Wednesday, December 7, 2011

From Start to Finish

Jesus Christ’s startling utterance “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 22:13) could not refer to the beginning and ending of Christ’s existence, for He is eternal. Rather, the passage refers to the beginning and ending of this present dimension of time in which Christ “holds all creation together” (Col. 1:17 NLT). Christ pervades all past, present, and future reality. He brought the matter and energy of our universe into existence as well as its dimensions of space and time. He unfurled the dimension of time at the start and He will roll it back up at the finish when time as we know it will end. In this sense He is the Alpha and the Omega.

Scientists have diverse and fully persuasive evidence that the beginning of time as we know it occurred 13.73 billion years ago. God in three persons existed before time began and was uncreated. This proposal does not yield to any rational human explanation. The uncreated God is the cause of our created cosmos. Time is linear in our cosmos. This means time proceeds in one direction with causes preceding their effects. Humans have the feeling of time slipping from one moment to the next. Within time we are always in the present even though we may contemplate the past and the future.

Some people do not care to contemplate these matters. Others speculate philosophically on issues such as “circular time” which allow for possible reincarnation or experiencing the future before the past. This is suggestive of a philosophy termed “eternalism” in contrast with “presentism” which views the present moment moving into the future, leaving the past behind. This was the view of early church theologian and philosopher Augustine (354-430 AD). He also conceived of God as transcendent, outside of time, as well as existing within our time dimension.

This esoteric discussion may be more important than the average church member realizes. If Jesus Christ created the time dimension in which we live, giving it a beginning and an ending, He must also have had a divine plan for the operation of matter and energy within our created dimensions of space and time. Secular science findings may enlighten us with respect to the characteristics of time and the realm in which we live. Many modern findings of science dovetail with scripture insofar as scientific issues are touched upon by the authors of sacred scripture.

An example is provided by a popular 1988 runaway best-seller authored by brilliant agnostic physicist Stephen Hawking. In A Brief History of Time Hawking’s Chapter 9 is titled “The Arrow of Time.” In a future post I will address his discussion of three different “arrows of time.” These are defined as “…something that distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time.” Each of Hawking’s arrows of time could be connected with concepts mentioned in scripture about how our universe operates.