My existence is predicated upon consciousness, referred to in metaphysical circles as “the soul” — a massless, formless living force, a “spirit.” I am not a product of my physical manifestation. I am not a machine, defined by neurons and synapses and the complexities of the human brain. We can map out our brains and determine which parts are involved with which functions, but our brain does not define us, it merely facilitates us by translating our CODEC. Our body is a machine, our brain a complex CPU. And I am the software, the “ghost in the machine.”
The point at which mass becomes less than the smallest particle, the quark, matter loses locality (becoming undefined by physical laws as we currently understand them). Undetectable, immeasurable, timeless, and as far as we can understand, non-existent. Such is the nature of the “spirit.”
God as spirit, in this understanding, is “non-existent” and His domain, “non-existence.” The paradox of a non-existent being existing in a non-existent plane of existence is, in fact, how the Bible describes God. He does not exist in any concept we have of “existence.” And the only time He ever “existed,” he plugged himself into the body of what we know as Jesus Christ, though since he was human, was no longer God. And yet he was. He was limited and fallible like us, and yet he wasn’t. So the only way we can see him as God, is when he is not appearing to us as God, since God is formless and immeasurable.
If God has always existed, what was He doing before He created the universe? Since time did not (and still doesn’t) exist, God did not have time to do anything “before” time. This is rather difficult to grasp.
The Theory of Relativity does not apply to a world in which time is non-existent. When we consider the psychological aspects of time, we are again dealing with the relativity, but relativity as experienced, rather than as measured. We are still dealing with time, but not with eternity. There is neither measured nor experienced relativity of time in a purely spiritual world, because time belongs to the physical order.
It can be argued that in experience, the passage of time could be so rapid as to be virtually eclipsed. It would appear that you could experience timelessness within the natural order. This is confusing because it implies that if a thing is small enough, it is nothing at all. This is analogous to saying that there is no fundamental between something and nothing; or, to use a more familiar idea at the other end of the scale, that infinity is merely a very, very large number. However, infinity differs from a very large number for the important reason that if you subtract one from a very large number (no matter how large it is), you have one less: if you subtract one from infinity, you still have infinity.
Time stands in the same relation to eternity, in one sense, as a large number does to infinity. There is a sense in which infinity includes a very large number, yet it is quite fundamentally different and independent of it. And by analogy, eternity includes time and yet is fundamentally something other. The reduction of time until it gets smaller and smaller is still not eternity; nor do we reach eternity by an extension of time to great length. There is no direct pathway between time and eternity: they are different categories of experiences.
The fundamental point is when we step out of time, we step into eternity, and while we cannot be in them both at once, God, according to the Bible, is able to so. Some passages come to mind immediately in support of the view that God lives outside the ordinary limitations of time as we experience it. For example, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). If we make the period before Abraham to be represented by the letter A, Abraham’s time by the letter B, and the time of speaking by the letter C, we have the three periods A, B, C amalgamated as one and the tenses confused as though C preceded A. What we might have expected to find was, “Before Abraham was, I was” — which would have satisfied our normal sense of time.
Christ took Abraham’s time as the pivot and spoke of two periods balanced on either side, namely, the ages which preceded Abraham, and all that followed (including the present). He then deliberately picked up the present and put it back before Abraham, but still referred to that distant period in the present tense. Though it was centuries ago, to Christ it was “now.” Even if He was here today, He would still refer to the time before Abraham as the “present” time. Why? Because He is God, and to God there is no passage of time, but all is “present.” The reaction of the Jewish authorities to His statement suggests that in some strange way they had understood what He meant. The mystery of God’s name, as revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:13,14 “the One who is existing always in the present” is unlocked here.
When a Christian dies, from this understanding, they pass from this realm of time and space into another realm of pure spirit, out of time as we experience it into a state of timelessness, the ever-present of God‘s domain. As they make this passage, every event in the future passes instantly before them, completed instantaneously. As each of us passes, we therefore experience no death nor the slightest pause in consciousness, nor even any sense of departure from those who remain.
The experience would be the same for everyone. All history, all intervening time between death and the end of time, is suddenly annihilated so that each person from the very first to the very last, is just dying and arriving in a single instant together, without precedence and without the slightest consciousness of delay. Scripture twice affirms, observing events from our point of view, that no man has yet ascended into heaven (John 3:13), not even David (Acts 2:34). And yet, when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord in eternity. David is not there yet, nor any others, because we are not there.
Ultimately, we will dwell in a “new heaven and a new earth,” so perhaps time will always be with us thenceforth. But we shall experience time not as limitation, but as opportunity. Time will not be continually running out as it is now; unlimited time for unlimited adventure.
This is, of course, purely hypothetical, and just a thought. Thanks for reading.
In “Santa God, part 1,” I agreed with atheists that God in the form of Santa God did not exist — this sort of invisible sky-daddy, cosmic space bubble god which floats around voyeuristically watching us and keeping score of our goods and bads with his finger on the “destroy“ button constantly ready to zap us. I also alluded to the difficulty of conceptualizing an entity which exists outside of time, given our inability to comprehend such an existence, particularly how such an entity would relate to and interact with “reality” in spacetime.
Keep in mind that Eternity is not a realm with unlimited time. It is a realm without time at all. This is what we refer to as the “spiritual dimension,” or “astral plane,” where the laws of physics as we understand them do not exist — making it necessary to seek more tangible ways for our basic understanding in a time-based, matter-infused, digital reality. In this respect, it is not so much whether or not God or spiritual beings exist, but rather finding an adequate way to conceptualize it.
According to Genesis, in the beginning “Elohim” created the heavens and the earth. “In the beginning,” referring to the beginning of the spacetime universe, since Eternity has no beginning and has always existed. The continuity of force admits of neither creation nor annihilation, but demands an unseen universe, out of which the visible has been produced “by an intelligent agency residing in the unseen,” and into which it must eventually return (The Unseen Universe, pp. 167, 170).
Elohim here is plural, though is translated in English as “God,” which denotes an entity with a multiplicity of Divine powers, the threefold personality of the Godhead. Separate but equal entities, co-existing as the fulcrum of all existence.
According to Scripture, Jesus was with the Father (YHWH), with equal Divine authority, yet with different functionality and roles, joined together through their Holy Spirit as “God.” The Godhead is the governing head of all existence. (Just as the governing head of the U.S. of Eh?, where we have the Legislative Congress, the Judiciary Supreme Court, and the Executive President, separate but equal, with different roles and powers.)
By this understanding, Jesus is not YHWH. He is “God,” as “Elohim.” But he is not YHWH, not the “Father,” not the Holy Spirit. Jesus is God. YHWH is God. The Holy Spirit is God. But they are not each other.