Statics and Dynamics

In the third chapter of this study, it became clear that, in scientific models, the emphasis shifted from a static to a dynamic description of the world. In the present context, I wish to remind the reader that a static understanding of the world is not the same thing as immobility. Rather, the static worldview proceeds from a uniform mechanical motion; it understands the world to be a machine. Its motion can basically be ignored, because, due to its uniformity, it is irrelevant which time period is excised from the continuum and placed under the microscope. Time is symmetrical and reversible.

For a dynamic worldview, on the other hand, it is common to consider the asymmetry and irreversibility of time. A dynamic concept of time can express negative and positive acceleration, and it is focused on a sequence of moving states that cannot be predicted over the long term. As part of the dynamic view, I also include the attempt to bestow the same ontological status to relations among things as to the things themselves. Within the framework of a dynamic conception, the world's own evolution and history becomes important. Here, one finds a worldview that approximates Christian theology, which would be inconceivable without the dynamics of cre-ation—covenant—incarnation—eschatology. The concept of "dynamics," however, must not be so constricted that the linear, consecutive arrangement of different elements represents the only possibility. We would then be unable to get beyond Cullmann's model, which was criticized on pp. 86—89. Dynamics looks upon the static block-time understanding of time ("spatial-ized" time) and the irreversible understanding of the time arrow ("flowing" time) as adjacent models.2 It attempts to articulate being and becoming equally. Thus, it is in harmony with a theology that wishes to relate both categories to God, that wishes to speak of both the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Sara and Hagar, of Isaac and Rebecca, of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, and of Jesus Christ. This basic understanding speaks neither of a God of pure being, which leads to deism, nor of a God that is exclusively thought to be evolving, which would dissolve everything into processes. It speaks instead of a God of being and becoming. In the words of John Polkinghorne: "Such a God can be both the God whose reason underlies the marvellous rational transparency of the physical world, open to human inquiry, and also the God who is not condemned merely to contemplating or guaranteeing that world's regularity, but who is also able to exercise his will within it."3

This also presupposes a dynamic understanding of perfection. Change does not decrease the degree of perfection, and absolute perfection is not the same as frozen eminence.4

It is therefore necessary to leave behind an antithetical understanding of statics and dynamics.5 The two concepts do indeed play an important role as distinguishing criteria; however, for an adequate description of reality, their antithetical application proves to be inadequate. In order to arrive at genuine relationality, one needs more than distinctions.

Before I address the concept of relationality in more detail, I shall return again to the three differentiating models that were discussed in chapter 2. I criticized the theological model centered on the quantitative difference of time and eternity because, among other things, it is more a combination of belief in progress and a popular understanding of Newton's notion of absolute time than it is an interpretation of biblical views of time. A linear time arrow model that is based on the Christ event as the center of time, as described by Cullmann, is static in the sense of a uniform mechanical movement, despite the apparent dynamism of the arrow. It became clear already in the second chapter that such a concept is not communicative, it cannot act to create relationships, and it does not create a relationship to the Other. Furthermore, it now becomes clear that it also represents an inappropriate oversimplification from a scientific viewpoint. It represents a naïve conception, for it does not at all discuss questions about a beginning and end of time—i.e., the questions of singularities—and because it specifies a demarcation line, as the center of time, to which all points of the timeline relate. In view of the model of the light cone (cf. pp. 145-49), this linear description denies the existence of spacelike events, since it considers a common causality of all events. It thereby also denies the finite nature of the speed of light, since the spacelike events disappear only when the light cone is completely opened, that is, when the speed of light is infinite.6 The quantitative model therefore does not do justice to the complexity of spacetime. The fact that the conception of time inherent in the quantitative model roughly coincides with general human experience is no reason to disregard this criticism. To be sure, the idea of the fully opened light cone functions in everyday life; but in light of the knowledge gained in chapter 3, Russell's remark, that one is nevertheless dealing with an artificial product, is easy to understand:

Thus the concept of the present as demarcating the past from the future is an artifact, an anthropomorphic simplification abstracted from the objective complexity of spacetime. In reality, there is no present, only an infinite set of lightcones, events and worldlines, a checkerboard of variously overlapping causal and acausal regimes, crisscrossing endlessly throughout spacetime.7

For this reason, it is certainly correct to continue searching for multi-temporal8 models. At the same time, this is an indirect confirmation of the eschatological model of differentiation, because this model was the only one of the three models considered that works concretely with multi-temporality when distinguishing old and new time. Here then, one is not dealing with the construction of a time arrow that emanates from a center of time, but rather, above all, with the question of the presence of the end of time in the midst of time. It is the attempt to speak of time as relationship creating, relational, and dynamic.

The ontological model of differentiation largely avoids the criticism of modern physics because its center—the contrast of time and eternity—is not relevant to science. The problematization of past, future, and present in Augustine nevertheless gives this model of differentiation a greater proximity to modern physics than the quantitative model possesses. The three times of Augustine—the present of the past, the present of the present, and the present of the future—have more in common with the light cone grid than with Cullmann's straight line.

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