How is God beyond this time?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In most non-anthropomorphic monotheistic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, God is described as beyond or outside time. There are several elements which go into this description.

The first is that God is considered incomparably greater than human beings, and by nature eternal, incorporeal, omniscient, and omnipotent. As these things are fundamentally incommensurable with such preconditions of human knowledge as spatio-temporality, many theologians have argued that we cannot discuss how God is, but only how God is not (an approach sometimes called the "via negativa"). Thus in discussing God in relation to time, we cannot accurately say how God might understand time, but only that God is in some way behind or outside human time.

One major difference between God and humans is that God is eternal, having no beginning or end, while time for each person begins at birth and ends at death. Also, God is described as omniscient, not restricted in any way in knowledge, and knowing all things in all times.

Our sense of time is based on knowing a very limited segment of time, from our birth through the present, and not knowing, except by reports of others, time before we were born, and having no access to the future at all. God, however, is aware of all of time as we might be able to look out and see all the objects on our desk. Thus God is beyond or outside time as we conceive it.

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