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Time as creation and part of man

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#1 Mina Soliman

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 05:00 AM

I understand that we believe God to be above time, above matter, and above space. He is the all-knowing, the all-powerful, and infinitely present. He is uncreated, and we are created. Thus, as creation, we only know three things that creation is: time, matter, and space (scientifically speaking...and I believe energy=matter).

Forgive me for the little bit of science that I have added, but I've gotten into two discussions that deal with this: one concerning the Day of Judgment, and one concerning the RC belief of the Immaculate Conception (IC).

When one espoused on how we experience communion with God, he mentioned that since we will spend life in eternity, therefore there will be "literally" no time, and we will freeze in paradise or hell in God's energies. To me, the freezing time concept seems to tell me that we are removing part of man's creation, whereas I replied that time, like matter and space, is a necessary component of man who will rise from the dead in a glorified body like Christ, nevertheless still human, although transcending humanity, transcending time, matter, and space.

Then, I got into another argument concerning the IC. This person wished to tell me that the Theotokos was saved from Christ's sacrifice, since Christ is God and His sacrifice can go beyond time. I replied that to go beyond time is to neglect time, and since we must believe as St. Gregory that "what is assumed is saved," then time also must be saved, since that is part of man's creation.

My question then is what are your thoughts on these views? What patristic sources is there on the subject of time if any? Is time a creation to them, and if so (I'm sure they believed time is a creation), is man's nature partly time or dependant on time?

Thank you.


#2 Predrag Mandic

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Posted 05 July 2007 - 03:46 PM

I am not sure Mina - but it seems to me that time (as we know it) is a concept connected with the fall. I might be wrong of course, but it just seems so to me.

It is said in the First Book of Moses that there were days (of creation) and indeed it was all good – but I do not see these days as literal 24 hrs because as our existence before the fall was different as after so would be the nature around us, nature controlled by the laws of physics – so if the nature was different so was the law governing it – and as time now falls under the new laws of physics (the ones after the fall), I believe that the old laws of physics (before the fall) have a different concept of time – and indeed there was no sun in the first couple of days to control the 24 hrs and even after the great lights were created I do not think that God was under the time that He was creating but out of it and beyond.

I don’t know – but I think that because time belongs to fallen nature it is passing away. And it will be different after that day, for it says that there will be no sun required for those on the New Earth (Apokalipsis 21 and 22).

Many years.

#3 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 08:05 AM

Dear Nina,

To quote Mr. Spock, "Fascinating!" An eternally fascinating topic...

St. Basil - Hexeameron-
"And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night." Since the birth of the sun, the light that it diffuses in the air, when shining on our hemisphere, is day; and the shadow produced by its disappearance is night. But at that time it was not after the movement of the sun, but following this primitive light spread abroad in the air or withdrawn in a measure determined by God, that day came and was followed by night.
But must we believe in a mysterious reason for this? God who made the nature of time measured it out and determined it by intervals of days; and, wishing to give it a week as a measure, he ordered the week to revolve from period to period upon itself, to count the movement of time, forming the week of one day revolving seven times upon itself: a proper circle begins and ends with itself. Such is also the character of eternity, to revolve upon itself and to end nowhere. If then the beginning of time is called "one day" rather
than "the first day," it is because Scripture wishes to establish its relationship with eternity. It was, in reality, fit and natural to call "one" the day whose character is to be one wholly separated and isolated from all the others. If Scripture speaks to us of many ages, saying everywhere, "age of age, and ages of ages," we do not see it enumerate them as first, second, and third. It follows that we are hereby shown not so much limits, ends and succession of ages, as distinctions between various states and modes of action. "The day of the Lord," Scripture says, "is great and very terrible, (Joel 2:31)" and elsewhere "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord: to what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness and not light. (Amos 5:18)" A day of darkness for those who are worthy of darkness. No; this day without evening, without succession and without end is not unknown to Scripture, and it is the day that the Psalmist calls the eighth day, because it is outside this time of weeks (Psalm 118: 22-27). Thus whether you call it day, or whether you call it eternity, you express the same idea. Give this state the name of day; there are not several, but only one. If you call it eternity still it is unique and not manifold. Thus it is in order that you may carry your thoughts forward towards a future life, that Scripture marks by the word "one" the day which is the type of eternity, the first fruits of days, the contemporary of light, the holy Lord's day honoured by the Resurrection of our Lord. And the evening and the morning were one day.

St. Basil - Hexeameron-
"Truly, if such are the good things of time, what will be those of eternity? If such is the beauty of visible things, what shall we think of invisible things? If the grandeur of heaven exceeds the measure of human intelligence, what mind shall be able to trace the nature of the everlasting? If the sun, subject to corruption, is so beautiful, so grand. so rapid in its movement, so invariable in its course; if its grandeur is in such perfect harmony with and due proportion to the universe: if, by the beauty of its nature, it shines like a brilliant eye in the middle of creation; if finally, one cannot tire of contemplating it, what will be the beauty of the Sun of Righteousness? If the blind man suffers from not seeing the material sun, what a deprivation is it for the sinner not to enjoy the true light!

St. Maximus the Confessor - Chapters on Knowledge -
"All things when created in time according to time become perfect when they cease their natural growth. But everything that the knowledge of God effects according to virtue, when it reaches perfection, moves to further growth. For the end of the latter becomes the beginning of the former. Indeed, the one who by practicing the virtues keeps in check the substance of past things begins other, more divine patterns....the Sabbath is honored by rest. But under the Gospel, which brings the restoration of intelligible things, it is brightened by the noble performance of good works.

For the Law and the Prophets there is the Sabbath, the Sabbaths, and the Sabbaths of Sabbaths...
Sabbath is the detachment of the rational soul which has by practice completely thrown off the marks of sin.
Sabbaths are the freedom of the rational soul which by natural contemplation in the Spirit has put down this natural activity oriented toward sensibility.
Sabbaths of Sabbaths are the spiritual peace of the rational soul which, having withdrawn the mind even from all the more divine principles which are in beings, dwells entirely in God alone in a loving ecstasy, and has rendered itself by mystical theology totally immobile in God.

There is another more spiritual harvest which is said to be from God himself, and another more mysterious circumcision and another more secret Sabbath in which God rests in doing Sabbath from his own works. Thus it is said, 'The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few,' and 'the circumcision of the heart in Spirit,' and 'God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because on it he rested from all the works that he had begun to create.'
The harvest of God is the future home and dwelling in him for the end of ages of those who are completely worthy.

The circumcision of the heart in spirit is the complete stripping away of the natural actions of sense and mind with respect to sensible and intelligible things by the presence of the Spirit, who directly transfigures the entire body and soul altogether into something more divine.

The Sabbath of God is the full return to him of all creatures whereby he rests from his own natural activity toward them, his very divine activity which acts in an ineffable way. For God rests from his natural activity in each being by which each of them moves naturally. He rests when each being, having obtained the divine energy in due measure, will determine its own natural energy with respect to God.

According to Scripture, the sixth day brings in the completion of beings subject to nature. The seventh limits the movement of temporal distinctiveness. The eighth indicates the manner of existence above nature and time.

The one who has divinely accomplished in himself the sixth day by appropriate works and thoughts, and who has with God nobly brought his works to an end, has crossed by comprehension all the ground of what is subject to nature and to time. He is transported to the mystical contemplation of the immortal ages, and in an unknowable manner he makes Sabbath in his mind in leaving behind and totally surpassings beings.
The one who has become worthy of the eighth day is risen from the dead, that is, from what is less than God: sensible and intelligible things, words, and thoughts; and he lives the blessed life of God, who alone is said to be and is in very truth the Life, in such a way that he becomes himself God by deification."

Orthodox Study Bible: Old Testament -

"2:1-3 On the seventh day, which is the Sabbath Day, God the Son rested from all His work. God the Father blessed and sanctified this day because He, too, rested from all His work which God the Son had created and made. The Son explains this in John 5:17, where He points out relative to the Sabbath that He and the Father co-operate in one and the same working. And for Them to rest from Their work means:

1) That all creation is one complete whole with nothing lacking in that completion. Therefore, God's will in this respect ceased to operate, showing man there is a time to work and a time to rest. However, His will continues to operate in relation to other things, such as the sustaining of creation.

2) That both the Sabbath and all creation was made for man's benefit, not vice-versa. This shows God's immense love for man from the very beginning of creation.

3) That the Sabbath encourages man to pause in his busy life to worship His Creator; otherwise, he would forget Him and be lost in the swirl of his activity.

4) That the Sabbath foreshadows the Son's burial in the tomb on this Day. For both man and creation fell into death, showing man's failure to fulfil the Sabbath. Thus, the Son rested in the tomb on this Day because in His saving work He had destroyed death by His Death, overcoming man's failure thereby. And in His resurrection from the dead He brings both man and creation into a new rest, signified by Sunday, the first day of the week.

5) That the Sabbath foreshadows the eternal rest offered man through the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God. And Sunday as the eighth day of the week also signifies this offer. For this day is both the first day of the week and the eighth day. As the first, it brings man a new rest through the Resurrection. And as the eighth, it draws man to that eternal rest toward which man is encouraged to labor and work."

A Brief Overview of Certain Aspects of the Thought of Petyr Demainovich Ouspensky by Michael Presley :


By considering space and time as perceptual forms and not as direct objects of sensual intuition a critical analysis of our conventional understanding of spatio-temporal relations cannot rest solely on an empirical analysis. It's predicate must be psychological material. Ouspensky argues that we need first specify all necessary psychological parameters inherent within the human perceptual faculty prior to constructing theory. In keeping with the line of thought outlined by Kant he accepts a supersensible or noumenal substrate as the material cause of our world. It therefore follows that although our world intuition is grounded in spatio-temporally based physical relations, the noumenal ground upon which the perceptual object of experience ultimately derives its being possesses neither the properties of space nor of time. Now, inasmuch as our outward form of perception can be said to correspond to (or at least be described by) normal geometrical laws and inasmuch as noumena can be understood, phenomenally speaking, it is true, as that base metaphysical something which is extended into our everyday world of objective intuition and hence responsible for the things we perceive, Ouspensky finds it not unreasonable to hypothesize that that which we cannot perceive, i.e., noumenal forms, should nevertheless be amenable to description by means of a corresponding metaphysical (or more exactly, metageometrical) extension of conventional geometric laws. And just as the science of geometry exists to describe phenomena in normal space, a new 'metageometry' postulates properties of an extended or higher space.

The material form of space has at least until recently been almost always based upon the geometry of Euclid. Traditional Euclidean geometric space is conceptualized as a three dimensional infinite sphere; that is, a line rotated on its axis 360 degrees and, then, bisected by another line perpendicular to the first which is also rotated 360 degrees. Within this sphere any convergent set of coordinates constitutes a point of space. Constructed as an extension or expansion of a geometric point into a solid (the point being one boundary of the continuum and its complete expansion, the three dimensional solid in time, the other) normal space serves as a paradigm for the science of metageometry. Using the rules of geometrical expansion we can describe how a "point" of matter (or a collection of such points) becomes a solid of three dimensions.

First, when extended into space the point becomes a line of the first dimension. The subsequent perpendicular extension of the line "into space" creates the figure of a plane surface, i.e. the second dimension. Likewise, a surface extended perpendicularly becomes a figure of three dimensions, a solid. Far from a purely speculative endeavor it should be noted that the actual existence of a geometrical point in physical space has perceptual reality in that bit of matter of which no smaller can be observed. In everyday life we observe instances of each of these phenomena, although it is generally accepted that each exists, in reality, differently than perception holds, the difference being attributed to a difference between the relation (i.e. relative position) of the perceiving subject to its object. In 'A New Model' Ouspensky describes a star (the point) in the night sky (a surface). Reason tells us that these appearances are entirely subjective, contingent upon our own unique perspective. Yet, if we consider the previously recounted specifics of geometric expansion we find that the dissimilarity between any "higher" or "lower" dimension is, in itself, strictly a matter of perspective also, for the difference between our abstract understanding of respective dimensions is no more than the alterity between viewing various cross sections of an object: the point is a cross section of a line, the line is a cross section of a surface, and a surface exists as the cross section of a solid. The obvious question, then, is how we can possibly represent to our minds the form of a four dimensional "solid" of which our present reality is but a section?

Perceptually, a "point of three dimensional space" exists as a moment in time, although we remain unaware of isolated static moments just as we are not cognizant of any singular spatial point. Instead, we experience objects (extensions) in motion relative to each other. Motion is our conscious awareness of a sufficient number of discrete points of time and can be represented geometrically as a segment on a greater line of time. We experience segments on the timeline as duration. For each and every three dimensional object encountered we know of its existence by its extension along the timeline. Thus, from the standpoint of metageometry our experience of the present is really the perception of a cross section of a fuller or extended spatial existence spanning the entire line of time.

Owing to the limitedness of our cognitive faculty we can be immediately conscious of no more than a fairly short but usually "continuous" string of present moments. Moments past are generally considered, ontologically speaking, fictional existents known only through the persistence of memory; likewise, they are usually considered fixed and unchangeable. Future events, if they can be said to exist at all, exist only as a possibility, the Aristotelian entelechy. Nevertheless it can at least be supposed that, unlike the past, the future possesses varying degrees of potential changeability. And if the past remains only a function of memory while the future exists only as an uncertainty delimited by various probabilities of occurrences then we must accept as the final and true reality simply the present. From the metageometer's view, however, these conventional ways of thinking are turned upside-down. Understanding our experience of time as the partial experience of what is in reality the perpendicular extension of a three dimensional object into higher space allows a radical expansion of the definition of actuality, or, to be more precise, the form of the world.

In metageometrical space objects possess one or more dimensions than we are able to clearly perceive. Our immediate experience of any object consists of perception limited to one point (or at the most, a segment) of its temporal existence. Owing to the limitations of sensation we cannot directly intuit the being of an object in four dimensional space, but, instead, we perceive three dimensional objects bounded by unidimensional time. The temporal moment is, metageometrically speaking, no more and no less than a section of a larger four dimensional continuum, whereas an object's entire life corresponds to a more sizable "chunk" of four dimensional "stuff." Hence, if we could suffer objects four dimensionally we would know them very differently. First, they would be static and never changing, complete, and unevolving. We would simultaneously observe a thing's birth, its subsequent life, as well as its death.

Let us attempt to visualize the metageometrical form of a four dimensional solid using as a model the planetary world. From this view when looking into the sky we are actually observing cross sections of the sun and the moon. Planetary movement is no more than our perception of a succession of discrete points along the greater line of time. Yet in order for us to appreciate the magnitude of a four dimensional form we must take as our subject of investigation a sufficient number of points along the timeline of our solar system. But inasmuch as our own individual lives are quite trivial relative to the solar existence we cannot hope to formulate an interesting or even approximately accurate representation unless we view a much longer span of time than that occupied by the mere life of either a man or, for that matter, mankind. Therefore, let us take as our "point in time" a one million year segment.

In order to simplify our model let us first presume that the direction of the sun comprises a straight line. The four dimensional body or form of the sun over a million years would appear to an observer capable of perceiving such a thing as a large burning rod . Bound and tightly coiled about the rod spiral twelve much smaller concentric threads These are the planets. Upon closer examination we detect even smaller ridges spiraling the planetary threads. These are various moons and satellites. We could further complicate our model to include asteroids and comets as they traverse the sun, and as a matter of course we would have to significantly expand this now growing model if we were to place the sun in its proper place, because the sun itself spirals "through space" on its own predetermined path within the much larger galactic cosmos. Thus, instead of a straight rigid rod we would likely observe a curved, twisted, and spiraling rod. In fine, within this new model our time has become space.

Imagining space thusly (i.e. in four dimensions) begs the question, "What of a man's life?" Dissecting tightly wound threads from the central core and subsequently stripping away the outer threads (planets) we would eventually reach the third to the last thread, our earth. If we had a powerful enough viewing instrument we might discover various geologic ages. And if our microscope were capable of finer resolution we might even be able to discern the age of man. As yet, an individual man, or even a single civilization would not be apparent. Perhaps certain age old relics would be observable such as the Sphinx or the Great Pyramids. And maybe the period between 1945 and 1965 would somehow be detected as the many above ground atomic explosions conducted by the U.S., U.S.S.R., and China were measured as strange bursts of nuclear energy. Still, the life of any individual would be missed. The wars, deaths, and all the suffering of mankind would be a minor thing indeed. And what we revere in our science, religion, and art would be nothing. In reality and if such a thing were possible it would be even less than nothing since we must remember that we are dealing with an almost instantaneous fragment of the life of the sun, i.e., a mere one million years.

Metageometry in this sense must not be confused with standard nonEuclidean geometries, the latter being a revaluation of Euclid's axioms which, by challenging the basic definition of the physical properties of surfaces, led to a new understanding of conventional space. Within this convention the axioms of a given geometry, whether standard Euclidean or not, remain logical properties of surfaces "in space." Thus the form of both Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries remains three dimensional whereas metageometry extends geometry into the realm of higher dimensional space.

Curiously, such a view is closely related to the properly understood religious idea of eternity. G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware offer the following definition in the Glossary of their translation of 'The Philokalia of St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth', Faber and Faber, London, 1979: "Frequently a distinction is made between the 'present age' and the 'age to come' or 'the new age'. The first corresponds to our present sense of time, the second to time as exists in God, that is, to eternity understood, not as endless time, but as the simultaneous presence of all time. Certain texts, especially in St. Maximos the Confessor, also use the term aeon in a connected but more specific way, to denote a level intermediate between eternity in the full sense (aidiotis) and time as known to us in our present experience (chronos). There are thus three levels: (a) eternity, the totum simul or simultaneous presence of all time
and reality as known to God, who alone has neither origin nor end, and who therefore is alone eternal in the full sense; (b) the aeon, the totum simul as known to the angels, and also to human persons who possess experience of the 'age to come': although having no end, these angelic or human beings, since they are created, are not self-originating and therefore are not eternal in the sense that God is eternal; © time, that is, temporal succession as known to us in the present age."

In Ch 2 of the Bhaktivedanta translation of Text 12 of the sixth book of the 'Mahabharata', published as 'Bhagavad-Gita: As It Is', Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, New York, 1968, we find the following passage: "Never was there a time when I (Krishna) did not exist, nor you (Arjuna), nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to exist." The Barbara Stoller Miller translation, subtitled 'Krishna's Counsel in Time of War', Bantam, New York, 1986, while not as "readable" as that of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, does, nevertheless, succinctly convey the idea of eternity in her rendering of Text 16: "Nothing of nonbeing comes to be, nor does being cease to exist; the boundary between these two is seen by men who 'see reality' (italics, added)."

In Chapter 5, Book 2 of 'The Idiot', Dostoevsky comments on the strange Biblical passage oft quoted by Ouspensky and found in Revelation 10:6, "there shall be no more time", when describing, in almost mystic terms Myshkin's reminiscence of his epileptic fit as "the very second which was not long enough for the water to be spilt out of Mahomet's pitcher, though the epileptic prophet had time to gaze at all the habitations of Allah." Interestingly, the King James version preserves the meaning of the Russian Orthodox translation undoubtedly used by Dostoevsky, whereas the New International version removes certain words giving the passage an entirely different meaning.

Neither is this distinction lost in philosophy proper. As an example, proposition 6.4311 of Wittgenstein's 'Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus' reads, "Death is not an event in life: we do not experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end just as our visual field has no limits."

See also the thread: The dead in hell before Christ... there is some very interesting material posted there that relates to this topic.

In Christ,

#4 John


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Posted 08 July 2007 - 12:33 PM

Hello everyone.

I think I remember reading in some of the early Fathers that time was part of God's creation, which is why Arius said that there was a "when" when the Son wasn't, but he didn't say there wasn't a "time" when He wasn't, since most people thought of time as something the Son created.


#5 Demetrios


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Posted 09 July 2007 - 03:09 AM

One could allways read scripture for an indication.

Isaiah 66
22For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.

23And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

24And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

#6 Nina


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Posted 09 July 2007 - 04:50 PM

Dear Mina,

Saint Symeon the New Theologian advices about discourses of an eschatological character: "there is therefore great need of prayer, of much effort, of much purity of intellect, both in us who speak and in those who listen, in order for the first to be able and know and speak well and for the others to listen with understanding to what is said. " (On the Mystical Life)

Since the disscusion you are involved is complex and eschatology a very delicate subject because it is a mystery, please read the book 'The feasts of the Lord' by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlahos (you will find answers about Panagia and time); and also the book 'On the Mystical Life' of Saint Symeon the New Theologian.

Also here is a quote from the book "The mind of the Orthodox Church" of Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlahos, which sheds light about the future life which - according to the author and the Fathers he quotes - will not be "a stationary condition":

The perpetuity of the Church

By his incarnation Christ assumed human nature, and indeed human nature was united with the divine nature immutably, without confusion, inseparably, unchangeably and indivisibly. They are never separated. They remain united forever.

Thus the Church will exist also after the Second Coming of Christ and we shall be able to speak of the perfect manifestation of the Church. This is said from the point of view that the saints are already tasting the last things, because, as we said in the beginning, the last things in the Church are not isolated from the first and intermediate things. Living in the Church, we reach the state of Adam in Paradise before the fall, and we ascend still higher, because we attain communion and unity with Christ, united in His Divine-human Body, having become members of His Body.

The saints from now on are enjoying the glory of God, and therefore St. Symeon the New Theologian says that those who have been granted the vision of the uncreated Light are not waiting for the Second Coming, because they are already experiencing the Kingdom of God.

Besides, the Kingdom of God is not something created, nor is it an earthly reality, but, as St. Gregory Palamas teaches, participation in the Kingdom of God is identified and linked with the vision of the uncreated Light.

However, there will be a continuous perfecting of this participation in the glory of God. This is important, because if the future life is a stationary condition, then it will not have fullness. St. Gregory of Sinai says characteristically: "It is said that in the age to come, the Angels and saints ever increase in gifts of grace and never abate their longing for further blessings. No lapse or veering from virtue to vice takes place in that life".

And St. Gregory Palamas, referring to this point, speaks of the continual development in deification, in man's continual perfecting. Asking: "Do not the saints progress infinitely in the vision of God in the age to come?" He gives the answer himself: "In everything it is clearly to infinity". Indeed he makes use of the case of the Angels who, according to the teaching of St. Dionysios the Areopagite, become increasingly receptive "to the clearest illumination". God is infinite and therefore grants His grace abundantly and plentifully. St. Gregory Palamas asks: "What way is left but for the sons of the age to come, to advance in this to infinity, admitted from grace to grace and patiently making the tireless ascent?" This will be because, according to the same saint. "the previous grace empowers them to partake of greater things".

Of course, in saying these things, we must emphasize that it is not a matter of the restoration of all things, a teaching which was not adopted by the Church, but of the development and perfection of the saints, those who during their lives partook of the purifying, illuminating and deifying energy of God. For those men who did not participate even in the purifying grace of God, that is to say, did not enter the stage of repentance, this good development will not take effect. Furthermore, the passages which we mentioned speak of the saints who acquired the grace of God, and therefore in them the previous grace is empowering towards participation in greater things. Therefore the memorial services which the Church performs for those who have died also have this aim. They help the person in his perfecting, because, according to the teaching of the saints, "this is the perfect unending perfection of the perfect ones".

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