The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, Jr., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, shares insights on God, time, and the universe in the light of science and the Bible. This video is part of the Day1 Faith & Science in the 21st Century Series, made possible through the support of a grant by the John Templeton Foundation.
Time is a funny thing in the Bible. There are places where Jesus or prophets make specific predictions about what is going to happen. And then the promised event comes to be. How is it possible to know the future? If you ask a scientist about that, the scientist will tell you that it's possible to make accurate predictions of what are essentially simple systems - things like a ball falling in a vacuum, or a point object orbiting another point object. But the moment you start to talk about real objects, balls being buffeted by wind as they fall, or oddly shaped objects tumbling through space, predictions about the future become much less certain, and essentially probabilities rather than predictions.
And when you start talking about complicated systems, like a person, or a climate, or a community, well, then things get nearly impossible to predict in the long term. At best we can argue about what might happen, but we are generally limited by our ability to do the math or to completely understand all the forces at work.
So how are the predictions in the Bible - which often speak of things that will happen over the course of years - if not centuries - made? Are they lucky guesses? Are they so non-specific as to invite multiple interpretations (like a newspaper horoscope?), or are they written after the event has occurred and not really predictions at all?
Or, are they a sign that Time isn't exactly what we imagine it to be? That God and God's experience of the Universe is different than ours? Funny thing about that - modern scientific thought in fields like Cosmology, Loop Quantum Gravity and even String Theory to a degree, are saying that Time isn't what we think it is.
If that's all true, then does this mean we have to rethink our understanding of God, or is it possible to remember something that we used to know about God? And what does this tell us about how God works in the Universe?
The Day1 Faith & Science Series project was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in these documents are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.