The Concept of Time in Science and the Bible

Part I. The Concept of Time in Science

This topic is very complex, so rather than explaining what time is, this article simply outlines the related problems and invites the reader to contemplate and discuss this issue.


Alice sighed wearily. “I think you might do something better with the time,” she said, “than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.”

“If you knew Time as well as I do,” said the Hatter, “you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” said Alice.

“Of course you don’t!” the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. “I dare say you never even spoke to Time!”

“Perhaps not,” Alice cautiously replied: “but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.”

“Ah! that accounts for it,” said the Hatter. “He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: You’d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!”

“That would be grand, certainly,” said Alice thoughtfully, “but then—I shouldn’t be hungry for it, you know.”

“Not at first, perhaps,” said the Hatter, “but you could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked.”

Alice In Wonderland, Lewis Carrol

Lewis Carrol metaphorically describes Time as a living being that you can talk to or persuade to hurry up, slow down or stop altogether. From the Christian standpoint, God, as a Living Personality, created time, wisely endowing it with quite curious properties, some of which science is just beginning to discover, though unable to rationally understand the nature of time.


There are two opinions about time:

Supporters of the first opinion believe that time is not associated with any actually existing dimensions and that it is simply a notional concept that allows people to follow, compare and organize events. This point of view was supported by the idealist philosophers like Augustine, Kant and Mach. Gottfried Leibniz, a scientist, shared this belief, stating that the physical world, space and time are perceived subjectively and represent an imperfect sensory reproduction of the real world of indivisible basic entities called monads.1

According to a different point of view that was most clearly expressed by Newton, space and time are absolute; they are objective and totally independent of both each other and the matter that is developing in them. Space is Euclidean and three dimensional; it is infinite, static and the same everywhere. In other words, it is homogeneous and isotropic[2]2. It exists even when it contains no physical objects. In essence, it is an empty storage where objects move (and fields change), which doesn’t entail the change in its properties. Time is infinite, flowing evenly in one direction from past to present and future, even in the absence of any matter. It is the same in the entire boundless Universe. Flowing constantly in all areas of the world, it is homogeneous and independent of any physical processes.

1. Time in the Theory of Relativity

Developing his theory of relativity, Einstein reached the conclusion that matter, space and time cannot exist independently as they are simply relative aspects of a single whole. For example, the flow of time as well as size and mass of objects depend on their movement, as. at sublight speed, time slows down, mass increases and objects grow smaller. Similarly, the structure (i.e. geometry) of four-dimensional time-space continuum3 changes depending on the accumulation of the object’s mass and the gravity field generated by it. In the proximity of large objects space is distorted and time slows down considerably. According to Einstein, the idea of space and time cannot come to light if there is no matter, and if such matter is not developing or is not perceived by man. In this sense, one can say that if it weren’t for matter, space and time wouldn’t have existed. Matter is constantly moving, and such movement can only be determined in relation to various reference points, hence such movement is relative.

One can say that if it weren’t for matter, space and time wouldn’t have existed.

The theory postulates that time flows differently in a static system and in a system that is evenly moving relative to the observer. The experiments conducted in the last several decades proved that non-stable particles live longer when they move at higher speeds. At sublight speed, their lifespan increases without restrictions. The slowing down of time was also measured by cesium atomic clocks that were installed on airplanes. These clocks were synchronized with similar chronometers in a land-based laboratory. Upon completion of the flight the scientists established that the difference between the time measurements matched the estimated values.

The gravitational field causes distortion of time-space, resulting in an expansion of events. It was discovered that a clock on the sea shore is slower than a clock high in the mountains because the former is closer to Earth's center of gravity. Similarly, in the vicinity of a black hole the time lag would be quite noticeable. If we used a powerful telescope to observe a cosmonaut on an orbital station in close proximity to a black hole’s event horizon,4 it would seem to us that the astronaut is moving in slow motion, while the cosmonaut (who is observing us) would think that we’re moving at a lightning speed. Paradoxically, the time at the cosmonaut’s space station would be flowing at the same rate as it does for us, but he would see that the stars and planets are moving along their orbits at very high speeds, and as a result, the universe would be getting old before his eyes at mind-boggling speed.

If we ask which clock shows the correct time, ours or the astronaut’s, the answer would be: “both are correct within their own timeframes”. It is impossible to determine the “exact level” of time as everything depends on our location with respect to the gravitational field.

2. Time travel

In Newtonian classical physics, time is likened to an arrow evenly flying in one direction, from the past to the present and future. According to Einstein’s theory, time is like a river that flows faster at one moment and slower at the other as it meanders in the distorted space of the Universe. The great scientist worried, though, that there may be hidden whirlpools or forks that can disrupt the river’s unidirectional flow. His concerns were confirmed in 1937 when Willem Jakob van Stockum found the solution for the equation of the General Theory of Relativity, which allowed the possibility of returning to the past. Later on, such scientists as Kurt Gödel, Kip Thorne, John Richard Gott and others continued to develop the idea of time travel. However, their projects are still impossible to implement as they require tremendous amounts of negative matter and energy, “cosmic strings” with colossal mass and sublight speed, and so on.5

In Newtonian physics, time is likened to an arrow evenly flying in one direction, from the past to the present and future. According to Einstein’s theory, time is like a river that flows faster at one moment and slower at the other.

From the scientific standpoint, “going back to the future” is possible, and it has been empirically proven thousands of times. In his Fundamental Physics,6 Jay Orear describes the following relativistic example (the “twin paradox”). One of the two 20-year-old twin brothers flies on a spaceship to a nearby star. If the ship is moving at a sublight speed, it can reach that star and return to Earth in ten years (in terms of the time on the ship). When he returns, he finds out that eighty years have passed on Earth and his twin brother is almost a hundred years old, while he himself is only thirty. Thus, he has travelled seventy years into the future. (Our cosmonauts indeed time-travel for a short period of time every time they return to Earth – the onboard clock shows that they are a few fractions of a second younger compared to what would have happened had they stayed on Earth).

Let us briefly mention several paradoxes that may occur if we travel to the past and disrupt the chronological cause-and-effect relationship:

  • a) “The grandfather paradox”. You time-travel 40-50 years to the past and accidentally run over a boy who would have become your grandfather. His death makes the birth of one of your parents impossible, so your existence is inexplicable.

  • b) “knowledge from the future” (information paradox). Michael Dummett, a philosopher from Oxford, offers a theory about a talentless painter who sees his yet unpainted pictures in a book brought by an art connoisseur from the future. The painter manages to steal the book and copy the pictures, thereby creating masterpieces for the future generations. This means that the information about the paintings has no origin.

  • c) “Deceiver’s paradox”. You invent a time machine that takes you to the future. There, you find out that you’re married to a woman named Christina. Now you know what will happen to you if you marry her, so when you return, you decide to many another woman. Thus you “deceive” the future, avoiding the undesirable events that now have no chance of happening.

In 1992, Stephen Hawking put forward a hypothesis about the “chronology protection” according to which time travel wasn’t possible as it violated certain principles of physics. His arguments, however, were refuted by Sergey Krasnikov and Li-Xin Li who stated that “there was no law of physics that ruled out the formation of closed time-like curves”.7Still, such adepts of chronology protection as Igor Novikov and Matt Visser insist that such a law will be discovered when “a comprehensive theory of quantum gravitation” is developed.

Stephen Hawking put forward a hypothesis about the “chronology protection” according to which time travel wasn’t possible.

There are two (or three to be exact) objections to time travel. Imagine that Einstein’s great-great-great grandson decides to visit him. After the genius scientist’s death, the atoms of his body had dissipated into nature—into the soil, water, air, living creatures, etc. But through some fortunate series of events, thousands of years later the whirlwind of substance resulted in those very atoms forming the body of Einstein’s descendant. If they meet, the same atoms would have to be present simultaneously in two places at once,8 which means that time travel violates the law of conservation of mass/energy (which obviously is the very law that rules out time travel!)

When this great-grandson gets into the time machine and decides to travel, he would simultaneously travel to the past and the future (since every second after the launch is doubtlessly in the future). This results in a logical absurdity, and such a significant internal contradiction in a theory is not very good evidence of its soundness.9

If we consider things literally, wouldn’t it mean that the events of his life should be rewound backwards? That is, the traveler should return to the moment before the launch, then to his adulthood, childhood, birth, etc. In other words, the trip would end right after it started.

3. Other Time-Related Peculiarities

As a result of limited speed of light, the same event can be in the past for one person, in the present for another, and even in the future for a yet another observer. Let us imagine that we live in 2175 and that our civilization had managed to colonize Mars and Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede. An interesting soccer match is being played on Earth, and it is being broadcast via satellite to the people’s settlements in space. It takes approximately four minutes for the signal to arrive at Mars, and almost half an hour to reach Ganymede.10 The match has been going on for fifteen minutes, and one team scored on the eleventh minute. The happy fans in the bleachers on Earth have already calmed down when the Martian fans shout with joy, while Ganymedean fans have to wait another 27 minutes to enjoy the spectacular goal.

A phenomenon in physics known as “quantum attachment (correlation)11 involves two particles exchanging “signals” that are possibly transmitted at an infinitely high speed.12 If at some point we learn how to broadcast events at such a speed, the viewers on Mars, Ganymede and anywhere in the Universe would be able to watch soccer games in real time.13 But even then we would be unable to see the future or to learn about something that hasn’t happened yet. For example, it is unlikely that anybody could predict that on the forty-third minute one of the police dogs guarding the stadium would get off its leash and run into the field to chase the ball.

Scientists assert that virtual particles14 are moving perpendicular to time; that is, they can change their position even if time stops. Moreover, cause and effect relationships cannot be clearly established in quantum physics, and according to some provisions of the theory of relativity, the effect can precede the cause. Richard Feynman explained the opposite qualities of anti-particles and particles, suggesting that they may be travelling in time in different directions with respect to each other. For example, a positron is viewed as an equivalent of an electron that comes from the future.15

According to some provisions of the theory of relativity, the effect can precede the cause.

The laws of physics are temporally symmetrical, i.e., the possibility of returning to the past from the future is not ruled out. That is why it is still impossible to explain the unidirectional movement of the “arrow of time”. The most serious (albeit insufficient) argument explaining this problem is the second principle of thermodynamics.16

The authors of The Grand Design do not express a clear opinion on the issues of the origins of time and the Universe.

So far, none of the pillars of the modern physics—neither General Theory of Relativity, nor quantum mechanics, not even the string theory—have been able to explain the existence of space and time.

As far as the second issue is concerned, Stephen Hawking and Jim Hartle in one of their works introduce the concept of so-called “virtual time” wherein “the difference between space and time completely disappears” (they put this idea forward in 1982 and later restated it in the Grand Design). According to this theory, space-time may be finite in terms of length, while the Universe has no beginning or end, as at these points in time singularities disappear. (In 2015, the joint publication of A.F. Ali and S. Das also stated this position based on the quantum physics equations17).

However, as Hawking himself admits, this statement is hypothetical:

“I must note that the idea of time and space being finite but having no boundaries is just an assumption as it cannot be derived from any other principle.”

That is why it is easy to guess that he uses this approach only to arrive at the following conclusion:

“So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, would there be for a creator?”18

However, just recently a group of scientists led by Jean-Luc Lehners and including Job Feldbrugge and Neil Turok successfully applied considerably more robust mathematical methods and techniques to prove that Hawking and Hartle’s “limitless” model was untenable (they also disproved Vilenkin’s so-called “tunnelling” concept that also rules out the possibility of the beginning of time)!19

4. The age of Earth, the Solar System and the Universe

Geologists use several basic methods to determine the absolute age or rocks by way of radioactive dating. Depending on the type of decay and the resulting products, these methods are classified as uranium-lead dating, rubidium-strontium dating, and potassium-argon dating. The half-lives are as follows:

  • Uranium (U235) → Helium (He) + Lead (Pb207) = 700 million years;

  • Potassium (K40) → Argon (Ar40) = 1.3 billion years;

  • Uranium (U238) → Helium (He) + Lead (Pb206) = 4.5 billion years;

  • Rubidium (Rb87) → Strontium (Sr87) = 48.8 billion years.

The source radioactive element decays into a stable final product, which allows for creating a mathematical expression to calculate the geological age. According to the most recent calculations, Earth has existed for at least 4.54 billion years.

The current ratio of two long-lived isotopes of Uranium (U235 and U238) and measured ratios of the products of their decay allowed us to determine that the age of the solar system is approximately 5 billion years. Comparing the mass and brightness of the Sun to those of other stars, one can conclude that this estimate is accurate. The age of calcium and aluminum rich inclusions, the oldest known components of meteorites that were formed at the same time as the solar system, is approximately 4.56 billion years. This is considered to be the actual age of the solar system and the upper limit of the age of Earth.

According to the data on accelerated expansion of the Universe obtained by observing Ia-type supernovas and measuring the spectrum and anisotropy of relict radiation made by WMAP satellite, the age of the Universe is 13.7 ± 0.2 billion years.

To be continued…

Valentin Velchev
Translated from the Russian version by Talyb Samedov


1 According to Leibniz, the world consists of undividable spiritual entities that he calls monads. Each monad (unit) potentially contains the development of the entire Universe. Life is created when monads awaken, and later on they can reach the level of self-awareness (apperception) As such, the human mind is also a monad. Despite his atomism, Leibniz believes that monads are produced and absorbed by God Who maintains the pre-established harmony between them. (This scientist’s religious and philosophical outlook has obviously been influenced by Christian scholastics as well as Democritus, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, etc.)

2 Homogeneity—the state of having a uniform structure; isotropy is uniformity in all orientations.

3 The idea that space and time should be viewed as a whole belongs to the renowned mathematician Hermann Minkowski. He suggested introducing “a four-dimensional space-time continuum” as an original additional element that facilitates a better understanding of the special theory of relativity. In 1908, in his famous lecture at the University of Göttingen, Minkowski said, “Henceforth, space for itself, and time for itself shall completely reduce to a mere shadow, and only some sort of union of the two shall preserve independence.” // Space and Time. //

4 Event horizon (the Schwarzschild radius) is an astrophysical term describing the vicinity of a black hole. It is defined as a spherical boundary, after crossing of which nothing, even light, can leave this extra-dense object because of its extremely high gravitational force. (Stephen Hawking once cleverly compared it to the writing over the entrance to Dante’s Inferno, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”). The radius’ point of origin is called a singularity (something remarkable or unusual), i.e., it is the place where all known laws of physics are no longer applicable.

5 For more information on time travel see Time Travel and Modern Physics //

6 J. Orear, Fundamental Physics (Sofia: Science and art, 1970), 194 [Bulgarian].

7 Closed timelike curves is a technical term that describes the paths that allow visiting the past. Following these paths brings one back to the starting point before time travel.

8 Quantum mechanics includes the principle of linear superposition, according to which one particle can simultaneously be present in two (or more) places. However, P. Penrose, a well-known expert in the field of mathematical physics, states that this principle (for reasons that are still unknown) cannot be applied to macroscopic objects that consist of a multitude of particles (for example, golf balls), so it definitely cannot be applied to people. Irish physicist and Nobel Prize nominee Robert Gilmore believes that this principle is primarily applicable to electrons on atomic orbitals. (It cannot be asserted that particles are simultaneously present in many places. We arrive at this conclusion implicitly, as such an assumption is prompted by the particles’ amplitudes). In 2016, a team of physicists from Leiden University in the Netherlands announced that they managed to determine the boundary between the microworld and the macroworld.// // Намериха горната граница на квантовия свят / Upper boundary of the quantum world has been discovered.

9 Some contemporary science historians posit that Galileo probably never dropped any weights from the leaning tower of Pisa, but managed to disprove Aristotle’s theory purely by deduction. He thought that since lighter objects fall at a slower speed than heavier objects, attaching a lighter object to the heavier one will slow the fall down, and the fall time will increase. In fact, the contrary is true – since the total mass of two objects is higher, they would fall faster. This example shows that sometimes a logical contradiction is all it takes to get any “authoritative” theory off the table.

10 Assuming that at this point Mars and Ganymede are approximately 80 and 560 million kilometers away from Earth respectively, electromagnetic waves that travel at the speed of light (approx. 300,000 km/s) will reach them in the time specified in this paragraph.

11 In 1935, Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen suggested a thought experiment to demonstrate that the quantum mechanic description of the world was incomplete and that a more comprehensive (deterministic) theory was needed. The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox (EPR) is the result of certain qualities of entangled states of systems in the microworld. After measuring the status of one particle, its wave function collapses, and the ”news” about the completed measurement seems to be instantaneously transferred to the other particle that is “entangled” with the first one, for example in terms of a spin.

John Bell formulated a theorem (1964) according to which quantum mechanics postulates a more significant entanglement between the measurements of two particles than the entanglement that could be anticipated based on any preliminary information. In the 1980s, Alain Aspect conducted a series of experiments in the École supérieure d'optique in Orsay that proved the existence of the so-called non-local entanglement.

12 If in the EPR paradox the “signal” between the particles is travelling at an infinite speed, this could imply the existence of “absolute time” (although other explanations of this phenomenon are possible). As such, Einstein’s space-time continuum may exist in parallel with Newton’s absolute time and absolute space (although the latter are on a certain sub-level that we are still unable to detect with our measuring instruments).

There are several grounds for reaching this conclusion:

1. Acceleration of objects is absolute even from the point of view of the theory of relativity, which entails the existence of the absolute reference system.

2. Quantum mechanics is not applicable to the general theory of relativity, but it is quite consistent with the classical systems based on Newtonian laws.

3. Even though almost all values in quantum mechanics are quantized, time is still considered to be an external non-quantized parameter.

4. Although the laws of physics allow time travel, the “arrow of time” is not subject to them.

5. The two previous examples clearly indicate that some aspects of time are not dependent on matter, which at least partially confirms Newton’s point of view.

(This does not mean that everything is as Newton describes it. For example, absolute time does not necessarily have to be perpetual as it could have been formed at the same time when the Universe began).

13 Ask Ethan, “Can We Use Quantum Entanglement To Communicate Faster-Than-Light?” //

14 Virtual particles come from vacuum and quickly disappear due to the principle of uncertainty, violating the rules of the conservation of matter (which is allowed for a very brief time). Sometimes virtual particles may become real, if sufficient amount of energy is added to the vacuum. In quantum field theory, the interactions between real particles are described as an exchange of virtual particles. They also explain several other phenomena in physics, like tunnelling, Van der Waals forces, Hawking radiation, etc.

15 R. Feynman basically means that if an electron is travelling normally in time, it is carrying its negative charge from the past to the future. But if its movement is reversed and it is travelling from the future to the past, then it is like a positively charged particle (positron) travelling from the past to the future. As such, the total charge in the future is becoming more positive.

16 However, experiments in quantum physics show a different picture. See Quantum Correlations Reverse Thermodynamic Arrow of Time //

17 “No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning” //

18 Steven Hawking, Кратка история на времето. София: ИК „БАРД», 2010, с. 217-223.

19 “No Universe without Big Bang” //

Andrew Jones1/25/2023 11:08 am
Thanks for this rather complicated article. What are you views of the huge span of time as indicated by the fossil record. One of the mysteries I like to ponder is: What was God thinking in the Jurassic period? (I still ponder this question in silence.) Best wishes Andrew Jones
Editor1/24/2023 10:41 pm
Fr. Germogen: It's being translated.
Fr Germogen Tucker 1/24/2023 4:02 pm
Christ is baptized When will part two appear? Humbly Fr Germogen
Max1/5/2023 4:46 am
"In the proximity of large objects space is distorted and time slows down considerably." Should read massive objects, as in mass vs size. String theory is pseudo-scientific, for all intents and purposes it functions as a system of faith. Since the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is already bunk, how much more do we "know" that just isn't so?
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