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

From: Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Date: Wed Apr 30 2008 - 15:26:59 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. "

 

There are lots of things in science we also can't imagine. For example,
take the hardest substance there is- a solid block of metal. Who can
imagine that there are actually moving parts in there (electrons
orbiting neutrons). Also, there is vast space in there (relatively
speaking) between the atoms, and between the electrons and neutron
within an atom. Someone once said the distance between a neutron and
electron is like a pea (for the neutron) in the center of a sports
stadium and a person in the stands (the electron), for our scale of
relative distance.

 

...Bernie

"It's turtles all the way down."

________________________________

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. [mailto:dfsiemensjr@juno.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 11:44 AM
To: Dehler, Bernie
Cc: asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

 

Phil's statement reminds me of what I got from one of my professors many
years ago. I had commented that the Bible noted that Jesus drank /oinos/
(wine). The Greek word had earlier been, like the Latin, pronounced
roughly WEE nose, for the terms are cognate. His response was, "I cannot
imagine my Lord drinking wine." WCTU controlled imagination trumped
lexicons, history, and anything else. In Phil's case, it means also that
he has constructed a God in his own image. As I imagine his temporal
deity, he had to engage in plain and fancy finger-twiddling for an
eternity before he though to create a universe. Of course, Phil may
prefer to imagine him as thinking so slowly that it took him eternity
past to figure out that he wanted to create a world.

Dave (ASA)

 

On Tue, 29 Apr 2008 16:38:26 -0700 "Dehler, Bernie"
<bernie.dehler@intel.com> writes:

        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.

         

        ...Bernie

        "It's turtles all the way down."

         

        
________________________________

        From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu
[mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of philtill@aol.com
        Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 4:00 PM
        To: bsollereder@gmail.com
        Cc: asa@calvin.edu
        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 him."
        
        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!
        Phil
        
        
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Bethany Sollereder <bsollereder@gmail.com>
        To: philtill@aol.com
        Cc: alexanian@uncw.edu; gmurphy@raex.com; asa@calvin.edu
        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 dualism?
        
        Bethany

        On Mon, Apr 28, 2008 at 8:10 PM, <philtill@aol.com> 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?
        
        Phil

        
        
        
        
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
        To: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>; asa@calvin.edu
        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.

         

        Moorad

         

        From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu
[mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu <mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu?>
] On Behalf Of George Murphy
        Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:22 PM
        To: asa@calvin.edu
        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.

         

        Shalom
        George
        http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/

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

                From: philtill@aol.com

                To: gmurphy@raex.com ; asa@calvin.edu

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

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

                 

                George,
                
                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.
                
                Phil
                
                
                
                -----Original Message-----
                From: philtill@aol.com
                To: gmurphy@raex.com; asa@calvin.edu
                Sent: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 7:56 pm
                Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and
a Survey

                George,
                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 David.
                
                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 spirit:
                
                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.
                
                
                Phil
                
                
                
                
                -----Original Message-----
                From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
                To: asa@calvin.edu
                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.)

                 

                Shalom
                George
                http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/

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

                        From: philtill@aol.com

                        To: gmurphy@raex.com ; dopderbeck@gmail.com ;
asa@calvin.edu

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

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

                         

                        David,
                        
                        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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