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On God and Time
Dialog - Joseph Schrock - Bob Fritzius
Installed January 6, 2001
E-mail from Robert Fritzius to Joseph Schrock, Starkville, MS, Dec. 31, 2000
Sorry for this terse belated response. . . .
I think that God has the same constraints with respect
to time as we do. He is not outside of space and time.
I forget where but there is a verse somewhere in the
old testament, in one of the prophetic books, I think,
where God says that when He takes the trouble to
announce his "intentions/plans" through one of his
prophets that He watches things carefully (presumably
to see that they come out the way he wants them to).
I feel that He can reach into human affairs via
different avenues of his choosing and apply "corrective
actions" to adjust the progress of any given "project"
E-mail, Joseph Schrock to Robert Fritzius, Starkville, MS, Jan. 6, 2001
. . . You and I may not (for all I know) even disagree about the nature of time, and where God fits into time and space. The main point I was trying to make was that I do not really believe God to be "confined" to time and space. You seem to disagree with that (maybe, anyway), but I want to propose this question: Has the universe always existed? If no (as I believe is your view), then did space and time exist prior to the universe? Are time and space not (undeniably) aspects of the universe? Does it make sense to say that time and space existed (already) prior to the existence of the universe? These questions are intended to drive home my point that, if the universe has not always existed (as I think there is evidence that it has not), and if God has always existed (and I essentially conclude that He has), then it logically follows that God existed before the universe did. And, as I would tend to view space and time (at least, time as we understand it) to be inextricably intertwined with the "physical" universe, such that prior to the existence of the universe, they were non-existent, if God existed before space and time (as we know them) existed, then God has to have some sort of existence which "transcends" both space and time.
But I would want to argue that this does not mean that time and space are mere illusions (that they have no objective existence). And, I believe that God works His "plan" out within the "constructs" of space and time (at least, so far as humans are concerned). I also believe that God continuously interacts with humans in order to produce the results which will fulfill His divine purposes. The point I'd been trying to make was that I do not believe that God's knowledge and His powers are constrained by matter, energy, space and time in the same way that human beings have knowledge only of the moment (as well as memories of the past, historical data, and rather reliable expectations for the future), and can act only in the moment.
The entire issue of time (as well as that of space) is so profoundly difficult for us humans to decipher that we can only vaguely grasp the true nature of its reality. Yet, I keep thinking that if God existed before space and time did, then His existence is obviously not contingent upon the existence of time and space. Our human bodies are confined to the spatiotemporal universe, but God is not so confined. Thus, while God may work out his purposes for humanity through the processes of time and space, it does not necessarily follow that He is limited (or that His knowledge is limited) to the constraints of the spatiotemporal universe.
Therefore, it seems reasonable (to me, anyway) to suppose
that God may have knowledge of past, present and future in some absolute sense, even if we humans can operate with some degree of freedom of will, and that our choices are (in part, at least) determined by us, not by God, or a
Of course, I freely confess that I cannot even conceive of any conscious existence being possible in an utterly non-spatiotemporal realm. It baffles me to attempt any comprehension of it. But that does not necessarily imply that it is not possible.
Well, I got more long-winded than I'd expected to, but I hope I've not bored you with this discussion of issues which intrigue me profoundly. I'd welcome any comments or criticisms you may want to offer. It must be remembered that this discussion transcends science (at least, anything which is currently in the realm of science). Human science seems to (by its very nature) be confined to efforts to describe functions of mass-energy in spacetime. That which transcends space and time proceeds into the realms of philosophy and religion.
I've rambled on long enough. Any comments would be most welcomed.