Science in Christian Perspective


Letter to the Editor

 

 

Response to David S. Siemens, Jr.

Karl M. Busen, ASA Member
505 Kingston Terrace
Deerfield, IL 60015

From: PSCF 50 (March 1998): 74-75.                                                 Response: Siemens

David Siemens, in his letter (PSCF 49 [June 1997]: 140), questions whether the solutions I discuss in my paper are necessary, when the preconditions for the difficulties I assume are examined.1 He contends, in particular, that neither Time 1 nor Time 2 are relevant for consideration of a personal God.

Temporality or the state of relating to time is what marks a person existing in the spacetime continuum. There we become aware of our temporality through our memory which implies a sense of what we call the past. This ties us squarely to Time 2. The physicist Davies argues that if God were to communicate with us he would have to assume our temporality which would make him subject to the physics of the universe.2 He acknowledges the seriousness of his conclusion for the faithful Christian by quoting two well-known theologians. Paul Tillich writes: "If we call God a living God, we affirm that he includes temporality and with this a relation to the modes of time." Karl Barth states similarly: "Without God's complete temporality, the content of the Christian message has no shape."

Equally relevant is Time 1 for consideration of an eternal and personal God. Tillich emphasizes that "eternity is neither timeless nor the endlessness of time."3 Proclus, whom I quoted in my paper goes a step further: "As often remarked, things have a twofold nature: the one invisible  and unworldly, and the other visible and distributed throughout the world. If this is so, then time is also twofold, There is a time for heaven and one for earth." The "time for heaven" is what I call Time 1. Its concept in the context of physics is discussed in my paper.

According to Siemens it has not been established that the type of personality I relate to Time 2 "exhausts the limits of personhood." This is true. There is certainly more to a person than just his/her time dependent existence. But to keep the paper at a reasonable length, I focused only on those attributes which stem from a person's bondage to the physical world. Davies uses them for his denial of a personal God.

Siemens further suggests an analogy where the word "number" can have various meanings, among them numbers which are transfinite. He continues that theism "requires at least a `transfinite' being." I assume that his quotation marks indicate a symbolic use of this word. It actually relates to Cantor's theory that certain sets with even infinitely many elements could be denumerable or countably infinite. He introduced a new "transfinite" cardinal number, which represents the number of items in a denumerable set. "Transfinite" thus is a type of mathematical infinity, which differs from God's transcendental infinity.

I appreciate Siemens' comment that my article "presents an interesting solution to some problems raised in recent discussions on the nature of the deity." One of the problems is voiced by Davies, who denies the existence of a personal God on the basis of God's timeless eternity.4 I am refuting this claim. Even if my solution were debatable by taking another viewpoint, it still could provide a reasoned reply to a reasoned statement by one of "those who have constructed a deity in their own image."

Notes

1Karl M. Busen, "Eternity and the Personal God," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 49 (March 1997): 409.

2Ibid., 47, Note 15.

3Ibid., 45.

4Paul Davies, God and the New Physics (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984).