Archives for posts with tag: eternity

I allow two and only two possibilities: All is meaningless mundane, a fleeting wisp of nothingness seeming as more than illusion, though it is even less. Or, there is true transcendence of nature, actual meaning, real reason, true rationale behind it all.

In the first case, nothing matters; so, I dispense with it. The second, I’ve asserted previously that if there is a heaven, there most certainly is a hell, but what might either be? Again, I allow only two possibilities. There is either some unknowable consciousness that resembles nothing anyone has ever suggested, not even in the slightest, some consciousness that may or may not be localized and individualistic, some general awareness of consciousness that overtly defies any pondering. Or, there is a resurrection that is something similar, though unimaginably more, as has been described by religion, particularly the Christian faith.

I am what I am, and if I will be myself in the transcendent eternal, then I must have some form of embodiment. A ghost me cannot act. A ghost me cannot be what I am.

Limitation is undefinable in eternity, where there is no limit on life and action. Yet, I will not be me if I am actually unlimited. There must be some form of embodiment, some limitation on me, defining my boundaries and actually limiting me, or I will not be me.

I say in eternity nothing needing done will be undone, but we will still have work. There will always be action and accomplishment. In this world, in energy-space-time, everything that matters is action, everything that happens uses up time and uses up work (energy). It is all being used up. It will all decay to nothing. It may take trillions of years, but it is progressing, and it is winding down, it is wearing out. We use it up. (It uses itself up.) Eternity is not so. There is no winding down. There is no wearing out. Nothing is used up. Yet, there will always be action and accomplishment. There is meaning. It will remain so. There is reason. It will remain so.

In our physical universe, not only are we limited, but all that we need is scarce. Sure, we are getting better at specializing and cooperating and increasing surpluses, but there is always scarcity. Nothing is ever in such abundance as to be always valueless. Even oxygen, despite its abundance in our atmosphere, it takes scarce little time of deprivation, perhaps underwater, perhaps in an airtight chamber, to realize its preciousness and potential scarcity. In eternity, scarcity will not even be conceivable. Nothing of need will be wanting. 

If anything at all is true, our existence is action, action bounded by the limitations of our bodies and our universe. Assuming continued existence, as I do, we most certainly will continue in action. Eternity will know no limitations, but it makes no sense if we, ourselves, are not still limited. If we are to be “one-with-the-universe” (defining “universe” as all of eternity), then we will be not much of anything. We will be some vague, undefinable consciousnesses smeared together with no standalone sense of self. I think that is inconsistent with existence. Self seems universal. Living systems all seem to be aware of the self in some quantifiable way.

Will all such selves have existence in eternity? Why not? Perhaps so.

Regardless, the orthodox view of resurrection seems among the most reasonable possibilities, and it is the most consistent view considering personal experience and history as we can know it. Yes, I do believe in the bodily resurrection, both of Christ and of us all.

We’ll all know soon enough: https://youtu.be/GyP7iUgLqt8

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2018/11/13/the-best-is-yet-to-come-rjs/

RJS has written a substantive article at the link above. Her article prompted my thoughts for this article.

Simplistic, but valid: From nothing comes nothing.
Either something exists, or nothing exists.

We can side with the likes of Stephen Hawking and assert eternal existence of gravity and quantum vacuum and, also, assign it practical [and mindless] divinity. Then we can reasonably speculate that myriad minuscule fluctuations in the quantum foam converged to burst forth from the singularity. Inflation, then space-time, which is running down, back down to the nothing.

Or, we can assume transcendence. That is, we can assume an eternal something that is truly beyond nature. Eternal is the key, and transcendence is required, or it is just natural, and we are back to nothing. There are some significant hurdles to deal with in assuming the divine, but an eternal transcendent actor can only be referred to as god. (Peterson says as much, often.)

If we hold to the first, methodological materialism, or naturalism, or atranscendence, then we are stuck with nothing and there simply is no such thing as agency. No choice is any more significant than any event. It takes two things to do anything: Time and Energy. States and systems exhibiting disequilibria will tend to equilibrate, taking time and using energy. Disequilibrated systems do anything that takes time and uses up energy, as long as it lessens the disequilibration. Often, order arises, emergent phenomena. A simple example is a dust devil in a dirt field. The ground heats unevenly under the sun, and the air warms slower, disequilibria. A warm thermal begins to rise, often beginning to spin, and up arises a dancing, self-organizing, dust devil, chasing the warmest spot near it. It is a dissipative system, more efficient at increasing entropy than simple convection. Assuming atranscendence, the dust devil is the same as any choice I make, any idea I conceive, any action I take. It all, only, tends to use up time and energy bringing the universe back to closer to the absolute and eternal nothing of its beginning.

Given my definitions above, the options are god or not-god.

That is, god is that which is eternal and transcendent.

Not-god is that which is yet eternal but nothing, that which momentarily and currently is subject to unwinding the initial winding of the singularity, and the unwinding is simply the using up of time and energy. (It makes no difference in this assumption whether the big bang is a single freak occurrence, or if it is quasicyclical, repeating randomly for all eternity.)

If we accept the god assumption, we are faced with eternity. We exist in time, but we will exist in eternity (and perhaps have always existed in some sense). The questions religion and philosophy address boil down to this: In eternity, with-god or without-god? One choice with two options. We will enter eternity having chosen god or refused god.

In that assertion, I’m assuming the god condition of eternal and transcendent reality. Given that assumption, the choice, the ultimate choice, true agency, is between with-god and without-god.

There either is choice, or there is nothing.

I admit I am defining nothing as meaninglessness.

I’m defining eternal and transcendent as meaning, reason, and rationality. It is my assertion, my premise. It is fundamental within me. (It is fundamental within the universe.)

Choice, agency, is the only thing that matters. If not-god is the reality, then there is no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason, nothing. If god is the reality, and there is no choice, no agency, regarding eternity with god or eternity without god, then we are back to nothing, back to no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason.

Given any reality approximating that, truth has no meaning in any case where choice, true agency, isn’t foundational and intrinsic. Individual agency must be real or there is not even anything that can be called truth, not in the abstract, not in the concrete, not in the ideal, not even in the notional. If I have no choice in the matter, no agency, nothing matters and nothing is the only true reality. If there is such a thing as reality, choice is real; agency is real.

Obviously, I cannot get away from the notion of truth, and one might argue such persistence makes it deeper, more real, than choice. No. First, we must not conflate Truth with Reality. That which is real is not the same as that which is true, not even in the ideal. It goes to meaning. If the not-god reality is real, then all that we seem to know is simply a random confluence of quantum fluctuations that happen to have congealed into a mass hallucination. If my mind is merely matter and energy and chemical processes running in patterns dictated by quantum fluctuations, I have no mind, and I have nothing on which to base any assumption. I can have no reason to assume any of it will continue. I have no real reason to base any of it on.

In that case, I have no reason. There would really be no reason and no such thing as reason, only matter, only energy, only a persistent, sequential running down and unwinding.

Frankly, I find it unreasonable to assume there is no such thing as reason.

I find it irrational to assume there is no such thing as rationality.

It seems as certain as anything else that there must be an eternal transcendent actor. Being confined to time and nature, we cannot hope to know this super-nature directly. We can only hope to systematically and rationally investigate it and aim at truth, as we do with all of nature. The nature of nature, our reality, seems to include something transcendent that we typically call mind. There isn’t a significant difference between “mind” as we use it, and “spirit” as we use it. There is no quantifiable reason to suppose mind is any less real than matter. Consciousness is really a thing, a thing we do not understand. Our religions may be so far from truth as to be laughable, but so may our sciences.

Again, without choice, there is no truth.

If I am not really a free agent capable of making real choices with meaningful consequences, then there is simply nothing, at least nothing that has any meaning, nothing that matters.

I’ve seen my share of references, so I assume you’ve seen the headlines too.

Pope Francis is reported to have said those who refuse God eventually disappear. Official sources clarify that the report is exactly that, a report, not a quote. Given the Pope’s penchant for unorthodox views, I wouldn’t put it past him, but this ancient reporter seems likely to have added his own slant. I’m not sure why the Pope would interview with someone who is known for overt agenda, but oh well.

Apparently, it wasn’t supposed to be an interview at all. “A recent meeting between Pope Francis and Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, 93, was a “private meeting for the occasion of Easter, however without giving him any interview,”” … “Scalfari, a self-proclaimed atheist…”

I pulled from the Catholic News Agency, CNA news report here.

Regardless of what the Pope may think, Jesus had a few things to say about hell, and folks talk about translation and context, which is certainly needful, but Jesus didn’t pull any punches here: http://biblehub.com/matthew/18-8.htm What might he have meant by fire that endures the ages if not a fairly conventional definition of hell?

There are limitations to the information we have, and there is even more limitation to our potential to understand. Our understanding is truly finite and limited.

What a conundrum we have when we consider time.

If we exist, there is time. It exists as sure as anything.

Time is hardly more than the running down of our universe. Sure, we can complicate, and when we must consider the things that time affects, we must be more precise, but I consider here time of itself, moreover, eternity.

If time exists, eternity must. Time began with the universe. Time is a property of the universe, the space-time continuum, we correctly call it.

Eternity is without time; there is eternity; eternity is.

See? Eternity is not a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Time is what you have when you do not have eternity, or rather, when you are limited and expiring.

Can we accept eternity as a foundational, fundamental, encompassing premise? I assert we must. We know time is finite, at least as it pertains to our existence, our reality. If time is finite, must there not be more, something beyond time, something that has nothing to do with time, something for time to happen in? How can we be reasonable if we reject the notion.

How can we reason at all if we assume that all that exists is finite? Accepting nothing beyond the finite defies meaning as a premise. It reduces all to fundamental happenstance with no intent, no direction, no meaning, no reason. I hold it unreasonable to assert there is no reason. I hold it meaningless to assert there is no meaning. As has been rightly observed, we act as though we believe in reason and meaning. We act as though we mean something when we say it, as though we are reasoning when we suppose something.

Let us agree on eternity as a foundational premise.

Now, is eternity divine?

That is a question that seems certain to have two, and only two, possible answers, yes or no.

A religious view would probably shun the notion of eternity as the divinity, but can it not be fundamentally divine? Yes, it can. It is also possible that it is not. If not, we are looking again at utter happenstance with no possibility of meaning.

Still, blatant finitude, absolute meaninglessness, is a possibility we cannot disprove. Yet, if there is infinity, eternity, and it is divine, we end up assuming some divinity, some ultimate divine, eternally existent, infinite (not finite in any way) being. Well, hold up. Not necessarily a being. Still, something ultimate, infinite, unlimited, unbounded.

Shifting from the external and ultimate, let us look within. We do not, and perhaps cannot, understand consciousness. We have working models—workable, useful tools, but no understanding. We act as though we have a soul, but we explicitly denounce the soul as unknowable, unverifiable. We treat each other as sovereign souls (at least ideally–we know we should), as entities embodying the divine, the image of God, be that defined as it may. We, at least ideally, act as if it is so. If we act as though we have a soul while discounting it, what can we surmise as basis? Can we suppose that there must be something divine, eternal, within? Is there some attribute and capacity of ourselves, our consciousnesses, that is actually and truly eternal? It seems a reasonable assumption, a justifiable premise.

If we accept eternity, and we assume we are, at least in some way, part of it, then ultimately, we will exist long after the universe, long after world’s-end. (There I go assuming time again.) Fundamentally, the worthwhile possibilities for consideration are only two: With the divine in eternal existence, or without the divine in eternal existence. Unbounded existence with God, or without God. Regarding this latter, what more definition of hell might one propose?

I find it an undeniable possibility that there be no heaven, but if there is heaven, there most certainly is hell.

Micah 6:8

 

Eternity is not a long time. It has nothing to do with time.

In time, it takes time and energy to do anything. We use them up.

In eternity, everything that might need doing is done. Yet, there is always work, challenges, always more to accomplish.

I believe that, but I think we cannot really understand it.

Eternity is not a long time. It is characterized by the absence of time.

It is unreasonable to try to describe eternity in concrete quantifications. It is even more than infinite, more than infinities and what mathematics and number theory can tell us about such.

Eternity is less comprehensible than the vastness of space. We cannot comprehend size. There is too much. We deceive ourselves into thinking we know something about it because it is easy for us to measure things from fractions of micrometers to thousands of kilometers. But the vastness is beyond that, beyond our ability to reason or analogize.

A rough approximation of the basics of small goes like this: If you place a sewing pin in the middle of the field of a domed football stadium, and then increase one of the iron atoms, proportionally, to where the nucleus was the size of the pinhead, then the rest of the atom would be close to the size of the domed stadium, and the electrons would still be too small to see even with a microscope. And that is only the beginning of small. Consider the Planck Length, at 1.6 x 10^-35 meters.

That brings us to a beginning of comprehending how utterly incomprehensible size and space really are. Think of all the empty space, the percentage of volume, within the atom, and remember that atoms cannot approach one another closely under the conditions in our living world. What we call solid matter isn’t solid in any quantitative mathematical sense.

Then we go the other way. There are many examples, and graphics, and short videos, and these help us realize that our whole planet is incomprehensibly tiny in light of the approximate 8.6 x 10^26 meters estimated for the observable universe. Then, how much bigger is what we can call space-time? Yeah, we don’t get it.

Eternity is even more. We don’t even have anything to compare it to.

We try to use time to comprehend eternity, especially since we do understand time, but we can’t.

We pretend we consider time. We always ask what time it is, but we don’t care. We know we have limited time, so we prioritize. Keeping time helps with that, but we don’t consider time, and we really don’t know, nor care, what time it is.

We all know we have very limited time, especially when we consider the span of history, and prehistory, and the time of the universe. We all die young. One hundred years is longer than most of us get, but even that is short. A single human life is a trivial amount of time in the scheme of history.

Yet, so many manage to do something of significance, by human reckoning. All of us do something significant for our loved ones. Sadly, that is sometimes a sad thing, but most of us have our moments where we positively affect others and improve our world. We don’t all get our 15 minutes of fame on the big stage, but we all do for a few.

Still, there are a few names that gained worldwide fame, and lost it. A few names have survived the millenia, but no name is known by every living soul on earth. Eventually, no name will be remembered among human descendants that we know today. If we continue for eons, it all obviously matters to us, but sooner or later, after some long time, all of humanity and our descendants will be gone, even erased. Even if we assume humanity spreads throughout the galaxy, even if we assume some means of spreading to many galaxies, eventually, it will all be gone. Millions of year? Billions of years? Even if we assume our descendents persist to the end of the universe, it will then all be gone.

See, we know where we sit there. We can comprehend the time. We know it all turns out insignificant in the end, but it is significant now, and some of us are better at using it well than others, but then again, “well” is subjective. Do we define doing well as becoming famous? By doing something important on the grand scale? Don’t we mostly define it as doing what we need to do, fulfilling our obligations, coming through when people are depending on us? Yeah. We advance mostly by people just doing what they need to do. We hold back the night by each of us keeping our candle and doing what good we can, and refusing to do something wrong, at least most of the time. Time. It will end.

All of space-time will end.

Will there be nothing then? Or will there be something still?

I am as confident of being there to see what it is, and I am as confident about it as I am of anything in the future.

Eternity. Don’t ask what will happen after some time. There is no time. We can’t think of before and after. That pertains to time, to space-time.

What will be after space-time is gone is simply unknowable.

In the meantime, don’t get hung up on how long things take. They really don’t take long.

 

 

What is God? I think that is a good question.

It seems necessary to assume God is who rather than what, but we think of ourselves and others with regard to what we are.

A man I look up to likes to refer to God in the feminine. I’m good with that. I don’t suppose masculine/feminine applies to God, so either convention works for me.

So that is a bit of the what. God transcends gender, and sex certainly doesn’t apply to spirit. However, it is not attributes like that which are prompting me to write. Sometimes we have to write to know what we think.

God is good, just, and merciful. That seems impossible to balance, so the omni-attributes seem essential. I’m still stuck with trying to figure out what that might mean.

I suppose I have an understanding of what is good, and what justice is, and what mercy is. I have to be on guard (thus the title) that I don’t start assuming I really know these thing. Moreover, I must not assume I can figure out God based on these things, and I must not presume in any way with regard to God.

It does seem that there are some things I have to expect, and accept.

God is the reason and the meaning. There just isn’t much point in worry about the notion otherwise. There are several atheistic tenets that assume no ultimate reason or meaning. And, that is what has me writing.

The orthodoxy of Christianity seems mostly required in order for me to hold a cogent and coherent foundational concept of God. The way other religions frame God leaves me flat. I find very little worth supposing. I can see how to build a thorough concept of God from some religions, but Christian orthodoxy seems to come closest. Note that I’m referring to orthodoxy primarily to identify the heterodoxies, the heresies.

When I think of God in the way Calvinists have tried to explain to me, I find a capricious God that fits justice so poorly as to judge it no different from simple atheism in the practical world. The God of Calvin doesn’t actually lead me any better than Richard Dawkins. Either way, nothing I do matters. Since I hold God as the meaning, things have to matter. Unless I want to suppose I’m just a puppet, robot, automaton for God, I cannot accept that what I do ultimately means nothing. What I do means something, even to God.

I can’t accept nothing, and I have to be on guard that I don’t accept my rejection of such as evidence of my beliefs.

To me, the God explained by the Calvinists is devilish and against me. I’ll be better off in hell than with a God like that. Or, if Calvinism is as close to the truth as religion has gotten, then it seems to me that atheism must be even closer to the truth, and I just cannot accept such as possible. Calvinism and atheism are not reasonable.

Similar results obtain when considering universalism. This notion has always been around. Jesus seems to have went out of his way to indicate there are some people he never knew, and since I accept Jesus as an aspect of the triune God, and utterly timeless, the statement indicates eternal damnation in the traditional, orthodox, sense. Some people don’t make it to heaven, and never even tried, even though some pretend to try, even doing what they suppose to be mighty works for God.

Jesus talked of hell a lot, and how the torment there never ends.

People rationalize however they want, but Jesus seemed to be trying to make a point that not everyone enters into eternal life, not ever.

Free will is not an illusion. We are finding at all levels that the nature of the universe is not deterministic. We are finding that if anything at all is real, we have a freedom of will and choice. Being finite and nearly powerless, our choices are limited. I think that is why some rebel against the responsibility of free will. Some seem to find it unbearable that they cannot choose whatever they want, so they reject freedom entirely.  Some prefer to think that a random confluence of strings and quarks happened to interact such that we have an ongoing fluctuation disturbance in the nothingness that seems to give us a momentary illusion of something. In other words, the answer to the ancient question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” gets answered as, “It is all an illusion. There is nothing, never was.” I reject that notion as nonsense. It assume there is no such thing as reason, and that is not reasonable.

When I try to consider all we know, physical and spiritual, scientific and religious, it is all too much. There is more to it than we can discover. Much more than any one of us can know. It is foolish, simplistic, shallow, and worse to suppose we understand God, but I do think we can know enough to know it matters. Nonorthodox views substitute the meaningful mystery for meaningless platitudes.

If God ultimately, through punishment, or persuasion, or some set of processes and procedures reconciles all souls to Himself, what has been the point?

This life is too small in all regards. What use does an omnipotent creator have for us? We trust that He loves us, and we argue that this life lets us see that for ourselves. Yes, but if we ultimately cannot reject what He gives us, what is the difference of not having it at all? Why have this life-but-a-vapor-vanishing-away, if the end result is the same as not having experienced evil and suffering? Is there some wisdom in knowing how to harm your brother? I don’t see any possibility for it.

I believe there is a reason for this life, and I believe we all get to do with it as we please. I believe God will judge. I believe God will judge based on our choices, not on our sins. There is no choice if there is ultimately only one option. Accordingly, we would could never be judged on choice. There can be no judgement is if there is only one possibility. I choose to view God’s judgement a just, not imaginary. If there is such a thing as good, there is such a thing as evil, and there will be a day of reckoning.

Ultimately, there are two, and only two, possibilities. God, reason, meaning, purpose, reality, are real, or not. If yes is assumed, then two conditions must be real and eternal possibilities, with God, or not with God. None of it makes any sense otherwise. Of course, nothing hinges on whether or not it make sense, to me or anyone, but I just have nothing else to go on. If I assume God gave me this mind, and that reason is real, then I must do my best. My best rejects universalism at all levels.

To suppose the universe is only a few thousand years old makes God out to be a deceiver. I reject that notion and all that leads to it. To suppose universalism makes God out to be trivial and triffiling. Again, I reject that notion and all that leads to it.

There is only so much time. We’ve already used up about 13 billion years worth. That raises all sorts of questions. We don’t know how much more time there is, but a few hundred billion more years, something less than 100 times what has already passed, seems reasonable from what we know so far. And that is an unimaginable amount of time when considering less than a century for us humans.

Eternity is unimaginable even in light of hundreds of billions of years. And orthodoxy has assumed that eternity starts somewhere near the end of this brief moment of breathing. Nearly all of the greatest minds have agreed for two millenia now. Yet some think they know better. They have an easy way, and they are sticking to it. No, nothing is easy.

I believe in justice; I believe in God’s justice, and I do not think anyone is judged unfairly or without all that was needed for a favorable judgement. I don’t believe non-Christians all receive unfavorable judgements. I don’t believe the innumerable souls who died before Jesus, before Abraham, all receive unfavorable judgements. I believe each of us knows what is right, and if we choose to do it, I trust God’s mercy and judgement. Justice will be served, and that judgement comes at some point and eternity follows. There is no more time. No more possibility of appeal or commutation. The preliminaries are complete at that point, and with God or without, the real journey begins. Like the rich man in Jesus’ story of Lazarus, no one can cross over from one side to the other. Distance obviously didn’t matter, but the divide was immutable. Eternity must be immutable, or it is not eternal. (Thus, time, for now.)

If free will means anything, and nothing else can mean anything at all without it, then these are the things I must hold. This is what I must accept if I am to be honest.

An acquaintance, Ken, posted on Facebook (his page) a question that struck me as tending to incite. The question provided three formulas related to salvation, in the Christian sense, and the formulas seemed to me likely to offend all, each of them. In other words, I thought the question would get lots of comments with more heat than light; sometimes such are referred to as flame wars.

There were several comments of various leanings, more polite than I expected, but some of it was just nonsense. Apparently the author intended to discuss points honestly, and no nonsense was intended. It is often easy to be nonsensical on the internet, especially when trying to be brief.

I made a few comments, to the author and to other commenters, and I composed this rather long statement, at least quite long for Facebook.

As to the universalism you hint at in your comment to Summer, well, it has all been argued before, perhaps since the very beginning of Christianity. There is obvious lack of depth in the thinking that allows for universalism to a soul.

I have always adamantly argued that Christ redemption was for all of creation. All. I have come to accept that includes all life, all. So, not only will Spot be in the New Creation, but so will the dinosaurs, et al. The scriptures seem to clearly indicate that all creation will be made new. All of it. The infinite, immortal God died for it. How could one suppose otherwise? All means all.

Thus, the extension to every individual soul, every person, seems natural, but that is the key. It is only natural. It does not allow for the divine aspect of free will, that absolute truth, “that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!”

Fundamentally, we cannot grasp it. We are dealing with God and eternity. There is always farther up and further in. There is more than can be imagined, as the scriptures clearly state.

There is perspective in time and in the vastness of it and the spacial universe. Note that the vastness of time is only vast because of our short time here on earth. We think of billions of years as long, but we often find that a few billion years is not long at all.

Think of the time of humanity. Think of the Paul’s statement to Timothy, “God our Savior, 4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Consider the eons before Christ. Consider the millennia since Christ. How long? How many?

During this protracted time, before Christ and since, God, who does not change, desires all to be saved and to know truth. Yet, how many have? Before Moses, essentially no one called upon the name of YHWH. Given what archaeology tells us now, it is hard to take the Moses story as more than an allegory, but still, it is clear that very few knew of the God, the object of our faith, before the time of the Jewish kings, and the Jews made no efforts at evangelisation. With Jesus, he sent out a few to tell the good news, and he instructed them to baptize and disciple.

We have scripture indicating all will hear the good news before the end will come, but in the general sense, that happened some generations ago, yet in the specific sense, it is unreasonable to suppose it could ever happen, and in the absolute sense, it cannot be at all, since so many died without opportunity to hear.

Perspective.

What is God up to?

I assert God because I believe in reason. I think it unreasonable to assert there is no reason for it all, there there is no reason for me to base my reason on. I find atheism to be irrational on its face. Thus, I assert reason, yet I cannot comprehend the reason, at least not in the ultimate sense.

Thus, what is the reason?

Coequally, what is God up to?

I assert there is no “problem of pain” because life is good. Suffering, pain, death, et al., are just parts of life, and life is good. That opens me up to all kinds of objections, but I’ll take them. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. I assert that is part of the good of life.

If Christianity can be accepted at all, though, I must acknowledge that life is not good enough as it is, or Jesus would not have come to bring us life, and life more abundant. So, why does God seem so content with the slow pace? Why don’t we see more success in evangelisation? Why do we see so much corruption in all aspects of what we recognize as churches?

Again, I don’t see clear answers. I don’t even see possible answers. With Job, I realize there are things beyond me.

These things do give us perspective. We can begin to understand some.

Further, I mentioned the vastness of space when mentioning the eons of time. Time, is not, in fact, very vast. Space is.

Space is vast not only beyond comprehension, it is vast beyond all possibility of comprehension. If faster-than-light travel proves impossible, as all available evidence leads us to believe, then we will never venture beyond the Milky Way. Never. Even if we assume humanity continues and continues to recognize itself as humanity, even if we develop power and propulsion systems beyond our imaginations, we cannot go to the next galaxy. It is too far. It is an intractable engineering problem. Its cost will always exceed any reasonably expected value.

If we go ahead and throw caution and reason to the wind and assume faster-than-light travel possibilities, such as Star Gates, or quantum-entanglement type displacement, something like an electron tunneling, then we may be able to get to many galaxies, but if we assume the universe is actually finite, as seems certain, it is extremely improbable that we could explore the entire universe in even trillions of years.

Now, that is vast. What was God thinking? Why make so much?

Again, I have no answers, but these are the sorts of facts in evidence that I try to include, try to comprehend while contemplating the vastness of God, infinity, and eternity.

The calculus tells us much of infinity. Still, it is bigger than we can comprehend, even though we can deal with it effectively mathematically.

God is bigger than that. Free will is divinely bestowed by God. It is unwise to suppose any limits on it, at least not any spiritual or ultimate limits. As with my quote of the stylized William Wallace, there are physical limits to our free will. Those who would enslave us might force us into slavery, might even take our lives, but our freedom, innately, remains. That is why coercion, all coercion, is evil.

Your comments seem to be questioning the existence, the possibility, of hell. Well, the concept of hell was unknown to the ancient Hebrews, and it was not thorough in Jesus’ time, but He talked of it. We could argue the point forever. We could even argue of the nature of the adversary, the devil. A real being, something we generally think of as a person? Most would argue yes, many will argue no. I don’t much think it matters. That which is against us is unquestionable. We are opposed, physically and spiritually. Splitting hairs will not change the fact.

I assert that not all souls will accept God. It is not a matter of unbelief. It is a matter of freedom. God allows me to refuse Him today. God changes not. (I don’t think it matters what one labels wherever not-with-God is.)

God is sovereign, and at some point, my will falls under His sovereignty, but He will not violate my will. At some point, my will becomes finalized in that I am the center of all things in my universe, and exclude God, or I accept that I am not the center, and I am subject.

The great prophet of the 60s said it simply, “You’re still gonna have to serve somebody.”

God chose. We see the results.

Now, for we only have the moment, we choose. We will see the result. “We’ll all know soon enough.”

Ken, I cannot suppose I’ve answered your question. In fact, I really am only guessing at what your question is, but I have tried. My aim was simply to state my view and support it with basic thinking. I’m willing to pursue it further, but I’ll ask you to be specific, and to not assume motives. We cannot be sure of one another’s motives even if stated. We certainly err if we assume or ascribe motives.

Thus concluded my comments on that Facebook post.

I add, Calvinism = Universalism = atheism for practical purposes.

Each leads logically and inevitably to moral abuses because each ultimately asserts that no judgement, by the standards of human understanding, befall the perpetrator.

An atheist cannot assert that there is no meaning, no ultimate, while asserting that his actions, his assertions, have meaning. It is irrational. Asserting no ultimate, no divine, ultimately means there is no such thing as punishment.

Likewise the universalist must admit that ultimately there is no punishment at all.

Finally, while the Calvinist asserts ultimate punishment, it is all up to God. The Calvinist asserts that if I’m elect I cannot be damned. Factually, historically, there are far too many Calvinists who acted damnably to allow that assertion to have significance. That is, while the Calvinist avers punishment, judgement, it is not something we humans can understand, at least not until God shows His glory in full finality. And, for practical purposes, that means nothing we do matters, just like the universalist and atheist assert.

BioLogos presents some comments from  Ryan Mullins on time and eternity.

For part one of his comments, I shared on my facebook page and said, “Apparently I have a relational view of time, and I’m a presentist.”

In part two, Mr. Mullins delves much more deeply, in a rather superficial way.

http://biologos.org/blog/questions-on-time-and-eternity-part-2

The superficial part is because he keeps it short. (So click and read. I’ll wait.)

I like to say that your god is too small. Mine is too.

I try to let God be bigger than anything, especially my own limitations and misconceptions. I suspect I will retain the view that God is timeless and immutable. Time cannot be quite what we think it is.

Physics and mathematics have recently suggested time and locality are emergent characteristics of reality, and that the universe is something we hardly understand at all yet. If I may be allowed the point that God created this universe, then I suspect God is infinitely more complicated and deeper in reality than the universe, no matter how deep and complex the universe ultimately is.

It seems that trying to define the divine and eternity requires defining both, and that pretty much sets limits on something defined as limitless. (Complicated, isn’t it.) Kind of like wondering what happened before the creation, before the universe, before time. “Before” doesn’t have any context or meaning outside of time, so asking about before time is like asking about beneath the bottom. Isn’t it pointless to ask what is within the center point? It’s reminds me of turtles, all the way down.

Perhaps we have all imagined what it would be like to be able to stop time for the universe and step out of it and continue in some isolated bubble, perhaps accomplish some otherwise impossible achievement. It is silly to suppose this means stopping time. It simply means speeding up our own actions such that everything else seems essentially still. Time would march on. Time just doesn’t seem  to have context relative to eternity.

I commented previously regarding exploring the universe and supposed it impossible. There simply would not be enough time. That is, the time the entire universe will exist doesn’t seem to provide enough time for us finite humans to be able to explore it thoroughly, at least not in the sense of travelling it throughout its extent. I think it nonsense to consider what happened before time began. It is the same to contemplate what will happen after time ends. There is no context. Such words stretch beyond any possible sense and meaning.

 

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