Monday, January 08, 2007

The "Almost" Berkeley view:God, Time and Imagination

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I have a theory that God is the basis of reality, the framework through which all that can be distinguished from God exists. In explicating that framework I think of it as a mind, and what we know as reality is a thought in that mind. In this essay I would like to briefly explore the results of holding this theory, viz God and time.

The problem of God and time is a thorny one in two respects. First, because the idea that God is outside of time is the most popular Christian view, probably influenced by C.S. Lewis. This causes problems in areas such as foreknowledge. How can we change our minds, and thus have free will, if God knows the result. Any mind changing would prove God wrong. Secondly, its a problem for our understanding of creation. This is in two respects. (a) with God outside of time there can be no change, no motion, no becoming. so how could God think to create, let alone act to create? (b) The problem of the creation as an event. With no time the Big bang is no longer an event with a beginning, middle and end, but an "event horizon" which has no beginning.

This view I'm discussing, which I call the "Berkeley influenced view," offers answers for all of these. Now I have answers for them anyway, but they don't seem to make an impression. So let's try this:

This is the conventional view: Imagine a great big room. In that room is a big beach ball and a guy (with a white beard who loves dearly for reasons unknown qua qua qua). God is the guy, the big room is outside of time and beach ball is space/time and on the surface of the ball is time. That doesn't solve the problem but it shows us with what we are dealing. In my view, however, the big room is God's mind. There is no guy and the beach ball, still space/time is a thought in that mind. The difference is the conventional view places God in some strange unknown space called "outside time" the relationship to God is unknown. Now in my "almost Berkeleian" idea there is also ambiguity. What is beyond this mind? In what other reality does this mind exist? I have to assume that there is no "beyond" event horizon where God is concerned. The mind is all there is.

The problems are solved in the following way:

(1) The problem of foreknowledge


there isn't any. The future has not happened yet, so God can't know it as a "done deal." That sounds heretical and I'm sure it will strike many as "something wrong,deeply wrong." Nowhere in scripture is God's relationship to time spelled. out. It may not be possible to be outside time and this has been pointed out by more than one physicist. But the idea of God sitting beyond it all looking at time spread before him as a tapistry seemed to solve so many problems and became so popular it was stamped with the approval of true doctrine. It is not true doctrine. Before relativity theory no one knew that idea. The Church fathers never thought of God being outside of time in the sense of transcending space/time. Augustine did actually think God was beyond time but that was because he had the concept of the Platonic forms to tell him that, but it still wasn't in that sense of "the laws of physics and the big bang."

This will bother people because they will say "we can't trust God to save us or protect us if he doesn't know the future, How can he know the end of the world?" I didn't say God doesn't know, I said he doesn't know the future as a done deal, as this tapestry of time laid out before him as he sits in his transcendent location beyond event horizon. God knows two things: (1) he can estimate via probabilities better than any super computer or anyone or anything else; (2) he knows what he can do. He knows that if is his purpose to bring about an end, he can bring it about even if the circumstances aren't precisely known. So we can't say "God doesn't know the future" but he may not know it as "done deal." Of course that also means in God's figuring he would naturally leave room for mind changing and thus, free will.

(2) Problem of Creation


In a timeless state, no change thus no creation. But God is not in a timeless state. Time could run eternally, but an even better answer is that time is just a conventionality in the mental construct of our reality. Moreover, the consequences of non time are as well. The reality in which God dwells is not governed by the laws of physics, those are part of the mental construct that holds this reality in the mind of God. God's true reality is controlled by imagination, God's imagination not physics.

(3) The problem of creation


This could get very complex and I don't want it to be so I will deal with this problem tomarrow night.

to be continued....

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A question about time.

I like the idea that God is not 'outside' of time, but that time/space is a thought of God. The beach ball in the room.

But there isn't a problem with God's foreknowledge, with Craig's middle knowledge, or Plantinga's various defenses, it seems there really isn't a problem anymore with God's foreknowledge and our free will.

Besides, if time is on the surface of the ball, can't he see all of it at once? He is God. And what of the various scripture that point to God having foreknowledge?

Anonymous said...

A question about time.

I like the idea that God is not 'outside' of time, but that time/space is a thought of God. The beach ball in the room.

But there isn't a problem with God's foreknowledge, with Craig's middle knowledge, or Plantinga's various defenses, it seems there really isn't a problem anymore with God's foreknowledge and our free will.

Besides, if time is on the surface of the ball, can't he see all of it at once? He is God. And what of the various scripture that point to God having foreknowledge?

J.L. Hinman said...

yes. you are right on both counts. good spotting. But atheists never accept it. I know liberal seminarians who act like the Craig and Poantinga stuff is just total crap. SO came up with an answer that stops them in their tracks.