Virtual Particles, Time, . . . and the Trinity

Space, time, and matter are all examples of “three-in-ones” in nature. Perhaps God created them in this fashion to declare His own triune nature.

Many people don’t think about God creating empty space, but He did! Space is not “nothing”; it is something, just as much as clouds and trees are something. It had a beginning and was therefore created by God (John 1:3).

If space were really nothing, we would not be able to measure it. When I measure the volume of an “empty” room, I’m really measuring the amount of space within it.


The Three Dimensions of Space


Space is not nothingness. It has three dimensions—width, length, and height. When an object moves, it moves through these three dimensions of space.

Space has properties. For example, it has three dimensions. This means that I can move through space in three independent ways (up and down, left and right, forward and backward). Any other movement is some combination of these three directions. Perhaps God made space three dimensional to remind us of His triune nature. God is three (in persons), and yet one (in nature). Similarly, space is three (in dimensions) and one (in nature).

God created time, too. Time had a beginning (Genesis 1:1), and therefore requires a Creator. Time has only one dimension, yet we perceive time in three divisions: past, present, and future. So time, like space, is a sort of three-in-one, and reminds us of God’s triune nature. Although we have freedom of movement in space, we can move only forward in time; we remember the past, experience the present, and anticipate the future. Since God alone is beyond time, only God can know the future. We can certainly make reasonable predictions about the future in some cases, but only God infallibly predicts specific future events. Isaiah 46:9–10 tells us that no one else is like God who alone declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things which have not yet been done.

Properties of Spacetime

Einstein showed that space and time are interdependent. That is, space and time are both parts of a single structure, which we call spacetime. Einstein realized that our measurements of distances in space and intervals of time are affected by motion (this is especially evident as one approaches the speed of light). However, our measurement of an interval in spacetime is not affected by velocity.


The Three Divisions of Time


Past, present, and future are the three divisions of time. Time binds humans in the present with only memories of the past and hope of the future. Only God is outside time. He is eternal, seeing past, present, and future.

According to quantum physics, at the very smallest scales, spacetime is constantly producing and destroying extremely low-mass particles called “virtual particles.” Sometimes non-Christians will argue that virtual particles demonstrate that something can come from nothing. But hopefully it is now clear that these particles do not show any such thing. Virtual particles are produced from spacetime—not from nothing.

Material objects require spacetime in order to exist. Any physical object has a location in space and time. So, in one sense, spacetime is like a grid with physical objects located within it. However, Einstein found that any physical object (mass) distorts the grid. Matter “bends” spacetime, and spacetime tells matter how to move.

Properties of Matter


The Three Types of Particles


Even atomic particles speak of God’s triune nature. All atoms, except for hydrogen, are composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Ordinary matter is comprised of atoms. Amazingly, atoms also have a three-in-one nature. They are comprised of three types of particles—protons, neutrons, and electrons (except hydrogen, which normally does not have neutrons). Protons and neutrons also are each comprised of three smaller particles called quarks. It is interesting that some people reject the trinity on principle, while simultaneously accepting the many three-in-one examples we see in nature. Perhaps this is one reason why God says, “. . . being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18–20).

The Bible records that, in the beginning (time), God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter). So the universe itself is a three-in-one of sorts, thereby reflecting its Maker. The logical, orderly way the universe behaves is also a reflection of the One who made it and sustains it by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).

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January – March 2008

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