Sunday, December 18, 2005

Musings on "It's A Wonderful Life"

"No man is a failure who has friends."--Clarence Oddbody, AS2 (Angel, Second Class)

Wow. What a thought. A man's success shouldn't be judged by how much money he earns, or how famous he is. It should be judged by how many friends he has. But doesn't the world think just the opposite?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

If God knows everything about the future, then he should be able to predict his own actions. But doesn’t that very notion suggest that his actions are predetermined by someone else? If his actions aren’t preset, then wouldn’t he not know the future, thus nullifying his claim to be all-knowing? We know two things about God. That he does know all things about the future and that he is completely sovereign, that is, he’s not limited by any external force, only by his own nature, so his actions aren’t preset. How do we resolve a seeming contradiction? Well, one answer at least, is that God exists outside of time, in a place where past, present, and future have no meaning. An “eternal now,” as it’s called. It’s as if God could see the past, present and future happening all at once. Why wouldn’t this apply to his experience of his creation, as well?
Perhaps it’s because he wants to give us freedom to choose. But, if he had the same relationship to time as he does to eternity, wouldn’t he experience it also as that “eternal now?” Certainly, in my model, the Father and the Son have limited their perspectives on creation, but what is the Holy Spirit’s perspective? Maybe his p.o.v. is is each and every moment, not being aware or a past or a future. This seems a very childlike perspective and were there no God, any being with perspective would be quite vulnerable. It seems to me that this would limit the Spirit to acting rather than thinking.

Is there such a thing as the present? I guess the answers is “yes,” because we experience it. Could it be an illusion, constructed by our minds to make sense of the world? The “future” is a “grammar tense referring to things to come: the tense or form of a verb used to refer to events that are going to happen or have not yet happened. Also called future tense.” The “past” means “expressing action that took place previously: used to describe or relating to the verb tense that is used for an action that took place previously . . . time before the present: the time before the present and the events that happened then.”[1] Isn’t the present simply the point at which past and future meet? And yet “future” is something that hasn’t happened and “past” that already has. So, it seems there is a gap, though I can’t see it. And it seems an unbridgeable one.

[1] Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 02, 2005

God’s love requires a certain amount of free will to exist. But God’s power requires total control in order to impose his justice upon us.

If God stands at the end of time, looking back on the time that has passed, and knowing how it all works out, and if he stands at the root of time, having planned everything, but not knowing how everything will come out, then it seems we’re stuck with a conundrum. The answer must be where the past and future meet, the present. The present carries within it the uncertain potential of a future not worked our yet, and a past with a certainty of potential realized. But, how can a moment be certain and uncertain at the same time? I dunno, maybe the one is uncertain in one way, and the other certain in another way.
Is it possible that past, future, and possibly present, have a trinitarian structure, which would allow them exist simultaneously? The present cannot exist without the past and future, as if it’s literally a line between the two, and we perceive the line where the two join. Can the future exist without the past? Yes, it does exist. But does the past exist without the future? No. This would suggest a hierarchy: the present depends on the past and future, past depends on the future, and the future depends on nothing. But do the past, present, and future have any reality? The future seems to be all potential. The past seems to be all spent potential. And the present is where we spend it. This is where potential manifests itself into reality, where choices are actually made, and events actually occur. How is it that potential at all points in time and space can be stored and spent at the same time? How is it that with the Father standing at one end of time and the Son at the other, that they can observe all existence happening, yet not happening just yet? This is where our free will lies. The Son, on the one hand, stands at the root of time, having planned how things should go, but not knowing how. This gives us our freedom. But, the Father, who stands at the end of time, knows what did happen, which gives us limits on our freedom. Limits caused by the laws of physics, by human laws, various relationships, natural disasters, etc.

Why does God the Father have to know the future? If he didn’t, or chose not to know it, what would that mean? It would mean that God has withdrawn from his creation. Assuming that my assumption about the Father seeing the future by looking back on the past is true, if God gave up his knowledge of the future he’d be giving up his presence in the present, too. Because, either he exists infinitely or he doesn’t exist at all. He’d be giving up his control and foreknowledge over history. Were that so, the Son could take over for the Father and still design the future. But, it may possible, that Jesus would have to stick to his single role, creating and saving the world. That would lead the universe into eventual chaos. If the Son left, then the universe wouldn’t be here at all.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I have a question: if God knows what is going to happen to everything in existence, does he know what will happen to him? Are his actions pre-determined? He is supposed to be completely sovereign. There are no limitations on him, except those dictated by his nature. But, if he’s infinite, then can he change? If he can change, then that may suggest that he can grow, which would suggest he has limits to grow beyond.
Well, there’s two possible answers to my question: yes, he does know what will happen to him, because he is always looking back on his existence, which is infinite, and also looking on whatever present moment he’s in. Another answer is no, because he cannot see what comes after whatever present moment he’s in.