Is time travel possible?


Time travel is the topic in a growing number of books and films. It seems to have great interest. Still, many people think it is impossible. But according to science however it is possible. Is something written about it in the Bible?

Time travel is the presumed capability to go to a place and its own world in history or in the future. Also, to eventually return back to the place of departure in the present. Most commonly the place in time to which is traveled has a huge distance from the present.

Its purpose can be to alter the present, to understand it better, to solve a (theoretical) dilemma[1] or to discover a different, ‘higher’ reality which is assumed next to the present[2]. So, actually the present has the focus in time travel, however in the sense of resentment of it or at least incomprehension about it.

What is time?
Time is a unit of measurement[3] of the duration of the course of things[4] since its beginning. Time only has relevance for physical, mortal, intelligent[5] creatures. It also has its purpose to arrange things in an order[6]. A point in time distinguishes the present (time in the reality) from the past (past time since the time point in the present) and the future (spendable time from the time point in the present). Time gives certain[7] information about the why of something at a certain moment as it is. Without time things lack that common reference[8]. So, time seems to deal with understanding, consciousness and expectation of things.

Word study
In the Bible time is mentioned at first in Genesis 1:5; “one day”. In Genesis 1:14 the Hebrew word ‘mo’ed’ from the root ja’ad (meet/being assigned) is related with the words ‘jom’ (day) and ‘sjanah’ (year). Its striking that sjanah originates from the same verbal root which has the meanings ‘repeat’/’doing again’ (cycle) or ‘transforming’.

Another Hebrew word for measurement of time used is ’et (moment/thing), which is related with the root ’adah (progress) and the word ’ad (continuous). Only just in Genesis 18:14 the words mo’ed and ’et are related with each other, by which the present is connected to eternity. That makes time relative (brings it to proportion: a tool).

From Aramaic the word ‘zeman’ (season/time period) is borrowed (Nh 2:6; Eccl 3:1). In Greek a comparable word is used: chronos. This word also expresses order of events (chronology). The Greek word ‘kairos’ refers to a suitable time or opportunity (Jn 7:8) and the word ‘hora’ refers to an hour[9]. The Greek word ‘aioon’ means continuation or a very long period of time (later it was used for a fixed period, a century).

Time and times
The unit of measurement ‘time’ has different values. Fact is that God has implemented the determination of time. Originally time served a religious purpose: to worship God with it. He made it possible to count of days, weeks, months and years (Gn 1:14). How the first humans counted the years is unknown. It seems likely they counted the duration of their own lives[10]. After the Flood, the first day the earth became dry again marked the new calendar (Gn 8:13). Because seasons were set, these could be used to distinguish years from each other by summer & winter and sowing & harvesting. Presumably from very early on a year calendar of two groups of six months (Spring & Fall) was used.

When kingdoms emerged, its duration was counted (“In the first year of king …” (1K 14:25)). At the exodus from Egypt God marked the day of the exodus as the beginning of the new religious calendar. Probably a month then took 30 days (Nm 20:19; Dt 34:8). The year was marked by the three feasts (Passover, Pentecost and the feast of the Tabernacles). When Israel was sent into exile it adopted the Aramaic calendar with its names for the months[11].

In Biblical sense the counting of the day was divided up in parts. In ‘evening’ (end of daylight; Hebrew ’erev (mingling (of light to darkness))), ‘morning’ (Hebrew boqér ((possibility to) distinguish (things)) and ‘noon’ (middle of the day). Later the day was divided up in several hours[12]. The hour was divided up in minutes and seconds[13]. Nowadays time measurement is more and more stretched from light years to milliseconds and even smaller[14].

Stopping and turning back time
From the beginning measurement of time was determined by the sun. In the Bible situations are described in which God seemed to have slowed the sun down (Josh 10:13) or that He even has turned the sun back on its course (2 K 20:11; Is 38:8). These could be seen as situations which confirm the existence of time travel. However, in these situations the human view of these events are described. God does indeed do wonders, but in these Bible accounts these wonders happened in the ‘present’ of those days. No time distance from the present was achieved. Thus, no time travel.

The so-called Relativity-theory of Einstein gave time travel scientific probability. According to this theory humans travelling with the speed of light from a departure point would gain time relative to humans remaining stationary on the departure point. The time-space discontinuity. Because there is a shared reality (the single universe) with one measurement of time, then indeed a time discontinuity is to be expected between the two[15].

Technical assumptions
The idea to be able to travel to a time point other than the one in the present assumes that such a time point is ‘fixed’ in time[16]. To get there an enormous speed would be necessary (1st assumption). This requires a very powerful engine to reach at least light speed[17], but then an equally powerful brake is needed to slow down to exactly the desired time point[18] (2nd assumption). It also requires a time travel device with enormous calculation capacity to be able to get the time traveler exactly on the right time point (3rd assumption).

A presumed solution to these problems is the use of ‘worm holes’ (4th assumption). The thinking is that these would be time-space tunnels which can suck up objects and accelerate them to light speed. Then the capsule of the time traveler wouldn’t need an enormous engine (5th assumption).

Of course, it would be very convenient when these worm holes supposedly have two openings, but that they can also be exited at any moment when needed[19] (6th assumption). But all this requires that the worm hole closest to earth can be identified and reached (7th assumption).

An additional problem however is the eventual return of the time traveler to the exact time point of origin. For that, again, an enormous calculation capacity is needed. It is however suggested that the time traveler would be able to rely on those who helped the traveler to travel in time on the time point of departure and keeps contact with them (8th assumption). Then, a computer is needed that monitors and controls time travel in its entirety (to and from). Thus, the time traveler supposedly keeps contact with them (9th assumption).

Focal point
Time travel is not only concerned with the time points (departure and destination) in the world/universe, but even more so for the activities and state at the time points. Assumed is that an activity or state outside the present can be visited and altered[20]. Time travel in that sense seems to be aimed at challenging the concept of destiny of creatures[21]. However, time is just an attribute of an activity or state. The same activity and state can also exist in another time point, but the latter only has specific relevance/meaning for the present.

Belief and time travel
Biblical belief is connected with history and aimed at the future. But above all it’s about remembering. Realizing God’s acts in the present. In their thoughts believers go back to what God has done for them and they focus on what He has promised to do in the future. These seem ingredients for time travel, but with an important difference: believers remember in the present. Religious remembrance is an experience (partly reliving).

However, in Christianity this goes even further:

• Focus on heaven
Most Christians are aimed at heaven. In heaven would be the real life and heaven is their desired destiny. Life in the present is seen as of little importance/value, but on gaining the future life. That is a characteristic of time travel: to swap the present world for another.

• Transubstantiation
Roman Christianity assumes that every time Christians take part in the Eucharist they literally reconnect with the unique first century sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. Also, a characteristic of time travel: revisit an event from the past.

• Calvinism
Calvin stated that everything that happens is already fixed in advance (fate/destined election). The present would then be determined by the past and the future. Also, a characteristic of time travel: the present is subordinate to past and future.

• Adventism
Some Christians think that what the future will bring (advent) is more important than the present or the past. All that happens in the present is brought in direct connection to the future (eschatocentrism). Also, a characteristic of time travel: future determines what came before.

In the Bible the present is what matters and for it God has set time and reckons with it (Mt 2:7; Hb 5:12)[22]. So, from the viewpoint of man God always acts exactly on time and He also expects humans to do the same (Mt 24:45). In Biblical sense time(spending) has to be useful for God. He holds every believer accountable for things and doings (or omitting it) in the present. What has happened cannot be taken away, but can be corrected. Also, one can learn of it. In that way the future (how the present develops further) can be turned for the better. But in the Bible time is not seen as competitor of the present and time is not made dominant to the present.

Time can be discontinuous[23] and relative[24], but there are no worlds connected to time outside of the present. The present is within the one common Creation[25]. When time didn’t exist yet in Creation or when it wasn’t relevant yet and also before Creation there was only the one reality of God.

Time travel assumes a fixed connection between time, events and their world/universe outside the world of the present, but that is an illusion, a phantasy. Time and events only have meaning in the present. People get confused by scientific calculations, like on time in (mathematical) formulas when the reality of the order of creation is forgotten or abandoned[26]. Therefore, scientific theories can run wild. Biblical belief can tame that.

[1] Like the dilemma of the enormous size of the universe.
[2] Parallel worlds/universes.
[3] Specified in units, like in mathematics.
[4] Like the aging of physical life and the course of the heavenly bodies (earth, moon and the sun).
[5] Other creatures live with it as a given.
[6] The basis for planning.
[7] The importance of time is overrated and even wrongly seen as the 4th dimension.
[8] Time is even a reference for eternity. Without time eternity is irrelevant.
[9] The division of time in parts of daylight between sunrise and sunset.
[10] Birthdays.
[11] Probably in those days it was already noticed that the moon was not catching up with the calendar, so adjustments were made. Such as, shortening of the duration of a month (alternated between 29 or 30 days). In some years bigger time adjustments were made (leap year).
[12] Beginning with the ‘first hour’ at 6 o’clock in the morning according to the present time measurement unto the ‘twelfth hour’ at 6 in the evening. After that followed a number of ‘night watches’.
[13] Not long after Noah the people in Mesopotamia started dividing hours into 60 minutes and minutes into 60 seconds (hexadecimal system).
[14] Time is becoming more and more a dominant value. It takes the characteristics of idolatry.
[15] So light of the stars seen on earth is actually light from the past.
[16] Time travel assumes that time is linear: past, present and future follow up on each other.
[17] More than 1 billion kilometers per hour.
[18] This requires enormous energy and control of it.
[19] Questions which aren’t asked or answered are of course: is the existence of worm holes already proven as fact, how can they be found and can they be influenced?
[20] This assumes the absolute free will. But changing something outside the present isn’t allowed in the order of Creation. Also, no absolute free will exists.
[21] Time travel however requires an activity/state which is fixed at time points and that needs and confirms the theory of destiny. This is a serious inconsistency in the theory of time travel.
[22] His plan of Salvation makes use of time.
[23] Compare: when someone hits a pole with a hammer the sound of it is immediately heard. But if one is several kilometers away from it, one sees the hammer hit the pole but the sound follows some seconds later. The sound was discontinuous from what was seen, but the hitting of the pole in the present was not.
[24] The earth has time zones and summer- and wintertime which is alternated within a time zone. So, time depends on where one is (time-place dependency).
[25] Those in heaven reckon with the time on earth.
[26] With that also the God Who determined the order of Creation!