The importance of not putting things off gets highlighted when we realize how quickly the past fades into an unconnected reality. How quickly we forget things that we should have done, people we should have visited, and ways we should have responded to the needs of others. The whole concept of “bearing fruit” (John 15:2) is to do as much as possible with the time God gives us. We recently received a list from David Harrington that reminded me how quickly the past fades from our memory. Do you realize:
1) That the Beatles split up 52 years ago? 2) That Elvis has been dead 44 years? (He would be 86 today.) 3) That the movie “Wizard of Oz” is 82 years old? 4) That Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video is 38 years old? 5) That John Lennon has been dead 41 years? 6) That Mickey Mantle retired from baseball 53 years ago? 7) That the Ed Sullivan show ended 49 years ago? 8) That the “Brady Bunch” TV show premiered 52 years ago? 9) That the triplets on the TV Show “My Three Sons” are now 52 years old? 10) That the Corvette turned 68 years old this year?
In Luke 16, we read about the “Rich Man” and “Lazarus.” The rich man wanted to get the message to his brothers that they needed to conform to God’s will. Abraham responded to the rich man that no one can go from the existence of the dead to the living. All the years that the rich man had to meet the needs of Lazarus were forgotten. We should be using our time now for bearing fruit by doing the things Jesus described in Matthew 25:31-40.
Several years ago, I was involved in a three-way debate in California between a Young Earth Creationist, a Modern Apologist Scholar, and myself. I was supposed to present design arguments while the other two engaged in an intellectual tug-of-war over the Genesis account. I learned from that experience not to get involved in that kind of time debate again.
I have engaged in debates with atheists for over 50 years, but those debates were easy to understand, and the different views were clear. This Califonia debate was between believers. Because the subject was the integrity of the Genesis account, I used a chart that shows that the SEQUENCE of the Genesis 1 account and the fossil record are identical. The Apologist Scholar denigrated my chart by saying that the events described occurred over a 600 million year period, and, therefore, the Genesis account could not be viewed as historically accurate. The Young Earth Creationist reacted to that claim, and they engaged in a free-for-all about the time issues and the purpose of Genesis 1. The point of my chart was lost in the time debate.
Humans always get hung up on the time issues. God created time. Psalms 90:4 says, “A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past and as a watch in the night.” God is outside of time, and the Bible tells us over-and-over not to restrict Him by demanding a time-scale for what God does. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in His own power” (Acts 1:7).
Theologians have led us down a rocky road of ascribing dates and times to the things God has done or will do. The birth of Christ certainly did not happen on December 25. Denominations have been created by theologians who try to establish when Christ will come again and when the judgment will take place. This is even though Jesus said, “…of that day and hour knows no man, no not the angels of heaven – only my Father” (Matthew 24:36).
People want to know when things will happen so that they can be prepared, but 2 Peter 3:11 anticipates that and warns us to always be prepared. It is hard for us to comprehend the fact that time for us ends when we die. It is equally difficult to realize that God acts outside of time. Many people stumble by putting the Genesis account at odds with the scientific evidence or relegating the Bible to symbolism and mythology rather than being literally true. Don’t get caught up in the time debate and make time an enemy of faith in the God of love, truth, and wisdom portrayed in His Word.
During 2019, several popular books were published on the subject of how we use our time. The February 10, 2020, issue of Time magazine carried an article talking about all these new books and programs (page 14). The article stated that in 2018 women spent an average of 4.9 hours a day on leisure activities, and men spent 5.7 hours. It also said that 55% of all Americans don’t use their paid time off.
God gives all of us 168 hours every week that we live. Let me encourage you to make out a time budget just for information purposes. Allow yourself generous amounts of time for what you already do. Give yourself eight hours a day to sleep, three hours a day to eat, 40 hours a week for your job, and 4.9 hours or 5.7 hours a day for leisure activities, as the Time article suggests. How much time do you have left? For most of us, it will be over 15 hours a week.
For Christians, we can spend that 15 hours in direct service to God. The local congregation would be blessed beyond measure if all of its members would do this. Visitation, caring for infirm and elderly people in a nursing home, operating a food bank, making phone calls to encourage and uplift others, teaching, caring for young people who lack adult care and guidance – the list is endless. Spending that time in front of a TV or watching R or X rated movies is not a good use of the time.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “… the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” We will all defend our use of the time God gave us to live on Earth. For active Christians, how we use our time will not be an issue. Make your time count.
God has given you 168 hours of time every week that you live. The question that each one of us must answer is, “What to do with that 168 hours?” How do you use your time?
If you consider the average essentials, they might look like this: Eight hours a day for sleeping is 56 hours a week. Work might be 40 hours per week. If you take an hour to eat each meal, that would add up to 21 hours a week. Personal hygiene, including exercise, might be 20 hours a week.
That adds up to 137 hours a week, giving us 31 hours or more than 4 hours a day left. How do you use your time that is left? The chances are that the numbers quoted here not accurate with what you do. I never get eight hours of sleep in a day, but I work far more than 40 hours a week. Realize that these numbers are just a starting point for what we do with the time we have been given.
Suppose we took the Old Testament tithe of 10%. A tithe of 168 is 16.8 hours. Let’s round that down to 16 hours a week to give back to God. Assume you go to worship and Bible class every time the door is open at the Church meeting place. That would be four hours a week spent in worship and Bible study with other Christians. We still have 12 hours to give back to God every week. Let me point out that these numbers allow 14.2 hours a week for you to watch TV, go fishing, go to a movie, etc.
Sixty years ago, I decided that I was going to give God 12 hours a week, not counting “going to Church,” to equal 10% of what He had given me. I found it very hard to do. The way I did it included: Visiting people in the hospital. Writing and sending cards. Setting up and conducting Bible studies in my home or in other people’s homes. Getting involved in a prison ministry. Working with disturbed teens. Taking youth groups to rallies and workshops. Shoveling widow’s sidewalks. Preparing the Church bulletin.
I did those and other things and kept a record to get to 12 hours a week.
One of the most difficult things for anyone to understand is that time and space are created things. Many biblical passages present the concept that time had a start and will have an end. (See Genesis 1:1, Proverbs 8:22, Hebrews 1:10, 2 Peter 3:10-13, etc.) That concept of time is difficult to understand because it is outside of our experience. Scientific American (November 2019, page 28 ff) published a report on a new state of matter called time crystals.
We are all familiar with crystals that show symmetry in their shape. When we look at a quartz crystal with extreme magnification, we see that layers repeat over and over, giving the crystal its shape. Scientists theorize that a similar process operates in time. Time crystals show symmetry, but they do it in time rather than in space. This means that the repeating pattern is seen in time and is not visible to the naked eye directly but rather governs the way materials behave on a quantum level.
Being outside of time or timeless is a new concept to science. In classical physics, time is perhaps the most fundamental standard against which everything else is based. When we measure velocity, it’s basic unit is length per second or hour. Feet per second or miles per hour are familiar to most of us. When we measure acceleration, the units are meters per second squared. Newton’s Second Law defines force as mass multiplied by acceleration, so time even becomes involved in parameters that don’t directly include motion.
One of the equations that Einstein gave us which high school students like to play with is the equation for time at very high speeds. For a given frame of reference, time is defined by the equation T = T’/the square root of 1 – V^2 over C^2. In the equation, T = the time you experience. T’ is the time you would experience at rest relative to a given frame of reference. V is the speed at which you move, and C is the speed of light. Notice that as your speed reaches the speed of light, the fraction V^2/C^2 become 1, and since it is subtracted from 1, the value of the denominator becomes zero. Time ceases to exist. It becomes undefined.
If you could exceed the speed of light, the denominator would become the square root of a negative number which is said to be imaginary. Einstein gave us a similar equation for mass in which the mass is the undefined factor. Nuclear physics and quantum mechanics verify these equations.
This is an over-simplified explanation, but the point I am making is that there is physical evidence that there are dimensions beyond the three in which we exist. Being timeless is something science has begun to comprehend because these equations show that time is a variable that can be changed. The creation is far grander and far more mysterious than we can imagine.
For Christians, this is no surprise. The Bible is full of descriptions that embrace the idea that time is a created entity and that creations exist outside of time. The whole concept of there being a beginning to the cosmos in Genesis 1:1 recognizes that there was an existence before time. Proverbs 8:22-23 indicates that time was a designed and fashioned quantity. Revelation 22:13 repeats this concept. Second Timothy 1:9 refers to it, and the whole idea of eternity relies upon it.
When we reach the end of life, time ceases to exist for us. That has interesting implications. If there is no time, there is no death because death depends upon aging, and without time, nothing ages. There is no physical pain if time doesn’t exist. That’s because physical pain depends upon the time it takes for the pain signal to go from what gets hurt (like a finger) to what registers the hurt – your brain.
The notion of God as the creator has escaped our world today. We have not understood that there was a beginning, that God caused the beginning, and that His imprint is on all we see around us. We have been told that evolution explains all these things, but in reality, evolution doesn’t address the question. Evolution does not explain creation.
Evolution assumes that time has been created. Evolution assumes that space has been created and that matter/energy has been created within space/time. Evolution assumes that forces we are just beginning to understand shaped the matter/energy in space/ time so that stable physical matter came into existence. It assumes that the properties of matter/energy caused it to become organized into galaxies, and stars, and solar systems.
Evolution further assumes that within one of those solar systems a planet was created within the Goldilocks zone where water could exist as a liquid. On that planet, carbon and oxygen and heavy metals were produced to allow tangible matter to exist for long periods of time. Then evolution assumes that within a limited time these materials came into existence in an environment and with a catalyst that could produce life.
This post was adapted from “First-Century Athens and the 21st-Century World” by John N. Clayton. We encourage you to read the complete article which appears in the third quarter 2018 DOES GOD EXIST? Journal. If you subscribe to the printed version, you should have received it in the mail. Otherwise, you can read it online at THIS LINK.
As physicists and astronomers gather more data on the nature of the cosmos, the more they realize one important thing. Scientists realize that the cosmos came into being by agencies outside of time and space.
Einstein’s famous concept of gravity and mass as depressions in the fabric of space/time assumes that the view is being made by an observer outside of space/time. There is a famous illustration which shows a bowling ball and a soccer ball sitting on a mattress. The bowling ball makes a bigger dent in the mattress than the soccer ball does. Its mass is the explanation of the deeper impression than the soccer ball. All of that can only be seen by an observer looking at the mattress from a position outside of the frame of reference of the mattress.
In the mathematics of quantum mechanics and string theory, the equations suggest more than the traditional four dimensions of X, Y, Z, and time. In string theory, the equations suggest eleven spacial dimensions. This is another interesting agreement between science and faith. God is described throughout the Bible as existing in a higher dimension than X, Y, Z, and time. In Acts 17: 23-28 Paul talks about “the unknown God” and portrays the real God as one “in whom we live and move and have our being.”
Science and the Bible agree that there are more dimensions than three spacial dimensions and time. All evidence says that the creation process involved an entity or entities in higher dimensions than X, Y, Z, and time. Time and space could only be created by an entity outside of time and space. The disagreement is whether that entity is personal or impersonal. The properties of a personal creator would involve purpose, beauty, design, intelligence, and order. The properties of an entity that is not personal would have no purpose, would be totally chance-driven, would show no design, and would have no reason for beauty.
As an old physics teacher, I find it interesting to watch people on both sides of the argument about the existence of God pick and choose various parts of Einstein’s work to support their positions. Picking and choosing Einstein to prove your point is not an option.
Recently I had an atheist and a Christian dispensationalist both use Einstein’s time dilation equation to support their position. That equation says that your time in motion is determined by your time at rest divided by the square root of one minus your velocity (v) squared divided by the speed of light (c) squared.
This formula indicates that the higher the velocity of motion, the smaller the value of the denominator of that equation becomes. Therefore, time expands. This is a fact. Neutrons in nuclear accelerators might live 18 minutes at rest before decaying into protons and electrons. When accelerated to 80% of the speed of light, they last much longer before decaying.
My atheist friend maintains that since the cosmos is accelerating in its expansion, it will eventually reach the speed of light and time will stop. He then proposes that time will reverse since the value of the denominator in Einstein’s equation would become negative. He then suggests that this process will be repeated in an eternal universe. Therefore, no beginning and no God.
My dispensationalist friend is one of several authors who propose that the universe started out expanding at a much higher velocity with time passing at a different rate than we experience today. This would mean that the evidence for the cosmos being very old is an illusion. In the beginning, time passed more slowly because of the much higher velocity of expansion. Since we move more slowly today, time is passing faster. Therefore, the universe is much younger than it would appear.
Both of these people were picking and choosing Einstein to support a personal religious opinion. Both of them are ignoring much of Einstein’s work. When the neutron referred to earlier is accelerated to 80% of the speed of light, not only does its time frame change but its relativistic mass changes too. Another one of Einstein’s equations looks just like the time equation but deals with mass. The change in the relativistic mass of a particle is equal to its mass at rest divided by the square root of one minus its velocity squared divided by the speed of light squared.
Experimentally this calculation works and can be verified. Perhaps the most well-known equation of Issac Newton is F = MA. This tells us that the force (F) needed to accelerate a mass (M) is equal to its mass multiplied by the acceleration (A). We all know from experience that the greater the mass of an object, the harder it is to speed it up when we push it, and the faster we want it to go the harder we have to push. If the relativistic mass increases as you get near the speed of light, what happens to the force you have to exert? Obviously, It increases too. At the speed of light, you would have infinite mass, and it would take an infinite force to move it.
Another fascinating equation from Einstein is that the length of an object changes as it approaches the speed of light. In the reverse of the change in time and mass, the length contracts in the direction of motion as the object gets closer the speed of light. At the speed of light, the length would be zero, and the object would cease to exist.
These are simplifications of Einstein’s work, but the point is that picking and choosing Einstein to prove your point is not honest. Relativistic effects cannot be picked and chosen while ignoring other effects. God created the cosmos with certain constants and relationships. These choices allow us to exist, but they also put a limit on what is possible. We struggle to comprehend all that is involved in the simple phrase, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
A comic strip called “Close to Home” is carried in daily newspapers around the country. On April 1, 2017, the cartoon showed a huge pipeline labeled “Prozac” running into a town named “Gurgeville.” A television news reporter is shown giving a report and saying, “Since adding the pipeline, Gurgeville has had a 30% drop in crime, divorces are down 40%, and student grades are up 28%.” I thought it was appropriate that our newspaper, The South Bend Tribune, ran the cartoon on April Fool’s Day. But for many people in our culture, the message that drugs are the solution to all our problems is real.
God’s solution to most of the things we try to medicate away is TIME. Dr. Stephen Eckstein wrote a wonderful article titled “Quality Time is LOTS of Time.” Eckstein points out that for the first few months after birth a baby requires almost all of the mother’s time. If the mother is sincere in her love, she will change her activities so that the baby can grow and develop. Any child deprived of this time and of both parents engaging in cuddling, kissing, and expressing love to the child is irreparably harmed. As the child grows, there must be time in which the parents play with the child, read to the child, and give the child enormous attention. We public school teachers see an amazing number of children on medications that are simply addressing the problems that result from their growing up without time from their parents.
We adults also need the time of others to be stable, productive adults. Jesus set the example of maturing and growing stable adults. Can you imagine Jesus and his disciples meeting one time a week for an hour? For three years the disciples walked, talked, traveled, ate, and lived together. The Passover meal of John 13:25 portrays an intimate social setting where teaching and sharing took place. The members of the early Church described in Acts 2:42-47 were together daily, sharing, eating, praying, and enjoying the stability of a common faith and experience.
For many of us, Church today involves parading into a building, watching a performance for an hour, being told to come back 167 hours later, and then returning to the struggles and challenges of the modern world. This simply doesn’t work, and people quit coming because their needs are not met. The Church is people, not a building. Passages like 1 Corinthians 3:11-23 make it clear that what most of us experience as “church” is not even close to what God planned for us. There are times when a medication is needed because of chemical imbalances and medical conditions, but for most of us, pharmaceutical Prozac is not the answer. God’s Prozac involves having large amounts of time with those who love us and with those whose values will lead us to good choices in life.