Mike: I suppose the problem I see has to do with absolute infinities and infinite regression.
Tom: I can appreciate that. But I will side with personal/relational intuitions over mathematics pretty much every time. I don’t mean that I have any intuitions that tell me 2 + 2 = 4 is false. I’m talking about the stuff out on the edge, like the possibility of a temporally infinite past. That’s not exactly a simple. So until the case regarding the math is absolutely closed, I’m siding with my intuitions and experience regarding personal relations, love, the nature of experience, etc.
Mike: Though controversial, isn’t the whole idea of Sophiology impersonal–I mean, if what Bulgakov (and other Orthodox Theologians) meant by “Sophia” were personal, wouldn’t it be a fourth member of the Trinity?
Tom: Indeed it would. But even as it stands, Sophianism was condemned as heresy for pretty much this reason.
Mike: But the condemnation itself is controversial (at least as far as Bulgakov’s Sopiology is concerned.)
Mike: As I understand it, what was condemned was elevating Mary to the level of Deity (as some Russian Sophiologists had done), but 1. Bulgakov denied doing this, 2. never recanted what he had written, 3. the condemnation was never reviewed and confirmed, and 4.it never went above the provincial level (and so is not recognized by all the Orthodox.)
Tom: Agree. I’m just saying that Bulgakov (to my knowledge) never attributed ‘personhood’ or personal status (attributes of reason, will, and feeling, etc.) to any BUT the divine persons of F, S, and HS—whatever else might be the case about his Sophiology. And I think this much is a good indication of what he (and the Orthodox) did in fact believe regarding the divine ‘persons’ (and thus ‘personhood’).
Have you read much Zizioulas?
Mike: Didn’t realy want to go here (because I’m not really sure I can get my mind around the idea myself), but Bulgakov was a universalist, and one of the things his Sophiology was recently criticized for (in an otherwise favorable review in the Orthodox jounal —] is that it may necessitate viewing the final salvation of all created beings as more than a hope.
Tom: You mean like Gregory of N? Hehe. I don’t think there was much doubt in Gregory’s mind—given his metaphysics—that all would ultimately find its way back to God. I can’t get with that!
Mike: He seems to view the creaturely Sophia as the temporal outworking of God’s will for creation, and the Divine Sophia as the atemporal outcome of God’s will for creation.
Tom: I’m going to plead ignorance on Bulgakov, Mike. I’m a ‘bit’ familiar with him at best. I know he’s controversial among the Orthodoxy and was condemned by the Russian Orthodoxy (albeit a condemnation that wasn’t pursued), etc. That much at least means that his views weren’t standard Orthodox views.
Mike: That would make the end gauranteed, and time a circle. Past and future (at least from God’s frame of reference) would merge into God’s eternal now, and we would all already be seated with Christ in the heavenlies. As I said, I’m not sure I can get my mind around that, so I’m not sure it really helps me much.
Tom: As a way to understand the metaphsysics of time and the temporal status of God’s experience, it doesn’t help me at all. But I can agree to a qualified kind of ‘circular’ view of time understood linearly as a process or movement that freely begins in and with God, out to the creation and deification of non-God realities and the forever progressing enjoying of created realities in the life of God. But I can’t conceive of this movement in atemporal terms. It’s at best atemporal in an inexact way of speaking, for example, as God beings the project with every assurance of its final rest in him. The end is guaranteed so to speak. But it’s not ACTUAL for God until it is, in its own right, actual. God experiences the world.
Mike: I’m suggesting that God (or The Father, who generates the person of The Son, and spirates the person of The Holy Spirit) is both conscious, active, and aware of the passage of time in our universe; and semi conscious, at rest, and unaware of the passage of time in some co-existing reality.
Tom: Work it out, the nuts and bolts, then publish it! I’ll read it. ;o)
Tom: Not really. You also dream as a creature of time and space. We don’t become timeless entities when we sleep. That’s why I’m having some difficult connecting the dots to get at just what the issue is here.
Well, time was still passing, and my heart was still beating so many beats per minute–so in that sense, I was still a creature of time and space. But I wasn’t consciously aware of the passage of time.
Tom: That is, I think, a separate issue. I can totally appreciate how one “loses track of time” or to “lose one’s self in the moment and literally come to have no regard for time.” The passage of time that is (metaphysically speaking) necessary for conscious experience to occur at all would not clutter the actual perception and experience of beauty though its passage is necessary. Time runs in the background like a silent software program so to speak. I can get with that if that’s what you’re meaning. But that’s not ‘atemporal existence’ per se.
This is where what Stellar says comes in:
“But I know what [Mike] means, and to anyone who’s had a similar experience, it is very much timeless. And I don’t mean that in a merely subjective way, although I don’t know how you could prove that it’s timeless.”
Then we’re using words to mean different things. If it were a timeless experience, it would be an ETERNAL experience, with no beginning and no end, forever actual. Can any of us even qualify for such an experience? I don’t think so.
Stellar: Or how about this? The experience of something that is atemporal. Just because it’s experienced by someone who exists in the temporal realm, does not therefore mean that it, itself is temporal.
Tom: Good point. But this creates problems for understanding the nature of the God-World relation. I think that relations is bi-lateral and personal. And for me, that means God is experiencing the world, experiencing US. And we’re temporal.
Mike: If knowing and feeling are atemporal qualities of personality, my experience (in this dream state) was timeless.
Tom: I don’t think ‘knowing’ and ‘feeling’ can be atemporal qualities of personal existence. I’m not a professional philosopher, so I’m just battering around the idea.
Mike: Instead of conceiving of Him “getting off the dime” you could perhaps conceive of Him being both on and off “the dime.” I’m awake and conscious now, but that dream I had is still in my subconscious (or I couldn’t remember it.
Tom: Creation is creation of ‘actualities’, the ‘coming into being’ of entities not previously in existence. There’s an absolute line, so to speak, between being and not-being, or being potentiality and actuality, that I don’t think can be conflated or merged. (If I’m following ya!) So I don’t know how to conceive of God as BOTH “having created” and “not having created.” I know this is all pretty heady stuff, but I don’t see how the comparison between conscious and subconscious experience is at all analogous to the categories of temporality vs atemporality or to that the movement from potential to actual.
Mike: My conscious and subconscious co-exist–in the same way temporal time and atemporality would have to co-exist (if there is such a thing as atemporality, and I can’t conceive of reality existing without it.)
Tom: Interesting. I can’t seem to find a need for an atemporal anything. I think ‘experience’ is the common denominator to all things, and that’s inconceivable to me apart from time. So it’s temporal from there on up. And I don’t have any problems that are solved by positing an atemporal experience at the foundation of all things. I admit that mathematical conundrums. But my personal/relational categories and intuitions are far more developed and necessary to me. If that’s bad news for weird math, so be it!
Mike: Do you still think my thoughts are heretical?
Tom: Don’t think so. If you’ve got an atemporal God in there somewhere you’ll make the Orthodox happy! I’M the one who is closer to being a heretic!