How to Understand Time in Relation to Timeless Divine Action in a Time-Dependent World

  • Anne L. C. RunehovEmail author
Part of the Issues in Science and Religion: Publications of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology book series (ESSSAT)


In Time & Eternity: The Question of Time in Church, Science and Theology, Archbishop Antje Jackelén tackles the problem of time and eternity from the perspective of three disciplines: theology, physics and philosophy. Her aim on the one hand is to provide a different understanding of the role of time and eternity in both theological and physical discourses; and, on the other, to create a better dialogue between science and theology by way of concrete concepts. She understands time to be both circular and linear, and as such, time becomes relational in its core. She investigates three interpretations of time, quantitative, ontological and eschatological. Studying both the classical and quantum understandings of time, she concludes that there are similarities between the ways in which time is understood in quantum physics and in eschatology in that both proceed from a static understanding towards a relational understanding of the world. If there is a relationship between God and creation, she argues, it is more plausible to link chaotic dynamics to God rather than a static order. It is more plausible to call God the Highest Complexitas than the Highest Simplicitas. (Jackelén, Time and eternity. The question of time in church, science, and theology. Templeton Foundation Press, West Conshohocken, 2005).

Time and Eternity is indeed an excellent piece of scholarship which inspires those from different disciplines who are interested in the subject of time. However, some questions come to mind. Where does the idea of time as a relationship lead us? What would we gain from accepting such a view in contrast to other understandings of time? What does a relational understanding mean for the debate between science and theology? Having this wonderful work in mind, I shall investigate how a quantum physical worldview would adhere to the philosophical problem of divine action in the world. The problem is stated as follows. Can God act in a time-dependent world while God is understood to be timeless? What is problematic with the concepts of eternity or infinity and impermanence? In order to answer this question, several understandings of time are analysed; e.g. three understandings suggested by physics, i.e. the Newtonian, the Einsteinian and that of quantum physics; and other understandings propounded by phenomenology and theology.


Atemporality Eternity Divine Action Temporality Time 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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