Have you ever stopped to really consider what the word eternity means? Sure, we think about it in broad terms like “a really, really long time” or with words like “infinity”. As a matter of fact, Dictionary.com lists this as the foremost definition: infinite time; duration without beginning or end.
So, here is the question I pose to you: Is eternity infinite time, or is it more of a timeless state?
Physics has shown us two important facts related to this discussion:
- Time is a dimension of the universe just like three dimensions we observe daily: X-axis, Y-axis, and Z-axis (left and right, up and down, and in and out [depth]).
- Time is relative to the observer.
Let’s take the second concept first: time is relative to the observer. At first glance, this might not seem to make sense – so let’s use an illustration. Suppose that you have an assistant with you. This assistant has a very accurate clock. You have a small ball in your hand and you have the ability to throw it in such a way that the time it takes for the ball to reach its zenith (highest part of its flight before starting to fall again) is half of a second, and then it falls back to your hand, taking another half of a second. The total time of travel for the ball is one second (0.5 seconds up and 0.5 seconds down). Your assistant is noticing that the travel of the ball is relatively in a straight line up from your hand and then back down.
Now lets suppose you are standing next to a high-speed rail line. You and your assistant take a break and notice there is an oncoming bullet train coming from your left and moving to your right. On this train, you observe a man and his assistant performing the same experiment. Here’s the interesting part: the man and his assistant on the train are obtaining the same results you and your assistant just produced. But, as you observe it from your point of reference, it appears the ball is taking a diagonal track, moving from the left and coming down rest somewhere to the right as the train continues along on its course. To you, it appears the ball’s track of travel has stretched.
Here’s another example, excerpted from the notes of Chuck Missler’s Learn the Bible in 24 Hours:
Identical Atomic clocks are located at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. The NIST clock ticks 5 microseconds/year faster than an identical clock at Greenwich. Which is correct? Both are! Boulder, Colorado = 5400 ft altitude; Greenwich, England = 80 ft altitude. Atomic clocks are faster by the rate of 10 to the -16th seconds/meter elevation. Other demonstrations include the aircraft experiment (1971) where the plane traveling eastward lost 0.059 microseconds and the one flying westward gained 0.273 microseconds, accounting for the Earth’s rotation, etc., exactly what Einstein’s formula predicted!
Welcome to a concept known as time dilation. The basic point I want you to understand from these examples is that time is not an unalterable, permanent fixture. Rather, it is fluid and dependent upon the observer.
Since we’ve set out the basic concept that time is relative to the observer, it is not a huge leap of faith to understand that time is a necessary component of the fabric of our universe. We have always considered the universe to be three dimensional because that is what we observe every day. However, this is not the case. Time is a fourth observable dimension and it is one of many other dimensions that are currently known in the realm of physics (string theory and M-theory predict that physical space in general has 10 and 11 dimensions, respectively). Time is not uniform: it is a physical property that varies with mass, acceleration and gravity…among other things…. We exist in more than three dimensions.
In my previous post, I spoke about the accuracy of Biblical prophecy. I did not, however, explain how God writes the beginning and end with such clarity. He does it because He is outside of time! Consider this: You are in the lead element of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. As the parade starts, you know exactly where you are along the parade route, but you have no clue as to how the middle and rear elements of the parade are progressing because you cannot see them. However, the aerial reporter in the helicopter hovering well above the parade can see both you, the middle elements, and the ending elements of the parade. In other words, she can see the beginning and the end simultaneously. Now, let’s zoom out on this example and apply it to God. It becomes very easy to see how God can encode prophecy in the Bible with such accurate results. He, like the reporter, is observing from a vantage point you and I do not have.
I hope this post has been thought provoking and beneficial. I love things like this and will post many more later.