Is time real and how did it start to exist?  How can we still be evolving and be in God’s image?


Is time real?  I suppose that depends on how you define realness.  This is a deep, philosophical question.  However, I am going to duck the philosophical question of the definition of realness and give the simple answer.  Yes, time is real.  How do I know it is real?  Occasionally, officials will blow up an old building which is being demolished.  I assume you have seen such movies or videos.  Now, imagine watching that video in reverse.  Imagine the massive cloud of dust and debris coalescing and coming together to form a building.  Such creation of extreme order out of extreme disorder, of course, is impossible.  You would know, without need of a theory or explanation, that the video was being run backward.  Anyone who disagrees is crazy.  Period.  This proves that time is real.  Time is one of the four classic dimensions of reality.  There are the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension, which is time.  Einstein, in his theory of relativity, helped to explain to us that time is just another dimension.  But time is different from the other three dimensions because it moves inexorably in only one direction.

The reason that you will know the movie is backward is that there is a rule which governs nature, which scientists call the second Law of thermodynamics.  It states that all spontaneous processes in the universe result in an increase of entropy in the universe.  Because the backward video represents a massive decrease in entropy or randomness, we know that it is being run backward.  Entropy is sometimes called time’s arrow.

So, time is real.  How did it start to exist?  Well, according to the big bang model when the matter and energy in the universe was created, time and space were also created simultaneously.  If cosmologists are right, the universe is not eternal and time, literally, had a beginning about 13.5 billion years ago.  Now, whether this model reflects actual reality is something we can debate, but it is the only model that accurately explains all the data we have, so I tend to believe that in fact this creation event we call the big bang did indeed happen.  God created time.

Evolution is a natural process which changes the physical nature of a species over time.  “Evolution” happens when mutations occur and when these genetic changes work their way into and through a population.  Such genetic changes are observable.  They may change the color of hair, or susceptibility to a certain disease, or the speed with which muscles twitch.  Evolution may change the rate of uptake of calcium by the liver or the number of red blood cells in the body.  Here is the point.  None of the changes brought about by evolution have anything to do with our being in the image of God.  God does not have hands or hair or skin.  Our being in the image of God has to do with our ability to give and receive love, our having a soul, a spirit, self-awareness, a conscience and more.  None of these things were created by evolution, and none of the things that change as humans evolve affect our being in the image of God.  For example, due to evolution, the average skin color of different populations have changed over time. In northern latitudes, where there is much less sun, those with less melanin in their skin produce more vitamin D and survive better.  Nearer to the equator, where there is a lot more direct sunlight, having very light skin is not helpful to survival!  It causes more cancer!  Evolution produced the different “races” of human beings, but all of us equally are in the image of God.

John Oakes

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