I find it delightful when science yields findings with profound theological implications:
It has been believed that without the ability to recall past experiences or imagine future ones, a person could not picture what someone else was going through. But a new report in Friday’s issue of the journal Science shows that people with profound amnesia are as capable as people with intact memories at doing tasks that require the ability to exercise what scientists call theory of mind.
The two men live in what some scientists refer to as the “permanent present” – they retain no episodic memories from their past and form no new ones. As well they are incapable of grasping the concept of future… But those memory deficits didn’t impede [them on] exercises typically used to test theory of mind, such as viewing photographs of eyes and choosing from several options what the person depicted was feeling… [or] hearing a story in which a person commits a social faux pas and describing why the injured party feels hurt.
In other words, if I’m understanding this correctly, a state of perceived timelessness (eternity?) is at least neutral with regards to interpersonal empathy. And not that those caring for these amnesiac men have it easy, but one can further imagine that such a state might even help in focusing on another person’s feelings and needs.
That is, taking the person right in front of you “as they are” and (to borrow a term from sports psychology that’s also descriptive of Jesus’ interactions with people) “being in the moment”. When one is not burdened with memories of having been wronged by someone in the past and is incapable of scheming about the future, some types of sins become literally unthinkable.