Nature of God

Eternity

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John Dee

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A better view of God and Time
« on: November 08, 2013, 08:53:34 am »
Dr Craig recently dealt with a question from an Adam from the USA on his question and answer area regarding God and Time

I believe that Adam proffered the beginnings of a solution which is far better than Dr Crag’s position if it is worked through properly – the problem is Adam’s query on Dr Craig’s position created a false context nor was his alternative idea worked up.

Dr Craig represents his nuanced idea regarding God and time as follows:-

“God exists timelessly sans creation and temporally since the moment of creation”. And this view is coherent with his adherence to the A series of time.

It is not clear exactly what Dr Craig means by God existing temporally but this is an extremely dangerous thought.

If it turns out that time is nothing more than the change of energy and matter from one entropic state to the next (which also would explain why time does not change in a linear fashion, it slows as you reach the speed of light and also as you approach high gravity values. And in that sense it follows the voltage discharge of a battery) then to exist temporally means to become incarnate (but which is reserved for Christ!) but also means subjecting yourself to thermodynamic heat death. Clearly Dr Craig must believe that time is a completely separate dimension within which entropy change occurs, to avoid this conclusion; but this is uncertain and he ought to be making alternative provision in his thinking should the arrow of entropy proved to in reality also be the actual arrow of time. (In other words when we use the convenient notation t2 – t1 to measure a time period, the reality is Entropy2 – Entropy1.)

The second problem is that if God now exists in time and He knows the end from the beginning (as scripture declares) then there is no way out of the time dependency of that foreknowledge. In other words it doesn’t matter which way you cut it or how convoluted your wriggling (as in Molinism) there is no way out from its predestination. If God knows before hand what you will do and he is looking down the corridor of time (because he is in it) then you will have had no choice in the matter. Whether he knows this through direct divine fiat or instead the more subtle movement of circumstance is irrelevant.

The only solution to the issue of predestination and freewill is to break the time dependency of the logic on how God know’s what will happen. This is possible through a better appreciation of His being “outside of space time” (speaking of being timeless is not very helpful here for it seem to leave God in a state of nothing – but he must clearly exist in other spiritual dimensions if he is a spirit being). CS Lewis’ useful advice on thinking about extra dimensions is to actually drop one. So then let us consider a cube, we will re represent length as time, and breadth as our other 3 spatial dimensions combined, leaving us height to help our understanding of what being outside of or beyond space/time would be like.

Adams suggestion about leaving God the father outside of time (because he was only thinking of timelessness) meant that he would not know what time it is now and so adversely affect the idea of his Omniscience. Adam’s suggestion that this is only then retained across the trinity just doesn’t work – for it is only Christ who admits to not knowing some things in this academic sense.

But if Adam was thinking as per the reduced dimensional model which I have suggested then he would see that if you are in the dimension of height (our representative spiritual dimension) you are able to interface at every single point of the surface plane of length and breadth, making ones knowledge both complete but also breaking all time dependency logic associated with that knowledge. The knowledge can be understood to be based on pure observation rather than causal and by this we then enable God’s foreknowledge of everything and the freewill/responsibility of other wills within the creation.

(Note this observation does not stop God intervening and there then being a genuine causal logical link to the foreknowledge which would be predestination in those cases. You therefore need to look carefully at exactly what scripture says is predestined to see how and what limits God might give to our freewill. My view is that he absolutely self restricts over the offer of salvation, and he is most likely to intervene and so restrict man’s choice when it comes to revelation and this is the distinction you see in Romans ch9-11. The Jews are the clay in the potter’s hand, they don’t get much choice, while those who were not previously “chosen” as a people can now become part of one through the free and enabled offer of gospel)

If God is in this dimension of height above space time, He is in what we sometimes call eternity and also in a state of timelessness because in our model time only exists along our length in the plane of length and breadth. Because God is eternal, timeless and changeless as far as our perception of it goes, (i.e. along the length of the length and breadth plane) does not mean that God does not change or not become – it is just that we have no language to speak of it. (again this is why “maximally great being” and therefore the ontological argument is nonsense – how do you know what other gradations their might be in the spiritual plane?) This view of the spirit God hovering over the plane of space/time obviously however begs a four dimensional view of space/time – for him to have foreknowledge of the future in this sense must mean that it is true that there is a sense it which all time is ever present or capable of being “remembered” into his “present”. (The books in revelation can be opened up at any time) This does not exclude the A series appreciation of time however which is undoubtedly our experience and perception of it “in time”, it is what Jesus’ immediate incarnate perspective would be and why he does not know some futures and is what concurs with thermodynamics and an entropic view of time. In other words there are two perspectives, an in time one where the time dependency of logic is inevitable which begs the A series, and there is an outside of time one, available to God the father which enable the giving of freewill and means that the B series must also at the same time be in some sense true.

If the creation is to be given freewill as opposed to the will of the creator (enabling love and relationship including back to the creator) then the creator must be in a position to save it from the consequences of exercising that freewill to reject God’s will for it – otherwise the whole thing is liable to fly out the window at any moment, the universe roll up like a kitchen blind, and make the creator look rather foolish. This requires the essence of God to combine himself with that creation in the incarnation so as to sustain it wherever it should go. We see freedom in the created world both physically with the adaptation of original forms and also morally in men and angel’s spirits, and so coincidently we see corresponding incarnations both in the flesh supporting the atoms of existence and in the Holy spirit supporting the creation’s spiritual aspects.

The universe is made through Christ because all otherness from God is supported and sustained in the incarnation, the emanation of the spirit being perfected in him, and it is the crucifixion that gets Christ to the furthest extent that freewill can get you from God – and therefore he comes to both seek and save the lost even to the very gates of hell, and to those who receive him (or one of his proxy messengers – even to the offering of a cup or water – and even the heavens declare his name) he gives power to become “freely” reunited with God – In Christ. It seem that careful consideration of the trinity solves the main problems, including the why does God still blame us of Romans ch9 (because he does also give freewill/responsibility as well as ordain) and also the fact that the incarnation is also an answer to whether its all worth it. He wouldn’t bother to get crucified if it wasn’t.

My view is that if there had been other freedoms to give and God had decided to give them, then we would be thinking of more than a trinity; in order to sustain each part and to enable relationship back to the father he would have to give Himself appropriately to each part.

From the eternal perspective we have a trinity with the mystery of infinity + infinity + infinity = infinity, while from the “in time” perspective we see God’s giving of himself in different roles so as to sustain and give the creation its freedom to grow and relate. The incarnation and crucifixion is the central and foundation stone of the whole creative affair for it is all enabled through it. But if you don’t get IN Christ you can’t be part of it and lucky for us you don’t need to understand everything to do so, just receiving him like a child is fine.

« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 09:09:54 am by John Dee »

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John Dee

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Re: A better view of God and Time
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2013, 08:44:59 am »
My previous entry regarding a better view on God and time suggested that both the A and B series of space/time applied. - this is a kind of part 2.

The A series being the “in time” perspective which is undoubtedly true, given the first law of thermodynamics, you can’t get something for nothing; the past cannot pop out of nothing as the present moves onto the future. (although could dark energy and matter have an angle on this?)

The B solid block series is the beyond space time perspective which we can attribute to God the father. The importance of taking up this view point in addition to the A series is absolutely essential for breaking the time dependant logic of foreknowledge (no matter who or what caused it) which then avoids necessary predestination in everything if it can be foreknown, and so allows freewill and God’s foreknowledge to co-exist.

Other threads have however suggested that there are some problems with the B series so I would like to briefly cover those points raised from the perspective I am suggesting.

These points are about
1.   Evil ceasing to exist
2.   Beginning to exist and causality
3.   Infinity

I would then like to affirm the practical use for thinking more carefully about God and time; for although this superficially seems like futile speculation, is in fact very important for laying a coherent metaphysical foundation to the Christian faith.
 
1.   Evil ceasing to exist
I am not sure where in the bible it suggest that evil will cease to exist, is that not the whole point of the doctrine of hell. Yes, evil does continue to exist, but in the end it becomes isolated and shut out from God’s present creative purpose in hell. I think the idea that it should cease to exist is based on a misunderstanding of what evil primarily is. I take it to be wilful separation from God, a walking out from his will. It is true however that it will cease to exist in heaven.

2.   Beginning to exist and causality
There is a suggestion of a problem with first cause and causality in general with the B series. Taking the second point first it is true that a strict block theory on space/time must break the first law of thermodynamics and so in that sense can’t be true. I am however not proposing a strict block theory. It is more like a continuous computer backup at each point of Planck time. As in revelation, the books can be opened and judgement made at any point of time. The suggestion is then that this solid backup does not affect the thermodynamics of A series causality, but also provides a boost to the idea of first cause overall (more later).

The beginning to exist problem  is resolved from the B series point of view by indicating that God the father acts perpendicularly to the space/time block plane. He still encounters it because he is not in it. The “always” of our computer backup styled B series is not the “spiritual always” of God the father. There was a “spiritual time”, “before” he created and therefore “spiritually when” he could not encounter it. The problem is we have no language in which to speak of these other spiritual dimensions.  But “spiritually when” he did create there is a sense in which he rolled it out sideways all at once like a carpet, knowing the end from the beginning. The fact that you can roll out a printed computer code in full, does not deny the fact that you also have to “run” it sequentially according to the A series as well and that it of course must be written according to the logic of that series. A further example of this is the notation of a musical score, where the players are also given space and freedom to improvise (including walking off the stage altogether and playing elsewhere). None of these examples can be exact though, because we are at one and the same time trying to imagine a completed musical score, and the writing of it, with input from all the free agents involved. It is only someone with a genuine perspective from outside of space/time who could see both perspectives at once. The fact that we can’t properly do this does not deny its possible reality, but also gives us a real handle on God’s ways being higher than ours.

The boost which this gives to first cause is to better establish the idea of on-going first cause, or sustainer of all things. The A and B series can be merged by bringing the first cause (FC) at the beginning to bear on every other moment of planck time. In time we see and can scientifically measure the A series of cause and effect A to B to C to D; but what if the first cause which must inevitably cause A then goes on to produce the following FC to A to FC to B to FC to C to FC to D etc. Of course our science cannot see or measure these FC’s but if there must be one at the beginning (and thermodynamically there must be a balance across the creative divide otherwise you are left with the nonsense of the universe breaking it most fundamental law at the beginning with a free lunch) then why not have an ongoing one possible as well. The usefulness of this idea is that it makes theism bullet proof to any scientific discoveries. If for example the ABC of macro evolution could be proved it would make no difference. But alternatively if irreducible complexity could be proved it gives a hint at the additional input at that point to get over it.

3.   Infinity
The relevance of this seems to be in relation to God’s knowledge of the end of space/time from its beginning, and the fact of eternal life projecting into infinity meaning that there is no coalesced “solid” B series end to know. The answer to this is that neither the A nor the B series can project continuously into infinity; both must submit themselves to the 2nd law of thermodynamics heat death. Without a top up or re-creation from God space/time will wear out – there will come a time when there are no further events possible. The spiritual significance of this is that even Adam was in the end running by faith and not by right of works. In the end in heaven we must trust that God will recharge the free energy batteries from beyond our closed envelope of space/time otherwise we will wear out. God’s assured knowledge of the end from the beginning on a B series basis is because the saga is like a trilogy, at the end of one book (which has an end) the next one can then be started and hence the recreation the new heavens and the new earth. I imagine that this is what the fruit from the tree of life is for us each personally in heaven, our monthly bodily recharge or entropy reducing top up.

One other point to make is that heaven for us is not the same as God’s eternity with his B series view point, I think that we must therefore be stuck within these dimensions, one moment at a time, A series stuff, because Christ became incarnate. I also think that it will still all be driven by a free energy waterfall, otherwise we could not eat, but the resurrected Jesus could, and so at least plants will continue to die. It is impossible to imagine an alternative anyway and the fact that heaven is coming down to earth not the other way around suggests that key earthly things will continue, including the glory of the kings of the earth being brought in.

Finally - Why worry about achieving the best view of God and space/time then?

The key practical reason, apart from giving a better appreciation of first cause and a better support for the laws of science (you are not left with the contradictory thermodynamic free lunch at the beginning, you get a reasoned balance for it), is because it can significantly help in relation to the age old question of freewill; “why does God still blame us”. Paul addresses this whole point in Romans chapter 9-11. His lack of access to metaphysics might not have changed his approach because he was coming at it from a very Jewish and therefore Jewish scriptural angle (the Jews will only believe it if it’s also in the scripture). His conclusion is that it is not all predestination and not all freewill ; either might apply depending on the context. (This contrasts with his questioner who thinks its all predestined, but we ourselves have also been struggling with all A or B series. Maybe we should be wary when blanket solutions are posed) He makes the distinction between “election” and the free offer of the “gospel”. The Jews are chosen as the people of God on a predestined basis (they have no choice). The gospel however enables those who are not chosen on this predestined basis, i.e. who are not “a people”, to change and become one. Because it is incoherent to change what is predestined the gospel must operate on a different empowered free offer basis, and this is of course the basis of why God can still blame us, because through the gospel he now finally demonstrates his justice (Romans ch3 25&26) and confirms that like Adam we also can have freewill/responsibility in the face of His will. The fact that God foreknows from the beginning (or eternity) who will take up this empowered offer is because of his observatory position outside of time in eternity. Because this foreknowledge is from outside of time the time based logic which inevitably must imply that his foreknowledge means that it is also predestined is broken. (Molinism fails to make this break, which is why just thinking about the A series of time is also inadequate)

[One important point to make is that the early importation of the spiritual to Romans chapter 9 in interpreting “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” is wrong and messes up the distinctions being made. Think about it, not even all the physical descendants of Israel are Israel, it works without the spiritual import.]

So then what is the practical use of this?
Well we can understand that both Peter and Judas were predestined in their immediate roles around the crucifixion, they had no choice – God predestined. However Peter subsequently re-embraced the empowered free offer of the gospel, and by tradition Judas did not.

We can then also make a more general statement about God interaction (and therefore predestination) into space time – it never undermines the freedom associated with the gospel offer. However this gospel offer is backed up, established and given understanding and context through revelation based on the choice of a people so established that even when they go off the rails, if they proudly remain that people, they will maintain or at least preserve for another generation, that revelation. The bible is the story of the maintenance of that revelation and so focuses on many predestinations and interventions which preserve that, so indeed that the original promise to Abraham can be spread via the Holy Spirit to everyone else as intended. “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”. It is the free empowered offer of the gospel which forms the foundation of that blessing.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2013, 09:10:13 am by John Dee »

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Clarity

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Re: A better view of God and Time
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 02:28:02 pm »
Hello John,

I think you’ve started with an unproven premise.

God and Jesus are not timeless. The scriptures tell us is that their personality is consistent and does not alter, Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8. In other words, God is reliably the same God today, yesterday and will be tomorrow.

Just like if you met an old friend after not seeing them for 20 years, and exclaimed “Wow, you haven’t changed a bit”. You don’t mean they were frozen in suspended animation outside time, you just mean their character is still consistently the same. This has no bearing on all the thousands of things they’ve done in their life, it just means they are stable and consistently the same personality.

I sigh when I see so many wrestling with straw men and imagining some “timeless God” or a “God outside any time” as if he’s some static monolith. I often wonder why many seem to revel in straw man fallacies and begging the question by starting with false conclusions and then spending years wrestling ridiculously complex winding circular arguments to try and get out of the mess they themselves made up in the first place, or swallowed when it was presented to them.

God’s time is not ours, it seems to be a lot slower, with 1,000 earth years being like 1 day to God, 2 Peter 3:8. Recall also how there was the spirit world before the physical universe. Heaven and all the angels experience change and time, as we see in scripture and changing events in heaven.

All God would need to do is decide to materialise energy into physical matter, and create our physical universe with its own time scale and relativity etc.

Why would a God be forced into one type of time, or be forced to squeeze inside his own creation’s time system? It all seems so obvious, yet many jump in feet first and accept those false premises and then get all messed up in the process.

I would ask, what make you believe God is timeless or outside of any type of time? The Bible teaches he experiences time, not like us, but still his type of time in the spirit world — 2 Peter 3:8

I also do not believe any are predestined to hell, and all will get an opportunity. I started a thread on that here:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/forums/providence/the-2nd-resurrection-a-chance-salvation-6024651.0.html
The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered — Hebrews 4:12-13

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John Dee

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Re: A better view of God and Time
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2014, 08:51:28 am »
Clarity

I think you have misunderstood most of what I was getting at.

My essential point is that God as creator logically cannot be in “our” time otherwise he creates himself which would be a contradiction (I am assuming you appreciate this essential point, which is also doubly re-emphasised if all that our time turns out to be is the thermodynamic change of the other dimensions which certainly at the moment needs to be allowed for) Therefore Arminian, Molinistic and Calvinistic paradigms, which all end up with God’s knowledge being logically dependant on time in some way and so confuse where God is in relation to “our time”, must all be wrong. It is these paradigms which have caused the straw man issues you speak of because they keep putting God back into our time.

However the issue of infinity seems to remain a problem even if you more correctly speak of “God’s time” or a spiritual dimension of time whatever that is. You correctly state it is God’s character aspects which are consistent (you seem not to sure as to the creator God’s relation to created time), but this is a consistence which must still also allow for change so that God can do things, decide to create, and not be changeless even if he is timeless in relation to our time; and this is another angle on understanding why it can be said that 1000 years are as a day to him.

Open set characteristics which never need to coalesce into a fix set can meet this character requirement of both consistency and also infinite change. So then the fruit of the spirit are these characteristics always ready and willing for more; Love, joy, peace, patience etc

On your “2nd resurrection a chance for salvation post”, I am with you on your intent; I think however what you have said can be made much more consistent with the gospel of faith. There are other important verses and concepts which you have not used;

1.)   The parable of the sheep the goats and these brothers of mine (note that the Christians are these brothers of mine and not the unknowing sheep) In other words Jesus himself speaks directly of those who have not heard – the sheep.
2.)   The various references in Matthew 10 to receiving the rewards of the one you receive, even down to giving a glass of water – which connects back to the parable above.
3.)   The fact that the gospel is very often couched in “receiving someone terms” – not necessarily knowing and understanding. This is everywhere in the NT and not just in the above. In otherwords faith is judged through receipt of the Holy Spirit via some witness to God , not understanding the basis on which the Holy spirit is able to work with you.
4.)   Psalm 19 and Pauls use of it in the section Romans ch9-11 clearly indicate that the creation acts a witness to God and therefore can presumably be “received” and thereby receive Him, again without full knowledge on those terms, such that Paul can assert that all have in fact heard remphasising the point made early on in Romans that no one has any excuse.

What these points do is reinforce the Reformed position of justification by faith. By seeing that faith is not primarily understanding, but a trust witnessed by actively “receiving of someone” we make the gospel the same for everyone including babes, the mentally incapable, those who have not heard and even Adam before he fell. (Unlike Calvinists who though espousing “Only one way” of faith then start making exceptions for Babies etc so its not only one way, to avoid their reprobating god becoming too much of a monster.) We also then more actively see the significance of being salt as well as light, we might save someone unknowingly (which is why they don't know either) through their receipt of us in some way as a witnesses to the good; and there is none good but God.

Any attempt at what you are doing however must also do business with Romans ch9-11, and you do not mention it in your scheme. Until you give an interpretation which avoids reprobation your scheme doesn’t work. And as I have said elsewhere this is obtainable by seeing that Rom ch9-11 distinguishes two things, the free offer of the gospel and sovereign election about certain things, such as being God’s chosen people on earth. In other words there is more than one type of election, one which is sovereign (which if incorrectly applied across the board would also imply reprobation) and one which allows those who are described factually as not a sovereign chosen people to become "a people" recognised by God,  that is the free offer of the gospel. But a key underpin of this interpretation is to get God’s admitted full knowledge of the our future outside the necessary logic of our time. So the time issue is I am afraid something to be strained over, and time is a rather odd thing.

What you are doing is really important, but there are depths to it and you have to get to work on Romans ch9-11. The more people who do who manage to crack the reprobation nut, the more chance Christianity has of reforming itself to cope with modern questions.

Best wishes