Friday, August 18th, 2017

Bang! (VII) – The biblical clock

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I can’t put it off any longer. A paradox begs for resolution. What was the duration of the six biblical days of creation: six times 24 hours, arbitrarily long “epochs,” or 13.7 billion years as the scientists say? Can the paradox be resolved without violating either biblical truth or scientific fact?

Mr. Google tells me that it was Alexander Pope who famously said, “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. This fool is rushing in. You may wish not to follow.

Space and time are slippery ideas unless you are an Einstein, and it should be pretty obvious by now that I am not. At age 16, Einstein had puzzled about what a light beam would look like if one ran alongside it at the speed of light – a puzzle that he eventually solved with his concept of relativity. Not many of us puzzle about such things at age 16, but Einstein did and he persevered until he was able to think it through, first with his theory of special relativity, and later with his theory of general relativity. After being exposed to relativity through some reading and video lectures, I am quite sure that I will not live long enough to have more than a shaky grasp of the big ideas involved.

The reason I mention all this is so I can assert with at least a grain of confidence that the timing of any chain of events depends on the frame of reference (where the clock that is doing the timing is located). In another post I mentioned the Cosmic Background Radiation (CBR), the “echo” of the big bang. The CBR can be thought of as a clock with a frame of reference that is outside the universe and that can be used to time the growth of the universe. Let’s call it God’s clock.

God’s clock started ticking at the big bang and was still ticking when Adam was created and given a soul.

Now let’s time the same interval (big bang to Adam) from our frame of reference here on earth. We hold a clock recording earth-time. Astronomers have established that the light photons from the “flash” of the big bang take about 14 billion years to register on an eyeball here on earth. Paleontologists say that the first homo sapiens appeared only 160,000 years ago, so we can say that the interval from big bang to Adam is close to 14 billion years.

My friend Gerald Schroeder (The Science of God) says,

To measure the age of the universe, we look back in time. From our perspective using Earth-based clocks running at a rate determined by the conditions of today’s Earth, we measure a fifteen-billion-year age. And that is correct for our local view. The Bible adopts this Earthly perspective, but only for times after Adam. The Bible’s clock before Adam is not a clock tied to any one location. It is a clock that looks forward in time from the creation, encompassing the entire universe, a universal clock tuned to the cosmic radiation at the moment when matter formed. That cosmic timepiece, as observed today, ticks a million-million times more slowly than at its inception.

…In terms of days and years and millennia, this stretching of the cosmic perception of time by a factor of a million million, the division of fifteen billion by a million million reduces those fifteen billion years to six days.

…Genesis and science are both correct. When one asks if six days or fifteen billion years passed before the appearance of humankind, the correct answer is “yes.”

Schroeder goes on to calculate the time elapsed for each of the six days and compares this to the scientific description of what occurred during each epoch and to the Genesis creation account. Friend Hugh Ross has gone through a similar exercise, but enough (or more than enough) for now.

Dave, wondering if any of this really matters. But it’s fun!

Comments

2 Responses to “Bang! (VII) – The biblical clock”
  1. Linda says:

    Yes it really matters. You’re such a fun guy!

    I am still chewing on this:

    …In terms of days and years and millennia, this stretching of the cosmic perception of time by a factor of a million million, the division of fifteen billion by a million million reduces those fifteen billion years to six days.

    Hmmm… not sure I’ll ever be able to swallow that, but will chew a bit longer…

  2. Dad says:

    Well, keep chewing. I’ve read about things like time dilation from so many different sources by now that it is starting to seem obvious to me. Of course, it is not obvious at all, but it does provide a basis for reconciling Bible and science, which is what I am so curious about.

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