9. Age of the Universe Part 2

Day One and Not a First Day: Seeing time from the beginning

Now the fact that the Bible tells us there is “evening and morning Day One”, comes to teach us time from a Biblical perspective, from near the beginning looking forward.

If the Torah were seeing time from the days of Moses on Mount Sinai – 2448 years after Adam – the text would not have written Day One. Because by Sinai, hundreds of thousands of days already passed. It would have said “a first day.” By the second day of Genesis, the Bible says “a second day,” because there was already the first day with which to compare it.

We look back in time, and say the universe is 14 billion years old. But as every scientist knows, when we say the universe is 14 billion years old, there’s another half of the sentence that we rarely bother to say. The other half of the sentence is: The universe is 14 billion years old as seen from the time-space coordinates of the earth.

The key is that the Torah looks forward in time, from very different time-space coordinates, when the universe was small. Since then, the universe has expanded out. Space stretches, and that stretching of space totally changes the perception of time. Imagine in your mind going back billions of years to the beginning of time. Now pretend way back at the beginning of time, when time grabs hold, there’s an intelligent community. (It’s totally fictitious.) Imagine that the intelligent community has a laser, and it’s going to shoot out a blast of light every second. Every second — pulse. Pulse. Pulse. And on each pulse of light the following formation is printed (printing information on light, electro-magnetic radiation, is common practice): “I’m sending you a pulse every second.” Billions of years later, way far down the time line, we here on Earth have a big satellite dish antenna and we receive that pulse of light. And on that pulse of light we read “I’m sending you a pulse every second.”

Light travels 300 million meters per second. So at the beginning, the two light pulses are separated by a second of travel or 300 million meters. Now they travel through space for billions of years until they reach the Earth. But wait a minute. Is the universe static? No. The universe is expanding. The universe expands by space stretching. So as these pulses travel through space for billions of years, space is stretching. What’s happening to these pulses? The space between them is also stretching. So the pulses get further and further apart. Billions of years later, when the first pulse arrives, we read on it “I’m sending you a pulse every second.” A message from outer space. You call all your friends, and you wait for the next pulse to arrive. Does it arrive second later? No! A year later? Maybe not. Maybe billions of years later. Because the amount of time this pulse of light has traveled through space will determine the amount of space stretching that has occurred, and so how much space and therefore how much time there will be between the arrival of the pulses. That’s standard cosmology.

14 Billion Years or Six Days?

Today, we look back in time and we see approximately 14 billion years of history. Looking forward from when the universe is very small – billions of times smaller – the Torah says six days. In truth, they both may be correct. What’s exciting about the last few years in cosmology is we now have quantified the data to know the relationship of the “view of time” from the beginning of stable matter, the threshold energy of protons and neutrons (their nucleosynthesis), relative to the “view of time” today. It’s not science fiction any longer. A dozen physics textbooks all bring the same number. The general relationship between nucleosynthesis, that time near the beginning at the threshold energy of protons and neutrons when matter formed, and time today is a million million. That’s a 1 with 12 zeros after it. So when a view from the beginning looking forward says “I’m sending you a pulse every second,” would we see a pulse every second? No. We’d see it every million million seconds. Because that’s the stretching effect of the expansion of the universe.

The Talmud tells us that the soul of Adam was created at five and a half days after the beginning of the six days. That is a half day before the termination of the sixth day. At that moment the cosmic calendar ceases and an earth based calendar starts. The logic for the Talmud choosing the 5 and a half days (and not the total six days) is that the creation of the Adam, Genesis 1:27, is half way through the number of verses in the sixth day of Genesis. How would we see those days stretched by a million million? Five and a half days times a million million, gives us five and a half million million days. Dividing that by 365 days in a year, that comes out to be 15 billion years. NASA gives a value of 13.7 billion years. Considering the many approximations, and that the Bible works with only six periods of time, the agreement to within a few percent is extraordinary. The universe is billions of years old from one perspective and a mere six days old from another. And both are correct!

The amount of the 14 billion years compressed within each of the five and a half days of Genesis is not of equal duration. Each time the universe doubles in size, the perception of time halves as we project that time back toward the beginning of the universe. The rate of doubling, that is the fractional rate of change, is very rapid at the beginning and decreases with time simply because as the universe gets larger and larger, even though the actual expansion rate is approximately constant, it takes longer and longer for the overall size to double. Because of this, the earliest of the six days have most of the15 billion years sequestered with them. For the duration of each day and the details of how that matches with the measured history of the universe and the earth, see my book The Science of God.


Following a talk I gave at AZUSA Pacific University, February 2011, a participant noted that when calculating the expansion ratio of space [that is, by what fraction space had stretched] from the era of nucleosynthesis to our current time, I had neglected to correct for the effect that the increase in the rate of universal expansion has on the current cosmic microwave radiation background. This increase introduces a non-linear effect. [That is, the rate of expansion is not constant, rather the rate is increasing.] The correction is in the order of 10%. Had the expansion been linear [and not super-linear resulting from the increased rate], the CMRB would be, not the currently observed 2.76 K, but 3.03 K. Introducing this correction into the exponential equation that details the duration of the 5 and a half 24 hour days of Genesis Chapter One results in an age of the universe from our perspective of 14 billion years [14, 000,000,000 years]. From the Bible’s perspective of time for those six evocative days of Genesis, the number of our years held compressed within each of those six 24 hour days of Genesis, starting with Day One, would be, in billions of years, respectively, 7.1; 3.6; 1.8; 0.89; 0.45; 0.23.


Reprinted with permission of Dr. Gerald Schroeder from http://geraldschroeder.com