Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Where does it say...? #3

This one is a bit philosophical.

I've heard a number of Christian apologists and philosophers on a number of debates (mostly on podcasts) recently stating or implying that God is outside of time. That is, that time is part of creation and God is beyond that.

Where does it say that in the bible?

Furthermore, I have a philosophical problem with the idea of God being outside of time. Basically, I think that belief in a God outside of time is incompatible with belief in a good or loving God. Goodness and love both require action. Action can only occur within time. Thus, if God is in any way good, then he (or that part of him which is good) must be within time, not transcending it.

Take a trivial example. Suppose it is bad to break something and good to fix something. Viewed from our point of view within time, breaking something is bad. But reverse the flow of time and the same action (now in reverse) appears to fix the object, which is good. If God is outside of time then he perceives both the bad breaking and the good fixing equally, and thus the moralities cancel each other out. An agent outside of time must be morally neutral.


Mike said...

Completely agree here, this is something I've always thought too. I don't think God being immortal and omnipotent necessities timelessness as others seem to claim. I don't think it does ever say this explicitly in the Bible, it just implies it (which isn't good enough for me).

Ricky Carvel said...

Wow. I think that is the fastest comment I've ever had on this blog. Within 30 minutes of posting!


good work keep it up

the_exile said...

Firstly, let me just say that I am loving this occasional series - lots of food for thought.

I like this one too - I don't think there is a Biblical basis for this belief. However, I think your 'philosophical problem' is a stretch - surely a powerful and timeless God could see things from the point of view of less-powerful and time-bound creatures and therefore exhibit both goodness and love for them?

Ricky Carvel said...

Hello Exile.

I think the problem comes when we start defining God in terms of time-dependent attributes:

God is love
God is good

If both of those are true, then God must be within time. Its not a question of God being able to relate to our time-dependent nature, but its more about his nature. If God's primary context is outside of time, then his primary characteristics cannot be time-dependent.

Edward T. Babinski said...

I like that question you've raised, Rick, I wonder what C. S. Lewis might have said.

I have some questions too. To add to yours.

Can God do evil? No? Then God lacks free will, or we have something God does not have, the power to do evil. How is it possible that any mere creature of God has the power to do something the God himself cannot do? A finite creature can do something an infinite God cannot do? And if it's because we're finite, then God is condemning us for our metaphysical lack, not our moral lack, knowing that finite creatures are doomed to ignorance, not knowing the full extent of their decisions.

Second, the Christian believes there was no pre-existent matter, only God "in the beginning." Hence everything arose directly and solely out of God's will, compassion, and power, not out of anything else, but out of God, directly and solely. So how could any imperfection arise if everything came directly and solely out of perfection?

Third, do souls in heaven have free will? If not, then how important is free will if no soul in heaven is going to have it throughout eternity? If the souls in heaven DO have free will, what is stopping them from using it to ever do the slightest bit of evil for all eternity? And if you believe in libertarian free will, the definition of libertarian free will is that there is no way to predict how a person will react or what they will choose given exactly the same circumstances. Libertarian free will is unpredictable, inherently so. If the souls in heaven have free will, then no one can predict they will never choose evil for all eternity, never utter an unkind word, never entertain an unkind thought. So if they have free in heaven then one cannot logically predict that they will always choose good for eternity.

Lastly, why does God allow the Devil to exist at all? Would you leave a homicidal maniac loose after his crime in order to allow him to continue to tempt and seek to damn soul after soul, perhaps even more souls than God saves? And if you are one of those Christians who suspects that more souls in the end will be damned than saved, one also has to wonder how an infinite God with infinite resources and infinite compassion can't save more finite human beings than He loses to sin and a finite Devil.

Edward T. Babinski said...

In the end Christianity keeps raising more questions than answers. Christian apologetics is self delusion in action.

Christian apologists like to speak about things being EXTERNAL to God. I explained quite explicitly above that everything arose directly and solely from God, a perfect being, so there is nothing EXTERNAL, since it is all direct and solely God's creation, and God is perfect. A perfect loving creator makes a perfectly loving creation. And God is in all things, through all things, which came directly and solely out of God's perfect mind and power. Hence there is no room for imperfection to arise.

And if we are "imperfect" and subject to "free will" because we are merely finite while God is infinite, then God is damning things for being finite, i.e., limited in the knowledge of the consequences of their actions, limited in being subject to finite limitations of physical needs, and hormonal flows, lack of education, lack of any number of things since we're finite creatures.

Also recall my first question, does God have free will? Or do we as finite beings have something that even God lacks? Christian apologists are so used to thinking in "other terms" they usually fail to even grasp such questions. Their words go round, attempting to presume some other starting point, which of course they cannot prove is THE starting point. Their words are fragile and crooked, or filled with pious platitudes or purple prose that ignore everything others say to them and keep reverting back to what they were taught and hence what they think they know, and so they grab at straws like EXTERNALITY without defining how anything can be totally external to God if everything arose directly and solely and completely out of God's will, power, love, perfection. Externality is just a code word to designate blame in this case, "Not me, God says, I created things perfect." This is nonsense of course, because if God really did create things perfect then there would not BE evil, period. But this same theism rests on a God who directly and solely and completely created everything out of His own will, power, love and perfection. Let's put it another way, a perfectly good God "conceives" of "evil," because evil had to at least be in God's mind as a concept. By why would a perfectly good, infinitely good God have conceived of evil at all?