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God and Time: A Neo-Bergsonian Perspective



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The thesis uses key insights from the philosophy of Henri Bergson (1859-1941) to propose a new model of God’s relation to time.

Chapter 1 is an introduction to Bergson’s philosophy against the background of Russell’s “The Philosophy of Bergson.” It provides an exposition of two key themes from Bergson central to my argument: the relation between time and space (Chapters 2-4) and the relation between free will and determinism (Chapter 5). 

Chapter 2 has a twofold task. First, it provides a Bergsonian response to McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time. Second, it uses the underlying metaphysics of McTaggart’s argument to demonstrate that two distinct temporal realms can be extracted from Bergson’s philosophy: (i) la durée and (ii) a mathematical time-ordering generally classified by analytic philosophy as the B-series. 

Chapter 3 relates this double-tier framework to temporal ontologies in analytic philosophy. I argue that such a framework supports an “ontological idealism about time.” I argue for relativizing temporal existence to distinct points or sets of points of spacetime that leads to a radical mind-dependence of temporal extension of objects. 

Chapter 4 explores how the durée-based ontology argued for in Chapter 3 impacts the relation between God and time. I argue that analytic philosophy has failed to capture key ontological facets of the God-time relation and that a return to divine “causal knowledge” is required. I demonstrate that the existence of temporal objects comes from two sources: (i) their mind-dependent temporal aspect and (ii) timeless divinely-created esse. 

Chapter 5 applies this framework to the problem of divine foreknowledge and human free will. I demonstrate that although Bergson’s theory can defend the existence of human freedom, his thought needs to be supplanted with divine “causal knowledge” to guarantee divine omniscience.





Le Poidevin, Robin
Coakley, Sarah


Time, Henri Bergson, Philosophy of Religion, Foreknowledge, Omniscience


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
AHRC (1928601)