Time and free will

So they have the growing block universe theory of time (past present exists but not the future) and the block theory of time (past present and future all exist).

The growing block theory would be free will verses the block theory is much like the hologram theory there really isn’t any free will because everything has already happened your just playing it out.

People say God knows past present and the future there would seem to be no free will if that’s true because all has happened and we are just playing it out.

Prophecy seems to indicate the future does exist.

Does the future already exist or has it yet to be determined?

What is the Catholic view?

Augustus of hippo I think spoke of presentism which is the view that neither the future nor the past exist.

I assume these thought experiments are about how God sees the Universe? If so, I think this is what makes most sense, because God is outside of Time. What it means to be outside of time is hard to know, but that everything will be like the present is one possibility.

As for free will, we know that we have free will by our common sense, and if that’s not enough it has also been assured through divine revelation. I don’t think it’s very productive to start doubting such things.
The idea in the “block theory” seems to be that the future “already” exists, as if the universe was just an advanced form of a simulation like you might find in a museum. Logically I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that, but it does assume a separate reality which is also affected by a separate time.

If time is just a part of the universe, however, and, like the Catholic Church teaches, there is no time outside it, free will can exist just fine. There won’t be any “already”, and the Universe is being molded presently for us, while also being finished for God (being outside of Time).

There is no Catholic dogmatic teaching on time that I have ever seen. There is however an order of events, free will, and predestination. Predestination by God does not deny the human free will.


There would seem to be an unnecessary leap of logic here. Why would knowledge of the future be determinative, necessarily?

Why couldn’t God’s infallible knowledge of the future simply be a full accounting of the free choices made by autonomous agents through time?

Simply knowing the outcome need not imply that the mere knowledge or awareness of the outcome determined what came about.

There seems to be a touch of the Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy in your statement: i.e., “after this, therefore because of this”

Although that particular fallacy qua fallacy points out that even if event Y follows event X, event Y need not have been caused by event X," the fallacy could potentially be expanded to include eternity (or presentism.)

Merely because God knows or is ‘present to’ (before the event or from eternity) event Y, there need not be any causality to that knowledge. Ergo, merely because God’s knowledge (let’s call God’s knowledge=event X) preceded ( even infallibly so) what eventually transpires (=event Y), that does not establish a causal dependence.

As far as ‘presentism’ goes, we wouldn’t insist that merely because I am present to or experience a current event that I am causing that event to occur. Ergo, God, from eternity may be merely “present to” all of history without being the proximal cause of every event. CS Lewis addressed this in The Problem of Pain, I think.

God does not know the future. To him the both the past and the future is as present as our own present is to us. In God there is no past, present, or future, there is only Now.

And yes, that does not negate free will. God’s eternal plan of predestination takes into account all of our free choices, such that even our freedom is part of that plan.

Don’t ask us to explain it. The Church only affirms it, but does not attempt to define it.

For me it seems the only possible harmonization of the idea that free will exists, if for God all time(s) are equally present and real as you say, is a type of time travel. And that would include humans’ own wills as in some sense being beyond time; arching backward in time as it were. Otherwise I don’t see how all things are not fixed.

If for God the future is present, then it’s already happened. I don’t see anyway around this. You can say that for us humans it hasn’t happened yet, but that is irrelevant, isn’t it? You’re saying that it isn’t just God’s perspective on the future. It is real, not perspectival. If it were merely perspectival then God would be looking “into” the future. But you are saying the future for all intents and purposes is the present for God. And always has been, I might add.

The only way to undo an iron view like this is to say that freedom is co-eternal with determinism, and that it transcends time. Hence human beings are themselves eternal in some sense.

Scripture says everything has been predestined from the foundation of the world. I believe before we were in this realm of time we existed in spirit. We had some choices that we have chosen in spirit but There was no way to understand the value of things unless we are living in the manifestations of our choices. Paul in scripture says we see thru a glass darkly. In the realm of time it made us forget those things of the spirit. It says of the Holy Spirit will bring all things back to our remembrance. So as we are playing out our choices In the realm of time we are gaining a knowledge and contrast of things to truly know their value. Time is eternity in slow motion so we can take all the parts and pieces and assemble them together by our faith and our enlightenment into one picture to be able to get a true knowledge of the whole. One the parts and pieces are assembled in our enlightened state then we can enter back into eternal life or heaven which is an ever present now with no parts and pieces. There’s no past or future there’s just the now moments. Time is just an illusion as our training wheels to help us grow in our understanding. God had never been outside of himself except thru the delusion of the will that thinks it’s outside of God but actually is not. So God is able to see himself from the outside by getting into something that he created. God is all things and all substance so he needs something external as a mirror in order to see himself from the outside so he can grow In knowledge about himself. So God is experiencing himself by seeing all of himself thru all the parts and pieces coming together as one. What does it take for this part of himself to be united to the other parts. Our process of learning about our selves is the same way God is able to understand himself for the first time because this is the first time he was able to come out of himself and exist in parts and pieces. God has already worked in us to will and to do his good pleasure. The will is also an illusion because our will is just his will manifested and worked within us from the start. Our salvation is the salvation of God. Can a cup lose itself? No only the one who possesses the cup suffers the loss. We are the salvation of God the father’s heart! Time is only spirit materialized Into shape matter and form which is only pieces and parts waiting to be assembled and united back into one or oneness which is spirit law an ever present moment with no limitations that can be defined by space.

Please consider, the best Architect decided to build the biggest and most beautiful building.

He designed every event down to its minutest details which need to take place to complete the building.

He gives his builders the building design, which contains every event down to its minutest details.

The architect causes every event/ act, which events/ acts tailor made to each of his builders to complete the building.


God designed the universe and this world, He Designed, Decreed, Foreordained and He causes every event/ act according to His design down to its minutest details which need to take place to complete His creation.

As we are God’s builders, for every one of us, God Designed, Decreed, Foreordained and He causes every event/ act down to its minutest details what every one of us need to do to complete His creation.

Without even knowing, we are God’s builders, every act we perform Designed, Decreed, Foreordained by God from all eternity and He causes us to do in order to complete the work of creation.

CCC 308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator.
God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes:
"For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it.

CCC 307 God thus enables men to be intelligent and free, causes in order to complete the work of creation, … Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions.
Aquinas said, "God changes the will without forcing it. But he can change the will from the fact that he himself operates in the will as he does in nature,” De Veritatis 22:9. 31. ST I-II:112:3. 32. Gaudium et Spes 22; "being …
St. Thomas teaches that God effects everything, the willing and the achievement. S. Th.II/II 4, 4 ad 3.

There is a supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul, which precedes the free act of the will, (De fide).

The Divine will is cause of all things that happen, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 1 seqq.).

The same is true for events in our lives. Relative to us they often appear to be by chance.
But relative to God, who directs everything according to his divine plan, nothing occurs by chance.

Hence if this divine influence stopped, every operation would stop.
Every operation, therefore, of anything is traced back to Him as its cause.(Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III.)

God Designed every our acts, includes the acts of every our sins, Decreed and Preordained from all eternity. – CCC 310, CCC 314, etc.
Nothing that is outside of God’s creating, sustaining, and governing will.
We FREELY will what God wills us to will, and we FREELY do what God wills and causes us to do.
As God himself operates in our wills, we are freely cooperating with His graces, without even knowing it.
God bless

Past, present and future are experiential but in eternity (t=0), there’s no experience, just an understanding.

So if the present time is known by God, does that likewise mean the present is fixed because he knows it now?

Does your knowledge of the present imply that because you are present to it that it is fixed by your knowledge of what you are present to?

That doesn’t quite make sense, though.

If free will is compatible with God knowing the present, it would be compatible with God knowing the future as present to him.

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