RE: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Tue Apr 29 2008 - 19:38:26 EDT

Phil: "I don't like the idea that God's eternity is timeless because I
can't imagine God being frozen like a statue. I can't imagine a
personality existing without time. "


I heard a philosophy professor say that time may not be an attribute.
We all have x, y, z, but not time, as an attribute. Nothing has time as
an attribute. Time may be a delta, such as the difference between the
height of George and Rick being 3 inches. Neither has the attribute
of 3 inches- it is a delta. Same with time; there is past, present,
future, and it can be measured in differences between each other.


Thinking that way, time is relevant in this universe, but not needed
outside the universe- before creation... maybe.



"It's turtles all the way down."



From: [] On
Behalf Of
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 4:00 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey


Hi Bethany,

Thanks for the interesting post. I agree with your observations about
resurrection bodies, but I don't think it disagrees with my thoughts on
spacetime. (I want to emphasize again that I realize I'm speculating
and I know that I can't prove these ideas, but I find them attractive.)
Here's an analogy: eyes interact with electromagetism; ears interact
with acoustic waves; noses interact with chemicals. It would be
redundant if all these organs interacted with only the same thing.
Analogously, the body interacts according to the dimensions of physics
(what we call spacetime). It would be redundant if the purpose of the
spirit is likewise to interact according to the same dimensions of
physics. Why have both a spirit and a body if they serve to interact in
the exact same sphere? So if they are not redundant, then what does the
spirit interact with? I don't know, but I'm guessing it's not
spacetime. But that doesn't negate the need for a body -- even after
the resurrection -- to interact with spacetime. If spacetime still
exists, then we'll need a body. The ear doesn't negate the need for the
nose or the eye, and v.v.

I don't like the idea that God's eternity is timeless because i can't
imagine God being frozen like a statue. I can't imagine a personality
existing without time. This bothers me about Augustine's answer to
'what was God doing before the creation of the world?" I think
Augustine made a mistake believing there are only two alternatives:
time or no time. There could be some dimension besides time, which we
can't even imagine in our physical brains, which give meaning to
personality in perhaps a way that is far richer than what mere time
affords. For that matter, there could be an infinite number of these
dimensions. "Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered
into the heart of man, all that the Lord has in store for those who love

I'm not disturbed by the questions about Hell because I imagine that
Hell would be indescribable in terms of time since it does not exist in
time, and hence it is something that our brain could never begin to
apprehend. That's why (as George pointed out) Jesus used imagery.

One could make the claim that even in this universe general relativity
puts evil into a dualistic position with goodness because evil will
always have ontological status "in the past." The passage of time
(according to the view of most physicists, I think) is merely a mental
state and the past is never annihilated. It always exists as the
next-door-neighbor to the present, as does the future. But God sees
this past evil, always existing in spacetime, through the cross and
through his future judgement, and he is always in the position of being
Lord over his creation (never dual to any part of it), so I think these
are the real reasons (not a supposed annihilation of the past) that
keeps evil from being dual to goodness or God. Likewise for Hell as it
exists in its own dimensions, whatever they are, I would suppose.

God bless!

-----Original Message-----
From: Bethany Sollereder <>
Sent: Tue, 29 Apr 2008 2:55 am
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

Hey Phil,

While I appreciate your discussion on space/time issues, I think it
ignores the strong indications that we will have resurrection bodies,
not simply be disembodied "spirits" floating around. While, if we take
Jesus as our only example, the resurrection body does seem to have
capabilities that ours do not, it does not at all negate the fact that
it is a physical existence.

Also, concerning hell, I wonder if Jesus was perhaps accommodating to
the "theology of the day", after all, there is no hell in the Old
Testament. Beyond that, (and this is getting a little off topic), if
hell is eternal, doesn't that create an eternal dualism between good and
evil? Between heaven and hell? Does an eternal hell force us into


On Mon, Apr 28, 2008 at 8:10 PM, <> wrote:

Christ said quite a bit about Hell, far more than He did infant baptism.

Another reason I think the human spirit must be non-extended is because
the spirit survives the body. If the spirit is not tied to the
organization of particles in spacetime, then there is no reason (other
than prejudice) to believe it is limited in the dimensions of those
particles. From a positivist point of view, spacetime means nothing
except relationships between particles.

Also, particles and spacetime are part of the same physics. They are
aspects of the same ontological entity. Spirit is not composed of
particles and so we have no a priori reason to think that an aspect of
physics (spacetime) would be an aspect of spirit.

Our brains are tied to spacetime and we see everything from the
viewpoint of spactime, and I'd guess we have been allowing that to
prejuduce our thinking about spirits and about God. Why impose on
spirits or on God the properties of spacetime, which as far as we know
apply _only_ to physical particles?


-----Original Message-----
From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
To: George Murphy <>;
Sent: Mon, 28 Apr 2008 8:41 am
Subject: RE: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

I think I know what Hell is. On this side of death, there is doubt about
whether God is or is not. On the other side of death there is certainty.
Hell is knowing for sure that God is and that you denied Him.




From: [
<> ] On Behalf Of George Murphy
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:22 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey


Since we know next to nothing about hell, we're in a rather precarious
position if we try to base any anthropological arguments on it.



        ----- Original Message -----


        To: ;

        Sent: Saturday, April 26, 2008 10:15 PM

        Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey


        I forgot to include this reason why I think the human spirit may
be non-extended in space and time: Hell.
        Why would God send an unredeemable creature that is extended in
space and time into Hell rather than simply annihilating him?
Annihilation means drawing a limit to the extension. I won't pretend to
have an answer, but if the creature is spiritual and that spirit is not
extended in time, then perhaps annihiliation is not even an option.
Annihilation may look feasible only because we don't see the spiritual
part of mankind that is beyond time.
        -----Original Message-----
        Sent: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 7:56 pm
        Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

        thanks for the reply. Perhaps there aren't any theologians
saying that -- that's why I framed it as a question ("..., right?").
        So I have to retreat to a weaker statement. There are a number
of reasons why I think it's at least plausible that humans have a spirit
that is not extended in space or time. I recognize that these arguments
are insufficient to prove anything, but I think they point the way to a
possible answer to David's question. Like David, I feel the need for
there to have been an original state of integrity. Otherwise, it feels
(to me at least) as though God set mankind up with an unfair chance of
sinlessness. I'd like to see the state of integrity somewhere, if not
in spacetime.
        I want to point out that I agree with your position on Adam
entirely. This proposal (put forward by CS Lewis in The Great Divorce)
that humans may have an extra-temporal spirit only _adds_ one feature to
your position. AFAICT it does not disagree with anything you said to
        One thing you said was,
        "a realistic picture of evolution will not let us do is hold on
to the idea of a 'state of integrity' in the classical sense."
        This idea of man's extra-temporal provides for a 'state of
integrity,' although in a non-classical sense. It says man had a very
real 'state of integrity' prior to the fall, but this state of integrity
was spiritual and outside time and that's why we don't see it
historically. I used the words "prior" and "was" in the prior sentence
because the state of integrity was causally prior to our fallenness
although not temporally prior to our fallenness.
        Here are some musings on the idea of a non-extended human
        1. Theologians do say that God is spirit and is not extended
in physical spacetime, right? (another question) If so, then that is
one example of spirit being not extended. Extension in physical
spacetime is therefore not a general property of spirits, at least.
        2. I think the idea of the wind -- "you don't know where it
comes from or where it is going" -- is an excellent picture of God as
one who is non-extended interacting with creatures who are extended. We
feel God like wind interact with us in the here and now because that is
where we are, but the coming and going of that interaction is something
we cannot follow from place to place or time to time. It is a
mysterious coming and going, seemingly from nowhere.
        3. Similarly, interactions with angels must occur for us within
spacetime because that is where we are, regardless whether they are
extended in spacetime.
        4. The description of angels in the Bible that seem to imply
extension could easily be anthropomorphic or figurative language.
        5. Really extension in spacetime means that we interact with
particles according to the four known forces which have 1/r^alpha
dependencies, alpha=2 for gravity or electrostatics, etc. The existence
of "r" in those laws is the modern meaning of "extension" for a human
body and brain composed of particles. Does a spirit follow those laws
in interacting with the particles of this universe? If not, then what
could its extension in physical spacetime even mean? From a positivist
point of view, it may be meaningless nowadays to talk of extension in
the physical universe if we don't define it in terms of particle
interactions via forces. The notion of "spacetime" is not so indefinite
as it was 200 years ago.
        6. If angels are unextended, then that might explain why they
appear to have no repentance, or why the devil seems to be not smart
enough to know to stop rebelling, etc. Their apparent inability to
change their direction may be because we are seeing a _projection_ of
their unextended decisions into spacetime; not the making of decisions
within spacetime.
        7. The ultimate purpose of time may be so that Christ could
enter into it and unite us to himself. If so, the creation of this
spacetime comes causally after the fall.
        Again, I already recognize the inadequacy of these statements,
but I think the idea is plausible and very interesting.
        -----Original Message-----
        From: George Murphy <>
        Sent: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 2:01 pm
        Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

        Apropos 1 below, what theologians do you have in mind? I don't
know of any who say this, though of course that doesn't prove that there
aren't any. When Robert Jenson, e.g., in his introduction to the locus
on "The Holy Spirit" in Christian Dogmatics says "Thus spirit is
self-transcendence; the liveliness of each life is precisely its origin
and end beyond itself," he is pointing in a quite different direction.
(He also notes that Greek pneuma & Hebrew ruach agree in picturing
spirit as wind or breath, things that are extended.)



                ----- Original Message -----


                To: ; ;

                Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 1:15 AM

                Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and
a Survey


                1. Theologians say that a spirit is something that has
no extension in space, right? When they say this, "space" refers to the
ordinary space of our physical universe.


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Received on Tue Apr 29 19:39:43 2008

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