Torah & Science    |    Human Perfection    |     Scholarship    |    About Zachary    |    YouTube

How Old is the Universe?

According to the Biblical chronology, the universe isn't even 5,800 years old yet. However, the scientists say that our universe is billions of years old, leading many people to discredit the Bible entirely. How could this be resolved?

Preface: Ex Nihilo

Before we cover anything else, let us first appreciate that even the most respected and famous Big Bang physicists cannot explain how the universe began, or why it was designed so perfectly the way it was.

Step 1: Understanding the Redshift Issue

In the twentieth century, astronomers noticed that the light from distant stars and galaxies was colored differently than it should be. Much like the Doppler Effect causes sounds from things moving towards or away from us to be heard at a different pitch, light emitted by objects moving towards or away from Earth experience slight spectrum shifts.

The interesting thing about all of the stars and galaxies is that their light is shifted in such a way to indicate that they are all moving away from us. When the scientists did the calculations, they realized that the universe appears to be expanding.

Extrapolating Backwards

Based on this data and other calculations, scientists now believe that the universe exploded from a tiny point of almost pure energy - this is what we know as the Big Bang.

Although they claim to be sure that the universe is billions of years old, based on the positions of distant galaxies and the time it takes for stars to form, scientists struggle to understand what happened during the Big Bang - or before it.

The Pillar of Science's Argument

Although it is rarely stated publicly by physicists, there is such a thing known as the Paradox of Induction. Although we have excellent data for what is happening in the universe right now, and we also have a lot of historical documentation that stretches back thousands of years, this doesn't always mean that time worked the same way for all of the universe's history.

Step 2: Understanding Einstein's Relativity

One of the central figures in modern science is Albert Einstein, most famous for his theories about the relationships between things like space, time, light, energy, and gravity. Einstein’s ideas, which started out as a series of fanciful thought experiments, have since been vindicated by a wide variety of experiments and have laid the groundwork for countless developments in science and technology.

The reason Einstein is so well-known, brilliant, and important is because his theories resolved a number of important mysteries that had been plaguing scientists for many years.

One of Einstein's most famous contributions is his paper on special relativity, published in 1905. Here, through a series of theoretical exercises and references to previous experimental results, Einstein demonstrated that the speed of light is constant in a vacuum. Although this sounds simple, the implications of this mean that both space and time are relative.

What Does "Relative" Mean?

The fact that space and time are relative means that if something happened to space - say, if it expanded - then the observed time would expand as well. This means that billions of years could have passed in a matter of days, as is explained by Rabbi Alexander Hool, a specialist in ancient calendars and dating methods:

Step 3: Understanding Frames of Reference

Another relevant physics concept is the frame of reference, which is used in relativity to explain why time passes more slowly in some circumstances than in others.

From the perspective of our Earth, it seems like 13.8 billion years have passed. However, if the universe is expanding, and if this expansion is Divinely ordained as indicated by the Biblical creation narrative, than it is entirely possible that the first few days of the universe - which the scientists admit was "inflationary" - could have encompassed billions of years.

The Jewish Calendar

Interestingly, the Jewish calendar "begins" with the creation of Adam and Eve on the sixth day. Up until the sixth day, there were no conscious human observers like Adam and Eve to judge time from their points of view. Therefore, the entire concept of time – from the human frame of reference – can be seen as relative. The universe simply unfolded before the Almighty.

When we refer to commentary from the Jewish sages, such as authoritative writings from Maimonides, we find that they, too, discuss frames of reference - this is even expressed in Psalms 90:4. God exists outside of the universe, including space and time, and thus has a perspective that humans simply cannot grasp.

What the ancient sages lacked was an understanding of quantum mechanics, which would not have been possible in ancient and medieval times. Thus, the creation narrative had to be adjusted to fit the “language of man” until such time as Albert Einstein demonstrated that the very fabric of our universe works in mysterious and confounding ways.

<< Free Book PDF >>

<< Buy the Paperback >>