The 10,000-year clock

There is a group that is building a clock which is designed to run for 10,000 years. You can read about it here, and their website is here. The clock is being funded by a billionaire, and designed and built by an interesting team of engineers, craftsmen, and visionaries.

The idea is to build a large mechanical clock housed inside a very remote mountain in far West Texas. Few people will ever see it, but those who do will witness a real treat: gears, chimes, planets that spin around one time per year, and you can wind it if you wish. The clock will be large enough to climb through. The idea is that it will have the effect of the pyramids, inspiring future generations to think about cycles of civilization and meaning of past and future. A few thoughts about this endeavor:

  • The website has a quote that says “We are as gods….” This reminds the Christian of the passages in the Bible where people strived to reach into the heavens at the tower of Babel, or the rebellion of Lucifer who said he would be as god. I doubt the creators of the clock had this in mind, but the project nevertheless reminds us that however long you want to count, the Creator will still be in control.
  • Let’s say their project is successful, even very successful, and runs for many times longer than anticipated. But one thing is sure: they cannot make a perpetual motion machine, and the clock will not run forever by itself. It will periodically need an infusion of energy, or some maintenance eventually, or it will wind down to a halt, even if it takes 100,000 years. For this is true of all of nature, that nothing runs forever without someone keeping it going. The universe is the same way, in that it cannot run forever by itself. The fact that the universe is still going after all these years is evidence that either someone started it moving at some point in time, or that someone is periodically keeping it going, or both.
  • An adaptation of an old philosophical chestnut might go like this: If a clock ticks in the desert when there is no one there to see it, does it really keep time?  The builders are trying to build a machine that will outlast people’s memory of why it was built.  The human ability to figure out how the mechanism works says nothing about why it was built. For example, that we can figure out how an automobile works says nothing about why it was built. Was it built to race? To go get groceries? To ride around for fun? Knowing how a machine works does not tell us why it was built in the first place. Similar to modern scientists, who think that they have answered all the questions when they discover how the universe operates. But they cannot answer the simple question “Why is the universe here, rather than not here?” They cannot this because they deny the existence of a purpose for the universe in the first place. “Why?” is not a tool in the modern scientists’ tool box. To the modern thinker, it is as absurd as asking “how does blue smell?”
  • In 10,000 years, men might stumble upon this clock, wonder about the machine, take a few photos, and head for home. When they get back, they will continue their discussion about the thinkers such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, and Kant, for the concepts from such men have outlasted the ages and will continue to do so. For the conversations these men started will continue as long as this clock operates, and Jesus will still be the last word in the conversation, the answer to the questions.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of God lasts forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)


About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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