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I had a discussion with my mate about the usage of present perfect tense, and he raised the point that it can only be used for recent past events. First off, it's illogical, because we can't agree upon what is recent -- it's all relative. Now my ultimate counter example was the oldest event that can possibly be imagined. So, I came up with, "God Has existed at the time of big bang.". My mate argues this must be in the context of God still being existing -- but I disagree. Something like the following makes sense to me:

God has existed at the time of big bang, but then got killed by the devil 100 years later.

I think simple past version like, God did exist... might sound more natural, but if you mention that as a fact -- rather narrating it -- you have to use the present perfect.

So is it legit?

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The universe has inflated.

(but it stopped doing so a fraction of a second after the big bang)

There is no limit on how far back an event occurred, the only requirement is that we are talking about the state or effects of the event in the present. This means that we can't use any phrase that means "at this time in the past". Therefore "God has existed at the time of the big bang" is bad English; "at the time of the big bang" is a phrase describing a past time, so a past tense is needed.

But it would be correct so say:

I think that God has existed, but I don't think he exists now. In fact, I believe he existed until 5 seconds after the big bang.

The first sentence is about the present fact. The second is about a past event, and uses a past time phrase. (It is grammatically correct, but philosophically it is a very strange belief.)

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  • I ate my food(the meal) yesterday and I have eaten my food yesterday food, which one does sound more natural? Feb 23, 2020 at 3:43
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    It should be "ate" since the time (yesterday) is in the past. "Have eaten" is called the "present perfect" for a reason.
    – James K
    Feb 23, 2020 at 7:49
  • "I just ate my food and I have just eaten my food" aren't they equavelent? Feb 23, 2020 at 13:54
  • Why can we say I have done this before, but can't say I have done this yesterday?
    – user31782
    Feb 23, 2020 at 22:59
  • @James K Can the Present Perfect be possible with "later" adjunct (and other adverbials of the kin)? "He had been let loose from prison, but two years later he HAS PERPETRATED a series of criminal violations and he has never been taken up ever since." Here I mean that two years after having been released from the quod he has been making violations of the law again. Thank you!
    – Eugene
    Apr 15, 2023 at 16:58

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