Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh, Stephen Hawking--you're such a card.

So, in my last post, I started talking about the concept of time and how it affects my worldview. Keith Ward, an Oxford philosopher, proposes the idea that before Creation/The Big Bang, nothing was happening. It was impossible for God to be doing anything without space and time. Ergo, before the start of time, God simply was.

Time is a weird thing. I've always talked about time as being linear. There is time past, time present, and time future. We exist in time right now. We don't exist in the past still and we don't exist in the future yet.

But God is unique. God is other. God is not us. If God created time, is she limited by it? If God did not create time, is she limited by it?

When discussing time and theology, I've been told numerous times that we are limited by time but God is not. Meaning, that we are stuck in our present spot in linear time but God is still in the past, present in the here and now, and already in the future. I've just kinda taken that for granted. I just assumed that was right. However, that certainly brings up some issues for me.

I have a friend who asked me: "If time only exists here on earth, and heaven is another realm of space and time, then did Jesus really ever leave heaven?" At first, I thought this was funny. And it is. But its troubling at the same time because it points to holes in our understanding of time.

I believe that we have libertarian free will. We, as humans, have the ability to choose to do or not to do whatever we want. I don't think God intervenes in human choice. As I worked through my understanding of God and the problem of evil and while back, I came to several conclusions: 1, God is good and loving; 2, humans have free will; 3, humans can choose to do good or bad; 4, God can't intervene when bad/evil choices are made because God can't undo what hasn't been done yet. (You can search in the bar at the top left side of the page for the posts on this. Just search for "The Problem of Evil." Make sure and read all four parts.)

(To explain answer #4 a little better: I think that God can't see beyond the choices that haven't been made. Does that mean I'm saying God isn't all-powerful? Some would say yes. I say: "not necessarily." I know it sounds like a Deist thought, but I can't honestly say that I believe that God intervenes in human affairs anymore.)

But if God is outside of time, then none of this makes sense. God would be able to see all of the history of the universe if she is unhindered by space/time. God would already know the choices we make and the outcomes of said choices if she is outside of linear time.

So, I've come to the following conclusion: either (1) God is not outside of and unhindered by time or (2) time is not linear.

I'm fine with either being correct... mainly because I know I'll never have a real answer. Oh sure, I'll have some good guesses--but that's all they'll be. I mean, if Stephen Hawking can't prove linear time, then I don't have a chance.