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Society. Blockchain Nature. Information Information. Blockchain

Nature. Information. Time
In the works of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov

Eternity and temporality are correlative

Time is the mobile aspect of eternity.

Eternity and temporality are correlative, without intruding into each other or interfering with each other. In no wise and in no sence can temporality diminish or limit eternity, for it belongs to a different ontological plane. One can say that eternity is the noumenon of time and time is the phenomenon of eternity. They are linked by a relation of foundation and being, but there can be no mixture or cunfusion between them, and they cannot limit one another. The imprint of God's eternity therefore lies upon all of creation, for it is the revelation of His eternity. Time is the mobile aspect of eternity. But every aspect of time has its depth in eternity, is nourished by and permeated with eternity.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
The Lamb of God
II. 2. Eternity and Time

God is revealed in the relative.

God, as the Creator who is correlated with time, does not stop being the eternal God; on the contrary, it is precisely His eternal Divinity that is the foundation for His creation. If He were not the Absolute in Himself, God would not be the Creator, just as, conversely, since He is the Absolute, He is revealed in the relative — that is, He creates the world.

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov
The Lamb of God
II. 2. Eternity and Time

The determinate completeness of the creation

The divine fullness of the creation is combined not with a negative ("bad") infinity that is powerless, but with a determinate completeness. Such completeness is characterized by an inexhaustible depth of eternity and by an eternal life realized in creaturely temporality.

Such a positive, finite infinitude is, in general, revealed to us through the creation of the world, in which the divine all is implanted. But this all is realized in a definite, limited period of time («the six days of creation»), and is implanted in definite, limited forms, or modes, of being. Otherwise, the world could not have been fully created, fully finished. And the divine sabbath could not have come, just as it would not have been said: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made” (Gen. 2:1-2). The divine fullness is therefore combined not with an infinity that is powerless to exhaust itself and in this sense is genuinely bad, but with a determinate completeness, which is nevertheless characterized by an inexhaustible depth of eternity, by an eternal life realized in creaturely temporality. By virtue of this combination, every atom of being, however small it might be, potentially contains its entire actual infinity, which is manifested not only in the static profile of its being but also in its dynamic, energetic realization.

Time is a creaturely eternity

The creature is summoned to being by a creative extra-temporal act that is disclosed in time and by time.

Time itself is the face of eternity turned toward the creature, a creaturely eternity of its own type.

Foresight operates with absolute resourcefulness and inventiveness, by directing each creative combination of the creature towards the good with the greatest expediency. The ways of Providence are for us unattainable and unfathomable, but we must believe in their absolute faithfulness and faultlessness.

Foresight knows how to wait, sparing the freedom of the creature, but it does not allow useless delays and sluggishness.

The creature is summoned to being by a creative extra-temporal act that is disclosed in time and by time. Just as it is impossible to think of time outside of eternity and in isolation from it, so too is it impossible to allow that even in one point of being the divine creative act should be absent, having ceased because of superfluity, for this would signify metaphysical annihilation of being, the decomposition of the meon into the oukon, the plunging of the creature into its original, dark nothingness. The world is not reducible to nothingness although it is not absolute; it is infinite although not eternal, inasmuch as time itself is the face of eternity turned toward the creature, a creaturely eternity of its own type. Therefore it is impossible to imagine God as a creator beginning only from a certain time onward which the extra-creative state of God precedes (and is consequently in time). The Lord is always creator, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Consequently in some sense the creature is co-eternal with the Creator, as light coexists with the sun, although eternity is realized for it in temporality. The actuality of God in the world, which makes time real and establishes the times and seasons of worldly events, lays down the foundation of history. It eliminates the possibility of a deterministic understanding of the world as a mechanism in which everything is automatically foreordained in advance. On the contrary, as a continually occurring divine creation, as the living garment of Divinity, the world is not regular in the sense of mechanical determinism. The world's regularity, established by science, has a pragmatic and schematic meaning only for a given segment of time and ceteris paribus besides. In the "laws of nature" there is no such thing that would make them the solely possible; they exist because they exist, de facto, until they are abrogated or changed by Divine omnipotence. The sole absolute regularity of the world is the Divine will, i.e., miracle; the world is not conformed to law in any deterministic sense whatsoever: mechanical, occult, or metaphysical; rather it is miraculous.

"The laws of nature," the idea of a general world determinacy, some sort of perpetuum mobile, is a necessary auxiliary weapon of cognition, its pragmatic crutches, which support the broadening of a human's power and positive freedom. However, these "working hypotheses" have force only for the world of phenomena, for the periphery of being, they themselves having a basis in the deeper layers of being. And especially false is the extension of natural determinism to the very essence of God, which is how a physics of God in Jacob Böhme or in representatives of a philosophy of the occult (Besant, Steiner, et al.) errs. Indisputably everything in nature is filled with divine meaning, all of nature is a symbol of God (as Carlyle felt this with particular intensity), and by entering more deeply into this symbolism the pathos of poets, natural philosophers, mystics, and mages is engendered. But nature, both externally manifested and empirical (natura naturata) and as internal and noumenal (ewige Natur, natura naturans) does not exhaust God and for that reason does not limit the One who in his absoluteness and transcendence is free from all nature and from all conformity to law, from all physics and history. Conformity to law exists only for the creature and in the end is only one thing — the will of God. But being inviolable for the creature it does not limit the creative absoluteness and the omnipotence of God: God is neither the one nor the other, for generally speaking he is not, exceeding all nature. He is not a certain quasichemical mixture of "sour, bitter, astringent, sweet," etc., as Böhme's physics maintains. He creatively supposes nature and consequently creates its conformity to law as well. Therefore the Divine creativity is boundless, inexhaustible, never-ending, and measureless. There is no external limit to his omnipotence. God establishes everything by his will. However, God does not turn to creaturely being with his immeasurableness, or more precisely, super-measurability; rather he lays down a measure for everything, a regularity invested with the power of compulsion. In summoning nothing to being and giving freedom to the creature, God renounces his omnipotence in actu and enters into collaboration with the creature. This union of Divine omnipotence and creaturely freedom, which does not exist outside limitedness, is the foundation of creaturely being. Creation is, therefore, also "an act of providence" for the creature; the Pantocrator is also the Providential One.

However, this providentiality ought not to be understood in the sense of mechanical predetermination, which annihilates creativity and freedom and converts the world into a clock mechanism and the Divinity into an arbitrary and capricious tyrant who fashions living toys for himself. A pre-establishment in the course of the world process and in the fates of human beings does not exist, for time is real and that which happens in it is created in time, and in its originality it cannot be preordained earlier in some single point of the past: every moment of time is ontologically equivalent and equally real although this does not annihilate their distinction; just the opposite, it is even affirmed. Therefore, if one looks out of the past and the present into the future, in general if one examines the world in time and out of time, it presents itself as an undefined multitude of different possibilities out of which only one is selected and realized by creaturely freedom. And the divine act of providence, once it has permitted creaturely freedom and entered with it into a real reciprocity, influences the world not with mechanically pre-established conformity to law but creatively, always originally and in accordance with the operation of creaturely freedom. Foresight operates with absolute resourcefulness and inventiveness, by directing each creative combination of the creature towards the good with the greatest expediency.

The ways of Providence are for us unattainable and unfathomable, but we must believe in their absolute faithfulness and faultlessness. Only in exceptional moments does the hand of Providence become visible in the personal and historical life of humanity, although for the enlightened eye of the saints the world is a continually occurring miracle. The mechanical regularity of the world, the crust of nature, conceals divine Foresight from us, and only with the blood of the heart does one happen to extract from it the spiritual effort of faith and its submission! From this, one understands the fundamental possibility and even necessity of eschatology, which is invariably present in the majority of religions. In it is set aside a corresponding place for creatively catastrophic moments of being which in the life of an individual person are birth and death, and in the life of the world, its creation and end, or its new creation ("behold I make all things new," Apocalypse 21:5). In the Gospel it is said that no one knows of the end of the world except the Heavenly Father (not even the Son as one who participates in humanity). Here God operates by a creative fiat (or non fiat); "What is impossible to humankind being possible for God." By the will a human being cannot add to itself a cubit of growth, it itself is given for itself, and only the Maker has power to liberate it from the chain of givenness, to fashion it anew, although thereby the freedom of the creature is not violated. God does not inflict violence upon human freedom. This axiom forces one to acknowledge that neither individual life nor world being comes to a catastrophic halt, while something remains not fully spoken, unrevealed and undetermined. Foresight knows how to wait, sparing the freedom of the creature, but it does not allow useless delays and sluggishness. Therefore even evolution in its natural confines is inviolable and sacrosanct, inasmuch as each one carries in itself the law of its own being and perfection, but at the same time it cannot be acknowledged as a universal and supreme law of being.

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