Is Starlight real?

Discussion in 'Natural Revelation and God's Creation' started by BayouHuguenot, Dec 29, 2013.

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  1. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I'm not very good at science, so I might phrase this poorly, but the light from stars contains information of a sorts. Yet the light from stars takes a really long time to get here (light years or something). yet the world was only created 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. So, was the starlight at the original moment stars were created "real" information or "apparent" information?
  2. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps in the same way that Adam's appearance was of full age?
  3. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior


    I think yes. I do not believe the earth is young. I believe that the concrete information in "old" starlight and geology is a record of actual historical events. I think it is very strange to assert that an observed supernova from 50,000 light years away depicts the death of a star that never existed, much less exploded.
  4. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    There are a variety of theories as to how we can see distant stars when we know from Scripture (our only infallible source of information) that the earth is young. Perhaps early in history, shortly after creation, conditions were such that light could travel more rapidly for a time as things were expanding. I do think that the stars do actually exist, or in some cases did exist, but we can only speculate how this is possible. There are a lot of interesting theories, but at the end of the day, all we know for sure is what is revealed in the creation account.

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  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    That's what I used to think, but starlight specifically communicates information in a way that Adam's matured appearance does not. Complicating the problem and not necessarily tied to Genesis 1-2 are exploding supernovae from thousands of light years away (and thus a time period greater than 6,000 years), whose effects we are seeing now. Why would God create the effects of an exploding star that never existed?
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I am not denying the existence of stars (LOL). Some have offered models that the universe was curved in such a way that allowed starlight to take "short cuts," though that research has been questioned. As to Scripture's indirect identification of the earth's age, to the degree it does so, one has to rely on genealogies. While I am not saying there are necessarily gaps in the Genesis genealogies, there are in Matthew so it is not an unreasonable supposition.
  7. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Jacob, have you heard of Starlight and Time by Russell Humphreys? It is just one hypothesis, but it is an interesting one. Even if it turns out to be wrong, other ideas will come along. There is no reason to posit that the stars are fake in light of the young age of the earth. There are many scientific mysteries, and for all we know, it could even be a miracle that advanced the light to Adam. We may never know the answer, but we know God made all things - including real stars - in the space of six days.

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  8. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I posted the last post before seeing your reply to my first. I see your point. As for the genealogies, even if gaps could be there, they could not account for billions of years. Besides, unlike in Matthew, the genealogies in Genesis lay out the timings of things meticulously.

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  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It's interesting, but, as others have noted:

    if there was a huge gravitational field centered on the Solar System 6000 years ago that was strong enough to cause the effects he claims, the effects of this field would still be visible today in the motion of the stars around the center of our galaxy.
  10. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I would study the various proposals and possibilities that creationists have looked at, and keep an open mind. There are many things that current science hasn't discovered yet, and a number on which it is wrong. All truth is God's truth and He will provided the answers in the end. In God's good time, lies and falsehoods that oppose His Word will be overthrown. This is part of the faith and patience of the saints.

    The stars were created for Man, so if they were created a few days before Man, the light must have reached earth more quickly than usual.

    Similar questions could be asked of the wine that our Lord provided for the guests at Cana. Was the "terroir" real? Was the aging process real? Etc, etc.

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  11. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    Science is not my strongest suit either so I'm always grateful for help from others as well. This is a place where you can draw back on the consistent integrity of the Lord Himself - he cannot tell a lie Num 23:9 lays the foundation. Further, he gave the stars for "signs and seasons." It is not some great cosmic subterfuge going on. He created and what He created is real and has a testimony rooted in those founding principles about His character that we love, worship and hold dear. That said, you are right to seek to harmonize this perplexing observation with clear Biblical testimony a la Genesis and corollary passages that affirm the creation account as in Exodus, Psalms and elsewhere. Austin references Russell Humphrey above and is a excellent resource for that. Remarkably (well, it isn't, really just ironic) old earth proponents and especially Big Bangers have problems with their theory when it comes to starlight. Given background radiation, there has not been enough time lapsed for energy transfer to take place even given THEIR timetable. A snippet from one article reads:

    "The misotheistic publication New Scientist admitted in 13 things that do not make sense (19 March 2005, updated 14 April 2009):

    This “horizon problem” is a big headache for cosmologists, so big that they have come up with some pretty wild solutions. “Inflation”, for example. You can solve the horizon problem by having the universe expand ultra-fast for a time, just after the big bang, blowing up by a factor of 1050 in 10–33 seconds. But is that just wishful thinking?

    Other big bangers have tried to cure this headache by proposing that the speed of light was much faster in the past, e.g. João Magueijo and John Barrow. Yet when some creationists proposed something similar a few decades ago, it was a heresy! I.e. anything goes when it comes to rescuing the big bang dogma, but rescuing Genesis by exactly the same means is verboten."

    So, difficulty in our position does not provide a out for difficulty in theirs. There are a number of thoughtful articles available out at CMI's website. Admittedly, there is a lot of heavy lifting to be done on that one and Dr. Humphrey could be wrong on the matter as could Dr. Lisle.
  12. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Suppose time was created simultaneously with "Let there be light"? Problem solved?

  13. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The possibilities are endless. Yes, the existing hypotheses have difficulties, but we can be content knowing that the LORD made the stars, and He made them a comparatively short time ago. We may never know how, in God's Providence, the starlight reached us in shorter time than the scientific method predicts.

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  14. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Perhaps this is the same as what Patrick meant – I see no reason why the LORD, upon creation, could not have had the light from the distant stars instantly travel to / and be seen from the vantage of earth, simply as part of the creation package. Although I am not scientifically / technically "geocentric", still I believe it was for humankind God created the universe – knowing that in the aeons to come (from creation) His Son would make His home on New Earth, and God would dwell among glorified humankind, their loving Father.
  15. GloriousBoaz

    GloriousBoaz Puritan Board Freshman

    I've been studying this lately as it fancinates me. My first thought was that God just made the light in transit, in other words, He made the light beams complete when He made the stars, but this poses a problem for the "information" in the stars, i.e. the supernovas and such, that occur several billion light years away. I will give you an article that is non~technical and he addresses this problem, also he addresses the horizon problem that old earthers have. And he gives several possible solutions:

    Does Distant Starlight Prove the Universe Is Old? - Answers in Genesis

    That is a great overall article, he even talks about how we shouldn't overly naturalize these events.

    I second the recommendation of CMI also, they have lots of great info.

    here is another non~technical article zooming in on one of the theories in the first article I posted:
    Distant Starlight - Answers in Genesis

    And here is a very technical article on that same subject, "Anisotropic Synchrony Convention":
    Anisotropic Synchrony Convention
  16. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    And then there are the electrical universe theories that explain much that the current model can't, and provide for a much younger universe. All just models within which to operate until enough errors are found to motivate moving on to the next more accurate one.
  17. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    In the creation account, the light (which already exists) is gathered up into the stars -- the purpose of which is related to time, and to giving light 'on the earth'. I don't know how that affects all the theories, but light in Genesis precedes the stars, not vice versa, as in science?
  18. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Remember, science is only a best-guess at the time, every time. And they move the goalposts constantly. Soft tissue only exists for (I don't recall exactly) 25,000 years or so but scientists then found dinosaur bones with soft tissue attached. Since it doesn't fit their billion-year paradigm, they then changed the 'rule' that soft tissue dissolves that quickly, and leave the bones at the age they want. We also assume (for the most part) that things happened at a constant rate, when the biblical account does not necessarily allow for that. Did carbon exist/decay at the same amount/rate before the Flood? Who knows? If it did not, kiss the 'fact' of carbon dating goodbye. And what was the "void" exactly? What existed therein?
  19. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    total laymen here,

    Why would the LORD not be able to manipulate the speed of light in the same way he made an ax float on water, made the sun and the moon stand still, made water gush from a rock, and birthed Jesus from a virgin?
  20. Andrew1142

    Andrew1142 Puritan Board Freshman

    I've thought about this a bit, and I've come to a few conclusions on it. I'm neither an expert theologian nor an expert scientist, but I do tend to think that we adopt the atheist counter-missionaries' anti-supernatural presuppositions far too easily in this area. Let me see if I can expand on this by going through an outline of a typical conversation on this subject between a Christian and an atheist.

    The atheist will say that the presence of light from billions of lightyears away prove that the universe is billions of lightyears old. Implicitly preceding this statement is the presupposition that any God is not omnipotent, which would mean that God is not God. It is circular reasoning. Why would God be unable to create a universe with the appearance of age?

    If you point this out to the atheist, they will likely have one of two objections. One is that there's no reason that God would have to do this. Why would God want to create light from supernovas that never happened, fossils for dinosaurs that didn't exist, etc.? This is, again, a circular objection. Implicitly preceding this objection is the statement that we must fully comprehend God's motives for Him to exist. But, why? If we, as finite beings, can comprehend the mind of God, then He must Himself be finite and therefore not God. Some of God's motives we understand, and some we don't. Maybe someone can come up with a reasonable hypothesis that would explain why God created a universe that appears old, but that's not really relevant. Personally, I don't have any idea about why God would do so, but it does seem to appear that, for whatever reason, He did.

    The next objection that the counter-missionary would have is that if God creates a universe with the appearance of age, that's like God lying to us, telling us that the universe is old when it really isn't. I honestly think that this objection is ridiculous, but I have heard it. It's absurd to hold God responsible for our faulty reasoning. That's like saying painting wood is dishonest because it makes us think that wood is blue when it's really brown.

    Personally, I tend to lean towards the Omphalos hypothesis (the hypothesis that the universe was created with the appearance of age), but I wouldn't say I "believe" in it, because that's far too strong a word. I just tend to think that it's more likely, based on the evidence.

    I think that we should pursue the sciences while at the same time recognizing that we will often, maybe even more often than not, misunderstand what we observe, and even when we do understand what we observe, we may not at all comprehend the implications. At the same time, we should recognize that while our works (such as the sciences) are fallible and faulty, the Bible is not. This allows us to honestly, and without any sort of feelings of guilt, pursue the sciences. It also allows us to possibly scrap the entire hypothesis if one day (and that day may never come) scientists say "We were wrong after all." (Honest science requires that we repeatedly revisit old theories, to either affirm or reject them.)

    I think it's very dangerous to use science to interpret the Bible or conjecture new information into it, to "complete" it. We should instead use exegesis.

    Anyway, that's just my two cents. If it helps, I'm glad, but I apologize if it didn't.
  21. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    Actually, some of the most vocal dismissals of this very thing are conservative YECers. There are several serious scientific and theological conundrums that accompany adopting such a position. I'm not completely for sure if you are thinking the "light in transit" theory, but if so here are a couple issues. A quote from AIG:

    "Some Christians have proposed that God created the beams of light from distant stars already on their way to the earth. After all, Adam didn’t need any time to grow from a baby because he was made as an adult. Likewise, it is argued that the universe was made mature, and so perhaps the light was created in-transit. Of course, the universe was indeed made to function right from the first week, and many aspects of it were indeed created “mature.” The only problem with assuming that the light was created in-transit is that we see things happen in space. For example, we see stars change brightness and move. Sometimes we see stars explode. We see these things because their light has reached us.

    "But if God created the light beams already on their way, then that means none of the events we see in space (beyond a distance of 6,000 light-years) actually happened. It would mean that those exploding stars never exploded or existed; God merely painted pictures of these fictional events. It seems uncharacteristic of God to make illusions like this. God made our eyes to accurately probe the real universe; so we can trust that the events that we see in space really happened. For this reason, most creation scientists believe that light created in-transit is not the best way to respond to the distant starlight argument."

    Their concerns and mine are that, just like the Christian's refusal of the RC mass for the antirationality of that "sacrament," the one holding such a position seem to suggest that the Lord is "tricking" us. So these concerns run parallel. The Confessors say, in regards to the Mass, "VI. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ's body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense, and reason." (bolding mine.) Also, the stars are said to be given as useful demarcation tools. "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years." Gen 1:14. Can they be said to be "good" and worthy tools to establish durations of time and yet not give us correct information? If they are just fabrications or ornaments, then they do not serve that purpose at all. In terms of Adam's maturity, for example, he was never said to be a landmark for marking human maturity/aging. Likewise, the floating axehead from Elisha's life was not meant to teach us about buoyancy, but to confirm a prophet's authority/authenticity. Imagine if the Scripture said that this Elisha passage was to teach us about buoyancy. We'd be drowning and losing much more of the things we set "afloat" given the ordinary properties of water. But, like you, I'm a complete layman. I'm not even completely for sure that light-in-transit charges God with "smoke-and-mirrors." Anyway, by "manipulation" you may mean something totally opposite to "light-in-transit." Lisle and other YECers suggest that that light was perhaps "sped-up" or traveled more quickly in other points in history or that aging on the edge of the universe is different that aging here on the earth and since those stars were created for our benefit/perspective, we calculate age based on "our end." This would allow for us to divine "signs" for marking time if we could find out the nature of the change of speed/edge of the universe aging techniques. But, even OECers and secularists have issues with their model (see my post above,) so we are not the only ones with heavy lifting to do on our end.
  22. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    There are a number of "philosophical" issues that I've never sat down and got my head round. We know what we mean by a mature Adam, because we can compare a mature man with a child or baby, but what do we mean by a mature universe, since we have never seen a baby universe? What do we mean by a mature planet? Is Earth a mature planet and Mars an immature planet? What about the effects of the Curse? Are exploding stars and desolated planets part of the groaning of the Cosmos or part of the good creation?

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  23. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    Yep, enough to cross the eyes! I confess that science in general and this in particular are my weakest suits.
  24. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    This is a better response to the problem (and I just now realized your avatar, which made me laugh uproariously; my wife and I just started watching that show).
  25. THE W

    THE W Puritan Board Freshman

    Again, total laymen here..

    It would seem some would want to deny the LORD the ability to manipulate the natural processes which He set in place.

    BTW, the character in my avatar is rather similar to my personality, for better or for worse. cool show, minus the neo-feminist undertones.
  26. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    Google Barry Setterfield and the decreasing-decaying speed on light ( cDK) on a parabolic curve ( which we assume starts with the fall. Maybe start here:

    Lambert's Library

    Unlike theory, and going on facts, there are 22 measurement of the speed of light going back centuries that show a steady decrease. If you want to attribute this to instrument mistakes in older less accurate instruments, one would expect an average of 11 measurements off too high and 11 too low, give or take. But it is a steady decline. The ones the past decades are with good instruments. Setterfield takes his parabola back 6000 years If I recall correctly.

    Initial objections like with e=mc squared questions all work out. There is so much stuff out there on this. It actually makes scientific sense when you read it.

    We underestimate the fall, and how much the curse and decay affected things. Everything. Total depravity, even the speed of light.
  27. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I am stumbling over this distinction. All that God created, he said was good. Revelation has come through two means: the giving of the scriptures and creation. Something is either real, or it is not.
  28. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    It seems to me this precise question could only be answered as: Scripture does not give us enough information to know whether stars were created with real or apparent information, and empirical science wouldn't be able to answer a question concerning a miracle (Creation is known by faith). But to take the intent of the question as it has been discussed in this thread...

    Appearances of history and appearances of age seem to me to be two different things. Appearances of age are easy enough to understand in terms of a miracle, but appearances of history are trickier because they seem to delve somewhat into the realm of ordinary Providence. With others in the thread, I think it is something that we simply cannot know--at least not with the information we currently have--and it is perhaps best not to speculate; it also is possible that something in the miracle of Creation was involved in allowing us to see distant stars.

    It may be the case that this problem only arises because theology and empirical science are being mixed? Here is a short post I made (which I received no comments on, so I'm not entirely sure how acceptable a solution it is) in an attempt to resolve "appearances of history" by viewing it as a problem that arises when theology and empirical science are mixed, which problem otherwise vanishes into a state of reasonable ignorance on the matter.

    "We can accept that we are seeing real stars explode. The problem of seeing non-existant stars only arises when we try to put theology into the realm of science. By keeping each to their own realm, we can make a good case for not knowing how God created things such that we could see stars, that according to our science never existed unless they were much more than a few thousand years old. And having made a justified appeal to ignorance (which is ignorance of the miracle of Creation and so can't be expected to be understood in natural terms anyway), we can with intellectual integrity simultaneously accept with the provisional certainty that science gives that we are seeing real stars explode and accept with the certainty that Scripture gives that the Creation is not as old as our limited, natural perspective would seem to suggest."

    One thing about some of the models that attempt to solve the problem with time dilation is that they require that some place in the universe really is older than a few thousand years. Whether that is a problem with Scripture or not, I don't know, but it is something to keep in mind (I don't recall whether these billions of years are put into the Creation week or are put into the realm of ordinary Providence). Though in relation to these sorts of theories, I remember finding Wilhelmus a Brakel interesting on the matter, in describing the Creation miracle as the universe starting relatively small, then being pushed outwards, and then the light being gathered into the stars.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
  29. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    Barry Setterfield's work has been thoroughly discredited both by creation scientists and by the scientific community at large. More than that, it shows a disregard for proper procedure that is reckless and perhaps even fraudulent. It is highly irresponsible to recommend him as a resource. Continue the scientific discussion, by all means, but not using this man's work.

    A thorough rebuttal by the Institute for Creation Research: Has the Speed of Light Decayed?

    An even more thorough discussion for TalkOrigins, an anti-creationist site: The Decay of c-decay

    To be fair, a response by Setterfield: - Setterfield on cDK -

    However, Setterfield's response is highly disingenuous. It doesn't cite any published research except for one paper published in Galilean Electrodynamics, a known fringe journal that takes kooky papers that won't pass peer review in mainstream journals. Saying that his work or the work of his colleagues has never been refuted is a humorous way to spin the fact that it was roundly criticized when it first appeared and since has failed to attract any attention.

    To round things out, here's some recent science that suggests the speed of light may be increasing: Speed of light may have changed recently - physics-math - 30 June 2004 - New Scientist
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