Creation – Time
A second look at the “Big Bang” diagram, this time focusing on what’s happening with time.
Since there is a staggering amount of time involved, serious questions come up: Where did all this time come from and how fast does it go?
Take a look at the image of the Big Flash above. When in time did the Big Bang happen? How is the passage of time measured? Modern people have the tendency to think that “Science” has figured all of this out without knowing that scientific speculations continue and even deepen, as this fascinating article reveals. Beyond basic understandings, however, other questions continue to crop up, including some that science is unable to answer: What was going on before there was light and matter in space whose movements could be measured against each other and gravity? What is eternity? What about “black holes” and “dark matter”? Since measurable time seems to have started “at once” somewhat like this, will time now keep going on forever or might something happen that would bring it to an end?
To create is to make things out of nothing, with no material at all being used. We cannot ask: why did God wait so long before creating the world, because before creation, there is no time. Time is a measure of change on a scale of before and after (Aristotle, Physics 4:11). Therefore when – if we may use that word at all in speaking of eternity – there was no change, there was no time. Time began to be when changing creatures came into being. Time is a restless continuous set of changes. Ahead is a moment we call future – it quickly changes into present, then quickly changes into past. William G. Most
Note from the Harper Study Bible about the Genesis 1-2 account:
There are differences of opinion whether the days of creation were 24-hour solar days or long periods of time marked by a beginning and an ending. The word day is used both ways in Scripture. Since this is true, some are of the opinion that it is just proper to conclude from a scientific viewpoint that the days were probably periods of time rather than 24-hour days. Day in Genesis 2.4 cannot possibly mean a 24-hour day, and it may be inferred from Genesis 2.7-23 that a considerable period of time was included in the sixth creative day.
What’s going on with time?
This one is truly a mind bender, and sometimes I can hardly wait for the Lord’s explanation in eternity! My sense is that time is elastic and very hard to pin down in the long run (click here to read an article by Dr. Heile). The time measurements in the Big Bang diagram are extrapolated from the way we see time passing here on Earth now. We really have no clear idea “how long it took” for the observable universe to come into its current configuration.
When we discuss “days” in the Genesis account of creation, we are on similarly mysterious ground, because we measure days on earth by how long it takes the earth to make a full revolution on its axis, then we divide up that time into human units of measure as if we, living in our age, were the center and arbiters of it all. And all the time we erroneously assume that earth days have remained constant over the eons
Then there is the literal meaning of Yom (Hebrew: יום), the Biblical Hebrew word for “day” used in Genesis and throughout the Old Testament. Look in Terminology for more on this topic. Or click here for an interesting introduction to what Saint Augustine wrote in his 2-volume treatise “The Literal Meaning of Genesis” back in 415. More recently J. Richard Middleton has written a thoughtful article for BioLogos that compares ways of interpreting Genesis 1 and comes to the convincing conclusion that the arrangement of time described is a helpful literary device to convey God’s sovereignty in the creation narrative.
As a closing word (for now) I find myself having difficulty taking the truly metaphorical passage in Peter that says that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”, and using it as a literal statement like an equation to mark out dispensations. Actually, how long is “a thousand years” to the Lord? Let’s just say that a thousand years seems much longer to us than a day on Earth but that both are relatively short time periods to the Lord, mere drops in eternity’s bucket.
Kingdom Insights #2
Time. As C.S. Lewis has said, “If you picture Time as a straight line along which we have to travel, then you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn… God from above or outside or all around, contains the whole line, and sees it all.”
“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19