Can God Go Back in Time? – How Eternity Works

Can God go back in time?

Tag: Can God go back in time?

Good Christians (and Muslims) often find themselves thinking about God, His creation, and those things which His power permits.

And while their minds are on God, they begin to wonder how He exerts certain aspects of His power. Among these is His control of time and the relationship he has with it.

So the devout find themselves wondering if God can travel through time. This is an error.

God cannot go back in time. Nor can He go into the future. God exists in Eternity. He resides wholly outside of time, and God intercedes in the present only. He is not in the present, past, or future. Time and its associated topics do not apply to God because He is eternal.

Questions regarding God’s relationship with time are often born from a poor understanding of what it means for God to be eternal. In the following lines, we’ll cover what that means and where God is.

God Created Time

So, God created everything and is the source of His own being. This means that He made time.

Now, if God made time, then time must have begun at some point.

So there was a… time… when time did not exist.

See how difficult it is to talk about time and what it means to be timeless? The human brain is not meant to know what a timeless existence is like. Our speech reflects this.

Anyway, God created time, so God must exist outside of time. If this were not the case, then God would have created a thing which already existed. But this could not be because God is the creator of all. Including time.

So God must exist in a timeless place.

And this timeless place where God exists and whence he produced time is Eternity.

God Is Not Subject to Time

Now, God does not exist within time. Therefore, he does not move within it. The place of God relative to time is as an outside viewer, and He sees all that is or has been. This is similar to how one may look at a timeline of some historical event. God resides outside of time, so to assume that He would exhibit any behaviors which can only happen over time is a mistake called a category error.

Accepting that God Has Limits

God is omnipotent. This does not mean that He can do anything or everything. People often fail to understand what is mean by God’s omnipotence, and they wrongly believe that His power is without limit.

Yet these same people tend to accept limits to God’s power when they consider other topics, and they do not realize that they hold conflicting views on God’s omnipotence and His limits.

For example, Muslims believe that God cannot change the Quran. To assert otherwise is one of the worst sins in Islam. Therefore, Muslims must accept at least one limit to God’s power.

And Christians and Jews must accept that God cannot sin. To sin is to move away from God, but God could not depart from Himself. Therefore, God must be unable to sin.

And the fact that God has limits means that His omnipotence must not be of the sort which allows Him to do anything and everything.

How God Is Omnipotent

God exists and has a certain nature about Him. This nature is unique to Him alone, and no other may possess or exhibit it.

And God’s nature has rules.

God is a God of order; this is why He revealed Himself to Moses in order to deliver the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are laws. The reason why God gave laws and not, say, water, food, or weapons is because laws bring about order, and God desires that humans live in an ordered manner.

God gives rules because He wants mankind to move closer to Him, and He Himself follows rules.

And we know that God follows rules because we can observe order in the world around us.

When we hols up a pen and release it, we know that it will fall downward and not upward. This is because gravity acts in one direction and not the other, and its behavior is consistent.

But why should this be the case?

Why shouldn’t gravity disappear at random?

Or why shouldn’t it become a repulsive force whenever someone mentions it?

Why does this rule, or any other rule for that matter, possess consistency?

It is because God has created the universe and ordered it to His nature. He is a god of consistency and rules, so His creation contains these as well.

And God’s power extends as far as possible until His own rules constrain it.

Can God Go back in Time? No.

The rules which our universe follows are a reflection of the rules which God follows. He made it according to His nature and not according to something else.

And time does not move backward. Therefore, God does not move backward.

Moreover, if God could travel backward, then any actions which he might affect in the past would change the present which the past had produced. The ripples of His actions would likely result in the non-existence of certain people who would have otherwise been born. So by His past actions, God would have broken the Second Commandment.

And if God chose to go back in time, then this would imply that He had failed to affect something which was needful when the past had been the present. Yet this could not happen because God does not err.

Can God Go into the Future? No.

God does not enter the future. Nor does he know what will happen there.

Christians must reject the notion that God enters the future because, if He does, then His presence behaviors there would force people in the present to behave in such a way so that they would bring about the future which God would enter. His travel into the future would destroy man’s free will.

God must also lack certain knowledge of the future because this knowledge would also destroy mankind’s free will. And we know that mankind has free will because man has sinned, and God, being perfect and good, cannot will for man to sin.

However…

Although God lacks certain knowledge of what will happen, He does know what may happen, and He knows the likelihood associated with potential events.

Consider the case of a coin-flip. One does not know which side will land facing upward when the coin is flipped, but the odds are still known. God’s knowledge of future events is like this.

If God’s knowledge about the future were certain and not probabilistic, then free will could not be.

And His knowledge cannot be wrong.

So God does not know the future, although he does know the likelihood of the potential futures. This is because God’s knowledge of the present is complete, and the present sets the course for future events.

Moreover, because God knows all as soon as it occurs, His knowledge of the past must also be complete.

God’s Knowledge of the Certain End

The normal belief in Abrahamic religions is that the universe will have a definite end. All those who have ever lived will be reborn, they will be faced with the presence of God, all their deeds and being will be judged, and the resulting state will be eternal because time will stop.

We do not know when this will happen, and it may be that God does not know either. What is known is that this will certainly happen… eventually.

Now, the nature of this Final Judgment is known to God, for He has decided how it will happen. Certain events have also been foretold which address the state of mankind before the end. From these, God may be able to determine when the end is liable to occur.

This is analogous to a person who knows that it will rain soon but is uncertain of the time when the rain will come and the amount of rain that will be received.

The reason why this must be the case is because, if God certainly knows the time when the Final Judgment is to be given, then the free will of the people who live during the End Times will be undone.

How so?

If God knew the exact moment when time was to end, then the behaviors of those people who will live during the end times will be predetermined. This is because the people who will live then will have lived for different numbers of years. Some people will be young,, and others will be old.

Now, the young will generally have fewer options available to them than do the old. So those who are quite young will have less free will than the old due to their relatively low number of options.

And some of these people will be so young and have so few choices available to them that they will effectively lack free will.

And if God has fixed the end date, then those young people will never grow to an age when they would be able to exercise free will. So if God has fixed the Final Day, then He has already decided that a certain portion of humanity will not be permitted to have free will.

A Summary of God’s Knowledge of Time

The following list presents God’s complete understanding of time.

  • He knows all that has happened.
  • He knows all that did not happen.
  • God knows everything which is happening.
  • He knows everything which might happen.
  • He does not definitely know what will happen.
  • God knows everything which cannot happen.
  • God knows what the last events will be.
  • And His knowledge of what happens comes to Him instantly and completely.

Gene Botkin

Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

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