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How can time not exist before creation? For God to exist for infinite time before creation, there had to have been some kind of time or time-like object causing -infinity to turn into the time of creation. Wouldn't God have created time before time so there was still time before creation but it may have had different properties?

Because eternity into the future is always described as infinite time in the future, but infinite time into the future can't actually happen technically and only approaching the infinite future can happen but never reaching it. So kind of like on a coordinate plane for e-x, where the coordinate plane tries to approach zero but it never actually is able to reach zero unless a value of infinity is placed in the value of x, which can't be shown on a coordinate plane. So is it kind of like the graph that I described in that eternity can never be reached and it doesn't exist at least in the future side, and eternity in the past does exist and has to exist? So does ever-increasing finite time give the illusion of eternity?

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    "For God to exist for infinite time before creation" Strictly speaking, Christians wouldn't say this is true. Time is part of the created universe. God's eternal existence is not within time, but we can only understand it analogously as being like infinite time.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 31 at 1:21
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    Time is part of the universe, so there's not really anything "before" it in God's own existence.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 31 at 2:53
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    "So was there like a 4 dimensional space before creation" No. Before creation there was only God. Don't mistake descriptions of God's interactions within the created universe as descriptions of God's own intrinsic existence.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 31 at 3:24
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    Eternity is not a long period of time nor is it 'infinite time' (a contradiction in terms), Eternity is a state other than time. Likewise with dimension.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 31 at 7:11
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    @MiltonTheMeme Time loops are sci-fi. Christian denominations are not going to have any official teachings on them.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 1 at 3:11

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The traditional Christian take on this is that God is beyond time, i.e. that God transcends space and time. This is not as crazy as it sounds given what we know about modern cosmology. For example, within the framework of modern cosmologies, it makes no sense to talk about time before the big bang because space and time are on an equal footing as a smooth manifold without boundary. In fact, Stephen Hawking was granted a Vatican award for his proof of the so called "no boundaries" theorem. Space and time are both created at the instant of the big bang, before this, there is nothing like what we characterize as space and time, reality before the singularity is then a transcendent reality that cannot be analyzed by the scientific method. In some respects, although atheists will disagree, the big bang hints at something other than space-time and the materialist realm that is familiar to humanity, it is a sign-post that a transcendent reality exists.

The idea of God being outside of time helps to shed light on some aspects of Christian mysticism, e.g. for God, history is completely laid out as past present and future all happening at once, God can look down objectively at all of history, In this sense, some mystics have understood Christ as suffering for the sins of humanity before the creation of the universe, two thousand years ago in Roman Palestine, and perpetually in the future so far as time goes; he is not the Christ who died in agony, but rather the agonizing Christ.

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    I like the scientific basis! Indeed, the "singularity" that forms the basis of the big bang would logically predict the non-existence of time. Good point! Apr 2 at 20:01
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… kind of like on a coordinate plane for e-x, where the coordinate plane tries to approach zero but it never actually is able …

So does ever-increasing finite time give the illusion of eternity?

No, because by compressing time like that, you really would have an infinite amount of time in the past.

  • The Bible states, "in the beginning".
  • Science states more precisely, "the universe is 13.7 (±.2) billion years old".

Both authorities agree that the universe (i.e. all of the physical creation), had a beginning. There really is a point in time before which time and space didn't exist. Before the beginning, there was literally nothing, and without a physical universe, the concept of time and space is meaningless.

A good analogy would be to remove a dimension and consider the (2D) surface of the Earth as representing the (3D) universe. It is common to ask how far one has traveled north to get to where one is. But is it reasonable to ask that question if one is standing at the south pole?

Talking about a direction that is "south of the south pole" is like talking about "time before the beginning". Neither concept is meaningful in the real world.

A similar analogy would be to take that 2D surface of the Earth and use the third dimension to represent time, with the Earth continuously expanding as it moves into the future (perhaps with each year being like a layer in an onion). A distance above ground would be a distance into the future; a distance below ground would be a distance into the past.

If one moves into the past, the surface of the globe keeps shrinking, and eventually becomes a point, and there is no more past to move into.

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  • What about the holographic principle where the 2D world actually is the 3D world but the 2D world at the edge of the universe maps itself to 3D?According to this, even gravity is due to entropy and is called as an "entropic force" due to the events happening at the edge of the universe. PBS space time made a video about it recently. What do you think about this, in that everything is actually 2D but it looks 3D, and this builds from black hole information paradox? Apr 4 at 3:34
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An infinite future is a useful concept. Eternity is not an illusion. It is the reality that no matter how many times you go to sleep, you will wake up again, and when the Lord's resurrection comes for you, that pattern will repeat forever, and the future you have chosen for yourself will be inescapable at that point. So eternity is a reality, infinity is not an illusion, and infinite time does indeed make eternity, so to speak.

The fact that it never runs out is indeed a testament to the eternality of our existence post-resurrection and final judgment.

A semi-famous saying is, "If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of."

Today, you get to choose how many of the Lord's blessings you will qualify for in eternity based on your level of faithfulness.

I feel it is necessary to address reverse and backwards and inside out concepts of time. Causality is never violated in the Scriptures, even once.

The Scriptures say that although at some point in the future, "time will be no longer", this statement intrinsically implies that there will be something after "time". It also intrinsically implies that there is an immutable notion of what came before that unending state. "Time" in the Scriptures is almost never used in an apparent singleton sense. That is to say, that time is measured by the body upon which one stands. In our case, the Earth. Like an old pocketwatch, this Earth will eventually lose its spring and need to be scrapped. The Scriptures say that after this Earth's time has ended, there will be a new heaven and a new Earth. See my answer here for more detail on this concept. Even a terrestrial being needs to wind up his clock every so often.

Here is one immutable implication of causality:

God only moves forward.

If we (or any being) could move backward in time, "undoing" what has been done, think of the ramifications:

  • There would have been no need for an Atonement (time travel: Just undo Adam and Eve's choice to partake of the forbidden fruit!)
  • No need for repentance (just get in the time machine and poof! it never happened.)
  • It would be impossible to identify a "first cause", because no one could ever falsify that we aren't just experiencing a wrinkle or a loop in time.
  • The "time" of our mortal testing would never end
  • There would be no such thing as final judgment. The Scriptures make us inescapably aware of the reality of God's final judgment on us.

If backwards time travel were possible, there would be no God. But there is a God, and while He has perfect awareness of the past, He moves forever forward.

Eternity is indeed the promise of a limitless future--that is to say, unless we limit ourselves by aiming permanently below the eternal joy that God has to offer us, by rejecting our Lord's Atonement, or by failing to repent and make and keep covenants while there is time.

The fact of our mortal probation being time-bound is a huge blessing. It means that, although we are limited to finite means and choices for now, we can give something eternal of ourselves. We have only one shot at life. How we use this one short time of testing is how we pack our bags for eternity. We only get to take with us what will fit in the bag, so to speak, or what we put in the time God gives to us. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said,

It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Laborers in the Vineyard, April 2012

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  • Does this mean wormholes through different regions of space don't exist to go to a different location in 15 seconds because in theory wormholes can be used to time travel from the future to the present if designed properly. In theory one can place the wormhole near a massive object like the neutron star, and the other wormhole in empty space, and the time difference between the two ends would start adding up and eventually it will be possible to travel many years in the past or to the future by using one of the wormhole ends? Apr 5 at 1:38
  • And there is a tiny probability that ultra-tiny wormholes exist so small particles can traverse space, but due to the mechanism above, can also be used to travel through time as well. So do you think the wormhole won't be discovered even at the subatomic scale level? Apr 5 at 1:39
  • @MiltonTheMeme Gravity has been modeled as particles traveling backwards in time just to make the math work with a certain interaction model borrowed from Newtonian physics. There are an infinite number of mutually exclusive theories and models that can be created that purport backwards time travel -- but monkeying with math and "theory" does not make it so, nor are any of these things mechanistic explanations of how things really work. Many theories are based only on speculation and mathematics, and do not correspond to anything in physical reality.
    – pygosceles
    Apr 5 at 18:35
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Infinite time is not real.

As mentioned in a comment under the other answer, infinity is a concept, not a real number. It is also not the same as unending, which implies a beginning. Thus, infinite time is not a sufficient explanation of His nature.

I like to think of this as an image. ![Time from God's view

This is a pretty horrible image, but I'll try to explain:

The top is what God sees - It makes a perfect square, and time is not regarded at all.

The bottom is what we see; we're missing a dimension (height) and because we see it as it's being drawn in reference to time, it doesn't make a perfect shape. Obviously, its not perfect, but I hope I've communicated the idea.

The point being, God is in fact beyond time, residing beyond it and without reference to it - just as we will be when we are resurrected in the final resurrection. Thus, we won't get bored or such in the eternity because we won't process the time as unending. He works in ways that we surely can't understand, but, as always, it is beneficial for our faith to try. Let me know if you don't understand or how I could improve the explanation.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis explains this a little also. Good reading.

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  • I previously used this image to explain free-will and prayers and such, and I think this is good evidence for Him being beyond time also. Apr 2 at 19:22
  • I have read Mere Christianity and it is a favorite of mine, haven't read The Screwtape Letters, this will give me some impetus to check it out. Can you briefly relate in a comment your thought on how this connects with free will?
    – user65254
    Apr 2 at 19:46
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    God being beyond time, He sees our lives as a picture, while we experience them as a timeline. We might think "Oh, He knows what I'm going to pray before I do it, why should I pray, then?", but this experience is not how He answers them. I'm not quite sure how to explain it well, so sorry if this is confusing. Mere Christianity is a good one. Apr 2 at 19:53
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Beginning of Time Scientists Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking made a conclusion after studying the universe with all its ephemeral characteristics: The universe had a beginning AND time had a beginning!

Without rehashing their complicated research, we can accept their findings because they agree with what the Bible teaches.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...(Genesis 1:1)

(God) has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed...(2 Timothy 1:9)

According to the ..acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness, in hope of eternal life which God that cannot lie, promised before the beginning of time... (Titus 1:1-2)

And the (angel) swore by Him that lives for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that are therein, and the earth....that there should be time no longer. (Revelation 10:6)

Both time and matter are destined to be rolled up and done away with. That which had a beginning also has an ending. (See the dissertation by Peter, 2 Peter 3:7-13)

But God exists outside of time in Eternity.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. (Psalm 90:2)

Since time had a beginning and God is the creator if it, God must exist outside of time, in Eternity. (To be a part of "time or matter" would introduce a violation of the Law of hon-contradiction.) The phrase "infinite time" seems to be a poor substitute for "eternity", because it taints eternity with an ephemeral noun.

Addendum A few observations need to be made concerning the Question's given explanation. (1) ...to turn into the time of creation. Creation does not necessitate the "transformation" of anything. Creation is usually "coming into being from nothing." (ex nihilo) Without a revelation from God that "earthly time came into being" from a pre-creation "time-like object," we must be content with creation from nothing but the mind and power of God.

(2)ever-increasing finite time This phrase seems to be a contradiction of terms. "Finite" does not imply "increasing." Finite is a four-dimensional box in which Time is restrained/contained. If we step into Eternity, this small box of Time/space with restraining sides is easily seen. Only eternity maintains its pristine characteristic of infinity. God, who inhabits Eternity, looks down at this box, and sees its ending from its beginning, hence the concept of "Divine Providence."

Until we too shall step into Eternity, this topic will boggle our finite human minds...and then...it will "blow our minds"!

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  • How is infinite a short time? Apr 3 at 0:56
  • Also what if time freezes at the singularity of all black holes? Apr 3 at 0:57
  • @MiltonTheMeme My personal theory on the black hole issue is that the singularity transcends space time physics, this is why singularities are hidden behind the event horizon, and why humanity will never have a theory of quantum gravity, these will remain mysteries of God. Black holes, much like the big-bang are pointers toward the existence of reality beyond physics.
    – user65254
    Apr 3 at 20:21
  • @MiltonTheMeme - I meant "noun". See change and spelling correction. ---"What if..." It is not reasonable to base conclusive deductions on "what if..." speculation. "What if" I come up with a factual answer tomorrow that proves "it is beyond the concept called 'time' "; would you then become a believer? "What if " tomorrow I prove Einstein and Hawking to be wrong? "What if..."
    – ray grant
    Apr 3 at 20:22
  • @raygrant I agree, although there is nothing wrong with the concept of "infinite time", it does not does not mean the same thing as eternity, which rather suggests existence beyond time.
    – user65254
    Apr 3 at 20:28
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Eternal life is simply defined as life unending. It is also referred to as everlasting life. The word is mentioned in the Bible several times especially in God's promise to the elect, anything that does not end is considered infinite just like natural numbers. I do not know if the dimension of time we are aware of now is the same time dimension that will be in existence after the resurrection but the life of the saints will be perpetuated by the tree of life and the streams of eternal life flowing out of God's throne

The saints have to technically drink and eat from these two to continue sharing in God's gift of everlasting life.

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  • But your definition of eternity sounds like a type of function like y=10^x where there is acceleration of the numbers but no matter how big the base is, or how big x is, it will never actually reach infinity(eternity) because infinity is technically a concept and not a number. The only way y=infinity is if x=infinity, and the only way for y=0, is if x=-infinity, but assuming x is some function that is increasing by 1 second every second or even is a function where x=3z^2, where there is acceleration in how fast time flows, y can't be infinity. So is it true that eternal future isn't real. Mar 31 at 16:49
  • @MiltonTheMeme, eternal future is real because God is superwerful Apr 1 at 3:10

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