Creation and Time

The fundamental properties of the universe (space, time and matter) are referenced in the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible: “In the beginning (Time), God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter).” Genesis 1:1. Indeed, in the Hebrew Bible, the very first word is “התחלה” which means “beginning”.

Some thoughts:

  • Moses often writes in order of significance. Take the ages of some siblings listed in Genesis: “When Noah was 500, he fathered Shem, Ham and Japheth” (Gen 5:32); and “When Terah was 70, he begat Abraham, Nahor and Haran” (Gen 11:26). But if you do the math on their ages, you’ll see that these sons are not named in birth order, but rather in order of significance (Shem is more important in the narrative than Ham; both are more important than Japheth. And Abraham is more important than Nahor [father of Lot], and Nahor was more important than Haran).
    One wonders if Moses is also listing these fundamental properties of the universe in order of significance.
  • In physics, matter is fairly easy to define. Space, not so much. Time is even more difficult to define. Curious, then, that Moses would list these fundamental properties of the universe in order of their definitional complexity, from most complex to simplest.
  • Each of these fundamental properties has a means of measurement: To measure matter, you count the atoms in question (or pour them into a volume container like a cup, liter, gallon, cubic yard, etc). To measure space, you use a measuring stick like a meter or an inch or a mile or a light year. To measure time, you use a clock. Curious, then, that nowhere in the entire creation narrative are we told how much matter or how much space was used. But we’re repeatedly told (6x) how much time is used (“the evening and the morning was the nth day”).
  • For each of the items created in the creation week, we’re not told what they are to be used for. Until the fourth day. When the sun, moon and stars are created, we’re then told what they are to be used for: “And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years”. In other words, let them be for tracking time.

I find that both interesting and strange.

What’s up with time?

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