Many scientists regard “time” as a philosophical or logical construct. A common phrase is “The Universe does not exist in time, but time exists in the Universe”. Or rather, time is like math. It only exists in the human mind.
While it is true that mankind is the only creature with a regard for time (and likewise, an understanding of one’s own mortality), it is important to treat time with a bit more reverence.
Tit 1:2 “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”
The word “world” here, translates to “time”, or “this present age of time”. Time had a beginning. God created time.
Some nay-sayers have suggested “time created God”. That is, over many millennia of time, mankind came up with ways to explain things he could not explain. They attributed these things to God, or to a pantheon of capricious actors nobody could see.
As mankind became more knowledgeable, they realized many things attributed to “God” could be explained with science. I will elaborate on this in a later blog.
So they “wrested” those things back from “religion” and over time declared themselves victors – such that anything without an explanation should not be attributed to God, because science will figure it out. What most people don’t realize, is how much flux science experiences on a regular basis. The only mythos here is that any science is “settled.” One scientist claimed that in the last hundred years, every major theory of science has been replaced at least once. Scientists pride themselves on being able to adapt their theories to new discoveries, but even recent history shows that discoveries cannot up-end a theory even when the theory is in opposition to the observations.
But with this “God created time” scenario, why would God create time? What value does it have? And why does God say “redeem the time”. He sees time as something valuable, not to be wasted. Why is time so valuable to God?
If we unpack it just a little, we begin to see God’s work over history, in describing himself to mankind, is always about “what he’s done”. He defines himself with his actions in history. Not with a description of his physical appearance (in the OT, he doesn’t have one, being a spirit).
Another aspect is how God uses time to express his greatest qualities. Isn’t it true that without time, there is no such thing as faith, mercy, longsuffering, repentance, grace, patience, kindness etc? Anything requiring time to fully realize, would no longer exist without time. And doesn’t the greatest evil exist with no regard to time? Isn’t sin always in the moment, and we regret it over time?
More important is the time required to respond to the Gospel. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” It takes time to preach, to hear, to generate faith and respond. Without time, none of this is available.
And what of God’s other qualities? Justice would be instant. Anger would be unstoppable. Wrath could not be throttled. One could say, that God invented time as a means of avoiding the instant annihilation of his own creation. His holiness compels him to respond to sin. And since the entire creation, from ground to the farthest heavens, is under God’s Curse, and was all redeemed by Jesus Christ (not only humanity) – it seems God required time to constrain his own wrath against the creation.
Some have said “Time always has been, and always will be”. But doesn’t that sound like a description of God? God is sovereign over time. He isn’t beholden to his own creation. “God has always been, and always will be”.
Now consider a most famous passage, John 3:16, which uses the very same word for “time” as for “everlasting”. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The word for “world” in this verse is different from the one in Titus. It is “kosmos”, meaning the physical creation. So if we put these two together, we realize God created space, matter and time all at once. Latest theories about the origin of the universe include the notion that space, matter and time all appeared at once. At least, no human can conceive of a universe without time.
Point being, God created time, and is sovereign over it.
Imagine also what time means to our perception of reality. If I see you across the room, I have an understanding it will take time for me to move from where I am to where you are. Seems simplistic, but even cats and dogs understand this basic concept of reality. God has said he’s put the “world” (the understanding this present age of time) into our hearts.
Ecc 3:11 “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
It seems the main reason we cannot discover “what happened” before time began, is a God has constrained our ability to discover it. Sort of like, if our parents tell us we’re going to Orlando, and we’ve never heard of Disneyworld. One day we do something wrong and they say, maybe we shouldn’t go to Disneyworld after all. For someone who’s been there at least once, such a statement would be disappointing indeed. But for someone who’s never been there, so what? Science treats the time-before-time-began with tepid philosophy to avoid the conversation. It’s not knowable and because it’s so far in our past, it devolves to the conclusion “So what?”
And in the same breath, scientists add extraordinary time to the age of the earth and cosmos, because their evolutionary philosophies are not credible without a lot of time. One of the anomalies of the Sun is the “faint young sun”, that is when the Sun was first formed 4+ billion years ago, it was very faint. Too faint to support life on Earth. The Sun would not produce enough radiance for almost three billion years, during which Earth would be iced-over. The explanation they give is that the Earth’s cloud-cover somehow responded to this, and made a greenhouse effect (which has also never been observed in the atmosphere). Why would clouds cover the earth when the sun is faint, and then become as they are when the sun is radiant? As if the clouds responded to the sun’s radiance – dare I say it – once upon a time.
Recent studies of clouds have shown why many trillions of tons of water can remain suspended in air for indefinite periods. Seems the water droplets are negatively charged ions and the earth is naturally negatively charged. This like-charge causes the water molecules to repel. Moreover, measuring the speed of rainfall show it falls faster than gravity would cause, sometimes ten times faster than gravity would pull it, due to the rain itself not falling, but being pulled to the ground by electric charge.
All that said, does it sound like clouds will form based on the radiance of the sun? Of course not, it’s just another rescue device.
So the natural question arises, if time had a beginning, so what? Well, it matters, because time is no trivial thing. It literally governs our reality. If a loving God made time for our use, and we’re charged with redeeming it, we need to look a little deeper into the meaning and value of time.
Time is a gift. Use it wisely.