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A common idea of God is that he exists outside of time. Does this make sense? Here are some objects. Do any of them work?

  • Impossibility of immutability: If God exists outside of time, then by definition he cannot change. If he cannot change, can he know what time it is now?
  • According to this SEP article, being outside of time implies the B-series of time, which that SEP article says is impossible.
  • Can there be any causation? If God "caused" the universe, he must have existed before it, but there is no before for God if he exists outside of time.
  • Can God be rational if he cannot think, which stems from him not existing in time? He cannot say "because X, I do Y", because that would imply X exists before Y.
  • Does it make sense for us to say God exists outside time? Discussed here.
  • Does God know what it is like to experience time like we do, if he exists outside it?
  • Isn't God fairly lifeless and disconnected if he cannot change at all?
  • Are there any other objections? Do any of the ones here or here (arguments are in previous section of article also) work?
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    I think this is unanswerable as written, but it's also flawed on several levels. In your immutability question, you're assuming time equals the possibility of change -- you're also assuming God changes. In your B-theory question, you have a "they" with no antecedent. (are "they" voices in your head? presumably no, "they" are particular philosophers). / several of your other questions aren't necessary for God to exist out of time (God needn't by any known definition have all human experiences nor be temporal to be causal on things in a world with time). – virmaior Dec 10 '16 at 0:30
  • @virmaior OK, I edited the question with the B-series. With the immutability, I'm not necessarily assuming God changes, I'm just asking how it would be possible if he didn't change, because he would have no idea what time it is now. I'm not saying God does have human experiences, but I suppose I'm asking more if he knows what it feels like for humans to have those experiences. With the last thing, you've got a point there. Thanks for the feedback! – APCoding Dec 10 '16 at 2:34
  • @virmaior With the SEP article, it says "First, that eternalism depends upon a demonstrably false view of time, the B-series view." – APCoding Dec 10 '16 at 2:41
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    That seems to be really poor reading of the article; please reread it. The article says William Lane Craig says it's impossible. That's not quite identical to the article's author being convinced nor to do it actually being impossible. Similarly, the article does not say in an unqualified way that eternalism depends upon a demonstrably false view of time, the B-series view. Instead, it says temporalists maintain this as one of their arguments against divine eternalism. That's very different. – virmaior Dec 10 '16 at 4:31
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    This still remains a really poor fit for the SE-model. There's far too many questions that are speculative rather than objectively answerable, there's far too many reasons that an answerer would have to give to have that answer. If you want to make it work, ask a much narrower question about an argument you're having trouble following in either pro or con. – virmaior Dec 10 '16 at 4:33
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It’s not just possible...it IS SO.

“God” is not an entity that exists within the finite boundaries of the physical universe where “time” is an abstract perceptual construct that only exists within the material plane we call the “universe” for the singular purpose of defining more than one occurrence of ANY event as distinct from another event.

Time is necessary for the human brain to perceive events as separate from others.

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  • I made an edit to remove your name since it is already listed and to break the text into paragraphs to emphasize the points. You may roll this back or continue editing. I would recommend adding one reference to someone who has a similar position to yours. This would strengthen your answer making it less of an opinion and more of a reporting of what others think. It would also give the reader a place to go for more information. – Frank Hubeny Aug 16 '18 at 14:52
  • Thank you for your contribution. Your feedback is helping me learn how this site’s text input functions. I need to read the tutorial. By the way, how do I create a new paragraph? Hitting “return” immediately publishes my post, rather than start new line. And why can’t I post my first name only? – Renée Michelle Oct 7 '18 at 15:41
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I feel like you need a more rigorous definition of what 'outside time' means. I can think of two different interpretations of the term which lead to different answers.

Omniscience - Has correct knowledge of the complete future
It is difficult to reconcile the existence of an omniscient being with the existence of human free will, but some people have attempted to do so. In my opinion, the three most interesting solutions are:

Molinist Solution: G-d knows the initial conditions of The Universe and They know all the rules governing The Universe, including how every creature will act in every possible situation. From this information G-d can calculate everything that will happen. Thus, G-d is omniscient without infringing on free will. This solution is interesting since it compatible with the A-Theory of Time and relies on the global hidden variable interpretation of quantum physics.

Aristotelian Solution: Regarding a different problem, Aristotle claimed that "no proposition about the contingent future has a truth value." If this claim were true, it has several implications for formal logic, one of which helps resolves the current issue. Unfortunately, it also implies that if G-d is infallible, then G-d is not omniscient in the strongest meaning of the word.

Boethian Solution: This is the solution I personally subscribe to. Basically, it says that any claim regarding when G-d knows something is false. Therefor, G-d can know something, without knowing it in the past. In other words, G-d has no temporal properties; They are "not in time". This solution may be the most appealing to you, as it appears to be in line with your current beliefs given how you describe "outside of time".

Atemporal - Does not vary with time
There are many things that are a temporal. The easiest to recognize examples are the fundamental constants of physics e.g. the speed at of light. However, recent work has challenged this notion. A more rigorous example would be abstract objects as described by platonism e.g. the number 4. It is worth noting that there is some issues regarding the existence of abstract objects and G-d. That debate mostly focuses on if G-d could have created abstract objects, so I do not think it prevents us from explaining G-d's relationship to time by analogy with abstract objects.

For the purposes of this answer, I am defining G-d as the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent creator of The Universe. Under this definition, I see no problems with the claim that G-d is atemporal. However, I also see no problems with the claim that G-d is temporal. I am not sure if you can form a more restrictive definition of G-d without your question becoming tied to a specific religion, in which case your question probably belongs on a different Stack Exchange site.

Non-Causal - Does not participate in causal relationships
If the existence of G-d implied anything regarding an important issue, then there must be a causal relationship between G-d and that issue. Therefor, the claim that Their existence is relevant to anything important is incompatible with the claim that G-d is non-causal. For this reason, I cannot imagine that anyone would claim that G-d is non-causal. Add on to this the fact that a reasonable argument can be made that no non-causal object exist, I do not feel the need to pursue the matter further.

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Time is widely expected to be emergent, for gravity and space-time to be reconciled with a quantum picture.

From Noether's theorem we know spatial & time-persistent properties like conservation of energy and momentum are directly equivalent to continuous symmetries under translation. We can think of our experience of dimensions as emergent sets of properties that stay the same between situations.

Quantum Loop gravity is an example of picturing space and time symmetries, and associated causality, as emergent from a more fundamental layer, in this case spin networks.

If our universe exists within a higher dimensional space, a higher dimensional being could act causally in a way we can't see, like a human could effect and observe the path of an ant over a 2D surface in ways the ant cannot. For more discussion of the problems with causality-as-fundamental, see Is the idea of a causal chain physical (or even scientific)?

See Kurzgesacht's video The Egg for a nice example of how this kind of thinking could build common grown between monotheistic and karma-based perspectives.

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If one begins with the premise that A) God exists, followed by B) He (or It) is an Omnipotent Being who is NOT subject or subordinate to the laws of nature, including space and time, then arriving at the conclusion that God is independent from or outside of time, should not be so difficult to understand or acknowledge.

If one really believes that God is a truly Omnipotent Grand Being, then He (or It) would have the ability to do X. What is X? Well, X, COULD mean God's ability and willingness to do anything and everything regardless of the impossibilities and incomprehensibilities which limit and constrain the actions and abilities of humankind.

The problem though, begins with Point A), "God exists", which of course, is inherently unknowable, unaffirmable and ultimately, unprovable. And to continue with elaborate sounding arguments and epistemological theories would necessitate things, such as speculation, conjecture, faith, belief and circumstantial reasoning (at best).

So to ask whether or not God exists outside of time is "jumping way ahead" of the more important question, which is whether or not God exists. This age old question, of course, has been and is still, inherently unanswerable, because it is inherently unknowable.

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