Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Timely Remark

Time does not exist. If Time exists and God, most aver, exists transcendentally outside of it, then, for God, Christ is eternally on the cross and separated from the Father. And not. And, speaking in our time-constrained terms, the Trinity always was separated for eternity past... and wasn't. And always will be separated for eternity future... and shan't be. The "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me." must have eternal fixity in the condition of God. Could Christ "for the joy that was set before him" truly find the joy of redemption accomplished (a Time reference as in "It is finished") once he rejoined the transcendent? How about "once for all" and "never to die again". On this we must say either that Time exists and God is subject to it or, if God is subject to nothing that exists because He made all that exists, Time does not exist.

16 comments:

Ibid said...

OK, time does not exist, yet you set Bible study for 8 pm of a Tuesday, indicating your adherence to the trammels of its conventions.

The Oracle said...

But the conventions of what? I would say that 8 p.m. on Tuesday is a reference to an ordered body of celestial motions named and numbered that they might be used for the filing system of our irregular motions.
The only convention adopted of "time" is that these are called "time references" rather than motion references. Which, I ask, is a more accurate description?

Ibid said...

Time references. Motion references could be anything. Bowel movements, for example.

tmm said...

For all the great respect I have for you Mr. Wilson, this is the crappiest of the crappy proofs I have ever seen. I'll try to figure out why now.

Nuallain said...

By what mechanism can we observe the existance (or non-existance) of time that this claim (that time does not exist) may be shown true or false?
Does space exist?
Yes... I know, I'm slow but I am still trying to get a handle on this claim.

tmm said...

I think the problem comes from this premise.

"If Time exists and God, most aver, exists transcendentally outside of it, then, for God, Christ is eternally on the cross and separated from the Father"

This would be the equivalent of guessing what life must be like, lived in 5 dimensions. We would have no concievable clue. Do you really have any idea what you are saying here? To make this claim is almost to say as if you can see the Creation through God's eyes in a very particular sense. We have no special revelation on this subject. For all we know, our "time" could be merely an image of something else, past what we see. Like C.S. lewis' books - they spend years in Narnia and get back and it was like 1 second here.

I also don't understand how saying time is created makes Christ eternally separated from the father. If time is a created thing, then by very nature it hasn't been around forever. If Christ, by entering time and being on the Cross is somehow "eternally separated from the father" merely because time is a creation, then how are we not eternal, merely by being in time?

Trying to figure out how God sees time is a lot harder than actually doing experiments on the nature of time. And it turns out that the idea that time is a "thing" with special created-properties is very testable. The special theory of relativity is a very testable theory. You can accelerate a particle to near the speed of light and see that it indeed gains a huge amount of mass from our reference frame. You put an atomic clock (accurate to 0.00000000000002Hz) in a different reference frame from us, bring it back to our own, and find out that they actually differ. You can use special relativity which is contingent on the idea that time is a created thing, and apply it to ratios of various detectable particles, the color shifts of stars moving away from us and towards us, to spectral shifts in light. So far, out of the many tests on special relativity that have been performed, which involve some very strange and un-intuitive things, everything has confirmed it.

When it comes to dealing with parameters we can't think outside of, (dimensions, time) it seems impossible for us to comprehend what it would be like from the outside.

Nuallain said...

In terms of the Oracle's answer to the empirical observations concerning Relativity theory, I can make some comment (we have argued about it extensively). He sees both relativity theory and quantum mechanics not as empirical physical laws from metaphysics but what happens when we reach the edge of physical reality. That is, physics was a construct which was only defined so far by God so that, while we live right in the middle of it, there are cases in which we can run up against the edge of where the construct is no longer really defined... In terms of physical theories of things it seems to run most akin to the idea that the universe is essentially a large cellular automata "computer" designed to run in an essentially newtonian manner. However, their are cases in which you can break its newtonian character by going really fast or by probing very small scales. And I can certainly respect this idea.
None of this answers my questions though. How are we to observe the truth (or falsehood) of this claim?

In opposition to the claim that:
"If Time exists and God, most aver, exists transcendentally outside of it, then, for God, Christ is eternally on the cross and separated from the Father"

I would note that, if time does not exist then Christ being seperated from the Father would imply that the metaphysical makeup of reality must have changed during that 'time' in a way at least as significant as the laws of logic ceasing to work. How, if we are to believe that the very nature of the Godhead can change? Are we not rooted in the assurance that God does not change, is this not our rock that we know what Good and Evil and Truth and Falsehood are? If indeed God exists transcendentally outside of time then the nature of that separation must indeed be an eternal aspect of the Godhead but losing 1 dimension from an infinite dimensional space is more reasonable an idea than that the very nature of God may change.

The Oracle said...

Gentlemen,
Is Time "actual" or "Conceptual"? I mean by this, is it outside of God's and our heads (like that chair or table) or is it inside? Is it something within which matter and space do their little dance or is matter and space all there is and our sense or concept of duration merely memories and anticipations of arrangements of said matter other than where it Is?
Tim,
If all Times are the same to God than the Time when Christ was separated from the Father is, to the Father, a constant.

Nuallain said...

My personal belief is that time is exactly as "real" as space; whatever we happen to mean by real.
But this has raised a second point of interest: Is there a difference between "actual" and "conceptual" when it comes to the Mind of God? And by this I am not referring to the real course which is the history of the world versus all "possibilities" known to God. Rather, when it comes to things that we think of as conceptual (logic, love, etc) is there a difference between this and those things which we think of as "real things" (my keyboard, pool cues, Moscow, etc) when we are dealing with the Mind of God? Surely, they are different things just as granite and steel are different, but is either "less real" than the other? I think that when it comes down to it, reality is defined by the Mind of God. And in the end we shall find that many things which we think of as "conceptual" and "ethereal" like love will turn out to be much more substantially "real" than the chair which it hurt so very much to stub my toe on.

The Oracle said...

These are pious science fictions unsupported by anything other than, perhaps, the wistful credulity of the reader. Giving God credit for the nonsensical is a warm and fuzzy but imagination, however vivid, can only be posed as a direction for belief if it is supported by either empiricism, reason, or revelation.

Nuallain said...

Well rebutted for the supposed audience... But you didn't really address the matter in question. What makes a thing "real" versus "conceptual"? especially when it comes to the 'Mind of God' (whatever exactly that means). Is 'spirit' real or conceptual? How about personal identity? The laws of logic? Love? etc.

tmm said...

Oracle, if you are still reading this: I am just wondering - how much knowledge of the actual theories do you have? You might have a ton, maybe a lot more than me, I have no idea. I would like to know your theory on the subject because this really interests me, but I want to know if I am listening to someone who has spent a lot of time learning about what he is critiquing. I don't have a ton of knowledge, but I did take one class in modern physics in which we worked out the basics of relativity mathematically, as well as the basics of quantum mechanics. I have spent a lot of time talking with the professors and physicists, (including my father) about this, and the impression I get is that relativity as a theory is extremely reliable.

Mr. Wilson, I am willing to concede you might actually know a lot more about it than me, but I am not sure. And if you have time I would like to hear what you think about relativity.



Lastly:
"If all Times are the same to God than the Time when Christ was separated from the Father is, to the Father, a constant."

huh? That's like me saying,

y'' + 3y' + 2 = 0, so y = C1e^(x) + C2e^(2x).

There are a few hidden steps in there which I am not following.

"all Times are the same to God"
- Ok, this is why I am thinking our comprehending breaks down. In order for me to say anything about how God might experience time, I have to extrapolate back to God, from how I percieve that I function. This does not acknowledge a certain Creator-Creature distinction. I can't comprehend thinking without time - thinking implies change, and the very concept of the word "dynamic" implies that something isn't quite the way now that it was "5 minutes ago." But why does the fact that this is the way it is for me, mean anything about the way it is for God? I am stuck thinking in a certain system. I can't comprehend anything working outside of this system, just like a 2D man can't comprehend a 3D universe. How the *gehenna* do I know that the way God percieves time can be reduced to the short "proof" you gave?

The Oracle said...

Tim,
I am not, I repeat, not educated in these things. Far less than you I imagine. I am merely applying my personal observation of that which is to the claims others make about God and asking myself (and you) if it makes any sense. Your creator-creature divide is artificial. It is a magic door through which any nonsense can fit. Tragically, once it is in place than nothing of what we define here is necessarily true "over there". Theologians have invented an atemporal God in order that the claims they make will be allowed. They expect that atemporality to function as I described so that they can gain an "out" in the inconsistencies necessitated. What the scientist/mathmaticians say in quantum or realitivity is of less importance to me. The end of their equations are the springboard of their faith. The end of my equations (rational and Biblical) contend otherwise. Can God be known? Has he expressed things of Himself that can be known to be true? Does your divide hand you a blank check that can be filled in by liberal as well as a conservative? There is a gnosticism present that seems to claim that our material conceptions are necessarily unknowing since God is completely other. Basic question: Does justice, as we know it to be defined, hold across the divide?

tmm said...

Mr Wilson, thanks for replying. This is what my gut instinct tells me. Justice HAS to be the same everywhere, because it comes from God's nature and he is Lord everywhere. But as far as time is concerned, I never really figured that the type of thinking I have been employing is a construct people invented, to allow us to say whatever we want. And it might be true, I have to think about it.

But 2 things about that - I don't think that the fact that some people apply that line of reasoning in a bad way doesn't mean it is an entirely invalid method of reasoning. It is based on the idea that "as the heavens are above the earth, so my ways are above your ways." Atleast the basic idea, that God is waaaay above us, is there, which is a step above saying "oh yeah, we can know God entirely and completely, and he must follow all the rules we do."

Secondly, I am still not sure that saying "we can't extrapolate God's limitations based on an analysis of our own" allows us to say "God is entirely unknowable." All it is saying, or atleast I am trying to say, is - we know certain things about God's character from what he has revealed to us. But he hasn't revealed all of his nature. We know about justice because he tells us about justice, directly. But he doesn't do that with physics, and so it seems like the act of making tests and performing hypothesis based on the outcomes of these is an entirely a legitimate action. These tests seem to imply that "time" is a "thing" that changes based on referece frame. So I am trying to figure something out: if that is true, then what does that imply about time from "God's perspective" which kind of makes me shudder to say. But if it is true that God experiences a complete standard of time, and an absolute coordinate system, then what does that imply about these bajillions of tests that seem to indicate the physical universe doesn't act this way??

Nuallain said...

In response to the Oracle's latest utterances...
"Your creator-creature divide is artificial... There is a gnosticism present that seems to claim that our material conceptions are necessarily unknowing since God is completely other. Basic question: Does justice, as we know it to be defined, hold across the divide?"

I disagree concerning the "creator-creature divide." For one thing, Tim is right concerning the nature of dimensional extrapolation, a lower dimensional being can, given suitable brain power, extrapolate and functionally describe higher dimensionality but can never truly grasp it internally. It is, in a very real way, too big to fit inside his head.
But more tellingly, and I must thank you for such a coice selection of topics, justice does not bear the same relationship to the Creator as it does to us. (*If we were to buy into a socratic view of ethical theory in which justice is something separate from deity then this would be the case. But this would raise other issues concerning the nature of God and reality. more complete comments at http://nuallan.livejournal.com/9468.html) Justice is what it is as it stems from the nature of God, it is inseparable from the nature of God. We, however, find that justice is quite outside ourselves; this is the only reason that we can be held accountable to the same justice. For the creatures justice is extra nos; for the Creator it is merely an aspect of his nature which we have a name for. What is just is changless but the relation of that justice changes entirely between creature and Creator. In this sense may a line be drawn: Reality must stem from Him but our experience of that reality must necessarily be a limited subset of all that is reality. Therefore, to mentally encompasse reality in conception we must extrapolate from our experience (sometimes with the guidance of Divine revelation and sometimes without) but such extrapolation too often casts our own limitations upon that reality (just as a 2D person will most naturally think of "infinite" as and x-y plane without bound and not even realize that there is a possibility for further limitless extent in other direction). But of course your point concerning exactly the problems of introducing new unexperienced parameters to the mix is that any idiot can of course invent new (and often meaningless) parameters at will for limitlessness to occupy. So... to know God, we do know that we have a limited subset of reality which stems from Him... For other possible directions (unexperienced dimensions of possibility) we must therefore limit ourselves to not postulating new ones unless directed by empiricism, reason or revelation. Thus may we avoid blank checks without denying the transcendent nature of God.
Read that last as a paragraph with a question mark hanging over it. I am putting a theory out there, perhaps I missed a reasoning step somewhere and went off the deep end. Questions, comments and snide remarks welcome.

tmm said...

nuallen - that was helpful and very clearly put, thanks