A Major Problem with the speed of light, Young Earth Creationism, and the appearance of age argument:

Seven Points about starlight in honor of the Seven Days of Genesis-

  1. It takes light 8 minutes to reach us from the sun. If we observe a solar flare we are actually looking at what was happening 8 minutes ago on the sun.
  2. The further away an object is from us the longer ago what we are observing occurred. Therefore when we look at Andromeda scientists tell us we are seeing what happened 2.5 million yrs. ago since it is that many light years away.
  3. According to Young Earth Creationism (YEC) this is impossible since the universe is only 6000 yrs. old. Therefore on Day 4 God must have created everything in the universe with multiple billions of different velocities for the speed of light depending on how far away the celestial object is from the earth so it could be visible to Adam when he was created on Day 6. Forgetting for a moment that all the physical constants of the universe are interconnected and finely tuned so that such an increased speed of light would have left the world a burned out radioactive wasteland incapable of supporting life…
  4. universe

  5. On Day 6 Adam looked at Andromeda and saw what was happening at that exact moment in real time on Andromeda with no time delay. Now for Andromeda (and all the other stars) to remain visible to man throughout his 6000 yr. history the light would have to remain CONSTANTLY accelerated to earth.
  6. So, even though we are seeing our own sun 8 minutes in the past, we must be seeing all the stars outside of the 6000 light year “Faith Bubble”  as they are relative to earth RIGHT NOW with no time delay.
  7. Therefore the question is: what year are we really seeing when we look at Andromeda 2.5 million light years away? According to YEC, the light CANNOT be older than 6000 yrs. The only way we can see the stars then is if the light had been accelerated at Creation and since then has been stable at 186,282 miles per second. So somewhere between the light we received from Andromeda 6000 yrs. ago and the light leaving Andromeda 2.5 million light yrs away we have a major gap in light history on the order of 2,494,135 yrs. (and the same for all the multiple billions of stars relative to their distance from earth). Somewhere in this space we should have no light. Yet there are no gaps of light like this observed in the universe.
  8. So the YEC are proposing that there were as many billions of speeds of light as there are objects in the sky. For Adam to see Andromeda on Day 6 at 2.5 million light yrs. away the light had to be accelerated much faster than for Sagittarius at a mere 60,000 light yrs. away. The light from each star and galaxy had to be accelerated at a different rate in order for all of them to reach the earth at the same time. That alone would have thrown our entire universe into a chaotic mess. Each of nature’s laws are dependent on each other. Even secular scientists acknowledge that the all the physical constants of the universe are so finely tuned and work so closely together that if even one natural law changed the entire universal machine would result in chaos. The fact is that each law of nature depends on other laws of nature and are prerequisites for life. The law of gravitational force depends on the speed of light and the electromagnetic force. The proton mass and the electron mass and the nuclear force need to be consistent in order for the Universe to exist.
    What Young Earth Creationists must do in order to explain their Creation model is twist the fundamental laws of creation into a presuppositional interpretation of Genesis 1 to achieve a 6000 yr. timeline for the universe. This sets up Scripture for ridicule and is becoming as much a stumbling block for evangelism as geocentrism was at the time of Copernicus and Galileo.

We should look to both of God’s Books for understanding. Both the Creator’s Word and His Work teach us truth and, rightly understood, they do not contradict one another. Religion tells us who created the universe and why; science tells us how and when with more specificity.

Let us follow the wise advice of how to connect science and Scripture of Blessed Augustine who in his Literal Interpretation of Genesis wrote:

“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]”

12 Responses to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star: Young Earth Creationism and Starlight

  • David,

    Interesting thoughts. I’m not convinced yet:

    1. You presuppose in #3 above that God created the stars that he

    “must have created everything in the universe with multiple billions of different velocities for the speed of light depending on how far away the celestial object is from the earth so it could be visible to Adam when he was created on Day 6”.

    This is not necessary to presume. God is not bound by necessity, nor by any laws of nature either in his creative work during the seven yoms of Creation. He could have created all the stars in place and with their light concurrently visible from Earth. Then, he would have set the stars in motion according to physical laws of the universe.

    Do all – or at least the representative holders – of the YEC paradigm posit multiple differing speeds of light? If so, then this view is problematic, but the problem is not insurmountable, due to the fact that God is not bound by necessity. However, if not a representative view, then this critique comes close to being a straw man argument.

    Was God then bound by natural laws in his creative work? If so, then there is truly no creative work at all. For God, bound by the necessity of natural laws, must have submitted to the same.

    What natural law governs ex nihilo creative work?

    As well, if God is bound by natural laws in creating things that exist, then assuming that he somehow manages to overcome the initial – and I believe more foundational – problem of creating ex nihilo and yet in submission to the natural laws (which, further, are maintained by the Logos himself; cf various Psalms), the Creator must have created all living things at the same age (birth? – infancy? – adulthood?). If so, then did they all age and die at the same time post-Fall? As well, if not, due to apparent age, then don’t we run into the same issue as we did with the stars? In other words, if all plants and animals are created with apparent age (a necessary belief in the YEC paradigm, I would guess), then by this reasoning, God would have to create their aging process in “multiple billions of different ‘velocities'”, at least as seen by Adam.

    I would say he easily could have created the plants and animals – just like the stars earlier in the “week” – in place and operating at speed, so to speak.

    I’m not saying YEC is unassailable; only that this critique is unconvincing and creates a necessity for God, something which Orthodoxy categorically rejects.

    Those are my thoughts. I’m open to correction as I may have missed something in my analysis.

    (PS – Truth in advertising: I’m not 100% on board with YEC, but I am sympathetic to it. I could be convinced of OEC or Theistic Evolutionism, but haven’t been so yet.)

  • David says:

    Hi, Michael- My one-minute response would be of course, God is not bound by necessity but the Creation is. All of the constants of the physical universe are balanced on a razor’s edge and even small deviations will result in no life at all being possible. This is the Anthropic Principle and show’s the genius of the Creator.

    The variable speeds of light I believe are a logical necessity when you think about the distances involved and the velocity of light. I don’t think a lot of the YEC have thought this out but it remains a necessity nonetheless. In any event according to YEC it has been 6000 yrs. since Creation and the stabilization of the physical laws so there is at least a 6000 light year gap in the streams of light from the stars which should be observable. The only way out of this problem is to assume God puts his foot on the Speed of Light accelerator periodically so the incredibly slow (cosmologically speaking) normal speed of light can catch up with that initial burst of light and appearance of age they propose. But this would also be measurable and would throw Creation into chaos once again because it violates the delicately balanced Anthropic Principle.

    I am also sympathetic to the YE arguments and wish they were so but all their arguments reduce to “godjustdiditthatway” because of their insistence on solar days in the Six Days of Creation.

    • Point number 3 is a bit of a straw man.
      You say all YEC proponents must believe something yet you have not interviewed any. Why don’t you trot over to CSE Creation Science Evangelism and ask them what their evidence is?
      The scripture says that God stretched out the heavens. Job was challanged “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if you have understanding.”
      You think yourself wiser than Job to contradict Holy writ?!
      May God clear you from your miserable, humanistic, assumptions as He did Job.

      There was one who thought he was wiser than God, we know his end.

  • David, I understand what you are saying, but I’m not sure that you are dealing with my contention: At the moment of creation (of the stars, in this case) God placed the stars in varying distances from the earth (e.g., 4.3 LYs, 100,000 LYs, 4B LYs, etc) and simultaneously created their light as visible at that moment from the Earth. I do not posit that God must have created according to natural law which needs the star’s light to begin to shine from 4B LYs’ distance. He created the stars [1] in place, [2] with their light already shining across the distance from themselves to the Earth, not beginning from the star, [3] with the light traveling at the known constant of 186,282 mi/sec beginning at the moment immediately following the creative moment.

    So, one need not presume that the light began to radiate 4B LYs away, and/or that God had to speed the light up or that we need a 6,000 year observable gap in the light. We only need posit that God created the stars with apparent age, that is, with apparent light-traveled-age.

    Does that help?

    • David says:

      I believe I understand what you are saying, Michael, and that is just another version of the same thing, IMO (the Omphological Hypothesis). What you are suggesting is actually the original YE hypothesis which was modernized by Morris, Gish, and Whitcomb. This view has been largely abandoned by YEC scientists although it is still held by many YEC lay people. YE scientists like Sarfati (see his articles at Answers in Genesis abandoned this because it is an unproveable speculation based on one interpretaion of Genesis and it also necessitates a Decietful God who not only created with the appearance of age but also the appearance of real history.

      In the 80s Barry Setterfield hypothesized that the speed of light at Creation went super fast but then stabilized around the time we began measuring it. YE creationists abandoned that model for many of the reasons I mentioned in my post. Now the popular theory is that of Humphreys (and has been since the 90s). The problem with his idea is that everything depends on the unproven existence of white holes for his equations to work. White Hole Cosmology is highly speculative and only seriously considered by YEC who need it to work to support the solar 24 day model for the Six Days. The rest of the scientific community (including believing Jews and Christians) considers it pseudo-science.

      What I was pointing out in the post is that even if the stream of light from distant stars to us was created on Day 4, the speed of light since Day 4 has been 186,282 miles per second. This means that if the 6000 yr model is true then what we are seeing when we look at a star’s activity today is an illusion that never happened like a movie. It also means that there is a physical gap in the starlight at least 6000 light years long between the Creation Day 4 and when light REALLY started to travel from the real star. Unless we think God is constantly intervening to keep the stars visible and although we are measuring a constant speed of light he is really behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz keeping the flow constant by speeding up the stream periodically.

      There is also the problem of supernovas. Such as SN1987A which “exploded” as far as we are concerned in 1987. This star had been identified and named before the supernova event. In 1987 it exploded (it really exploded 169,000 yrs. ago but we are just now receiving the light). The light from this event follows all the expected patterns of behaviour as it travels through debris fields and the gravitational fields of galaxies, etc. God is not bound by necessity but why would he create the appearance of history of a star exploding 163,000 yrs before it was ever created according to the YE model? Apparently it never existed and is just a 3D model if that is the case. That is not a miracle, that is deception. And scientists see MANY supernovas annually that have this same appearance of history (although the last one observed in our own galaxy was in 1605 AD).

      • Was Jesus deceitful when He created aged wine out of water?
        To ferment you need time. So Jesus made the wine with the appearance of age. Not only that it was the best wine there, so mature too!

        You need to be consistent in how you deal with scripture it is dangerous to call God a liar.

        • David says:

          Leigh-

          The appearance of age in the wine at the marriage in Cana was just enough for it to be recognized as a miracle because witnesses KNEW it had started as water.

          The ubiquitous appearance of age in the order of billions of years for Creation goes far beyond that. There is SO MUCH evidence from several independent fields of science and cross-checking dating techniques that the universe is around 14 billion yrs. old and the earth 4.5 billion yrs. old that no one would even think to doubt it (much less think everything is 6000 yrs. old) unless they NEEDED to believe that for their a priori theological positions in reading Genesis 1.

          Cana was a miracle, Creation- if the YEC are to be believed- was a great deception. The OEC position believes this would be unworthy of the character of God and, as you said, it is dangerous to call God a liar.

          Check this out, it lays out what I am saying more clearly:

          link to youtube.com

  • David, thank you for your thoughts. To me, the “apparent age” concept is fine … but your mention of “apparent history” as deceitful is certainly something to consider. It has been over 20 years since I read the literature, so I will need to go read up and catch up on all that.

    Thanks again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *