How Did God Pass the Time for 14 Billion Years?

If scientists are correct, and I think they are, then it took between 12 and 14 billion years for humans to appear in this universe. If Christians are correct, and I think they are, then God made the universe, and he made it—or at least the earth portion of it—for man.

If man was the purpose, or a purpose, for the creation, then what was God doing during the 14 billion years between the Big Bang and the evolution of man? Was he just hanging out? It seems like even God would be bored waiting around for humans for that long.

Science has an answer for that.

The Scientific Explanation for the Activity of God for the last 14 Billion Years

I have a scientific explanation for what God was doing for the last 14 billion years. For the scientifically faint of heart, the short explanation is that it wasn’t 14 billion years to God. He’s outside of time. It could have seemed like a second, or he could have enjoyed a week’s worth of time, or a month, or the whole 14 billion years.

The long answer, for those that want to have some fun with me, goes like this.

You’ve heard of the Theory of Relativity? You’ve probably heard a lot about time and the speed of light, but I don’t know how many of you have focused on the term “relativity.” Einstein’s argument, among others, is that time is relative. Relative to what? Time is relative to speed. The only constant in the universe is the speed of light. Time is not constant. The speed of light is constant.

The guiding principle of relativity is that the speed of light is the same for everyone. You cannot run away from light.

Light will catch you, and it will catch you just as fast whether you stand still or fly away from it on solar winds. You can’t speed it up, either. As a planet we may be rushing toward another galaxy at up to 40% of the speed of light. Nonetheless, the light from that galaxy is going to approach us at 186,000 miles per second. If that galaxy is two million light years away from us (in which case it’s the Andromeda Galaxy, the only one that close to us), it’s light will take two million years to reach us whether we race towards Andromeda or away from it.

The speed of light does not change. Instead, time changes.

Here’s an illustration of how that works.

Let’s say there’s this guy in the utter darkness of the void between galaxies. He is in darkness, but a beam of light is approaching him through the emptiness, or almost emptiness, of space.

It turns out this guy is Superman. You know because you found Albus Dumbledore’s magic binoculars, and you can see him out there between galaxies so sharply that you can read the symbol on his chest. Superman, as you know, can fly so fast that he can turn back time as long as he is flying in a circle around a planet. I am unable to explain the science behind this phenomenon.

I can explain the phenomenon of the light catching Superman. He flees the approaching light because as a false savior, he is terrified of the light. He flies away from the light at one mile per year less than the speed of light. Please notice that I said one mile per year, not one mile per hour.

Let’s say the light is a million miles away. As an observer, you see the light chasing Superman at 186,000 miles per second. You also see Superman flying away at 185,999.99999997 miles per second. Because the light is traveling at only one mile per year faster that Superman, it takes a million years to catch him. That’s your perspective.

For Superman, the light is approaching at 186,000 miles per second. That doesn’t change when he tries to run away. From his perspective, the light catches him in just over five seconds.

One million years or five seconds. Which is it?

It’s both. That’s the point of the theory of relativity. The speed of light is constant, but time is not. Your speed, relative to the speed of light, affects your perspective of time. For you, that light took a million years to catch Superman. For him, it took five seconds.

And yes, that means you aged a million years and Superman aged five seconds. Einstein didn’t make that up. He discovered it. Big difference. This relativity, whether we understand it or not, whether we like it or not, and whether we believe it not, happens. Just like gravity is real, so the relativity of time is real.

If we take what I and pretty much all Christians believe as a given, then God controls all this. He’s invisible and he fills the universe, so he doesn’t “move,” not at any speed; however, he has control over the whole process. He’s the creator, he can be above and around it, and he can see any part of it, or he can see it all at once.

That’s why the predestination vs. free will argument is way beyond what we can understand. In Isaiah 46:10, the Holy Spirit tells us that God declares the end from the beginning. That’s because he can see the end and the beginning. Why can he prophesy what’s going to happen? It’s not only because he can control it from before it happened if he wants to, but it is also because he can see that it happened from afterward. He can do both, right now.

I didn’t mean to address predestination vs. free will. It just came up. So let me get back to the point.

The point is that God wasn’t bored for 14 billion years. He could see it all from the perspective of any moment he wanted to. He could slow things down and enjoy watching and experiencing what was happening, or he could make it no longer than a flash of lightning—from his perspective. God could experience it all at once, the expanding of the cosmos to the coalescing of the galaxies to the formation of the earth to the rise of human civilization, none of it incurring any “passing of time” from his perspective.

About paulfpavao

I am a church historian and pastor, but I do occasionally play APBA baseball for fun.
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7 Responses to How Did God Pass the Time for 14 Billion Years?

  1. Interesting look at how science can be interwoven with theology.
    Having just read through Smolin’s The Trouble w/ Physics there are some new theories that challenge some of the assertions of Einstein’s relativity and suggest the speed of light was faster in the past.

  2. Larry Jones says:

    the universe is only about 6000 years old, so it does not make sense

  3. John Cullimore says:

    I agree with David… ***fizzle*** ***pop*** ***fizzle***

    It hurt

  4. gokingdom says:

    I do not understand why you refuse the truth that the speed of light is NOT constant. Whoa is me! You are hanging on to the old guard theory that the speed of light is unchanging. And of course if it is slowing down now, just one theory, then it was faster before. Meaning we don’t know how fast it was “in the beginning” that may throw all other theories into disarray. Ha Ha. Good writing!

    • paulfpavao says:

      I haven’t accepted that “truth” because of this truth. The people who say the speed of light is not constant argue like this: “If the speed of light were not constant, then our religious beliefs about the age of the universe could be true.” The people who say the speed of light is constant say things like this:

      “The key logic behind Special Relativity was that Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism looked like exact, universal laws of physics, and their solution gives light waves with a universal speed. Now it was logically possible that those laws were only true in one special reference frame, but by 1905 no experiment (including the famous attempt by Michelson and Morley) provided any evidence that they failed to work in any inertial frame. Einstein showed that there was a logical, consistent framework (Special Relativity) in which Maxwell’s equations worked in all inertial frames, and Newton’s laws also almost worked for any objects moving slowly with respect to a frame. From this new framework, all sorts of other effects could be derived, and they were all confirmed. Among those many effects are the energy-dependent lifetimes of particles, the exact dynamics of fast-moving particles, the patterns of radiation from accelerating particles, the magnetism-like velocity-dependent term accompanying each fundamental force, etc.” (

      That’s why.

      • gokingdom says:

        Oh, I did not look on a religions site just some other sites that were typical science sites giving reasons they thought light was NOT constant. Just joking.

  5. *POP*

    That was the sound of my brain… ow.

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