Time is the essence
That forms an analysis of human beings existence
It swirls and twirls through galaxies and space
Race, paces vanishes never to be traced
It extends from the deepest of oceans to the highest of mountains
Time cannot be conquered nor consumed
It is an enigma that cannot be escaped

That’s a piece of my very first poem I wrote in 2003, I forgot how the rest of it ends. Time is one of those concepts you know until someone asks you to explain what time is. For a while I have went with Einstein’s conceptual framework where time is the 4th dimension in space – time. Ravi Zacharias gives a more meaningful description where he says time is how we measure change. Intuitively that is something I can grasp- if there is no change then there wouldn’t be time. God exists outside of time because he is changeless

Philosophy has two rival theories about time- elegantly called the A- Theory of time and the B-theory of time. The A-theory states that the past existed but no longer does, the present is real and the future is only potential. So the past once existed but now has vanished into non-being, the future has yet to exist. Very straight forward and similar to our everyday conceptualization of time. The B-theory says there is no difference between the past, present and future they are all equally real. So my birth is just as real now as my death. What we observe as a difference is actually an illusion of our consciousness. I find the A-theory more appealing intuitively and more coherent. The B- theory undermines the idea of causation because all events exist equally at all times and so one cannot say that there is a chain of events which led to a specific event. This would undermine science because it is committed to the idea that there are causes behind all phenomena that we observe.

Now the A- theory of time has not gotten me any closer to a meaningful answer about what time is. Time has a very existential element to it. It’s very existence threatens my existence and so we yearn for eternity. A period where we can live without the threat of us disappearing. Perhaps time is Gods way of revealing to us our finiteness in relation to Him. Ravi Zacharias quote aptly captures what time is, he says, ” Time is the brush of God as he paints His masterpiece on the heart of humanity”

I finish of with a piece from Solomon who it must be said is the first and oldest existential thinker. In his book of Ecclesiastes he gives a striking description of time which it must be said has stood the test of time!

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.