Monday, April 29, 2024

Temporal Asymmetry: Synthesis of Old and Young Creationism

This essay introduces a framework called "temporal asymmetry" to reconcile the apparent discrepancy between the biblical account of a young creation and the scientific evidence for an ancient universe. This framework proposes that from an Earth-based observer's perspective and using Earth standard time, the universe appears to have a genuinely old history spanning billions of years. However, this does not conflict with the idea that from the Creator's eternal, transcendent point of view, the entire cosmos was brought into existence in a literal six-day period.

Key points:

1. Biblical texts suggest that God experiences time differently than humans, transcending our Earth-based perception of time (e.g., Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8).

2. Scientific theories like relativity show that time is relative to the observer's frame of reference, which in our case, is an Earth-based perspective using Earth standard time.

3. The temporal asymmetry model suggests that while we, as Earth-bound observers, perceive a universe with a truly ancient history, this is fully compatible with the idea of a recent creation from God's eternal vantage point.

4. This framework takes scientific evidence for an old universe seriously while maintaining the truthfulness of the biblical creation and Flood accounts.

5. Objections to this model, such as the appearance of age or ad hoc reasoning, are considered and found to be unpersuasive.

The essay concludes by emphasizing the importance of humility, reverence, and openness to mystery when exploring the complex relationship between science and faith. It acknowledges God's transcendence and sovereignty over time and creation, highlighting that from our Earth-based perspective using Earth standard time, we can affirm the genuine antiquity of the cosmos while simultaneously recognizing the validity of the biblical account of a recent creation from God's eternal point of view.


The age of the earth and universe has long been a point of tension between biblical literalists who affirm a young creation based on the Genesis account and mainstream scientists who see compelling evidence for an ancient cosmos spanning billions of years. This treatise proposes a conceptual framework for reconciling these divergent perspectives by appealing to the concept of temporal asymmetry—the idea that time can be experienced differently from different frames of reference. By exploring how a transcendent Creator might experience time in a radically different way than creatures embedded within space-time, and by examining scientific evidence and biblical accounts that lend support to this idea, we can begin to see how both a young and old creation might be simultaneously true from different vantage points.

Biblical Foundations: Creation, Flood, and Divine Temporality

The starting point for this reconciliation is the biblical testimony itself. Genesis 1-2 describes God creating the heavens and earth, along with all their inhabitants, in six literal days, culminating in the Sabbath rest on the seventh day. This orderly, structured creation week strongly implies that these were normal solar days as experienced by earthly observers. The genealogies and chronologies found throughout the Old Testament further reinforce the impression of a relatively recent creation, spanning only a few thousand years.

The Bible presents God as the sovereign Creator, bringing the universe into existence by His word and wisdom. In our modern age, it's fitting to think of Him as the Master Programmer or Cosmic Engineer, designing the laws, constants, and structures that govern the cosmos with perfect precision.

According to Genesis 1, God's "deployment" of the Creation program took place over six literal days. On Day 1, He brought forth the foundational components - space, matter, light, and time. Day 2 saw the formation of Earth's atmosphere, while Day 3 involved the emergence of dry land and vegetation.

The fourth day marked a pivotal stage in Creation. God spoke the Sun, Moon, and stars into existence ex nihilo, just as He did in days 1-3 - a direct manifestation of His omnipotence. However, rather than simply having them "wink" into being instantaneously, God appears to have utilized an accelerated process to "construct" these celestial bodies and "fast-forward" their development.

In a sense, God ran a "rapid simulation" of cosmic evolution, compressing billions of years' worth of stellar formation, nuclear fusion, and planetary accretion into a single 24-hour period. This dramatically sped-up process would have produced a universe with a coherent "virtual history" - including light trails suggesting vast distances, radioactive isotope ratios implying ancient ages, and cosmic background radiation pointing to a primordial "Big Bang.

Importantly, this "appearance of age" would not be a deceptive trick, but a purposeful design feature. It would grant the universe a realistic "backstory," providing a credible cosmic context for Earth's existence. It would also showcase God's ability to craft a cosmos of immense size and precision, with countless stars and galaxies fine-tuned to support life.

Moreover, by front-loading the universe with a "virtual history," God would be endowing it with vast potential for future development, setting the stage for billions of years' worth of stellar and biological evolution to unfold within stable, pre-designed parameters.

On Days 5 and 6, God filled the Earth with living creatures, each programmed to reproduce after its kind, with rich genetic potential for adaptive variation. The creation of mankind in God's image marked the climax of His creative work, which He declared "very good" - an elegant, error-free system, perfectly aligned with His intentions.

Viewing Day 4 as involving a "rapid formation process" offers a robust integration of the biblical Creation account with scientific evidence for an ancient universe. It affirms that God created the heavens and the Earth supernaturally and recently, while still accounting for the apparent age of the cosmos from our finite perspective.

Through this lens, scientific research becomes a means of "reverse engineering" the universe, uncovering the sophisticated algorithms and subroutines God employed in constructing the heavens and the Earth. Each discovery of a finely tuned constant or elegantly balanced force points to the ingenuity of the Creator, the Master Developer behind the cosmic code.

Ultimately, the concept of God utilizing an accelerated formation process on Day 4, while still creating ex nihilo, provides a compelling synthesis of the biblical doctrine of Creation with the scientific evidence for a universe spanning billions of years. It magnifies God's wisdom, power, and artistry, inviting us to marvel at the work of His hands. As we probe the depths of the cosmos, we are not merely analyzing inanimate matter and energy, but encountering the handiwork of the living God, in whom all things hold together.

Additionally, the account of the global Flood in Genesis 6-9 describes a cataclysmic event that reshaped the earth's surface and destroyed all terrestrial life outside the ark. The Flood is presented as a real historical event that left observable traces in the geological record, such as the deposition of vast sedimentary layers and the burial of innumerable organisms as fossils.

Modern scientific observations of the geological record provide compelling evidence for an earth that is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Radiometric dating techniques, the analysis of sedimentary layers, and the study of fossil succession all point to a planet with a vast and ancient history. At the same time, some scientific discoveries, such as the presence of soft tissue (and potential DNA) in fossilized dinosaur bones and the existence of polystrate fossils, seem to challenge the conventional old-earth paradigm and lend support to a young-earth perspective. This apparent discrepancy can be reconciled by appealing to the concept of temporal asymmetry, which suggests that time can flow at different rates from different frames of reference. By proposing that the historical observers of Earth's past, particularly during the biblical Flood event, experienced time at a different pace than the geological processes shaping the planet, we can begin to understand how the earth can be both "young" from a biblical perspective and "old" from a scientific perspective.

To illustrate this concept, let us engage in a thought experiment. Imagine that during the cataclysmic events of the global Flood described in Genesis, the inorganic components of the earth underwent a period of vastly accelerated change. From the perspective of an indestructible, immortal observer standing on the ocean floor, time would appear to move at its normal pace, and all the standard measurement systems used by modern science would still apply. However, from the vantage point of someone on the water's surface, the geological processes below would be unfolding at a breathtaking speed, like watching a time-lapse video in fast forward.

In this scenario, the geological aging of the earth would proceed according to the predictions of naturalistic models, but it would be compressed into a much shorter timeframe as experienced by the surface-dwelling observers. Millions of years' worth of sedimentary deposition, tectonic activity, and erosion could have occurred within the confines of the Flood year, as the inorganic earth was supernaturally accelerated to accomplish God's judgments.

One key aspect of this model is that organic material, such as living creatures and their remains, would not have been subjected to the same accelerated time flow as the inorganic components of the earth. This explains why we might find relatively intact biomolecules, such as DNA fragments, in fossils that are purportedly millions of years old based on the geological strata in which they are found. If the fossils were formed during the Flood event, when the organic remains were buried rapidly and the surrounding inorganic material was aged at an accelerated rate, it is conceivable that traces of original biological material could have survived to the present day.

Similarly, the existence of polystrate fossils, which extend through multiple sedimentary layers that are conventionally interpreted as having been deposited over long ages, becomes more explicable if those layers were laid down in rapid succession during the Flood. The organic remains would have been preserved in their original orientation as the inorganic sediments were compressed and aged around them.

Acknowledging the Supernatural

Naturalistic scientists will undoubtedly reject this scenario out of hand, as it invokes supernatural intervention in the natural world. From their perspective, any appeal to divine action is inherently unscientific and untestable. They will seek to explain away anomalies like dinosaur soft tissue or polystrate fossils through purely naturalistic means, even if those explanations strain credulity or require ad hoc assumptions.

However, for those who are open to the possibility of a Creator God who can act in ways that transcend the ordinary laws of nature, the idea of supernaturally accelerated geological processes becomes a viable option. If God is the author of time itself, then He is not bound by the uniform flow of time that we experience as creatures within the universe. He could easily manipulate the relative rates of temporal progression for organic and inorganic matter to accomplish His purposes, such as executing judgment on a sinful world through the Flood while preserving the remnant of life on the ark.

Interestingly, the concept of accelerated geological processes is not entirely foreign to naturalistic scientific models. Many simulations of Earth's history, such as those used to study plate tectonics or climate change, rely on compressed timescales to make the computations more manageable. These models do not attempt to replicate the full 4.5 billion years of Earth's history in real-time, but instead, artificially accelerate the relevant processes to simulate long ages within a shorter span of model time.

From a certain perspective, these simulations can be seen as analogous to the biblical view of Earth's history, where the vast ages inferred from the geological record are compressed into a much shorter timeframe as experienced by human observers. The key difference is that naturalistic models attribute the acceleration to the limitations of human computing power, while the biblical view attributes it to the sovereign power of the Creator.

The framework of temporal asymmetry provides a conceptual tool for reconciling the apparent discrepancy between the vast age of the earth inferred from the geological record and the much younger age suggested by a literal reading of biblical chronology. By proposing that the inorganic components of the earth underwent a period of supernaturally accelerated aging during the events of the global Flood, we can begin to understand how millions of years' worth of geological processes could have unfolded within the confines of a single year as experienced by the earth's inhabitants.

Ultimately, the temporal asymmetry view requires an openness to supernatural intervention in the natural world and a willingness to subordinate human reason to divine revelation. It challenges us to recognize the limitations of our creaturely perspective and to embrace the mystery and majesty of a God who transcends the very fabric of space and time. As we seek to unravel the complex history of our planet and the universe beyond, may we do so with humility, reverence, and a deep sense of awe at the eternal power and wisdom of the One who spoke all things into existence.

Biblical Evidence for Temporal Asymmetry

Intriguingly, the Bible also contains passages that suggest a more complex relationship between God and time. In Psalm 90:4, Moses declares, "For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night." This verse implies that God's perception of time is radically different from our own, with a thousand years passing like a mere day from His eternal perspective. Similarly, the Apostle Peter writes, "With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day" (2 Peter 3:8). These passages hint at a profound temporal asymmetry between the Creator and His creation.

Another compelling biblical example of God's ability to manipulate time is found in the account of Joshua's long day (Joshua 10:12-14). During a battle against the Amorites, Joshua prayed for the sun and moon to stand still, and God miraculously prolonged the day to allow the Israelites to achieve victory. This event suggests that God can supernaturally alter the flow of time in a localized way, causing the sun to remain in the sky from an earthly perspective while time continues to pass normally on a cosmic scale.

Scientific Evidence for Temporal Asymmetry

The concept of temporal asymmetry finds support not only in biblical passages but also in certain scientific theories and observations. Einstein's theories of special and general relativity demonstrate that time is not an absolute constant but can dilate or contract depending on relative velocity and the presence of mass-energy. Clocks tick at different rates for observers in different reference frames, a phenomenon that has been confirmed through precise experiments with atomic clocks.

In the extreme environment near a black hole, gravitational time dilation becomes so severe that an outside observer would see time coming to a virtual standstill for someone falling into the event horizon. This extreme example illustrates the principle that time can flow at vastly different rates depending on the gravitational context.

Recent discoveries in quantum physics have further challenged our intuitive notions of time as a linear, unidirectional flow. Experiments with entangled particles have demonstrated apparent violations of temporal causality, with measurements on one particle instantaneously influencing the state of its entangled partner, regardless of the distance between them. Some interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as the retrocausal and transactional models, suggest that influences can propagate backward in time, blurring the distinction between past, present, and future.

While these scientific theories and observations do not directly prove the kind of radical temporal asymmetry proposed in the biblical creation account, they do challenge our conventional assumptions about the nature of time and open up conceptual space for considering more expansive possibilities. If time can be relative, variable, and even bi-directional within the constraints of known physical laws, then it seems plausible that a transcendent Creator, unconstrained by the limitations of space-time, could experience and manipulate time in ways that far surpass our current scientific understanding.

Theological Implications and Potential Objections

This proposed reconciliation of a young and old creation through temporal asymmetry has several important theological implications. First and foremost, it preserves the truthfulness and authority of the biblical creation, Flood, and long day accounts, taking seriously their historical and theological claims without reducing them to mere mythology or symbolism. It affirms that the universe is the purposeful handiwork of a personal, transcendent Creator who can supernaturally intervene in the fabric of space-time.

At the same time, this model challenges us to expand our understanding of God's relationship to time and to embrace a greater sense of epistemic humility. It reminds us that our creaturely experience of time is not absolute but relative to our finite, embedded perspective within the cosmos. It calls us to worship a God whose ways are higher than our ways and whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9), even as we seek to understand His self-revelation in nature and Scripture.

Of course, this model is not without its limitations and potential objections. Some may argue that it involves a measure of phenomenological language or apparent age in the creation, which could be seen as incompatible with God's perfect truthfulness. Others may object that it is too speculative or ad hoc, going beyond the plain meaning of the biblical text in an attempt to accommodate modern scientific paradigms. Still others may feel that it grants too much validity to conventional old-earth dating methods and does not sufficiently critique their underlying assumptions.

However, the objections raised against the proposed model of reconciling a young and old creation through temporal asymmetry are ultimately unfounded and fail to appreciate the explanatory power and theological coherence of this framework.

Firstly, the claim that this model involves phenomenological language or apparent age in creation, which could be seen as incompatible with God's perfect truthfulness, is misguided. The framework of temporal asymmetry does not suggest that God created the universe with a mere appearance of age, but rather that He created a genuinely ancient cosmos in a condensed timeframe from His eternal perspective. The antiquity of the universe is real, not illusory, and is a testament to God's omnipotence and transcendence over time itself. God is not deceiving us by creating a universe that bears the marks of a lengthy history; He is showcasing His ability to craft a cosmos of immense complexity and depth in a manner that defies our temporal limitations.

Moreover, Scripture itself affirms that God's relationship to time is radically different from our own. Passages like Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 reveal that God's experience of time is not constrained by the linear, unidirectional flow that we perceive. The Bible presents a God who is eternal, unchanging, and sovereign over the very fabric of space-time. It is entirely consistent with the biblical portrayal of God's nature to suggest that He could create a universe with a genuine history spanning billions of years from our perspective, while simultaneously accomplishing this work in a literal six-day period from His own perspective.

Secondly, the objection that this model is too speculative or ad hoc, going beyond the plain meaning of the biblical text to accommodate modern scientific paradigms, is unfair. The framework of temporal asymmetry is not a desperate attempt to force the Bible to conform to contemporary scientific theories, but rather a principled effort to take both biblical revelation and empirical evidence seriously. The model is rooted in a careful exegesis of relevant biblical passages, such as the creation account in Genesis, the Flood narrative, and texts that speak to God's eternal nature and His sovereignty over time. It also draws upon well-established scientific observations, such as the relativistic nature of time and the evidence for an ancient universe, to formulate a coherent and compelling synthesis.

Furthermore, the charge of being ad hoc or speculative could be leveled against any attempt to reconcile biblical and scientific perspectives on origins. The very endeavor of harmonizing ancient religious texts with modern scientific discoveries necessarily involves a degree of extrapolation and interpretation. The framework of temporal asymmetry is no more speculative than other proposed solutions, such as the day-age theory or the framework hypothesis, and in fact has the advantage of preserving a more straightforward reading of the biblical text while still engaging meaningfully with scientific evidence.

Finally, the criticism that this model grants too much validity to conventional old-earth dating methods and fails to sufficiently critique their underlying assumptions is misplaced. The temporal asymmetry framework does not uncritically accept all the claims of modern scientific dating techniques, but rather acknowledges the substantial empirical evidence for an ancient universe while offering a fresh perspective on how this antiquity can be reconciled with the biblical account of a recent creation. The model encourages a critical evaluation of the assumptions underlying radiometric dating methods and other techniques, recognizing that they are based on extrapolations of present-day processes into the distant past and may not account for the possibility of supernatural intervention or alternative interpretations of the data.

At the same time, the temporal asymmetry framework provides a robust explanation for why scientific dating methods consistently point to an ancient universe. If God did indeed create a cosmos with a genuine antiquity from our temporal perspective, then it is entirely expected that empirical investigations would uncover evidence of this ancient history. The model thus engages constructively with the findings of mainstream science while still maintaining a commitment to the truthfulness and authority of Scripture.


In conclusion, the framework of temporal asymmetry, supported by both biblical passages and scientific observations, provides a thought-provoking way to conceptually reconcile the affirmations of a recent, six-day creation and global Flood with the evidence for an ancient earth and universe. By recognizing the radical difference between the Creator's experience of time and our own creaturely perspective, we can begin to see how both a young and old creation might be simultaneously true from different vantage points.

This model challenges us to engage seriously with the anomalies and evidential tensions within conventional dating paradigms, even as it expands our understanding of God's transcendence and mystery. It seeks to be faithful to the truth of God's self-revelation in both Scripture and nature while acknowledging the inherent limitations and challenges of harmonizing these distinct modes of divine discourse.

The objections raised against the framework of temporal asymmetry are ultimately unpersuasive. This model offers a compelling and biblically faithful way to reconcile the apparent discrepancies between the scriptural account of creation and the scientific evidence for an ancient universe. By recognizing the radical asymmetry between God's eternal perspective and our own limited, temporal vantage point, we can affirm the genuine antiquity of the cosmos while still upholding the literal truth of the Genesis creation account. The framework of temporal asymmetry thus represents a promising approach to resolving one of the most persistent and contentious debates in the relationship between science and faith.

Ultimately, the goal of this reconciliation is to stimulate further reflection, dialogue, and reverent wonder in our exploration of the manifold mysteries of creation. As we pursue truth in both science and theology, may we do so with humility, recognizing the incomparable wisdom and power of the eternal, transcendent Creator who has graciously granted us the ability to study His handiwork. Let us approach these profound questions with a spirit of worship, marveling at the God who transcends time and space, and yet who is intimately present in every moment of our lives.

Addendum: A Framework of Progressive Revelation for Reconciling a Young and Old Creation

The concept of progressive revelation, which holds that God has gradually unveiled His truth and purposes to humanity over time, provides a helpful framework for understanding the apparent discrepancies between the biblical account of creation and the scientific evidence for an ancient universe. By recognizing that divine revelation is an ongoing process, with later revelations building upon and clarifying earlier ones, we can begin to see how the temporal asymmetry model for reconciling a young and old creation fits within the larger context of God's unfolding self-disclosure.

1. The Accommodation of Ancient Cosmology

The early chapters of Genesis were written in a cultural context where the prevailing understanding of the cosmos was vastly different from our modern scientific perspective. The biblical authors, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, communicated divine truth in a way that was accessible and meaningful to their original audience, using the language and concepts of their time. This accommodation to ancient Near Eastern cosmology does not undermine the theological and spiritual truths conveyed by the creation account, but it does suggest that we should be cautious about interpreting it as a scientifically precise description of the universe's origins.

2. The Focus on Theological Truths

The primary purpose of the Genesis creation narrative is to reveal fundamental theological truths about God's nature, character, and relationship to His creation. It affirms that the universe is the purposeful handiwork of a sovereign, all-powerful Creator, who brought order and beauty out of chaos and who created human beings in His own image to serve as stewards of the earth. These truths are not dependent on a particular scientific understanding of the universe's age or the specific mechanisms of creation. They transcend the limitations of human knowledge and remain valid regardless of our evolving scientific insights.

3. The Principle of Accommodation

Throughout Scripture, we see examples of God accommodating His revelation to the limitations of human understanding and cultural contexts. Jesus Himself acknowledged this principle when He told His disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now" (John 16:12). The apostle Paul also recognized that our present knowledge is partial and incomplete, and that we see only dimly as in a mirror (1 Corinthians 13:9-12). This suggests that God's revelation to us is not exhaustive or absolute, but is tailored to our capacity to understand and respond to it at different stages of redemptive history.

4. The Analogy of Galileo and Heliocentrism

The tension between the biblical account of creation and modern scientific discoveries is not unprecedented in church history. In the 17th century, Galileo Galilei faced opposition from the Catholic Church for his support of the heliocentric model of the solar system, which seemed to contradict biblical passages that speak of the sun rising and setting or the earth being fixed and immovable (e.g., Psalm 93:1; Ecclesiastes 1:5). However, as scientific evidence for heliocentrism accumulated, the church gradually came to recognize that these biblical texts were not intended to teach scientific cosmology, but rather to affirm God's sovereignty and faithfulness using the language and concepts of their time. Similarly, as we grapple with the evidence for an ancient universe, we may need to reevaluate our interpretation of the creation account in light of later scientific revelations, while still upholding the essential theological truths it communicates.

5. The Harmony of God's Two Books

The principle of progressive revelation suggests that God has disclosed Himself and His truth not only through the written words of Scripture but also through the natural world, which the psalmist declares to be "telling of the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1). As scientific discoveries shed new light on the structure and history of the universe, they can deepen our understanding and appreciation of the Creator's wisdom, power, and grandeur. The apparent discrepancies between scientific findings and traditional interpretations of Scripture may actually be an invitation to seek a higher synthesis that does justice to both divine revelation and human reason.

6. The Temporal Asymmetry Model as a Faithful Synthesis

The model of temporal asymmetry, which proposes that God could have created a genuinely ancient universe from our perspective while completing His work in six literal days from His own eternal vantage point, represents a faithful attempt to synthesize the biblical testimony with the scientific evidence for an old cosmos. By recognizing that God's experience of time is not limited to our creaturely perspective, this model affirms the truthfulness of Scripture while also taking seriously the empirical findings of modern science. It challenges us to expand our understanding of divine temporality and to embrace the mystery and majesty of a God who transcends the very fabric of space and time.

7. The Call to Humility and Wonder

Ultimately, the framework of progressive revelation reminds us to approach the question of the universe's origins with a spirit of humility, reverence, and openness to further divine illumination. As we seek to harmonize biblical truth with scientific discovery, we must acknowledge the limitations of our own understanding and the possibility that future revelations may shed new light on this complex issue. Rather than clinging dogmatically to a particular interpretation or model, we are called to stand in awe of the eternal, transcendent Creator who has revealed Himself in the pages of Scripture and in the marvels of His creation. As we continue to explore the mysteries of the universe, may we do so with a posture of worship, trust, and anticipation, knowing that the God who has spoken in ages past is still speaking to us today, inviting us to behold His glory and to join in His cosmic purposes.

Developed in partnership with ClaudeAI:

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