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  • What is time?
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    Can anyone actually answer the question of "what IS time?"

    Is it, like some imply, a metaphysical reality - a "place" that we are "in" and God is "out" of? Or something else entirely?

    Or is it merely just the measurement of events and moments in a way that makes sense to us so that we can plan and do things with some kind of order and structure?

    If it's the latter, then time is only an illusion. We aren't "moving" through time, it only appears that way because of how we perceive the world, history and the future.

    In reality, we are all just in a fixed point of moments that we comprehend and experience in our minds. Our bodies, our cells, deteriorate and fail and we get "old", yet we haven't really moved anywhere in time, we've just essentially, "broken down".

    If time is viewed like this, then God being "in" or "out" of time can make more sense because God doesn't age or brake down, so the illusion continues due to our perspective.

    But if it's the former idea, and "time" is a metaphysical place that we reside in, and it is also something that has points we move to and from, and is also, in theory, possible to travel within by jumping to a farther or previous point - then God being "in" or "out" of time makes sense in a literal way, but what does it really mean?

    It's this idea that brings about the weird theologies that we can pray today for a past event and God can intervene because he is "out" of time and can go to that point and do something.

    Now, does God 'jump' around in this place called "time"? Can he go to the future and see what will happen, or go to the past and intervene in order to affect the future?

    Or does he just experience and have what we humans only have too: this moment. To act, to affect the course of our day, lives, futures? Only with more insight, wisdom and foresight than we could possibly know and have?

    I propose that time is an illusion, it's not "real", or at the very least then, time is completely relative and not what we imagine it is as a fixed line of points from A to B where God can jump in and out of and affect the past or future before we "get there".

    The past is just memories, the future only possibilities. All we really have is right now.

    In the case that Time exists as a fundamental aspect of all matter, then surely the "time" that is real, and the "time" that we often describe and think of, especially in theological matters, are two different things? At least, that's how it appears in conversation with people sometimes.

    At the very least then, Time is completely relative and not what we imagine it is as a fixed line of points from A to B where God can jump in and out of and affect the past or future before we "get there".

    Whenever I speak to people about this or people mention God is "in time" or "out" of time, their understanding almost seems like time looks like the blue tunnel from Doctor Who that we're all just zipping through and God just pops in at the right point and then pops back out to eternity, as though they are two separate places or worlds. This is more the illusion if time that I speak of; the idea of time like a road we travel along, which from the little I do understand about time in a physics sense, this isn't the right way of thinking about it.

    I don't deny the fact that things (and us/our consciousness) had a beginning point and will eventually have an end point somewhere - I am really questioning the way we measure those two points. Yes, things have duration, they have some order and structure. This happens, then that, then the other. They may happen quickly or take long. "Time" in this sense it just a name for the measuring of the duration of these events and is generally the type of time of which I was speaking.

    This type of time is just an illusion as it is a man-made structure. Things and events happen to us and around us, and we measure how long it takes and call it "time" - but is this real time? Is this the 4th dimension? Is this the time that God is either in or out of - a sort of giant cosmological calendar and clock that ticks forward from Gen 1:1 to the end of days (and also something that God can skip around within to any point he wishes)?

    I would say no, but also "yes" to an extent in the sense that he appears so because of our perception of time in this way.

    I think the verse that says "a day is like a thousand years" is probably as close as we can get to understanding God's timelessness because it basically tells us that time is completely relative. We can experience this to a degree ourselves when time "drags" when we're bored and it can feel like a hour has passed within only 5 minutes of a clock, or vice versa when we're having fun. Time in the dimensional sense I view as more fluid than a fixed line or speed.

    But when I hear people talk or preach on God and time, the dimensional time doesn't seem to be the type they are envisioning, at least, that's not the way it's ever come across to me. It's always felt more like they see time as a big clock or calendar of events that God can sit back from and look at it all in real-time and pick and choose which moment to appear in, either past, present or future (especially when I've heard such teaching like I mentioned before about praying for intervention in past events).

    From the discussion I was involved with, someone stated this:

    "And I'll go so far as to say, that the Bible implicitly teaches that we are synchronized with the durative experience of God."

    I can agree with this. I don't believe that God is, or can be, at any other point in time than which we are currently at right now. He may well be able to know all the events of the general past, plus our personal past experiences with a perfection we could only dream of. I'd say the same for the future possibilities of the world and our lives on a personal level, to the extent that God can orchestrate certain things to happen due to his foreknowledge of possible outcomes etc. by intervening at the right moment - not by "time-travelling" to a future or past point to change something.

    Concerning the teachings and views I've heard about God and time, which I mentioned earlier, I'm not sure anyone has ever cited Scripture, except maybe that a "day is like a thousand years" to "prove" that God is outside of time with no other explanation. I know I've not cited anything really for what I'm saying here, but I'm not interested in making a doctrine, just rather pointing out the fallacies of this idea about God jumping around time, and how it isn't consistent with logic or anything we know about metaphysical time as a dimension, as the ideas seem to be based on a linear view that "time" is a big clock/calendar.

    It's not always been in sermons per se either, but rather that this seems to be the general thoughts and beliefs about God that I've noticed when people speak or explain certain things that relate to time and God. Somewhere along the way in general church-peoples theology, this idea of a "time-travelling God" has crept in somehow (along with other strange ideas that I disagree with - but that's another topic for another post!) which I think is dangerous to the extent that it creates and leads to other false and flawed doctrines on prayer and intercession.

    Prayer is for now, not later. There's no praying in the present for yesterdays events (unless it's repentance of course), the urgency of our prayers should be because we believe God will hear and make a difference by our petitioning. These time-travelling sci-fi doctrines will make the people of God lazy and lax in their prayers as though they can pray tomorrow for something yesterday and still expect God's intervention.

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