One thing that’s really confused me is how Einstein’s theories of relativity work with Christianity. I’ve seen a previous thread on here about the A vs. B Theories of time and it’s made me pretty confused. I myself feel like A theory makes more sense, but relativity seems to suggest B theory. Now, I know neither theory has been proven true, but it seems more physicists lean towards B theory. This gives me several problems. If the past, present, and future all exist, doesn’t that mean Jesus is still on Earth and hasn’t resurrected and ascended to heaven? How does this fit with the second coming? It also has serious problems with notions of free will and the soul. I do know quantum mechanics has been shown to be incompatible with general relatively (and some argue incompatibility with special relativity as well). This could pave a way back to presentism. What do you all think on this subject?
I am confused too. As someone said in another thread, believing in God isn’t a license to make things up. I think that is what people do with God and time. The accept a few axioms as true and then paint themselves into a corner. I personally have little clue how God actually relates to time.
I think we need to recognize that God has more degrees of freedom than we do so that what to us look like contradictions are only that way because of the limitations we have. I don’t understand the multidimensional geometry my older brother the mathematician talked about, but he was confident that just adding one more degree of freedom to each of the ones we have, including an additional time-like dimension, was sufficient to eliminate such contradictions.
So while from one perspective it may seem contradictory to say that “Jesus is still on Earth and hasn’t resurrected” if God operate on just twice as many degrees of freedom – due to operating in at least twice as many dimensions – then from God’s perspectives that is true along with Jesus being resurrected, ascended, and seated at the right hand of God being true.
A common way of looking at it is that all of time is present to God even while we are busy muddling our way through it, so that He sees the whole thing at once while everyone at every point along that timeline is operating by whatever degrees of free will we have.
I’m not sure of how you have a problem, you seem to be conflating two issues together. The first is the observation of the universe and how to predict things, which Einstein’s theories have shown to be able to do – even quite recently.
Secondly, the past isn’t a thing, nor the future or the present, but a flowing continuity, there is no back and forth, and despite the imaginations of science fiction, we are flowing with that continuity and cannot change our position in it. What we have is our experience of the present and gradually fading memories.
The next thing is where do you assume heaven to be? It is difficult if we imagine ourselves to be separate from our environment, instead of very much a part of everything, interdependent and interactive. If it is true what Paul said of God, ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28) then we are also part of God. An analogy could be that God is like a river, and we are like little whirlpools in that river. A localised consciousness in the supreme consciousness, which would mean that we could ‘perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.’ (Acts 17:27).
As Meister Eckhart said, “I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself; my existence depends on the nearness and the presence of God.”
How God relates to time is not something we are going to get our heads around, so I agree with Vinnie…
Maybe it’s not that I’m confused, but more willing to accept the apparent paradox from our limited perspective in four-dimensional spacetime.
I think we’re clueless as to the ‘how’, but not to the ‘who’, namely God, and we are definitely not clueless with respect to ‘that’ he relates and acts into our existence, past and present. So we have Cause and effect, but the in-between how will continue to be a delightful mystery.
I’m pretty much compelled to think that God is omnitemporal for several reasons, none of which are made up.
Fairly recently noted in the discussion you mentioned about the A & B theories, the concept introduced by Brian Greene of ‘angled’ spacetime slices across the ‘loaf’ of the universe shows, as we already knew really, that the passage of time is relative, and relative to speed. Using the well-known physics from last century, namely relativity and big bang cosmology, Greene demonstrates “the illusion of time”, not that we are not limited to sequential time, ‘A theory’, in our lives.
It was also demonstrated that the past, the present and the future are simultaneously ‘observable’ by someone with a privileged perspective, and we had just such privilege, but only conceptually, not in reality, as we observed his presentation. (Speaking of which, @dayne12, where in the world do you live? Were you able to access and stream the video, and if not, see the transcript?)
We know of someone (or Someone) who has that privileged perspective in reality – I was surprised to learn of Christians who did not understand that God is omnipresent. His omnipresence in all spacetime slices, and the instantaneity of it, entails his omnitemporality, not that we can comprehend it, but we may at least apprehend it, touch it a little, as God touches our lives.
So our limitation to sequential time and God’s omnitemporality combine to give us not A theory or B theory, but both/and. And a mystery, the mystery of God’s providential ‘how’, how he orchestrates events, their timing and placing as we know he does.
Our being limited to sequential time, and the reality of that, implies to me that one of the things that Jesus, the Incarnate God, one of the things he did when he humbled himself to our limited reality (Philippians 2:8) is to limit himself to sequential time and A theory, if you will.
I am new to thisa topic…havent thought much about it before.
One thing i do believe is that what really matters is time relative to our existence. The point being, we are bound by the decisions we have already made and the consequences of them. As it was in the days of Noah, when the door of the Ark was closed by God, time was up for any opportunity for those around the Ark to change their minds…“God closed the door” and it will be the same at the close of probabtion at the end of time before the second coming of Christ.
I am finite and human and cannot explain or comprehend God. Generally i think that the Bible outlines Gods will to us.
It is for the above reason that i suppose i follow the classical model in eternalism…
* the past is generally seen as being immutably fixed, and the future as at least partly undefined. As time passes, the moment that was once the present becomes part of the past, and part of the future, in turn, becomes the new present. In this way time is said to pass, with a distinct present moment moving forward into the future and leaving the past behind.*Eternalism (philosophy of time) - Wikipedia
I note that the wikipedia article makes the following statement…
*Philosopher of science Dean Rickles says that, "the consensus among philosophers seems to be that special and general relativity are incompatible with presentism.*
I don’t think it does anything of the kind. It does show that space and time are not the separate simple absolutes people have assumed – that is all. There is far more substance to the claim that quantum physics suggests A theory. It tells us that things are in a state of superposition of possibilities before a measurement is made. Therefore, even if you say the future exists, it exists in a state of superposition of possibilities and what happens isn’t decided until we participate in those events.
Relativity certainly annihilates the previously imagined simplicity of presentism to make it so complex it is hardly worth the effort needed to determine if the idea remains coherent.
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