Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time

Did God create time? I used to think so. When studying physics many moons ago, I learned that time is a 4th dimension in addition to the three spatial dimensions. According to Genesis 1, God created space and matter, so I had assumed God created time too. That implies God is "outside" the space-time continuum. Now I'm not so sure about this implication. Here's why:

There are two ways to interpret the mathematical core of Special Relativity. On Einstein’s interpretation, there is no absolute “now” in the world; rather what is now is relative to different observers in motion. If you and I are moving with respect to each other, then what is now for me is not now for you. But on H. A. Lorentz’s interpretation, there is an absolute now in the world, but we just cannot be sure which events in the world are happening now because motion affects our measuring instruments. Moving clocks run slow and moving measuring rods contract. The Einsteinian and the Lorentzian interpretations are empirically equivalent; there is no experiment you could perform to decide between them. But I want to argue that if God exists, then Lorentz was right. Here is my argument:
1. If God exists, then God is in time.
This is true because God is really related to the world as cause to effect. But a cause of a temporal effect must exist either before or at the same time as its effect. So God must be in time.
2. If God is in time, then a privileged observer exists.
Since God transcends the world and is the cause of the existence of everything in the world, His perspective on the world is the true perspective.
3. If a privileged observer exists, then an absolute now exists.
Since God is a privileged observer, His “now” is privileged. Thus, there is an absolute now, just as Lorentz claimed.
This is a very startling conclusion, indeed. But I am firmly convinced that if God exists, then a Lorentzian, rather than Einsteinian, theory of relativity is correct. It is hard to imagine how religion could have any greater relevance to science than this, to show that one theory is wrong and another is right.
[Source: What is the Relation between Science and Religion? by William Lane Craig]

Perhaps time is not so much created in the manner of space and matter, but merely a result of creation being in relative motion compared to God, yet God is also transcendent and omnipresent "for in him we live and move and have our being." Maybe time simply ceases to exist at God's point of being as the privileged observer which could account for God's timelessness. Who knows? What I do know is I really don't know with any degree of certainty what I thought I used to know!

So, what about something like an absolute zero temperature region or a perfect vacuum where all molecular motion ceases or no matter is in motion? Does time stop there? Nope, not in relation to God since this region or vacuum has motion relative to the position of the privileged observer, i.e. God.

Even if this line of thought holds water in the context of Special Relativity, it has been 20 years since I gave much thought to General Relativity. And, even though I was a physics major in college I didn't fully grasp General Relativity even when I studied it. Someone much smarter than I will have to consider the ramifications in the context of GR.

This line of thought reminded me of Psalm 46:10a: "Be still, and know that I am God."

No comments:

Post a Comment