Quick Question ..

Here’s one I’ve been wondering about, to keep the Apologists on their toes! :slight_smile:

God existed before the universe and it’s laws.
Time is one of those laws.
Cause and effect is dependent on time.
Therefore before time there was no cause and effect and therefore, creation must be random?

I’d appreciate any answers that could be offered, especially regarding flaws in the reasoning. Thanks in advance.

Míle Buíochas,

Colm Cille.

Some Quick Answers— Yes, No, or Perhaps:rolleyes: I presently am lying on the flaw (floor) and am reasoning (I think!):shrug:

I personally would say that that logic is flawed, for the reason that your condition that cause and effect depend on time is incorrect. It may seem that way to us because we are stuck in time until we die and enter the eternal fire of hell or the eternal bliss of heaven.

If you want to look at it this way, God is the cause, and the effect WAS time. God also created the angels which exist outside of our time (as far as I know, unless someone else can prove otherwise), and that would be a cause and effect that has no time at all.

That’s just my two cents, any other ideas?

God existed before the universe and it’s laws.

God did not exist “before”. God is outside time. Terms of temporalality, before, after, during etc, do no apply to God.

Time is one of those laws.

Time is not a law. It is a mental concept used to measure change, but has no real existence and no effect on anything.

Cause and effect is dependent on time.

Nothing is dependent on time which has no existence and can’t affect anything.

Therefore before time there was no cause and effect and therefore, creation must be random?

Before the existence of the universe, which is equivalent to saying before time, there was no cause and effect because there was nothing, but the laws of cause and effect were in God’s eternal mind and he deliberatelly created the universe according to these laws.
There was no randomness in God’s creation of the universe and saying there was randomness does not follow from the preceding arguments even if they were true. :eek: It’s a leap in reason.

God also created the angels which exist outside of our time (as far as I know, unless someone else can prove otherwise), and that would be a cause and effect that has no time at all.

The angels change. They learn and increase their knowledge. Therefore, they exist in time.

No, cause and effect can be independent of time. If two triangles have the same lengths of sides, that immediately causes them to have the same area. There is no time gap.

God is the First Cause. He caused time. how could he have done that if cause and effect were dependent on time?

Not really. You’re anthropomorphizing to say that angels ‘learn’. You might want to read up on the Summa Theologiae, beginning at I.50 …

[quote]
Originally Posted by empther

The angels change. They learn and increase their knowledge. Therefore, they exist in time
.
 
Not really. You’re anthropomorphizing to say that angels ‘learn’. You might want to read up on the Summa Theologiae, beginning at I.50 …

[/quote]

In Summa Theologica,
Question 57: The angel’s knowledge of material things:
[size=2]http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1057.htm[/size]

Aquinas says in Article 2 that angels know particular things, that is, the name of Andy Griffith’s widow, how many chickens there are in a chicken farm, the number of trees in the Redwood Forest, whether there is a giant diamond in the center of Jupiter as some scientists bellieve, and things like that,

But in Article 3, Aquinas says they don’t know the future.
Clearly when the future arrives and becomes today, the angels learn about the particulars.
Therefore, the angels learn, change, and exist in time.

Excellent Challenge! Please consider the following concepts:

Here are a couple of concepts regarding a possible flaw:

  1. There is time during the cause of a cause and effect.
    The instance of the beginning of creation is the effect of the cause of God’s will.
    Therefore, there was time before the act of creation.

  2. If creation is random, then it is causeless and essentially purposeless.
    If creation is purposeless, then it is purposeless to study/learn the Creator because it will be impossible to understand Him.
    Therefore, recognize God has a purpose for creating humankind and the universe, so never give up trying to figure out the purpose!

Here is a concept to consider regarding time:
Time, Love and Space are concepts which exist eternally in all directions and are objectively defined in time, love and space. Please consider the following examples:
-There is space to the left of the object most left in the universe, but since there is no physical object to the left of that object, all that extended space essentially doesn’t matter.
-There is a past before the initial event of all existence, but since there is no event prior to the initial event, all that extended time essentially doesn’t matter.
-The concept of True Love (A society living in perfect union with the Greatest Commandments) existed before the initial event of all existence, but has yet to be objectively defined to us, humans.

Here are a couple of concepts regarding a possible flaw:

  1. There is time during the cause of a cause and effect.
    The instance of the beginning of creation is the effect of the cause of God’s will.
    Therefore, there was time before the act of creation.

No.
Time has no real existence. It is a mental concept to measure change.

We arbitrarily assigns units to time to measure change. We say it takes forty days to grow peas. We might have said it takes six hundred years to grow peas but that doesn’t change how peas grow.

“before” creation, there was no “before”. There was no change and therefore no time to measure it.

There is a time when a cause is causing an effect if it takes a while for the effect to result. But before the effect begins to come in there is no time.


-There is space to the left of the object most left in the universe, but since there is no physical object to the left of that object, all that extended space essentially doesn’t matter.

There is no space if there is no matter. Matter “creates” space. “before” the universe there was no space. There is no “outside” the universe. Don’t ask me to explain it. Talk to the physicists.

Excellent points, my friend!

Please consider the following points regarding the existence of time without matter:
Do you consider thoughts to be matter?
Is the following theology accurate: God thinks things into existence?

Please consider the following concepts regarding outside the universe.
If God is not outside the universe, then He could not have created it.
If the universe is defined as existence itself, just as God is existence itself, then this limits God to a pantheistic definition. Since Catholicism knows Jesus is God, then there must be greater understanding/definition to who is God.

One flaw is that the argument assumes two possibilities and only two, I.e., cause and effect or randomness. For the argument to work, you would have to demonstrate those are the only two possible options.

A second difficulty is the idea that God existed “before” the universe. Traditional thinking of “eternity” does not suggest a “before” to God’s existence, but instead that God is eternal or atemporal and, therefore, not constrained by time.

The third problem is that you would need to demonstrate that “cause and effect” are indeed dependent on time, I.e., that the effect always temporally follows the cause, which as Rainaldo pointed out is not necessarily the case. If God is eternal - simply exists outside of time then there wouldn’t need to be a temporal “before” to His causation.

Another way to see this more clearly is to conceive of an author’s relationship to a fictional narrative. In a sense the narrative is its own universe, with it’s own “time scheme” that has a beginning, duration and end. Inside the narrative are cause and effect dependencies that rely upon the time scheme set up inside the narrative, i.e., John was killed because the gun was fired accidentally, therefore, John could not have died before the gun went off.

However, and this is a key point, the author of the narrative, being outside the narrative time structure, need not have thought of the idea of John dying only after he thought of the idea of the gun going off. Perhaps, the author actually thought up the event of John dying before he thought of how John was going to die.

What is interesting here is that it points out the possibility that even though God, with an eternal “point of view” - is completely outside the constraints of time, that does not mean that all created beings have that same vantage point. As some posts have considered, angels may have before and after constraints but not necessarily be in the same time scheme as the material unverse.

In a sense, our universe may be a “story” beginning with the Big Bang that is within a greater “heavenly realities story” that lies "aspacially and atemporally’ outside of our space-time bound narrative but still within the completely eternal mind of God. In fact, it could be argued that the only One capable of not existing within some kind of time constraint is God because of his omniscience and omnipresence. All others, angels included may exist within some kind of time scheme, though not necessarily the lineal or serial time of our universe.

CS Lewis discussed the idea that we live in a lineal time continuum, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility of something like a 2D or 3D time reality outside the confines of our time space “bubble.”

Of course, this is all conjecture, but it is to demonstrate that cause and effect are not logically dependent on time, but merely observably so because we live in a particular narrative sequence with its own set of constraints, just as any human authored narrative does.

Gorgias:

Correct. From The Teaching of the Catholic Church, Vol I, p. 259,1962.

  1. Angels have a beginning, but they cannot perish; they remain everlastingly the same.

  2. Angels are not subject to the laws of time, but have a duration measure of their own.

  3. The angelic mind starts with fulness of knowledge, and it is not, like the human mind, subject to gradual development.
    etc.

God bless,
jd

Empther:

Correct, in my opinion. Time is the ‘measure of motion’. Prior to (if that’s possible) ‘motion’, there was no ‘time’. Time is correlative with motion. It is part of our arbitrary way of organizing our lives. After its beginning, as an important reference for travel, it was usurped by science, as one would expect that it might have been.

And, God does not ‘cause’ the Universe to begin. He Created the Universe. Huge difference. Causation presumes the prior existence of that with which God could make something, as purely an efficient cause. God creates without the existence of Primary Matter, and without Form. Primary Matter and Form are principles of causation, but are distinct from “Creation.”

And, you are quite right. A day could just as easily have been chunks of duration smaller than the arbitrary “hour,” or larger. In which case, it might have consisted of 22 hours, or 26 hours, or some other arbitrary designation. It is, as you say, a ‘mental construct’.

God bless,
jd

  1. The angelic mind starts with fulness of knowledge, and it is not, like the human mind, subject to gradual development.

Aquinas says the angels don’t know the future. See Summa Theologica
Question 57, Article 3

Therefore, they do not start with the fullness of knowledge.
They acquire knowledge. Of course God could reveal the future to them, but this is not part of their nature, it is development of knowledge, and would they know all the future?

What would angels do if they knew everything? Seems like they’d have nothing to do, just stand there like statues. That can’t bring happiness.

Just because the quote comes from a book called* Teaching of the Catholic Church* doesn’t make it true. It must pass all the tests or the author erred.
Also,
… I find it hard to believe the Church has ever made a pronouncement on this issue. Sounds more like the author’s speculation.

Please consider the following points regarding the existence of time without matter:

If you consider “matter” to be anything that is not God, then without “matter” there is no change and therefore no time.

Do you consider thoughts to be matter?

No. Thoughts have no real existence, except in God whose mode of existence is very different from ours.

Is the following theology accurate: God thinks things into existence?

God does not “think” in the sense of working things out like we do. He’s omniscient. It is by his omnipotence, his ability to do anything, that he creates omething out of nothing,

Please consider the following concepts regarding outside the universe.
If God is not outside the universe, then He could not have created it.

God is neither inside or outside the universe in the sense of having a location or needing one.

If the universe is defined as existence itself, just as God is existence itself, then this limits God to a pantheistic definition.

The universe is not existence itself, but has existence from something else. God doesn’t exist because of something else. His essence is existence. He is the Necessary Being. We cannot understand these ideas, but if they weren’t true nothing would exist.

Empther:

That is a serious mis-characterization of the two volume tome. The set is still being produced, with appropriate updates. They are a set of summary of Catholic Doctrine arranged and edited by Canon George D. Smith, D.D., Ph.D. There are eighteen sections, each produced by a different author, that cover all of the main topics of Catholic doctrine.

Each author is either a Priest, or D.D. Ph. D., or Abbot, or Monsignor, or Archbishop. The volumes have a Nihil Obstat, and Imprimatur.

They are the most respected compilations of Catholic doctrine in existence and are infinitely distinct from any mere “author’s speculation.”

Just to let you know. :wink:

God bless,
jd

Thank you very much for offering your answers! Very interesting perspective!

I am curious to your response to one last question:
When we say:
-The Son of God is True God
-The Father and the Son are one
Do you believe that Jesus is God? If so, then there is a mode of God’s existence that is the same as a mode of ours. One which we can think about, reason, practice and grow to understand God.

Colm, I like your way of thinking. Like you, I try to understand things logically, in fact, many people might say excessively so. Some of us are just left-brain dominant I suppose. Your observation that without time there would be no cause and effect is perfectly logical, but the really tricky bit is trying to conceptualize what a universe without time would look like, and whether God could in fact exist outside of time. To do this I’m going to have to resort to quantum physics, which I really hate to do because most people aren’t too keen about reading through a lot of oversimplified and hypothetical quantum BS. Which is what this will probably sound like. So I will try to keep this as simple as possible, but keep in mind that there are those on this forum who believe that I know absolutely nothing about quantum physics, and as such you should take any arguments that I might present with a grain of salt. Because even I’m not sure that I’m up to describing this in a way that makes sense, to either physicists or laymen. So if I write this in a manner that is below or above your level of understanding, or if I make some glaring mistakes while attempting to do so, please bear with me. I’m also sorry if this answer seems a bit too long and involved, but I will try to make it as clear and simple as I can. But be forewarned, I will probably fail.

In quantum physics a major field of study is quantum computing. In a normal computer the information is contained in bits that can be either a zero or a one, but in a quantum computer the information is in the form of individual particles called qubits, that can be both a zero and a one at the same time. To achieve this bizarre state, scientists create what are known as “entangled” particles. All particles have certain characteristics, one of these characteristics for instance, is spin. A particle might have spin up, or it might have spin down. But when two particles interact, their spin characteristics take on complimentary values, they become “entangled”. So if one is later measured to be spin up, then the other will always be spin down. The thing is though, that until you measure one of them, it isn’t simply that you don’t know which particle is spin up and which is spin down, it’s that they’re each both up and down at the same time. Measuring the spin of one of them will force both of them to collapse into just one spin or the other. Thus they are said to be entangled, because doing something to one of them will instantly affect the other one, and also because until you measure one of them, neither of them is in one particular state, but they are in a superposition of all possible states.

Superposition refers to a particle, or system of particles, that is in more than one state at the same time. Like the particles that I just described, that are both spin up and spin down at the same time. They are an example of two particles that form a system which is in a state of superposition. We can do the same with three or four or five particles if we want to. Theoretically there is no limit to how many particles can be entangled in this way. In the real world though, there is a problem with maintaining such a state of entanglement. Any outside interference from the macro-environment will cause the superposition to collapse, and our state of entanglement will be lost. In the real world there are always particles trying to interfere with the system. The macroworld is just teeming with elusive particles fouling up our entanglement. Scientists try to keep the particles isolated from the outside world, but so far they have found it quite difficult to create an entangled system of more than just a small number of particles. But the idea is that you can create a system in which all the particles are in a state of superposition, such that it can’t be said that the system is in any one particular state, but the system is in fact in every possible state at the same time. Although scientists have not yet been able to produce a system with more than just a few particles, it is theoretically possible to create a system with an almost infinite number of particles. But like I say scientists can’t do that yet, but the question is, what would it look like if they could?

Let’s consider for a moment that we could actually keep our entangled particles isolated from the outside world indefinitely. We could form a sort of quantum bubble. The particles inside the bubble would exist in a kind of cloud of entangled particles, perpetually in a state of superposition. The particles in this cloud could not be said to be in one particular place or state, but each particle would be in a superposition of all possible states. No particle could be said to have been in one position, or will be in another position, they’re in all possible positions, and they’re in them all at the same time. Inside the bubble there is no concept of time. Things don’t change, unless something, or someone, forces them to change. But outside the bubble, time would be moving along quite normally. Two completely different concepts of time existing simultaneously. One inside the bubble, one outside. Now for men this might be a difficult feat to pull off, but for an almighty God this should be no problem. In fact, when we look at the most fundamental building blocks of our universe this is exactly what we see. Things don’t exist in one definite state unless someone, or something is observing them. When they’re unobserved, particles will revert to being in every possible state. The world that we see as reality, forms out of an infinite cloud of possibilities. Time is not a characteristic of the cloud, it is a characteristic imposed upon the cloud by the observer. It is possible to have multiple realities, each with their own concept of time.

This explanation may seem a bit contrived, but it is based firmly on the laws of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is amazingly accurate at describing how our universe behaves. At the most fundamental level, our universe is simply a collection of possibilities, from which emerges what we perceive as reality. You are correct, that if God created the universe, then He must exist in time. He just doesn’t necessarily exist in the same time as us.

This post was meant simply to point out that it is possible for God to have existed before the universe, and to have created it with all its accompanying laws and structure. The implications of this scenario however, are quite profound, and must almost certainly be rejected by any true Catholic. In fact most normal people would deem it to be quite absurd. So I fully expect it to be summarily dismissed. But you did say that you would appreciate any answers. Hopefully even one as feeble as this.

Your job is to figure out which answer is the right one. Good luck.

:confused: :shrug:

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