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10.21.2011

Cosmic and Geological Time

"With the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day." (2 Peter, 3:8)

As best I can figure, God works on a geological time scale.

Think about it. Humans relate to everything on really short time scales of a few decades or so. This is because we are mortal and have life spans of only a few decades.

But God has been around for billions of years, if both scientists and most major monotheistic religions are to be believed. (Not that they should, but that is the assumption here. Skepticism is best, even for science.)

To Him, human time scales whiz by in the blink of an eye. Statistically, 10 years is not significantly different from 1000 years or millions of years.

Compare...

10 (human)
1000 (culture)
10000000 (evolution)
10000000000 (cosmos)

Now, humans wrote the Bible stories. They may well have been inspired by God. Who knows? All we know is that humans relate to things on small scales.

If they believed God created the earth in 7 days, it might really be 7 billion days. That's approaching 20 million years. Seems like a reasonable amount of time to let the forces of nature (God's creation, after all) have their effects on the matter and energy in the cosmos, eventually yielding a small lonely blue world with His creatures on it.

This is just an idea. I am not saying it is this way or that we need God in order to have the forces of nature. I'm just saying, you can think up a lot of scenarios that are a lot more plausible than the earth being created in 7 days, which would defy everything we know about nature.

Sure, God can violate the laws of nature if he wants to, because He is God. But for the most part, and probably all the time, if scientists are to be believed, He doesn't. Why is that?

I think it is the same reason he doesn't interfere with humans - free will. The same cosmic forces that created all the harmony in the universe are the same forces that give us our free will and our ability to appreciate it.

Indeed, as I alluded to above, if we are God's ultimate creation and he created the cosmos (in 7 God days) with the intent to eventually create US, then he almost by definition had to choose to let the whole darn thing unfold naturally. All he did was set the laws of nature in motion, and they worked like a charm.

What do you think?

Next, let's talk about Jesus and the apocalypse. Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet. He said to his disciples and others, if the New Testament is the be believed, that the Kingdom would come within the lifetimes of those listening to him. He believed salvation was around the corner.

But Jesus was also human (even if he was also God). So perhaps it is possible that he was speaking in terms of time that his followers could understand. But what got lost in translation was that a human lifetime (say, 40 years tops in circa 30 AD Roman controlled Galilee) was really several powers of magnitude longer than that.

That would certainly explain why the apocalypse didn't come as soon as he said, and still hasn't come. If this is true, then we have like billions of years before the apocalypse. This coincides well with the predictions science has for the eventual demise of our planet and the solar system.

Theoretically, we might have left the earth far behind by then. But there is another dilemma with this idea...the laws of nature support the idea of evolution, and it's required for the above creation plan to eventually generate God's creatures, if that idea is right.

The problem is that evolution (and all the laws of nature) doesn't stop with us. It's all still going full speed ahead, and in a few billion years we will have theoretically evolved into a much more advanced species (if we don't go extinct). This would mean we humans are not even God's ultimate creation, but that our future descendants are.

That's not a horrible thing, given a little massaging of the above ideas. Indeed, what if the apocalypse is really nothing more than the gradual evolution of our species into a God-like species (by today's standards...I am sure those future beings will probably think they are sinful wretches too, even though they are AWESOME!). We will eventually evolve into the children of God.

Here's the clincher. Jesus said this - THE SON OF MAN would eventually descend to rule the earth. He didn't say THE SON OF GOD, as you would logically expect him to, but rather the son of man. Translation...the descendants of MANKIND.

Just saying...

If geological time scales are at work, and things really take hugely long times to unfold, this seems plausible.

I mean, given a lot of assumptions that are clearly speculative and improbable, like the existence of God, and loose translations of things actually said in the Bible.

Yeah, it sucks to be a stepping stone on the path to God's ultimate creation. But consider how glad we all are that our past ancestors (say, the lemurs) survived 3.5 billion years of evolution to eventually produce US. Our descendants will feel the same way, I am sure.

So we are important, and it is important that we live our lives in ways that do not harm other humans or destroy our species or planet. Jesus said this too - Treat thy neighbor as yourself (better known as the Golden Rule). This is a strong argument for behaving morally and ethically, and protecting life and the planet Earth as best we can (at least until we can get off this rock!).

Because if we don't the SON OF MAN (our descendants) doesn't come. No Kingdom of Heaven. You see where I am going with this? Jesus knew that actions speak louder than words. He knew that humans had to act together to clear the way for the coming of the Kingdom. It's just that what he called a Kingdom was in the far distant future. Whether he knew this or not, we can't be sure. But we do know that PEOPLE, not Jesus, wrote the Bible and people, no matter how inspired, write things in people words, sharing people ideas.

Jesus and the apostle Paul (from the 7 books we know he actually wrote, not the other forgeries bearing his name) both emphasized the value of doing good deeds, and that accepting Jesus' death and rebirth was not as important as accepting his message to do good. The SON OF MAN depends on it.

This also jibes well with the idea of salvation for good people and damnation for sinners. If sin can be defined as not living a good life, and not living a good life is correlated with Darwinian survival (the wicked die earlier), then over geological time scales, the good will eventually prevail by the time the Kingdom comes.

Of course, this assumes "goodness" is genetic and often times it is learned. But that just supports the value of good moral and ethical education, and critical thinking.

The problem is that the wicked often don't do terribly badly in this world. They exploit good people and disproportionately consume resources and wealth (remember what Jesus said about the ability of rich men to enter the Kingdon of Heaven - requiring putting a camel through the eye of a needle?). This is why we must be vigilant and disenfranchise wickedness as a society.

I know I pulled this totally out of my arse, but I think it has some merit and maybe builds an albeit flimsy bridge between the moral/ethical atheist and theist. It allows for evolution and the laws of nature to not only exist, but be largely left alone by God, so he can enjoy the show on a tropical island somewhere. He hopes we make it, and in fact He relies on us to make it happen. When Jesus came, humanity graduated from the Old Testament laws to the New Testament guidebook. The latter says humans don't have to follow the Jewish Laws anymore, but we still shouldn't make total asses of ourselves. Use our better judgment and make good moral and ethical decisions to protect the Earth and humanity and whatever else (all things are related, this is why science is a great gift).

Share your thoughts on this.

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