World history according to biblical numerology is pleasingly symmetrical. God created the earth in seven days and His creation is due to last seven thousand years before the final judgement. Christ came in the meridian of time, about four thousand years after Adam. We are living at the end of the 6th thousand year period awaiting the final thousand years of the Millennial reign. The Millennium corresponds to God’s Sabbath, a thousand year period of peace and rest, capping off the entire seven thousand year history of the earth.
According to this numerological interpretation, we are currently living 6023 years since Adam, already a few years overdue for the apocalypse. It’s no wonder that so many took last weekend’s blood moon as a sign of the times. Ever since Christ said, “I come quickly” people have believed they were at the end times. But unlike past millennialists, today’s preppers have the Bible on their side. If God is on a 7,000 year plan, it’s now or never. And if time marches on for a few more decades with no apocalypse, we’re going to have to rethink God’s 7,000 year plan. And if God has no 7,000 year plan, just what sort of plan does He have?
Thanks to the temple endowment’s helpful phrase, “six creative periods,” most Mormons accept the idea the God created the earth over a period of billions of years, not six earth days. Some Mormons have even come to accept that God created Adam through evolution over a similarly long period of time. If God is patient enough to spend billions of years preparing the earth for human habitation, why would he impatiently tear it all down after only a few thousand years? That would destroy all sense of symmetry, and I’m not sure I want to believe in a God who has no sense of symmetry.
God’s scope of time during the creation is mind boggling. Scientists say humans have existed 200,000 years. That’s only .00004% of the earth’s existence. And if we take the more typical LDS view that accepts old age science, but still believes Adam was 6,000 years ago, that’s only .00000000002% of the earth’s existence. Even more bizarre is the fact that God nearly destroyed His creation 65 million years ago with an astroid. In a few days after the astroid hit, 3/4 of life on the planet was destroyed including all the dinosaurs, a spectacular wasting of hundreds of millions of years of the most beautiful and fantastic period of organic evolution. Is God really that careless? Was all this necessary to prepare the earth for our brief existence, a 6,000 year blink of an eye?
The 7 Billion Year Plan
Scientists tell us the earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago. They also estimate that 1.75 to 3.25 billion years from now the earth will cease to be habitable, as the expanding sun reduces the earth to a charred and lifeless rock. That’s roughly a “7 Billion Year Plan.” This 7 Billion Year Plan respects Biblical symmetry just as well as the 7,000 Year Plan. Christ’s pivotal place in the meridian of time is retained. It also respects the idea of apocalypse, giving us a clear scientific explanation for the prophesy that “the earth will be burned at His coming.” It could also be scientific that the earth will turn into “a sea of glass,” or rather a sea of molten lava as it is being engulfed by the sun. Those “caught up to meet Him in the air” could mean those who escape earth through space travel, going on to colonise other planets or solar systems. A 7 Billion Year Plan also gives us plenty of time to evolve into a species capable of the peace and harmony of a “millennium,” a period of time that need not be measured as exactly 1,000 years, if we as Mormons interpret days as “creative periods.”
If I accept scientific accounts of the earth’s creation over billions of years, I see no reason not to accept scientific accounts of the earth’s eventual apocalypse over billions of years as well. That makes perfect sense. Why should we continue to tie ourselves to a 7,000 year plan if we’ve already rejected the six day creation? Why embrace the scientific explanation only half-way?
Could Humans Hold Out for Billions of Years?
Of course God could cut us short unexpectedly as He did with the dinosaurs. The universe can be an unpredictable place and with nuclear weapons, mankind already holds the keys of its own self-destruction, a self-destruction entirely possible given our past history. And of course humans could never exist in their current form for billions of years, but would inevitably evolve into other kinds of species.
Yet the infinite possibilities of mankind’s potential excite me. Could we not evolve into a kind of god ourselves in a few more billion years? Could we not conquer space-time as God and His angels have? Could we not colonise other planets as in the temple film? And if we could create our own paradise and find our own divinity, why wouldn’t God let us do it? God never does anything for us that we can’t do for ourselves.
“We Are Stardust, Billion Year Old Carbon”
Every day, astronomers witness the birth and death of new stars throughout the universe. It is a glorious and beautiful cycle. New stars are born out of the remnants of exploding supernovas. All the elements of our world were formed in the furnaces of these stars. As Joni Mitchell sings, “we are stardust, billion year old carbon, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” I want to believe in a God that encompasses this thrilling and infinite scope of things. I want a God who is as old as the stars, a God who works in billions of year periods, not thousand year periods. I want a God who is at least as great and vast as His own creation.
Last weekend’s blood moon was a sign of the times. It was a sign of my time, for like the grass of the earth, I will soon pass away. But why should I drag the whole earth down with me in premature apocalyptic visions that reflect an impatient, mortal view of time?
- Do you subscribe to the 7,000 Year Plan, or the 7 Billion Year Plan, or something in between?
- Are we in the last days, or our last days?
- If one accepts a 4 billion year creation, could one still rationally believe that God would wrap it up in a few thousand years?