Being And Time

Mark Vernon writes on the divine and the physics of time. Augustine saw God as definitionally changeless through time. That idea is now under attack:

Polkinghorne borrows another notion, from process thought. In process thought, change is not regarded with the suspicion that it is in the Platonic thought of Augustine. Change might be for the better as evolution seems to imply, with its tendency to greater complexity and the emergence of consciousness, and then the moral sensibilities of self-consciousness. Surely, such change is a good thing. What this implies, for Polkinghorne, is that God can’t know the future because the future is not fully determined by the present. There is genuine novelty in the universe.

But where does that leave God?

Subject to time too. God’s perfect knowledge of the universe is not absolute omniscience but current omniscience: God knows about what exists, not about what doesn’t yet exist.

The two theologians argue that this apparent limitation on God is a distinctively Christian notion. It’s called kenosis, and is revealed in the incarnation of Jesus when, as Paul’s letter to the Philippians has it, Christ emptied himself of his divine (eternal) nature and became human (temporal). God does so out of love, in order to be alongside his creation.