Does Time Exist for God?

We’ve touched on this issue when we asked, what was God doing before He made the universe? We answered this in part by postulating that God exists outside of time, where things are constantly present before Him. But does that mean time doesn’t exist to God?

In the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C), section 130, verse 4, the question is asked “Is not the reckoning of God’s time, angel’s time, prophet’s time, and man’s time according to the planet on which they reside?” In verse 5 the answer is given, “Yes. But there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.” There are many concepts expressed in these verses, among them that, as we saw in a previous post, God has created many worlds, though He gives an account only of this world, and those worlds apparently have angels that minister to those worlds. We’ll discuss this later. For our purposes today, these verses make it clear that time is measured differently to God and to man.  Verse 7 appears to address our postulate that God exists in a state where things are constantly present before Him. That verse says “But they [the angels appointed to this earth] reside on a globe like a sea of glass where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present and future, and are continually before the Lord.”

Note this doesn’t say that angels reside on a globe of glass. It says that it is like a sea of glass. With modern technology it’s easy to imagine a much more advanced version of the computerized table top where information is projected onto a giant touch screen. But it does support the proposition, first made by St. Augustine, that God exists outside of man’s time and that all things are constantly present before Him.

Are there other scriptures to support this?

In the Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 5:13, Abraham writes “Now I, Abraham, saw that it was after the Lord’s time . . . for as yet the Gods had not appointed unto Adam his reckoning.” This occurred before Eve was created. Apparently even after man was created time had not begun in the sense that we now measure it (Adam’s reckoning had not yet been appointed or created). This should answer the argument raised in the play Inherit the Wind where Henry Drummond asks Matthew Brady whether Genesis’ account of the creation is literal in the sense of taking only seven days. Although Frederick March’s Brady stands by the literal creation in seven days despite being made to look the fool by Spencer Tracy’s Henry Drummond, it should be clear that the use of the word “day” in Genesis is intended simply as a designation of a period during which certain things were accomplished. During the first “day” unorganized matter was gathered together and formed into a world similar to worlds previously formed. During other indeterminate periods of time other portions of creation took place.

None of this is contrary to what we have seen from the Big Bang theory. After the initial explosion energy spewed into newly created space, energy transformed into matter, matter coalesced to form stars and galaxies which were born, lived and died millions of times over before this earth was created.  It’s interesting that science can speak of the passage of billions of years (13.7 approximately) since the Big Bang despite the fact that our sun, by which we measure those years, is a fairly recent addition to the cosmos. Since science is comfortable with this seeming non sequitur, science should also be able to accept Genesis’ account of a creation in seven days without getting its collective panties in a wad over whether those were 24-hour days or not.

There’s no way to prove that time exists for God but neither can science disprove such a notion.

Back to Creation vs. Science

So the whole novel thing didn’t work out so well. I was taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and my last post (from November!) was the first chapter of my erstwhile novel. But November 30 came and went and I didn’t finish. Then the holidays came along and . . .  well we all know what the holidays will do to a routine. So since the whole novel gig didn’t work so well so I think I’ll go back to discussing religion.

The last post on the subject of the beginning of the universe looked at how the account of the creation in Genesis fits with what we know about the Big Bang and what it looked like. Science postulates that there was no “before the Big Bang,” that time and space began at that instant. Yet we’ve considered that God might be outside of the universe since, if He created it, where was He at that time? He couldn’t have been in the universe because it hadn’t been created yet.

Because string theory postulates an enormous number of possible universes, maybe an infinite number, we can speculate that God exists in another universe and that it was from there that this universe was created. Neither science nor scripture sheds any light on what these exo-universes might contain, so rather than engage in rank speculation, let’s limit our discussion to how this creation came about.

Genesis doesn’t offer a lot of detail other than to say God said “let there be light.” However, scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) have a more detailed description, though by no means complete. In the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, Abraham writes that God appeared to him and showed him “those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.” From this we can infer that the creation described in Genesis was not just of this earth but involved the entire universe, just as predicted by the Big Bang theory.

This inference is supported by an account given by Moses, also found in the Pearl of Great Price in the Book of Moses. Moses prayed to God and asked “why these things [the world and creation] are so.”  In Moses, Chapter 1:33-38, God responded to Moses in this way:

Worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is my Only Begotten.

                But only an account of this earth and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

                And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.

                And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.

These scriptures also align nicely, as does Genesis, with the Big Bang theory. “Worlds without number” as observed by Moses or Abraham, could well refer to the innumerable galaxies, stars and planets in the universe. Moses is told that “many worlds have passed away.” We know from physics that stars and galaxies have been created, lived and died. Stars burn out and become cold. We know that eventually the earth will fall into the sun and be burned to a cinder, thereby ceasing to exist, or passing away, in the words of Moses.