Taking time for space or making space for time?

Fr Aidan asks an important question on this post and I don’t want my attempt at an answer to stay buried in the comments section, even if my attempt ends up embarrassing me. But I’d be interested in what others think, so here we are. Fr Aidan asks:

Why the “ouch” regarding the claim that God transcends time (is “outside” of time)? Is this any different than saying that God transcends space (is “outside” space)? This “outside” allows him to be radically present and active “inside.”

As much as a scientific perspective on space is way beyond my pay grade, I still love thinking about this issue. I’ll try my hand at an answer because I do think God transcends space and time, though I think immanence requires our saying a bit more about God than some understandings of transcendence will want to commit to. So let me stumble around a bit and try to say what I understand God’s transcending space to mean.

To say you and I are at different locations in the universe is to say you and I are distinct and finite frames of reference within the universe. You have a perspective on the world that’s limited and relative to your location (your ‘frame of reference’). All finite frames of reference are defined relative to other frames of reference (i.e., they’re finite perspectives on other frames of reference within the world). Nothing controversial so far.

Everybody (who is sane) knows that when they look at the night sky they’re seeing light that has taken a very long time to reach their eyes. Light leaves some distant dying star and takes, say, 100 million light years to reach us. In our universe, information can travel no faster than the speed of light (never mind quantum entanglement). We finally know about that star’s death 100 million years after it occurs. Point is, our experience of the world is just our very limited first person perspective on the world, a perspective that depends upon the finite speed of light to bring the world into reach and so constitute our experience of it.

None of this could be true of God. God is everywhere fully present. He’s not a finite frame of reference within the world. There is no distance between God and any event in the universe or any finite frame of reference. All God is is fully and indivisibly present in/to/with every finite frame of reference in the universe. So God’s perspective on the world (his knowledge of the world) would include all other finite perspectives. He’d have a perspective on my perspective — see things from my point of view so to speak. But he’d also take in the whole. His would be the one all-inclusive perspective that defines absolute simultaneity. When light from a distant star leaves the star, God fully present here with us doesn’t have to wait 100 million years to know what happened. God is sustaining the star’s death and he’s present in sustaining its journey between its source and our eyes.

So God would certainly transcend space in this sense while being fully present in/with us. He’s not a finite frame of reference within it, but his all-inclusive perspective on the universe would include all other finite perspectives. Where our past, present and future are determined by a finite dependence upon the world’s capacity to share itself with us, God would not be so constrained. If his knowledge of the world in fact has a past, present and future to it, it’s not because God depends (like us) upon anything in the world to share itself with him. God doesn’t wait for light to speed it’s delivery of the world to him. Rather, the temporal nature of God’s knowledge of the world flows from what he imparts to the world; time flows from God. And then in addition, and most importantly, nothing about God’s sustaining any of this, or his presence in/with/to it, would ‘define’ God in the sense of constituting his eternally abiding identity and beatitude as Father, Son and Spirit.

As amazing as it is to imagine having an all-inclusive perspective on the universe (i.e., not depending upon the speed of light for the transfer of information, being the unmediated presence that grounds and sustains of all finite perspectives; basically having the entire universe within your undivided mind), I do find it conceivable. No obvious contradictions jump out at me.

What about time? Well, we know no two finite frames of reference share the same “now.” (Thus Einstein’s denial of absolute simultaneity.) But this applies to finite frames of reference only. It wouldn’t apply to an infinite mind not limited to any finite frame of reference (as Lorentz observed). Since God is indivisible and fully present at every finite location, God’s perspective would constitute an absolute simultaneity for the world or creation’s ‘present’.

But though God is everywhere fully present and not limited to any finite frame of reference, and though this means there is no space between God and anything in the world, that doesn’t mean everything God is doing in sustaining the cosmos he’s doing at all finite locations within creation. There’s no space between God sustaining Alpha Centauri and God sustaining me, but that doesn’t mean God is sustaining Alpha Centauri in me or at my location. Alpha Centauri and I don’t occupy the same space (or perspective) within the world. There is a distinction between the two because God makes the distinction. And that, I think, means the distinction obtains in God. Even if God transcends space in the sense of being fully present throughout and not reducible to any finite frame of reference, that doesn’t mean God identifies every space with every other space or that whatever God is doing ‘here’ God is also doing ‘there’. On the contrary, finite perspectives (which are all creation is) only exist at all because God sustains and knows the difference between them.

What is relevant here for Fr Aidan’s question perhaps is the fact that God’s transcendence of space wouldn’t imply there being no absolute or objective distinction between past, present and future. It would mean no two finite frames of reference share the same past, present or future. But it wouldn’t mean there would be no past, present or future to a transcendent, all-inclusive perspective on the physical universe. On the contrary, I think God’s transcendent perspective on the world’s finite perspectives would have its own past, present, and future. It just wouldn’t be identifiable with the past, present, and future of any particular, finite perspective. Nor, more importantly, would it be identifiable with that self-constituting perspective God has upon Godself which is his triune beatitude. But to the extent that God (and not some mediating agency) sustains the world’s temporal becoming and has an all-inclusive perspective on its becoming, God would be temporal; i.e., there exist past realities God knows he is ‘no longer sustaining’, present realities God knows he ‘is’ sustaining, and future possibilities God knows he might/might not actually sustain.

Point is, the actuality of created entities is one and the same with the actuality of God’s sustaining them. You can’t make the latter eternal without making the former eternal (I don’t think). I hold the former not to be eternal, and that is why I advocate for a qualified sense of God’s being temporal. To not do so would, I think, mean holding it to be the case that every temporal event within what we describe as the world’s timeline or history eternally abides in its actuality in God’s unchanging perspective or act of knowing, a kind of “unblinking cosmic stare.” This would mean God doesn’t make (i.e., doesn’t know) the (presentist) distinction between

•  possible-but-not-actual Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon,
 actual Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, or
 formerly-but-no-longer-actual Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon

I’m not sure what advocates of divine timelessness would hold about the distinction between these in God. Perhaps all three are distinctly present in God. But that sure looks like the ‘block view’ of the universe to me. It would then be the case for that:

  The Sun eternally has never existed (because there are slices of the block universe we call “times at which” wherein the Sun isn’t located),
  The Sun eternally exists in every stage of its formation and expiration (because there are slices of the block at which the stages of the Sun’s formation and decline are located),
  The Sun is eternally expired (because there are slices of the block at which it “no longer exists”).

All these would be equally, eternally ‘actual’ to God. Even if it derives its being from God, it does so eternally. That’s what I’m hearing in the claim that God’s perspective on and sustaining/conserving of the cosmos doesn’t have a past, present, and future. And it’s here that the “Tilt” lights go on in my head—unlike anything relative to God’s transcendence of space.

[All I’ve said presumes a view of time known as ‘presentism’ (or the A-series of time). If presentism is fundamentally false and the block view is correct, then we can say good-bye to the open view of the future (and with it other valuable things the Orthodox wish to maintain, like free will, but that’s another conversation).]

(Picture here.)

17 comments on “Taking time for space or making space for time?

  1. “and the multiplicity of distinct, finite perspectives is all the world is”

    This was interesting to read. Are you a panpsychist (I lean that way)? Berkleyan idealist?

    Also… I think people who hold the YEC view might feel disrespected by the “who is sane” parenthetical about distant startlight.


    • tgbelt says:

      I forgot the YECers. Lol!


    • tgbelt says:

      I’d like Dwayne to chime in on the panpsychism question. I’m not a Berkleyan idealist (I don’t think!) What I mean is everything is either a perceiving subject (if it’s a conscious, sentient being) or (if not) it offers or is an occasion for unique perspective.


  2. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    Tom, I am presently reading David Burrell’s Freedom and Creation in Three Traditions. I strongly recommend this book to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom Torbeyns says:

    I think being a 6-day creationist is sane. Smart people are also on that side. 🙂


  4. ryanclose1 says:

    Tom, I’m an Orthodox Christian with a question. I know this post is really old but I have been trying to get caught up, but I haven’t read everything. Incidentally, I have been on a Greg Boyd kick this week, and before coming back here today I had no idea your blog was connected to him.

    I think it is interesting that you connect actus purus with divine timelessness. I think that you once defined actus purus as the denial of all potentiality in God. And in the past I thought that actus purus was the best reason for believing in God’s being beyond time.

    I have listened to Greg and read your posts and there are a few objections that you and he never approach. I’d love to hear your point of view.

    First, I agree with Fr Aidan here, that there is a corollary between how God transcends time (is “outside” of time) and how God transcends space (is “outside” space). “This ‘outside’ allows him to be radically present and active ‘inside.’ ”

    So consider what it would mean for a being to be spaceless or timeless. Start by subtracting space or extension from a being. They get smaller and smaller. Then they are as small as an atom, then as small as an electron or a quark, finally as small as a plank length. Then you subtract even that from them. Where are they? They literally exist nowhere. We can do the same thing with time. If you begin subtracting time from a being’s “lifetime” they exist for less and less time, until finally they exist for only a very short time. Then take this very small “lifetime” away, and what is left? They literally exist for no time. So, to my mind, to be spaceless and timeless would mean not existing. If I am correct, then both classical theism and open theism must express a doctrine of transcendence that does not abstract God into mere nothingness. And you gave the correct answer, God is everywhere present and fills all things. His eternity/infinity allows him to “overflow”, filling all things with infinitely more to spare, and in such a way that created being does not push out any of God’s uncreated being, or subtract from his infinity. His infinity transcends the limitations that we imagine happens when God’s infinity bumps up against created finitude.

    So this defines two ways that something can be outside the temporal sequence. The “less-ness” way which is indistinguishable from non-existence. And the “infinity way.” I want to ask you about this second way, but first, I need to define temporal sequence.

    Dr Boyd said in a podcast that he just doesn’t see why we assume that experiencing existence in a temporal sequence would necessarily be a limitation. I want to explain why I think it is a limitation, hopefully you can provide some useful perspectives to further challenge me.

    Our experience of existence as a temporal sequence means that our being is priced out to us in small discreet packages, our existence is serialized. It is like a mansion where you move from room to room but only in one direction. As soon as you go to the next room the door is locked behind you. You can see into the rooms behind you (memory) and into the rooms ahead of you (prediction) but you can only move forward, room by room.

    This is a one dimensional kind of existence.Increasing numbers of dimensions could be defined as having access to higher degrees of freedom. So if you take line-landers, beings on a one dimensional world, they can only go forward or backward (which is twice as much freedom as we have in time). But increasing the dimensions from one dimensional to two dimensional allows a being to circle round and see things from different angles. And adding a third dimension gives even more degrees of freedom. Say there was a circular enclosure in flatland to which you could not gain access. By moving “up” or “down” you could get into the enclosure in a way that would be impossible on the 2D plain. Likewise, time gives us an added degree of freedom over the 3D world, because we are able to access the same “place” at different points in “time”, you can see different stages of a 4D objects evolution.

    Furthermore, our experience of time, being temporal is the result of a fundamental limitation in our ability to perceive reality. Stephen Hawking attempted to explain that the arrow of time has to do with flow of entropy. Any recording device, whether it is biological or electrical, uses energy to change something in the storage medium from a disordered state to an ordered state. This increases entropy. Since the universe we inhabit is moving from a state of low entropy to a state of high entropy, we cannot “remember” the state the universe will be in the future, because we have not recorded it yet, and recording is a fundamentally thermodynamic kind of event dependent on a differential distribution of entropy. I don’t know if I am explaining this correctly, but what this means to me is that our 1/2 dimensional perception of time is merely an artifact of the thermodynamic arrow of time pointing to the heat death of the universe and a thermodynamic recording and storage system.

    So in conclusion, unless I am wrong, having more degrees of freedom is less confining and less limiting so if God is not limited by the laws of thermodynamics he should not be confined to the arrow of time (limited to mere present, memory, and prediction). And since the smaller and smaller “less-ness” way of understanding transcendence is not our only way we don’t have to think that God’s not being limited to a 1/2 dimensional view of time means that he has a 0th dimensional view of time.

    Lastly, why do you think that God not having any potential within himself would be a bad thing or a limitation at all? The classical approach says that potentiality is a kind of limitation. Being pure potential would mean not existing at all. And all limited creatures are a mixture of potential and actuality. The actuality that they have is a share in the existence of God. In other words, potentiality is not a thing, but a lack of being which is only a gift of God, a created share or participation in his actuality. As Douglas Knight wrote in Eschatological Economy, when God created mankind, he gave him some of his (God’s) materiality. Among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, God spoke the language of materiality fluently. We are just beginning to speak it in a rudimentary way. We are not yet as material as we could be. The same thing could be said of temporality. God already speaks temporality fluently. Our experience of time is only a very limited participation in a finite share of temporality. We are not yet as fully temporal as we will, hopefully, one day become. And the perfect temporal fullness is what theologians call eternity.

    Sincerely, Ryan


    • Tom says:

      Hi Ryan. Thanks for your note. I’ll get back to you soon!


    • Tom says:


      So glad and grateful you wrote. Thanks!

      Besides seeing Greg personally as a friend in St. Paul the years I lived there, this blog’s connection to him was almost exclusively interested in his PhD work Trinity and Process. Greg’s present work is a long way from that work. We haven’t spoken since last summer when reviews of his Crucifixion of the Warrior God went south.

      As you say, I do connect the classical understanding of actus purus with divine timelessness understood as there being absolutely no unrealized potential in God. I think God’s self-constituting perfections (his essential triune actuality and plenitude) are ‘pure act’. I don’t think there can be any unrealized ‘self-constituting’ potential in God, though I do think there can be contingent ‘self-expressive’ potential in God. I’m fairly certain Greg and I would disagree over this now. He views God as essentially temporal – even with respect to God’s triune actuality. I don’t at all hold God’s self-constituting triune plenitude to be subject to temporal becoming at all.

      This might help: https://anopenorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/gods-infinite-specious-present/

      God does transcend space and time. But if we’re saying God transcends space, we don’t mean God is not immediately present throughout all creation. We mean all God is is everywhere present without God’s being reduced to any particular location or to the whole of the material order. God isn’t extended or circumscribed by embodied limitations. It doesn’t “take God time” to get from one edge of the universe to another. Both edges are in God’s undivided consciousness. Similarly, there is no spatial distance within consciousness between one thing known and another thing known.

      I agree with you (against Greg) that temporal becoming has its limitations. But it also makes possible created goodness, so it’s not all limitation. What one considers a limitation is only a limitation viewed ‘with respect to some end’. With respect to the goal and end of divine being, temporal becoming would be disastrous. But with respect to the goal and end of created being, temporal becoming is not a limitation; it’s a grace and a beauty. The idea is that to speak of what ‘limits’ something is already to presume some perspective on end/telos, etc.

      I totally appreciate the multi-dimensional approach to extracting God’s knowledge of and presence to the created order from the temporal constraints of that order. But that approach, as far as I can tell, presumes a block view of the universe; that is, it denies the objective nature of temporal becoming. Any perspective on the whole timeline that was not bound to any slice of that history would, as you say, have the entirety of it ‘as actual’ within it. But if temporal becoming is objectively real (in the sense that the only time at which any created thing is actual is the present), then there is no possessing the whole in its actuality.

      So, to get to your last question: Why do you think that God not having any potential within himself would be a bad thing or a limitation at all? Well, I don’t think I would say it’s a limit or a bad thing. It certainly wouldn’t be a limit with respect to constituting God’s essential, triune plenitude. I agree that cannot be subject to temporal becoming. But God’s knowledge of the world’s temporal realities in their actuality? Supposing God’s knowledge of these irreducibly temporal actualities is, unlike those actualities, timeless and unchanging is a problem for me. Presumably, an omniscient knower would know the truth about things in their actuality as temporally becoming. But the classical view denies that God ‘comes to know’ what ‘comes to be’. That’s sort of the problem in a nutshell.

      So when I say there is ‘potential’ in God, I don’t mean transcendental or aesthetic potential (potential to increase in truth, beauty, and goodness). I just mean God doesn’t timelessly know as actual what is not timelessly actual. I think this is an unproblematic claim. I don’t mean a ‘lack of being’ on God’s part because it is no ‘failure to be’ to not know as actual what is not actual. But I do, however, agree (with Bulgakov by the way) that though God does not eternally know temporal actualities in their actuality (because created realities are not timelessly actual), it is not the case that in coming to know temporal actualities upon their temporal becoming that they constitute an absolute novelty to God, as if they add to God. They add nothing to God since, as you say, they participate in God rather than the reverse. My point is they cannot participate in God eternally or timelessly.

      Have you read Bulgakov’s comments on this? Here: https://anopenorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/bulgakov-open-orthodox-father/



  5. ryanclose1 says:

    “Eternity, then, is the complete, simultaneous and perfect possession of everlasting life; this will be clear from a comparison with creatures that exist in time.” –Boethius


    Thanks for the response! There were lots of good things for me to think about, especially the 7th paragraph. I really appreciate the insights you shared. I have a few more comments and questions, but I promise I won’t keep writing tomes here on this post.

    Tom said, “when reviews of his /Crucifixion of the Warrior God/ went south.”

    That is really too bad. I am wondering which would be a more profitable read, /Crucifixion of the Warrior God/ or N.T. Wright’s /Christian Origins and the Question of God/ series. What do you think?

    Tom said, “God isn’t extended”

    And I don’t know that I full agree with you here. Based on how I have expressed my views of infinity, transcendence, and actuality I might say that extension is one aspect of God’s being or God’s eternity, which he posses in fullness, and which we only participate in to a very limited degree. To say that “God isn’t extended” is the “less-ness” way. But the tradition is clear that we need a “fullness” or “perfection” way of expressing divine transcendence.

    Tom said, “I’m fairly certain Greg and I would disagree over this now. He views God as essentially temporal.” & “I agree with you (against Greg) that temporal becoming has its limitations.”

    I wonder how Dr Boyd would respond to some of the philosophical claims I’ve brought up. But to my mind, this fashion to deconstruct classical theism is a weird kind of re-mythologization. Again, to my mind, thinking of God as “essentially temporal” is only the first step to imagining that God is actually a white haired giant sitting on a physical throne at the top of a literal three story cosmos. Of course there are not a few Christians that have begun to adopt and cling to the flat earth because it is the only way they can accept the Bible as true within their essentially modern literalistic materialistic worldview.

    I have been really enjoying Jonathan Pageau’s talks on YouTube about the symbolical worldview of the Bible, the liturgy, and iconography. He says that in the past Christians never really interpreted the stories in the Bible as if they were literally true, on the level of a newspaper article, as if when Jesus ascended into heaven he accelerated in an upward direction until he achieved escape velocity and went into outer space. He once called this the Marvel Universe religion. I mean, Jonathan seems to say that the Bible has already come down to us in a pre-mythologized form, expressing spiritual and metaphysical ideas in metaphorical or symbolical language that no one ever took literally until the modern time period when, ironically, Christians became *the* gross caricatures of themselves imagined by the new atheists.

    And that is why I have really begun appreciating the theologies of Fr McCabe, Fr Aiden, and David Bentley Hart. (Succinctly summarized on Fr Aiden’s anniversary article here.) I mean, the idea that God is not a “cause” within the universe along side other created causes seems to be a natural corollary of the doctrine of creation. And that serves to justify a bio-logos “evolutionary creation” interpretation over against a god-of-the-gaps kind of progressive creationism.

    Question: Would you agree that the words “potential” and “actual” have a different meaning in the technical medieval sense than in today’s common parlance? In the medieval sense, “potential” isn’t a thing, as we commonly think of it today. It is a category of thought, but it signifies a lack of something, a lack of actuality. And “actuality” should have the sense of “being” or “concreteness” or “the power of existing.” As such it is related to the famous “I am” passage in the book of Exodus.

    So perhaps a better pair of words, even if they are a little more abstract, would be “being” and “non-being.” Do you think that is right? If this is correct, then it would make “actualization” and “becoming” synonyms.

    However, in the common contemporary sense, “potential” is thought of as a positive thing, something like “freedom.” And if you think that potential=freedom and you hear a doctrine expressing the idea that there is no potential in God then you hear it saying that God has no freedom. But the problem is that all of the meanings of our words have changed. And furthermore, we fail to grasp that all of our language about God is necessarily analogical. We have no idea what it means for God to be “free” because God’s freedom couldn’t be anything like human freedom or anything we can imagine. But that doesn’t mean that God’s freedom is less than human freedom, rather it is more than human freedom.

    So that is why I expressed myself the way I did. We don’t know what God’s perfect actuality really is. We don’t know what that even means. But whatever it is it isn’t a lack or a limit. So since materiality and temporality are necessary for our coming alive, because without them we wouldn’t exist at all, I don’t think it is strictly correct to say that these are things that God lacks, but rather things that he posses in a fullness and which we only posses with an imperfect finitude. So for me, /actus purus/ merely means that God posses his own transcendent self-existence without limit, and as such he is the only source of our own limited being.

    Thanks again! Sincerely, Ryan


    • Tom says:

      Loving the convo Ryan. Thanks.

      I haven’t read Wright’s Christian Origins, so it’s hard to tell. I’m tempted to go with Wright as a rule. But if you have the choice, then read Gregory of Nyssa or Pseudo-Denys or – DBH!

      Re: God’s being extended. I agree that with ever apophatic denial (like God isn’t extended) there’s a divine perfection being posited, because denials about God don’t state positively what God is. I just don’t think the way to approximate this positive plenitude is to turn the same denial around and state it positively. “God is spatially extended” seems to me to just construe the same finitude and attribute it to God.

      Re: Divine temporality. I agree that talk of divine temporality is fraught with dangers. But so it just saying God is timeless. That can miscommunicate other errors.

      Re: McCabe, Aidan and Hart. Whoah, I think Fr Aidan would LOVE standing in a line-up with McCabe and Hart.

      I agree we’ve got no other word but ‘cause’ to describe God’s bring creation to be. It’s hard to dump that word. But it can’t be just strictly convertible with created causes. All created causes as also caused and stand in a causal chain obedient to the law of physics, etc. God can’t be that kind of cause.

      Re: Question | Would you agree that the words “potential” and “actual” have a different meaning in the technical medieval sense than in today’s common parlance?

      Good question. I agree medieval thinkers are generally misunderstood because they’re read and interpreted as if they were making their claims in light of where the conversation has gone and how it’s developed since them, and that’s probably unfair.

      But if you pick your authors/thinker carefully, I think most are fairly informed. Hartshorne may have been a Process theist, but it’s not because he was bound to caricatures of Aquinas. He just disagreed. I do sometimes get the feeling from classical theists that they believe that if one were just to understand classical theism correctly, one would accept it, that the only reason one isn’t a classical theist is because one has failed to construe some term or notion correctly. I wish that were true, but I rather suspect that one really can understand the arguments and just – disagree.

      But even classically (in the broad sense – I have Aristotle in mind) understood, “possibility” isn’t an abstraction. It’s a feature or disposition of “actuality.” What’s possible in the future is grounded in the present state of actuality. And that’s not just ‘non-being’. What is ‘actually’ the case determine what is (im)possible re: the future. Future possibility (what might or might not be) is causally entailed in present actuality. As a dispositional feature of actuality, possibility is more than a mere abstraction, and more than non-existence. When it comes to created things, potentiality is how things are actual.

      I slipped into using ‘possibility’, but I could as easily substitute ‘potentiality’, which is just a slightly different perspective on the same reality. Potentiality is not non-being. It’s the dispositional nature of actuality, its “power” (as Aristotle called it) to change some aspect of its existence. True, the end state ‘in its actuality’ doesn’t exist presently, its ‘potential’ does. The “potential” for as-yet-non-existent-A is not A, but it is some presently existing actuality whose dispositional powers include A’s possibility.

      I take ‘actualization’ and ‘becoming’ to basically describe the same thing. Temporal becoming is a process by which some reality actualizes its potential for change, becoming what it was not.

      But whether some ‘potential’ is a positive or negative thing entirely depends upon the actuality in question and the potential change being considered. If we’re talking about a created entity’s potential to fulfill its telos in God, well, I’d say that’s a very positive potential. A good thing. Such potential is God-given. It’s a grace to have the power to become what I am not when that potential is viewed with respect to created ends. That’s all good. But potential could just as easily be conceived negatively as a bad thing depending on the subject and change under consideration. For example, a strongly passibilist construal of divine being (Moltmann, for example) attributes potential to God in fatal, disastrous ways. That sort of potential comes across as bad. But I think it’s a mistake to just say “Potential is negative and therefore bad.”

      Ryan: That is why I expressed myself the way I did. We don’t know what God’s perfect actuality really is. We don’t know what that even means. But whatever it is it isn’t a lack or a limit. So since materiality and temporality are necessary for our coming alive, because without them we wouldn’t exist at all, I don’t think it is strictly correct to say that these are things that God lacks, but rather things that he possesses in a fullness and which we only posses with an imperfect finitude. So for me, /actus purus/ merely means that God possesses his own transcendent self-existence without limit, and as such he is the only source of our own limited being.

      Tom: I could get with this. I want to avoid temporalizing God in ways that reduce God’s actual perfections and the plenitude of his being to ‘becoming’. I just don’t think all conceivable change (like Bulgakov’s position about the changing state of God’s knowledge of the changing world) amounts to an increase or decrease in perfection.

      Enjoy the weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ryanclose1 says:

        I couldn’t resist checking back. Your first few responses are awesome. Made me laugh! I’ll read the rest more thoroughly in a few days. Thanks so much. I haven’t had so much fun in quite some time. In the meantime I have been reading “Eternity in Christian Thought” at the “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy” . I’m enjoying the material about Saint Augustine, Saint Boethius, Saint Aquinas, Eleonore Stump, and #BrianLeftow. As you can see, I am a bit of an open Orthodox myself: an Orthodox Christian that loves the tradition but is high in trait openness!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tom says:

        I have Rowan Williams’ book on Augustine here that I’m anxious to read but haven’t even started!


  6. “Everybody (who is sane) knows that when they look at the night sky they’re seeing light that has taken a very long time to reach their eyes. Light leaves some distant dying star and takes, say, 100 million light years to reach us. In our universe, information can travel no faster than the speed of light (never mind quantum entanglement).” Leave some space for us YEC’s please! 😀


    • ryanclose1 says:

      I’ve been thinking about this comment and it makes me wonder. Asking people to “leave room” for a point of view seems somewhat odd. No point of view has the right to “take up space” without the possibility of challenge. For example, if I logically prove that President Obama has a genuine US birth certificate, it isn’t an effective rebuttal to say, “Please leave room for us birther’s.” For one, the point of my argument is to “leave no room” for the birther point of view by proving that it is wrong. Secondly, the burden of proof now shifts to the birther to either show the logical inconsistency of my arguments or offer proof to the contrary.

      However, there are two scenarios in which I can understand your statement more charitably.

      First, obviously, the person to whom you are responding has not offered an argument for his statements concerning the time it takes for starlight to travel through space, he simply assumes it is true. So perhaps you are simply asking that the YEC point of view not be dismissed out of hand in the absence of any intelligent reason to do so. However, since this is the common opinion and the proofs and demonstrations are readily available on astronomy websites and in astronomy reference books, I think that he is safe to make such statements. The burden of proof still lays with the person challenging the common opinion to disprove the strongest arguments in favor of the common opinion and to offer evidence and arguments of his own.

      Besides, it remain even to be demonstrated why the original poster’s comments are exclusionary of the YEC point of view. It is possible that some version of the YEC point of view could be consistent with star light traveling for 100 millions years.

      Second, perhaps you believe that the original poster’s insinuation that adherents of the YEC point of view are insane is poisoning the well and that this abusive rhetoric demands a retort. I don’t agree that adherents to the YEC point of view are insane or that they deserve any derogatory criticism of their intelligence. If this was your motivation I think you are right to do so and that you did it with graceful and humorous restraint. However, I cannot be sure that this was the original poster’s intention. I think that is likely that the words “who is insane” were probably used in an informal and colloquial sense. For example, I might say, “Everybody (who is sane) knows that when the bottom of a ship moving away from the shore seems to disappear this is proof of curvature of the earth.” I don’t mean to literally communicate the proposition, “All flat-earthers are insane.”



      • Tom says:

        Hi Ryan. Good to hear from ya. I grant that believing God created light from stars millions of light years away already “en route” doesn’t itself make one insane. I didn’t actually mean to say that all such people were actually insane – I was going for a bit of hyperbole – honestly. But maybe I should give up trying, seeing that I’m no good at it!


        Liked by 1 person

      • “Second, perhaps you believe that the original poster’s insinuation that adherents of the YEC point of view are insane is poisoning the well and that this abusive rhetoric demands a retort. I don’t agree that adherents to the YEC point of view are insane or that they deserve any derogatory criticism of their intelligence. If this was your motivation I think you are right to do so and that you did it with graceful and humorous restraint.” Exactly, that was my intent. 🙂


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