Fiat Lux! The Vulgate’s rendering of the divine command, “Let there be light!” I have been engaging in several online debates with Young Earth Creationists on Facebook and it seems that not many of them are aware of the deep problems that undermine their position for a 6000 year old universe when the measurable constant velocity of light is considered in relation to the immense size of the universe.

The usual argument is that God not only created the stars and galaxies on Day 4 of Creation Week but also beams of light from them to us. This results in quite a few quandaries not the least of which is that we are not really seeing the stars which are further than 6000 light years away. We are just seeing images of them according to this theory. Then there is the embarrassing problem of supernovas- stars apparently blowing up millions of years before they are supposed to have been created 6000 years ago.

But how do we know that the light from distant stars has really taken as long as astrophysicists say it has to reach us? I once heard Hugh Ross explain this and he said something to the effect of the following:

creation-iconWhen astronomers measure hyperfine splitlines they are measuring the velocity of light when that light left a particular star or galaxy. Astronomers have been routinely making these measurements on millions of different deep space objects. What we find is the identical velocity of light which we measure here on earth. We have been able to do this with galaxies as far away as 14 billion light years showing through direct measurement that the velocity of light has not changed in the last 14 billion years.

Now combine this fact with the theoretical measurement E=mc2. If you make c different it will affect E or m. If the velocity of light is a little higher for Adam than it is for us he will be incinerated by the heat of the sun or you don’t have the elements to make Adam in the first place.

Consider also that as a beam of light travels through space from each of these millions of stars we have directly measured, it has to travel through dust and gas. The dust reddens the continuum just as we see when the moon during a forest fire gets redder and redder as the smoke gets denser and denser. As the beam of light moves through gas clouds the gas clouds have movement which doppler broadens the spectral lines. Therefore a test as to whether the light actually came from the distant stars and galaxies is that the more distant objects are more reddened in the continuum and broader in their spectral lines and it is in direct proportion. The farther away the object is, the broader the spectral line is and the deeper the red of the continuum. Through direct observation we have determined that the light has actually traveled from the point of origin for each of these millions of measured stars and by the light’s behavior we have determined that the velocity has been constant. In other words, the light from a galaxy 14 billion light years away really did take 14 billion years to reach us.

Of course, my Young Earth interlocutor in the debate would have none of this and said I should not believe that these supernovas had gone supernova just because the scientists said so. I think this is a terrible answer, and one that would destroy our ability as Christians to share the Gospel with the educated people of our day. How easy it is for a thinking person to dismiss Christianity when we ourselves tell him that the whole of Scripture stands or falls with our favored interpretation of Genesis 1 and that, if the scientific consensus does not agree with our narrow theological opinion then it is to be dismissed. This was my reply to his comment:

We know that they went supernova because we can see them in an exploding state. Astronomers see many more new supernovas every year from millions of light years away because their light has just reached us. We can see that the light has traveled at a constant rate because of the way it interacts with everything else on its journey.

If this is an easy problem for a YEC to dismiss it is because he is refusing to think it through.

You noted that the author of the chart I posted is now an atheist. You believe it is because he started studying evolution. I believe it is because of the crisis of faith he suffered when he saw how weak Young Earth science really is when put to the test. THIS is what led to his crisis of faith- he was taught that only one interpretation of Creation was valid. It was either the Bible or science. One was right, one was wrong.

He found that science had all the objective evidence and Young Earth Creationism only works as long as you keep your eyes and ears shut and be sure to play the “Miracle Card” every time the physical evidence points the other way. Had he been raised to believe that there was no real conflict between science and the Bible then he likely would never have had a crisis of faith or the bitterness that followed.

THAT is what is really sad about his story, NOT that he decided to educate himself about the natural sciences.

16 Responses to FIAT LUX!

  • David, I hope you are well. Memory eternal to your father.

    Thanks for the new post … I’ll read shortly … by chance, do you have a subscribe/follow feature on the blog? I couldn’t seem to find one.

  • Thank you, Michael, for remembering my father.

    Today is the first day I felt like posting and it just happened to be another Young Earth vs. Old Earth post on starlight. I need to do a Biblical post soon just to keep diversified đŸ™‚

    My blog manager (wife) is looking into setting up the subscribe/ follow feature soon.

  • Thanks for challenging me and helping me to refine my positions in an intelligent and civil exchange. This is an emotional topic for many and that is often not the case when I debate someone holding the YEC or the purely Naturalistic Evolution position.

  • Of course … I’m still not convinced of the OEC items that you propose … but, they need to be addressed if I wish to be an intelligent YEC guy. But, your points nonetheless are good ones. I’m not entirely convinced by the ‘scientific consensus’ angle, but that’s OK.

    The death-before-Adam and Eve is rather problematic for me … I’d rather see death-after-Adam preserved and the OT genealogies lengthened considerably. But, I’ll continue to ponder these things.

    What has intrigued me so far is the ‘apparent age’ vs ‘apparent deception’ angle. I need to do more thinking on that one.

  • I agree, the weakness od OEC is death before Adam for me, too. But since I accept the scientific consensus on the age of the universe/ earth that is just something about the real world I believe modern Orthodox have to deal with that the Fathers were totally unaware of. The only satisfying answer I have found to this dilemma thus far is the one I proposed.

    The Appearance of Age is the weak link in the YE position for me. Appearance of Age= False Appearance of History= Apparent Deception= False Memory. With all the physical evidence pointing to a 4.5 billion yr. old planet there is a real problem with simply saying that is a byproduct of the miracle of Creation.

    It is as if Jesus had not only turned the water to wine at Cana but also given the steward a false memory of having purchased wine.

    Every other miracle in Scripture was obviously and indisputably a miracle based on the evidence but when we come to the Six Days we have a miracle that apparently testifies against itself if it is really a 6000 yr. old universe. To me, playing the miracle card and claiming a mere appearance of age for the entire natural cosmos seems more like a dodge than really addressing the question.

  • David says:

    I have had several YEC already respond to my arguments by saying if they were proven wrong in the next life they would just be “reprimanded for taking Moses too seriously”. I thought I should place my reply to that dodge here as well:

    “Even if Genesis 1 meant 24 hour solar days, there is nothing in the text to tell us whether the Creation story is meant to be historical or a parable mixed with historical elements.

    If we go to a library it is very clear which genre a book belongs to by which section it is stored in on the shelves. The Bible is not like that. Within its pages are history, poetry, allegory, parable, prophecy, etc.

    The second we decide whether to treat Genesis 1 as a page out of Adam’s diary or as a parable teaching spiritual truths we have begun interpreting the text and are subject to correction on that basis as we meditate on the story and as we collect facts about the universe around us.

    The Jews and the Christians who revere Genesis have taken both approaches from the beginning. Some have taken the days as literal, others have taken them as longer periods of time. Until modern times both interpretations were viable.

    Now that it has been established by unanimous scientific consensus that the earth and universe are as old as they are those who took a less literal reading of the text have been proven right. Of course, Young Earth scientists have been trying strenuously for 50 yrs. but have failed completely to convince a single non-Christian scientist, independent of Genesis 1, that the universe is less than 10,000 years old.

    At this point, the only thing Young Earth scientists succeed in doing is to make Creationists of any stripe look foolish. I think that is a big reason the Intelligent Design community (most of whose scientists are Old Earth or Evolutionary Creationists) has run into such flak among non-Christian scientists. It is guilt by association with our crazy uncle YEC. So the YEC only succeeds in muting the testimony of the heavens which declare the glory of God by obstinately refusing to let go of an antiquated interpretation of Genesis 1 which has no support outside of the fondness the YEC has for the idea of a young universe. It is time Christians do what we were forced to do with the once unanimously held Biblical interpretations supporting geocentrism: Find new ways of approaching the text that allow a figurative approach in the light of established scientific facts so we do not expose the faith to unnecessary ridicule as Blessed Augustine so wisely advised.

    Tim said above that he would just be reprimanded for “taking Moses too seriously” if proven wrong in the afterlife. I held that same view and find it common among YEC. However, being proven wrong in this case does not mean we took Moses too seriously. If it is this obvious that Moses did not write pure history then insisting that he did is not taking him seriously at all. It is simply making an idol of our personal interpretation of Moses.”

  • David, read your recent comments on your blog; thanks! After reading the various discussions over at the FB Group on Evolution/Creationism, it’s apparent that I need to dive deeper before I debate on these issues. So, I’ll be doing that … I won’t be silent, but rather circumspect till I bring my knowledge up to snuff.

    PS- I don’t know if you see the same, but your blog comments show up here as [Comment imported from blog].

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