For this post I will be making two key assumptions…
1) Special Relativity (hereafter, SR) is valid. SR operates under the tenet that the speed of light c is absolute, and thus every speed < c is reference frame dependent.
2) The Christian God, as described in the Bible, is valid.
Now with that said, let’s get on to the post.
Taking the tenets of SR, the following relationship can be derived:
“…where Δt is the time interval between two co-local events (i.e. happening at the same place) for an observer in some inertial frame (e.g. ticks on his clock) – this is known as the proper time, Δt ’ is the time interval between those same events, as measured by another observer, inertially moving with velocity v with respect to the former observer, [and] v is the relative velocity between the observer and the moving clock…” (Wikipedia)
This is known as time dilation. Simply stated, if I were travelling very very fast (close to c), my clock will start to tick slower than a stationary observer on Earth. Time gets extended.
Another relationship can be derived, as follows:
L is the proper length (the length of the object in its rest frame),
L’ is the length observed by an observer in relative motion with respect to the object,
v is the relative velocity between the observer and the moving object,
c is the speed of light,” (Wikipedia)
This is known as length contraction… if I travel fast, space itself will contract around me.
But here comes the million dollar question – what if I was traveling at c? Forget for a moment that this is impossible, and imagine a photon looking down on Earth. Now let’s say the photon measures a time of three seconds. How much time would have elapsed on Earth? What about five seconds? No, wait, the denominator goes to zero! Likewise, let’s wonder if the photon measures a piece of space. No, forget about that — forget about the Earth — the whole UNIVERSE will have collapsed to a singularity! The photon knows of no time, nor does it know of space, because these things don’t make sense to a photon from the relativistic perspective. Instead, it sees all infinity of space, and all infinity of time – at any single “moment”.
So what does this have to do with God?
The Bible says many things about God. He is all-knowing, all-powerful. Paraphrasing, he knows the number of hairs on our head and [something else I forgot] before we are even born. He knows each of us by name, on a personal level. He listens to each and every one of our prayers. He knows what we are going to do before we even do it. Now a lot of people have a beef with this – and for good reason; it doesn’t sound very logical that God can do all this at the same time. C.S. Lewis provides a rebuttal: God is out of time (167-171). God knows of no time, and He knows of no space either – He knows our destiny before we can act on it, and He sees the order of the universe and the cries of our hearts all at the same time. Now this sounds familiar…
Wait. Am I implying God is a photon?!
Well, not really, because photons can’t do things like love us and stuff. BUT what we can assume from this, is that many inconsistencies about God can be accounted for by believing that God is a massless being traveling at the speed of light. Massless, because SR proves that massive particles can’t travel at the speed of light, but more importantly, because it creates a distinction between what we are made of – mass, and what God is made of – not mass. Theologically, we can then recognize that the Creator and the created are separate things.
Another thing is that SR effects are symmetric between reference frames. If infinite time and zero space on the Earth is seen from a photon in its frame, the photon of speed c will appear to us in our rest frame as something that goes through infinitely many lives every second, but can never be observed to have a finite dimension*. For those who ask why God never reveals Himself to us – He can try, but if He is traveling at c, we will never be able to see Him.
I can’t say much beyond “science can reconciliate Christian notions of God if He travels at the speed of light”. It’s a pretty random hypothesis, anyway. We can even argue that God is energy if we want, or even better, that He is outside of our Universe. There’s plenty of hypotheses out there, and thankfully we’ll never truly know the inner workings of God. But it’s something cool to think about.
*If SR is correct, we could never be able to observe massless particles such as photons traveling at c, because they would be size zero in our reference frame. I don’t know if I’m missing something and we’ve actually observed and measured photons, or if I’m right and “seeing” a photon is physically impossible. I suppose that, if photons are a quantum construct, they don’t actually exist in reality except to make bundles of energy mathematically and logically easier to handle. This is an entirely different discussion though.