Does God experience time?


#1

This is an interesting question that I am pondering. Does God experience time? Or to put it another way, does time exist in heaven?

From what some people say, there is no time in heaven and that there is no past, present, or future in heaven because God has created time. However, God did create the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th. However, I have no idea if those were 24 hour days or 17,520,000,000,000 hour days.

So does God experience past present and future events?


#2

:confused: IMHO

Since God is the Alpha and the Omega, I would say that God has experienced it all. Since I do believe that God is outside of time than God would not experience time as we do. We are trying to use our finite mind to describe an infinite concept. We could say that at the moment of creation God experienced it all. But is that true? Being that God is all Knowing, then before the moment of creation God had experinced it all. But even that is wrong because the use of “before” inticates time. So now I am confused and dont have any idea anymore…:confused:

I will just leave it to the mystery of God…


#3

any metaphorical answer given will be found lacking, reason being that it is hard for us to understand what life is without time. It is however an interesting question to ponder what if any role time will take on in heaven especially given its tight integration with matter and movement.

God certainly did experience time when He was here, but its really a great mystery as to how that time on earth affected the Father. Sorry if that sounds kinda heretical but I couldn’t think of another way to put it.


#4

The duration of a being is its continuance in existence. When duration consists in a series of different states succeeding each other it is called temporal, and can be measured by our standards of time. Duration which is not composed of a series of successive states, but is one invariable state ever present without end or beginning, is called eternal, and the idea of time cannot apply to it. Time depends upon the comparability of one stage or state with another, and, therefore, where there is no change of state there cannot be comparative duration or time.

Our own consciousness of time is thus due to the recognition of successive changes in ourselves and in the world around, and by conventional means we measure the periods occupied by the different states. Each state is “limited” by the state which precedes it and the state which follows it, and the knowledge of these limits enables us to measure any given state, and record it in terms of minutes or other time standards. Changing states are so numerous in ourselves and our enviroment that the idea of time becomes from early years an element in our habitual consciousness. Nevertheless time is applicable only to things that change. Change itself is not essential to being itself as such, and, indeed, changing activity can take place only in beings that are incomplete and dependent. In order to exist, live, and act, they need the cooperation of other things. They are always becoming what they were not before, and are never wholly all that they can be. They thus possess their actuality only by successive degrees or increments. This is true of individual things and persons and of the universe as a whole. They are never completely the whole reality of their being. Change may involve loss or gain departmentally, but in any case change spells limitation, and the serial process of their duration involves everlasting incompleteness.

The more complete a being is, the less it changes. A perfectly complete being would not change or need to change at all. It would possess its whole being permanently, and not in a variable series of successive stages.


#5

Here’s my understanding of it.

Time is an aspect of the universe. “Before” the universe existed, time was moot. It had no meaning without a universe. The instant the universe was created, time began. If God were to stop willing the universe to be, time would cease along with it.

God is not constrained by the universe He created, but He can certainly observe it, and as time passes here on earth, He surely can follow along just as we can (and much more so). From His perspective, however, He didn’t create the universe one day, is watching it progress, and then one day it will end, leaving Him to continue alone. He creates the universe, and sees it as a whole. He is there at the beginning and the end ( He IS the Alpha and the Omega), and everywhere in between.

Often in the Bible, and in other Christian writings we hear reference to things “before creation”, and of time passage in heaven. I believe it is so difficult to understand what it would be like (perhaps impossible) without time, that in order to convey concepts occurring outside the universe (and thus outside of time), time references are used only so that we will be able to have some kind of idea of what is going on. Call it metaphorical. Although I’m not sure that’s an accurate descriptor in this case.

Of course, I’m probably wrong.

However it works, I trust in Jesus to manage it. He’s a lot smarter than I.


#6

Does God “experience” time? Using the word “experience” here sort of tilts the question, since the word itself in normal human use means to undergo a series of events or emotions over a period of time.

Since God is pure spirit and does not change, he does not undergo changes or “experience” time as a series of events.

(In his human nature, Jesus does experience time, as a human being, but that is in his humanity, not his divinity.)

God knows all events. But he knows them not as past or present or future, but always in his ‘present’ eternity.


#7

Interestingly, General Relativity shows us that there is no consistent way to view the entire universe with a single time line. Time is not consistent in our universe. (Try traveling faster than light). Time only makes sense locally (eg on earth) not universally.

So I would say NO.


#8

Since Jesus was fully God & fully man, would’nt it safe to say he exp time as a man, but is/was not bound to it?

What I mean is he was born an infant and grew into a man, this takes time but, was’nt that what the devil tempted Him with in the dessert? To use His Divine nature to satisfy human desires for food, power and to manipulate nature?


#9

I think an interesting mental exercise that may help us understand God being “outside” or “above” time would be to recall that God’s knowledge isn’t just immense but infinite.

So, not only does God know what has happened in the past, what is happening now, and what will happen in the future, His knowledge extends to all that could have happened, but didn’t. In other words, God not only sees our timeline as it really is, but also sees whole other alternative timelines (which do not have actual being). For me, realizing God is able to see other non actualized “timelines” makes it easier to grasp that His knowledge of our past, present, and future really amounts to very little of His knowledge.

So, in response to this question I say yes, and also non-events!

Interestingly, this ability to know infinite things is possible only to the Divine Nature, and this is why Christ, in His human nature, even united as it was to the Beatific Vision, has a limited amount of knowledge – i.e. limited to what is called the “Knowledge of Vision” (things that actually were, are, are will be.)

VC

P.S. Tomster, excellent post by the way!


#10

Great question.

Simply my opinion:

God experiences history as we experience a show recorded to TiVo. He can see the full sweep of it, navigate it at will, but did not direct the show but for brief scenes where He stepped on the stage.

For God, outside of Time, time is collapsed into a single instant.

Thus, Mass perfectly represents the Last Supper, and Christ is with us in the flesh. He is not being sacrificed over and over, but rather his sacrifice is for all time. When we attend Mass, we are attending the Last Supper, along with Christ, the Apostles, and everyone else who has ever attended Mass.


#11

Isn’t everything eternally present to God?


#12

I believe that God is omnipresent, meaning that He exists in the past, present, and the future at this moment, everything The Passover, the resurrection is all happening now to God. Just my opinion.


#13

Tomster,

You saved me about ten minutes of typing! A very succinct and thorough summary of the concept of time and why such a concept does not apply to God.

Nice! :thumbsup:


#14

Interesting theological statement. Sounds much more Deist to me than Catholic, however.


#15

Catholics believe we have free will.

This makes us more improv troupe in my analogy than directed actors. It may be better to analogize God’s role to director rather than scriptwriter, however. My point is to correct the Calvinist error of double predestination which makes God somehow accountable for our damnation, as well as the Calvinist view that God through inaction likewise acts.

Deists go much further, believing that God simply created the world then stepped away from Creation.


#16

KarenNC,

The Divine mind and will cannot regard Deity under the aspect of time. And it is in that timeless nature that the Infinite knows the finite. The finite is known and willed by God according to his own mode of consciousness, which, unlike ours, is transcendent and eternal. God, in knowing the imitability of his nature, knows his creatures. In willing his own perfection he purposes theirs, and has never lacked the full realization of his creative power and purposive providence. In what we call the distant future his activity will be no greater and no less than it has ever been. Thus sang the Psalmist: “In the beginning, O Lord, thou foundest the earth: and the heavens are the work thy hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest: and all of them shall grow old like a garment: and as a vesture thou shall change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art always the self-same, and thy years shall not fail.” (Psalm 101: 26-28) “The mercy of the Lord is from eternity and unto eternity upon them that fear him.” (Psalm 102: 17)

Eternally complete self-realization is possible to God only, who is the infinite and omnipotent mind. Eternity is not cumulative or acquirable by countless ages of existence: it is a single infinite fact without process or temporal qualities. Hence the universe can never become eternal; it is characteristically changeful and therefore temporal. Even could we suppose that it never had a beginning it would be in no sense eternal, since it can never include its future in any given stage. We learn from revelation that the world had, in fact, a first stage or beginning. Futhermore, eternity is nothing other than infinity under the aspect of duration. Thus only that which is infinite is eternal, and what is eternal must be infinite in every respect. Infinity is possessed in its entirety or not at all. The universe not being infinite, but finite, is thus known to be limited in duration. Thus temporal, it is incapable of eternity in the past and in the future. In no respect does it transcend the category of time, though the age of the suns has not yet been finally calculated by man.

The universe, at each moment, is, however, related by dependence to the whole of eternity. God’s creative act being eternal has no stages corresponding to the events of time. The eternal is one and indivisible. Whatever, therefore, is ever related to eternity is related to the whole of eternity. But to co-exist with the whole of eternity is not to co-exist always with eternity. Hence, though in the eternal comprehension of God things neither begin nor end, their own changeful and temporal character remains.

Tomster


#17

Einstein dervied his equations by imagining what it would like to be a beam of light. Obviously he had a knowledge of physical observations as well, it wasn’t a pure exercise of the imagination.

He concluded that all times would be equally present. To a photon, past, present and future are an eternal now.


#18

It gives me another reason to shiver when John said that “God is Light.” I thought it was interesting that light was made of three consubstantial colors just like God is made of three consubstantial persons. This however, gives me much more to think about.

Thanks for your posts everybody.


#19

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