Joe Jordan Guest Post II: Time and Morality

Gene's post on free will and time makes me think of an idea I was kicking around a while ago about the necessity of Time for us to be moral creatures:

If there was no Time (for us), we would never be compelled to make moral decisions. Since we live in Time, we are forced to make decisions, and those decisions take on moral weight. We are, I guess it can be said, "forced to be free" in the sense that we are compelled to face choices and therefore make moral decisions given the construct of Time (as we experience it). If there was no Time (for us) we wouldn't have to make any choices at all; we could simply accept infinite stasis. Perhaps that's what Hell (or a version thereof) is like? Complete frozen-ness?

To tie a bit of Judeo-Christian "existentialism" into this rumination: it would seem that there is something fundamental in our creaturely nature that requires us to make decisions. We were made to make choices. God wants us to freely choose to love Him; we are not robotically programmed to love Him. Hence a significance of the Garden of Eden story: Adam and Eve, of course, "had" to face the choice of whether they were going to eat the forbidden fruit. Apparently, this must have occurred "in Time." Otherwise, there would have been no rupture as they might never have made the wrong choice. There are inherent existential and moral risks, of course, in all choices; and Adam and Eve were the first of countless others who have failed. Fortunately, as we know from Christianity, we can ultimately be redeemed even if we have made the wrong choices in the past by "getting right with God" (however that is supposed to look on a case-by-case basis). This, too, requires Time. C.S. Lewis, throughout all of his writings and perhaps in his "The Great Divorce" especially, seems to be saying something like this.

Much like a fish requires water to swim, we require Time to be moral. We can only be moral by exercising our freewill in Time.  To be (as in, "to become") morally good beings, we must live in Time. God already is absolutely good, so there's no need for Him to live in Time.

In addition to Lewis, Kant's "categorical imperative" and Nietzsche's "eternal recurrence" factor in all this too, I suppose.


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