Friday, June 25, 2004

A few days ago I said something about the idea of heaven as eternal and completely enveloping the life of the universe. This means that we don't have to worry about dying early and having to hang around for ages waiting for our mates to turn up. One-to-one correspondence between time in the universe and existence in heaven just does not apply.

So is there even a sense in which our lives on earth take place before our lives in heaven? I think there is, but only in a personal sense. If everyone in heaven remembers their life on earth then for each individual you could say that the earthly life came first. However, that would not mean that earth preceded heavenly existence in any objective sense.

I also briefly mentioned divine omniscience not effecting freewill. This is a common misconception based on the inability of most people to think outside the box of linear cause and effect in time. However, try this thought experiment. You and I are drinking our beer. I give you the choice of either picking up your glass with your right hand or your left hand. You freely choose your right. Is it valid for me to then say "Ha, I know for certain you picked your glass up with your right hand so you did not have a free decision." No, of course not. Just because my frame of reference is such that I know what your decision after the event does not mean the decision is not free.

Now I get into a time machine (handy to have around), and travel back ten minutes. I secretly observe you picking the glass up. Now, I know for certain which hand you will use even before the event but it is absurd to suggest that your choice has now ceased to be free. Nothing has changed except the place in time that I am observing from, but that is not sufficient to bring about a causal change.

God's position is similar to mine with my time machine. From his observation point God can see before and after you pick up your drink. But the simply fact of his being able to do this cannot have any causal effect on you anymore than my traveling back in time does. The point is that our knowledge can simply depend on where we are standing but it is not necessary for this to be causal. (Note to physicists, this analogy works even for the Copenhagen interpretation as we are not observing quantum events).

No comments: