Intelligent Origins | Understanding Divine Design

Time and Age

Time can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially when we consider the possibility of being outside of it. It is the essence of the division, among those of the Biblical worldview, between the " young earth" and "old earth" proponents. My short answer to "which is correct" is "both". The explanation follows, below.

Time, as an entity, according to the Bible, had a beginning and will have an end. To amplify briefly, time does not have to begin until Ge 1:4 - 5 and it will have an end, along with the universe, Rev 21:1,23; 22:5. Thus, time, as an entity, exists "inside of" eternity. Equally important in this brief, is the concept of sequence. Inside of time, sequence is easy to grasp, e.g., yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Existing outside of time is more a difficult concept. Try to discuss something without using time dependent wording. Sequence, however, can logically exist outside of time, e.g., A happens, then B, then C, etc. This becomes important when one contemplates physical death and what might occur next !

Any discussion of time seems remiss without mentioning some of the work of Stephen Hawking. In a "Brief History of Time", and it's sequel, "The Universe in a Nutshell", Hawking's passion to find a model to help explain of all that exists in the physical universe, from the subatomic to the galactic (the GUFT), is entwined with the issue of time. To his credit, and the chagrin of some of his contemporaries, he examines physical existence without invoking the "ostrich protocol" when it leads to the metaphysical. As I understand his passion and position, the GUFT may provide (a route to) an explanation of origins that does not require divine intervention (the creator) to get it started and would thus be a "cleaner" model. However, until such a model is found (if it exists), God is the (most) logical explanation as the provider of the spark to kick off the physical universe (big bang, etc.)

High on the list of time controversies is the age of the earth (and universe). Is it thousands, tens of thousands or billions of years old – yes ! It’s all about apparent age and the postulates to the theory one uses to explain the age of anything. As it pertains to celestial bodies, one need to first deal with how the Creator creates. Since He exists outside of time, whether He spoke the product into existence in its final form, or fabricated it from its components into its final form, is moot as it relates to time. For the purpose of this discussion, let's assume the latter. Gen 1:2 could, then be describing the black hole(s) from which God took the matter to generate the celestial bodies of the past. Depending on the nature of His "process", this material would have an "apparent" age which depends on the method of measurement (radiometric, for instance) and the assumptions (postulates) associated with that dating method.

With radiometric dating methods, the uniformitarian hypothesis is invoked. The assumptions (postulates) are that the radioactive decay processes we observe today, and use to calculate the ages of artifacts, were extant, without change, from their creation. If any other pathways, in or out of the decay schemes observed today, were ever operational, the method is errant. As we cannot experiment (apply the scientific method) in the distant past (at the creation of the entity in question), there is no way to validate the "truth" of the measurement, absent the postulates of the method.

Another difficult issue with very long times is the speed of light. What we measure today, 186,000 miles/sec, can be used to infer age or distance, based on how long it takes light from distant stars to reach earth. The assumption is that the light originated at the star and had to "travel" to earth. The Bible (Ge 1:17) describes stars as being created "…to give light on the earth…" which can be interpreted as the stars being created with their light already here – consider the possibility !

Ultimately, whether time or any other worldview relevant issue is under discussion, if one looks for a Biblically consistent explanation, it can or will be found and it may be the most logical and rational one from which to choose.


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