Sunday, August 12, 2007

Time, space and everything

"People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

--Albert Einstein
Glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever.
--Gloria Patri(Trinitarian Doxology)

If one works in the world today it is almost inevitable that eventually one will meet an atheist. I say eventually because though many seem to live as if they believe God does not exists when the rubber meets the road they acknowledge some type of belief in a higher power, though they may not call it God. Finding someone who really believes there is no higher order creator of the universe is harder than secular media, which does seem to attract a larger than statistically significant number of these people, would have us believe.
The number of regular church goers is also not reflective of how many atheists there are. Many people who do not attend church regularly believe there is a God. Some doubt organized religion. Some have problem with God, but believe that he does exist. Some few believe that a creator exists, but believe his existence is irrelevant to them. None of these people are atheists.
Secularism is the bastion of those atheists who do exist. Most seem to think that science will vindicate their belief, or rather their lack of belief. On the few occasions when I have had the opportunity to discuss God with one of them their approach seems invariably to be..."You're a scientist, how can you believe in a god?"
To which I answer, "How can I not?"
To me, who has, perhaps, a view of the universe that is somewhat broader than the man in the street it is quite clear that there must be an underlying force, a designer, who created existence. If I walk through the forest and find a watch I don't have to see him to know there was watchmaker. If I analyze the equations of relativity or thermodynamics I don't need to see Him to know that there is something which stitches together these mathematics which the human mind can comprehend and these forces of the universe: space/time or entropy, which we humans on a gut level cannot.
Can any human truly comprehend the distance to the nearest galaxy or the core temperature of the sun? Can we truly appreciate the incredibly narrow parameters of physical laws which allow matter to exist at all? Yet through God's language of mathematics we can leverage the power of aerodynamics to fly or the power of the atom itself for power.
What are humans that you are mindful of them,
mere mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them little less than a god,
crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them rule over the works of your hands,
put all things at their feet
--Psalm 8
Long before Einstein, Newton and even St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, through Platonic logic, perhaps informed by the Holy Spirit, wrote on the nature of time. In the fourth century, long before clocks or calculus, St. Augustine in his Confessions, puts forth the principle that God, having created time as well as all that fills the universe is beyond time. God did not create the universe, he is creating the universe. He is an active force, by which the carefully orchestrated laws of the universe, natural law, holds the universe together.
Before the universe existed He was. He is present always as long as the universe exists. When the universe no longer exists, when all we now know has passed away, still He will be. To Him it is all the same. He exists beyond time and beyond space, while the universe only exists in Him and through Him.

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