Thursday, September 15, 2011

Excuse me. Do you have the time?

[Warning! Warning! Semi-religious, non-denominational post ahead... --RWP]

Clocks are everywhere. The ten-dollar word is ubiquitous. Clocks are in coffee makers, microwave ovens, bedside radios, kitchen stoves, telephones, computers. Clocks are on top of buildings. You name it, it probably has a clock. I wear a small one on my wrist. A much larger one that chimes every fifteen minutes and also shows me the phases of the moon stands in my living room.

Humans have a deep-seated need, evidently, to keep track of time. But we can’t, really, because we are inside it. We can only measure the part of time we personally experience. Human beings measure time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, seasons, years, decades, centuries, millenia, and eons. A very long time we call “ages and ages.” Computers go in the other direction: milliseconds, microseconds, nanoseconds, picoseconds, femtoseconds (a femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second), dividing time into ever smaller and smaller pieces.

Time has been passing for a very long while. It was passing before we got here and it will probably continue to pass long after we are gone. No one knows for sure. But individually you and I are a small part of something much bigger than ourselves.

God knows how to keep track of time. He invented it and He is outside it. Before time began, there was a timeless eternity, and long after time ends there will be a timeless eternity. There is a timeless eternity going on right now.

It’s always now with God. He does not experience a past or a future. We -- His creatures -- are the only ones who do that. God experiences time in the same way He experiences place, all at once, simultaneously. There is no here or there with God. There is only everywhere. There is no yesterday or tomorrow with God. There is only everynow, everywhen. Theologians (and fools like me) use words like foreknowledge and predestined to try to describe what they (I) mean but those words are simply inadequate. God knows what will happen in the future (whether He causes it or allows it or merely witnesses it is subject to debate) because He has been there already.

Human beings are finite. We have a beginning and we seem to have an end. God, on the other hand, is infinite, without beginning or end. He always has been. He always will be. He doesn’t move at the speed of light. It’s too slow. He moves at the speed of thought. That’s even faster than a femtosecond.

I can fathom a Being without end. It is more difficult to try to fathom a Being without beginning.

Three years ago I wrote a post about C.S. Lewis’s famous mystical limpet. You ought to read it sometime.

But only if you have the time.


  1. My recall is playing false with me this morning and I am unable to refer to the C.S. Lewis book containing the following concept. It's the best explanation of 'time' and 'God' that I've ever read. I cannot begin to quote precisely, but this is the gist: Time is a line with no beginning and no end, and God can see all of it at the same time.
    I enjoyed your post.

  2. I will come back to read your post, but have to have more time (no pun intended). Just so you know that I haven't left screaming when I read your warning ;-)

    You'll never believe this, the WV is undeiti.

  3. Thanks for the deep thoughts to ponder upon. I once read that God exists "outside of time" and that opened up a whole new concept to think about.

  4. Thanks, Pat, Carolina, and Jeannelle -- three of my favorite people -- that you're still reading my posts and leaving comments after all this time.

  5. Your subject reminds me of that awful joke:

    "Do you have the time?"

    "yes, if you have the inclination."

    Also of the question as to what it is that is all around us that moves at 0.0000275mph? The answer being the minute hand of a watch.

    You could argue that this would depend on the length of that minute hand, and this is borne out by the fact that the minute hand of Big Ben travels 118 miles per year, or 0.0135mph.

    In any event, time clearly moves at a more leisurely pace than we do -- we must learn to slow down.

  6. Shooting Parrots, I am old enough to remember a song from many years ago called, "If You Got the Money, Honey, I Got the Time." I am not making this up.