Bang! (VI) – Where are the clocks?
I know, I said this post will be about Creation’s clocks, however I need to say a few words first about the importance of an observer’s frame of reference and where his timepiece is located when describing any event.
Consider this fender-bender. The driver of the white van is describing what happened as she experienced the accident. The other driver does likewise. The officer tries to put together an accurate description of what happened from the two drivers’ accounts. One of the witnesses in the background no doubt also described what he saw when he looked around upon hearing the crash. One event and three descriptions based on three different frames of reference. Poor officer.
What do we need to know to figure out what happened at Creation, as described below?
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
–Genesis 1:1-2 (ESV)
We might put on a reporter’s hat and try to answer the questions; who, what, when, where, and why? If we can’t answer these simple questions, we cannot hope to accurately describe Creation.
Who? As my working hypothesis I assert that God created the universe. It should come as no surprise that this is controversial. Sandra Faber, Professor of Astrophysics and Astronomy at the Lick Observatory, says this is the way she presently understands the Universe:
Actually, I have come to believe there are many universes – an infinite number perhaps. I’d love to know how different they all are from one another, but I don’t know the answer to that. …I believe that our Universe is just one of many hospitable universes we could inhabit. …Recent breakthroughs in quantum cosmology have even found a plausible way to generate all those universes in a never-ending, infinite cascade of big bangs. This idea is speculation right now, but chasing it down is going to provide a lot of excitement in the years ahead.
What? The writer may have had the earth and sky in mind when he wrote “the heavens and the earth.” Since then, however, God has revealed much to us through modern science, and it is quite possible that the entire universe is in view here.
When? All we have to go on here is that it was “in the beginning.” Something did not exist prior to its beginning, but now it does. Once the building I live in did not exist. Now it does. It had a beginning (but not ex nihilo!)
From the time Genesis was written until just about a hundred years ago, the usual assumption was that the earth always existed, and “in the beginning” meant no more than a long time ago. And that was that.
Where? The reporter’s questions aren’t getting any easier, are they? To know “where” the creation event happened, we need to know where God was. Or is. Well, you say, He is in Eternity. We pray to an eternal God. But that’s not very helpful. I cannot conceive of “eternity,” nor can any of my four friends. The reason seems to be that eternity does not have the properties of our dimensions of space, time, and matter. Human beings apparently were not created to have the capacity to look beyond our familiar space-time dimensions.
If we are unable to fathom where God was at Creation, we at least can know where He wasn’t. It’s safe to say that he was and is outside of the universe He created.
About now you are wondering what difference it makes. It will make a lot of difference when we start thinking about the six days of Creation, but that’s a story for another day. We started out by talking of the importance of frame of reference when describing something. Since only God was present at Creation, it is His frame of reference we need to understand, because He is holding the cosmic clock that he started ticking at the Big Bang.
Dave, whose clock is also ticking.