Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Does God exist in time?

There are lots of interesting discussions out there on this subject, and I'm not about to plunge into the depths of them. I just want to make one observation. I have a difficulty with the idea that God exists outside of time. In this view, the whole spectrum of time is layed out before God as if it were all the present for him. The problem I have with this view is that it's hard to reconcile it with the notion that God created the universe. If God does not exist in time, and if all the events of time are in the present from God's point of view, then from God's point of view, there was never a time in which the universe did not exist. If there's never been a time from God's point of view in which the universe did not exist, then in what sense did he create it? Doesn't creation imply that there was a time in which the universe did not exist followed by a time in which it did exist?

3 Comments:

At 11/07/2006 6:37 PM , Blogger drRic said...

The question is definitely not if GOD exists in time, but rather does everything exist in GOD. GOD is the ONE who gives LIFE to everything and without HIM nothing exists. GOD is GOD before there ever was a thing called time. There is absolutely nothing that can be separte from GOD because IN everything GOD IS ALL in all and all things are from HIM. GOD is not comprised of everything. Everything is GOD-caused. GOD does not exist in anything. Everything exists IN GOD.

 
At 6/17/2009 9:35 AM , Blogger dmoeller said...

The problems with your objections to God being outside of time are that they are all couched in the logic of time. Notice your objection contains the concepts of "present", "never was a time", and "never been a time". If God is outside of time though, then all of these concepts are meaningless from God's pov and thus absurd to use as objections. So no, creation does not imply that there was a time when the universe did not exist. Before creation "before" had no meaning. If God is outside of time, then when (and I use this term loosely) the universe did not exist, there was no time at all.

If you are going to object to the concept of God being outside of time, then its fallacious to use time referents and concepts as the basis for your objection. Attempting to do so will only lead one in logical circles.

Let me suggest an analogy which I believe is a better way for our time limited minds to think of this concept. Think of creation as being a painting of the timeline of history. A painting is two dimensional (talking idealistic physics here so please don't get too literal) - no height, only length and width. Suppose a 2D being lived upon that 2D painting. This being could only perceive the points directly around him and would have no conception or perception of height. As this 2D being's life progressed he moved across the surface of the painting thus seeing some of the timeline of history but only one event/point at a time and only in a particular sequence. This would be analogous to how we experience time.

However, a 3D being exists outside of this painting. This being can see the whole of the painting all at once. The 3D being can still perceive the parts of the picture and even perceive them in a sequence. This 3D being's perspective of the painting is analogous to God's perception of time. I could go on with all the different levels in which this analogy works, but for this discussion this should be sufficient.

Only on the painting does time exist. To the 3D being the painting simply is. Yet the existence of the painting doesn't imply that there was always a time the painting existed. "Before" the painting existed, "before" simply didn't exist. Even after the painting was created, "before/after/etc." still only have limiting significance to those who live on the painting.

This, like all analogies, isn't perfect, but I think it gives a framework for at least thinking about the possibility of God's existence outside of time.

 
At 2/10/2019 7:40 PM , Anonymous Daniel B. Sedory said...

Though I believe the Holy Spirit already answered your question in Scripture, allow me this introduction concerning His attributes:

The major problem all humans have when attempting to intelligently discuss the nature of God's existence is that God is completely unique (from Isaiah 46:9, "For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me,") and uncreated; existing eternally, not bound or limited by anything outside of Himself (only by His own wise and holy character) [1Tm 1:17].
Whereas we, who cannot escape our conditions of being bound by time, space and the material universe (except of course, by death), and limited in knowledge and intellect, have nothing whatsoever to compare God to! Any analogy concerning God will fail. Yet, even Scripture, written to us to reveal the character and glory of God, makes use of many familiar metaphors in order to help us understand our place in the created universe. One of those may be of great interest to those with a scientific background: The concept of "light" (though most often being contrasted with "darkness" and obviously referring to the realm of one's spiritual and moral beliefs; not the material universe, is one which physicists cannot resist. I may have pondered myself, either before becoming a Christian or as an immature Believer whether or not God's being included some form of "energy" and/or electromagnetic waves (of which what we call "light" is a small part; and not without the concept of E=mc^2 in mind when contemplating how the universe was formed!). BUT God is NOT in any way part of His creation! He didn't need any prior existing matter NOR 'energy' in order to make the Universe and all that is in it! See Col. 1:15-17.

There is NOTHING independent of or eternally coexistent with God; no 'power source' He needed to 'tap into'. The point I'm trying to get to here is that God is the only eternal Power, the Almighty; and He created all that is apart from even some kind of 'energy', He created light, electromagnetic and all other kinds of energy, waves, space and matter from Himself.

Lastly, when Scripture describes God existing as "Spirit" (John 4:24) or being like light, we need to remember that those are the best words we have available to us as creatures in our physical realm. Again, God is NOT simply a kind of ethereal energy, like the many concepts people use to make stories like Star Wars or some bodiless aliens in various Star Trek episodes! He's on a completely different 'plane of existence' apart from anything related to the physical Universe. Likewise, our minds are locked into a TIME framework. We truly cannot think, let alone comprehend, how a being could exist without moving chronologically from one THOUGHT to the NEXT. God may communicate with us through a number of logical thoughts in Scripture, e.g., we may think of God conceiving of the various separate parts of the Universe, angels and mankind before actually creating any of it, but He NEVER needed to develop a theory of what to do first! Nor does He ever CHANGE His Mind or Character (James 1:17-18; Malachi 3:6); I don't mean those verses imply God must be like a solid object instead of a Person (another word full of human 'baggage'), yet there is nothing new He can learn from or needs 'more time' to conclude about His creatures or His plans (Isaiah 46:10).

Here's the verse which uses the word "before" (as in, 'prior to') the existence of time:
Jude 24-25: "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, (25)to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority,
before all time and now and forever. Amen!"
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