Recently my attention has been drawn to the controversy over whether or not God is in time. Always having been a convinced Boethian on this topic, I've been interested to see what the arguments on the other side are. Some of them appear to stem from what are known as "A-series time" intuitions which I simply do not share--for example, that there is a "real now" that is objective, not relative to any individual or any particular object, and that really does "move," so that in some sense independent of my location in time or the location in time of any other finite being or entity it really is "after Christmas now" but really was "before Christmas three weeks ago." This just seems incorrect to me, so any argument that God must be in time that starts with this as a premise is not going to move me.
Another argument is that, if God is not in time, God cannot enjoy the experience of listening to music, and this would be a lack of some kind in God. (The music argument is given in one of these two interview parts, though at the moment I don't have time to listen to them again and figure out which one it's in.) The idea is that listening to music is irreducibly a temporally ordered experience. I'm willing to grant that that is true, though I would hesitate to define "listening to music" as being identical with "knowing music" or "understanding music." It seems to me entirely plausible that there could be some sort of "all at once" comprehension of music that would not require listening to it temporally. But I'll grant that the experience of listening to a song or a sonata is a temporal experience.
It seems to me that this argument proves too much. There are many pleasant and joyful experiences that we have as human beings that depend crucially on our limitations. The experience, for example, of not knowing what happens at the end of a story and of gradually figuring it out depends upon our not being omniscient. The experience of being surprised depends on a lack of omniscience. The experience of traveling along a road and seeing a gorgeous vista open gradually before one's eyes depends on the ability to travel in space, or at least to experience as-if traveling in space. (But those who believe that God is in time typically, as I understand it, agree that God is not in space.) The experience of normal sexual love between man and woman depends upon the limitation of being just one of these--either a man or a woman--and being limited to that unique set of feelings and experiences.
It would be entirely possible to respond to the argument that a Boethian God cannot know what it is like to listen to music by pointing out that the Christian God also, presumably, does not know what it is like to hate God, to sin, and the like. I would guess that the anti-Boethian would reply that these would be bad things to experience, but that the experience of listening to music is a good experience.
So I think the set of examples above provide an even better argument. One of the things about being human is that we have not only the sorrows but also the joys and pleasures we have because God has given us a unique human nature, and that unique nature depends upon our being limited. To say that God (not incarnate--I'll say something about the incarnation in a moment) must be missing some perfection because he does not share those experiences of ours that depend upon our being limited seems perverse. It seems that we will then have to insist upon lowering the divine nature to the level of our own in order to allow God to experience our distinctly human pleasures. If we can insist on this for temporal limitation and listening to music temporally, why not for any of the other things named? Would we not also have to insist that God must be able to suspend his omniscience in order to have the great pleasure of some wonderful surprise? (And some surprises are truly great and truly wonderful.) Or that God would have to be able to avoid "reading the end of the book" in order to have the pleasure of finding out what happens "for the first time" when he gets to the end of a book?
The pleasure of listening to music temporally involves, crucially, the limitation of not hearing some parts of the music while one is hearing others. Even if one has heard the piece before, so that the rest of the piece is not exactly a surprise, when one listens again the pleasure requires that one set aside, to some degree, the previous memory of what comes next, that one experience only part of the music at a time and see it unfold in order. This is obviously a pleasure of limitation. Interestingly, those who disagree with the Boethian view apparently do affirm divine omniscience, which makes it extremely difficult to know what it would be like for God, even on their view, to listen to music sequentially. It would seem that God as they conceive him cannot be simultaneously knowing what it is like to hear the second movement (or the second measure) while he is knowing what it is like to hear the first movement (or the first measure). How is this compatible with omniscience?
To a very large degree we who believe in an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God must accept that we do not know what it is like to be God. This is true of Boethians and non-Boethians alike. Since it is true, and since there seems to be no principled reason to stop at requiring God to have some, but not all, of our limitations (such as being in time) in order to share our innocent and valuable pleasures, I do not see a good reason to start making such requirements in the first place, even for the sake of music.
It also seems to me that the music argument for placing God in time tends to downplay the importance of the incarnation. One of the points of the incarnation is that in it God took upon himself our human nature. By that means, it came to pass that God had our experiences of limitation and also many of our uniquely human experiences of enjoyment. (Though not all the particular ones, of course; Jesus never was married, never listened to Mozart, and so forth.) It seems to me that to a very great extent we are supposed to defer questions of "does God know exactly what it's like to feel x" (the wind on his face, the pleasure of sleep after fatigue, the experience of listening to music) to the incarnation and to say that sharing our nature in those ways was one of the reasons cur deus homo. Why anticipate that by making the divine nature temporal apart from the incarnation?