Some of the most profound and thought provoking questions deal with origins. A person may be curious about where their ancestors lived or how a canyon came into existence. The ultimate origin question concerns the universe itself.
Sitting around their campfires, primitive peoples told stories about how the world came to be as it is. A story about the world’s origins gives the illusion of power over the world. Thunder is scary to a child, but if you tell the child thunder is angels bowling, you reduce the child’s anxiety.
As another example, most things in the primitive’s world were stationary unless something pulled or pushed them into motion. The sun moved across the sky every day so it must have something pulling or pushing it. If you tell the story that a god drives the chariot of the sun, you can pray to that god to change the weather. Stories were created about all aspects of the world surrounding these people.
They may have been primitive and lacking in facts but they were not stupid. The people living in the desert in 1800 BCE were just as intelligent as we are. We know more because we have methods of storing information and passing it around that were not available 3000 years ago.
Even then, the ultimate question was “Where did the world come from?” Based on their limited observations, those primitives were only able to create stories involving magic and supernatural beings.
It is an unfortunate fact that many, well-educated people today still believe these stories of magic and reject the fact-based scientific explanations of these same events.
In the September 20, 2012 Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Billy Graham is asked about God’s activities before the creation. Billy’s reader says, “What was God doing before He created the world? I had an atheist friend ask me this a few days ago, and I didn’t know what to say.” You can read all of Billy’s answer here.
Billy could have given the reader an answer that approaches the truth: the source of knowledge for believers, the Bible, is silent on this question. The Bible starts with God in existence and creating the world.
Instead, Billy speculates and passes off the product of his imagination as truth.
First, Billy says that humans may not be able to understand God because God is timeless and infinite.
If God is timeless then He is unchanging. Consider a universe with only one particle in it. Now suppose a second particle comes into existence. This universe now has a before, one particle, and an after, two particles. This universe is not timeless. If God changes in any way, then He can’t be timeless.
However, God changes, according to the Bible. God creates the world and then later is disappointed with humanity. “The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.” (Genesis 6:6-7 NIV) In order to be disappointed, one must have expectations that are not fulfilled. God must have expected humans to be moral, upright, and so on. Then, He learns humans are not. A timeless being cannot have expectations, because expectations are about how things will be in the future. Timeless beings do not have a future or a past.
God tells Abraham that He is planning on destroying Sodom. Abraham bargains with God and gets Him to reduce the number of righteous men required to spare Sodom from 50 to 10. In other words, Abraham asks God to change His plan. God does change, so God cannot be timeless. (Genesis 18:22-32 NIV)
One of the most significant demonstrations that God is not timeless is the idea that a person can pray to God and God will change His plan to accommodate that person’s wishes.
Next, Billy states an incomprehensible verse from the second book of Peter: “… With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8)
What does that mean? First, Billy claims God is timeless but now God experiences days or years? How can that be? If God experiences the flow of time such as a day passing then He cannot be timeless.
How is Peter’s statement to be interpreted? One way is to say that while 1000 years (365,000 days) pass on Earth; God experiences it as if it were one day. The Biblical Adam lived 6000 years ago or less than a week ago in God-time. No wonder humanity is cursed with the sin of Adam – it is easy to carry a grudge for a week.
The six days of creation were 6000 human years, unless the God-to-human time scale was different before Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden. If a God-day was 715 million years, then the creation would have been started 4.3 billion years ago.
Another comparison is to view a human’s 70-year life as a God-time of one hour and 41 minutes. Imagine a person owning a pet that is born, grows up, ages and dies in less than two hours. How attached can God be to a person He experiences for 101 minutes? It’s no wonder prayers aren’t answered. God thinks about your request for a couple of hours and you die waiting.
Finally, Billy says that before God created the world and started time He was planning. Planning requires a sense of time. One must consider what is NOW and what is TO BE and decide what actions to take to go from NOW to TO BE. To speak of God planning or having a plan is to say that God experiences time and is not timeless.
In general, to call God timeless and infinite is just the pandering of a toady trying to gain favor with a superior. Billy and the preachers assign all these wonderful, ultimate descriptors to God and hope that no one will consider the implications.
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