The Verbose Philosopher

Tell It Like It Is

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Atheist "morality"

I saw a misotheist piece that's hardly worth a read, except that it's a great example of how stupid most atheists are.  (Warning : Skip to my comments following the quoted article unless you want a boatload of the typical atheistic arrogance and derision of reality.  It is not an intellectual experience.)

No need for gods any more

(Image caption) True believers think atheists cannot be expected to behave morally
As societies mature, many outgrow the need for a spiritual superbeing, argues Big Gods: How religion transformed cooperation and conflict

IN THE beginning, there were many gods. Societies entertained supernatural beings of bewildering variety. They resided in the heavens, the underworld and the forces of Earth, in things living and nonliving. They were appeased by worship, ritual or sacrifice, communicated with by oracle or divination. They harboured extreme passions, wielded extraordinary powers, and bestowed gift or punishment at will.

How, out of this pantheon, did a handful of monotheistic and polytheistic faiths come to dominate? Ara Norenzayan's perspective is a kind of theological take on survival of the fittest. In Big Gods, he argues that Islam, Christianity and other world religions prospered because they had a competitive edge over their rivals. They alone offered all-knowing, interventionist deities who judged immoral behaviour, an arrangement that encouraged cooperation among large groups of anonymous strangers – because "watched people are nice people". In short, they allowed groups to scale up: they paved the way for modern civilisation.

It is a neat, grand theory, one that Norenzayan seems well qualified to deliver. A social psychologist at the University of British Columbia, Canada, he had a hand in the experimentation and fieldwork he documents to illustrate the roots and nature of human prosociality.

He is conscious of previous attempts to explain religion in a Darwinian framework or as a by-product of human cognition and draws on them liberally. Furthermore, he grew up amid the violence and religious strife of 1980s Lebanon, curious about why a "once vibrant, cosmopolitan society turned against itself, and imploded" over differences in ideas and outlook.

It is a convincing thesis, and whether or not you buy it, some of its implications are compelling. For example, Norenzayan asks why in religious societies atheists are so profoundly distrusted – as many surveys have shown – rather than simply disliked or ignored. The reason, he suggests, is they are considered freeriders. To the faithful, those who don't believe in divine monitoring cannot be expected to act morally.

But he also finds that prejudice against atheists diminishes in nations with strong state institutions. Police, judiciary, and the rule of law can be as effective as a supernatural power at ensuring cooperation and accountability. This explains Norenzayan's most acute observation, addressed only in the last chapter: some of the most cohesive and peaceful societies are also the least religious. In Denmark, he notes, people don't steal bicycles even – especially – when the bicycles are free to use.

Such countries, largely in Scandinavia, have passed a threshold. No longer requiring their big gods to sustain large-scale cooperative behaviour, they have effectively outgrown them. They have "climbed the ladder of religion, and then kicked it away".

None of this explains why the US, one of the most economically developed countries in the world, is still among the most religious, where more than 90 per cent of people believe in God and close to half in a literal interpretation of Genesis. The US, an outlier in this, is a reminder that religion is about more than cooperation, that belief thrives perhaps because it eases deep existential anxieties where reason and logic cannot help.

The ideas in Big Gods resonate well beyond academic debates on the origins of religion. Think of the recent fracas over Twitter and other social media that allow users to speak anonymously, a privilege that has encouraged some to abuse whoever irks them.

This is what happens when people evade both big gods and secular eyes. If watched people are nice people, the unwatched can be the nastiest of all.
This is a FABULOUS example of the irrationality of atheism.

The article starts off (in a photo caption) by mocking those who think that atheistic morality is any less moral than religious morality.

It then proceeds to claim that religion itself is merely a product of evolution, and then in great arrogance towards the true God, claims that some European countries have evolved so far that they no longer need a concept of "God" and have kicked away from themselves the very concept, able to stand proudly and securely without it.

The author argues that advanced societies replace god with "strong state institutions".  He goes on to claim that "Police, judiciary, and the rule of law can be as effective as a supernatural power at ensuring cooperation and accountability."

Wow!  So atheistic morality is just as good as religious (or actually even better because religions are false), but we need big powerful governments to enforce this morality on people.  That's what he's saying.

Then note :

"Think of the recent fracas over Twitter and other social media that allow users to speak anonymously, a privilege that has encouraged some to abuse whoever irks them.  /  This is what happens when people evade both big gods and secular eyes. If watched people are nice people, the unwatched can be the nastiest of all."

So hang on, we should mock anyone who thinks religion produces better morality than atheism, but the atheist who wrote this is conceding that their definition of morality is limited to doing the right thing when someone's watching.  No talk here of changing people's hearts, or getting people to want to do the right thing even when there's no state to intervene.

In contrast, true religion leads to heart change where people want to benefit other people, even their enemies, just because they love others.  Atheists don't know this kind of love - if I don't know you, and especially if you're getting in my way, I hate you.  That's the typical atheistic indifference or hatred to others.  "Love your enemies" makes no sense to them.  At best, you might put on a face of loving someone just in the hopes of removing their opposition to what you want, or perhaps to position yourself to win over them one way or another.  But to truly love your enemies and do good to those who hate you, for others' sake, not because it makes you feel better about yourself, atheism knows nothing of the sort.  Yet this is true religion, and true love.

So the author begins by mocking the idea that atheist morality is inferior to religious, and then ends by conceding that their idea of morality is simply conforming with the expectations of the big government in power at the time.  Wow, how moral!

Be warned : in that author's scheme, if people aren't moral enough, the solution is a bigger, stronger, more watchful government.  The ultimate end of this line of reasoning is a surveillance state : everyone's actions are monitored, all the time.

But the stupidity of atheism doesn't stop there.  Here's another piece of stupidity in the article : If morality in the populance comes from "strong state institutions", where does morality in the state institutions come from?  Stalin had "strong state institutions",   He ensured those strong state institutions were instruments of cruelty and oppression.  "Oh, but he was immoral!"  Well, if morality is simply whatever the strong state institutions decree, then how can you say Stalin was wrong? 

And so atheistic morality as portrayed in this article becomes a mass of true believers submitting themselves in blind faith to the moral dictums of the ruling class.

On another note, it's interesting the tacit admission that atheism is a fun mental game but unfulfilling :

"[America] is a reminder that ... belief thrives perhaps because it eases deep existential anxieties where reason and logic cannot help."

I guess the true believers in atheism just try and ignore their uneasable deep existential anxieties.  Personally, I have no existential anxieties whatsoever - logic and reason require me to believe in a Creator, and Yahweh of the Bible is He, and so I can have intellectual stimulation and satisfaction and existential wholeness.  But it sounds like the atheist author is conceding he doesn't have it so good.

And so atheism amounts to a bunch of fun mental games that don't make much coherent sense, including rabid claims of moral virtue that on closer inspection fall far short of the true love even of enemies that true religion instils in the heart, and all this for the price tag of deep, irresolvable existential angst.  And they call this a good deal?!!

One final point : the whole article arrogantly claims to trace the origin of "god" and tries to show that "god" is a fictional concept no longer needed (as, by the way, Nietzsche believed long ago : "God is dead" - Nietzsche, but of course now "Nietzsche is dead" - God), but in typical atheist fashion it avoids asking the right questions.  Purporting to trace the origin of "god", they conveniently fail to question the origin of the purported microscopic speck that supposedly exploded for no scientific reason and became everything there is except the laws of physics that somehow eternally pre-existed.  Inept misotheists claim "we've solved that problem - there are simply an infinite number of universies, with infinite variation in their laws of physics and initial arrangements, such that regardless how improbable Evolution might seem, it was destined to happen somewhere".  It's funny how atheists profess disdain for anything "unprovable" and then cling so religiously with blind faith to the unobservable and unprovable plethora of universes.  It gets even more ludicrous when you realize that these atheists are thereby invoking "infinity" - they mock the concept of a God not bound by finite limitations, but then invent a multiverse with the same characteristics.  Truly they are inconsistent and irrational.  But rather than relying on historical documents that describe the origins of the universe, as recorded by an eyewitness (God Himself), they resort to their own speculations.  Imagine trying to understand ancient Rome by looking only at archaelogical artifacts and refusing to read the writings of historians and other eyewitnesses of the day!  You would be stupid.  But that's what atheists are doing.  But the stupidity doesn't end there either.  This infinite set of universes has either been perpetually producing more and more universes (in which case the trail of time stretches out infinitely behind us, in which case we never got here), or else eternally had the full set of infinity universes within it (in which case our universe started at the same time as all the others, so we're back to the "but what started the time clock ticking?" question).  In contrast, the one true God, eyewitness to His own creative work, informs us that it was not a mechanism that commenced the mechanisms of the universe as we know it, but a person.  Volition - in this case Divine volition - is the first cause.  Volition in the paucity of an atheist's understanding is purely mechanical, for after all, the mind is merely a superbly complicated mechanism.  And so they scorn the idea of personhood and volition absent matter, and thus they scorn the idea of a person we call "God" who willed of Himself without mechanical prompt, and from His willing then used His power to create all things we know.  But in so scorning, they have no option but to believe in the unbelievably and perpetually-inexplicably stupid idea that somehow something comes from nothing, or that that which is eternally at rest comes suddenly to motion without cause.  Whilst giving lip service to science, they deny the very most basic tenets of science by claiming the mechanism we know as this universe started with a reaction that had no corresponding action.  Science explains the laws of physics - of mechanisms.  It was never intended to and cannot wholly explain the actions of persons - volitional creatures.  And so God acted - God chose, and followed through on His actions - and this choice, wholly within the will of God, commenced time as we experience it.  Atheists can and do perpetually mock the idea of volition as anything other than the result of mechanism, but in so doing they deride the only explanation that can fit with science and explain the origin of our universe.  And this explains why - as this article typifies - atheists love to mock and deride the idea of God, and arrogantly presume to show that the idea of a "god" came only after humans came into existence, yet they usually daren't touch on the question of where everything came from, for any close analysis of that question reveals atheism to be utter absurdity.  "But you can't tell us where God came from!"  God did not come from anywhere.  God did not come.  God was already and always there.  "But then you just believe in an eternal god whilst we believe in an eternal multiverse!"  Nay, we believe in an eternal God Who is a person with volition.  You believe in an eternal mechanism.  Volition can start things without prior cause.  Mechanisms cannot.  "But volition is a mechanism!"  You believe it so in blind faith.  It is true that volition can be influenced, and exhibit characteristics of mechanisms.  God has made humans so their decisions shape the very nerves in their central nervous system, such that choices become decreasingly less choices and increasingly impulse or habit.  For humans, exercising volition is an act of programming our central nervous system to be more likely to automatically follow an equivalent course in future.  But volition itself is inherently beyond mere mechanism.  Nor is volition the same as randomness.  To the atheist mind, since nothing can exist outside matter and energy, except of course paradoxically the very laws of physics which govern matter and energy, and except also paradoxically things like numbers and logic that defy material explanation - to the atheist mind, anything that is not mechanical then must be wholly random.  Not that there can be any good explanation of true randomness from a strictly materialistic perspective, but atheists will far rather believe blindly in the existence of true uncaused purposeless randomness than in the existence of volition with true moral culpability for decisions made, even though both are beyond the realm of mechanism.  And so we come back to what we've seen repeatedly : atheism is blind faith with inherently irresolvable contradictions that defy explanation and make mockery of the atheist's arrogance in his gorssly over-estimated intellectual fortitude.

No - the issue has never been "god or no god?" or "did god precede us or did we invent him?", but rather which god?  And this atheist confesses that his preferred god is the super-powerful all-monitoring set of "strong state instutions", the which themselves inherently have no higher power to answer to, but to which all citizens should then blindly give their allegiance in faith that its dictates are right.  The strong state said homosexuality was wrong 70 years ago?  Presumably it was right.  It says that homosexuality is right today?  Presumably it is right.  It said 30 years ago we shouldn't kill old people without their consent?  Presumably it was right.  It says in 15 years that everyone has a duty to die at age 70 if they haven't already?  Presumably it's right.  The state is god, and this is rarely so clearly seen and so openly admitted as in this article written by this atheist who exhibits for us a grand display of the moral and intellectual and existential bankruptcy of his beliefs.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Athletic Greens - False Advertisiing

The skinny :

Athletic Greens lies in its advertising.  So how can we trust anything they say?

The fat :

I'd never heard of Athletic Greens before today.  They almost sound too good to be true, but hey, I'm always game to try something that might be good.

But it seemed dreadfully suspicious when I clicked through an affiliate link (from here) and saw a risk-free trial offer "Only Available To Selected Health 1st Readers".

What is this unique offer?

Simple - I sign up for an automatic monthly purchase of their product, and in return I get to pay nothing now for my first delivery.  I have some weeks to decide whether I like the product, and if I cancel my automatic monthly purchase within that timeframe, I don't pay for that first delivery either.

Good and fair.

A lot of businesses offer risk-free trial offers, and so they should.

So how good is the product?  It's purportedly good, but how do we know?

Our best info about the quality of what goes into Athletic Greens is Athletic Greens' own promotional material.  So we have to take it on trust.

And herein lies the problem.

They're liars.  And easily caught out too.

And they might dismiss it with "oh, but that's not a big lie" or "oh, but we do tell the truth about the quality of our product" or perhaps even "oh, but everyone lies a little bit in their sales" (the which is not actually the case), but it all boils down to the same thing : if someone is caught out lying, and then insists that they won't lie again, how do you know that that itself isn't already another lie?

So to test the truthfulness of their claim that this risk-free trial truly was only available to selected Health 1st readers, I Googled and found another Athletic Greens review which included another affiliate link.

I then opened that second affiliate link (from here) on a different computer on a different internet connection.

And here's what I found : a risk free offer, with no difference whatsoever that I could discern from the first one. (It was visually laid out differently, but the details of the offer seemed identical.)

So much for "only available to you special lucky S.O.B. who we're lying through our teeth to right now".

Hey, I don't care if they're selling arsenic or mercury or magic mushrooms or what, provided they tell the truth.  If someone wants to buy cannibis, and the seller discloses the cannibis content of a product, go ahead and buy & sell.  But when a seller resorts to lies to move their product, the foundation of trust is destroyed and the whole basis of the free market system is jeopardized.

Within this context then, it's a little disturbing to discover that Chris Ashenden is the guy behind Athletic Greens, and seems also to be the guy behind a rent-to-buy scheme that courts have ruled was done fraudulentlyChris The Kiwi, he calls himself, and his page on the Athletic Greens website has mysteriously gone blank.  It's like they're trying to remove his name from association with the company.

So, is the guy a good guy?  I'm sure he thinks so.  I'm sure folk who know him think so.  And maybe even he is a good guy.

But when the very first and very most prominent communication from his business to you is a bold-faced lie - a promise of an exclusive special offer limited to a very special class of people, when actually they give it to everyone - it's hard to have confidence in any of the other claims by the company, including claims of product quality.  Yes, I'm sure it is a reasonably high quality product, but are they taking little shortcuts they're not telling us about?  Does it really taste as good as it does because of the listed ingredients in the promised ratios, or have they diddled with the formula a little, compromising the quality a tad so they'll sell more product because it tastes better?  Can we trust their claims?  And sadly, we cannot.

Which of their claims are truthful, and which are lies?  Again sadly, the only claim we could easily verify for ourselves was a lie.  So what else can we trust?  Without the time, tools, or inclination to spend a big chunk of my life independently auditing their claims, I'm left inclined to choose alternatives from brands that at least look like they're telling the truth.

When our best source of info on a product is the vendor, and the vendor lies, I'm not inclined to support them by giving them business.

There are other green superfoods out there, and lots of people say Athletic Greens is the best, and maybe so.

But my dollars are votes for ethical products and ethics starts with truth.

Exhibits :

Ooo!  Look how special I am!  I get a risk-free trial available to few others :

Oh - wait a mo, use Remote Desktop to another computer on another internet connection somewhere else in the world, and visit Athletic Greens via some other affiliate link, and note the fine-print :

 Hmmm.  So I get a free trial, with apparently identical characteristics, either way, but if I come in via the second affiliate, they don't make a big song & dance about the free trial offer, whereas via that first affiliate link, not only do they make song & dance, but bold-faced lie that somehow I'm super special to get this free trial offer!

Chris The Kiwi is Chris Ashenden - note he gives his last name when referencing his sister :

I guess it has something to do with this?

Note that the blank page appears to be in a WordPress section of their site, and if you invent non-existent urls there, you get the same blank page.  So it seems the page once existed and then was deleted out of WordPress on the Athletic Greens corporate site.  Want proof that the link did exist in the past?  Here 'tis :

UPDATE : Hmmm - I'm having issues with Google's platform choking on my many screenshots. Alas, if you require the screenshots to be convinced, I have them all here on my C: drive but can't get them into this blog post right now, and have other priorities I have to attend to now. But screenshots or no screenshots, the point still stands - this article really isn't about Athletic Greens, but about false advertising generally, and how companies should avoid it and how we "consumers" should vote for companies with ethics we want to see become more prevalent.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Labor claims equality but butchers babies

What would life be like without the ALP in charge?  So horrible, thinks the ALP, that they're enlisting volunteers to doorknock their neighbourhoods and tell their friends what the ALP means to them and why we need them back in power at this election.

So sweet.  Listen to the beautiful words from the latest email seeking to enlist this volunteer army :
Our campaign in Victoria is about empowering people like you to share your stories with friends and neighbours about how Labor has made a positive difference for you. Please share how Labor policies and values have impacted your life with your friends and families on social media using our #thisislabor hash tag.
Every Labor supporter has a reason why they’ve chosen Labor.  
My reason is that Labor’s the only party that values every member of our community and aims for an equal society.
 I replied :
Please help me understand :

You claim "Labor’s the only party that values every member of our community and aims for an equal society.".

What are Labor's policies towards those not yet born?  Are they not community members at their very most vulnerable?  Doesn't Labor advocate taxpayer funded baby butchery?  How is this equality?  Put them up for adoption - don't butcher them.  THEN you'll be a party that values every member of our community.

Or else how do you justify this gross lie, this disconnect between your words and your actions?  If babies are people - their own DNA, their own blood type, their own tiny beating heart, able to feel pain even halfway through gestation - if babies are people, they are community members.  Protect them accordingly.

Please reply so I can know whether Labor might be worth voting for this year, or whether they're a bunch of hypocrites like paedophile priests saying nice things on one hand and destroying children's lives on the other.
Ouch.  Like paedophile priests, but worse, because at least a victim of paedophilia has some chance (however scant) of recovery and leading a joyful life.  Dismembered babies don't.

Liberal is somewhat better, but for a party that really supports EVERY member of society, you need to look to minority parties like the DLP (Democratic Labor Party) or Australian Christians.  You might object to some of their other policies, but tell me : what's worse, butchering innocent people without trial when they've done no wrong, or making life harder than it needs to be after they're born?  All politicians make mistakes, and these mistakes hurt others, but mistakes that kill others by the thousands each day are a special class.  Politicians that support taxpayer-funded abortion have no business leading our nation.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Capitalism has failed, huh?

Alan Kohler is a frequent advocate of greater government control in the Australian context.  His recent article "The moral bankruptcy of our ruling classes" is just another example.

He boldly declares:
"Capitalism has failed to deliver for the poor and the middle classes."
It disturbs me to see a prominent voice so frequently and so directly arguing in favour of greater statism.

He says that the low and middle classes have been worse off, both under "collectivism" and under "Capitalism".  My oh my - things are bad here, but would you _really_ rather have been starving to death in Communist Russia?

But as I have repeatedly stated, the problem is misdiagnosed.

Here we have collectivist education that prepares people to be good little _workers_, yet supposedly a _Capitalist_ economic system.  Who is going to be entrepreneurial if the schools have spent the better part of a century teaching people to be cogs in wheels?  A large part of why Capitalism is supposedly "failing" is that centralised education (brain-washing) is deliberately preparing people for a life _other_ than as a successful entrepreneur.

Go ask any successful microbusiness owner what they learned at school that helped them succeed in business.  Not much, and certainly nothing that couldn't quickly & easily & cheaply be learned without our collectivist mandatory brain-washing institutions called "schools".

But usury and patents are also huge contributors.

With usury, this collectivist schooling system trains our children to think it normal to hock ourselves up to our eyeballs in debt, as slaves paying _someone_ _else_ a truckload of "interest".  Tell me, if everyone you know is on balance _paying_ interest, then who is _receiving_ it?  Clearly, if everyone you know is on balance _paying_ interest, then someone you _don't_ know is the one receiving it.  Are we then that surprised to discover that indeed, since usury favours the centralisation of power in the hands of rich lenders, behold, rich lenders gain increasing power?

The problem here is not Capitalism - it's failed schooling that trains creative young men and women with immense potential, to become beasts of burden in a system that pours money into the hands of usurers.

Blame where blame is due - blame societal acceptance of usury, and blame schools that conform their entrusted pupils to this oppressive ideal.

And patents - the idea that just because I beat you in a stupid game of legal linguistics (called the "patent" system), I get to tell you what you can't do with your business, your property, and your life.

No wonder people think business is risky - someone you've never heard of, and who had no influence on your success, can shut you down because you didn't pay them for "their" ideas, when in fact you legitimately came up with those ideas entirely on your own.

Since when were ideas "property" anyway?

Since never.

Failed schooling that produces cogs and beasts of burden instead of raising entrepeneurs.  Societal acceptance of usury and interest-bearing debt.  A patent system that induces fear and breeds disinterest in taking initiative.

No wonder Capitalism has "failed".

The real wonder is that Capitalism has still produced 100 billion times better outcomes under these circumstances than its collectivist competitors.

We don't need "the next thing" to replace Capitalism.

Eliminate centralised schooling.  Eliminate usury.  Eliminate the patent system.  Train people to expect to run a successful microbusiness instead of expecting to be a cog in a big wheel they can't comprehend.  And we'll see prosperity like we haven't in a long time.  _Real_ prosperity.  Not this credit-bubble-induced fairy floss fake stuff.

And don't get me started on excessive business licensing laws...

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Time type B : time in sequence

Time type A is the smallest moment of time, or at least the four essential characteristics of a moment of time but which can be used in analysing larger discrete "chunks" of time.

Time type B is moments of time in series. An extremely intuitive concept. After all, we live with it. I got up, then I ate breakfast, then I put on my shoes, then I went out to the car, and so on and so forth.

Every person experiences sequenced events. This is "personal experiental time".

You can extend this concept to matter. Every atom and every conglomeration of atoms can be viewed as experiencing sequenced events.

And you can extend this concept to groups of people - "group experiential time".

The relative sequence of events is where things start to get very interesting.

Why do two xyz atoms vibrate at the same frequency? How do you even define the word "frequency" without reference to time? God - who created us and created the physical realm - has set in place such laws as necessary to govern the interplay between our individual personal choices and the actions caused by the laws of physics.

And so there is uniformity between how one person experiences the passage of time, and how another person does, because the same laws govern humans and the material that forms the world around us.

In this context, we count various things - such as the number of times the earth rotates relative to the sun - the which we call "days". Due to the uniformity of the laws God has set in place, people on opposite side of the earth have the same experience of "days" (ignoring variations in daylight vs dark hours, and curious effects deep in the polar regions). And because of this commonality of experience, we can all count together the days and the years, and voila - we now have time as most people think of it, the day which we give a name based on whatever calendar we prefer, and the hour and minute which are tracked by mechnical (and here I include electronic) devices.

So there is nothing special about "time" as in "it's the 21st of February 2008". It only seems confusing because we often start there in our quest to understand "time". In reality, co-experiential time is conceptually several steps along the path. Start with Time Type A, extend to personal experiential time, then group experiential time, and then we can see how the naming and numbering of days and years fits in the picture.

God : in time, or out of time?

A proper understanding of time helps us dispel many misconceptions about God's relationship to time, and our own.

For starters, God is not someone who's been sitting around "forever" on a timeline that stretches out infinitely before and behind us. If God was sitting on that infinitely-long timeline, He wouldn't be here at all, because neither infinity exists, nor do infinite sequences, and a timeline is a sequence.

You think you passed that one? What about perichoresis? There's a popular theory that the three persons of the Godhead are in a perpetual dance, and have been for an infinite period of time before choosing to create humans to join in the dance. The sentiment isn't far wrong, but the details are. God has not been dancing for an infinite period of time. "Infinity" does not exist. And neither do infinitely-long time periods.

So where did God come from? He didn't. He always existed. Something had to always exist. He just happened to be the one.

"So He's been around forever then? You're contradicting yourself!" Nay - He has not "been around forever" if you define "forever" as "an infinite time period leading up to the present moment". God never "came into existence" - He always was. But in His state of perpetual existence, He had a first moment.

God had a first experience.

But how could God have a first experience without a prior cause?

Revisit Time Type A : God was the cause of His own first experience. Not the cause of His own existence, but the cause of His own first experience.

So is God inside time, or outside? This is a common question, and one I pondered on for many years. Surely God is outside time I would think, for He cannot be inside time, locked to the same constraints which bind the rest of us.

In those days, I viewed time as a big box - like a shoebox, with God placed non-spatially outside the box.

But neither view is correct.

Time is not a box in which God is confined, nor a box in which God is not confined. Time (type B now) is the long sequence of events that has transpired from that first ever moment of time (time type A) - that first event in the universe, when God was the cause of the first moment in history.

View time as a long ribbon, ever extending in one direction, with God at the start of the ribbon and causing its extension.

So what about Heaven? So often I've heard preachers or Christians generally announce triumphantly that there'll be no time in Heaven. Baloney! No sun nor moon, ok, but there will be time. Scripture says there will be no sun nor moon, but it doesn't say there will be no time. In fact, it distinctly says that there will be time in Heaven - just not in those words.

Take, for instance, the marriage supper of the Lamb. Tell me, how do you plan to sup without time? How can you have a before state of food in bowl and an after state of a satisfied eater if there is no time? Time, as measured in earth years and days might long be gone, but time will exist, just measured differently (if measured at all - and I suspect it will be - consider for example that even in the perfect creation God gave stars for "signs and for seasons" - i.e. for tracking the passage of time).

Time type A : time at its very essence

At its very essence, the smallest unit of "time" is simply a change of state.

I was sitting; now I'm standing. What changed? My position.

I ate breakfast. What changed? The food moved from the bowl into my belly (with some assistance of course!)

Now, even the act of standing or of eating food is itself a process, but before we zoom in too far, let's consider these processes as a whole. What constitutes a change, a "time type A" moment/event?

It's remarkably simple.

Don't let anyone fool you into tuning your brain out because "that's metaphysics" or with some other scary statement.

Time is really easy to understand.
  • Before : You have a prior state;
  • After: You have a successive state;
  • Effect : You have the set of things that changed between the two states;
  • Cause : You have the actor/power/whatever that caused the change of state;

There is no simpler adequate reduction of the concept of time. Every moment of time involves all four of these things.

Applying the concept is easy : I stood up. Prior state? I was seated. Successive state? I was standing. What changed (effect)? My position. How did it change (cause)? Through my action.



So let's dig deeper.

Digital existence
We can break down my act of standing into smaller and smaller time segments.

But if we could do so indefinitely, we would find that the series of events involved in me standing up is infinitely long. But infinity is a fiction, and infinitely long series are not series and thus by definition do not exist.

So the only other possibility is that when we analyse the series of events closely enough, we discover that there is a smallest possible event. A smallest possible movement. We see our actions as fluid, as analog, but the world of physics is digital. At the macro level, we perceive an analog world, but the underpinning physics is digital. (Not necessarily binary, but digital.)

The math involved in keeping a digital world running without failure whilst appearing at all macro levels to be analog, is astounding, and testament to the extraordinary genius of the One who designed physics and the physical realm.

Volitional vs mechanical causes
The first "event" that transpired in the history of everything was a volitional event. Physics weren't around at that time. God chose; God did. He chose; He did make physics - the math, the matter, the energy - the whole kit & kaboodle.

When I fire a gun, and the bullet leaves the muzzle at 800 feet per second, what carries that bullet on to the bullseye?

If you answered "nothing", you'd be correct most of the time, 'coz I rarely hit the bullseye.

But whatever it hits, how does the bullet get there?

Well, an object in motion stays in motion unless acted on by another force. (Hat tip Mr Newton.)

Good and well, but what exactly is motion?

Does the bullet propel itself on through space & time?

And how does this relate to time itself?

Think about it : what carries the bullet on through space?


I have a simple answer : the laws of physics.

Sure, the bullet has "momentum", but "momentum" means nothing absent something that acts based on the momentum. If you took a "freeze frame" 3d photo of the universe, you could analyse that bullet, and make guesses about its speed and direction based on the air patterns around it, but if you could only consult the bullet itself, and absent subtle clues like heat patterns from air friction in the direction of travel, you would have no clue how fast the bullet was flying or if it was even flying at all.

Momentum means nothing. Nothing, that is, unless there is something that pays attention to or "does something with" the momentum.

And there is such a thing : it's called the laws of physics.

Events in time that are caused by a person's choice are volitional events. The "what made it happen?" question is answered "by xyz person".

Events in time that are caused by the laws of physics can be referred to as mechanical events. A person - a volitional agent - might have anticipated and intended the event to occur (much as I intend the bullet to strike that bullseye), but it is the laws of physics and the associated series of mechanical events which effect the visible change.

When my bullet strikes the bullseye, a dull thud is heard.

What caused the sound?

"The bullet striking the bullseye caused the sound", says one.


Am I to suppose that a bullet has power to create sound? That, absent time, it could somehow cause a sound to ring out? Obviously the bullet can do nothing - indeed nothing can do anything - without "time" of some sort. So, existing in time, does the bullet have the power by which the thud is caused? We say "yes". But let's return to the simplest complete definition of a moment of time :

We have a prior state : the bullet is in the air.
We have a successive state : the bullet is in the target and a thud is heard.
We have a change - the "effect" : the bullet has moved and a thud has occured.
And we have a cause. What caused the change? Did the bullet cause the change by its own power & momentum? Far from it! Take away the laws of physics, and the bullet halts. The laws of physics do not describe observed phenomena, they cause them. And so it is the laws of physics - acting with regard to the physical properties of the bullet - that "cause" the dull thud to sound.

The laws of physics act with uniform predictably based on quantifiable information regarding the physical state of an object.

When we analyse a series of mechanical events, we often describe the sequence of events as a chain of cause-effect links, with the cause of each successive link being the effect of the preceding link. Our terminology in such cases is adequate, but confusing. The prior state is not the "cause"; the laws of physics are the "cause". And the successive state is not the "effect"; the "effect" is the differences between the prior state and the successive state.

Thinking of time as a mere series of "cause-effect" links is inaccurate, but useful as a gross simplification that is widely known. The reality is that the successive state of one moment in time is linked to the prior state of the next. The link between each moment of time is that of the prior and successive states, not that of the causes and effects in operation.