Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Greg Boyd emailed me back! I had written him a letter earlier explaining my logical objection to open theism. To my surprise, his reply contained a lot of well-construed logic. It's obvious that he has thought these things out for a great deal of time. Quotes from my letter are in italic.


Hi Cameron,

I 'm delighted your looking into Open Theism with an open mind (excuse the pun). I want to encourage you to check out the Q and A and Essay section of my website which addresses many of the questions you ask. Given my limited time, I can only touch on your questions here.

But I have a couple problems with it. First off, I can't quite accept the idea of a God bounded by time. Quantum mechanics has shown that there are certain areas of the universe that are not affected by time. I have a difficult time believing that God could be limited by time and sequence, something that parts of His creation are not even limited by.

--> I would question your interpretation of Quantum mechanics. Many if not most Quantum theorists argue that the collapse of the wave packet requires the postulation of irreversible sequence. A great book on this (that touches on other aspects of science and time) is called The Arrow of Time... though I can't off hand recall the author. Also, why think that a being who has a before and after is LIMITED, while a being frozen in an eternal NOW is not? I suggest the frozen model of perfection comes from Plato (and before him, Parmenides) not the Bible. It works with mathematical truths (as in Plato) but not for a personal being (as in the Bible)

Secondly, if God has always existed, and is bounded by time, then an infinite number of seconds must have existed for Him. This seems pretty odd to me. An "infinite number" is really an oxymoron, since a number implies a limited quantity.

--> As Kant showed, the odd thing about time/sequence is that we can neither conceive of it beginning or NOT beginning. Both are equally inconceivable, so the matter must be decided on grounds other than conceivability.

The only problem is, if He is ever at a state when He's outside of time, then He is in all times at once, right? If He were totally outside of time not limited to sequence (as He probably was before the creation of the universe) then all times would be the present. If all times are the present, and the creatures He created are doing things on earth bounded by time, then He would see all the points in time as they happened.

--> yes... and from all eternity.... yet, every verb applied to God in the bible presupposes a "before" and "after"... . The Word BECAME flesh... this suggests first God wasn't incarnate, then he BECAME incarnate.

Then, say, He decides to enter time like open theists (I think) generally claim He did. So, when He creates the universe, He enters time and thus limits Himself. Open theists, if I am correct, say that at that point He also took on the mental characteristics of a time-bounded creature: i.e. not knowing what choices free will creatures would make.

--> note the verbs in these sentences... yet ruled out by the content fo these sentences. eg. WHEN he creates.... He EnTERS... etc.. So was there a "before he creates" and a "before he enters"?
--> also, if the facts of all I shall (certainly) do predate my existence -- for they are, per hypothesis, eternally known to God -- then having God "forget" them doesn't make me free, for the FACTS still precede my choosing them. In 1740 B.C. , for example, all the facts of what I SHALL do existed. I can't alter them. whether God knew these facts in 1740 BC makes no difference. IF they are CERTAIN in 1740 BC, I can no more change the facts of what I WILL do than I can change any fact about 1740 BC. So, it seems to me, I'm utterly fated to do what I shall do. It's much easier to think, and much more biblical to think (in my opinion) that my future is partly open, even to God, for sequence is REAL, even for God, so the future is partly open, even for God.

Hope this helps, Gotta run, keep thinking and loving,

Greg -


I'm very pleased he took time out of his schedule (which is no doubt crazily busy) to respond to my letter. And I think the logic he presents is quite watertight, especially the stuff about time relativity and Plato's version of a "perfect" God (which, as Boyd points out, amounts to more of a perfect little timeless unfeeling cold gem than a real, dynamic, living, supreme Being with true thoughts and true emotions).

The only problem I have is seeing why I should accept his system of open theism versus the simple foreknowledge view I have always taken. Many of his points are quite good, but what it would take for me to change my view seems to be a little more than what I have read from him so far (which is admittedly limited) I think I will read Boyd's book, God of the Possible (after, of course, I finish all of these other good books I have undertaken to read).


  1. Be interested in your thoughts on 'God of the possible'. I think it could cover some of the area that you are wondering about in the last paragraph ie Why Open Theism

    Good Reading :)


  2. Thanks for the recommendation, I hope to read it very soon.