Before we get weaving, a word or two on my use of a term in this post...And so, to the post...
The religious claim there is a being who started all and controls all and, further, claim for this being the attributes of Omnipresence, Omniscience, Omnipotence. Whilst they also include the more romantic concepts of Immortal and Eternal, I see these as implicit in Omnipresence; all 'locations' being a temporal as well as spatial reference. Omni3 is my reference term for the supernatural being commonly known in many works of fiction as 'God'. I see Omni3 as a better description of the subject than their partisan, emotionally charged and arguably sexist label. I think it denatures and distils the subject to better examine its structure. Anyway I'm giving it a whirl, let me know what you think.
The religions maintain that Omni3 is eternal, 'has always been and will always be' but, as there is no way to discover the truth of the claim 'will always be'(1), my initial question is 'always'? By what scale are we measuring 'always'? How long is 'always' so far?
We know that approximately 13.7 billion years has passed since the Big Bang is reputed to have been at the heart of the matter, so to speak, but how long before that first cosmological event does 'always' encompass? In short, how old is the Omni3 character the scriptures depict?
As there is no way for time prior to the universe's beginning to be measured,(1) we humans have ascribed the longest period of time we can imagine and conceptualise it as the very fuzzy 'A very, very, very, long time indeed'.
I'm pondering this because, for me, the idea of Omni3 existing prior to the creation of a universe for a segment of eternity that could be termed 'forever' is unthinkable. I'll get to 'why' later but now the question becomes; regardless of by what scale Omni3 measured time, and without getting into 'without space there is no time', how long did Omni3 wait before creating the universe? While I realise merely assessing that, is already not 'straight forward', it's further complicated by perception...
Think back to when you were six and your parent said you'd have to wait ten minutes before you were allowed to do something you really wanted to do; those ten minutes would pass really, really slowly, but when you're adult those minutes can pass in a flash. Or, as an alternative view of time passing, when you don't want something to come around, dentist appointment maybe, the time can fly by.
The point is, the passage of time for conscious beings is about how distracted we are by current events from any event, significant or not, that is scheduled to occupy a future point in time.
So then, when NO future events were yet set, how long would it have seemed to Omni3, from when Omni3 became conscious of its own existence to the beginning of the universe? If time had not yet been 'invented', would Omni3 even have perceived time passing?
However, as I've no idea how to even begin speculating on those questions we'll ignore them for the purposes here and concentrate on the 'simpler' query...
If there was a period from 'consciousness to creation' one must ask the question 'what was going on for that period of 'time'?
And the longer the pre-creation 'forever' one imagines, the bigger the question becomes...
Omni3 becomes self-aware and 1 second later thinks...
I'll create a universe (or 11), add frill or two, here or there and some fluff, maybe?"
Of course, Omni3's not thinking it in English! I don't really know what language an Omni3 would create before he created anything or, more to the point, why Omni3 would create a language when there's nothing for Omni3 to label or indeed nothing to which he could communicate the meaning of that label but anyway, veering back from that sidetrack, if we apply different time periods to the same sentence.
Omni3 becomes self aware and 7 days later creates a universe.You see how ridiculous it gets; the longer that 'eternity' goes on for, prior to Omni3 getting out the plasticine to start doodling people, the more 'time' there is to fill!
Omni3 becomes self aware and 7 years later creates a universe.
Omni3 becomes self aware and 7 decades later creates a universe.
Omni3 becomes self aware and 7 centuries later creates a universe.
Omni3 becomes self aware and 7 millenniums later creates a universe.
Omni3 becomes self aware and 7 million years later creates a universe.
Omni3 becomes self aware and 7 billion years later creates a universe.
Omni3 becomes self aware and 7 trillion years later creates a universe.
I mean, all alone in the dark void, what was Omni3 doing? Twiddling his or her non-corporeal thumbs?
We can be sure Omni3 wasn't humming the 'Self-preservation society' because still yet to be invented were The Italian job, Michael Caine, Gold bars, long drops and, most importantly, humming!
So, what was Omni3 up to?
Also, the longer the pre-creation eternity is, the less amazing Omni3 becomes...
You could look at it like this - "You know what, Omni3 is brilliant; only taking 7 seconds to imagine and implement 'creation'!" but with the other end of the time scale above you'd have to conclude "This Omni3 is rubbish; it took longer to get around to dreaming up 'creation' than for humans to evolve!"
The longer eternity gets, the more rubbish the Omni3 starts to look!
No matter whether one's god is a full-on authoritarian despot, as depicted in the theistic Torah, Bible & Qur'an, or the 'hands-off', 'creation spark-plug' of the deist, the question looming large is 'how long had Omni3 been awake before pressing the big red start button'?
To flippantly answer 'always' is not a satisfactory response.
However, that's only looking at 'time', only a single aspect of the deity conundrum.
If we apply the time paradigm above conversely, one could muse that if Omni3 has only been self-aware for 7 seconds before dreaming up creation, with no experience of anything, what consideration was really afforded to the really important stuff?
On what did Omni3 base the creation plan? What was the basis for comparison?
See, if there was really nothing before, no stars, no planets, no society, no parents, no prayer, no custard, nothing, then all of existence is based only on the imagined musings of a being who has no experiential connection to anything we know and love! You know how you feel about your parents, children, friends, your favourite pen or custard but what prompted Omni3 to imagine these things?
Why would a "Bastard only-child" think up parents?
(Not that Omni3 is reputed to be a 'child' of anything but you get the idea)
I mean, quite a lot of the time, we base our respect for each other on how much knowledge, understanding and experience we each display, our wisdom, maybe. Now, with the best will in the world, whether an Omni3 has been conscious for only a few nanoseconds or for an 'eternity', the fact that for that chunk of that 'forever', Omni3 has existed in a void with none of those valuable things, so the question becomes...
Finally, as an extra twist of the thought screws, if, as they pretend, Omni3 is a 'perfect being' its imagination must also be 'perfect', so everything Omni3 imagined could be exactly as if the Omni3 had created the universe(s) without it ever having to be created. So, as you may have guessed, the question becomes 'why then go to the trouble of actually creating said universe(s)?'
Come to that, how would we know the Omni3 had created it?
If You, I and the distant stars all exist only as a figment in an Omni3 muse, how would we know? I mean, what difference would it make to the nitty-gritty of living; the brain that is me likes custard, whether I and the custard consist of matter or not, one might say, no matter what.
Moreover, why would an 'immaterial' being create 'material'? What could prompt the Omni3 to think up 'matter', anyway? (the answer, it seems to me, is nothing could have prompted it because there was nothing.)
So once again, no actual answers, as always an evasive li'l critter that darned illusive Omni3, eh?
(1) See the 'Eternity' exploration in 'Impossible Six'
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The best communications are often,
THREE WORDS OR LESS
OR ONE OR MORE FINGERS!
The best communications are often,
THREE WORDS OR LESS
OR ONE OR MORE FINGERS!