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Creation, Space, & Time.

Tim Challies runs one of the few blogs that I visit on a regular basis. I almost always benefit from his writings and links. He recently did a post on the age of the earth and explained one of the main reasons that he is a young earth creationist. Since I am an old earth creationist I thought I’d interact with some of what Challies wrote. He gives an extended quote from a theistic evolutionist (which I am not) that illustrates the history of humanity and the earth as scaled down into 24 hrs. In this illustration, mankind comes on the scene inside of the last 3 seconds of the day. Challies says:

Yet what stands out to me in this illustration is what I consider a serious incompatibility between the biblical account of creation and the evolutionary account (or, for that, any account that demands an ancient universe). What I cannot reconcile with my understanding of the biblical account of creation is that man appears only at the very, very end of it all. In this twenty-four hour day, Adam or an Adam-like figure appears just one-fifth of one second before the stroke of midnight. The day has very nearly elapsed and then, at that final moment, man appears. This split second encompasses all of human history from its earliest beginnings to the lives of Moses and Jesus and you and me. This means that the majority of history is man-less; almost every bit of the world’s history is devoid of humanity. In this understanding of our origins, the history of the universe is not the history of mankind. It is the history of nothing and no one with man’s fleeting role encompassing a fraction of a moment.

Yet the biblical account seems to move crisply and purposefully to the creation of man. There is no indication in the text that the world was ever in a billion-year process of preparation, that for age after age it awaited man’s appearance. Genesis appears to move quickly and deliberately from God’s first words to the creation of man to the assigning of stewardship over all that had been created. The biblical writers seem to want us to understand that the world was created for man and that it had no purpose apart from man. A builder makes a home so a family can move into it; God makes a world so humanity have dominion over it.

If we admit and endorse an ancient universe, we see a vastly purposeless universe that for the great majority of time had no human beings to bring purpose and order to it. We see that humanity’s role in the universe is late and incidental rather than timely and purposeful. We see God’s creation existing for a million ages without the purpose and presence afforded by the one being created in God’s image. And, for me, that is one powerful argument for a universe that is only as old as humanity.

Allow me to recreate these paragraphs, except, instead of focusing on time I will focus on space. The volume of the universe (as near as we can determine) is 3.58×1080 m3. The volume of earth, where man dwells, is only 1.08321 x 1012 m3. We have a hard time understanding these numbers, so allow me to represent this proportion of volume as a proportion of area in the United States. If we scale all of the universe to fit into the United States, this is what it would look like: The area in which all of mankind would fit would be orders of magnitude smaller than the surface area of a neutrino.

What I cannot reconcile with my understanding of the biblical account of creation is that man appears only in some very very tiny corner of it all. In the United States, man appears on just 1/100,000,000th of the area of a neutrino. Only on this unimaginably small spec does man appear. This area, smaller than we can see with our best microscope, encompasses all of the spread of humanity. This means that the majority of space is man-less; almost every bit of the universe’s space is devoid of humanity. In this understanding of our origins, the space of the universe is not the space of mankind. It is the space of nothing and no one with man’s minuscule reach encompassing a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of space.

Yet the biblical account seems to center crisply and purposefully on the creation of man. There is no indication in the text that the world was ever in a 92 billion light-year expanse of space, that for parsec after parsec was devoid of man’s presence. Genesis appears to move deliberately from God’s first words to the creation of man to the assigning of stewardship over all that had been created. The biblical writers seem to want us to understand that the universe was created for man and that it had no purpose apart from man. A builder makes a home so a family can move into it; God makes a universe so humanity may have dominion over it.

If we admit and endorse a vast universe, we see a vastly purposeless universe that for the great majority of space has no human beings to bring purpose and order to it. We see that humanity’s role in the universe is small and incidental rather than expansive and purposeful. We see God’s creation existing for trillions and trillions of miles without the purpose and presence afforded by the one being created in God’s image. And, for me, that is one powerful argument for a universe that is only as large as humanity.

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