If God is timeless, how did he create the universe?

I am troubled. If God exists outside of time, how did he choose to create the universe. Can God will a universe if having a will means choosing things which has to have time? In short, did God have time to create the universe?


To answer this I would need a few decades of education in philosophy, theology, quantum physics, and a few other disciplines. Even then I doubt I’d really understand it. Seriously, I doubt anyone can answer your question satisfactorily. I suppose there are theories, but it would be difficult to know which may be correct.

Another option is that our universe, which was born 13.6 billion years ago, is only part of a bigger picture which really is infinite in time and space.

A good answer would be very complex. Best I can do is give a silly answer…

Let’s play pretend:

  • You are God.

  • Get a piece of paper and pencil - this is your powers as God. Now you are all Powerful!

Draw a line.

The paint on the paper is Creation - it is the Universe. The length of the line represents how long (time) your Creation has existed.

As God, you live outside time and space (you are not on the paper, right?). You can look at the beginning of the line, and draw and erase as you wish. (but you are perfect, so chances are that, although you DO have an eraser, you won’t need it)

You exist outside of time and space. You were there long before you decided to draw that line. You are creative. You can imagine strange creatures, and breath life into them. And that’s what you decide to do, on paper.

There. Simple, kinda silly. But this is my dumbed down version whenever I start to get confused :blush:

God is outside of time, transcends time, and is not bound by time. Time is His creation (time has to do with mass and gravity etc… which are all created things/arising from created things), and so came into existence with the creation of the universe, not existing before the visible universe. Time is not something that constrains God from doing anything.

I thought that Jesus, who is God, was in time on earth at a time about 2000 years ago?

He was. The second person of the trinity, the Word of God, took on human form about 2000 years ago, so he was inside time. Then he returned to heaven at his ascension, and now he is in heaven, outside of time, with the Father, and has sent the third person, the Holy Spirit, to guide and help us on earth.


I think of it like this: One of God’s eternal attributes is creator, so there was never ‘a time’ when God was not expressing or sustaining some form of creation. Our material universe is just a small part of the big picture.

As you said, God is beyond the concept of time (our understanding of time only makes sense with space-time anyways) so it makes little sense to say God only began creation ‘some time ago’.

God is not some all powerful entity that exists along side everything else in creation( in some kind of ordering of beings ); he is the ultimate transcendent reality.

Time itself is a created thing related to the creation and the decay of all material things. Without creation what use would the Creator have for time?

Can someone be both outside time and inside time simultaneously?

When God, who is Spirit, creates something physical, like the universe, he creates the time and space for it to occupy. Physical things extend in time and space, God does not. Creating time, space, and matter and energy is not a problem for him. He acts in eternity, not time.

Also, it might be helpful to say that it was God’s human nature that was created and born into our world of time. The divine nature (which was never diminished by the assuming of human nature/incarnation) remained eternally transcendent. (So God the son remained eternal and transcendent but Jesus of Nazareth was created and born in time. The mystery of the incarnation?)

I don;t see how that is possible. On the one hand, Jesus is God, so He is above time, but on the other hand, Jesus is man so He is in time. How can He be both in time and above time simultaneously? Wouldn’t that be a logical contradiction?

Interesting question. Jesus does have a human nature and a divine nature. So does this mean he can somehow view things eternally while also viewing things temporally?

He is God, and as God He is outside time. He is also human, and as Human He is inside time.

Think of the line example I gave. Jesus would be God placing His finger on the drawn line.

He is eternal. He can place Himself whenever He wants, without leaving His place. He is everywhere at the same time… the guy is just THAT big. Saying He couldn’t be in both places is placing our limitations upon Him. Isn’t God with you right this moment, and also with me, and however many there are around this world?

You are a speck of graphite, charcoal, on paper. You will never completely understand the complexity of a creative biological creature that is able to draw on paper.

Just like:

*You are a mere creation on space and time. You will never completely understand the complexity of an all powerful, all knowing, eternal Creator.

This is probably a mystery of our faith.

The Council of Chalcedon (451) declared:

“Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same** perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity**, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to His divinity and consubstantial with us as to His humanity; ‘like us in all things but sin.’ He was begotten from the Father before all ages as to His divinity and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, was born as to His humanity of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division, or separation. The distinction between the natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person and one hypostasis.”

Jesus, then, was both divine and human in nature. He had both human knowledge:

He developed like us: “[He] progressed steadily in wisdom and age and grace before God and men” (Luke 2:52)

He sought answers like us: “How many loaves have you?” (Mark 6:38); “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:29)

And divine knowledge:

“Jesus was immediately aware of their reasoning, though they kept it to themselves and He said to them: ‘Why do you harbor these thoughts?’” (Mark 2:8)

He was aware of what was to come, but He also had to develop himself as any child would. Now, make of that what you will :stuck_out_tongue:

God is omnipotent.
He can do anything he pleases.

Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, is God’s full revelation himself. Jesus is God’s word breathed forth. This is a complete gift of self from God. Jesus is a divine person who takes on full human nature. He enters the human condition in human time and space.

For the interplay between natures you would have to read the speculation of theologians and philosophers. “what did Jesus know and when did he know it?” Good luck.

I think the important thing to keep in mind is that God is outside of time. He is not bound by any created thing, of which time is one. God “sees” everything in the eyes of eternity. All times are “present” to him.

Yes that’s the theology of the incarnation.


William Lane Craig has an interesting thought here, and points out this is a problem not just for theists:

“The cosmological singularity in which our universe began is, strictly speaking, not part of space and time, and therefore it is not earlier than the universe; rather, it is the boundary of space and time. The singularity is causally prior to our universe, but it is not chronologically prior to the universe. It exists on the boundary of space-time. Analogously, I want to suggest that we think of eternity, like the singularity, as the boundary of time. God is causally prior, but not chronologically prior, to the universe. His changeless, timeless, eternal state is the boundary of time, at which He exists without the universe, and at the moment of creation God enters into time in virtue of His real relation to the created order and His knowledge of tensed facts, so that God is timeless without creation and temporal subsequent to creation.”

Read more: reasonablefaith.org/god-time-and-eternity#ixzz3kRfZVZAB

I think this echoes in some sense Albertus Magnus’ discussion of aeverternity (except God occupies a space Albertus did not think they should go - but maybe it becomes easier if we discuss it in terms of God’s energies rather than essences?, anyway). God has a relational sense of temporality as it regards the changes of things to which he is related inasmuch as they are related to him, but if we take time as a measure of change, then he is atemporal in himself.

Jesus’ being in aeveternity as God and in time as Man are not problematic on this view. God is both sorta temporal in one sense, and decidedly not temporal in another, without an Incarnation.

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