said “This is my beloved Son?” Was it eternally spoken since his words are eternal? God is the author of his word since it does have a beginning to explain to us the need we have for him and why we confess to him in the first place.
An important question is brought up, what was God doing before creation? If God willed something to happen before creation, then would it have come into existence? If God willed nothing previously, then why did he not remain eternally in this state? Doesn’t an act of creation require time? If God’s will is part of his substance, then should it not also be eternal? How can a personal being be timeless anyway? These are pondering questions that reflect the argument Augustine represents in chapter 10. One response he notes is, that God was preparing Hell for those who ask these questions. Augustine argues that the man who poses this does not understand God since they put him in the box of past and future events. Augustine ultimately says he does not know, but he knows that if God would have created before creation, then that would have been creation. Before any creature existed, there was not a creature that was created. God is present at all places at all times that he creates. He also argues that there was no time before time since God created all times and ages, so it’s meaningless to ask what was God doing before he created since there was no time. This brings up an even more difficult question, if there was no time before creation, then how could God create something before time existed?
Augustine in chapter 15 describes what we call The A-Theory of time, where the past has gone out of existence, the present is now, but the future is not in existence. Can we say the future exists since every new moment is the present? He turns this into an argument against definite periods of time, but yet says in chapter 16 that we do experience definite periods of time since we are temporal. If the past and future do not exist, then how can we measure time? If the future does not exist, then how can the prophets tell us about it? Augustine is not posing these questions against God, but rather asking them to learn and teach about God.
There is one view of time that says that experience of time is an illusion of human consciousness and that we are going through a block of events that all exist simultaneously. We experience this illusion of flowing time that make things really seem to go out of existence and come into existence, but B theory says otherwise. Augustine describes this in chapters 18-21 as he explains that if the future and past exist as the same time, then they are present rather than past and future. All time is present, but through our mind we perceive things from an A-theory perspective. Augustine begs God and confesses his desire to resolve all these questions he has proposed in chapter 22.
Augustine discusses whether time is measured by the heavenly bodies of the sun and moon or by something else. Time is measured by change of how matter and space interact. He wonders what time is, but time is change between material things that inhabit space. We know this from general relativity that shows space, matter, and time are co-relative. While Augustine didn’t have modern day science, he argued that time is not measured by the heavenly bodies since the Sun stood still for Joshua, but yet time did occur since a battle was fought. He also ponders whether time is measured by bodies in movement, but from that we can still not know what time is. Augustine confesses in chapter 25, that he does not understand time or that he does not know how to describe something that is known to him. He confesses this to the Lord, who does have the answer. He uses examples of syllables, sounds, and reciting psalms of describing how we measure instances of time. He sees this as an extension of time that the mind reflects on in three ways. We reflect on things from the past, what we experience now, and what we look forward to. Chapter 26-28 are repetitions of him struggling with the idea of past and future going out of existence and how we can even measure time because of this.
God’s relationship to time is important to discuss and how it relates to the nature of time. One view says that God is timeless and is in a static state. Another view says that God exists throughout all time, but for this to work time must be eternal. Otherwise, God begins to exist if time has a beginning. B-Theory would work best for this model since it would be plausible for time to be eternal in a block system. A final view is that time is part of God’s nature just like omnipotence is, so time would always exist along with God in an eternal state. Similar to the second option, but not the same since time isn’t separate from the being of God. The timeless view of God struggles with the question brought up before, can God create time before it exists? Especially, if God is in a static state where if he creates, then he is not timeless. The second view is unbiblical since the very first verse of the Bible implies the beginning of time, meaning that God begins to exists so he cannot create the Heavens and the Earths. The third view says God is changing, which would be difficult to reconcile with the Trinity, unless you are a modalist, which is heresy according to Augustine and many other church fathers. I propose that before God creates, he is timeless. When time begins to exist, God becomes temporal since he exists at all times. He exists in both the Heavens and the Earth. To answer whether God can create time before time exists, the answer relies on a third option. The creation of time is simultaneous with the creative act. Just like how a bowling bowl’s effect on a cushion are simultaneous, the same is for God when he creates the universe.
Augustine urges those who ask these questions in a challenging way to seek God since they do not understand him. He rejoices upon God’s knowledge of all time, both past, present, and futures times. He confesses to God who knows him better than himself. This applies to all of us since we are temporal beings that seek help from the creator of all times. Time is dependent upon God’s will to create it and so are we. All things are created by him, so before anything was created there was the Holy Trinity that needs not to create anything, but created all times as a gift from the loving relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.