It’s About Time

That is, this column is about “time.” Have you ever taken time to think about time? It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “If you love life don’t waste time for that is the stuff life is made of.”

In the Greek text the Gospel of John begins, “Before time began to begin….” There was a “time” when there was no time.

Lovers often speak of being devoted “to the end of time.”

Academicians have been giving a lot of thought to “time.” It is a fertile field in which my mind gets bogged down. Physicists in particular have given it a lot of thought. Consider their imaginary visit to our nearest star, Sirius. It is nine light years away. Traveling there at 99.99999% of the speed of light the following would happen. Persons here on earth would have to wait about 18 years for your return. Upon returning the traveler’s watch and body clock would indicate he or she was gone 12 hours. The traveler would be 12 hours older and earth bound friends 18 years older. If a traveler could accelerate to the speed of light, time would stand still. It is already getting a little boggy.

What time is it? Where? When it is twelve noon in Georgia it is 6:00 PM in Europe and 6:00 AM in Hawaii. What time is it at that moment half way to the sun? Does time ever change in deep outer space?

Stephen Hawkins, who holds Newton’s chair Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, is widely regarded as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein wrote:

“Up to the beginning of this century people believed in an absolute time. That is, each event could be labeled by a number called ‘time’ in a unique way, and all good clocks would agree on the time interval between two events….[with] the theory of relativity… one had to abandon the idea that there was a unique absolute time.” He concludes, “The theory of relativity gets rid of absolute time.”

He and others using nuclear clocks tested the theory of absolute time and reported the results were in exact agreement with the theory of relativity.

Hawkins is joined by Princeton physicist John Wheeler, who coined the phrase “black hole” in concluding that time stands still on what is called the surface of a black hole, a collapsing star.

I don’t understand that. Perhaps the apostle Peter understood more than we when he wrote of God’s perception of time: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (II Peter 3:8).

Are physicists opening a crack in the door to let us better see what is called immortality and eternity? 

On a lighter note imagine this interview with God. 

“God, what is a million dollars like to you?”
“Like a penny.”

“What is a thousand years like to you?”
“Like a minute.”

“God, will you give me a million dollars?”
“In a minute.”