God is outside time, hence He knows everything at once. How is this possible? We can only argue by analogy. Be sure at least to see the hill analogy below. We are now two weeks away from “God is Truth.”
 FROM the foregoing it is also made evident that God understands all things at the same instant…
 Moreover. The intellect of one who considers many things in succession cannot possibly have only one operation: for since operations differ according to their objects, the operation whereby the intellect considers the first thing must needs be distinct from that whereby it considers the second. But the divine intellect has only one operation, which is its essence, as proved above. Therefore it considers all that it knows, not simultaneously but successively.
Notes Also, if you’re not now thinking of hot dogs and how awful they taste, but instead thinking about how God could know all at once, then your intellect is in potential to thinking about hot dogs. If you are now thinking about hot dogs, then your intellect is in act with respect to these most disgusting of all sausages. But as Thomas proved much earlier, God is pure act, and is never in potential. Thus He must know all things simultaneously.
 Further. Succession is inconceivable apart from time, and time apart from movement: since time is the measure of movement according to before or after. Now no movement is possible in God, as may be gathered from what has been said above. Therefore in God’s thought there is no succession: and consequently whatever He knows He considers simultaneously.
Notes Here’s our analogy. Think of you traveling through time as a journey along a hilly line. Draw a stick figure, representing your intellect, standing on a very choppy line where the peaks are all much higher than the figure’s head. You can only see what is right ahead of you because the hills further on block your view (and also behind!). But now, way above, imagine God is looking down. Since He is so high up, He can see all at once. Meaning, He can understand all at once, whereas you, stuck in time, can only think about one thing at a time.
In the skipped arguments, St Thomas shows, through technical arguments, why you can only think of one thing at a time. It doesn’t mean that you can’t switch between hot dogs and St Thomas very rapidly, or even imagine St Thomas eating a hot dog, but you can’t focus your intellect on more than one genera at a time. I mean, you are not and cannot now, in this instant, think of everything you know. Try doing that. You will fail. This is amplified by the next point.
 Again. God’s act of understanding is His very being, as shown above. Now there is no before and after in the divine being, but it is all simultaneously, as proved above. Therefore neither is there before and after in God’s thought, but He understands all things simultaneously.
Notes The analogy holds with even more force here if you consider there is nothing above God in our crude picture. If you are able to think mathematically, imagine the time line on which ordinary intellects must trek as extending very far to the left and right. And then put God higher and higher so that all below is just a speck. Well, it’s an analogy and the “distance” God is away from us (in intellectual ability) is infinite. Hence He can know all there is to know at once.
 Moreover. Every intellect that understands one thing after another is at one time understanding potentially, and at another time actually: for while it understands the first thing actually, it understands the second potentially. But the divine intellect is never in potentiality, but is always understanding actually. Therefore it understands things, not successively, but altogether simultaneously.
Notes This by now follows easily. Next week we sprint through four chapters, picking up some interesting items about the Nature of God’s thoughts, and two weeks from today we return to juicier topics, starting with God is Truth.
———————————- 3 De Anima iv. 12; v. 2.
 Ch. xlvi.
 Ch. xlv.
 4 Phys. xi. 5.
 Ch. xiii.
 Ch. xlv.
 Ch. xv.
 Ch. xvi.