What do Peter and Albert Einstein have in common? Well, for starters both were Jewish by ethnicity. Peter, was a firsthand witness to the miracles and power of God through Jesus Christ.
Einstein, a scientist who struggled from childhood with his faith. He considered himself agnostic, and a skeptic of religion in general. In his book (1949) he wrote:
“A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.” – Albert Einstein (The World As I See It) 
Yet and still, I believe that God can and does reveal himself to men in many ways. Psalm 19 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+19) tells us that God reveals himself to all men through nature (in addition to…).
While Einstein may have never committed to a belief in Christ, which is tragic, I still believe that unbelievers often find glimpses of God in different ways. Einstein, I believe was blessed from birth with a gift of imagination far beyond the capabilities of average joe’s like myself. God gives a natural measure of different gifts and talents to all men. Although, only one of Einstein’s many scientific theories, The Special Theory of Relativity still stands as one of the most broadly known an awe-inspiring. The first part of the Special theory determined that the speed of light was constant regardless of the reference frame it’s observed from. It never changes, moving at the clip of 670,616,629 miles per hour. That’s fast!
Side note: Want to have your mind blown before I explain the second half of Einstein’s theory? Consider that the sun is 92 million miles from the earth. Now, do the math based on the speed of light (186, 282 miles per second) and you’ll realize that it takes almost 8 and a half minutes for a ray of light from the sun to reach the earth. That means that any time you’ve looked up at the Sun you’re seeing it in it’s former state – nearly 8 and a half minutes ago. Strange and hard to fathom right? How could you be viewing an object in it’s former state? Especially 8 minutes ago?
The second postulate in Einstein’s theory was that there is no absolute in space and time. All observations (as objects approach the speed of light) are relative to their frame of reference. In other words, depending on the frame of reference that someone views an event from they could literally witness it happening differently in time. Consider the following thought experiment explaining this idea using a train. One observer witnesses an event from the platform while standing still, the other as the passenger on that train:
Did it make sense? Crazy right?! The experiment is only significant if/when the train or vehicle is moving near the speed of light, however both observers are actually correct in their observation. Einstein supposedly loved challenging himself with thought experiments like the one above. Okay, enough of the science. Let me get to my point.
In the last few posts I’ve highlighted or skimmed the surface regarding the tension between Evangelicals and the science world. I’m hoping to write a number of blogs this year on different issues. Why all the tension? You name it. In a nutshell both sides feel as if one is attempting to chip away at the credibility and worldview of the other. From and Evangelical viewpoint, science is out to discredit the validity of religion. From the science world, they’re less consumed with religion stripping away their worldview and more concerned with religion presenting a hindrance to progress (worldly). Often times both sides are right in their suspicions. At other times, if not most often, the tension is overblown and unnecessary.
Peter and Albert’s Theory of Special Relativity: God’s perspective of Time vs. Man’s
2 Peter 3
New International Version (NIV)
“8 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.“
New International Version (NIV)
“4 A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.“
Peter, Moses (author of Psalm 90), and Einstein all understood that a period of time can appear longer or shorter depending on who the observer is. To a human being a thousand years feels and sounds incredibly long. To God it’s as if a literal/figurative day has passed.
On the spectrum between the literal and figurative where can we rest our hat in these scriptures? I’m not sure anyone can honestly answer that question, but God himself. What we can conclude is that our feeble-minded view of time can’t compare to God’s. Our finite understanding of time and space can’t compare to a God who 1st Timothy tells us dwells in unapproachable light (what in the world is that???), and existed before the earth was even formed???
Bridging the gap between a Christian earth that’s 6000 years old and a scientific earth that’s 4.5 billion years old:
It’s plausible that when the Holy Spirit revealed the creation story to Moses it was revealed to Moses from God’s frame of reference. In other words, what literally took God days to create from his perspective, is the equivalent of 4.5 billion years in human time scales. And yet and still in His infinite wisdom it’s plausible that he told the creation story from his perspective, because he knew that days, evenings, and nights, make much more sense to us then thousands of millions of years. It’s difficult for human beings to fathom numbers that stretch beyond hundreds of thousands. I’ve been to a football stadium that can hold close to one hundred thousand people. I’ve participated in political marches that hosted hundreds of thousands, but I’ve never encountered figures that reach into the millions that my mind was truly capable of processing. I’ve been to to the beach or to a lake and witnessed countless, maybe millions of grains of sand, but at best all I can do is acknowledge the reality of it. Otherwise, it remains an abstract concept in my mind. Heck, most of us struggle with the “How many marbles are in this jar” question. Large numbers just don’t register well, and when those numbers reach toward the unfathomable, infinity, all bets are off.
On that note, the way in which some Christians cling to a six-thousand year old earth with such fervency often approaches irrationality. The fundamentalist argument is that if we give an inch on the creation story, then we’re well on our way down a slippery slope. Next, we’ll be denying the trinity, the divinity of Christ, and so on. Yet, none of that is necessarily true, or biblically mandated in order to recognize the final authority of scripture. In the same way, the charges of “antiquated” or “out-dated” often given to those who believe in a young earth (6000 years old) is equally wrong-spirited.
I say that while holding firm that being unshakable in the essentials is non-negotiable. Start questioning the identity and character of Christ, the existence of the Devil and Hell, and the necessity of Jesus for salvation and I won’t budge an inch 🙂 Other “non-scriptural litmus tests” in my mind nothing are more than fabrications of men. They’re false obstacles erected by unofficial gatekeepers who look to alienate those that don’t belong in the “club”. Protestants have a long and sordid history of this behavior.
God is fully aware of our limitations. As David Pawson says (paraphrasing), God may have made the creation story so short (7 days, and two short chapters out of eleven-hundred and eighty-nine, less than 1% of the bible), because he wanted the emphasis and majority of time spent on the relationship between God and men “now”. In other words, the focus of the story was meant for Christ, and his relentless pursuit of saving men in the here and now. And much less contemplation on the means by which we all got here.
I feel that I certainly know one thing. The enemy would love nothing more than to have us argue more over how the earth was formed then the very one who created it.
10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.