Thanks for your thoughtful response!
“It doesn’t exist in a physical way. It “exists” as a concept, but as a necessary concept.”
Right…I would agree with this statement; I think for man to effectively organize his environment, “time” is extremely important. It allows for the exceptionally effective interaction among people. Dividing the “day” into “points” of contact has obvious positive implications. Definitely. But the fact that it isn’t “physical” has HUGE implications. If we can correctly identify it as an abstract concept that exists as a function of man’s mind, then we will stop rooting our understanding of God and physics and metaphysics on the assumption that it not only is helpful to man, but that God, and the Universe are actually a direct FUNCTION of it. That they are FORCED to submit to it as a matter of course. If we can understand it is a concept, and nothing more, then we can begin to look beyond it for proper TRUTH.
“Time is real but not physical. The now is the set of positions of all physical objects and thoughts as the exist now. The past is the set of all physical objects and thoughts as they existed then. You can’t go back to the past, because this isn’t finite state machine. Nor can you go to the future. You are always in the now, but the now is not always the same now.”
From my perspective, it seems as though you rightly proclaim time as “not real” (which I describe as not “actual”), but then you proceed to argue as to why it is, in fact, real. My posit is that if something is not physical, then it cannot be real (there is simply no evidence, physical or metaphysical, to defend the idea that the non-physical actually exists). It is a concept…a concept is only real in that it occupies an area of biological brain space. But the things the concept “denotes” still exist regardless of whether the concept is formulated in man’s mind or not. The “concept” doesn’t create anything or destroy anything. It merely describes it. It cannot EFFECT anything. It can only describe it, because it is only theoretical. It has NO actual power. Because it is not a real, physical thing.
“I don’t believe it is possible to live in a timeless moment where everything past, present, and future is the Now.”
James, by your own concession of time as “not real/not physical”, this is precisely what you must believe. If time doesn’t actually exist, then as I said, it cannot effect the physical. And as such, then, we must acknowledge that the reality of everything does, indeed, exist “now”. The reason you struggle to accept my argument, I submit, is because you have spent your whole life assuming that the timeline actually has some kind of POWER to effect your world. As you said, “denoting, something real”. But again, time denotes nothing except in your MIND…because it isn’t actual. And so, the real argument is that MAN denotes, not TIME. Time is purely a conceptual tool. So the reality of existence then MUST be that both WHERE and WHEN are purely the abstraction of time being extended cognitively to objects. So, if YOU, the object, are the constant, and you are always WHERE and WHEN you are, then by definition, literally speaking, all must be NOW.
And further, movement does NOT imply time. Because you see yourself move, and other things move, does not mean that time is REAL. You are quantifying this RELATIVE movement by “time”. The same way you do it by “speed”, or “distance”, or “dimension” or any other purely cognitive, theoretical abstraction.
“For one thing, if God had no sense of time, if everything was now to him, I don’t think he would have created anything, nor perhaps could he create anything if that were the case. If everything is now to God, in the sense you seem to be suggesting, then God can’t do anything. God becomes a prisoner of the future he foresees. He can only do in the now what he foresaw he would do, which means there must be some all-powerful fate determining God’s actions, and that all-powerful fate would then be God. So you end up with an infinite regress.”
Yes…I see what you are saying here. You are clearly using excellent discursive argument and inductive reasoning. I LOVE to see this in people. Occasionally I see this on the blogs…but usually these are the people who get booted pretty quick, because once they start thinking like this, it becomes increasingly easier to see the logical flaws in the arguments, even when the arguments are from “nice” Calvinists, like Wade Burleson. And this really pisses people off, and they tell you that you are full of pride and want to force your ideas on others. But the truth is that people don’t like having their long-held assumptions sacrificed up to rational scrutiny when they know they lack the tools to defend it. And this has very little to do with intellect, and almost everything to do with two things: they are lackadaisical and complacent thinkers, and the ideas are just plain bad.
But I digress.
James, the problem I see in your perspective is that you are still conceding that time is actual…in effect, anyway. You are proclaiming that God is beholden to a “future” He sees, but the point is that since time is not actual, then He cannot, by definition, SEE a FUTURE. He may be able to conceptualize a “future” in a theoretical sense, like man does, but that does not mean that He can create a future, because that would mean creating time, and then, you are right, HE would indeed be beholden to TIME. HIS actions would be as determined and thus as obsolete as anyone else’s. Which is precisely why I DENY that God can “know” the future, because if He knows a future then He MUST have determined it, and then time becomes the all determining Force and we wind up with the self-destructing metaphysical conclusions which doom the whole darn thing, as you rightly point out. But since everything is, in fact, NOW, and all movement relative, then there is NO future for God to “foreknow”. He operates as man operates in man’s existential reality…using conceptual tools within the machinations of RELATIVE movement “like time and space and distance and love and hate, etc., etc.” in order to truly RELATE to man.
So IF we acknowledge that time is merely a concept, then we can actually concede a REAL and truly free-willed relationship with God without inexorably running into the impossibly irreconcilable determinism where ACTUAL time MUST eventually arrive.
By the way, I applaud you and everyone else that comes here to talk about this stuff. Make no mistake, WE are the only ones doing it. NO ONE else wants anything to do with this stuff. I have engaged physicists, philosophers, etc., etc…they don’t touch it. Time and Space are sacred cows. I have brought up these questions on physics sites several times…it is surreal. They don’t answer my observations about the subject, but they run me out of town on a rocket propelled rail.
Because they have no answer. And their curse is that they are smart enough to KNOW they have no answer. They aren’t merely lazy thinkers clinging to long-held assumptions because they just don’t feel like moving their minds. They understand that the entire science hangs on ideas that are ultimately impossible to reconcile rationally (which is why so many, like Hawking, hate philosophers…philosophy, at least GOOD philosophy, like Aristotelian-type thinking, is their kryptonite). I promise you, they have NO way to ever mathematically “prove” that nothing equals something.
For example, they laud the “big bang” and yet they understand that according to their own centuries of physics they cannot describe “where” or “when” it occurred, because, by definition, it can have NO time or space…because it “created them”. Their silence is a mask for their “intellect”. They love being the smartest people in the room…they will not suffer questions from philosopher types like us. As such, I have begun to question a LOT of what I assume.
Oh…one final thing: There is NO beginning, for the very reason that a beginning for the “big bang” can never be concluded (there is no where or when, because space and time were “created” then). “Beginning’ is a function of “time”. Thus, even beginning is simply relative.
Think about that. 🙂