The concept of time has been a point of contention between philosophers and scientists for thousands of years. To this day many different ideas about the nature of time exist.
Sir Isaac Newton believed that time was a fundamental structure of the universe. This realist view postulates that time is a real thing that people and events move through.
Immanual Kant argued that time is a mental framework which allows us to experience, rather than a real thing. It is a means for us to organize and understand the world, much like language.
Einstein developed the idea that time is dependent on the spatial reference of the observer. It is this theory which opens the door for ideas like time travel or relativistic travel (theories that we utilize in the book).
I believe that all of these ideas are partially true. And in the book we use these different definitions of time in order to explain some of the ways in which science and religion both fail to see the bigger picture.
Here is an example:
Monotheists are adamant in arguing that God created the earth in six literal days. Scientists are equally adamant, although much less exact, in arguing that it had to take billions of years for the earth to form. This is because both sides are choosing to define time in a very Newtonian way (which is ironic since monotheists believe that God is omnipresent and most scientists embrace the theory of relativity).
While I might not be able to perceive time in anything but a realist view, except perhaps philosophically, I am rational enough to understand that my perception is limited. I can conceive that if there is an all powerful deity, he might not be subject to time the same way that I am.
Here is an example from the book:
A deep voice interrupted his thoughts. A word rang out in the stillness. He did not recognize the word, but he somehow knew it. It was the word. The word of initiation that gave life. He couldn’t repeat it. As soon as it was spoken he could no longer hear it, but he saw it begin.
The great orb suddenly exploded in a dazzling display of light. The giant ball of gas became instantly alive with life-giving energy and heat. The immense glowing globe drifted off to the side and Ariel could see, in the newly brightened space, a much smaller sphere approaching. How was he seeing Gaia?
A voice answered inside of this own head.
‘You must understand that here and there do no exist for us. We are where we are and now we are creating a new world, a world that you helped prepare. You did well. This is a special creation. One that has been planned for a millennium and will be the site of a great and terrible chapter in the history of the Kingdom. In time the entire universe will come to realize that this creation marks a pivotal turning point. Many will be tempted to doubt the wisdom of this creation, but I ask you to have faith that it is for the greater good that we gather here today.’
What did this mean? How could this creation be both great and terrible? He was so excited to be witnessing this and so confused by what he was seeing and hearing. There was no here or there? What did that mean? Again the voice answered him inside his own head.
‘Some things you are unable to understand, but your faith is strong. We would ask that you continue to believe. We are not restricted by space and time the way that the created are. While you are here, in the throne room with us, these things do not apply to you either. You are literally in that small solar system in the Milky Way, but you are also here, securely seated in Mount Kol. You are going to witness a process that requires a week, but to you it will seem like minutes have passed. The word of creation has been spoken and that single word spawns all of creation, but we will try to explain it to you as we go.’
This scene comes from our conception of Gaia’s creation. We hope that it gives you an alternative way to consider some of the issues that science and religion fail to find common ground on.