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God and Time

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  • God and Time

    Last week I gave a presentation on the nature of time. Philosophers propose a number of theories about time, two main ones being 'presentism' and 'eternalism.' Presentism proposes the only reality of time that exists are events that occur in the present moment - the past and the future are not real. Eternalism proposes that past, present and future are all equally real and in theory, if you could go 'outside' the universe, you could see all time and space present as a kind of whole.

    The religions that propose the existence of a God who created the universe also propose that God is a Being who is somehow superior to time or outside of it. God is therefore eternal or everlasting (not subject to temporal duration or decay) or God simply is not temporal at all (God possess all his being and life as an eternal, simultaneous whole). As Aquinas says in the Summa:

    "Things reduced to act in time, as known by us successively in time, but by God (are known) in eternity, which is above time. Whence to us they cannot be certain, forasmuch as we know future contingent things as such; but (they are certain) to God alone, whose understanding is in eternity above time. Just as he who goes along the road, does not see those who come after him; whereas he who sees the whole road from a height, sees at once all travelling by the way. Hence what is known by us must be necessary, even as it is in itself; for what is future contingent in itself, cannot be known by us."

    To me this kind of view is deeply problematic. If an infinite Being who created the universe is outside of time, how can he interact with temporal beings (given prayer or religious rituals are important in God-believing religions)? How exactly can an eternal Being participate in time and distinguish between past, present and future? Could God in some way be temporal or changing? Can we really propose creatures are free if events are pre-ordained from all eternity by an extra-temporal reality?

  • #2
    The sole concept of time itself is derisory. Science explains that in space time is slowed down and the closer you are to the speed of light, the slower time passes by.
    As you distinguish with an eternal Being who supposedly created universe, why not associate beyond-human understanding powers with it ?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by _Blank_ View Post
      As you distinguish with an eternal Being who supposedly created universe, why not associate beyond-human understanding powers with it ?
      And while we're at it, why not associate properties beyond human understanding to the universe -- if it was, after all, created with incomprehensible powers? Indeed, everything in it was potentially created with powers beyond our imagination: is there anything we can actually comprehend here? It's a loaded question; I mean, what does it even mean to comprehend? But I guess we can all agree that it's rather counterproductive to work on a problem with the mindset that it is beyond our understanding...


      Though I expect that's what most people do when they see this.

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      • #4
        Isn't life but a memory? I mean the present is but an instant, passing by just as soon as it is enacted. I snap my fingers, and the present has just flown by, making it history, and, thus, making it no longer real. Right? Or, it could be I was reading Augustine recently. But, if we are being systematic, time is fleeting, and the present is not lived but simply acted on. And who can enjoy life in that form, really? I am here because of what has passed (or the past); yet I can't be here without what is yet to come (even if it is seconds from happening); all the while am I only able to be here because I am present. I think time is one of those things that is beyond our comprehension. We can only know what we can experience or put into a formula, or so it seems to be now. The one that always gets me is love. Now, try to put love into a formula that works across the board.
        But I don't think Aquinas meant God was outside of time, as if God can't get in. I think he meant God is above it, or capable of seeing beyond the temporal. Who better to interact with something as the one who created it? There is a real problem when it comes to understanding the relation between God, humanity, and time. I mean, I don't really even know if I will take twenty more breath's or if my heart might just unexpectedly stop beating. Especially after all the dag-gum McDonald's over the years. Well, that and boxed cereal. I do like me some cereal though!
        The problem with the world today, or in my opinion (I know, I know, what is that worth?...nothing, I know) is that everything has to be quantified or it isn't real. And I'm sure that is arguable as well. Shoot, kids can't even be kids now. Boys can't be boys, girls can't be girls because it is all just prefabricated information and tradition that boys tend to do gross things and girls not so much. I just read that a school banned teachers from saying boy or girl because it is sexist. If we don't understand it, it isn't real. If it doesn't fit nicely into our pre-made box, it is fallacy. What happened to the imagination of humankind? Not where things are make believe per say, but that things are unbelievably real. I think time, temporal and eternal, is one of those things.
        But, time is one thing I do like to ponder. Good post.

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        • #5
          I think being above time does not necessarily mean outside out of it. To have a full view of time and space, he could be extended all along with it, i.e., the universe is a part of God. It may not necessarily be duality of universe and God.
          The temporal change is a part of that eternity, as some believe a manifestation of himself. If that eternity is composed of so many such temporal changes we might look at something static or everlasting, in some ways pre ordained. But we still cannot probably be free because we do not realize the reality.
          ^ This is me being high from reading some really heavy texts in ancient Vedanta. So well I could not really grasp much from what they could have meant but maybe you might have a better insight on it.

          And Ari, when you go to hell, which I am sure you will, Archimedes will be waiting for you!

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          • #6
            each one has an own opinion

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            • #7

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