Thursday, August 01, 2019

Eternity as timelessness and the issue of interacting with the world

[continued from here]

God is eternal. The view that eternity is timelessness however is a hypothesis, not something that the Bible teaches. The eternity of God can either be one of divine timelessness, or one of everlasting time, or a mixture of both. In this article, I will like to deal with the problem timelessness has with the issue of divine interactions in time.

For anyone who reads Scripture, it cannot be denied that God interacts with people in time. Call it anthropomorphism or whatever you wish to call it, that interaction is a real interaction. God had actually talked with Moses on Mount Sinai, and Moses was not dreaming. God personally bargained with Abraham over the fates of Sodom and Gomorrah, even though we know from a canonical reading of the passage that God had already determined to wipe them out and that Abraham did not really have any 'bargaining power" with God. Yet, the bargaining dialogue did in fact take place! Over and over again, the Bible is explicitly and abundantly clear that God truly and really interacts with His people. They did not hallucinate about God, neither were they talking to themselves or anything of that matter.

Since such interaction that God has with His people is clear, any theory that prohibits God from interacting with His creatures personally must be rejected as contrary to Scripture. Now, if the eternity of God is timeless, then how does a timeless God interact with time-bound creatures? We must remember here that we are not talking about the Incarnate Son, who due to His human nature, is not timeless ("after" His incarnation). Prior to the Incarnation though, even the Son is timeless so He cannot interact with His creatures, can he? But even if we were to say that the Son was "eternally incarnate" in the sense that after His incarnation the dual natures mean that He can interact (in time) throughout time (timelessness), that only solves the problem of creaturely interaction with the Son. But God the Father also interacts with His people, not to mention God the Holy Spirit, so we are not closer to solving the problem of divine interaction with the creation, are we?

Let's suppose that the Triune God is timeless. Now, to interact in time means that at a punctiliar "time," God interacts with the world. Let's put it as point t1. Now, if we say that God is always timeless, then point t1 must be of infinitesstimal "width," such that the "time before" the interaction is the same as the "time after" the interaction. Thus, before God interacts, it was point (t1 - ε0), and after God interacts, it is point (t1 + ε0). Thus, for all intents and purposes, God remains "timeless." For all other interactions, we can state them as t2 to tn, where (tn = t1 + nε0). Thus, in this manner, for any number of interactions God has with this finite creation, the "time" remains the same at t1, regardless of how many interactions God has had with His creation.

Such a solution would indeed seem to solve the problem of how God can interact with His creation. But it does not exactly cohere with timelessness. For an infinitesstimal is still a quantity of some sorts, no matter how infinitely tiny it might be. t1 is always bigger than (t1 - ε0), while (t1 + ε0) is always bigger than t1. Such a solution is congruent with a relative timelessness, but not absolute timelessness, which classical theism demands.

It can be seen therefore that, upon the supposition of an absolute timeless God, divine interaction with the creation is impossible. Therefore, absolute timelessness is not congruent with Christianity. And if one wants to go for relative timelessness, then I do not see much difference (besides that of emphasis) between that theory and the theory of everlasting time. After all, in relative timelessness, we are comparing infinitesstimal "time" with time t1, while in everlasting time we are comparing normal time with infinite duration, t(infinity).

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