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:
When 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.