About Me

Phoenix, AZ, United States

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Creator and the created.

It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We got home from service, had some lunch and now I am sitting on the patio trying to take a moment to sit quietly, think, and perhaps speak 'a few reasonable words' (to borrow from Goethe). We are still learning (and very slowly) what it means to make the most of such a day. At church we often discuss the purpose of observing the sabbath and I am glad for it. The last thing I want it to become is another set of rules to follow for the sake of following them. I have a tendency to lose the meaning of things quickly and to settle into perfunctory motions. Mostly though I find myself still far from keeping the day holy probably because I am not fully convinced of its importance quite yet...

Today, I feel the tiredness of another week having passed. My statement is at once quite natural and odd. Natural because we often speak of time as something passing. As if it were a speeding train or river hurrying by. Of course, if it is a moving body of water, it is most certainly carrying us along for the ride. Despite the ease with which we talk about time, and the extent to which our lives are governed by it, I don't think many people think much about the nature of time. And this is why I have said my statement of the 'week passing' is odd. Consider for a moment this question: 'what is time?' Obviously it isn't the sort of thing you can bump into, taste, touch, or smell. On the other hand it doesn't seem quite like it is nothing either. I mean what can you say about nothing? Certainly not that it flows, or that it passes.

On one view, time is a relationship between events; this is what Aristotle believed. It is not that time is a thing or substance out there in the world (loosely the Newtonian picture), but rather a measure of change. On such a view, at least something must move, grow, speed up, slow down, be born, die, bounce, or roll in a word, something must change for there to be such a thing as time. In other words, without change it would be senseless to talk about time as a real. Imagine for a moment if everything in the universe were to suddenly freeze. There would be no new events (i.e., until everything were again unfrozen). There are other views regarding time's nature, but at least most agree that there is this intimate relationship between change and time.

It is interesting that according to Christian Theism, God is eternal, and unchanging. Provided we accept the relational view, we can conceive of time beginning to exist only with the first appearance of an event. This would mean that God would not be ignorant of time, but that he is also not constrained by it. Of course this is not true of us or anything in the material world. Everything is changing... and so we are confronted with the fundamental distinction between creation and the Creator.