Why the Big Bang is Not Biblical

As discussed in chapters 1 and 3, there are many Christian theologians, scientists, and philosophers who accept the big-bang cosmology and make it part of their apologetics. The basis for this is that the big bang requires that the universe had a beginning, which was a clean break with belief in an eternal universe that had prevailed in western thought for a very long time. Many people think that the principle of causality necessitates that there must have been a cause, or Creator, of the universe. Therefore, many Christians think that the big bang proves that there is a God. As argued in chapter 3, people who think this fail to understand the big-bang model, the principle of causality, or both. Causality operates in time, so it is unwarranted to force its operation across a boundary of time such as the big bang.

Furthermore, as briefly discussed in chapter 2, there are theories being developed in cosmology that would have the universe come into existence in such a way that its beginning would not violate any physical laws. There are problems with these efforts, but they illustrate the philosophy and direction of those who have been the architects of the big-bang cosmology. Can these efforts be divorced from the big-bang model?

There is much danger in making a scientific or philosophical theory a very important part of our apologetic. There are some problems with the big bang, as discussed in chapter 4. The history of science tells us that most ideas that were once accepted as true were eventually abandoned in the light of later evidence. How many theories of a century ago are still believed today? It is very arrogant to believe that only our generation has found ultimate truth. An honest and humble examination of the history of science would tell us that there is an excellent chance that the big bang will not survive. If and when the big bang falls out of favor and we have made it a central theme of our apologetics, then what will happen to our apologetics?

There are biblical problems as well. It is no accident that nearly all Christians who embrace the big bang also accept a 4.6 billion-year-old earth. Belief in theistic evolution, or its stepchild, progressive creation, nearly always accompanies belief in an old earth. The first chapter of Genesis tells us that the creation was accomplished in six days, which would seem to contradict the vast periods of time that would be necessary for the big bang and an old earth. Nearly all who are old-universe, old-earth creationists respond by appealing to the day-age theory, that the days of creation were vast periods of time. They point out that the Hebrew word for day, yom, can mean a period of time. That claim is true, but an important question is whether this is the intended meaning in Genesis chapter 1. There are compelling reasons that the days of the creation account are meant to be 24-hour days. The reasons for this have been discussed in detail elsewhere,1 so only some of the reasons will be briefly addressed here.

On the first day of the creation week, light was created and was separated from darkness. God called the dark night and the light He called day. A verse later the text states that there was evening and morning of the first day. There are no verse divisions or punctuation in the Hebrew, but it is very clear from the context that all of the discussion of the first day represents a thought, perhaps equivalent to a paragraph in English. To use a single word with two very different meanings within a thought without clarifying which meaning is intended in either case would be very confusing and thus is sloppy writing. The first use of the word “day” is in the context of daylight and dark, and according to all rules of interpretation, grammar, and style, this is the definition that should be observed in what follows, but especially within that thought.

Each of the days of creation is preceded by an ordinal, or number (first day, second day, etc.). In ancient Hebrew when an ordinal is used with a day, it almost always refers to a 24-hour day. Some proponents of the day-age theory respond to this by pointing out that the only text of ancient Hebrew that we have is the Old Testament, and while that rule may be followed elsewhere in the Bible, is there any guarantee that that rule is indeed a rule of ancient Hebrew? That question can be answered several ways. One is to point out that Scripture must be interpreted with Scripture. If the rule concerning ordinals applies elsewhere, it should apply in the Creation account as well. Second, we do have examples of other ancient, non-Hebrew, Semitic texts, and they apparently follow this rule as well. Third, this is a rule generally followed in all languages. There is nothing mysterious about the Hebrew word yom—it has many of the nuances of our English word day. In English, if one numbers days, it is universally understood that 24-hour days are what is meant.

Exodus 20:11 states “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh.” This was written in the context of the command to observe the Sabbath. It is obvious that the Hebrews’ workweek was six days. If the model that the Hebrews were to follow was the creation week, then it makes no sense that the days were long periods of time. The exegesis of day-age gets a little weird here, for it would lead to the nonsensical statement that first the Lord created in six time periods, and then much later He used this motif when giving the Law to the ancient Hebrews to hold His people to a very strict and literal interpretation of the demands of a seven-day week, but the model upon which it was based is to be taken rather loosely.

This brings us to another objection to the day-age theory. When the modern version of the day-age theory began to be developed in the 19th century, it was hoped that the days of creation could be matched to geological ages. However, when one carefully compares the details of what modern science says about the history of the earth with the biblical creation account, one finds that there are marked differences. For instance, not only were plants created before the sun (the third day as opposed to the fourth day), but also the plants that are specifically mentioned are flowering plants, plants that according to evolution appeared very late, after the time of many of animals created on days 5 and 6. There are many other examples.

Painting of God with arms outstretched

Image courtesy of Corbis Stock Photography

After the Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Planets by Michelangelo.

Given that the events of the six days of creation cannot be matched to the order of events that science professes, the original attempt to match creation days with geologic ages has utterly failed. However, the proponents of the day-age theory press onward anyway. How do these people propose to do this? Hugh Ross, one of the leading proponents of the day-age theory today, has taught that the days of creation overlapped, so that creative acts of single days actually happened over several days. For example, Ross claims that dinosaurs, which as land creatures were created on day 6 according to Genesis, were created on day 5. How did Ross discover this? Unfortunately, not by studying the Bible, but instead by studying science and imposing his preconceptions and conclusion upon the Bible. In the absence of the pronouncements of modern science about origins, it is inconceivable that anyone would come up with such an understanding of the creation account. With such loose rules of interpretation, anything is possible. This sort of Bible exegesis would be viewed as heretical if applied elsewhere, but is ignored here because the alternative would not be palatable to so many.

Another approach to the creation account that is gaining ground in conservative circles is sometimes called the framework hypothesis.2 Noting the subtle poetic aspects of the creation account, proponents of this idea argue that the creation account is primarily poetry. This theory is fraught with problems as well. First, this is a very new idea. With no real precedent in church history, one must question its legitimacy. As with the day-age theory, it is doubtful that anyone would think of this interpretation without the scientific pronouncements of origins. Another problem is the question of where does poetry end and the history begin? Were Noah and Abraham real people? Was the Tower of Babel a real event? If Noah was fictional but Abraham was real, where are the contextual reasons for such a claim? Most proponents of the framework hypothesis doubt the historicity of Adam and Noah. If this is true, then what are we to make of numerous New Testament references to both men, such as the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:38, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, or Peter in 2 Peter 3?

The framework hypothesis overlooks the possibility that the creation account is history told with flair. It can be both poetry and history. Exodus 20:11 is even a larger problem with the framework hypothesis than with the day-age theory. If the six days of creation is merely a poetic device, then how could the Lord hold His people accountable to the very literal demands of the Sabbath and six-day workweek? If the model was poetry, could not the ancient Hebrews have interpreted at least this one commandment as poetry as well?

What all those who attempt to harmonize the big bang with Genesis miss is that the big bang is an evolutionary theory. In its basic form, evolution is an attempt to explain our existence and the existence of the world around us in a purely natural, purely physical process. This definition of evolution would apply to biological and geological evolution, as well as cosmic evolution. The big bang and biological evolution are cut from the same philosophical cloth. This is not a problem for the theistic evolutionist, but it should be. If one really understands what evolution is all about, then one will see that theism is wholly unnecessary. To bring God into the process as the Instigator is ad hoc. Unfortunately, many Christians mesh their apologetics with the atheistic enterprise of evolution in an attempt to gain favor with the scientific establishment. The sacrifice of biblical integrity in this attempt is sad.

Many Christian apologists today accept the big bang and claim that Genesis is in complete agreement with the big bang. However this is a situation driven by science and not by biblical studies. Prior to the widespread acceptance of the big bang during the 1960s many of those who peddled the idea that modern science and the Bible agreed so much on the question of origins rarely brought up a big-bang sort of origin for the universe. For example, the late Peter Stoner in a book3 first published in 1958, is probably one of the best examples of this school of thought from the time period just prior to the near universal acceptance of the big bang. The name big bang does not appear in that book, though the basic elements of the big bang are briefly discussed. Very little detail is given about the origin of the universe, because much of the detail of the big-bang theory was yet to be developed. It would seem that if the agreement between the Bible and science were that good, then Bible scholars would have been able to guide the development of the big-bang theory. In reality it was the big bang that led to the development of this understanding of the Bible.

Therefore those who accept the big bang and make it part of their Christian apologetics are guilty of interpreting the Bible in terms of current science. This is a very dangerous precedent. However this sort of attitude is not new. For instance, the translators of the Greek Septuagint (LXX) rendered the Hebrew word raqia as stereoma, which Jerome followed as firmamentum in the Latin Vulgate, which in the AV (authorized, or King James Version) was transliterated as firmament. This is a terrible translation, and many modern translations break from this to render raqia as expanse. The word stereoma conveys the meaning of something hard, such as the crystalline spheres of ancient Greek cosmology upon which the stars were implanted. Thus, the translators of the LXX incorporated the current cosmology of their day into their translation. This is very similar to those who wed the big bang to the Genesis creation account today. Other examples of reading current science into the Bible include secular chronologies of history that have caused some Christians to reinterpret biblical chronologies to fit. These attempts include a late date for the Exodus around 1200 B.C., about two centuries later than biblical chronologies will allow. Today there are other pressures bearing on biblical interpretations as well. Very questionable (but politically correct) studies have suggested that homosexuality is innate, that is, homosexuals have no choice in the matter. This does not square with the biblical injunctions against homosexuality. Unfortunately there are those who wish to reinterpret the Bible in the light of all new findings or latest fads of science, all the while claiming that this is what the Bible taught all along.

It is imperative that Bible-believing Christians take a right approach to the Bible and science. The Bible is either true or it is not. If it is true, then it is always true. On the other hand science is a very changeable thing. Most theories from a century ago have been replaced or heavily modified. It is very arrogant to think that only now have we really discovered the truth of physical reality. It is tempting to wed the Bible to our current understanding of the natural world, but that would be interpreting the perfect and unchangeable in light of the imperfect and changeable. Why would any Christian want to do that?

Simply put, the big-bang cosmogony is quite contrary to a very clear reading of the Genesis account. To distill the creation account down to the fact that the universe had a beginning, a fact that has only recently been confirmed by science, does great disservice to Genesis. We are given details of the creation week, and we ignore those details at our peril. The very clear teaching of the Genesis account is that the creation took six literal days. The big bang simply cannot be reconciled with this. The very strong implication is that the creation week was only a few thousand years ago. This seems scientifically embarrassing to many, so how do we prepare an effective apologetic within this constraint?

Big Bang Criticisms

What we need is a biblically based cosmology and cosmogony. Thus far creationists have not spent much time building such a model, but have instead relied upon criticizing current cosmological and cosmogony models. If you will, this is big-bang bashing. Before discussing a few creation cosmology suggestions, let us describe some of this big-bang bashing. Some criticisms of the big bang are similar to the criticisms of secularists and atheists who also disagree with the big bang, though because of a very different philosophical basis.

The Origin of Redshifts

Some people question the reality of redshifts. However, this is not a productive exercise. The redshifts are very real, though the interpretation certainly can be debated. Redshifts are usually understood to be radial Doppler shifts or due to the expansion of the universe, but could they be due to something else?

A number of alternate interpretations of the redshift have been offered. One is “tired light.” Tired light is the theory that over distance light is somehow relieved of some of its energy, corresponding to a redshift. A mechanism of how this would happen has not been identified. Some have suggested that tired light is a result of entropy, but there are questions about how and where the energy is transferred. Without a mechanism there are no predictions, so tired light cannot be tested. This removes this suggestion as a scientific idea and makes it more of a philosophical one. Tired light denies that the universe is expanding, but it does not address important cosmological issues such as the size, age, and history of the universe. Therefore it is not clear exactly what the purpose of the tired light proposal is, other than to deny the expansion of the universe. Some other cosmological statement or statements must accompany the tired light proposal.

West4 has offered an alternate interpretation of the redshift as due to transverse Doppler shift. In this model the universe spins as a rigid body with the earth near the center. Nearby objects would move more slowly than more distant objects, but this motion is in the transverse direction, perpendicular to the line of sight so that it produces no classical Doppler shift. However, the little known transverse Doppler effect would be produced. This would result in Doppler shifts that are proportional to distance, much as what is observed. There are several problems with this however. One problem is, like the tired light theory, it offers no cosmological predictions nor does it offer a cosmogony. Another question is the nature of the rotation of the universe. Is the rotation one of matter with respect to space, or is it a rotation of space itself? If the rotation is one of matter in space, then distant objects would be moving far faster than the speed of light. If the rotation is of space itself (carrying matter along) then with respect to what is space rotating?

When all is said and done, these alternate explanations for redshift fall short. The simplest explanation of the redshift is that the universe is indeed expanding. Many of the questions concerning redshift appear to be subtle attacks on the big bang. If the universe is not expanding, then the big bang cannot be true. However, the big bang is only one possible explanation of the expansion of the universe. Are there creation-based alternatives? In rejecting universal expansion we could be throwing out an important datum that could guide development of a creationary cosmology.

The Light-Travel-Time Problem

A thorny issue for recent creation is the light-travel-time problem. We will not take the time here to describe the various methods of finding astronomical distances. While there is some considerable error in these methods, they all result in very large distances, and even the most extreme errors possible will not decrease the overall distances by as much as a factor of two. These methods show that the universe is extremely large, many hundreds of millions, and even billions, of light years across. Presumably, it should have taken millions or billions of years for the light from these distant objects to reach the earth. If the creation was only a few thousand years ago, how could the light from objects at such great distances have reached us? This is called the light-travel-time problem. Creationists have offered several resolutions of this problem. While these answers will not be fully described here, they will be briefly discussed with some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The most common response to the light-travel-time problem is to appeal to the concept of a mature creation. The trees in the Garden did not begin as seedlings, but instead were mature trees. The same was true of animals and of Adam. Undoubtedly each started out as a mature specimen; otherwise their functions would not have been met. In like fashion, the stars would not have fulfilled their purposes (provide light and to be for signs and mark seasons) if they had not been visible from the earth by day 6 (when Adam was created), and possibly as early as day 4 (when the stars were created). Therefore, perhaps light was created in transit already on its way toward earth so that stars were visible as early as day 4, but certainly by day 6 when man was created. Proponents of this answer claim that instant or rapid creation must be accompanied by an appearance of age. That is, a tree on the sixth day of creation would have appeared much the same as any mature tree does today. If we erroneously assume that trees can only come about through a long process of growth, then we will reach the incorrect conclusion that trees in the garden were many years old when in reality they were only three days old. This does not imply that we have been deceived, but rather that we have incorrectly assumed that there is only one way in which a tree can come about. In other words, we have not been fooled, but we have instead managed to fool ourselves. Thus things may appear mature to us only because we have made a uniformitarian assumption.

However, when this reasoning is applied to the universe, there are several differences. We all know what a mature tree looks like, but what does a mature universe look like? Indeed, many arguments for recent creation are that the universe looks young, but then we waffle by claiming that the universe has an appearance of age. If the universe appears young, then it should not appear old, and if it appears old, then we should not expect the universe to appear young. We cannot have it both ways.

Large Magellanic Cloud

Image courtesy of NASA

Large Magellanic cloud (left) and 1987 Supernova (inset)

With the mature-creation hypothesis, distant stars never emitted the light that we are now receiving from them. Instead, the light would have been created in transit and merely appear as if it had been emitted. There are two problems with this conclusion. One is the question of whether the stars exist at all. If starlight was created in transit and was never emitted by stars, then must stars exist? In other words, the creation of light in transit amounts to suggesting that at least the more distant stars are an illusion. Since all galaxies outside of our own are much farther than a few thousand light years, we have never actually received light from any of these galaxies. Instead, light has been created as if it had come from these objects. If this is the case, must those objects actually exist? That is, if there is a created illusion, is there a need for the real objects?

Another problem is that the light from all astronomical objects contains very detailed information. From study of the spectra we can determine composition, temperature, motions, and a host of other things about astronomical bodies. For example, in 1987 a supernova was observed in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way about 160,000 light years away. Astronomers were able to follow the rise and fall in the amount of light over many months. A hot, expanding gas cloud containing particular elements was seen. After a few years a light echo reflecting off nearby clouds was observed. All of this allowed astronomers to piece together a pretty clear picture of the supernova event and its aftermath. However, the light created in transit theory would have us believe that none of these processes actually happened. Why would light created in transit contain so much information of physical processes that never happened?

Finally, the idea that light was created in transit makes no predictions, so it is not testable. Therefore, it cannot be science. That does not mean that this idea is not true, but merely that it is more of a philosophical idea and not a scientific theory or hypothesis. Some critics have gone so far as to ask if most of the universe is an illusion, then why cannot all of the universe be an illusion? How do we know that the world was not created five minutes ago with memories of the past implanted in our brains? This, too, is philosophical and hence cannot be refuted scientifically.

A second explanation for the light-travel-time is a possible decrease in the speed of light. The Australian Barry Setterfield has pursued this idea. In the Setterfield5 hypothesis the speed of light was much higher in the past, but has been exponentially decaying. Perhaps during the creation week the speed of light may have been nearly infinite. This would have allowed light from the most distant objects to have reached the earth during the creation week and continued to reach us as the speed of light has decayed over the years. Setterfield has attempted to relate the change in the speed of light to the fall or other events as well as to find other physical evidences. For instance, Setterfield believes that the decay in the speed of light can account for redshift without appealing to an expanding universe. To support his theory Setterfield has found measurements of the speed of light over the past three centuries that suggest that the speed of light has decreased and continues to decrease.

The Setterfield hypothesis is very controversial,6 a subject that will not be fully discussed here. Critics of the Setterfield hypothesis usually make two points. One is that the speed of light is not an arbitrary constant that may be fixed at will, but is instead dependent upon physical parameters, the fine structure constant and the permittivity and permeability of free space. These two constants are very important in the behavior of electrons orbiting the nuclei of atoms. If those constants are changed even slightly, they will produce very noticeable changes in the structure of matter. If those constants are changed by even a fraction of the amount required by the huge change in the speed of light suggested by Setterfield, matter as we know it would have been impossible. Yet the spectra of distant objects appear identical to that of nearby objects, suggesting that the structure has not changed over time.

Another criticism of the Setterfield hypothesis is that the data may not support a decrease in the speed of light. The earliest measurements account for most of the change. Roemer made the first measurement of the speed of light over three centuries ago. This and subsequent early measurements indeed were much greater than those measured more recently. Taken at face value this would seem to indicate a decrease in the speed of light. However, the early measurements were subject to the greatest error, and it is entirely possible that Roemer simply determined a value that was too large. Those who measured the speed of light soon after Roemer may have fallen victim to trending. Trending is the tendency to make measurements close to the values already known. Science students do this sort of thing in laboratory exercises all the time. A savvy student will know what the book value of a measured quantity is, and the student will work toward this value as a guide. We would like to think that scientists are far too objective for trending to happen, but, being human, a scientist need not even be aware of such a bias. In fairness to Setterfield, he has found in the physics literature measurements of the speed of light made about a century ago by the famous experimental physicist, Albert Michelson. Michelson made several accurate measurements of the speed of light over several decades and apparently was convinced that there was a gradual change in the speed of light. This is much more convincing than the early measurements.

Another curious fact about the Setterfield hypothesis is that the speed of light has remained constant since the early 1960s. Setterfield has responded that new standards of time and length measurement adopted about that time are in terms of the speed of light. Therefore any measurement of the speed of light using the new standards will be in terms of the speed of light and must thus be constant.

A number of criticisms of the Setterfield hypothesis have been made. Some of these have been easily refuted while others have been more problematic. The Setterfield hypothesis remains a very controversial proposition among creationists, with scientists of good credentials and good arguments on either side. These sorts of disagreements are common in science and are a healthy thing. These and similar discussions should be encouraged. A final decision on this topic will not be soon in coming.

A Biblically Based Cosmology: The Humphreys Model

Russ Humphreys is a particle physicist who retired from a major research lab. From his knowledge of physics he knew that general relativity is one of the best-established theories of science. He was also aware of the light-travel-time problem. While contemplating this problem over several years, Humphreys was struck by Biblical mentions (as in Psalm 104:2) of the Lord stretching out the heavens. This seemed similar to the stretching or expanding of space as required by general relativity. Using this as a clue, Humphreys began studying general relativity with the intention of formulating a cosmology (or cosmogony) based upon the Genesis creation account that would solve the light-travel-time problem with relativistic effects. Humphreys has published an outline of his proposal in a book.7 A full discussion of the Humphreys cosmology will not be attempted here; the reader is directed to the above reference for that. However a brief discussion of this model follows.

The Humphreys model assumes that general relativity is a reasonably correct theory of gravity and adequately describes the structure of the universe. One of the results of general relativity is that time is not an absolute for all space, but proceeds at different rates at different locations. The passage of time is affected by speed and acceleration, while those in turn are caused by the presence of large amounts of matter or energy. Time passes infinitesimally more quickly in the reduced gravity on a tall mountain, as compared to in a deep valley, but such small differences are extremely difficult to measure. If a large amount of mass or energy is present, the large curvature of space-time makes time pass at a slower rate than at a location where there is little mass or energy.

Black hole

Humphreys’ cosmology begins with the assumption that at the creation event of Genesis 1:1 all the matter in the universe was compacted into a sphere with a density equal to that of water. Amazingly, all of the matter in the universe would fit into a volume only about a light year across. We would expect that so much matter confined to such a small volume would be a black hole. Black holes are predicted by general relativity and are regions of space having such high density and gravity that nothing, not even light, can escape. A little-known fact is that a black hole is only one possible solution of such a configuration. Another equally valid solution is a white hole, so called for reasons that will be obvious in a moment.

A white hole is similar to a black hole, except that material is rushing outward rather than inward. The outrush of matter and energy would make a white hole appear very bright, unlike a dark black hole where no light can escape. A white hole is sort of the reverse of a black hole. When white holes were hypothesized during the 1960s, it became obvious that such objects could not exist today. One reason that white holes cannot exist today is that there is no natural way to produce such objects. On the other hand, astronomers have developed theories of how black holes can form. For example, we think that stellar-size black holes form from the catastrophic collapse of the cores of certain stars. Another reason that white holes cannot exist today is that they are inherently unstable, so that any white holes from the beginning of the universe should have long ago ceased to exist. As matter streams out of a white hole, its diameter decreases. As the size approaches zero, the white hole disappears. Humphreys suggests that the universe began as a white hole that rapidly began to evaporate so that the white hole ceased to exist sometime during the creation week. Therefore the Humphreys cosmology is sometimes called the white hole cosmology.

Both black holes and white holes are bound by surfaces called event horizons. The event horizon conveniently divides space into those regions inside and outside the compact object. Just above the event-horizon time progresses much more slowly than it does farther away from it. Since the curvature of space is so extreme near the event horizon, the dilation, or slowing, of time is very pronounced there compared to regions far from the event horizon.

Outer Event Horizon

Image courtesy of Bryan Miller

In the white hole cosmology, the earth is near the center of the universe so that it was among the last material to escape from the primordial white hole. Distant matter left much earlier. The creation account is told from the perspective of the earth, so the correct time frame is from there. On the earth the creation took six days. However, much of the universe may have left the white hole earlier than the earth and thus experienced much greater lengths of time than six days. Because of the different rates of time involved, the stars could have been created on day 4, but the light would have traveled for many years to reach the earth within two days when man was here to see them.

Some may object that this is some sort of strange day-age theory, but it is not. General relativity tells us that time is not an absolute in this universe, but instead can run at very different rates. Indeed, general relativity demands that time pass at different rates at different locations in the universe. With certain initial conditions a literal day or two could have passed on the earth while permitting millions or even billions of years to have elapsed elsewhere. Such things are possible as a consequence of general relativity. Therefore the Humphreys cosmology could provide a resolution to the light-travel-time problem.

When introduced, the Humphreys white hole cosmology became quite popular, though not many people really understood how the model worked. Most creationists who are suspicious of the model have remained silent, mostly because it is difficult to credibly critique something about which you know very little. After a while a few old-age creationists began to raise objections to the white hole cosmology. Many of these objections have been minor problems or have been disagreements over how realistic some initial conditions that Humphreys assumed are. The white hole cosmology promises to be debated for some time.

We should emphasize that Humphreys actually proposed far less than many people think. Contrary to popular conception, Humphreys has not published a model, but rather he has suggested a very broad outline of what he wants the model to become. There are many details of the model that have yet to be worked out at the time of publication of this book. While preparing this manuscript I reviewed a paper by Humphreys submitted for publication. In that paper Humphreys discussed William Tifft’s work on quantized redshifts. While redshift quantization is not explainable in terms of a big-bang model, it is easy to explain in Humphreys’ cosmology. Taken at face value and assuming that redshifts are cosmological, the most likely conclusion is that we are located near the center of many concentric shells of galaxies. This means that the universe has a center and that we are located very near that center, which are clearly presuppositions of the Humphreys’ cosmology. Of course, both of these ideas are anathema to any big-bang model so far proposed. This is promising. Whether or not the Humphreys cosmology survives, we should be encouraged by its proposal. Not only is it a serious attempt to solve the light-travel-time problem, but it also offers a biblically based cosmology, something that has been heretofore missing. I consider it likely that the solution to the light-travel-time problem is along these lines.

Non-Euclidean Geometry

Before moving on we should discuss one other proposed resolution of the light-travel-time problem. In the 1950s two physicists named Moon and Spenser (not creationists) proposed that light travels through a different sort of (non-Euclidian) geometry than normal (Euclidean) space.8 Euclidean space is flat, while non-Euclidean space is curved. One of the possibilities of modern cosmology is that space, while it appears flat, may be curved. This is not as weird as it seems at first. For instance, the surface of the earth is curved, but locally it appears flat. Apparently these two scientists proposed their model as an alternative to general relativity. They also stated their intention to follow their paper with subsequent work to clarify their model, but this never happened.

An interesting aspect of their model is that light from the most distant portions of the universe would arrive on the earth within 16 years. If such a model were true, it would be an obvious resolution of the light-travel-time problem. However, there are several problems. One is the question of how realistic this model is. They proposed that matter inhabits Euclidean space while light travels through a different kind of space. That is, the space that we inhabit is flat, but light travels through a highly curved space. Is there evidence that this is indeed the case? One would expect that the promised future papers on the topic would have addressed this question, but, alas, that did not happen.

There may be one unintended prediction of the model. Moon and Spenser picked the radius of curvature of their model based upon a quirk. They realized that in their model very close binary stars would produce multiple images of the stars involved. This would cause unusual increases in the amount of light at various phases of the orbits. When Moon and Spenser published their work, few very close binary stars had been studied. Since that time many more close binary stars have been studied. Additionally, binary stars in which the companion stars are much closer together have been discovered. We now know of stars that are so close that it takes only a matter of minutes to orbit one another. Moon and Spenser selected a curvature small enough so that the effect of multiple images in the then-known binary stars would not be seen, but large enough so that its effects would not be observed in the solar system. With distant solar system probes such as the Pioneers 10 and 11 and the Voyagers 1 and 2 this limit has been increased as well. It is doubtful that using this data unavailable to Moon and Spenser would allow a refinement of their model that would work.

The light-travel-time problem still awaits a totally satisfactory resolution by recent creationists. Instead of majoring on this problem, perhaps we should realize that only an unbelievably powerful Creator could make such a large universe while at the same time enabling us to see it all. Instead of a problem, it could be one of the most remarkable testaments to God’s creation.

Checking Your Understanding

  1. What is the day-age theory?
  2. What is the framework hypothesis?
  3. How does this chapter define evolution?
  4. Why do some creationists reject the expansion of the universe, such as by appealing to the tired-light idea?
  5. How is the translation of the Hebrew word raqia as stereoma in the Septuagint similar to people today who interpret Genesis to reflect the big bang?
  6. What is the light-travel-time problem?
  7. What is a white hole?
  8. Why do most cosmologists doubt that white holes exist in the universe today?

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Footnotes

  1. Weston Fields, Unformed and Unfilled (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1976). Back
  2. H. Blocher, translated by D. Preston, In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis (Leicester, England and Downer’s Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1984). Back
  3. P. Stoner, Science Speaks (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1958). Back
  4. J.K. West, Creation Research Society Quarterly. Back
  5. A, Montgomery, “Third International Conference on Creationism,” (Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 1994), p. 369. Back
  6. For example, see the mini-symposium on this in the CRSQ. Back
  7. D.R. Humphreys, Starlight and Time (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1994). Back
  8. P. Moon and D.E. Spencer, “Binary Stars and the Velocity of Light,” Journal of the Optical Society of America 43(8): 635-641 (1953). Back