Science & Religion #11: When Is God?By: Mike S
This is certainly outside the realm of our normal experience. Â For millennia, people assumed that the universe all moved together in â€ślock-stepâ€ť – that time passed equally for everyone. Â Einstein first suggested that time changed depending on the observer through some famous thought experiments involving people on trains. Â His equations have been shown to be accurate to extreme accuracy. Â Strange things happen to atomic particles sped up to near the speed of light. Â Strange things happen near black holes. Â The astronauts who orbit the earth are just a tiny bit younger than the rest of us. Â It’s fascinating.
Another interesting thing about time is what happens if we consider it as another dimension. Â To understand this, go back to the Flatland example we covered in a previous post. Â Imagine a circle moving around in Flatland, going here and there as he chose. Â Now imagine that time is the third dimension – the flat world moving upward – like a deck of cards. Â If someone was outside this and could look at it, the circle would look like a sausage. Â When it was born, it would be small. Â It would grow and move around. Â And then it would die, and itâ€™s particles would gradually fall apart and be used in another being. Â From the outside, past, present and future would all be there in front of the â€śobserverâ€ť.
There are many more cool things about time, including directionality (can an event now affect the past?), discreteness (with all past states contained in Now), quantum time, etc. Â But weâ€™ll stop there for now.
So what does religion have to say about this? Â First of all, we know that time is different for God. Â We read in 2 Peter 3:8, â€ś…that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one dayâ€ť. Â Joseph Smith also described this in Abraham, including the facsimile, where the time for Kolob is one day equals 1000 years. Â It also talks about this same concept in Islam where â€śverily a day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning.â€ť (Surah 22:47). Â So the concept of time being measured differently is certainly within religious teachings.
But is God beyond time? Â We read that God is endless and eternal. Â In Abraham, the one day equals a thousand years is given as the time for Kolob, which is â€śclosestâ€ť to God so potentially NOT exactly Godâ€™s time if God were at a singularity where the measurement of time broke down. Â If God were outside our â€śmortalâ€ť time, He might be like the observer of Flatland. Â All things, past, present and future, would be before God. Â Maybe there is NO time for God?
But, this can lead to problems too. Â Assuming that God is NOT bound by our mortal time, according to LDS theology, there must be some sort of time where God exists. Â Why? Â When we read descriptions of heaven, we are told that people talk there, that angels sing praises to God, that we progress, etc. Â All of these things require time to exist. Â Speech requires one sound to be made before another one. Â Singing requires one note before another. Â And progress suggests to different states with different attributes of each state. Â So, maybe there IS time for God.
This is just a very brief overview about some of the cool things concerning time, but Iâ€™ll leave it at that for the sake of not boring everyone to death. Â It is interesting to me that the Bible and the Quâ€™ran talked about different rates of time centuries before Einstein. Â It is also interesting to me that, if God were outside our time, he would see the past, present and future all before Him. Â Perhaps we will explore some of the other religious implications of the directionality of time, quantum time, etc. in future posts. Â But for now…
- Do you think that God can SEE (ie. He knows absolutely) our past, present and future literally? Â Or do you jus think that He can â€śpredictâ€ť what we are going to do?
- If God can â€śseeâ€ť the future, what does that say about our free will? Â Are we still free to choose?
- Do you think time exists where God lives? Â If not, how do we eat, talk, sing, and progress?
- How literally do you take the descriptions of time in the scriptures? Â Did people in the Old Testament literally live centuries? Â Was the earth created in 6 days? Â Or 6000 years?
- Even if you feel that the times in the Old Testament were potentially the result of translations, etc, how do you reconcile D&C 77:6 with science suggesting an antiquity of the earth (it states: â€ś…the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existenceâ€ť) Â This scripture was revealed directly into English, with no intermediary translation steps.
(NOTE: This is post #11 in a multi-part series exploring science and religion. Â For previous posts, click on Mike S in the Authors section to the right.)