The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Monday, March 2, 2009

Science and Time

The Birmingham News arrived today only after a call letting them know I had not received it. I guess I am going to keep calling them out on this until they get it right, or until I see an explanation and apology in print. Judging from emails and comments a lot of people are affected by this.

I'm finding it hard to concentrate on writing a blog post today. I watched these shows on the Science Channel about time, yesterday, and am not sure I can find the time to do this.

For those who believe, as I do, that time has no beginning and no end, it makes sense to realize that this moment, regardless of when the moment occurs is equidistant from the earliest time and the most distant future time.

Coincidentally, the earth is about midway through its life, having been formed about 4.6 billion years ago (using the descriptive "about" seems kind of odd when estimating in the billions, doesn't it) and depending on a sun that has only 5 billion years left in it.

To underscore how insignificant we are, Michio Kaku assigned one year to one millimeter. His birth, therefore, was 5.8 cm from the present. Watch here. (The link may not work, but you can also find the video from the Science Channel link above.) Travelling back in time this way, our "AD" time was a little less than the length of his dining room table, and recorded history was still within his New York City apartment. Then he drove about 2500 miles, to San Francisco. That distance, at 1 mm per year, approximated the 4.6 billion years that our earth has existed.

Earth sat lifeless for a billion years, and then the first signs of life appeared. These simple life forms did nothing but reproduce for 2.5 billion years, then about 570 million years ago an "explosion" of life forms began in the oceans.

5 million years ago the first man like apes appeared, and since then we developed into this warring, greedy species that we are now.

Watch a segment of Kaku's series on Time.

When I get to thinking about science at this level, it's hard to come back to the present and focus on world events, state legislatures and politics. I mean, science is more interesting, it doesn't have an agenda (people have agendas, science does not) and there is always more to learn.

1 comment:

tompit said...

I watched these shows also. I love stuff like this. It is a fascinating subject, but it gives me a headache to think about it too much. It was probably in elementary school when I figured out that I had a problem with the Genesis creation story and Ussher's chronology of a 6000 year old earth.

My grandmother taught me to observe the natural world around me and to ask questions about what I saw. Together we roamed the woods, collecting leaves, bugs, and rocks. She also introduced me to collecting fossils. I was amazed to find dozens of shark's teeth and fossils of sea shells in the sandy hillsides near her home in Montgomery. This set my little mind to thinking about how old they must be and how they might have come to be there so far from the ocean.

It was also about this time that I figured out that if taken literally, the King James Version of the Genesis story had some holes in it. I couldn't get my mind around where all the light and dark came from on the first few days if the sun didn’t show up until the fourth day. And what about all those plants created on the third day? Didn't they need the sun? And how long were those days anyway? Since there was no sun yet were they 24 hours long of 5 billion years long? The story doesn't tell us and I guess that is my point. We don’t get all the details. We can only use the minds that God gave us for scientific observation and hypothesis (and yes, a bit of faith) to fill in the gaps.

Once I figured out that we are not given all the information and it is alright to ask questions, I never had much of a problem reconciling my faith in God with my belief in science. But then I am not a literalist…