Friday, May 07, 2010

St. Augustine on Time

In research for a book I'm writing I'm digging into works of St. Augustine. I had no idea he had so much to say about the nature of time:
"You, my Father, are eternal. But I am divided between time gone by and time to come, and its course is a mystery to me. My thoughts, the intimate life of my soul, are torn this way and that in the havoc of change." (Confessions XI:29)

"I shall no longer suffer the questions of men who . . . ask 'What was God doing before he made heaven and earth?' or 'How did it occur to God to create something, when he had never created anything before?' Grant them, O Lord, to think well what they say and to recognize that 'never' has no meaning when there is no time. If a man is said never to have made anything, it can only mean that he made nothing at any time. Let them see, then, that there cannot possibly be time without creation. . . . Let them understand that before all time began you are the eternal creator of all time . . ." (Confessions VI:30)

" . . . it is vain to conceive of the past times of God's rest, since there is not time before the world." (City of God XI:5)

"What, then, is time? I know well enough what it is, provided that nobody asks me; but if I am asked what it is and try to explain, I am baffled." (Confessions XI:14)
I have also learned that this father of the church did not hold to what we would call a literal interpretaion of Genesis - but rather believed that everything in the universe was created simultaneously by God - arguing that the six days written of represent a logical framework instead of a literal passage of time and that this has a spiritual meaning that is no less literal.

I gotta read me some more Augustine. This is one interesting guy!

No comments: