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God, Time, and Foreknowledge – How Can God Know the Future?

Gravity Affects the passage of timeEinstein’s Theory of Relativity measures time by the speed of light, but the experience of time changes relative to gravity and to the speed of light. In other words, time is not a constant .  For someone traveling at the speed of light, one day is thousands of years on earth. So for God, creating in One Day is not a problem. It is only a problem for the limited human who tries to measure God’s day from his miniature, finite frame of reference, and then insists that God has to do Creation in a way that he understands and which conforms to his human experience of time.

Time is Finite, a Created and Limited Dimension

God is infinite not finite. He has no beginning and no end. He is before Time and after it. Our Time is finite. Our Time began with the “Big Bang” and the creation of material light.  Anything that is finite must be a created thing. It has a beginning and an end, and it has limits. Science is the study of the created order, and as such, gives us insight into the glory of God clearly seen in the things that have been made. So an investigation into what God has created can give us insight into His works, if not directly into his nature. What that said, I’ll lay out the arguments:

  1. Time is relative and measured by the speed of light. At the speed of light, time slows to infinity. In a black hole, time ceases to exist because light is crushed. These physical barriers reveal the natural limits of Time and its finitude.
  2. Time has a beginning. God said, Let there be light, and it was so. Whether that was a Big Bang, or not, Time was created when Light was created.
  3. Einstein’s theories of the relativity of Time and the space-time continuum have been demonstrated through experimentation. His theories show that matter, energy, light, and gravity are all intertwined and are inextricably related. That makes our 4 dimensional universe (space in 3D and time) a created order. God is not the created order but above and beyond it. He is the Uncaused Causer.
  4. The Hebrew understanding of time is revealed in the word Zakar, or Remember: to put the members back together again, to relive or make live again. Thus when one enters into the Passover, the words of institution are present tense: “In haste we went out of Egypt [with our] bread of affliction, [now we are] free people.” This is not a past event, but a reliving of a present participation in a timeless event. So, also, Communion is a participation in the sacrifice of Christ. It is beyond time and is an eternal sacrifice, once for all sin, which we enter into and celebrate with Christ in the NOW.
  1. God has set the universe in order and does not violate chronology and there is no record that he has or will do so. His purpose for this life is a test and we are judged for the way we live our lives, but in a sense, when he casts our sins into the sea of forgetfulness, our past is remade into the image of Christ’s life of perfect obedience.
  2. Finally we see Jesus’ reply to the Sadducees: “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. ” The souls of the saints are ever present to God.

God’s Experience of Time is Transcendent

Since Time ceases to exist in a black hole, where there are no days or nights, and slows to infinity at the speed of light, and since God is omnipresent, he is present in the black hole and at the speed of light, so what is time to him? And how does he measure days? Since God created time, he exists outside of time, being before and after time, the Alpha and the Omega. What is Time in a 5th, 6th or 7th dimension, which in our terms might be where heaven is?

For human beings, the passage of Time is perspectival: where we stand in relation to gravity and the speed of light changes our perception of Time. If God “lisps” (talks baby-talk) to us because of our limited ability to understand, as Calvin suggests, then what if God gave Moses the metaphor of earth time to point analogously to the divine nature and the manner of creation?

 “He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man’s mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11, RSV.

My point is that a 24 hour day only exists once a rotation pattern has been created in a natural world, as the earth turns. Time being relative, God’s Time would not be measured in our time frame in a heavenly realm, where to God a “thousand years is a as a single day.” Moses was on the mountain 40 days, but do you think it seemed like 40 days to him? Maybe, but maybe he was so in awe of the presence of God, it seemed by a mere moment and he was not aware of the passage of time. Maybe to him, in the presence of Infinite Light, it merely seemed an hour.

Foreknowledge:  How Can God Know the Future? 

Because our time is a dimension of the universe created by God, it is finite. Because God is infinite and transcends time,  God can see the end from the beginning,  just as one can see both sides of a box by walking past it. My analogy is this:

A two dimensional creature cannot see the end of a line from the beginning of it because he is embedded in the line itself; it is however no problem for a three dimensional being to see the end from the beginning because he has a z-axis, another perspective where he can view the line from outside the line (just as we can see a line drawn on paper). In the same way, modern physics has mathematical indications of a 5th and 6th dimension. My interpretation of Jesus disappearing from sight and entering heaven is that the disciples witnessed a trans-dimensional movement to heavenly places, which does not exist within our 3 dimensional or even 4 dimensional universe. Heaven, as we might describe it, is possibly a 5th dimensional or 6th dimensional reality, whose perspective on Our time is unlike anything we can know or understand. Therefore to limit God’s ability to know the future is to presume that we understand the limits of higher dimensions. Since we cannot experience those higher planes, we cannot proscribe their limits with theology or philosophy, nor can we understand their perspective.

Eternity, And Life Forever 

Hebrew has a word for eternity: Olam. Our time, created time, is different than that of the Olam the ages upon ages of God. God can enter into time and space, but He is not bound by it. He sent his Son, Jesus, to take on human flesh and walk among us in our Time and Space. He was crucified for our sins, buried, but raised from the dead and broke the chains of our Time, entering into eternity in his own resurrected body –  a body no longer subject to natural laws. And he was raised to give Olam, eternity, to us.  God is not a God of the dead, but of the living!

After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one. John 17:1-11, NIV.

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