"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

About Time

Posted in Philosophical, Stuff I'm Reading by matt on Friday, February 29, 2008

After a few weeks of ‘required reading’ I’m finally back to enjoying Augustine’s Confessions. Right now I’m in book eleven and he’s considering the first few words of the Bible, “In the beginning…” The guy definitely majors on the minutia. What I usually skip over, Augustine muses on endlessly in a stream of rhetorical questions and densely-written paragraphs. He definitely knew how to use his free-time. In chapter XIV he focuses on the subject of time.

Now, in order for this to even make a little sense I need to recap another issue he focused on previously, namely, the origin of evil. Put simply, Augustine asked the question, “Where does evil come from?” He obsesses over this question because he believes that if God created evil then He cannot possibly be the good God of the Bible. Our philosopher finally concludes that evil is not created. In fact, he goes so far as to say that evil has no real being, but is actually non-being or non-existence – an absence of God (makes you wanna get all cheesy and sing ‘there’s a God-shaped hole in all of us’ doesn’t it?). So sinning actually removed us from the true form of existence; a perversion of God’s initially good creation.

So, that being said, back to time. Augustine writes, “You are the Maker of all time, and before all time You are, nor was there ever a time when there was no time!” Yeah…talk about a contradictory statement. The difficulty I have with this (apart from the apparent contradictions) is the idea that God created time. Now I don’t have much (uh…any) prior knowledge of the philosophical/theological ideas about time so I’m sure this has all been hammered out by someone already, but I would still like to externalize it.

What if God didn’t create time? What if time, like the origin of evil, can be understood as something uncreated. What if it’s a result of the fall? Death entered after the fall, but before eating the fruit Adam and Eve knew nothing of death. Here may be a logical leap, but I think the word death can also be understood as ‘an end’ or ‘finality’ – we lost the potential for an infinite, timeless existence with God. And, if this is true, then time’s control over creation began when sin entered the world. To put it bluntly, before Adam and Eve there was no need for watches or calenders because they were experiencing unending bliss. No thought of tomorrow or worries about the future; A complete trust in an infinite God within an atemporal creation.

I need to think more about this. The theological implications for this could be pretty ridiculous and I could quickly end up in heresy-land. Like, what does this mean for eschatology and apocalyptic Christianity? If the beginning of time really began this way then what does that say for the “middle” and the “end”?

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