Introduction to the Blockworld for Christians
There is an important result from modern physics that Christians and others really need to be aware of. It's been "hidden" for a long time for various reasons but it is now popping up more and more in scientific and philosophical books and journals. This important result does many things that are important for Christians. It gives you the best ever proof for the existence of God and a human soul. It gives you the best ever interpretation of Genesis chapter 1. Plus, currently the world has an understanding of the world that comes from 19th century science where everything that happens in the world happens by random chance as particles move around. Its random chance that produces the first cell. Its random chance that creates higher forms of life by evolution. Its random chance that makes some people poor and some people rich. With this 19th century understanding of the world it looks like humans can go around fixing absolutely everything in the world without God. This result from modern physics shows that nothing is happening at random and God has a plan for everyone in the entire world. Promoting this new view of the world can therefore really turn the world's beliefs around.
It turns out this "new" idea from modern physics shows up quite nicely in the Bible so the Bible had it right long before science came along. SOMETIMES Christians even mention this idea. HOWEVER Christians have not always managed to apply it consistently to the Bible and instead have accepted that 19th century view of the world that comes from science. The idea that we're dealing with is that God has a "God's eye view" of all of creation. That is, God sees the future that is already "out there". Also, God sees the past that we think has gone away. Just to show a few examples of this idea in the Bible I'll use a few quotes (from the New Living Translation (NLT), unless otherwise mentioned) to support the idea and then move on to the physics. First, one of the neatest quotes comes from psalm 139:16 where we have David saying:
16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
This makes it quite clear that all of David's life was set in stone before he was born. Of course, it wasn't just David's life that was set before he was born, everyone's life was fixed before everyone was born. Later on it will become apparent why the book analogy is quite fitting. Then in Jeremiah 1:4-5 it says:
4 The Lord gave me this message: 5 "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations."
In Isaiah 22, Isaiah is given a message from God for the people of Israel about an invasion that will be happening in the future, how terrible it will be and how the Israelites will respond:
11 ... But you never ask for help from the One who did all this. You never considered the One who planned this long ago.
Here in Psalm 148:5-6 it mentions how everything that came into being will last forever:
5 Let every created thing give praise to the Lord, for he issued his command, and they came into being. 6 He set them in place forever and ever. His decree will never be revoked.
Here in Revelation 13:8 in Young's literal translation (and many other translations) there is this phrase where it speaks of Christ as:
... the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Or in other words, when the world was made, Christ's crucifixion was already present. Then think about the Creation. If the future is already out there and God already sees it, just exactly when did He create that future that is already there? Well, in Genesis chapter 1 of course! In Genesis chapter 1 He was creating across all of space AND TIME! This also explains why God can rest on "day" (yom) seven. Everything is finished!
Modern physics discovered that the past, present and future all exist "at once" around 100 years ago. It is a consequence of special relativity. In physics, that whole of creation, the past, present and future is viewed as a "frozen" block of everything that "just is". It's like a statue carved in stone that stays the same forever. Or it's like a book that has been published that stays the same forever. So physicists call this block of everything that "just is" the blockworld or the block universe. This idea actually goes back in time as far back as Parmenides of Elea and philosophers call the idea eternalism. If, after reading more, you think the physics is crazy, I have an article entitled Science Points to the Blockworld that lists physicists who take it seriously starting with Einstein and Greene.
Odds are you have never heard of the blockworld before and there are many reasons for this. First, it is very hard to believe because we only see the present. So we think the past is gone and the future isn't out there yet. Second, it seems to eliminate free will and even scientists want to believe in free will. Third, there has been a problem in physics trying to reconcile relativity with another crazy idea called quantum mechanics. Fourth, you can't use the result to build a bigger bomb or a faster computer so not a lot of physicists get involved with this idea. Fifth, it is pretty obvious that the blockworld gives an excellent proof for a Creator and a human soul. This, of course, makes it politically incorrect among scientists.
Getting to the blockworld result is fairly painful for non-scientists but then there is an easy way to describe the results and thereby come to a better understanding of what is going on. So consider an amusement park ride such as the haunted mansion ride at Disneyworld. The whole ride was built in advance. When you start out at the beginning of the ride everything you are going to see in the future is already out there. It has all been prepared for you. Then when you are halfway through the ride, the part you have already seen is still there, just like the past of our real world is still there. And when you finish the whole ride, the whole past of the ride is still there and it is the same as when you started your ride.
For another analogy, there is a physicist in the UK, Edgar Andrews, who has written a very nice, very entertaining, down-to-earth book called Who Made God?: Searching for a Theory of Everything. In chapter 8 he says this:
This implies, of course, the intriguing concept that all time still exists. In the three dimensions of space, I can travel from London to Manchester and onwards to Glasgow. In terms of my experience, once I reach Manchester, London lies in the past and Glasgow in the future. But this doesn't mean that London has stopped existing or that Glasgow is still a green-field site. So with time. The fact that we are confined to 'now' and can visit neither yesterday nor tomorrow, doesn't mean that yesterday has ceased to exist or tomorrow doesn't yet exist. It is, in fact, one of the inevitable conclusions of relativity theory that the whole of space-time must have a real and continuing existence - regardless of our perception of time as being divided into past, present and future. If you doubt my word, physicist Brian Greene sets out detailed arguments to prove this and concludes: 'Just as we envision all of space as really existing, we should also envision all of time as really being out there, as really existing, too' (his italics). The biblical idea that God surveys all time is therefore predictive of what has only recently become apparent to science. 1
I would say, however, that this result has been apparent to science for around 100 years, so it is not really recent. But of course it has only recently started to surface. Notice that his trip around the UK is the equivalent of my haunted mansion ride.
There are more analogies that apply. First, there is the analogy of reading a book. First, the author has to prepare the entire book in advance and when all the details have been taken care of, the book is finished and then it is published. When a reader picks up the book and starts reading at chapter 1, the whole future is out there ahead of the reader. As you move through the book, going page by page, the page you are reading now is the present, the pages you have read are in the past and the pages you haven't read yet are still there in the future.
A second analogy that applies is that the blockworld is like a movie. The movie has all been prepared in advance. As you watch the movie, the place you are at now is the present, the frames of the movie that you've seen are in the past and the future frames are still out there in the future.
Then consider an animated movie. Either the old-fashioned kind that was done by hand by artists or the new style that is done with computer graphics. Every last frame of that movie has to be prepared in advance. And the difference from one frame to the next frame has to be very small so that when a person sees the movie all the action seems continuous just as movement in our real world seems continuous. So suppose in one frame of the animated movie a tree is just standing there. If the tree is going to be in the next frame of the movie, the artist must explicitly draw the tree in the next frame. And the frame after that and the frame after that and on and on until the scene changes. If it is going to really be realistic, the tree will have to be bending a little bit because of the wind blowing on it so each frame will have to show the parts of the tree in a slightly different position.
Now it is time to consider the creation of the heavens and the Earth. Starting with plants is a good place to start. When God goes and creates a tree He can't just "poof" a tree into existence and then all the atoms and molecules simply move forward in time according to the laws of physics. No. NO. NO! In philosophy, this belief that there are particles moving around through space AND TIME is the vital part of an idea called presentism. Presentism says the present exists, the past is gone and the future is not out here yet. Eternalism trumps presentism. The best results from modern science as well as from the Bible is that presentism is false and eternalism is true.
Young Earth creationism and old Earth creationism both lose because in their idea of creation they both assume presentism and presentism simply isn't true. The young Earth creationist thinks God "poofed" into existence a set of plants and animals (ALL the different species of plants and animals) and they just grew and reproduced from there as atoms and molecules followed the laws of physics. Young Earth creationists believe God "poofed" into existence Adam and Eve and, again the laws of physics kicked in and the particles in these people simply moved through time. The old Earth creationist will likely believe in the Big Bang where most of the particles started out. The particles then started moving around and formed stars, galaxies, planets and life. Beliefs among old Earth creationists vary. Most will say God didn't quite follow the laws of physics. They'll say He nudged the right particles into place (against all odds) to form the first cell. Then the cells divided by following the laws of physics until there were lots of cells around. Some of these cells then went on to evolve into more complex living things (by God nudging particles into place, against all the odds) until people appeared.
Creation in the blockworld is works like this. When God went to create a tree, first He had to create it at one point in time. If this was an animated movie you'd have a 2D image. But this is the real world and God will have to create a 3D "image" of the tree. Then, as in the creation of an animated movie, He had to create another "image" (a 3D image again) of the tree a tiny bit further along in time and another 3D "image" a tiny bit beyond that and so on, for the entire history of the tree! Then when we are "there" watching the tree, we will end up seeing the wind moving the tree around from moment to moment. God is going to have to do this for every plant, across all of space AND TIME. He's also going to have to do the same thing with animals and people. This is truly an enormous amount of creation but that's what He had to do in order to complete this blockworld of ours. Everything across all of space AND TIME had to be created.
After the haunted mansion ride was completely built, the builders could go and rest. Now, after the whole universe has been created across all of space and TIME, God can rest and watch people move through the blockworld. Even all the miracles that God is going to be doing in the future have been done already, they are already baked into the blockworld. Apparently God is still in His day of rest because here in Hebrews 4 from the NLT it says:
4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." 5 And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." 6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.
How do people move through the blockworld? It is just their consciousness that is moving through the blockworld. This "consciousness" that is moving through the frozen block of everything that "just is" is their spiritual component, their soul. So here we have proof for a human soul.
Then, of course, the blockworld gives us a proof for God. Just how did all those intelligent designs we see in this world manage to show up? It wasn't by chance. The universe is a frozen block of everything that "just is". Nothing moves. Nothing ever changes. Nothing is happening at random. All the intelligent designs had to be created instantly. This could only happen by design so this gives us the best proof ever for a Creator.
It was hard for people to accept the idea that the Earth was not flat. It was hard for people to accept the idea that Earth was not at the center of the universe and that the Earth went around the sun instead of the sun went around the Earth. It was hard to accept that the continents moved. The blockworld/block universe idea is the worst of all of them. It will be very hard to get used to, especially in this day and age. In this day and age people have accepted the 19th century view of the world that things are happening at random and that through science, education and political action it is possible to improve the world by human efforts alone. This is the politically correct position. There will be fierce opposition. You've probably heard how paradigm shifts work. The first reaction is denial. The next step is anger. Some people will never accept the new idea. Christians ought to be leading the way in this revolution.
1. Andrews, Edgar, Who Made God?: Searching for a Theory of Everything, EP Books, Faverdale North, Darlington, DL30PH, England, 2009. At Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product//0852347073 (accessed January 16, 2017). (I don't have a physical book so I can't give you a page number. In a Kindle, look around location 1761.)