Tuesday, October 13, 2015

J. L. Mackie's Logical Argument from Evil Against God's Existence

For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion students.

1. "Evil" means gratuitous suffering (pointless suffering); viz., suffering that is not needed to bring about a greater good or not needed to prevent a greater evil from happening.

2. Mackie believes "theism" is logically incoherent.

Two statements are logically incoherent in that both cannot be true at the same time, in any possible world.

For example:

a. John is a bachelor.
b. John's wife is Linda.


a. X is square.
b. X is circular.

3. Mackie's Triad

Mackie gives a "triad" of statements" which, he claims, cannot all be affirmed at the same time without contradiction. They are:

1. God is all-powerful.
2. God is all-good.
3. Evil exists.

He adds two assumptions to this, which are: a) an all-powerful being would be able to stop evil from happening; and 2) an all-good being would desire to stop evil from happening.

Mackie says there is no possible world where you could affirm all three statements at the same time. Therefore theism is incoherent.

4. Mackie's Possible Solutions

Mackie says we would have no "problem" of evil if just one of the three statements was false. 

If 1 is false, then 2 and 3 could logically be true, since God might desire to stop evil but could not do so since he would not be all-powerful. 

If 2 were false, then while God could stop any evil from occurring he would not desire to.

If 3 were false and evil did not even exist, then of course we are not left with a "problem of evil" any more than we have a "problem with unicorns." 

And who might deny that evil exists? Buddhism does, at least in its virgin, culturally unpolluted form. I'll next explain this idea to our students, which always proves to be head-twisting.

Being Useless and Silent in the Presence of God Belongs to the Core of All Prayer

I prayed here - 10/10/15 (Lake Michigan shoreline, Muskegon)

My deeper prayer odyssey began in 1982 when I took my Bible, a clean journal, and A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Others Servants to a field north of Lansing, Michigan, found a rusty old tractor, mounted it, and sat for four hours. And prayed. On that day God met me with such gentle force that I have never looked back. I became a praying person.

I love spending time with God, speaking and listening to Him. I bloom while praying. Henri Nouwen writes:

"We simply need quiet time in the presence of God. Although we want to make all our time, time for God, we will never succeed if we do not reserve a minute, an hour, a morning, a day, a week, a month, or whatever period of time for God and God alone." (Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, 94)

The day I prayed on the abandoned tractor was a Tuesday. Today, 33 years later, is Tuesday. This is my day with God; this is God's day with me. I believe God looks forward to this time with me. I am his child, and God loves spending time with his kids. A morning with God, today.

I will never forget how I began that tractor-time thinking, "This feels like doing nothing, a waste of time." Nouwen writes:

"[Taking praying time with God] asks for much discipline and risk taking because we always seem to have something more urgent to do and "just sitting there" and "doing nothing" often disturbs us more than it helps. But there is no way around this. Being useless and silent in the presence of God belongs to the core of all prayer. In the beginning we often hear our own unruly inner noises more loudly than God's voice. This is at times very hard to tolerate." (Ib.)

I tolerated it. I hung in there. I stayed. For five hours. I prayed "Search me, O God." And He did. I knew in my mind and experienced in the depths of my being that God was with me, living in me, His holy presence. Now I couldn't leave. I was spirit-glued to the tractor seat. I opened my journal and wrote, and wrote, and wrote...  as best I could to capture what God was saying and doing to me. 

"But slowly, very slowly, we discover that the silent time makes us quiet and deepens our awareness of ourselves and God. Then, very soon, we start missing these moments when we are deprived of them, and before we are fully aware of it an inner momentum has developed that draws us more and more into silence and closer to that still point where God speaks to us." (Ib.)

Do I miss these moments with God? Yes and no. Yes, when I feel overwhelmed by the incessant struggles of this crazy world. No, because I have never stopped meeting with God. This is my day, my time, with Him. This is my week and my month and my year with Him. 

This is my life, with God.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Unmasking the False Self

“And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” 

2 Cor 3: 18

My backyard

Spiritual formation, Jesus-style, is about heart-morphing into Christlikeness (Galatians 4:19). Every Jesus-follower has "Christ in them, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1). The apostle Paul speaks of this "mystery" as a great treasure to be discovered and sought out, again and again. Every day of our lives is a day of potential discovery as we experience the riches of Christ in us.

Henri Nouwen writes of this reality in The Inner Voice of Love:

"What a gracious provision is ours to access in our present journey! Truly, we can be conformed to Christ— from glory to glory— until that day at the consummation of all things, when we can wholly reclaim our true-self-in-Christ. Finally, when we come home to “glory,” we are guaranteed never to fall short of it again— ever! Until then, as we daily find ourselves immersed in the concurrent experience of our true self and our false self within, we face the reality of tension, fully cognizant that our “deepest, truest self is not yet home.”

Commenting on this Will Hernandez writes: "In fact, the first step to our ongoing process of homecoming demands this continual claiming of our true self and the unmasking of our false self. In Thomas Merton’s words, “To reach one’s ‘real self’ one must, in fact, be delivered from that illusory and ‘false self’ whom we have created.” (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 34; quoted in Will Hernandez, Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension, Kindle Locations 523-529)

Hernandez continues:

"Our true identity, therefore, is the one defined by God himself. So who are we according to God’s precise view of us? The bottom line is that we are creatures made in the image of our Creator, “valued, valuing, and valuable” beings whom God has loved and will continue to love from eternity to eternity. Indeed “we are the beloveds of God,” as Nouwen confidently declares repeatedly in almost all his speaking and writing. Unshakably, he understood Jesus’ true identity as God’s beloved Son (Matt. 3: 17) to be true of us as well and therefore something we can legitimately claim for ourselves. As John Mogabgab, Nouwen’s former teaching and research assistant at Yale, underscored, “This was for Henri the first truth about us, the truth beyond all biological, cultural, and psychological truths that accumulate around our identity.” (Hernandez, Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension, Kindle Locations 533-541)

God Is Not Supportive of Your "Comfort Zone" (Bleeding In the Zone of Universal Discomfort)

Baptism in the uncomfortable 37 degree waters of Lake Michigan, 10/10/15
On occasion I hear someone speak about their "comfort zone." This refers to the environment they feel comfort in. The arena where they feel safe. The place where they are not for the most part "uncomfortable." 

I think I understand this. It's utilitarianism gone berserk in the absence of God. It's the H-god. It's "Happiness" - "Clap along if you think that happiness is the truth, Because I'm happy." (See The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being. See also: "If Everything Is So Amazing, Why's Nobody Happy?") 

The idea of a "comfort zone" is a historically recent European and North American invention which has nothing to do with God's plans and purposes. (See Happiness Industry - the "comfort zone" is rooted in the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham.) You will find great promises of peace and rest throughout the Scriptures. You will not find comfort zone maintenance there.

In Scripture we see that what really pleases God is "faith." We are told that without faith it is impossible to please God.

Which means: without following Jesus on his redemptive mission to the world it is impossible to please God. Which entails going into places and situations and the lives of people where, to be honest, you would rather not go. (See here, e.g.) Faith always goes from comfort to discomfort. That is its nature.

"Faith" is RISK. Obedience by faith always takes us into the Discomfort Zone for the Cause of Christ. Think here of missionaries. Then, think of yourself as a missionary planted where you are. 

This past week 11 Jesus-followers in Syria had their fingers chopped off before they were brutalized, beaten, raped, beheaded, and then hung on crosses(see international news reports here). Because they refused to deconvert from Christianity and convert to Islam. Two Christian women, aged 28 and 33, were raped in front of their spiritual brothers and sisters. A UK news report reads:

"The reports of the savagery came from a ministry leader Christian Aid assists, who spoke with relatives and villagers.

“Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord’s Prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus,” the ministry director said.
“One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!’”
Their bodies were hung on crosses for display after they were killed, he added."
As Jesus died on the cross he was bleeding in the Zone of Universal Discomfort, for you and me. He did not come to furnish your man-cave. He calls us to a life of faith that is accomplished by cross-bearing into this world's present darkness. 

In Revelation 14:4 we read this about the martyrs who refused to worship the beast: They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

It will be uncomfortable. 

It will be redemptive.

The people will rejoice.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pick Up Your Guns and Follow Me?

Bill Day
Surely the solution to gun violence in America is not more guns, so that we get everyone packing armor. 

"Everyone should start carrying guns." Really? Are you kidding me? Like that will help and make us safer?

More guns in the hands of more people will only perpetuate violence. 

As for people who label themselves "Christians" it is instructive to note that Jesus didn't say "Take up your weapons and follow me." But Jesus did say "Take up your cross and follow me." Which means: Instead of kill other people, die for them. If everyone did this (which will not of course happen on this earth) the world would be turned upside-down. Which means real churches should be gun-free zones, right?

Here's a quiz.

Which one is the Real Jesus?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Phenomenology of Spiritual Formation

For: My new friends at Real Life - Ferris State U. Thank you so much for inviting me to be with you this weekend. If you have comments or questions please email me at: johnpiippo@msn.com. 

My Method
a.    A phenomenology of spiritual formation.
b.    A description.
                                          i.    I am going to describe the process of spiritual formation and transformation as I have seen it, as a result of teaching and coaching 2500 pastors and Christian leaders over the past 36 years.
c.    ‘Phenomenology’ - “The discipline of phenomenology may be defined initially as the study of structures of experience, or consciousness. Literally, phenomenology is the study of “phenomena”: appearances of things, or things as they appear in our experience, or the ways we experience things, thus the meanings things have in our experience. Phenomenology studies conscious experience as experienced from the subjective or first person point of view. This field of philosophy is then to be distinguished from, and related to, the other main fields of philosophy: ontology (the study of being or what is), epistemology (the study of knowledge), logic (the study of valid reasoning), ethics (the study of right and wrong action), etc.” (“Phenomenology,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

What is spiritual formation?

Dallas Willard - “Spiritual formation can be understood as the process by which true Christlikeness is established in the very depths of our being.” (Willard)
§  “Spiritual formation” is “a term for those processes through which people are inwardly transformed in such a way that the personality and deeds of Jesus Christ naturally flow out from them when and wherever they are.” (Willard)
§  "When we talk about spiritual formation we are talking about framing a progression of life in which people come to actually do all things that Jesus taught. So we are obviously going for the heart. We are aiming for change of the inner person, where what we do originates." (Willard)
·         Jeffrey Greenman - "Spiritual formation is our continuing response to the reality of God's grace shaping us into the likeness of Jesus Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, in the community of faith, for the sake of the world."
- Jeffrey Greenman, 
Life in the Spirit: Spiritual Formation in Theological Perspective, 24 
·         Henri Nouwen - "Spiritual formation, I have come to believe, is not about steps or stages on the way to perfection. It’s about the movements from the mind to the heart through prayer in its many forms that reunite us with God, each other, and our truest selves." (Nouwen, Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit, Kindle Locations 152-154) 
o   "Spiritual formation requires taking not only the inward journey to the heart, but also the outward journey from the heart to community and ministry. Christian spirituality is essentially communal. Spiritual formation is formation in community. One’s personal prayer life can never be understood if it is separated from community life. Prayer in the spiritual life leads to community, and community to prayer. In community we learn what it means to confess our weakness and to forgive each other. In community we discover our own woundedness, but also a place of healing. In community we learn true humility. Without community, we become individualistic and egocentric. Therefore, spiritual formation always includes formation to life in community." (Ib., Kindle Locations 309-315)
5 stages – a phenomenology of spiritual formation.
      1. The Need – recognition of how needy we are of personal, inner change.

2. The Gap – realization as a revelation of the holiness of Christ, and of the great gap between ourselves and Christ.

3. Recognition of the magnitude of the needed transformation. God wants to metamorph the human heart into Christlikeness. (Gal. 4:19; Rom. 12:1-2)

4. Only God can do this – realization that we cannot self-transform by our own striving and will power into Christlikeness.

5 . Therefore, consistently get into the presence of God. Abide in Christ. You cannot consistently dwell in Christ and remain unchanged.

What is “spirit?”
o   “Spirit” Defined"
o   Biblically and systematically, it is appropriate to identify the heart and the spirit of the human being and the will as roughly the same thing. (From Dallas Willard)
o   The spirit is that part of the human being that has the capacity of moving without being moved. (=”free will”]  
o   It is the depth of the human being where freedom really exists. It is that part of us that is self-determined. That's the heart.
o   That's why evil and good come out of the heart, it's because that's the part of us that is really us.
o   It's really ours. And spirit is of that intensely personal nature.
God is spirit. Therefore God is wholly self-determined.
o   We are self-determined only in a very small way. 
o   This part of the human being--the spirit, the will, the heart--is the place where the work of spiritual formation has to be done.
o   Remember the words of Samuel: "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart."
o   Functionally the will is the executive center of the self.  [= choice-making; decision-making]
o   When it comes to life in God through the new birth, its task is then the re-formation of the whole self in co-operation with God.
o   Will is not exactly character, but is formed into character as it becomes habitual and automatic.

o   The human will exists in three conditions or dimensions.

Three aspects of the human will (From Dallas Willard)
o   The vital or impulsive will
§  .    “This is a willing that is outwardly directed and moved by and toward things that are simply attractive. You see this in a baby. A little baby very quickly begins to be attracted to things, to reach for them, and move in relationship to them. And that's all there really is to will in the baby.”
§  b.  This is: “I want to,” and “It pleases me.” E.g., “I want to eat ice cream, therefore I will eat ice cream.” (Especially Graeter's Ice Cream in Columbus!)
§  c.    You simply choose what you desire.

o   The reflective will
§  The reflective will is oriented toward what is good for the person as a whole, not merely to what is desired. And so we have the conflict that we all know too well, as human beings, between the good and the bad, and the good and the not so good, and the good and the better. This conflict goes on constantly in our lives…”
§  b.    Reflective will is the will oriented toward what is good for the person as a whole, not toward the merely desired.
§  c.    Instead of just doing what you want or desire, you choose for what is good. For Jesus-followers, you choose what God wants.
§  d.    This is the “WWJD” stage.

o   The embodied will
§  Embodied will – this is who you really are.
§  Now watch closely: ”Spiritual formation in Christ transforms your embodied will. It transforms your embodied will so that what comes out of you automatically are the words and deeds of Christ.” (Willard)
§  This is the point where we can stop thinking about our responses.
§  This is the point where we have the mind of Christ.
o   Willard says: “Christian spiritual formation is the process through which the embodied/reflective will takes on the character of Christ's will. It is the process through which (and you know Gal. 4:19) Christ is formed in you and me. Think of Paul's magnificent statement: "The life which I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." Not faith in, but the faith of. I have taken his faith into me. I am now being inwardly the person that Christ has called me to be, and this inward faith has now spread throughout my socially embodied self.”
o   Willard: “Spiritual formation in Christ would, then, ideally result in a person whose reflective will for good, fully informed and possessed by Christ, has settled into their body in its social context to such an extent that their natural responses were always to think and feel and do as Christ himself would. Their epidermal as well as their deliberate responses are then those of Christ.” [Cmp. Nouwen – that the truths of the mind would descend into one’s heart.] 
§  This reverses Romans 7:19. There, Paul writes:  "The things that I would not that I do, and the things that I would, that I do not."     

Friday, October 09, 2015

Dynamics of Spiritual Discernment as Consolation and Desolation

One of my prayer and discernment meeting places with God (Sterling State Park, Lake Erie) - a 7 mile bike ride from home.

No one writes better on the subject of spiritual discernment than Ruth Haley Barton, except for perhaps Henri Nouwen

How do we grow in discernment?

"Cultivating the habit of discernment means we are always seeking the movement of God's Spirit so we can abandon ourselves to it. Sometimes abandoning ourselves to the will of God is like floating down a river: we relax and allow the current of the river to carry us along. At other times it is more like trying to run the rapids or ride a large wave: we must keep our body and mind attuned to the dynamic of the water so we can ride it to its destination rather than being toppled by its force. Either way, we do not set the direction or the speed of the current; rather, we seek the best way to let the current carry us in the direction God has for us." (Barton, "Discernment As a Way of Life")

One important part of discernment is "discernment of spirits" (1 Corinthians 12:10). 1 John 4:1 instructs us to "test the spirits to see if they are from God." Barton writes:

"The discernment of spirits helps us to distinguish the real from the phony, the true from the false, in the external world but also in the interior world of our own thoughts and motives. As we become more attuned to these subtle spiritual dynamics, we are able to distinguish between what is good (that which moves us toward God and his calling upon our lives) and what is evil (that which draws us away from God)."

Barton draws on Ignatius' idea that the dynamics of spiritual discernment involve "consolation" and "desolation." 

"Consolation is the interior movement of the heart that gives us a deep sense of life-giving connection with God, others, and our authentic self. We may experience it as a sense that all is right with the world, that we are free to be given over to God and love, even in moments of pain and crisis. Desolation is the loss of a sense of God's presence; indeed, we feel out of touch with God, with others and with our authentic self. It might be an experience of being off-center, full of turmoil, confusion, and maybe even rebellion. Or we might sense our energy draining away, tension in our gut or tears welling in our eyes."

This is so helpful to me. I have found that these senses regularly accompany my experience of times of discernment. 

"For instance, you might be going through something very difficult—perhaps the death of someone close, or quitting a job, or ending a relationship that is not good for you. There certainly is sadness or fear and concern about the future. But underneath these emotions, you might also identify a deep sense of wellbeing—"the peace that passes understanding" (Philippians 4:7), God's presence comforting or leading you. This is consolation."

For more read the entire article.

See also Barton's beautiful book Pursuing God's Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups

Thursday, October 08, 2015

10 Minutes of Praying

Conference on Spiritual Formation and Prayer, Eldoret, Kenya
Prayer is talking with God about what we are thinking and doing together. By "we" I mean: God and I.

Praying is talking and listening, to God.

If you are struggling to find time to do this every day in a focused way, I recommend beginning with 10 Minutes of Praying. Lay aside the guilt-producing thought "But it's only 10 minutes and that doesn't seem like much." I predict that if you begin this today and continue it for the rest of your life, you will change, dramatically, into greater and greater Jesus-likeness. And, you will experience times when 10 minutes will turn into an hour with God. You will experience God so powerfully that chronos will turn into kairos.

Henri Nouwen writes:

"You need to set aside some time every day for active listening to Jesus, if only for ten minutes. Ten minutes each day for Jesus alone can bring about a radical change in your life." (Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, 89)


Linda and I. Linda seems unaffected by time. I, on the other hand...

I am 66 years old. Where has the time gone!? And what, anyway, is "time?" 

Last year I kindled Scientific American's collected time-essays - A Question of Time: The Ultimate Paradox. One of my favorite physicists, Paul Davies, has an essay called "That Mysterious Flow." Here are some of his thoughts on time.

"Nothing in known physics corresponds to the passage of time. Indeed, physicists insist that time doesn’t flow at all; it merely is."

Our commonsense view is that time is "slipping away"; it feels like there is a "flow" to time. However, Einstein said: “The past, present and future are only illusions, even if stubborn ones.”

Davies writes: "Physicists prefer to think of time as laid out in its entirety— a timescape, analogous to a landscape— with all past and future events located there together. It is a notion sometimes referred to as block time. Completely absent from this description of nature is anything that singles out a privileged, special moment as the present or any process that would systematically turn future events into present, then past, events. In short, the time of the physicist does not pass or flow."

Time is just as real as space, but "the flow of time" is unreal. 

Time is unidirectional. For example, an egg dropped on the floor will break into pieces. But the reverse process - a broken egg spontaneously assembling itself into an intact egg - is never witnessed. "Nature abounds with irreversible processes." But there is no "arrow of time." Yes, time is unidirectional, but "this does not imply, however, that the arrow is moving toward the future, any more than a compass needle pointing north indicates that the compass is traveling north. Both arrows symbolize an asymmetry, not a movement. The arrow of time denotes an asymmetry of the world in time, not an asymmetry or flux of time. The labels “past” and “future” may legitimately be applied to temporal directions, just as “up” and “down” may be applied to spatial directions, but talk of the past or the future is as meaningless as referring to the up or the down."

Remember - this is physics. We may feel some flow of time, but in reality time is not something that moves or flows. "Time’s asymmetry is actually a property of states of the world, not a property of time as such."

Note this: We do not really observe the passage of time. "What we actually observe is that later states of the world differ from earlier states that we still remember. The fact that we remember the past, rather than the future, is an observation not of the passage of time but of the asymmetry of time." Think of individual movie frames. As we watch a movie we experience individual states of affairs that are different from previously experienced states of affairs. That's all.

Think again of the "broken egg" example. Imagine a movie of the egg being dropped on the floor and breaking. Then imagine the film sequence being run backwards. We would see that the backwards sequence was unreal, even though there would seem to be a "flow" to the backwards series. This shows the illusion of the "flow of time." Yes, time is asymmetrical, but "time’s asymmetry is actually a property of states of the world, not a property of time as such."

When I remember the past and the many birthdays I have already celebrated, but do not remember the future birthdays that (hopefully) are forthcoming, this is "an observation not of the passage of time but of the asymmetry of time." Note: only conscious observers register the "flow of time." "Therefore, it appears that the flow of time is subjective, not objective."

I think the biblical distinction between chronos and kairos may help us here. Chronos is "clock time," and the experience of a flow of time. But kairos is more like a discrete, individual frame in a movie isolated from all other events. Kairos is the "right time," or the "appointed time." 

All of this is very good news for me. Time has really not "passed me by." Time is not "slippin', slippin', slippin'... into the future."  

Davies writes: "What if science were able to explain away the flow of time? Perhaps we would no longer fret about the future or grieve for the past. Worries about death might become as irrelevant as worries about birth. Expectation and nostalgia might cease to be part of human vocabulary. Above all, the sense of urgency that attaches to so much of human activity might evaporate."

Here's a review of some philosophical ideas about time. (Special thanks to Manuel Velazquez's excellent Philosophy: A Text With Readings, 11th edition)

PLATO (Ancient Greek philosopher, 429-347 BCE)
  • "Time" exists independently of events that occur in time.
  • "Time is like an empty container into which things and events may be placed; but it is a container that exists independently of what (if anything) is placed in it." (SEP
ARISTOTLE (Ancient greek philosopher, 384-322 BCE)
  • Time does not exist independently, contra Plato, of the events that occur in time.
  • This view is called "Reductionism with Respect to Time."
  • This means that "all talk that appears to be about time can somehow be reduced to talk about temporal relations among things and events." (SEP)
  • The idea of a period of time without change is seen as incoherent.
  • Thus "time" cannot exist independently of what is placed in it. Apart from events, no time exists.
AUGUSTINE (Augustine of Hippo, 354-430)
  • Time, in a sense, does not exist.
  • The past no longer exists.
  • The future does not yet exist.
  • Only the present moment is real.
  • But the present moment has, in itself, neither a past nor a future.
  • The present moment is timeless.
  • "Time," from God's perspective, is different from our perspective.
  • God is outside of time.
  • Time is like a line of events stretched out before God.
  • Every moment - past, present, and future - lies on this line. Everything on the "line of time" is fixed. This is God's perspective. (Cmp. C.S. Lewis who, in Mere Christianity, employed Augustine's view of time.)
McTAGGERT (British philosopher M.E. McTaggert, 1886-1925)
  • Compare McTaggert to Davies, who cites McTaggert in his essay.
  • The flow of time as we experience it is unreal.
  • "Time" is a fixed series of moments, each moment either "before" or "after" the other moments. This is "objective time."
  • We can also think of "time" as a sequence of flowing moments. Each moment changes or flows from "future" to "present" to "past." This is "subjective time."
  • "Past," "present," and "future" are incompatible with each other. Therefore it is impossible for the same thing (viz., the same "moment") to be simultaneously future, present, and past.
  • But if time did "flow," then every moment would have to be future, and then present, and then past.
  • So the idea of subjective time as a sequence of flowing moments is unreal.
  • Subjective time is unreal. Out experience of time as "passing" is an illusion.
  • Following this McTaggert said, "I believe that nothing that exists can be temporal, and that therefore time [subjective] is unreal." (The Nature of Existence)
  • "Time" is an unchanging, fixed series of events frozen onto the "line of time" that makes up the series. But this is not really time, because there is no flow or change here. And, since subjective time is unreal, time cannot be real.
KANT (German philosopher Immanuel Kant, 1724-1804)
  • Time - whether subjective or objective - is simply a construct of the human mind.
  • "Time" and "space" are categories of the mind that the mind uses to organize the flow of changing sensations.
  • Kant said, "Time is therefore given a priori." "Time" as a mental category is "prior to experience" and organizes or categorizes experience.
  • Time is not real but is a mental construct.
HUSSERL (German phenomenological philosopher, 1859-1938)
  • See Husserl's The Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness.
  • Husserl is in the Kantian stream of thinking. He is not interested in the metaphysical status of time, but time as transcendental, as lying at the base of consciousness, and giving shape to our experience. 
  • Husserl "considers the present, past, and future as modes of appearing or modes by which we experience things and events as now, no longer (past) or not yet (future)." (IEP)
BERGSON (French philosopher Henri Bergson, 1859-1941)
  • "Objective time," the "time" of the scientist, is just a conceptual abstraction, a construct of the mind.
  • The image of time as a line is simply an image; the concept of objective time is only a concept. Neither images nor concepts can get at the reality.
  • Only what we directly experience is real; viz., what we "intuit."
  • We directly experience or intuit the flow of time. Bergson says we have the "intuition of duration."
  • Real time is subjective time. This is the "flow of time" that I experience moving from future, through present, and into the past.
  • Objective time is an intellectual reconstruction and thus is an illusion."Time" does not actually exist "out there" in the world (it's not a reality transcendent to human subjectivity).
WILLIAM LANE CRAIG (Christian theist, 1949 - present)
  • Apart from events time does not exist.
  • Prior to creation time did not exist.
  • A personal God need not experience a temporal succession of mental events. "God could know the content of all knowledge - past, present, and future - in a simultaneous and eternal intuition." (See Craig, "God, Time, and Eternity")
  • "The proper understanding of God, time, and eternity would be that God exists changelessly and timelessly prior to creation and in time after creation."
  • There are no "events" prior to creation. Therefore, since God exists prior to creation and is an "eventless" being, "time" does not exist prior to creation. At the creation of the unvierse time begins. On a relational view of time God now relates to the universe, "and God subjects himself to time by being related to changing things."
STEPHEN HAWKING (Physicist, author of A Brief History of Time, 1942-present)
  • Time is understood in relation to events. Hawking writes: "Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang. Events before the Big Bang are simply not defined, because there's no way one could measure what happened at them... [T]he universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago. The beginning of real time, would have been a singularity, at which the laws of physics would have broken down." (See here

(For diagram + explanation, see here.)

FOR MORE READING: God and Time: Four Views

And: W.L. Craig, "God, Time, and Eternity"

    Wednesday, October 07, 2015

    10 Things About Heaven

    This is worth posting - New Testament scholar Scot McKnight's "10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Heaven."

    For more see McKnight's newest book - The Heaven Promise: Engaging the Bible's Truth About Life to Come.  Some reviews are...

    “I’m genuinely excited by The Heaven Promise. With so many fascinated by the conversation of heaven and even near-death experiences, McKnight calls us to see heaven through the lens of Scripture and the redemption story of God in Christ. It’s both theologically robust and very accessible. This book speaks to pastors and leaders in the church as well as to parishioners in the pews. What a gift!”
    —Rev. Eugene Cho, senior pastor, Quest Church, and author of Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?

    “This book—grounded in solid research and biblical interpretation—actually stirs up a longing for heaven. It’s a busting up of stereotypes and misconceptions. Thank you, Scot McKnight, for painting a picture of a place I would actually love to be for eternity!”
    —Nancy Beach, leadership coach with Slingshot Group, and author of Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church

    “What a terrific book! Scot lays out the great questions about heaven—What will it be like? Who’s going there?—and seeks to address them with biblically grounded wisdom.”
    —John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, and author of All the Places to Go

    “I serve in a community where hopelessness and resilience coexist and the constant reality of death looms daily. Hope and clarity about heaven’s promise are truly needed to empower the church, especially among those most affected by these realities. Scot McKnight helps the church to realize God’s truth about the life to come. This brings hope for us in the now.”
    —Pastor Phil Jackson, MDiv, associate pastor of Lawndale Christian Community Church; lead pastor of The House, Christ-Centered Hip-Hop Worship Service; and founder and chief visionary officer of the Firehouse Community Art Center

    “Fanciful visions and imaginative opinions of heaven are all around us. Thankfully Scot McKnight moves us beyond the realm of wishes to the great promise of heaven given us by God. With wit, care, and fine biblical insight, this book offers a clear understanding of the hope we have for life with God in a heavenly kingdom far better than we can imagine. The Heaven Promise is a gift to the church.”
    —Vincent Bacote, PhD, director, Center for Applied Christian Ethics, Wheaton College

    “Scot McKnight’s timely words help us understand the importance of God’s Heaven Promise at a time when the world—and the church—is reeling from one tragedy after another. His biblical approach firmly grounds the imagination, reminding us that God is All in All. I agree with Scot that everything hinges on the resurrection of Jesus, and that means not only the heaven to come, but also the way heaven people live now. We cannot know everything about heaven now, but what we can understand makes us want to say with the apostle John, ‘Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!’”
    —Dr. Kent Brantly, Ebola survivor and co-author of Called