Why God is a Time-Traveller

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Dimmesdale
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Why God is a Time-Traveller

Post #1

Post by Dimmesdale »

Question for debate: is my reasoning sound? Who disagrees?

God is a time traveler.

Why do you ask? Because if he is not, then there is no reason to think this world of ours is real if in fact God holds it in existence. It would have never been, in other words. Because God would have always surpassed it, out-ran it, and it’s being could never catch up to His Being.

For this world to be real, time would have to be real, and this world and time would have to be sustained by God in this moment. Otherwise this world is absolutely meaningless in the eyes of God and non-existent.

The question is, when does he hold it in existence?

If God is outside time, if he transcends it completely, then what reason is there to believe God is present to it now? Wouldn’t his habitation, in his mind (and, in truth), be eternally future eternity? Isn’t he now and always “been,� in his actuality, situated at the very tail-end of eternity, if we could even put it that way.

Theologians and philosophers may wax poetic about eternity past and God’s aloneness and aloofness. But if God truly transcends time, then God has always existed in the future, eternally, as well. And there wouldn’t ever have been a “time� when he was not in eternity future. Hence he has never been alone or aloof. Unless, he is a time traveler, and is present at all moments in some sense.

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The Tanager
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Post #2

Post by The Tanager »

Dimmesdale wrote:If God is outside time, if he transcends it completely, then what reason is there to believe God is present to it now? Wouldn’t his habitation, in his mind (and, in truth), be eternally future eternity? Isn’t he now and always “been,� in his actuality, situated at the very tail-end of eternity, if we could even put it that way.
I'm trying to understand this. Transcending time may be different than outside time. For instance, would you say a 3-D object transcends 2-D? If so, then the 3-D object includes the two dimensions, but goes beyond that, containing a third dimension on top of that. It would transcend 2-D, but not be completely outside of it. If so, then God could transcend our temporal experience, but still be present to time, to the present moment.

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Post #3

Post by Dimmesdale »

The Tanager wrote:
Dimmesdale wrote:If God is outside time, if he transcends it completely, then what reason is there to believe God is present to it now? Wouldn’t his habitation, in his mind (and, in truth), be eternally future eternity? Isn’t he now and always “been,� in his actuality, situated at the very tail-end of eternity, if we could even put it that way.
I'm trying to understand this. Transcending time may be different than outside time. For instance, would you say a 3-D object transcends 2-D? If so, then the 3-D object includes the two dimensions, but goes beyond that, containing a third dimension on top of that. It would transcend 2-D, but not be completely outside of it. If so, then God could transcend our temporal experience, but still be present to time, to the present moment.
Put another way: what time is the "present" for God? For God this world is already over. Hence for God, his "present" is not the same "present" we inhabit. How can this be?

The only analogy I can remotely come up for this is that of sleep. Deep sleep. When we fall asleep and stop experiencing time, before we know it we "wake up" and for us, time passed differently than the person who stayed up all night...

I don't know. I'll have to get back to you, I gtg for now....

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Post #4

Post by The Tanager »

Dimmesdale wrote:Put another way: what time is the "present" for God? For God this world is already over. Hence for God, his "present" is not the same "present" we inhabit. How can this be?
I'm not sure I'm following. The classical view of a timeless God, as I understand it, is that God being eternal means he experiences all of time as a "present" moment. You seem to be treating a timeless God as though it is temporal, having already passed through all of time and reaching the end. It would be a category mistake to treat a timeless being as though it were temporal.
Dimmesdale wrote:The only analogy I can remotely come up for this is that of sleep. Deep sleep. When we fall asleep and stop experiencing time, before we know it we "wake up" and for us, time passed differently than the person who stayed up all night...

I don't know. I'll have to get back to you, I gtg for now....
The classical view of God's timelessness, I believe, is not that God stops experiencing time, but that God experiences reality in a non-temporal way, as one eternal "present," for lack of a better word.

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Post #5

Post by Dimmesdale »

The Tanager wrote:
Dimmesdale wrote:Put another way: what time is the "present" for God? For God this world is already over. Hence for God, his "present" is not the same "present" we inhabit. How can this be?
I'm not sure I'm following. The classical view of a timeless God, as I understand it, is that God being eternal means he experiences all of time as a "present" moment. You seem to be treating a timeless God as though it is temporal, having already passed through all of time and reaching the end. It would be a category mistake to treat a timeless being as though it were temporal.
I do not believe God is "tied down" to time, or is temporal. What I am saying is that he must bear a certain RELATIONSHIP to time. And that relationship would eternally remove him from any earthly "present."

God lives in a present. But that present is not our present. I don't see how it could be (without him going back in time).
Dimmesdale wrote:The only analogy I can remotely come up for this is that of sleep. Deep sleep. When we fall asleep and stop experiencing time, before we know it we "wake up" and for us, time passed differently than the person who stayed up all night...

I don't know. I'll have to get back to you, I gtg for now....
The Tanager wrote:The classical view of God's timelessness, I believe, is not that God stops experiencing time, but that God experiences reality in a non-temporal way, as one eternal "present," for lack of a better word.
So would you say that all past moments are still present for God? That they are real just as this present or the future present? This doesn't make sense to me unless God "sustains" such moments even after they have passed; hence, he/she/it is a time-traveler....

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Post #6

Post by The Tanager »

Dimmesdale wrote:I do not believe God is "tied down" to time, or is temporal. What I am saying is that he must bear a certain RELATIONSHIP to time. And that relationship would eternally remove him from any earthly "present."

God lives in a present. But that present is not our present. I don't see how it could be (without him going back in time).
It seems like you are treating God as a temporal being because you locate him in our future (or, at least, a time that is future to our time). You say that God would have to "go back in time" to reach our present. This seems to treat God as a being that experiences past, present, future like we do, like temporal beings do.
We have time A, B, and C. Our present is B, but God is already past C, having gone through the chronology.

Another way to treat timelessness would be to say that God is always present to A, B, and C, even though those moments are not present to each other. This kind of timeless being would not move from one moment to another, but be present with them all.
Dimmesdale wrote:So would you say that all past moments are still present for God? That they are real just as this present or the future present? This doesn't make sense to me unless God "sustains" such moments even after they have passed; hence, he/she/it is a time-traveler....
I'm not sure where I fall on God's relationship to time. I do think God was timeless logically prior to the beginning of time, but once that happens, I'm not sure what I believe. I've thought myself in different camps at different times. It's difficult because our language is so steeped in time.

As far as your logic goes, I would say that if all past is "still" present for God, just as real as present and future moments, then it doesn't make sense to say God sustains moments after they have passed, because they have not passed (and never can pass) for God. They have passed for us, but that is because we experience the world temporally. So, in a sense, God sustains our past from God's eternal present.

This kind of timelessness, if true, would seem to me to make sense of God knowing our future, but not necessarily controlling it. If the future has not happened yet, how would God know the future? At times I think it's okay if their is no future to know, but then I wonder what that would make of prophecies. Like I said, I'm not sure what I believe about God's current relationship to time or time itself.

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Post #7

Post by Dimmesdale »

Perhaps I am looking at the problem at the wrong angle. That just occurred to me. But, I've been wrong innumerable times so I don't find it very disconcerting.

Time.... In what sense did God "eternally" pre-exist? How did he experience that eternity, without reference to time? Maybe I am making God a time-bound being. But it seems if God never had a beginning then.... idk. maybe i should keep mum for now, ha.

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Post #8

Post by The Tanager »

[Replying to post 7 by Dimmesdale]

The experience of timelessness is hard to grasp. It doesn't look illogical to me, but it definitely seems strange. And if God becomes temporal with the beginning of time, this "eternity past" would seem to become the first moment in the succession of time. In one way, that seems to subsume timelessness into the first moment of God experiencing temporality, but in another it existed before time existed. It's confusing.

If God is temporal, then does the future exist or is the present the only thing that exists? If the future (and past) always exists and God is temporal, then how could God be present at all times? If the future doesn't exist, then does (or even how could) God know the future? Perhaps middle knowledge would solve this, but then what does this say of free will. But I'm probably getting off topic, so I'll go mum now.

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Post #9

Post by Athetotheist »

Think of yourself holding a book you have just finished reading----or even writing,----and imagine that the book represents time. (Put aside for a moment that a book is finite.)

Each word in the book is a moment of time. You have finished the Book of Time and are now familiar with every "moment" in the story, but you still hold the entire thing in your hands. Whenever you like, you can open the book to any page and read any word on that page, thus revisiting any "moment" of time at will. From the perspective of each and every moment you are there right then, but from your own perspective you can choose any moment to be present in and have been present in all of them.

Might that be something like God's timelessness? Just my two cents.

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Why is God a Time-Traveller

Post #10

Post by elphidium55 »

Think of yourself holding a book ... Each word in the book is a moment of time. You have finished the Book of Time and are now familiar with every "moment" in the story ... Whenever you like, you can open the book to any page and read any word on that page, thus revisiting any "moment" of time at will.
To see why book-type metaphors fail, let's imagine a movie rather than a book. You and I can only understand the movie sequentially. That is, we have to start at frame-1, then go to frame-2, then move to frame-3, etc. until we reach the final frame.

Now imagine seeing this same movie simultaneously. That is, every frame, soundtrack included, being broadcast at the same time. Imagine, also, that I have the superhuman ability to take all this in and process it accordingly. Even if I can get information from each frame, I won't understands the movie itself. That's because the movie isn't just a bunch of frames, its a chronological sequence of frames.

Now you might think that every frame could come with metadata attached to it. If I had mental superpowers, I might be able to use this metadata to arrange the frames in my mind from beginning to end. And then I could understand the movie because I've re-created it in mind.

But if I am a "mind" existing outside of time, then there is no such thing as first, second, and third, no beginning, no end. There is only "now." I can't first experience every frame and then re-order them chronologically in my thoughts because there is no chronological (aka time) in timeless existence.

Like the frames, our minds apprehend reality sequentially. As philosopher Alex Malpass points out, our minds are sequences of phenomological experiences. A timeless mind is literally inconceivable to us.

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