I guess what I'm trying to say is that I know this stuff can be dull. I'm committed to surveying the entirety of philosophical thought though so I will do my best to push through a few famous names here while making it as interesting as I can—hence the gratuitous sleeping puppy picture and the embarrassing anecdote to start this series. Also, as Augustine of Hippo said:
Patience is the companion of wisdom.
So we must endure these dark times and learn to:
Love the sinner and hate the sin.
For even though:
One does not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: "I will send you the Paraclete who will teach you about the course of the sun and moon." For He willed to make them Christians, not mathematicians.
(and doesn't that say a lot about Christian thought), we must do what we can and hope for the best, for:
Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
Ok, let's not remain here too long. It's time to stop dancing on the head of a pin with angels and time to get to the analysis of what Augustine actually professed. What's that you say?
What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.
Ok, seriously now, it's time to move on. Even if Augustine didn't know that time is "a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. … Time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe - a dimension independent of events, in which events occur in sequence."
Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE), also known as St. Augustine, was a Latin philosopher and theologian from Roman Africa. He is considered the first medieval man and the last classical man and his writings were very influential in the development of Western Christianity.
Needs to Adapt
Augustine believed that God exists outside of time in the "eternal present," that time only exists within the created universe because only in space is time discernible through motion and change. Even the agnostic philosopher Bertrand Russell was impressed by this. He wrote, "a very admirable relativistic theory of time. ... It contains a better and clearer statement than Kant’s of the subjective theory of time - a theory which, since Kant, has been widely accepted among philosophers.” Physics states that time is woven into the fabric of space within the universe. We have found no evidence of god within this universe, which is fine with Augustine. But we have also found no evidence of god existing outside of the universe either. We should abandon belief in that existence altogether.
Augustine took the view that the Biblical text should not be interpreted literally if it contradicts what we know from science and our God-given reason. With no evidence for any gods, our reason is highly unlikely to be a gift from one. Reason would seem to arise naturally during evolution as a solution to the need to understand and control our emotions and actions for the better survival of the species over the long term. But Augustine was right that scientifically discovered knowledge should trump mystical revelation.
One of Augustine’s most famous quotes comes from his prayer in Confessions - “make me chaste...but not yet.” Augustine held that a major result of original sin was disobedience of the flesh to the spirit as a punishment of their disobedience to God. The view that not only the human soul, but also the senses, were influenced by the fall of Adam and Eve, was prevalent in Augustine's time. In fact, short-term-focused urges of the flesh are simply remnants from our evolutionary history. They worked in the super-competitive environments of the past, but not as well as the long-term focused behaviors that we later learned and taught ourselves through cultural reinforcement. Unfortunately, evolution is blind and we are left holding our vestigial emotions. Sometimes literally.
Augustine taught that redemption was not in this world. When the Western Roman Empire was starting to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the Catholic Church as a spiritual City of God (in a book of the same name), distinct from the material Earthly City. While the long-term view is a good one, using a time and a place that does not exist as an incentive for good behavior is a house built on sand that has many bad side effects and inevitably will collapse.