Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Frozen Past

Most scholastic philosophers, with the exception of St Peter Damian, say that God cannot change the past.

St Thomas includes it on his list in Summa Contra Gentiles (II. 25) of what God cannot do (Deus non potest facere quod praeteritum non fuerit). In
On Eternity
he says that the proposition that the past did not exist contains in itself a contradiction. For which reason Augustine says in the book against Faustus [xxvi c.5] 'Anyone who says "If God is omnipotent, let him bring it about that those things which happened, did not happen", does not see that he says 'If God is omnipotent, let him bring it about that those things which are true, are false in that very thing by which they are true' [PL 42, 481.].

The problem with this is that it is a logical argument, and for that reason it applies to the future as well as the past. Paraphrasing Augustine, 'The Future' means 'those things which will happen', and God cannot bring it about that the Future will not happen they way it will, otherwise we have the contradiction that those very things which will happen, are not those very things.
Yet we are more tempted to say that God could change the future. The future is not frozen in the way the past seems to be. But if this being frozen is not a logical being, what is it?

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