Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Two on Time

It is probable that Nature is not really in Time and almost certain that God is not. Time is probably (like perspective) the mode of our perception. There is therefore in reality no question of God's at one point in time (the moment of creation) adapting the material history of this universe in advance to free acts which you or I are to perform at a later point in Time. To Him all the physical events and all the human acts are present in an eternal Now. The liberation of finite wills and the creation of the whole material history of the universe (related to the act of those wills in all the necessary complexity) is to Him a single operation. In this sense God did not create the universe long ago but creates it at this minute--at every minute.
~C.S. Lewis,
Miracles, Appendix B, (1947)


'Ye can know nothing of the end of all things, or nothing expressible in those terms. It may be, as the Lord said to the Lady Julian, that all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. But it's ill talking of such questions.'

'Because they are too terrible, Sir?'

'No. Because all answers deceive. If ye put the question from within Time and are asking about possibilities, the answer is certain. The choice of ways is before you. Neither is closed. Any man may choose eternal death. Those who choose it will have it. But if ye are trying to leap on into eternity, if ye are trying to see the final state of all things as it will be (for so ye must speak) when there are no more possibilities left but only the Real, then ye ask what cannot be answered to mortal ears. Time is the very lens through which ye see--small and clear, as men see through the wrong end of a telescope--something that would otherwise be too big for ye to see at all. That thing is Freedom: the gift whereby ye most resemble your Maker and are yourselves parts of eternal reality. But ye can see it only through the lens of Time, in a little clear picture, through the inverted telescope. It is a picture of moments following one another and yourself in each moment making some choice that might have been otherwise. Neither the temporal succession nor the phantom of what ye might have chosen and didn't is itself Freedom. They are a lens. The picture is a symbol: but it's truer than any philosophical theorem (or, perhaps, than any mystic's vision) that claims to go behind it. For every attempt to see the shape of eternity except through the lens of Time destroys your knowledge of Freedom.'
~C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, (1946)


On this day:

1863 Albert James Lewis, father of C.S. Lewis, is born in Cork, County Cork, Ireland.

1908 Flora Hamilton Lewis, died of cancer. Jack Lewis was nine, Warren Lewis was thirteen.

2 Comment(s):

At Tue Aug 23, 04:18:00 PM EST, Blogger MrKimi said...

I find this subject fascinating, but as Lewis says, it is ultimately incomprehensible. The connection between time and freedom is neatly pointed out.

I re-read The Great Divorce a few months back, but I had forgotten that passage, so thanks for finding it.

It seems so right that we just cannot get our heads around some of this stuff. If God was easily understood I would be suspicious. Interestingly I have found Eastern Christendom is more comfortable with this incomprehensibility that Western. In the West we are a bit keen to explain everything. This is less true of the East. Diversity is good.

At Tue Aug 23, 07:35:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

You are most welcome. I enjoy a treasure hunt.

Yes, if we understood all there was to know about God and his Plan, then what would make it such a Great Plan? The fact that it is high and beyond us shows us our humanity, and God's sovereignity. I'm happy with that.


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