Chapter 22. Just A Moment

The course of time

A common way to visualize “time passing” is to pay attention to the hands of a watch or clock as they move around its face. As each hand moves on from any given mark, it leaves behind it a lengthening arc of the face’s circumference. History teachers find it useful likewise to draw a length of “time-line” to represent the order and dates of a selected series of historical events. Like the circumference of a clock face, the length of a time-line from a beginning marker to an ending event is usually divided into portions which are understood to represent units of duration – days, weeks, months, years, centuries or millennia. A chemical engineer might draw a time-line to describe the successive phases of a certain process, prescribing the times at which an ingredient should be added or action taken to fulfil the recipe. Every electrocardiogram embodies the time-line principle as it registers in terms of seconds the character of a patient’s successive heart beats and the intervals between them.

A mathematician would claim that, theoretically, a continuous line is infinitely divisible. A continuity which has actually been divided even once, however, cannot any longer really be called “continuous.” To be consistent, those who believe that time moves, flows or flies continuously, have to conceive time as a smoothly dense continuum without any breaks or divisions. Strictly speaking, once divided, a time-line no longer adequately represents the alleged continuity of time’s flow.

In practice, it is impossible to divide a time-line infinitely. Further dividing of what has been divided again and again has to cease once the smidgens which remain are of much the same size as the dividing instrument. Although the imagination of mathematical theorists leads them to speak of dividing a line infinitely, there is nevertheless a practical limit to dividing any actual time-line.

In any case, since no mathematician will accept the notion that an infinity of infinitely small linelets will add up to a line of finite length, it would follow that no actual line can really be infinitely divided. To define a line as a sum of points is not helpful either, for a point is not ordinarily held to have any length or width whatsoever. If however the “points,” considered as units of the time-line, are allowed to have a tiny magnitude, they would then represent fairly nicely my punctuated conception of time. If millions of years of time are conceived to consist of discrete units, at least some minimal duration must be allowed to occur with each unit.

The adequacy of a mathematically conceived time-line as a model for time is questionable. If considered strictly, such a conception will be seen to be downright misleading.

If each Now-state – a present moment of time – appears and disappears everywhere at once throughout the entire three-dimensional universe, a single one-dimensional line is by no means a satisfactory model. At any moment unimaginable numbers and kinds of new relationships and events are taking place throughout the whole vast volume of the universe. A line which theoretically has nothing but length cannot convey the faintest hint that coexisting or simultaneous events have been occurring during the period represented by the time-line.

A time-line must be drawn by someone, or at least be the track left behind some moving object. I imagine that few people who are actually drawing time-lines ever wonder about or mention any agency which has been establishing the direction of actual time and sustaining its advance throughout the years and ages.

The story of what has taken place in any region of space may be richly eventful, but nothing at all is ever registered on a time-line as happening between marker events – only an empty, monotonous sameness. No event which occurs in the time process is ever identically the same in all respects as any other. A simple, uniform line as a model for time is therefore bound to suppress all of the qualitative differences between successive moments and periods. If each present moment is reduced to a mere point on a line, that does away with all content and particular significance. A time-line is obviously an extreme abstraction.

At a certain point a time-line may be ticked to designate the present moment. That practice would seem to imply that every other minuscule point on the “past” portion of the line likewise represents what was formerly a present moment. Similarly the other portion of the line is supposed to represent moments which will become present moments at some future time. Those moments have not, however, happened yet, so they don’t really belong in the same line with moments which actually did happen in the past. The past portion of the time-line represents memories and records of happenings, while the future portion can represent only possible events. Instead of representing the present as a fixed point on a line, the present would be more appropriately represented as the ever-changing, elusive end of the line as it is being lengthened.

A time-line can abstractly represent periods of past history, but not the actual ongoing time-process. The dynamic coming and going of present moments cannot be adequately represented by a standstill, graphic line. Every bit of a drawn or printed line has to remain fixed on its paper or chalkboard A time-line can therefore represent only the track or path which a moving point left behind as it moved over an unmoving, spread-out background. I daresay that few people who use time-lines ever ask what reality is represented by the background of their diagram.

As marked off on a drawn line, the successive periods of history can be comprehended at a single glance. The representations of those periods of history coexist on the line, but those periods never actually coexisted. To survey all the successive periods of history at a glance requires a good deal of intellectual abstraction and constructive imagination. Theologians have sometimes taught that, from a divine perspective, all of time’s story is in view at once. Dare I suggest that those who use time-lines are trying to present a thumbnail sketch of history from the “divine perspective”?

Some theologians and physicists have taught that from the beginning of the world the whole course of history was laid out in advance like a printed line, rather than like a line which is being drawn. In their way of thinking, we simply move along that predetermined line of events – shining a spotlight, as it were, on event after event from birth to death. This approach is called the “block universe.” The problem here is that, although a time-line representing the 4-D block is supposed to represent all of universal time, paradoxically another time-line must be drawn outside of the block’s line to represent the time of the moving observer.

If a time-line has a definite beginning and an end, dividing that line into event-representative portions does indeed make it a little easier to visualize the succession of periods of ongoing history. Any attempt to represent the world’s history from the beginning, however, will encounter problems. No one knows what date to assign to the beginning of the line, for no one knows exactly when time began. Also the proportion of known history to the span of prehistory is such a tiny fraction that it cannot occupy a very significant stretch on a time-line of any practical length.

What if time is not continuous?

For the last three centuries most people in Western culture have believed in the unbroken continuity of time. Mundane time (clock time) is considered to be as continuous as the rotation of the earth on its axis and its yearlong journey around the sun. Nevertheless people are quite accustomed to having their life time divided up into periods of various durations by official clocks and calendars. It has always been acceptable to set days apart for special activities and to designate certain hours for beginning or ceasing to work. For convenience of reference, historians normally assume that history comes in nameable stretches called ages, periods, reigns or eras punctuated by distinguishable events.

Most people have never considered that dividing time conceptually into portions of various lengths in any way disrupts time’s actual continuity. Nevertheless they would dismiss as completely ridiculous any suggestion that time may actually come and go in inconceivably brief discrete units.

Since the invention of movies, stroboscopes, digital watches, digital computers, digital communication, digital music and digital TV, the notion of time coming in discrete, momentary bursts should not seem so utterly ridiculous. After all, we now know that matter, which once seemed so solid all the way through, actually consists of distinct molecules, atoms and a host of smaller subatomic particles.

Since the debut of quantum mechanics a number of contemporary physical theorists have entertained the thought that time and existence, like action and energy, may come and go in discrete moments. Electrons seem to leap from one atomic orbit or energy level to another, but cannot be detected in transition. An electron approaching an impenetrable, insulating energy barrier may seem to disappear suddenly from in front of it and then, just as suddenly, reappear beyond it. Did the electron actually pass through the barrier? Was it the same electron or was it a different electron which had been newly created beyond the blockage? Particle physicists have detected a host of such inexplicable behavioral discontinuities in the subatomic realm.

These tiny discontinuities may be revealing that the creation of the universe is continuing in discrete time-pulses of existence, with infinitesimal “gaps” of discontinuity between them. Nevertheless the identity of objects and persons on the macroscopic level seems to be maintained continuously. How can this continuity be compatible with discreteness on the sub-microscopic level?

Time certainly seems to advance in an unbroken succession. If the moments of time are actually discrete, what holds them together in the orderly succession which is required to form a persisting object, a smoothly running process or an identifiable person? There must be some continuous connection between the moments of time. In a necklace the order of the separate beads is maintained by the cord which is threaded through them all. The cord may be hidden but it is essential. The beads are not the string – nor are the discrete moments of time identical with whatever, in sustaining their sequential order, stretches across whatever gaps may be between them. A truly continuous “eternal” background with creative power could lend duration and connection to all moments as they successively come into being.

What lends continuity to our ordinary time could thus be another “background kind of time” – the Creator’s own uninterrupted duration, the Ground of all being, relating and becoming. If time as we know it actually comes in discrete moments, God’s own everlasting lifetime is what imparts whatever continuity there is to the complex story of the whole universe. To assert that there is such a thing as a continuous whole of history, one must adopt what has been known historically as the “divine perspective.”

It makes sense to believe that the Creator is the “infrastructure” connecting all details of all the successive Now-states of cosmic creation time. The Creator is the bridge which spans any and all gaps between moments of time. The root meaning of the Latin word transcendere is “to climb across.” The God who creates all that exists, who relates all relations, who bridges all temporal gaps to connect the successive Now-states of the universe, may therefore be meaningfully described as “transcendent.”

Like the continuous underground concrete foundation of a wall or the string in a pearl necklace, the Creator God is hidden but effective. The technique of creation is not understandable, nor are its products always predictable. But it is clear to me that if a “place” or role for God is not included in our worldview, the phenomenon of time will remain entirely incomprehensible for science. Without a full understanding of time, no one will ever be able to say truthfully that anything whatsoever in this world has been completely understood.

Some people think that if time were actually discrete, gaps between moments would undercut the principle of causality. The momentum of a moving object is always passed on to whatever it hits. A “causal chain” thus occurs when one object bumps into another, which in turn bumps into another, and so on. When the transmitted causal force reaches a place which is devoid of objects to be bumped, the causal sequence will end when the last object bumped slows to a stop. Since time continues on and on, anyone who assumes that time operates in the same way as physical causality is likely to reason that no gaps can have occurred between moments.

If, however, the continuity of the time sequence should resemble the transmission of light more than it does causal transmission, the occurrence of gaps in the time sequence need pose no problem. Light travels even more easily through a vacuum than it does through clear air – and a vacuum has no contents available for push-pull causation. If time should actually have gaps between moments and yet proceed with continuity, that would indicate that ordinary causal forces are not what is activating the time process. If previous causal events are not activating the ongoing time process, then what or Who is doing the job?

If the creative Power which originated the first moment of time and sustained all successive moments is still functioning during every “void interval,” it is conceivable that, behind and during all of what might be considered “empty” gaps in mundane time, the Creator could be actively preparing the character of the next moment to be created.Those empty gaps may not be entirely empty after all.

How do time-pulses effect change?

Distance is the relation between two points or bodies which are not in physical contact with each other. In the universe there are countless material bodies, and the word “space” refers collectively to all the distances between all those bodies in every direction. As I see it, the concept of space can also denote the ordered distribution of all the points at which anything could possibly exist. In other words, space is composed of all points at which an act of creation could become manifest. This conception of 3-D space is a little like the 2-D spread of fluorescent pixels (picture elements) over the face of a TV picture tube. A time-modulated beam of electrons sweeping over that screen will illuminate a selection of pixels for viewers who will perceive the whole spread as a temporary picture. The appearance of the universe accordingly depends upon where configurations of existents have been created and successively recreated.

All created things are in motion. Direction and motion are inseparable concepts. Whatever moves must move in some direction – toward something or away from something. Motion depends upon the moment to moment functioning of time. No elapsing of time, no motion. Time generates motion and motion generates direction. Directional changes generate forms. All active relating consists of interaction between forms, which in turn produces patterns of information. All organization, systems and life itself depend upon the coordinated patterns of relating which arise from the relating function of time.

Time develops patterns and frequencies such as those in waves. Waves seem to be of the essence of matter. The world’s “movers” are usually assumed to be the so-called “forces of nature.” But what actually produces the sustaining, moving and transforming of the world could be the sequential creating of patterns by time-pulses at various creation points in space.

When I think of time’s creative power functioning in space, the image that comes to mind is an elaboration of the common light-board sign. This device presents a message which changes and thus catches the attention of passersby. If a message is too long to be accommodated as a whole at one time in a fixed position on the board, a further section of the message can be quickly illuminated after the first arrangement has been switched off. The backboard of the sign supports a densely ordered array of electric sockets whose light bulbs can be turned on or off by a programmed multiple-switching unit. The closing of a certain set of switches will light up a certain set of bulbs in a pattern which reads as a letter of the alphabet. Patterned switching can thus create successive patterns of illuminated bulbs and blank spaces along the board which spell out the words of a certain message.

Alternatively a long light-board can be controlled by a sophisticated switching system which keeps illuminated “letters” apparently moving toward the left. The traveling words can be followed and read from the time they appear on the right until they reach the left end of the board and disappear.

The world may be conceived as being like a 3-D version of the 2-D light-board with its moving patterns of letters or figures. A model could probably be constructed to help visualize what I have in mind. A large glass cube could be put together composed of small cubes of transparent glass. The interstices between the various levels, ranks and files of those cubes could serve as channels for glass fibers which could conduct light to and emit it at any corner of each cube within the display. By means of a multiple-switching device any desired one-, two-, or fully three-dimensional pattern of lighted points could be illuminated within this glassy plenum. If the lights were turned on in a certain pattern, then briefly off, then quickly on in the same pattern using adjacent lights, all in the same direction, one cube-width away from the original light positions, the original pattern would seem to move one cube-width in that direction. Repeating this kind of sequence would create the impression that a whole illuminated 3-D form was moving through the large glass structure. In this way also, parts of a lighted form could be shifted or a whole form could be reshaped, enlarged, diminished, rotated or moved in any direction at will. Computer programs already exist which can simulate such manipulations on a two-dimensional TV screen.

Somewhat like turning on and off 3-D patterns of light-points in a large transparent cube, the Creator can be conceived as momentarily creating concentrations of energy at desired creation points throughout space to form familiar patterned forms. After being annihilated briefly, these forms could be recreated, perhaps with slightly different features, at a succession of slightly different locations. This sequential procedure could produce our familiar world with all its kinds of motions, changes and interactions. I believe that the universe is actually being created and recreated by such successive acts. This process of creating and recreating with differences is what I mean by “cosmic time.”

In recent years several new conceptions of space have been put forward by cosmologists. The notion of “empty” space has been retired and expressions such as the following have gained respectable scientific currency: “the primitive field,” “the false vacuum,” “a bubbling foam of virtual particles,” “a sea of black holes,” “a sea bubbling with quantum fluctuations,” “a foam in which every possible particle and its field are constantly forming and dissolving.” These gropings for an acceptable model of nonempty space are obviously compatible with the “cube of lights” model of space and time which I have just described.

Watching the lighted forms moving in my cubic glass model could prove so fascinating that the fiberglass conductors, wiring, switching mechanism and programmer/technician would be forgotten. No orderly patterns could be achieved or intelligible messages communicated by a light-board mechanism if they were not sustained and presented by underlying systemic hardware activated and controlled by an intelligent, accomplished and imaginative programmer/technician. Science tends to scrutinize intently the phenomena of the material world while neglecting the transcendent “Infrastructure” which originates the energy, forces, laws, space, time and other relations which constitute this wonderful world.

If time is really discrete, the only direct connection between successive Now-states is through the all-transcending Creator. The same is also true of the existents within a given Now-state. The apparent continuity of our ever-changing world, despite the discreteness of time, arises from the eternal continuity of its Creator. If the Creator of the latest present event is also the same intelligent One who created all times past, that continuous identity suggests an explanation for the world’s uniformities, for the influence of past events upon present developments, and for the total “conservation of energy” throughout all of its transformations.

What are time-pulses like?

Time’s general functional pattern is always and everywhere the same. It seems to move in two directions at once. In the one direction, the future is becoming present while the present lapses into the past. In this aspect, time appears to issue from a realm of possible but unactualized futures. Time actualizes certain of those possibilities into definite present existence, then moves that configuration on into the past to become structures, information and memories. In the other direction, time takes the information from the just-passed present and projects a modified version of that configuration to establish the character of the next present moment. The influence of that next moment will in turn largely determine the next phase of the future. Although these directional conceptions of time’s process are directly opposite to each other, paradoxically enough, they are both in accord with human experience.

I wish I could cite some common process which would model adequately the two-way process of time. I mentioned earlier that in water one portion is able to move in a certain direction while another is moving in the opposite direction. For example, one side of an eddy in a flowing stream is moving downstream with the current while the other side is moving in the upstream direction. An eddy, however, is only a local occurrence, while time is always operating throughout the whole universe.

In a deep-water wave, individual water molecules move in vertical circles, swinging up and forward with the crest of the wave, then down and backward toward the trough behind the wave and ahead of the next one. These forward and backward simultaneous movements are characteristically coordinated into a lengthy “cylindrical” roll which will be seen as a wave driven by the wind across a body of water. Though a wave travels, it too is an occasional and localized phenomenon, while time is always in operation everywhere.

An electrically operated fountain serves a bit better as an illustration of the two-way operation of time. A hidden pump squirts water jets up to a certain height, then the water falls and makes its way back to the pump whence it came and whence it will be recirculated. Cosmic time also comes and goes and its Source too is hidden. Unlike the water proceeding from a certain set jet, time emerges simultaneously at every point of the universe. Cosmic time does not move from one place to another within the volume of the universe. If the universe is there, time is already there.

Cosmic time is universal and unique. Although everything derives its persistence, transformation and motion from cosmic time, nothing else is really like it.

What are we to make of the strange two-wayness of time? The past does influence the present. The restricted number of arrangements which are possible at the present time does limit our planning for the future. Any turnabout in either current must occur in or around each present moment – probably during the gaps between Now-states. I can conceive an interim scenario for cosmic time for what could happen in a realm which is somehow both within and beyond the universe’s three-dimensional space. A pulse of cosmic time is a unique kind of “eddy” which consists of two “currents”: one which creates a Now-state and the other which returns information about what happened in that Now-state.

This two-way process resembles how we humans interact with our surroundings. Intentional signals travel out from our brain over our efferent nerves, activating groups of muscles to change external things. Information about those changes then travels from our sensory organs in the reverse direction over our afferent nerves, reporting to our brain what the situation out there is like now.

A forwardly directed pulse of creative cosmic time from God creates and constitutes a single Now-state of the universe. That produces a host of interrelated creatures, from subatomic particles up through viruses, vegetation, animals and humans to stars and galaxies. Along with its created existence in that momentary Now-state, each entity and creature is offered a choice of possible possibilities for changing its future internal and external relations. On its backward swing, that pulse of time reports to the Creator the attitude, reaction and choice which was just adopted by each and every existent. This is just a way of saying that God becomes aware of what has gone on. During the gap between that Now-state and the next, God takes account of the implications of the incoming information. The past is thus reflected in the new set of options which will be offered to each being at the next pulse of cosmic time which creates the next Now-state.

Each pulse of cosmic time thus is a kind of feedback loop, consisting of a creative phase which is accompanied by an information-returning phase. From our human viewpoint we sense in our present situation, as it were, the “ghost” of the departed past, reflecting our own past choices and those of other creatures and people. Expecting our life to go on, our present inclinations – our desires, hopes and fears – can strongly influence our choices and what will happen next and in the future. In other words, we dimly experience in the past and future aspects of a present moment the results of a two-way loop which has actually taken place in transcendent time.

I believe that between Now-states the Creator receives, records and appraises the information provided by the decisions which every existent creature just made. This information provides the basis for creating the next Now-state of the universe. During each pause between Now-states, the Creator discards former possibilities which creatures rejected. To replace those which have now become obsolete, the Creator originates a new panorama of feasible possibilities. In creating the next Now-state God offers to each entity for its decision a particular set of new and relevant possibilities.

The choices made and the stances adopted by each existent in each Now-state are thus reflected in the next Now-state’s general character, its proffered possibilities and constraining conditions. Thus the interrelations within the whole array of the world’s existents are revised and reconstituted moment by moment over and over again. That ongoing process is cosmic creation time.

We humans know what it is to make choices between alternative options. We don’t, however, usually recognize that all entities – from minuscule subatomic particles on up – also make influential choices. The behavior of subatomic particles is not entirely predictable. With time some of the heavier particles may break down or “decay” into five or more unforeseeably different combinations of different particles. An electron-positron pair will suddenly appear in the midst of a vacuum. After a brief life in parallel, the two will just as suddenly combine and disappear as a flash of light. (This phenomenon can be construed as the creation of matter or energy.) Similarly a proton, an anti-proton and a pion will, without invitation or warning, make a simultaneous debut on the stage of detectability, and forthwith combine to disappear.

On a larger scale, a pencil balanced on its sharpened end can fall in any direction through 360 degrees of angular possibilities. Its fall may be influenced by a gentle air current, or by some imperceptible tremor in the pencil itself or its substratum. The exact trajectory of a speeding bullet or the path of a golf ball can never be foretold with absolute accuracy. Unexpected and unknown variables in the launching impulse, the local airflow and the constitution of the projectile may influence the direction of its flight. The decisions of other relevant entities always figure in what anything or anybody chooses to do.

Stored onions may start to grow for no discernible reason. Certain genes in a plant’s genome undoubtedly have something to do with the changing structure, shape and color of its developing parts. What turns those genes on and off remains a mystery, as does the source of novel viable mutations. Who knows why one portion of a leopard’s pelt or a zebra’s skin develops hair of a different color from the rest, forming a similar but individual pattern on each animal? On a bird with patches of different colors, a single feather may bear strips of color which occur in an order which is quite different from the strips of color on adjacent feathers. Remarkably enough, however, having been grown side by side and overlapping each other, the feathers taken together establish patches of distinctively patterned coloration in the bird’s plumage. Explaining the complex “differentiation” of cells in developing embryos is always difficult for biologists.

Perhaps it is because many of the entities which make crucial decisions are so infinitesimal and inaccessible by humans, that the deep sources of congenital problems, mental disorders, aging and chronic disease have remained unfathomable. No matter what the level of a deciding entity may be, however, the return phase of time bears back to the Creator information about its reactions to the set of possible relations which it had been offered.

Although each existent in a Now-state is brought into being by the power of the Creator, that need not deny it a certain freedom to assert its own particular individuality. As I have suggested, each existent reacts in its own way to the possibilities which are peculiar to its specific situation in its Now-state. Everything and everybody has a unique angle and a different perspective on what the present situation is. The light in which each individual existent views its situation influences its choice among the options which are presently open. Although there are always constraints upon each individual, there is always room for creaturely decision-making. In this world there are so many sources of initiative that something unforeseeable is always being introduced into the world’s story. What each creature will decide cannot be known for sure until it has actually reacted to the possibilities offered by the Creator.

By means of these successive creation-time circuits, God keeps in touch with what is going on everywhere. The Creator of all sees each single entity in the context of its contemporaries throughout the rest of its universe-wide Now-state. The inclinations of all creatures are made known and their prayers are heard, whether uttered or unexpressed. God understands all languages, including those of subatomic particles, the grass of the fields and all “wild “creatures. God knows the inner thoughts, desires and intents of human hearts. All of that information has been taken into account when the next momentary state of creation is launched.

Before issuing the next menu of possibilities for each creature, however, the Creator exercises divine freedom – approving the positive tendencies of certain existents and envisioning possible situational relationships which could modify or counter the negative tendencies of others. The proposal implicit in the next Now-state thus gives a constraining cast to the direction in which events could develop. Thus the Creator honors the freedom of creatures but never allows things to get entirely out of control. At the lowest level of reality about which we know anything at all, the elementary particles often appear to be acting randomly. Yet somehow their unpredictable activity comes together systemically and produces this wonderfully ordered world.

Each existent’s response holds a potential for enormously differing consequences, no matter how tiny the existent may be. A snow crystal’s collapse may precipitate an avalanche. A mere spark can set off an enormous explosion. One infinitesimal mutation may upset the character and direction of some delicate organismic development. It took only a clear spot on a culture plate to initiate a regime of life-saving antibiotics. The cooperation of a sperm cell and an ovum may conceive a life which turns the course of history. God can combine the positive responses of the most minuscule individuals to create new potentialities for productive future developments. Never underestimate the Creator’s ingenuity!

Why create a world?

This whole scenario assumes that the Creator has a positive, worthy and benevolent purpose and that this creative process will always be working toward the fulfillment of that purpose. In a world where evil seems to be rampant, I cannot offer ironclad proof that this assumption of God’s beneficent purposefulness is the case. But I have sufficient reasons for believing that it is true.

Why is science trying to discover the “true principles” which lie behind the orderliness of the world’s systems? Why am I always trying to figure things out and make sense of the world? What motivates families and communities to encourage behavior which will produce harmonious, productive living? Why must the worst governments confer some benefit upon their servants and the general population in order to gain and retain their support? Why are things which are honest, just, pure and lovely of such good report and praiseworthy?

If the world is ultimately purposeless, all of the above human inclinations are utterly futile. The assumption has to be valid that the world is being shaped by a powerful, intelligent Creator whose objectives – even in human terms – are good, though difficult to achieve in a world where creatures at all levels have some say. We make bad choices. We make serious mistakes. Our decisions and actions create problems both for ourselves and for others. But the very recognition of the malignancy of the consequences implies that we realize that things ought to have turned out better. Appreciation and moral awareness are inherent in normal human beings. People who teach that it is bad to take seriously the aesthetic, ethical and logical principles which make for good must be considered perverted. To say that it is good to be bad and bad to be good is obviously self-contradictory – the “unforgivable sin.”

Often, when we look back at an unpleasant or “evil” event, we are thankful that it happened. Out of it something has come that is more wonderful than we ever thought possible. Seldom has anything ever happened which can be shown to have been entirely and unqualifiedly evil. In the long run all things can work together toward some good.

In any case, for each of us, each day is “Judgment Day.” At each moment of our life we have to decide what to do with it. Living is a process of deciding between doing “this” or doing “that.” Even deciding not to decide is a decision. Moment by moment we live out a story which tells what we did with our lives. The opportunity to live was given to us; we did not give it to ourselves. Our story, whether interesting or not, whether satisfactory or sordid, is continually being read by the One in whose own evolving cosmic story we appear.

Looking back we may ask what we got out of life. More importantly we should be asking all along, what will God get out of what I am about to be and do? The question “What does time tell about God?” should be followed by the question “What does time tell God about us?”