Thursday 30 June 2022

The scope of life - in both directions

There is, I feel, an artificiality about the common Christian idea that this - my mortal life - is bounded in one direction only; that is in the past by conception, while eternally unbounded in the future. 

I think this artificiality contributes to modern mainstream atheism. 

On the other hand; I am sure that this is my first and only mortal life. 

And, however things may have been before Jesus; I am pretty confident that the divine plan since Jesus is for as many as possible to make a permanent choice of where we go and what we do after this life: the permanent choice of salvation. 

We are (as a general rule, probably with some exceptions) supposed to (i.e. God hopes that we will) choose resurrected eternal life in Heaven. That is the divinely-desired permanent choice. 

Or...otherwise. And that 'otherwise' may not necessarily be permanent (although it can be - i.e. Hell) and 'otherwise' may in theory include the possibility of reincarnation. 

Yet to desire reincarnation (and therefore to reject the opportunity of Heaven Now) may be rare in reality in these days. It may be (I suspect) that most of the people who say they want reincarnation are saying so for spiritually-bad reasons; and that reincarnation may be a superficial cover-story for some other motivation such as refusal to repent a particular sin (or sin-in-general); or a fear-motivated refusal to choose to align-oneself with God, creation and The Good. 

i.e. For a modern Western person to say he desires reincarnation may in practice be another way of saying that he has rejected Heaven, and may well prefer Hell. 

Yet; when I look back before conscious life, my assumption is that I (personally) was continuously experiencing, learning, participating throughout - as a spirit-being, not incarnated. 

And I think it likely that it is memories of these personal experiences that may well lead to the phenomena which are usually interpreted as 'having experienced reincarnation'. 

In other words; some of my time before incarnation was - I'm pretty sure - spent in types of involvement with particular times and places of human history. Therefore it is quite natural for me (and others) to be very interested and concerned by the past, by ancestors, and also by other places than this earth... 

Such interest and concern may be rooted in actual experience and involvement - from before incarnation; when we were spirit beings. 

But, another vital understanding is of Time. 

I regard it as a potentially serious error that Christians adopt some version of the idea that all Time is present at one time, that past/ present/ future are actually all one. Such an idea (derived, apparently, from ancient Greek philosophers including Plato) is all-but standard and official theology among Christians; and probably has been since not long after the death of Jesus. 

On the contrary (by my understanding); I regard it as intrinsic to the Christian world-view that Time is real; i.e. directional, linear, sequential, cannot be reversed etc... 

So past really is past, future is not yet realized - and so forth. 

In other words, the 'common sense' idea of time, held by the uneducated and by children, is true.

Such a straightforward understanding of Time is necessary if we are to avoid paradox and incoherence when it comes to the idea of eternal beings that undergo change, development, evolution, transformation - salvation. 

If such changes of Beings are to be real - Time must be real. 

...Because Time is intrinsic to a Being - a Being is a dynamic thing, because Being is alive and conscious, and motivated. 

Plus; the deepest understanding of Freedom entails that our future is Not fixed; but may be changed by our free choices; and this agency is intrinsic to the chosen nature of Christian salvation. 

OK. I am making here the point that:

It would be A Good Thing if we became aware that this earthly mortal life we now experience is a stage in an unbounded continuum or sequence of experience in both directions. 

We each experienced a real past going back and back; and we confront a real future without limit.

The issue is what we do about this? 

Part of it is choosing the future; yet equally, part of it is acknowledging the experiences of our past (recent and remote) - because it is these from which we may learn, and which may transform our being

And that transformation may - potentially - be positive, and eternal.  



Lucinda said...

This is a continuation of my comment on your previous post about transformation, also commenting on your post about corrupting power. I find that you have said something like I was thinking, only in a different way. But I will say it anyway, even if only to demonstrate a different expression.

The question is how to accept the gifts God has given, powers like being alive and being creative, without becoming corrupt. And I find the solution to be practicing the laying aside of powers at times, like going to sleep and feeling confident about waking up because we've slept and awaken many times before. Or fasting for a period, with confidence we will eat again, etc. Fear is the main conduit of corruption because power is (maybe inherently) oscillatory (because of polarity of love). When we act from fear of losing power, we turn to coercive means of preserving power. But this is not REAL power anymore.

I think the problem about time happened because time is less measured to God, in an absent-minded way, rather than God caring to manipulate time. This Tom Bombadil absent-mindedness has been inaccurately construed as non-time-ness of God.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - "I think the problem about time happened because time is less measured to God, in an absent-minded way, rather than God caring to manipulate time. This Tom Bombadil absent-mindedness has been inaccurately construed as non-time-ness of God."

I don't follow this - could you maybe re-explain it?

Lucinda said...

Oh, sorry. There was a connecting idea with the previous paragraph that I left out because it got unwieldy.
REAL power is not steady-state (because of polarity of love) So when people seek to preserve power unduly, they are wrestling against the progression of time.

God doesn't wrestle against time. He allows it to flow, but men regard this as weakness, because they believe power as steady-state, because they do not understand love, with it's oscillations, as primary.
I'm not sure that's better expressed. Like I said, unwieldy.

Lucinda said...

I referenced Tom Bombadil to specify a lovable kind of absent-mindedness.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - OK - thanks. I'm not sure whether I agree - at least, I regard God (like all Beings) as *inseparable* from time; time is intrinsic to a living, conscious, purposive Being (including God).

So, I don't know if God can manipulate time - on the other hand, time is experienced with extreme differences of passing-speed, even in our own mortal lives (eg between dreaming sleep and deep sleep - a great deal of dream happening in a small space of waking experience, or almost nothing happening in deep sleep during the same waking time).

And I presume this will apply even more so to the primary creator's work; or between God and mortal Men. But always time (as it were) moves in one direction and in sequence; in other words Being is real.

Lucinda said...

Yes, I also believe God is in time.

Maybe I can express better by referencing my specific experience as a mom. Heeding the warnings of CS Lewis when he explained the dark side of storge, I want to avoid certain pitfalls: entitlement to affection, neediness for being needed, inconsideration of their youthful opinions, etc. So I find I need to set aside a strong feminine impulse for surveillance and involvement to respect a sense of privacy that increases as they mature. They must learn for themselves to assess cause-and-affect in reality, as well as matters of preference. In both cases, I can trust these to be discoverable over time as they experience life.

But this boundary of privacy I give them can come across to them as inattentive to sequential details. At the same time, when teaching them, I often bring up generic future circumstances to preview adult concerns for them, but I sometimes get the sense that they don't understand why I'm talking about things that haven't happened yet. This is what I mean, that people can get confused to think God is outside time, because He considers a much longer time frame on one hand, and on the other, seems to disregard some sequenced details that we care about.

So there is a dance I do as a mom, sometimes stepping in as the authority, and sometimes giving them space and privacy to grow during which sometimes they take a lead role.

When I speak of God allowing time to flow, I'm referencing His desire for us to grow up, rather than remain dependent, because He wants an eternal relationship, as opposed to a corrupted, arrested-in-development relationship.

Christopher said...

A worldview that sets one apart from the false is to have desired this life as a "love of fate" in which, before the incarnate, we have chosen this life and this life is the remembrance of this truth. What we can do through such knowledge is limitless creation.