I used to reject the Boethian understanding of eternity (i.e., the claim that God is atemporal) because I thought there were good objections to the view. And since the truth of divine simplicity would entail the truth of divine eternity (though it isn’t clear that the entailment goes the other way), these objections would also be objections to divine simplicity. But I’m becoming less and less convinced that the concept of divine eternity is problematic. One of the objections that I used to think was problematic involves our having free will. One way of spelling out the objection in more detail is as follows:
If agents have libertarian free will, then it is not the case that all of their actions are determined by antecedent causes outside of their control (including God). But if God isn’t the ultimate cause of an agent’s action, then He does not know about that action in virtue of causing it. Instead, God actually has the knowledge that He does because of a free agent’s action. Thus, God is dependent on the agent’s action for His knowledge. However, if God’s knowledge is dependent on another agent’s action, then that agent’s action causally affects God. However, the doctrine of eternity rules out that God can be causally affected by anything outside of Himself, since to be causally affected it a kind of change, and change requires time.
In other words, the only way for God to have knowledge of our actions is to determine those actions. Garrigou-Lagrange, for instance, voices a version of this objection when he wrties that “the knowledge of God is the CAUSE of our free determinations, or else it is CAUSED by them.” Garrigou-Lagrange rejects the latter disjunct, and so favors the former–and theological determinism. I had a slightly different take. Given that I think that we are justly punished, but that we are deserving of punishment only if we are morally blameworthy for something, and that I think that determinism isn’t compatible with moral responsibility, the Knowledge Objection seemed to provide a good reason for rejecting divine eternity. But now I think that the objection is a bad one, becauses it confuses causation with truthmaking. I admit that there is intuitive plausibility to the association of being the truthmaker for a proposition about an action (such as I ate ice cream for dinner) and causally contributing to an agent’s knowing the truth of that proposition. An agent’s action often serves both as the truthmaker for a proposition about that action and as an efficient cause of another agent’s coming to know that proposition. And this association could be there if God is in time: if God is temporal, then He could be caused to have knowledge of a proposition by the truthmaker for that proposition.
But I think the Knowledge Objection fails insofar as it holds that being the cause of God’s knoweldge and being the truthmaker for the objects of God’s knowledge must always coincide. But according to the doctrine of divine eternity, God is outside of time, and thus His beliefs don’t change as a result of some action A; the occurrence of A doesn’t cause God to have different beliefs than He previously had. Whatever beliefs God has, He timelessly has. And this makes no claim about what serves as the truthmaker for the propositions that God timelessly knows. It is possible for God’s timeless beliefs to be made true by temporal truthmakers such as human actions. In other words, while truthmaking as applied to God’s knowledge requires a kind of dependency between God’s knowledge and the truthmakers for the propositions He knows, this dependency isn’t a causal dependency.
According to truthmaker theory, the truth of a true proposition p is counterfactually grounded in the existence of its truthmaker, A. Had A not existed, then p wouldn’t have been true. Likewise, God’s true belief can be counterfactually grounded in the existence of that same truthmaker. Had the truthmaker not existed, God wouldn’t have believed the proposition in question, because in that case it would have been false. In other words, had A not existed, then it would be false that God even believed p. But this in no way entails that God is caused to believe something that He didn’t previously believe. In other words, the doctrine of divine eternity only commits its proponents to the claim that God’s knowledge does not and cannot change over time, since such a being is not in time. The doctrine of divine eternity does not, however, commit one to the claim that God’s knowledge doesn’t depend ontologically on the existence of truthmakers.
What do you all think of this response to the Knowlege Objection?