In Revelation 4:9-11, the song of the “elders” in praise to God provides a proper climax to the whole Divine Council scene. In fact, the language is not just liturgical but political, reflecting the terminology of Roman court ceremony: “worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory, honour, and power.” Why? Because “you created all things” and “they came into existence.” The very existence of our universe is “because of your will.” Behind creation is divine providence; his “will” is the basis for every aspect of creation.
In Hebrews 11:3, Paul writes: “by faith we understand that time was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are invisible.”
Theodoret [5th century Bishop of Cyr] reflects on this and writes: “The body’s eye did not recognize the God of all as creator; instead faith instructed us that God, who has always existed, created what did not exist. There is, after all, no example of this among human beings; yet though learning nothing of the kind from nature, we have in faith a teacher of the unexpected. Human beings, of course, make something out of something, whereas the God of all produced what exists out of nothing.”
This is remarkably accurate for modern 21st century science. God creates “time” out of nothing. But we need to define what time and nothing means:
1. Unlike space accessible to humans in 3D, time is accessible to us in only 1D. We can neither stop nor reverse the arrow of time. In fact, it’s impossible to get outside the cosmic time dimension and observe all its properties. Nevertheless, scientists, theologians, and philosophers have noted several immutable properties of time. They agree that time is a dimension in which cause-and-effect phenomena occur, with effects always following their causes. They also agree that apart from time, cause-and-effect phenomena anywhere in the universe cannot occur. In other words, time is integral to the operation of cause and effect. There’s also a second property of time: a thermodynamic relationship. We can measure the universe’s total entropy [amount of disorder, or total amount of energy no longer available to perform work] as increasing in direct proportion to the passage of time. Thus, time is linked with the 2nd law of thermodynamics. There’s also a relational property of time. Without time, relationships are impossible. The degree of depth, significance, and reward experienced in a relationship appears strongly correlated with the amount of time invested in it.
2. The universe did not come from anything detectable. We can detect matter, energy, and all the space-time dimensions associated with them. God creates the detectable universe from that which cannot be detected. Because we are trapped in time, where time is linear and cannot be halted or reversed, the idea that anything could exist before time defies imagination. Yet the bible uniquely refers to God’s activities before the beginning of time [Proverbs 8:22–23; John 1:1–3; 1 Corinthians 2:7; and 2 Timothy 1:9]. The discovery that the universe had a beginning was a remarkable achievement. More remarkable still, we now possess tools to explore various details of the cosmic beginning, details sufficient to reveal the nature of that event, thus investigating what lies beyond the universe. The physics show that it must have arisen from a realm beyond space-time. Thus, the meaning of nothing, where different definitions are provided. It can mean a complete lack of:
- matter and energy;
- matter, energy, and dimensions [length, width, and height];
- matter, energy, and all 10 space-time dimensions;
- matter, energy, all 10 space-time dimensions, and created non-physical entities;
- matter, energy, all 10 space-time dimensions, created non-physical entities, and other realms spatial or temporal;
- anything and everything real, created or otherwise.
So what kind of nothingness did the universe come from? According to the space-time theorems, the universe could not possibly have arisen from matter, energy, and/or any of the 10 space-time dimensions associated with them, either existing or previously existing. The space-time theorems undoubtedly eliminate the last point [absolute nothingness cannot be a causal agent]. If absolute nothingness could spontaneously produce something, scientists would see new things arising everywhere. Instead, they see the consistent operation of the 1st law of thermodynamics, which says the total amount of matter and energy within the universe can neither be increased or decreased. In conclusion, the space-time theorems establish that the universe was brought into existence by a causal agent [God], with the capacity to operate beyond all cosmic matter, energy, space, and time. In coming to these conclusions, the scientific community has confirmed this biblical description of the creation of the universe.
The temperature of the radiation left over from the big bang currently measures 2.72548 ± 0.00057°C above absolute zero [-273.16°C]. This graph shows temperature measurements from eight time epochs in the universe’s history. The downward arrows show upper-limit measurements. Superimposed on this graph of actual measurements is the temperature curve predicted by the Lambda-CDM big bang model.
But an obvious question arises: where did God come from? This question arises from our experience with time, the manner in which time constrains us. For any entity restricted to 1D of time, every effect must be brought about by a previously existing cause. Everything restricted to the universe’s 1D of time must be traceable back to a cause and a beginning. However, God is not constrained by cosmic time. In creating our time dimension, he demonstrated an existence independent of cosmic time. Given that time is a dimension along which cause-and-effect phenomena can occur and because God brought time into existence, at a minimum he possesses the capacity to operate in the equivalent of 2D of time.
If this were the case, one could have an infinite number of timelines [A] running in an infinite number of directions. God could move and operate for infinite time, forwards and backwards, on a timeline [B] that never intersects or touches the timeline of our universe [C]. Thus, God would have no beginning and no end.
In fact, God can arbitrarily stretch the human experience of time [Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8] by operating along a variety of timelines, such as [A] and [B]. Though [A] and [B] have equal length, if we superimpose them on our time line [X], we would experience [A] as longer than [B].
With a timeline perpendicular to ours, God could divide up 2 billion hours into 7 billion 20-minute segments. Thus, God can easily pay attention and respond to the entire human race praying to him at the same time. The timeline [A] can proceed for infinity while timeline [B] is static, or paused.
Thus the nature of the multidimensional atonement of Christ! Line [A] represents our timeline. Jesus atones for all the sins of humanity in 2D of time, completely independent of our time dimension. In this time plane, he suffers for infinite time on billions of different time lines: a, b, c, etc. Thus, 6 hours on the cross results in the payment for the sins of every human.
What about 3D of time? It’s depicted as a sphere with lines of time running parallel to the equator [latitudes], perpendicular to the equator [longitudes], and from the centre out to the surface and beyond [radials]. The timeline of the universe, with us on it, could be placed along a particular latitude of this sphere.
In 3D of time, God could generate causes anywhere within, on, or outside of the sphere. The line segment [U] to [E] represents the 1D time dimension for the universe. At point [U], the universe comes into existence. At point [E], its existence ends. At point [B], a person is born. At point [D], a person dies. Point [P] is the present moment. God, from a instant of time [G] could simultaneously generate causes at any of these points along our timeline.
In conclusion, our universe was created to reveal God.
Tyconius [4th century] nailed it: “We also know of another translation: ‘Because you have created all things, and they exist and are created on account of your will.’ Indeed, all things existed in the artful wisdom of God before they were formed in the act of creation. However, they were created in order that those things might exist also visibly which in their natures are according to the ideas written in the wisdom of God.”
Thus, God did create, on purpose, for which there are many more reasons:
1. God wanted humans to exist. But he had greater plans for humanity than mere existence. Thus, he optimized cosmic circumstances to accomplish those specific plans, and most importantly to prepare us for fellowship with him, forever, fully free and without risk of ruin.
2. God made this universe to serve as a classroom for humans. He could have designed the universe to provide a home for humans exclusively, but apparently he did not want us to be alone without physical companions. Instead, he created the universe in such a way as to support an astonishing array of diverse life-forms, many of which currently share Earth with us [currently ~2 billion species with a total biomass of 560 gigatons of carbon, where the population of humans = 7 billion, cattle = 1.3 billion, sheep/goats = 1.75 billion, chickens = 24 billion, ants = 1 quintillion, earthworms = 1 quadrillion, whales = 340 thousand, krill = 780 trillion]. These creatures all make their own special contribution to humanity’s support and well-being. Not only do they benefit us physically, but their behavior teaches us valuable life lessons [Job 12:7–10]. Solomon advised us to look to the ants to learn about industriousness [Proverbs 6:6]. Thus, all non-human creatures provide exquisite examples of the character traits universally valued and worthy of emulation: loyalty, courage, resourcefulness, devotion, orderliness, responsibility, teamwork, focus, and initiative. Lessons can be profound even at the smallest end of life’s spectrum, now visible thanks to technological advances. The smallest entity truly alive is the cell. Inside the cell are certain molecules [proteins, DNA, and RNA]. These molecules bear an uncanny resemblance to the machines, computers, and interfaces humans build and use. The basic designs are comparable, as are the functions they perform. The one significant difference is that life molecules operate with far greater efficiency and reliability than their human analogues. We have much to learn from them. The molecules of life are organized into the equivalent of factories. These factories are organized into the equivalent of cities replete with transportation systems, resource distribution, waste management, repair sites, and command and control centers.
3. God made this universe to demonstrate his divine nature [Romans 1:20]. From the most ancient writings yet unearthed, we learn that the earliest humans responded to the heavens just as people today do, with awe and wonder, recognizing a power beyond any earthly source [Psalm 8]. Our awareness of the power required to make and sustain virtually any aspect of the cosmos continues to increase with time and discovery. Yet God’s power is just one characteristic that can be seen in what he has made and in the way he made it. Our continual study of the universe reveals more than just God’s attributes of power, intelligence, knowledge, creativity, consistency, reliability, trustworthiness, care, and love. Our research shows something of the extent to which he manifests each of these qualities far beyond mere human potential. Every detail of the universe reads like a book revealing God’s worthiness to receive worship in all the languages of humankind. On those occasions when God communicated in words, his message came with clarity and testability rather than with vagueness or riddles. He purposed to make himself known in both his books: the book of nature and the bible.
4. God made this universe to show us our own human nature. It reveals both the wonders and the horrors of human nature. For example, God’s design to support a wide diversity of species reflect purpose and planning. Because they are endowed with intelligence, will, and the capacity to express and respond to emotions, they bond with human beings in unique ways [Job 39]. These advanced animals are innately motivated to serve and to please humans. This motivation seems evident in the birds and mammals we relate to as pets. But it also shows up in those that have lacked human contact and thus have never experienced human abuse. Sadly, their instinct tells them to run, fly, or hide. If birds and mammals are endowed by God with a powerful desire to serve and please human beings, then we too have been endowed with an innate desire for relationship with him! Unfortunately, the capacity for sin and evil within humans has derailed our relationships both with God and our fellow creatures. The productivity and beauty of the land, sea, and air have been diminished. Thousands of animal species have vanished.
5. God made this universe to provide for rapid development of global civilization and technology [Genesis 1:28]. Jesus gave his followers the additional directive to “disciple people in all nations” [Matthew 28:19]. Effective oversight of all Earth’s resources for the benefit of all life and for effective worldwide communication of what it means to be Christ’s disciples requires a fairly high level of globally distributed technology. Therefore, one of God’s purposes for making the universe the way it is, including the physical laws and timing and layering of life on Earth, was to supply the necessary resources for completion of these assignments.
6. God made this universe to display his glory and goodness. Not only is the universe crafted for observation, but humanity happens to be positioned for the best possible view! We are now able to measure the age, extent, content, and hundreds of other features of the universe. As these observations and measurements accumulate, humans continue to discover more of God’s glory, power, creativity, goodness, and love.
7. God made this universe for the conquest of evil, to protect us from a future touched by evil. He made this cosmos to serve as an arena in which evil and suffering can be rooted out, finally and eternally, while simultaneously maintaining the human capacity to exercise free will, thus to experience and express love. His cosmic design facilitates this conquest as quickly and painlessly as possible, not for him but for his creatures. Though the universe’s age [13.799 ± 0.021 billion years] seems like a long time for God to spend accomplishing his purposes, this is actually a minimum time-frame for the universe to mature sufficiently for the support of human life. Since humans come on the cosmic scene ~150,000 years ago [Adam and Eve would have been in the Persian Gulf ~70,000 years ago], calculations show that the human era will likely continue no more than between 100 and 1,500 years from now. Thus, the total time of humanity’s exposure to evil is incredibly brief, in astronomical terms. It is a testimony to God’s mercy that he carefully nurtures the universe for 13.799 ± 0.021 billion years and yet limits our time within its boundaries to a mere split second on the cosmic clock.
8. God made this universe for instruction to his divine council. Humans take center stage in the unfolding drama of God’s ultimate victory over evil. We directly experience something from God called “grace,” unmerited favor the angels cannot easily comprehend. Humans have the opportunity to choose metamorphosis from spiritual death [a state of spiritual autonomy] to spiritual life [submission to God’s authority]. We can exchange the condemnation incurred by our moral imperfection for God’s forgiveness and redemption. Individuals can escape eternal separation from God as they embrace eternal life and fellowship with God. We can trade our best efforts and worst deeds for growth in the character traits of Jesus. However, those angels who remained obedient to God and did not succumb to evil must learn about grace and the manifold wisdom of God, by observing them at work in humans [Luke 15:10; Ephesians 3:8–11; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 6:3; 11:10; Hebrews 1:14; 13:2; 1 Peter 1:12]. Thus, the universe’s design is to give his divine council a clear and deeper understanding of the God they serve, of his grace, and of his plans.
9. God made this universe to personally initiate our rescue. Personal sacrifice beyond comprehension brought God to accept the confines of earthly life in a human body in the midst of human nature. He willingly accepted all the hardships and humiliations associated with life among his sin-marred imagers. No one has ever been more misunderstood than he. As the only sinless being, he suffered the full penalty justice demands for all humanity’s sin against God and wrongdoing to others. Every evil thought, word, attitude, and action that sin has produced [or will ever produce] was paid for by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross [1 John 1:7–10, 5:11–12; Matthew 5:16–22, 27–28]. Because God himself chose to suffer and pay the full penalty for all of humanity’s rebellion, a means was made available for individuals to receive forgiveness and redemption from all the darkness within themselves. This plan to rescue us required a universe with characteristics that would make possible God’s physical presence on the terrestrial scene. People needed to witness that the character of Jesus, hear his teaching, and observe his actions on their behalf firsthand.
10. God made this universe to amaze us with his grace. Some people give up hope and surrender to despair or evil when they realize they can’t achieve genuine goodness. Others convince themselves that because no one is perfect, being better than at least some other person, makes them good enough. Many people vacillate between these two extremes, alternately nagged by an inner voice reminding them that they fall short and consoled by the rationalization that everyone does. But to every human, God makes the same astonishing offer. We can enter his presence based on Christ’s perfect and complete sacrifice rather than on our own best [or worst] efforts. He is our only hope, and he purposely designed the universe so anyone who is willing can perceive and receive these truths. We can live beyond the cosmos with him in his splendor or live beyond the cosmos without him, apart from all he is. Not only does Jesus make this offer, but he also provides people with the faith to receive it. That faith is available as a free gift.
11. God made this universe to prepare and train us for what lies ahead. Far from what popular culture depicts as heaven, John’s vision in Revelation 4 shows us a place where God’s people will be engaged in the most challenging work of their lives. Those who choose to spend eternity with God will rule with him over all that comprises the new creation. Specifically, we will serve in roles roughly comparable, in earthly terms, to kings, priests, judges, teachers, and magistrates over the angels and over whatever or whomever God creates and designs for his new realm. This future work requires education and training. God designed this universe to equip human beings for full participation in and appreciation of the coming creation. The current assignment to carry God’s message of love, life, and truth [1 John 1:5, 2:17–24, 3:16–24, 4:2–12, 16–19] to the ends of the Earth and to teach people from all ethnic groups what it means to be followers of Jesus, with gentleness, respect, and a clear conscience [1 Peter 3:15–16], demands growing maturity fueled by God.It’s astounding that our single universe could simultaneously accomplish such a complexity of intertwined yet distinct purposes. For certain, this universe is not perfect in an ultimate sense. But it is "very good" for now. It’s ironically important for us to understand that natural disasters actually serve beneficial purposes in sustaining Earth’s life, and humanity in particular. For example, tectonic activity, which is responsible for earthquakes and volcanoes, ensures that continental landmasses and islands permanently remain upon Earth’s surface. It also guarantees adequate recycling of nutrients essential for the long-term sustenance of abundant life both in the oceans and on the continents. Yet the current level of plate tectonic activity is not so high as to make the building and maintenance of cities infeasible. Likewise, the absence of bad weather [such as hurricanes] would mean less distributed rainfall, lower quality living space on the continents, and more extreme day-to-night temperature differences. Hurricanes substantially increase chlorophyll concentrations along continental shelves, bringing nourishment to many species located there. The winds lift huge quantities of sea-salt aerosols from the oceans, and these play a critical role in raindrop formation, to support a large, diverse land life population. In addition, these aerosols and the clouds they form efficiently scatter solar radiation, allowing hurricanes to act as a global thermostat. When tropical oceans get too hot, they generate hurricanes to cool them down. Every form of severe weather, not just hurricanes, brings beneficial effects. For example, there’s the frequent mention of God’s control of lightning [Job 36:30–33; 37:3–5, 11, 15; 38:24–27, 35]. Lightning is a major contributor to nitrogen fixation, a crucial nutrient supply for plants. Lightning also generates wildfires, which remove growth inhibitors, infuse soils with water-retaining and mineral-rich charcoal, and facilitate the growth of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, a vital nitrogen fixater for vascular plants. Thus, the age, extent, and intricacies of our universe show God’s unfathomable plans for his imagers.