The Vastness of Time

 Author: Carolyn Gard


“Geology has no more important lesson to teach than the vastness of time.” Evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould.

We have a set of books that we always take on road trips – Roadside Geology for each state – even Nebraska. The books discuss geographical features, often identifying them by milepost markers on the highways. Every time, I am awed by the age of the earth, not only the Earth but the age of the universe, about 13.7 billion years. Pretty much incomprehensible to my brain.

I wonder, then, about people who believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and was designed by God. It brings up a wonderful picture of God creating the Grand Canyon, I see her digging a trench (she probably doesn’t need a backhoe) and then sitting there with a collection of rocks like a set of Legos. She carefully picks a tan one, sets it down, adds a pink one, then a green one, then a gray one. Then just for fun and to confuse later geologists, she puts in something completely different.

I think the people who don’t accept the notion that the earth is billions of years old find that kind of time impossible to comprehend. Okay, a million is a high number, but that’s getting to be the dollar cost of a house in Boulder. A billion dollars is bigger, but some people who make that much send visitors into space. And a trillion dollars, well, that’s a lot, but it’s the size of the federal budget. A million years or a billion years is a lot different from a million dollars or a billion dollars; for most of us it’s completely unfathomable. I have difficulty sitting still for 45 minutes, yet God apparently can sit still for billions of years.

All this leads to the fact that God’s time is not our time. As the hymn says, “A thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone.” I guess what we need to do with that idea is not to worry about millions or billions of years, but to do our best in the short amount of time we have, and let God figure out how to make the Grand Canyon.

Almighty creator, we gaze in awe at the universe, and we have faith that someday we may understand your sense of time.

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