This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/deborah-haarsma-the-presidents-notebook/light-matters-does-the-big-bang-have-a-big-problem
Thank you for reading along about these light matters. This is the concluding post of this series explaining why light matters for the age of the universe. As always, I’ll be available here to discuss any questions or remarks you might have. There’s space to discuss tangential topics too.
I regret BioLogos publishes such articles. It gives the uninformed reader the impression that there is a scientific debate about whether or not the universe is more than 6,000 years old. There’s absolutely NOT.
The fact that the universe is more than 6,000 years old doesn’t have anything to do with the “horizon problem”, exactly like the search for the source of the river Nile never changed the location of Alexandria.
First of all, welcome to the Forum! Thank you for your comment.
You are completely right that there is no debate going on in the scientific community about whether the universe is much more than 6,000 years old or not. That issue has been settled a long time ago among the vast majority of scientists. I believe it’s part of my job as a scientist to communicate comprehensibly to lay audiences why it has been settled and based on which evidence.
This is especially important within the Christian community today. Among Christians there’s still a significant amount of scepticism concerning the big bang, evolution, and the way science is being done in general. If scientists stay in their ivory tower and refuse to discuss such matters with the public, that distrust will only grow.
So being a Christian and a scientist, I need to be open to engage with arguments made by fellow Christians concerning the age of the earth and the universe. In this case, the point of criticism happened to be the horizon problem. My goal was to explain in an accessible way why that point of criticism is not valid. (btw I like your analogy of the Nile and Alexandria!)
Our brothers and sisters in Christ keep appealing to a whole variety of arguments in attempts to defend the idea of a young earth. The only way to let them know that we’re really listening is by patiently engaging them in discussions in this way. Just ignoring their arguments won’t bring us anywhere.
Antoine, my regret is that such articles are necessary. I agree that there is no real debate in scientific circles, but in the Christian community that this forum addresses, there are those who are not as aware of the evidence and theological issues that arise.
I think the article is an excellent overview, and particularly felt the summary chart was well done and easy to understand. I look forward to the discussion, especially the thoughts on what theological issues arise from the young earth perspective, and how we read Romans 1:19 and Psalms 20 in light of scientific advances.
Really excellent article @Casper_Hesp. Thanks.
I do apologize Phil and Casper, for I only had a cursory look at the paper before posting. I agree it does NOT claim YEC and “mainstream science” positions are comparable. Sorry for that.
By the way, I’m also a Scientist and a Christian, and was featured some time ago on this website: http://biologos.org/blogs/brad-kramer-the-evolving-evangelical/faith-and-science-in-france-and-spain-an-interview-with-antoine-bret
I too am a Christian and scientist and am pretty confident that the universe is very old. Thanks for the article and straightforward explanation. I talk with teenagers in my church youth group often about the resonance of science as explanation of the “how” behind God’s creation. One question I get regularly from other leaders and occasionally the teens is about whether God could just create a universe that has properties that give it the appearance of an old universe when in fact it was recently created. As in, when creating starlight in the sky as seen from earth, could he not just have made the light at the time of creation as it would be had it traveled through space time over billions of years? Just wondering what a good response to that would be. Seems possible but not sure why God would go through the trouble.
I really like these scientific articles on this site. I find it fascinating to see how simple it is for real scientists to show where scientific sounding claims by creationists go wrong. Many of us know instinctively that these claims are wrong, but we don’t have the scientific knowledge to say exactly what is wrong.
I suppose most real scientists dislike having to refute claims by creationists who obviously know nothing about science, but summarily dismissing bad science makes science seem as dogmatic as any religion. We also have a more practical reason to show the general public where creationist claims are wrong: when we live in a democracy with public funding for science, we can’t afford to let a majority (or a very vocal minority) of the population think that science is an evil plot against religion.
(Welcome to the forum, by the way. )
If you want to read up on how people respond to this idea, google “ompahlos hypothesis.” Or put it in the search feature on biologos.org
Hi Allen, thanks for the question! I think there is a straightforward response to this. The idea that God created light already “on its way” towards us becomes problematic if you think through its implications for God’s character. We see many specific events recorded in that light. For example, think about the light from explosions caused by dying stars or the light emitted by the turmoil near black holes. If the light is showing us events that actually never happened, that would amount to lying on the part of the person who placed that light there. That doesn’t seem to fit with God’s character as revealed to us in the Scriptures. God loves truth .
I’ve noticed the same thing myself. I’ve found that many rank and file YECs tend to be surprisingly comfortable with the idea of the omphalos hypothesis. Personally I just point out the theological problems with it – that it would have God creating evidence for events that never happened – and leave it at that. It’s more important to tackle claims that scientific evidence supports things that it demonstrably does not.
Incidentally, there are a lot of other YEC arguments that turn out to be nothing more than highfalutin varieties of omphalos, in that they only end up proposing processes that serve no purpose whatsoever other than to make the earth look older than it is – usually in the most complicated and convoluted ways imaginable. Some examples include accelerated nuclear decay, catastrophic plate tectonics, and post-Flood hyper-evolution.
Allen, not a lot to add but in my mind, if you accept the authority of the bible, you accept Psalm 19. The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. And Romans 1:19-20 as well.
God nature is truth not lies, and that truth is seen in creation.
" Unfortunately, this maturity includes an impressive collection of phenomena that indicate event histories spanning billions of years. Consider, for example, the presence of fully formed galaxies, many of them still showing the scars of past collisions, relativistic jets, and differences between distant and nearby galaxies. In that case, God would have loaded the initial conditions of Creation with evidence of events that never happened to begin with"
It might be helpful to update your knowledge regarding what YECs think. The maturity model has long since been discarded.
Perhaps a look at what Dr Humphreys and Dr Harnett has proposed might be more entertaining.
Note their take on models of the cosmos.
Just a two pence. Use it, don’t use it, your choice.
2 posts were split to a new topic: How does life arise from dead materials with no intelligent help?
Hi Prode, I’m certainly up to date with the ideas of people like Humphreys and Hartnett. I anticipated comments such as yours, as you can see from the third footnote of my article:
 A young-earth creationist might refer here to time-dilation models such as the White Hole Cosmology of Russell Humphreys. However, those are not young-universe models. They involve placing a young earth in an ancient universe. These have their own theoretical and observational problems which will not be discussed here. See this article by Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe for a critical review of that model.
However, I’m afraid that even these time-dilation models involve “mature creation”. Dr. Hartnett agrees with me here. For example, in this blog post he published in August this year, he said the following:
“De Young argues that all biblical creationist [young-earth] cosmogonies (i.e. worldviews) contain some level of mature creation, which I do agree with.”
And to clarify what kind of mature creation he’s talking about, see also this quote of him from the same article:
“So far I have only made one assumption—God created, ex nihilo, for some of the galaxies, at least, and they were created in various stages of maturity and at various times during Day 4 of Creation Week.”
That’s Hartnett speaking there. The problem of course is that creating galaxies in various stages of maturity requires the insertion of fake evidence of event history. We can read from a galaxy what kind of collisions it has had in the past. For example, from the Aquarius stream in our own Milky Way we can see that our galaxy “consumed” a small dwarf galaxy 700 million years ago!
My understanding is that the prediction of the Big Bang was made by tracing the current motion of the universe backwards to a point where everything would have met. Since our current knowledge of physics can’t deal with the conditions at the point of singularity, are there alternatives to the origin of the universe’s having been a singularity?