Space, Time and Relationship: Measuring the Distance Between Creation and God

“When one measures history by a single possible human lifetime (100 years) one realises that the whole of it has been almost incredibly short. This means that historical change has been almost incredibly fast. Each of those great empires that so imposingly rose,.flourished, and fell did so during the overlapping lives of a handful of individuals, usually fewer than half a dozen.”

Philosopher Bryan Magee in his book Ultimate Questions uses this observation to note the relationship between space and time relating to past, present and future. He imagines space and time as something that closes off knowledge by way of location to it. But the past, present and future are still the same for everyone in all times and places. The future is full, as he says, it is our knowledge that is blank. Further yet, what we can know “is so influenced by our location” in time and space that “it is impossible for us to “disentangle that influence and get a clear look at it.”. In a more fatalistic sense, “within the empirical world all time will be taken away from us, and with it everything we have and are in this world.”

But then he makes this curious observation. He imagines life on a distant star making a telescope strong enough to see earth. A star so many light years away will be viewing the earth as it was at the time of Jesus in the same present that we share right now. Whatever actions this life might take that could impact the earth would only be known to our distant future. And in a sense this is how we all live; we make choices and decisions based on knowledge of the past that will only be known to the future.

And yet there is another truth inherent in this. The closer the star is the closer it gets to the shared present. In reality, even the things we see right in front of us are reflections of the past, bound by the time that light takes to travel from its source to our imagination. The closer we get, however, the more connected our actions are to our relationship with the present, the more we can begin to know things “in relationship” to it.

If I could take this thought one step further. If it is distance that leaves us detached from the present, crossing this distance is what demonstrates is what makes the present valuable. I think about this in terms of the God-human relationship, and how Jesus embodies this bridging of distance in both time and space. That somehow and in some unimaginable way that God entangles Godsself in time and space so as to know and be known in relationship. And that the idea of being “in Christ” and Christ in us imagines the breaking down of this distance altogether.

Published by davetcourt

I am a 40 something Canadian with a passion for theology, film, reading writing and travel.

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