This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/deborah-haarsma-the-presidents-notebook/light-matters-is-god-the-3d-printer-of-our-cosmos
As always, I’m available here to respond to any further thoughts or questions you might have about the topics we touched upon in this article. Also, feel free to start a discussion on anything related.
Can you clarify something for me? It seems that there is a progression of sorts in your summary. “Firstly, the ASC as a descriptive convention does not respect the physical nature of light.” If I understand you correctly, the ACS is a convention that can be legitimately chosen. The question then is whether light actually travels at an infinite speed toward earth and c/2 away from earth. If it does, then the universe really is young. At this point we lean on Maxwell’s equations to note that when we consider the light as a physical reality, then we have to hold it is constant in all directions. The only way to salvage the model, therefore, is to grant the constancy of the speed of light, but retain the convention just for communication purposes. Thus the universe really is old, but it is told as though it were young (according to the convention). But at this point it falls prey to your next point, "Secondly, the ASC model is self-defeating because its straightforward physical interpretation stretches Creation across billions of years."
Am I understanding this correctly?
Hi Brett, welcome to the Forum! You got the overall picture correct. It is a process of salvaging the ASC model when we encounter obstacles to see where it will lead us next. The idea is to treat the proposal as fairly as possible by not getting bogged down on a single issue, but exploring all possible ways to keep the model. We will see even bigger obstacles once we get the observations involved.
I would like to point out one issue with interpretation in the following statement of yours:
In the previous post, I said that the ASC could describe a possibly young universe. However, simply applying the ASC does not make the universe young. The universe will only be young within the ASC if it was created in the specific way described in the article of today. So only if the universe was created in a series of geocentric shells (third point of the summary), stretched out over billions of years (second point) could the universe be called young within the ASC. This Creation model is what Lisle calls the ASC model. We will discuss more implications of it in the next post.
Hi Casper - I think that’s what I’m not understanding, either. I thought the ASC meant that light really does, physically, travel at c/2 away from the observer and oo (infinity) in the direction of the observer. If that were so, then all the creating of the heavenly bodies no matter how distant could have been done on the 4th day - indeed in the same instant - and all their light as perceived from earth would have arrived likewise, in the same instant. So how then do you get to the “3D printing” picture from that?
Brett suggested, I guess, that there are other reasons (he cited Maxwell) for thinking that the ASC, even if granted, would have to be just an “as-if” convention only and not physically real. Could you elaborate on what some of those other reasons are?
Hi Scott, I want to highlight the phrase where you said that it “could have been done on the 4th day”. That is true. If the ASC would actually correspond with the physical characteristics of light, it could indeed give us a young universe. But it could give us an ancient universe just as well. I meant to make a distinction between ASC as purely a convention and the “ASC model” which includes the assertion of a young universe.
The 3D-printing picture only comes in when we realize that the laws of physics (Maxwell) correspond only with the standard synchronization (with a constant speed of light in all directions). It results from translating the “4th day” in the ASC model to the standard synchronization. It’s a bit hard on people’s minds to do the gymnastics in switching between these two descriptions all the time.
One obvious reason is that of simplicity. The ASC transforms all the tidy equations of Special Relativity into a huge mathematical shipwreck. The standard convention results in cleaner descriptions. So if both were to be completely equivalent on all other fronts, one would still lean towards the standard convention for practicality.
Some authors in the blogosphere (e.g., Timothy Reeves and also Nick Matzke cited above) have objected to the mathematical expression that Lisle proposed for the speed of light as a function of the movement angle with respect to the observer. They argue that it is not a legitimate coordinate transformation. I’m not as enthusiastic about those arguments as they are. One reason is that the angle-dependency could result from movement through a distance-dependent coordinate system. Besides, I’ve seen transformations similar to ASC being used in astrophysics for the concept of retarded time. Anyways, whether those authors are correct or not, I figured that such arguments are not transparent enough for presenting them to a broad audience. The ASC model has enough detrimental problems without having to go into excruciating detail on the coordinate transformation.
I am a 6-day creationist but that does not stop me from critiquing Lisle’s paradigm. Does he violate the very Genesis text he seeks to uphold? His ASC frame correctly places the creation of Earth before the stars, but when he performs his (alleged) ASC to ESC conversion, Earth postdates the stars. I think this betrays the Einstein frame in his paradigm as nothing more than a billions-of-years long manipulation to get the story to turn out ‘just right’ on Day 4. Please comment about his placement of Earth in both frames.
Hi @r_speir, thanks for your question!
You’ve got it right. The ASC model is constructed such that the Earth is created approximately one day before the heavenly bodies in the ASC description. If we translate this from ASC to the standard convention (ESC), the creation of the Earth takes place after the heavenly bodies. The resulting ESC picture then indeed looks like a billions-of-years manipulation to get the desired result in the ASC description.
See the second footnote of this blog post:
 Lisle himself also addressed this issue of Creation being spread out over billions of years. He challenged it by saying that there is no reason to prefer the standard convention over the ASC a priori. However, our previous post has made clear that the standard convention is preferred by the physical nature of light.
As I said in the article, the “plain” physical interpretation of Lisle’s proposal (i.e., the interpretation using the standard convention, ESC) contradicts the reading of literal solar days in Genesis 1. I hope this answers your question, basically you were already on the mark.
It is clear that young-earth creationists have issues with Lisle’s model that are quite separate from the scientific aspects. John Hartnett, for example, was worrying that if the ASC is used in the Bible, the Curse would be difficult to interpret. Such criticism is based on the belief that the whole universe was cursed in a specific moment after Adam’s sin. That mode of interpretation is already debatable, so we don’t venture into such things. There is enough to say about the ASC model when we look at the purely theoretical and observational issues.
Casper, thanks for your prompt and thorough answer! So let’s take this one step further. We know from the text that ‘the heavens’ and ‘earth’ are both ‘beginning’ characters (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”). Now, say you and I were assigned to build the ASC model.We would approach it in an unbiased manner and would naturally place both the heavens and the earth where they belong - at the beginning in both frames - ASC and ESC. It doesn’t matter how old they are or even how old we think they are. To remain unbiased we must obey the text as well as the Conventionality Thesis which states that both frames of reference are true. But note that Lisle cannot do that because he has far too much invested in young-Earth research. His bias mandates that he place the emergence of the earth about 14 billion years into the Einstein frame. This is clear manipulation borne out of anxiety. What is he anxious about? Well, read his paper. Under the heading “Potential Objections to the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention” he states that he does not believe his model is phenomenological (language based on appearance), but then says “But even if it were…,” and that is precisely what he must brace himself for. In the end, if his model is found to be merely phenomenological in nature, he is duty-bound to keep the earth young and the only way to do that is to manipulate the Einstein frame by placing what should be a ‘beginning’ character - namely, the earth - at the tail-end of a very long and deep universe history. Again, I would like your thoughts.
Here are my thoughts. The main problem with the solution you propose is that it is impossible to make the creation of the Earth and the rest of the universe happen simultaneously using two different synchrony conventions such as the ASC and the standard convention (ESC).
If you place their creation at the same moment in time (i.e., “at the beginning”) in the ASC, this automatically means their creation will be spread across billions of years in the ESC. If you try to place them at the same moment in time in the ESC, it will be spread across billions of years in the ASC. This effect remains when you put 1 day, 3 days, or even 100 years between the creation of the Earth and the other objects in the universe. The distances that light can travel within such timescales are so small compared to the size of the universe that they are negligible.
Lisle didn’t “choose” for placing the creation of the Earth billions of years after the most distant galaxies (in the ESC). However, that was a direct result of his choice to place the creation of Earth and the other heavenly bodies within one Creation week (consisting of literal solar days) in the ASC. That problem remains when you place the creation of the Earth exactly simultaneous with the rest of the universe in the ASC, as you propose.
The conventionality thesis only holds within the theory of Special Relativity. As soon as you also take into account Maxwell’s theory of Electromagnetism, only the Einstein Synchrony Convention remains as a physical description. Maxwell’s equations demand that light travels at a constant finite speed in all directions. This is what we discussed in the second post of this series on the physical nature of light. It means that Lisle’s proposal cannot be accepted as anything more than a phenomenological description, unless he completely rewrites Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism.
Fortunately, this also means that astronomers only need to worry about one synchronization convention, namely the ESC. The current standard cosmological model shows an extremely good fit with current findings under the assumption that the universe as we know it came into existence about 13.6 billion years ago (in the ESC). They don’t have to worry about the ASC because it’s not a physical description.
I so appreciate your thoughts. They reveal so much about how really ludicrous the whole ASC idea is - especially coming from a young-Earth and young-universe crowd! To be concise and hopefully much more clear, my protest to Lisle was simply “Why in the ESC should the stars happen first and not the earth?” What in the text (or in science) prohibits the earth being placed at the center of things first, followed by concentric shells of stars (galaxies) being created inwardly towards it over billions of years? Such a construction should not in any wise damage his ASC Creation Week*, except that the earth would necessarily be profoundly old - something unconscionable in YEC views, and also my very point. His decision to place earth at the end of the ESC creation is just as arbitrary as my insistence that it could be placed first! I completely agree with you that his ideas are phenomenological in nature. Of course, he would disagree. I look forward to your subsequent articles.
*All light distant and near would still arrive at Earth on Day 4.
Casper, you have probably already voided Lisle’s ASC paradigm with your animation above. If the dot in the middle which represents Earth comes into being anytime earlier than around 10,000 years before today, then his young-Earth model is voided. But Lisle has no control over the era in which Earth will emerge. Our planet may very well be 1 million years old, or 1 billion, or 5 or 10 billion according to his model. In fact, to go strictly by the Genesis text, Earth may actually predate the stars as the oldest object in the Universe! Lisle says the stars were ‘created’ on Day 4 in the ASC paradigm, but that ignores the Einstein frame wherein they were created millions and billions of years ago. And if the stars only ‘appear’ on Day 4 in the ASC, how do we know that the earth does not similarly ‘appear’ on Day 1 and is actually far older than six or ten thousand years? It is impossible for Lisle’s paradigm to remove that ominous possibility. What your animation has done is to expose Lisle’s ideas as completely ad hoc. In other words, he wanted a young Earth, so he just ‘slid’ the creation of Earth to the ‘young’ end of the ESC frame and ‘sold’ it to us as the authentic ASC-to-ESC conversion to the exclusion of all others. But his approach is not legitimate because his very paradigm actually allows for an almost endless range of possibilities for the age of the earth! Not only does his paradigm hold zero value as a young-Earth creationist cosmology, it also unwittingly supplies a solid argument in which to challenge the principle precept of young-Earth philosophy itself.
Hi @r_speir, excuse me for my late reply. I think it is true that many people would already dismiss the ASC model purely on basis of the theoretical considerations that we have discussed in these first three posts.
However, a proponent of the ASC model could still claim in the end that God could, in principle, have chosen to establish His Creation in this particular way. In the fourth post of this series (published today), we start exploring whether that fits with observations. It turns out it doesn’t. The examples we’ll cover are actually also problematic for young-universe cosmologies in general.
I hope you’ll enjoy the series, I look forward to reading any further thoughts you might have on the topic.
Casper, while your answer may be technically correct, it will almost certainly not be satisfactory for young-Earthers. They are dogmatic about a six- to ten-thousand-year-old Earth. There can be no question that Lisle’s paradigm leaves open-ended the very important question regarding the age of the earth, and as such, yields an intolerable outcome for young-Earth creationists. When developing his model, Lisle’s bias caused him to present hasty and incomplete due diligence when he presented his alleged ASC-to-ESC conversion. And his peer-reviewers missed it as well. I think they really have no choice but to announce a wholesale abandonment of the model (something I have never seen them do) or to quietly ignore it and let it die.