Thursday, June 28, 2018

Time flies

i) Albert Heim was a Swiss scientist and mountaineer who survived a fall when hiking in the Alps. During the fall he saw his entire life pass before his eyes. That intrigued him, so he interviewed other mountain climbers who survived accidents, and they reported the same phenomena. This is technically called life review. Sometimes it's triggered by a near-death or life-threatening experience. 

ii) Life review illustrates the distinction or even the dichotomy between physical time and psychological time. A kind of time-dilation in which the sense of time's passage is radically altered. Where psychological time is uncoupled from physical time. 

iii) How is it possible for someone to see his entire life replayed in a few moments? My guess is that normally, psychological time is calibrated to match physical time so that we can function in a physical world. When our experience is filtered through the five senses, our sense of time's passage is synchronized with physical events. Imagine driving or crossing a road if psychological time was out of synch with physical time. If how you perceive approaching cars didn't correspond to their actual speed. That mismatch would be fatal. But in an altered state of consciousness, the mind is free to operate at its own pace, independent of physical time. Assuming this is a bona fide phenomenon, it may have some theological applications. 

iv) Suppose a Christian has a two-year-old child who dies when the Christian is twenty. Say the child goes to heaven. Then the Christian dies at 80. There's a 60-year separation. At least, there's a 60-year separation on this side of the grave. But is there a 60-year separation on the other side of the grave? 

Since the intermediate state is a disembodied state, it seems reasonable to conclude that the intermediate state operates according to psychological time rather than physical time. Perhaps years here may be minutes in heaven. Perhaps, when the parent finally dies, 60 years after the child died, it's like the child only had to wait a few moments to be reunited with his father or mother. He may still be a two-year-old. And the parent is young again, in a simulated, dream-like body. They might pick up right where they left off, only in a better situation. Of course, this is speculation, but if the rate of psychological time is independent of the rate of physical time, then that's possible. 

v) There's a prima facie tension between young-earth creationism and the fall of angels. Within the chronology of Gen 1-3, when did angels have time to be created and rebel, in order to tempt Adam and Eve? 

Genesis doesn't say how long after they were created that Adam and Eve were tempted. Was it days? Weeks? Months? Longer? Perhaps there's time enough on YEC chronology Or perhaps that's a reason to doubt YEC chronology.  

vi) But this also raises the question of how angels experience time. As discarnate spirits, angels presumably experience psychological time rather than physical time. 

1 comment:

  1. I did not know that Life Review was an actual documented phenomenon. Quite interesting. Way back in my high school days, my health teacher told our class of an incident where he drowned in a swimming pool. In that brief moment while he was drowning, he experienced life review. It was as if he saw all the events of his life flash by him in a quick moment.

    That said and aside, a thought: Life review seems to be something independent of a person's intelligence or even quite possibly cognitive capacities at a given moment. You do not have to be a genius to experience life review.

    On the flip side, you have people like actress Mary Lou Henner who has Hyperthymesia, i.e. an incredible autobiographical memory. She can basically remember in a detailed way everything that has happened in her entire life. You tell her what day you graduated from elementary school and she will tell you if it was a Monday or a Tuesday. She will also tell you what restaurant you went to later on that day and what you ordered and whether you ate with a fork or a spoon, etc.

    The point: On Judgment Day - what will be the condition of our minds? What if I died with Alzheimers and Dementia? Will God then resurrect me with the body of a 25 year old and with a brain that is fully functional (perhaps even improved) so that I can remember everything? Or will it be that God brings about a life review? It must be life review.