William Alexander Hernandez writes that St. Augustine believed two theories regarding the concept of time; that time is a creature of God and time is a phenomenon of human consciousness (p. 73). The two theories are derived from Augustine’s Confessions Book 11. The creature of time theory recognizes the concept of time having its origin in the mind of God before the creation of the physical universe. This idea entails that time exists independent of the human mind. This seems slightly paradoxical considering the second theory but does have its justification which I will not be able to develop since this is not an essay. In either case, time manifests into reality at the beginning of the creation of the universe. God being eternal who exists in eternity and therefore has no beginning or no end cannot exist within the parameters of time; otherwise, the very concept of God would be contradictory to the attributes which define what God is. Time then is a creature of God not as an ontological, objective, or physical creation, but only as a point of reference toward the beginning of physical creation; hence, (Gen 1:1) in the beginning, God created is a point of reference to a source of existence which has a beginning not within the parameters of eternity or the concept thereof.
In the second theory, Augustine develops time as a concept dependant on the mind of man. James Fieser writes “we might think that it (time) is objective and part of the external nature of the world itself . . . Second, we might think of time as merely subjective, existing only as a product of our minds . . . Augustine goes with the second: time has no meaning apart from our minds.” I do not fully agree with Fieser that Augustine claims time has no meaning apart from our minds; since, in his confessions he recognizes time having its integrity in the mind of God, which for some can be perceived as part of God’s divine illumination toward man innately having the intellectual inclination to develop the concept of time. In his Confessions, Augustine writes largely about the past, present, and future. Nevertheless; to be as concise as possible, time then; in the mind of Augustine, exists as a subjective instrument used to measure particular circumstances such as any reference to beginning and end, motion, and distance. Which leads me to the ethical portion.
In our reading lesson, the author wrote: “for Augustine; evil is not a thing in itself, but rather a distance from God.” I believe Augustine meant distance in relation to the human’s capacity of love toward God. Not distance in relation to the physical measurable distance between God and a person, because only humans exist in the parameters of physical time while God exists outside of time and is, therefore, omnipresent meaning capable of being in all places irrespective of time and space. Besides, the capacity for evil action dependant on the special distance between God and subjects does not make sense, since the bible states that Satan and his angels rebelled from God in heaven; signifying close proximity toward God, yet they were able to perform such an evil action. Neither can I reconcile evil to distance from God emotionally, because there are recordings in the bible of theists and atheists committing evil acts such as betrayal, adultery, and murder. Rationally, I would have to disagree with St. Augustine at this point. Perhaps evil is a thing in itself, but that would logically conclude that goodness is a thing it itself as well, since, in this world of time and space there cannot be one in existence without the other. And if they both are things in themselves, it may be a great challenge for St. Augustine or anyone to reconcile one originating from God without the other.
Hernandez, William. St. Augustine on Time. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science. http://www.ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_6_No_6_June_2016/4.pdf. June 2016. Web. Nov 13. 2019.
Fieser, James. Medieval Philosophy: From the History of Philosophy: A Short Survey. Sept 1, 2017. https://www.utm.edu/staff/jfieser/class/110/5-medieval.htm. Web. Nov 13, 2019.
Phil 303/Lesson 2. Augustine-Metaphysics and Ethics. Web. Nov 13, 2019.