Time, Computers and Eternity

One of the most startling discoveries of the twentieth century is Einstein’s theory of relativity, which shows that time, space, and matter are interrelated. For instance, it has been demonstrated that time does not move at the same speed everywhere but varies with the mass, acceleration, and gravity in its immediate vicinity. Modern physics has also shown that without mass there is no time. In other words, that which is without weight, is eternal.

One of the technological marvels of our modern age is the computer. Computers can store enormous amounts of information, perform calculations at incredible speeds, and operate complex video games. But what is a computer? If we tore it apart and examined every physical component in minute detail we would learn nothing about how the programs work or their origin. This is because the real value of a computer in essence, its soul, is not in the hardware. The real value of a computer is in the software. The hardware is just the means by which a computer communicates what it is programmed to do.

What is this mysterious thing we call “software”? It can be transferred from machine to machine. It can be transmitted by electromagnetic wave through phone lines or across the universe. It can be loaded into another machine which would then operate in the same way as the original. The entire software from a computer can be loaded onto CD’s and the weight of the disk will not change. Software is weightless and therefore eternal. As long as it is “remembered” it can never disappear. In essence, it is a creation from the mind of a creator.

Now consider these two observations from computers and relativity to derive some practical implications. Someday each of us is going to die. These biological machines which we call our bodies will return to the dust from which they are composed. But what about the programming? What about the soul and mind which inhabit this hardware we call our bodies? Since our soul, our mind, and our thoughts are without weight, they are eternal. Thus, who we really are is going to last forever. Furthermore, just as the software from a 300 MHz computer can be moved into a machine which operates 10 times faster, the Bible states that we will someday be given far superior bodies. Given what we know about information and software, this concept is really not that strange.

One of the greatest scientists of the last century, George Washington Carver, said it best, “I have found nature to be a conserver. Nothing is wasted or permanently lost in nature. Things change their form, but they do not cease to exist. After I leave this world I do not believe I am through. God would be a bigger fool than even a man if he did not conserve what seems to be the most important thing he has yet done in the universe.”1

Long before we understood anything about relativity or computers, the Bible stated that we would live forever and be given new bodies. Given the discoveries of modern physics, this is not at all unbelievable. But there is a catch. We don’t deserve to live forever in the presence of a perfect and holy creator because we are rebellious sinful creatures. Anyone looking at the mess humans have made of this world has to admit this. The One who created us could not be perfect and just if He allowed sin to go unpunished. Furthermore, it is an insult to God to believe that our puny attempts to be “good” can add to the price already pay for our shortcomings. Fortuntely, there is a solution to this dilemma.

You might want to take some of your limited time, while you are still inhabiting this very fragile piece of hardware we call bodies, and check out the solution to the conundrum of how God can be both totally merciful and totally just. The Bible, from cover to cover, is about that solution. He’s called Jesus.

1. George Washington Carver. 1928, Tuskegee Institute. Ethel Edwards, Carver on Tuskegee, pp. 157 – 160.