Starlight and the Age of the Universe PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Friday, 04 December 2015 17:26

A friend asked me how I reconcile the Bible’s apparent teaching that the universe is young with star light’s indication that the universe may be very old. We understand that stars are millions or billions of light-years away from us. I replied as follows with the resources I have.

You might find the following article interesting in connection with considering the age of the universe.

DeRemer, Frank, Mark Amunrud, and Delmar Dobberpuhl. “Days 1-4.” Journal of Creation 21, no. 3 (2007): 69–76.  Available at http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j21_3/j21_3_69-76.pdf.

Note the following quote from that article:

"God made (not created) the expanse (v. 7a). From what did He make it? The form ‘expanse of the heavens’ may indicate the ‘what’, for it is used four times (vv. 14, 15, 17, 20) even after God called it ‘heavens’. Thus, ‘expanse of the heavens’ suggests ‘the expanded form of the (original) heavens’. That sounds like God started with the original heavens of v. 1—the substance or fabric from which to make finished heavens—and expanded or stretched them out to make places for the luminaries (space).

Thus, ‘the expanse of the heavens’ seems to be the stretched-out form of the original heavens. Confirmations are found in Scriptures written later, if stretching is identified with expanding. Job 9:8, Is. 40:22, Is. 51:13, Jer. 10:12b=51:15b, Zech. 12:1, ‘Who/He (alone) stretches (-ed) out the heavens’. Is. 42:5, He ‘created the heavens and stretched them out’ (created and made). Is 42:12, Is. 48:13, add the anthropomorphism: ‘...with His hands/My right hand...’. Ps. 104:2b, ‘stretching out the heavens like a tent curtain’. Some take such stretching as metaphorical, but equating ‘expanding’ with ‘stretching’ obviates any reason to do so and makes good sense."

My basic thought which might be useful to you is this:  if God stretched out space, He may well have stretched out the star light within that space at the same time, ending with his fixing the locations of the stars (and so ceasing His work of stretching out the "expanse"?) on day 4.  I don't think this provides a comprehensive answer to your question, but I find it satisfies my curiosity sufficiently, and on biblical grounds.  The article's authors think in a similar way in regard to day 2, before the stars were made:

"God’s separating the matter droplets so far from each other caused their light to dim or go out temporarily, for a second night time. It also stretched out the first light in the universe, resulting in low-frequency background radiation. Hence, this second night was not utterly devoid of light, as was the first, but it was relatively dark as ours are now." (p. 74)

I referenced this article a couple times in my sermons on Genesis 1-3 at http://www.alwaysreformed.com/publicdocs/papers/Sermons%20on%20Genesis,%20by%20Tim%20Black.pdf, notably, on p. 235 in the context of critiquing the Framework view from the perspective of the 24 hour view of the days of creation.

As I stated there, one of the authors expanded on the article above in the following book:

Dobberpuhl, Delmar. The First Four Days:  The Creation of the Universe:  an Annotated Account. WinePress Publishing, 2012. https://books.google.com/books?id=ewwKPs2ROSIC....

Note pp. 157ff, which deal with your question:  https://books.google.com/books?id=ewwKPs2ROSIC....

Other pages also deal with the issue; search for the word "starlight."

An explanation by Dobberpuhl similar to the article above is at http://www.ldolphin.org/cid.html.  Note the following quotes from that article:

"The physical concept just described includes all these smaller blobs forming their own gravity wells then being separated from each other by expanses governed by gravity. There are 13 references in the remainder of the bible confirming that God stretched (Job 9:8, Psa.104:2, Isa.40:22, 42:5, 44:24, 45:12, 51:13, Jer.10:12, 51:15, Zec.12:1) the heavens or spread out (Job 26:7, 37:18, Isa.48:13) the heavens and/or the earth [5]. The stretching implies the expanding of the gravitational fields between the masses (blobs) as they are spread throughout the universe."

"The setting of the luminaries could explicitly refer to the positioning (including relativity and time dilation) of all the heavenly objects in their time and space and limiting their movement with respect to Earth. Most likely it also refers to the stopping of the stretching. Job 37:18 in the NIV translation captures both these concepts in one verse. Other references in the Bible confirm God's act of setting the luminaries in their locations in the sky (e.g. Psa.8:3, 148:6, Pro. 3:19, 8:27, Isa.51:16)."

Russell Humphreys wrote the following book which seeks to directly answer your question:

Humphreys, D.R., Starlight and Time: Solving the Puzzle of Distant Starlight in a Young Universe, Master Books, Colorado Springs, CO, p. 53, 1994.

DeRemer, Dobberpuhl, and Amunrud replied to Russel Humphreys' response to their article at https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j22_1/j22_1_56-58.pdf.  Humphreys advocated the view that time dilation is the explanation for light coming from distant stars in a young universe - that is, "young" from the perspective of earth, because according to the theory of time dilation, time has not moved at the same rate from the perspective of every location in the universe.  So far as I have read, it appears to me that the primary evidence for the theory of time dilation has been given a much simpler explanation, leaving the theory of time dilation without convincing evidence (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Humphreys#New_Cosmologyhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_anomaly).  Nevertheless, you may find Humphrey's book useful, because it attempts to directly answer your question.

This appears to be an attempt at a serious critique of Humphreys' theory: Conner, Samuel R., and Don N. Page. “Starlight and Time Is the Big Bang.” CEN Tech. J 12, no. 2 (1998): 174ø e194.  Available at http://www.trueorigin.org/rh_connpage1.pdf.

Personally, I am inclined, because of scripture's statements that God "spread out" the "expanse" (which can mean something which has formerly undergone an action of being spread out; the article by DeRemer, et. al. led me to see this as significant), to think that God may have created each star's light on day 2, while He also was--as an act of extraordinary (not ordinary) providence--greatly expanding the universe, which would be a reason to consider that the stars' light may have traveled "faster" or "further" in proportion to the size of the universe than it does today, and if that is not the correct or full explanation, I am inclined to think that God could have created not only each star, but also the full extent of each star's light, on day 4, and it is possible God caused that light to travel "faster" or "further" on day 4 by an act of His extraordinary providence.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 21:28