Eric Landstrom, I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End

, posted by Eric Landstrom

With regard to the broad discussion of God and time and the theological issues the subject broaches upon such as how God foreknows, a common Calvinist objection claims that stating God foreknows because he stands over and above time doesn’t resolve their criticisms as to how God foreknows. However, in point of fact, the claim that God is over and above time or that God’s perspective is timeless is a great way to conceptualize how God’s foreknowledge works if we take our time and unpack a thought experiment for our Calvinist and Open Theist friends so they can understand what we mean.

Stating that God is outside of time is useful since the statement appreciates that apart from time, all logical ordering, laws of physics as well as cause and effect break down because such orders are all stated with references to time, space and order. Orders break down in the absence of time because it is time itself that keeps all things from happening at once. Consider, if you will, that God declares of himself that he is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. What do we suppose that means? From the discipline of physics we can readily conceptualize a thought experiment where the entire curtain of time and space and dimensions are folded into a mathematic point and that point is labeled as God’s omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent-omnicreative perspective (“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” Rev. 22:13 cf. Rev. 1:8; 1:11; 21:6). From this thought experiment we can conceptualize how God can know everything merely as a function of his unique perspective and not because he must first do something like predestiningly decree events.

From our thought experiment of folding time, space and dimensions into a mathematical point we can readily understand how God sees every gamma ray streak across the heavens and how he hears the din of X-rays left over from the beginnings of time reverberate throughout creation and the spaces between. Through our thought experiment we can conceptually grasp how God can know the sweet aroma of dark matter or appreciate that God knows what it feels like to stand in the solar winds from an exploding supernova. With our thought experiment in mind, we can marvel in awe that God knows what it is like to step through the event horizon of a black hole and gaze upon liquid fields of quantum foam! Moreover, and to my point, from our thought experiment we can also conceptualize how it is that God can know the future without first predestinating the future because we can readily grasp that when all time and space are folded into a mathematical point how it is that God can see everything at once and know everything at once and be everywhere at once without decreeing time, space, events and acts. We can conceptualize all of these things and more even before we logically understand that God went on to share the fullness of his blessedness and created. As such, we may consider the beginning of the cosmos: A moment of infinite compression. When space is infinitely compressed it must literally not exist. At infinite compression space and time do not exist and physics and quantum mechanics do not apply because all those laws are formulated in terms of space and time. Physicists call this a singularity and all laws of physics break down as does cause and effect because there is no “before” time and space are created. Yet God preexisted creation even if time itself does not preexist creation. Consider the absence of creation again: all things are compressed into nothing in a mathematical moment of infinite compression. In our thought experiment this is a place where time does not exist because all laws of physics and quantum mechanics break down, as does cause and effect. Such a place can be difficult for temporal, spatial beings like ourselves to consider because such a place cannot be thought of in terms of time and spatial relationships. In that place there is no time and there is no “before” or “after” and yet God is there. Apart from the recognition that time and space doesn’t come into being until God creates, thereby providing a richer understanding of our Lord’s claim, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev. 22:13 cf. Rev. 1:8; 1:11; 21:6), when God creates, from his perspective, he does so in one act. Everything at every point of time is created at once.

We know from measurement that time and space dilates and we know from the prophet Isaiah that God “stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in” (Isa. 40:22). Remembering the illustration where all time and space are folded into a mathematical point, let us consider the reverse: time and space unfolding with different data points along the way. The different data points are parts of creation. We gaze upward into the heavens and in time we can see stars being born and other stars burning out and collapsing under their own gravity. Yet God has already created these things from the perspective of that mathematical point of origin where all time and space is folded onto itself. We look around us and we see life and death but God has already created us if we remember, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

Eric Landstrom