After writing part 1, while meditating on those matters, it dawned on me that I should address that question of what time is. Needless to say, I most certainly will not solve the question of what time is. My admitting this though draws out a central point, one which I want to underscore. I hinted at this in part 1: before the fall and curse, time was perhaps nothing more than “difference” or the “experience of difference.” To be clear, no one knows precisely what time is. Time is sequence, simply put, and sequence implies difference. In the number list, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and so forth, we spatially observe sequence, and we know that 1 is not 2, and 2 is not 3: they are different, hence sequence implies difference. I am going to venture a risky claim: I believe that all our understanding of time is nothing more than using our understanding of “spatial movement” as an analogy. This analogy of how objects move across a space is what we have direct knowledge of (non-analogous or univocal); we take that and make it abstract, taking it as an analogy to help us understand the passage of time.

A brief review of what an analogy is will help: an analogy is an idea, image, or reference that we apply to something it does not directly refer to. There has to be a certain “sameness” for the analogy to work, but there are ways that the analogy does not apply, what we call the disparate aspects of the analogy. The saying for someone having a tough day after dropping off crying kids and going to work only to be scolded by their boss, “Today’s a bear,” is an example analogy. “Today” is creating pain in this person in the same way a bear would create pain. The disparate aspect is that the bear would cause physical pain while “today” is causing psychological and emotional pain.

Thus, it is not that we know nothing about what time is; it is that our knowledge of time is analogous and therefore admittedly partial. My question, “Is time the curse?” is not particularly outrageous against this backdrop. If we knew what time was, saying that ‘this is that,’ that time is curse, would be more difficult. The only immediate experience of time that anyone has is the current experience of change, or the current experience of difference. To talk about “timelines” and imagining going into the past or future is all imagination. No one has experienced this. The Bible does focus on the curse and the results of the curse: more often than not it is called “futility, vanity, or corruption.” The Bible implies or directly speaks to limitation of time on human life, like in the curse narrative (Gen. 3:16 – 18), but the focus on various biblical texts are ideas like “futility, curse, vanity, or corruption,” not time. If I am accurate in what I am saying, asking “Is time the curse” moves the conversation away from centering on time and more onto central matters the Bible concerns Itself with. If time is little more than experiencing the present passage of change/difference, then the curse just put a limit on how much a person gets to experience this change or difference.

Is talk of “time” — or the scientific discourse we put around the utilization of time — a deceptive sleight of hand? Demonstrable is the pragmatic value of using time for industry and technological innovation. We cannot argue against that. The advancement of technology, however, fails the ultimate test of pragmatism if it cannot overcome entropy, death, corruption. My point is this: if we zoom out enough, and have a broad enough view, we will see that the final outcome of technological advancement is death, entropy, and corruption. Will the entropic heat deprivation of the universe (see 2nd law of thermodynamics) take 10 billion years or only 8 billion? What’s more, does it matter if it takes more or less time if the ultimate conclusion — after all epilogues have been written — is an energy depleted void? From this perspective, technological advancement will be estimated to be nothing more than enhancing human comfort and passing the time with mere toddler bobbles and trinkets.

If I am right, trying to solve this “time problem” is really trying to solve or remove God’s curse. Humans have a delimited window of existence: delimited from the original intent of God to have humans live in a context of ongoing, endless life. This changed after Adam and Eve disobeyed and God cursed humanity. To remove entropy, death, and corruption, is really to overcome God’s curse, not time. Of course, trying to find one’s way into God embrace with our own devices is not new: I would argue that it is a mark of “human-devised-religion.” God closed the door that gave humanity access to an endless infinite future; it reasons that only an Infinite Being (God) would be able to resupply access to this infinite future. The Gospel inverts how this problem gets solved: instead of using the devices of cursed, non-infinite humans to try to gain infinity, the Gospel’s solution is that the Infinite One enters this cursed world, not to defeat time, but to defeat death, entropy, and corruption. The Infinite One solves the curse imposed by the Infinite One. In other words, God decided He was not satisfied with how the human story unfolded and could have ended, and so He wrote another chapter, with a “happily ever after” segueing humanity to this open future infinite.

Dr. Scalise