Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oh, Richard Dawkins--you're such a card.

So I started reading the book of John this week (as in Saint John as in the 4th Gospel of the New Testament of the Bible as in the Black Sheep of the Gospel Writers). Its such an interesting book. Matthew, Mark and Luke are so different from John's book.

He starts off not by telling a biography of the life of Jesus, but by using some flowery language to talk about Jesus himself. Its the whole "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God... etc etc." I love how poetic it is. But it makes me think. Those words hit me funny: "In the beginning..."

In the beginning of what?

Genesis starts off the same way. "In the beginning, God created..." That's so weird. It's not like its saying "At the beginning of the 17th of January, 4 billion AD..." or "At the beginning of LOST season 5, Jack..." or "At the beginning of the movie, Marty McFly..." Its saying in THE beginning. Not a beginning. But THE beginning. The ultimate beginning. The start of it all. The origin of everything. Ergo, I can only begin to understand this if "in the beginning" is referring to the start of time.

I think the Bible is asserting that Genesis 1:1 is the beginning of time. But God was apparently around before that. And if God was around before that, what was God doing?

Keith Ward has just written a book in response to Richard Dawkins talking about why he feels that there almost certainly is a God. Its a complex philosophical perspective to flesh out, and though I haven't read it, the book is supposed to be decent. Anyway, in the video below, Ward asserts that God couldn't be doing anything before the start of time. There was nothing to do--there was nothing before the origin of the universe because of the lack of space and time. Ward says (around the 41 minute mark):

"In other words, its not just that you go back, perhaps, 13.7 thousand million years to the Big Bang and you say: "Well, what happened before that?" Incidentally, the answer to that is: nothing. Because, at the Big Bang, space and time originated. So before the Big Bang there wasn't any time. Therefore, there was no before the Big Bang. So, what happened before the Big Band? Nothing! That's very unsatisfactory, but its true... So what was God doing before time began? Augustine said (quite correctly): nothing. He didn't have any time... So you've got to think of creation as the dependence of every time upon some non-temporal being beyond it."

That's interesting. Its not that God was resting or just hanging out... God simply was. Nothing could be happening without time, according to Ward.

Time is a crazy concept. And I wanna write more about it. So I'll post a 'part 2' before the week is up. I've got a lotta questions bouncing around in my head. One of my most important personal theological perspectives hinges on this matter, so I need some room to think.

Be back soon.

Keith Ward: "Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins from Metanexus Institute on Vimeo.


Justin G said...

Well.. We know that God created angels before He created the earth (Job 38:4-7). This leads me to believe Heaven probably existed before He created "the heavens and the earth". So I think He was doing something. Sure, something as we understand it couldn't exist without time, but neither can water be turned into wine. Our God is above the realm of nature and its laws.

Interesting thoughts.

Kickert said...

Not to be (too much of) a stickler, but John is not one of the synoptics.

JD said...

Ben- Oh me. What a faux pas.

Justin- I'm not so sure. Maybe. Maybe not. Agh... I'm still thinking about it.

Stefan said...

I don't know if I believe in time. Is linear time essential to believe in christianity?

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JD said...


I don't think a belief in linear time is necessary.

I think a lot of people would say that, to humans, time is linear--but God is outside of that. I don't know that I agree with that statement either. That's what I'm gonna blog about next.