Time and God


galaxy

I think time depends entirely upon motion. We can never get time right. Our calendars are becoming increasingly more accurate, but they are still not perfect. Even though we have multiple GPS satellites hovering above us that measure the speed of the earth’s rotation, they still have errors and therefore transmit an average time that we on earth use for everyday life. Not only that, but the earth’s rotational speed changes sometimes which causes us to adjust our calendars accordingly. There are other clocks such as atomic clocks, but no matter what, we are still calculating time based on moving objects. All matter in the universe is moving and expanding in the same direction. There is no still matter with which to find absolute time. At least no still matter has been observed.

 Light is a constant in the universe. It travels at 186,000 miles per second. Its speed cannot be added to or taken away. However, movement of mass can affect the order in which we perceive time.

sun_earth

If a person on the sun and a person on the earth wanted to synchronize watches they would have to do so by means of transmitting signals. Whatever signal they use it cannot move faster than the speed of light. It takes approximately eight minutes for light from the sun to reach the earth. The two observers conspire beforehand for the observer on the sun to transmit a signal to the earth at the point that his watch reaches exactly twelve noon. Seeing that the man on the earth will receive the signal at 12:08pm, he must send a message by signal to the person on the sun that his watch reads 12:16pm and thus they will know that their watches are synchronized.

 Now let us imagine that the person on the sun and the person on the earth are traveling with uniform speed (or velocity) in the same direction. The speed causes the signal from the sun to reach the earth one minute slower than normal. The earth is moving away from the sun, and the sun is following the earth, therefore light from the sun has a farther distance to travel to reach the earth. If the observer on the earth receives the signal transmitted at noon, his watch will read 12:09pm. If the observers are aware of the change, the man on the earth will send a message indicating his watch reads 12:09pm. The signal reaching the observer on the sun indicating earth’s watch reads 12:09pm will reach him in seven minutes. The man on the sun will read 12:16pm on his watch just as before. They conclude their watches are in agreement. However, if they are unaware of the change caused by the movement of the earth and the sun, the man on the sun will not understand why the observer on the earth transmitted 12:09pm. Then the watch on the earth will be accused of not working correctly, and the man on the earth will be obliged to change his time to the “right” time.

universe

Undoubtedly, we are all moving in ways that we do not comprehend. The universe is expanding outwardly. Our galaxy is traveling in a particular direction. Our solar system is moving with respect to our galaxy. The earth is rotating around the sun, and spinning on its axis. On earth we are all moving, walking, talking, and gesturing. Indeed, even when we are “standing still” on earth, not only are we subject to the motion of the universe, but our circulatory system is also moving independently of our own will. If somehow we found a way to be absolutely still, death would certainly come thereafter.

The problem here is that there is no 3rd party to communicate to us how we are moving, and in order for that person to do such a thing he would have to be standing absolutely still with respect to the entire universe. Now the question comes: how would a person like that see time? To be standing still is to be outside of time itself.

 It is said that outside of time one can enjoy the sum of his existence without the need for a past or a future. Many try to replicate this on earth with transcendental meditation and many other “mind-freeing” techniques. However, these are all lies. As any sane person knows, inevitably they will reach a point where the next minute must come to pass and they must deal with what the future brings.

 A friend of mine told me about a drug trip he experienced. He said that right after he took the drug he was uncertain how much time had passed. He stood still in his kitchen and decided to go into the living room. But the next time a thought came to him he was still standing in the kitchen and he had no idea how much time had lapsed. Seconds could have passed just as easily as hours, and the passage would have been the same to him. When he finally made it to his couch, he noticed he was also uncertain of the length of the floor he had just traversed. At times the length seemed longer and other times it seemed shorter. Time and light did not register properly in his mind. The light waves in the room were discerned in the brain at irregular intervals causing the dimensions of the room to appear distorted. Light processed at erratic times in the brain could also account for perceived loss of time.

 We see through this man’s experience, that it takes a certain amount of brain power to even understand the passage of time. Conversely, existence outside of time is beyond our comprehension. We would have to possess supernatural knowledge and understanding of the universe and how it was made, without which we could not possibly begin to relate absolute time to anyone on earth. If someone did in fact live outside of time he would by definition have to be God. He would see all points in time at the same time. He would need the knowledge to create a master plan that works around the will of man, possess the power to put it into action all at the same time, and be everywhere at the same time. An illustration of this is a painting of a picture in which God sets the background and we are the foreground. This painting is unique in that some paint goes where it wants to go regardless of the painter’s will. However, the painter will not allow chaos to reign so he paints his design around the chaos. It is an ever changing picture that God works to masterfully perfect.

 It is also entirely possible for God to possess the whole of his existence at the same time. He could be enjoying us in heaven right now, and at the same moment keep watch over someone in Las Vegas, Nevada. I say “moment” because I have no word that indicates a point in existence having no time. Of course this attribute of God not only spans our time but also points in existence before time began and after it ends.

It is hard for a finite person to describe the infinite. What I hope is that this post will get you thinking. Just remember, after considering the hypothesis in the previous paragraphs, jot down your thoughts and comment right here.

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17 thoughts on “Time and God

  1. To be able to picture God outside of time I think of a flow of water. God can put his finger anywhere along the flow and divert it. He can go to the beginning of the flow and influence it there, or can go to the very end and put his hand in the water and scoop it up.

  2. It seems like time is a tool that God uses, or perhaps a box in which He has placed mankind. We often want to put God in a box instead of us.

  3. Let’s say time is a box in which God places man, as mom has suggested. Perhaps this box is a device meant for restriction as you have stated. Box. Restrictive device. Here is another descriptor for you – lab. Perhaps the universe is like a lab in which unpredictable outcomes may be controlled. Creation is an experiment with freewill that takes place within the lab. If time is a laboratory of sorts then this lab is likely to no longer exist at some point. Time runs out. With it, all temporal events disappear or become meaningless. However, God has the power to change temporal objects and events into eternal ones. Read Philippians 3:21.

    One more thought. As I read your article a thought occurred to me. In your story, your friend lost perception of time and distance. This says to me that a singular object’s existence is a function of time. We perceive objects as a measure of depth or width or some dimension. If distance is a function of time then an object is understood because of time. We can only measure an object because we have the time to do so. Your friend’s perception of an object, the floor, was distorted because he lost time. It still existed because time exists but if time were to end the floor would cease to exist, or at least become meaningless which may be the same thing. What this tells us is that, if we are not transformed from temporal to eternal then, though we may still exist, we become meaningless.

  4. I hope I am not misunderstanding Philippians 3:21. Though, if what it says does not imply a change from temporal to eternal, then do we really have the hope we expect? I think it does imply that change. Read Proverbs 23:18.

  5. Danny, concerning your reference to someone standing still and observing time, I assume you were referring to God Himself. And so…Since we cannot stand still on earth because we would still be moving with the rotation of the earth, the only way we can obey the imperative, “Be still, and know that I am God,” is a spiritual heavenly place in Christ where we can transcend time and see as God sees.

  6. And in reply to Tim’s post, that heavenly place in Christ transcends the temporal and touches the eternal even while here on earth.

  7. From Tim:

    “We perceive objects as a measure of depth or width or some dimension. If distance is a function of time then an object is understood because of time. We can only measure an object because we have the time to do so.”

    How do we measure a moving object? When it is standing still, or moving the same velocity and direction as you, measuring tape can easily accomplish the task. However, if a train is traveling a certain velocity while youare standing still, the task is more difficult. You could have people line up beside the track and ,as the train passed, have them mark the spot at exactly twelve noon. Measure the two marks after the train left and then ou would knw how long the train was. But, remember the two marks were made by two separate clocks. Although they were set in the method described above, they are not exactly the same. Therefore, you could get different measurements if you measured the train again. Then think of the people inside the train trying to measure it with marks on the ground and you’ve got different measurements there too.

    Is it our error? Or does movement affect the length of an object? Time and distance, it seems, affects the meaurement of mass.

    1. I know, according to physics, an object changes shape as it accelerates and it changes visibly somewhere near the speed of light. It looks as though, at certain speeds, universal norms break down – which is why time travel seems viable.

  8. From Tim:

    “It still existed because time exists but if time were to end the floor would cease to exist, or at least become meaningless which may be the same thing.”

    Time adds meaning to our temporal lives. Time’s restrictions allow our minds to comprehend one at a time instead of all things together. You are right in saying that without time there is no distance, no energy, no action, no definition of mass, and hence no meaning.

  9. From Carol:

    “I assume you were referring to God Himself.”

    Although I point to God, I am not coming at Him from a doctrinal standpoint. I am suggesting that time points to the existence of God. Others may say that there may be a supernatural being that exists outside of time without saying “God”, but really that is what they are saying if they follow the thought through.

  10. Why do people fight so hard against the existence of God?
    Do they fight as hard against the existence of good?
    Do they fight as hard against the existence of evil?

  11. Its speed cannot be added to or taken away

    **This is completely irrelevant to this post**
    The speed of light in vacuum, yes. However the speed of light can be slowed down through various materials with an exceptionally high group index and a correspondingly low group velocity for light waves.
    **End of irrelevance**

    So riddle me this, will the laws of physics change in eternity? Will the new earth and new heaven sit motionless? Will we? Will the light from the Lamb be a different type of light?

    Or are these concepts merely symbols for something else that we simply can’t comprehend on this plane of existence?

    I dunno. But is sure is gonna be cool!

  12. I really have no idea. This is all just theory. Fun to think about though.

    My opinions:
    Q1 – Will the laws of physics change in eternity?
    A – Yes. Don’t know how.

    Q2 – Will the new heaven and new earth sit moitionless?
    A – Heaven probably motionless, new earth will have motion.

    Q3 – Will we be motionless?
    A – We will probably be able to move.

    Q4 – Will the type of light from the Lamb be a different type of light?
    A – Yes. Don’t know what type though.

    Q5 – Are these just concepts?
    A – Mostly.

    Side Note:
    I really hope I will be able to fly in Heaven. I’ve always wanted to do that.

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