The act of sustaining the creation is timeless, simultaneous. The manifestation of this act, the creation is temporal which means that it has an extension in time. How such a cause can possibly turn into such an effect?
The apparent contradiction you are describing only occurs if you conceive of Creation to be some “thing” in and of itself, with a separate existence.
However, if you consider Creation and Void, form and emptiness, to be merely two different manifestations, or states, of the same thing, the contradiction disappears.
This is how it is described in the Bible. Moses tells us:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. – Genesis 1:2
So the earth was there, but it was emptiness, void. The act of Creation caused the emptiness to manifest as form. It changed the state of the earth.
Imagine you have a model train that runs along a circular track as long as electricity flows through it. Half of the track goes through a tunnel, and the other half is in the open air. The train, the track, and the electricity can all be eternal, and yet the state of the system is in constant movement. Sometimes you can see the train, and sometimes you can’t.
So when you think of creation as a “state” rather than a “thing,” the paradox disappears.
How can there be an extension in time if the Creator exists in eternity-where there is no before or after-no point in time before or after which an event takes place?
Philosophizing about eternity is very difficult. It is better to observe it.
Fortunately, we have particles of eternity here with us now, and they are very well studied–light!
As we know from Einstein’s relativity, time does not pass for objects moving at the speed of light, including light itself. Past, present, and future does not exist for light. All of it is simultaneous (from the perspective of the light).
By your logic, that would imply that no events can take place for light, but empirically, that is not the case. Light can be broken into different colors. It can be absorbed and released again. It can bounce off objects. It can change location or wavelength. So events are there. And we, being in time, perceive a “before” and “after” for the event. But no such concepts exist from the perspective of the light.
Therefore, we, being in time, can perceive a “before” and “after” for Creation, even if such concepts are alien to a Being in Eternity.
Time and eternity are not separated into two distinct “realms.” They are both here, with us, present, now.
Alright, so then are you saying that from God’s perspective there was a point in time when He created, a before and after point for Him?
Well… that is not correct… at least from the Catholic reading of Sacred Scripture, which could not be clearer on the point of “ex nihilo” creation. All the language of Genesis on the point is trying to accomplish other things, especially bringing the Jews into sharp contrast (and sometimes similarity) with the other religions of the Ancient Near East.
What would prevent it from doing so?
With these questions, we must be careful to work backwards rather than imposing categories of creation onto a First Cause… It’s simply the case that there must be an uncreated and a-temporal cause which conditions the entirety of non-necessary/contingent being, or else there is not any explanation at all, and all potential for knowledge/order is forfeited altogether.
I don’t understand what you are trying to say.
That is another good question.
God is not a physical object moving with speed of light.
There is no function which map a point to infinity.
How is what I described any different from “ex nihilo” creation? Ex nihilo means “from nothing,” does it not? I described a process of creation “from nothing.” What else would you call that which is formless and void, but “nothing”? I merely added the clarification that “nothing” and “something” are two different states of the same thing.
As I understood your question, you were wondering how an eternal cause could create a non-eternal effect. Is that correct?
So my explanation was pointing out that both the cause and the effect are eternal.
That is correct. And I did not say that He was.
I was using light as a counterexample to an implicit assumption in the question posed by @fhansen. He was wondering how it could be possible for “before” and “after” to exist for something that does not experience time.
Light does not experience time. And yet, we can perceive a “before” and “after” for light. Thus, the notion that there can be no “before” or “after” for things with no time is disproved.
It is an interesting question. My suspicion is that the answer is both “yes” and “no,” because God, like us, exists in both time and eternity.
But it is a difficult subject to think about. Time is an enigma. And although relativity demonstrates how time and eternity are perfectly woven together, it does so by doing things like dividing by zero (or worse, by imaginary numbers…), and an intuitive understanding of all of its lessons is something that eludes me.
Yes well this seems a bit like a Zeno paradox to me. The fact is that we take what we have in front of us and work from there… you seem to want to impose an a priori set of categories which have an inner coherence but don’t allow for the most sensible explanation a posteriori, viz., that a temporal finitude is a contingent fact resting on an a-temporal infinitude, God.
Because the act is of an eternal Creator, and the eternal Creator can make something temporal, eternal by sustaining the creation eternally.
The creation of the world depended on God’s ordaining wisdom and will. God’s intellect and will are eternally in act, i.e., God is eternally actually understanding and willing. God willed from eternity to create the world but he did not will that the world should be eternal but that he would create it when he had willed from eternity to create it. Similarly, I can will presently to take a walk in a few hours but it does not follow that I am presently walking.
I don’t see how this is related to Zeno paradox. Regardless as I mention there is no function which maps a point to infinity so it is logically impossible to convert an eternal cause into temporal effect.
The question is how such a conversion is possible. There is no function which can map a point into infinity.
I don’t understand how your example resolve the problem I mentioned.
The physical manifestation of an eternal decision maps a point into infinity.
That is logically impossible since there is no function which can map a point into infinity.
I find it interesting that you and I see the same exact information, yet one sees logic and the other sees logical contradiction.
Thanks for the discussion! May the peace of Christ be with you!