With his theory of Relativity, Einstein threw a monkey-wrench into our understanding of time. We always used to assume that there are three distinct divisions of time: past, present, and future. The present is the only thing that has existence, because what is in the past is gone, and what is in the future has not yet come to be. Time is viewed as a progression of existence. Indeed, if you look at the Google definition of time (definition:time) you will see that it agrees with this intuitive understanding: the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. But there are other definitions. Merriam-Webster defines it as measured by change: a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future. In fact, without the notion of a changing state of affairs, the concept of time is essentially meaningless, since there is no way to distinguish one moment in time from another. But Relativity theory confuses this intuitive notion of past, present, and future, because it removes our ability to say that event A precedes event B in time. Therefore, there is no "present", and no way to definitively categorize all events as belonging either past, present, or future.
This has a significant impact on the way theists think about God, and they do not all agree with one another. God could be timeless*, or he could exist in time, much the way we think of our own existence. If the former is the case, it implies that God is unchanging and impersonal. In a timeless existence, there is no change, there are no events, there is only one single non-changing state of affairs. God himself is unchanging. This corresponds to a Thomistic view of God. On the other hand, if God exists in time, he can think (which implies a changing state of mind) and make decisions, and he can create things that didn't exist before. This is a personal view of God, and it is shared by the majority of Christians.
The timeless, impersonal view of God can still be consistent with our own reality. It implies that with respect to the existence of the universe, our past, present, and future are all part of God's creation, which all simply exist as an unchanging state of affairs from the perspective of God. In other words, all of space and time exists at once, and is laid out like the contents of a book for God to see. (This corresponds to the B-theory of time.) God never decides to create the universe - it is just part of God's single, unchanging state of affairs, including its beginning and its end. But from our own perspective, we don't see the whole book. From our own perspective, we are limited to seeing only one point in time, which is constantly shifting, producing the illusion of past, present, and future. In fact, the illusory aspect of "the present" is validated by Relativity theory, which tells us that there is no absolute present.
The other view of God - the personal God - implies a God who acts and makes decisions. This is in line with more intuitive view shared by most theists. The fact that this view involves a changing state of affairs means that this God must exist in time, although God's perspective of time doesn't necessarily correspond to our own perspective of time. Nevertheless, it implies a sequence of events. God decides to create the universe, and he does so, producing something that wasn't there before, from his own perspective, and continues to exist only as long as God maintains his act of creation. (And this corresponds to A-theory of time.) WL Craig holds this notion of a personal God that exists in "ontological time".
Both theories create some problems for theists. For the timeless, impersonal God, the notion of free will is really incoherent. Everything is laid out for God to see. There is no guessing as to which souls will be saved, and no need to go through the drama of life in order to find out. It's all just part of the one and only state of affairs, and that doesn't change. So why bother with the drama of life? And what do those souls have to look forward to? The ultimate boredom of unchanging eternal existence. For the personal God that exists in time, there is the issue that God must have waited for an eternity (an infinite time) before deciding to create the universe, which has only existed for a brief limited time. Why wouldn't he make an eternal universe? Is he limited as to how many souls he can allow to exist with him? There is also the problem of physical reality that points to the incoherence of the A-theory. Relativity says that there is no absolute present. Craig recognizes this issue, but gets around it by claiming that God is the absolute perspective for what constitutes the present. Still, that doesn't resolve the incoherency. God or no God, there is no absolute present, according to Relativity.
And then we have theists who are simply confused about the logical problems of time for theism. Joe Hinman wants to have it both ways. Hinman never discusses A-theory or B-theory. He never mentions the issue of Relativity, leaving us to wonder whether he is aware of these things at all. But he seems to think that God exists both in time and not in time. For a God that exists in time, eternity is time that has no end (or no beginning). But Joe calls that "non time".
He sees the problem i[n] Craig's thinking but turns around and makes the very same mistake. He's treating non time like it's time as though it's a very long time ... - HinmanLet's be clear. An eternity is not non-time. It is time without end. Eternity allows a changing state of affairs. Non-time doesn't. And still, Joe agrees with Craig that god exists in time (as well as outside of it).
The thinking decision argument still allows us to argue for a personal God ... So God is beyond time. God is both in time and beyond it. - HinmanBut as I explained about the relationship between time and change, that doesn't make any sense at all. For God, there is either a changing state of affairs, or there isn't. Even God can't have it both ways. But there you have it - Hinman's confused conception of God's time/non-time.
* For purposes of this article, I use the word 'timeless' to mean "without time", as in something that exists without the passage of time. This is intended to be consistent with Joe's equating the word 'timeless' with "non time". It should be understood that the more common usage of 'timeless' is equivalent to 'eternal'. These two different senses of the word are not the same. The former implies an unchanging state of affairs. The latter implies something that persists through the passage of infinite time, and does not entail an unchanging state of affairs.