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Could God on the B-theory account where God exists outside of time know what time it is for us now?

Even if you say time doesn't exist for us, and it's just an illusion, still God would presumably know what time it is for us in that illusion.

For God to know what time it is now, which he would if he is omniscient, would require him to change constantly. But changing is at odds with the idea that he exists outside of time. I think to exist outside of time means to not change, so a b-theory God does not have changes. So, how can such a God know what time it is now?

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    I've made some changes to the wording of your question... If there's a problem with these changes, please continue editing. – virmaior Dec 10 '16 at 15:50
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    You don't seem to have your head around what an illusion is. By the B-Theory/Augustine/Kant notion God knows for each version of now what we imagine that means and he always has. But since 'now' doesn't really exist he cannot possibly know what time 'is now'. It would be like knowing what color aliens from a nonexistent planet are. I can only know what color some author imagines them to be. And even then, he can change his mind. – jobermark Dec 10 '16 at 15:58
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    No illusory things don't exist. That is what an illusion is -- perceiving things that don't exist. We each have a notion of what 'now' is, and we tend to agree, but we can't be sure that we actually do. Because 'now' really only exists in each of our minds. We share 'now' when we communicate, but when we are apart, there may be no 'now'. We may make it up in our processes of interacting. And all the physics that results may just be our vain attempts to make sense out of side effects of our imagination. – jobermark Dec 10 '16 at 17:51
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    In this theory God really can have a perfect picture of our contact, including our illusion of now. But there is no global 'now'. There is no real 'what time it is'. The theory of relativity captures part of this. But this notion explains that and takes it much further. – jobermark Dec 10 '16 at 17:54
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    No. If time is an illusion, nothing changes, we just remember it as if it changed so that we are not confused by too much information at once. God, having total access to all of us can relate to these memories and knows the full content of time, without having to participate in time. This leaves out total understanding of some weirder side effects of time, like desperation and frustration, which is why he also needed to incarnate himself and experience time as we do directly. (Again by such theory. I am not an adherent to quite this theory.) – jobermark Dec 10 '16 at 18:14
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If I understand your question, it looks something like this:

  1. God on the B-theory is outside of time.
  2. To be outside of time is to be incapable of experiencing changes
  3. To know something requires experiencing change.

Clearly, this set is contradictory. In fact, it's plainly so. The fact it's plainly so should be a hint that this is an incorrect reading of someone's philosophical position.

Simply put B-theorists about God's relationship to time reject claim 3. For them, to know something in the case of God is dissimilar to knowing in the human case.

For humans (and temporal beings), knowledge has a feature of coming to know, but there's no reason why this is necessary. For the B-theorist, God has instant knowledge of everything throughout eternity as if it were a single moment.

To give an analogy using a movie's physical film, temporal beings have an A-theory experience of time wherein each frame happens in sequence and there are frames before the current frame and after the current frame. There are things we come to know in future frames, etc. Similarly, we come into and out of the film and experience all sorts of states (sinus infections, births of children, etc).

Conversely, a B-theory God sees every frame of the entire movie all at once as if in a single instant. This God doesn't experience any of this as passage. It all just is. In other words, that person Q has a sinus infection at moment 33331 is part of the knowledge for b-theory God but b-theory God has no moments and does not pass through time. For a person in time, the sinus infection begins at say moment 33330 and ends at 33338.

The basic idea is that God knows from eternity (here understood as neither before, during, nor after events) what happens at each moment of time regardless of whether we as temporal beings see these as "past", "present", or "future."

For more, you can read http://www.iep.utm.edu/god-time/#SH1b.


To simplify, if you find this account of B-theory knowledge (eternal knowledge or an eternal being behind it), then you probably would simply reject either that any God exists or that the existing God is a B-theory God.

  • With that IEP article: it says in the previous section that the majority of philosophers agree God is temporal. How does this go with the fact that most physicists today agree time as we know it is an illusion? Also, what about McTagger's objections to the A-theory of time, which this position assumes is true? – APCoding Dec 10 '16 at 17:45
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    @APCoding (1) McTaggart actually objects to both the A-theory and B-theory of time in his paper. His position is that time doesn't exist. (2) The majority of people believe X, therefore X is a terrible argument. No reason a B-theorist needs to be convinced by that. (3) time as we know it is an illusion would seem to be an argument in favor of the possibility of B-theory since that's not time as we know it. – virmaior Dec 11 '16 at 1:32
  • Ah OK, thanks. Do the A-theorists have any grounds for believing the A-theory of time is correct, given both a posteriori (physics) and a priori (McTaggert's objections) evidence against it? – APCoding Dec 11 '16 at 3:30
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    That's a completely separate question, but the biggest argument for the A-theory is that it completely agrees with our naive experience. The physics claim against it is much less clear than you seem to believe it is (see for instance en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow_of_time ). – virmaior Dec 11 '16 at 3:38
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For a b-theory god, it is all times now. The question you ask is similar to asking "can this god know what space it is now?" It doesn't make sense unless you supply god the answer to begin with.

Can god know what time it is for person R at 2 pm Dec. 10, 2016? Sure, it just pops its conciousness into the perceptory body of person R at this moment & experiences the knowledge of this time.

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