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TIME IS LINEAL, NOT CYCLICAL

SCIENCE AND THE BIBLE #3

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, May 8, 2004
at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

Last Saturday night we saw, from science and the Bible, that the universe had a beginning and it will have an end. Both science and the Bible teach that the universe had a beginning, and is moving toward an end. This is called the "lineal" view of time. Eastern religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, and the New Age movement, teach that time is cyclical - that time, and life itself, goes on forever in cycles, moving in circles. But science does not agree with Hinduism, Buddhism or the New Age movement that time is cyclical. Science agrees with the Bible that time moves in a line, from its beginning to its end.

There are two scientific reasons in favor of lineal time, time moving in a line, from its beginning to its end. Here are the two scientific reasons for lineal time.

1. First, the universe is expanding. If you run that expansion back into the past, this means that the universe was once packed together in a very small space at some point in the past - the moment of creation, or "the big bang," as many scientists now call it. Since that moment the universe has been expanding outwards into space.

2. Second, the "clock" of the universe is running down, in accord with the second law of thermodynamics. Originally the universe was more organized and more full of energy, but it has been unwinding, running down, over time, moving toward a useless, cold, dead state. The direction of entropy (the second law of thermodynamics) goes only one way - from order to disorder. Entropy moves in one direction, from a beginning to an end. Thus, time moves in a line, lineally, not in a circle.

The Bible agrees with science, that time moves in a line, from a beginning to an end. But the Bible teaches that the world will end in fire, not ice. This is the only difference, concerning the way the universe will end. Both the Bible and science teach the same view of time - that it is moving in a straight line, from its beginning to its end, not in circles, as Hinduism, Buddhism and the New Age movement teach.

Albert Einstein, beginning in 1919, showed through the theory of general relativity that the universe had a beginning and is expanding in all directions.

In 1992, major discoveries added strong support to the idea of a "beginning" of the universe…This has had a major impact on the body of scientists who…have considered these discoveries possible (or even likely) evidence of a Creator (Ralph O. Muncaster, Science: Was the Bible Ahead of Its Time? Harvest House, 2000, p. 37).

All along, the Bible said,

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"
    (Genesis 1:1).

Stand and read aloud Genesis 1:1.

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"
    (Genesis 1:1).

You may be seated.

Modern science teaches that the universe not only had a beginning, but it will also have an end. This is certain because the second law of thermodynamics, known as the law of entropy, describes the fact that all systems in the universe tend to disintegrate. Dr. Grant R. Jeffrey points out that

The scientific reality of entropy confirms that the universe must have been created at some point in the past and has been running down like a wound-up clock ever since the initial moment of creation. If we find a watch that is running down, we know that originally someone must have purposefully created it and someone must also have wound it up. Since the universe is scientifically demonstrated to be "running down" according to the law of entropy, the logical inference is that the universe must have been created by an outside supernatural source at some point in the distant past (Grant Jeffrey, Ph.D., Creation: Remarkable Evidence of God's Design, Frontier Research Publications, 2003, p. 253).

Thus, modern science tells us that the expanding universe is running out of time, "and at some time in the future our cosmic heat engine will come to a grinding and frigid halt" (Norman Geisler, Ph.D., Unshakable Foundations, Bethany House, 2001, p. 98).

Science and the Bible both predict the end of the universe. At the present time, science tells us the universe will end by freezing. On the other hand, the Bible tells us the universe will dissolve in fire. Please turn to II Peter 3:12. Read it aloud.

"Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat" (II Peter 3:12).

Turn also to Revelation 21:1. Stand and read it aloud.

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea" (Revelation 21:1).

You may be seated.

Putting II Peter 3:12 and Revelation 21:1 together, we see that the first earth and heaven, in which we now live, will be dissolved in fire, and God will create a new heaven and earth.

Whatever else we learn from these two verses, this much is certain - the universe will end in fire, not in ice. Also, we clearly learn that time, space and matter had a beginning, for

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"
    (Genesis 1:1).

We also read that

"…the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat" (II Peter 3:12).

Science now tells us something quite similar - the universe had a beginning, and it will have an end - though science guesses that it will end in ice, rather than fire, as the Bible says. So, you have a universe with a beginning and an end. This is now taught by both science and the Bible.

That is important for two reasons. First, because it shows that time is lineal rather than cyclical. A beginning leading to an end shows that time moves in a straight line, beginning with creation and ending in the future. This shows that the views of Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism are wrong, as well as the New Age philosophies which are derived from them. These Eastern religions believe that time and matter are cyclical. Instead of moving in a straight line, time and matter go around and around in circles. That is why these Eastern religions teach reincarnation. But modern science is in agreement with the Bible that these Eastern religions are wrong. Time and matter are moving in a straight line - from creation toward an end. So, the first reason this is important is because it disproves the theories of cycles in Eastern religion.

Hinduism teaches an endless cycle of births, deaths and rebirths. Buddhism is one of the sects that grew out of Hinduism. Buddhism teaches that the goal of life is to break out of the cycle of reincarnation into a state of Nirvana, or blissful non-existence.

The cyclical view of time and matter is true of both Hinduism and its offshoot, Buddhism. The idea of cyclical time comes over to the West from Hinduism and Buddhism in the New Age movement. The Beatles helped to create the acceptance of the cyclical view by John Lennon's conversion to New Age ideas drawn from Hinduism and Buddhism. The New Age movement came to be accepted by many in the Baby Boomer (Hippie) generation. The theory of the "cycle of life" finally gained such wide acceptance with the Baby Boomers that it became the theme of Disney's most successful movie of the nineties - "The Lion King" - with its theme song "The Circle of Life" - and the reincarnation of the father into the son.

Hinduism teaches that the main aim of life is to reach liberation from the wheel of Karma, to be freed from the endless cycle of births, deaths, and rebirths. When a person enters Moksha (sometimes called Mukti), he achieves liberation. This is somewhat like the Nirvana of Buddhism. Nirvana brings the extinction of desire and personality.

The "circle of life" theme is anti-Christian. The Bible teaches that time is lineal, with a beginning and an end. The Bible teaches that a man only lives once; there is no "circle of life," no reincarnation.

Time is lineal - with a beginning and an end, according to the Bible. Thus, the Bible fits the view of modern science, while Buddhism and Hinduism do not. The Bible agrees with modern science that the cosmos had a beginning and will have an end. This pits science and the Bible against Buddhism and Hinduism.

The superiority of the Christian view of time and space is manifested in two ways. First, the Christian view gives worth to the individual. People are not simply cogs in a cosmic wheel, but are unique individuals. The idea that each man and woman is a special creation of God lies behind the very idea of democracy. The Declaration of Independence said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Abraham Lincoln referred to the Declaration of Independence as the bedrock of our nation's birth in his Gettysburg Address. With all of its tattered faults, and the many attacks on its foundations by non-Christians, America rid itself of slavery. India has never yet rid itself of the caste system, or slavery. Asia has never, until now, rid itself of slavery. The worth of each individual is based on the Christian idea of special creation of each person in the lineal space/time cosmology presented in the Bible.

Second, the teleological view presented in the Bible tells us that time had a beginning and is going somewhere - toward a definite goal. The word "teleological" refers to a design or plan, with reference to time, moving toward a goal or end. This view makes each and every person worthwhile as an individual. There is no "caste system" with an "untouchable class," as there is with Hinduism. Each person is of equal value before God. In Hinduism and some forms of its derivative, Buddhism, animals and birds are of equal, or even greater value than man. Through the New Age movement this idea has gained favor with the "animal rights" people, who go to extravagant lengths to protect animals, but are at the same time strong supporters of abortion. Their ideas come indirectly from Hinduism, which reveres cows above human beings, and insects above children.

Please turn to Luke 12:6-9. Let us stand and read these four verses aloud.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God" (Luke 12:6-9).

You may be seated.

Here, in these verses, the teleological emphasis, man moving toward a final end, is given, and the worth of man is described as far greater than the creation (i.e. sparrows). What makes man greater in importance is the value of his soul in the light of eternity.

Human life is given value by the Bible precisely because each life is lived in time - moving toward a day of judgment and reward. Notice this in our closing verses, in Matthew 16:26-27. Stand and read these two verses aloud.

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works" (Matthew 16:26-27).

You may be seated.

Thus, we see the superiority of the Bible's lineal view of time and space.

1. The Biblical view gives value to an individual. Each person is a special creation of God. Each life is individually important. Thus, the Biblical view is the foundation of democracy and human rights.

2. The Biblical view sees human life as more important than animal life. You will not be reincarnated as an animal or another human being, according to the Bible.

3. The Biblical view makes it important for each person to prepare for judgment by seeking salvation through Jesus Christ. You will not go through an endless series of rebirths and new lives - either as an animal or another human being. You will not have another chance after death to find salvation. You only have this life to find Christ - and then the judgment.

As the great pioneer missionary to China and Africa, C. T. Studd, said,

Only one life,
     'Twill soon be past;
Only what's done for Christ
      Will last.

(END OF SERMON)

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