The Cultural Phenomena of Time and God.

Time has been measured in many different ways by different cultures across the globe. We have reached a sort of standard, as needed for business and communication, but many cultures still keep their own calendars, even if the 24 hour day has become almost ubiquitous. We can measure time, but aside from the cyclic changing of season, the observable movements of celestial bodies, and a few other phenomena that require some level of technology, there is no naturally occurring measurement device. This means that, in ancient times, the shortest reliable measurement available for the measurement of time was the cycle of the Earth’s shadow across the Moon, from full to new and back. Days changed with the seasons, and weeks were only invented to break months into parts.

It is hard to observe time moving. We can see its effects on a relatively few things over the course of mere days, and most of those are entropy and decay. Still, we know time is a real force. We know time moves, and that the movement matters. We invented ways to classify it, to enable us to better interact with it. We devised systems to allow us to comprehend something awesome in small enough parts that we could deal with it and even feel like we had a relationship. Some even feel, at least at times, like they can master time and order things to their liking.

So it is, I think, with God. God can’t be observed directly, but so many throughout history have felt that their had to be something there. They created systems, rules and rituals, to try to connect to it and, in some cases, feel like they had a relationship. Different cultures handled it differently, depending on their needs and their views, but they were all thinking of the same force. Just as there have been thousands of calendars created, there have been hundreds of thousands of religions, as people within a culture adapted the local customs to match their experience with the divine.

I do believe there is a God, present and participatory in the creation of this Universe. I do think we can have a relationship, of sorts, though I find it no more than humorous to think of it in terms of any interpersonal relationship we have with other terrestrial creatures. I think we all long to understand it, because we know how crucial it is in the grand scheme, even when so many of us can’t consciously ponder the scheme in question. Even amongst those who actively reject the idea, there seems to be a need to voice their dismissal in a way that borders on dogmatic. Only those who have come to terms with their inability to comprehend divinity as God, instead professing their agnosticism, seem to be truly at peace without some sort of superstition to act as a buffer against the enormity of the question.

Time can be measured, but only indirectly, by the interaction of things within certain frames of time, just as distance can only be measured by the relationship of one thing to another. These are vitally important concepts, but we cannot measure them on their own; they have to be defined by the relationship of two or more other things acting within the bounds of space or time. So it is, I think, with the divine. We can only begin to understand it by our relationships within spiritual communities. There is no correct delineation, only those that we can agree fit our needs. There may be some truths, but they will not be easily gleaned, and we are a long way from any true understanding.


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