BY: ROBERT SURGENOR
One of the controversies involved in the discussion of a young earth versus an old earth is the speed of light. If God created the entire universe in six days, and if the universe is less than 10,000 years old, then we have to ask how the light from stars millions of light years away is already reaching the earth.
The unit of measurement called a Light Year is not actually a time measurement, but a measurement of distance. Light travels at 187,282 miles per second. That is 670 million miles per hour. The furthest stars in our Milky Way galaxy are 75,000 light years away. It takes 75,000 years for the light from those stars to reach earth. The moon is 238,854 miles from earth. Light crosses that distance in about 1 1/2 seconds. The average distance from the sun to the earth is 92,955,817 miles. Light takes about 8 minutes to make that journey.
The Andromeda galaxy is almost 3 million light-years away from earth. If it takes three million years for the light from the Andromeda galaxy to reach earth, and if God created the heavens in it’s entirety 6,000 years ago on day four, how is the light from Andromeda reaching earth today, if it began traveling from Andromeda 6,000 years ago? That light should only be 6,000 light years in distance from Andromeda, nowhere near our earth.
Young Earth experts have offered several solutions to this problem. The most common solution given to audiences at young earth conventions is that light has had different speeds at different times in history. Dr. Jason Lisle, an Astrophysicist with the organization Answers in Genesis, offers what he thinks may be an answer to this problem. In one of his presentations to a Young Earth audience, he stated the following.
“One of the earlier scientific possibilities supposes that the light got here by natural means was the hypothesis of what they call CDK, and this is the idea that the speed of light may have been much greater in the past. This is a really interesting idea. The speed of light might have been much, much greater, in which case it could have traversed an enormous distance in a relatively short amount of time, only today slowing down to it’s present rate. You see, the distant starlight argument assumes that the light speed has always been constant, but perhaps it hasn’t been.” What Jason Lisle is saying is that God made the speed of light faster when he created the universe in order for light from the most distant stars to reach our planet for us to see.
Poppycock! What are we trying to do here? If an Old Earth believer made a totally unsubstantiated claim like this one, he would be belittled by Ken Ham, who would be saying, “Excuse me, were you there?” For all of you Young Earth Creationists out there who follow this stuff, let me remind you of something. In order to establish a credible theory, you must have some sort of evidence to back you up. During my research into the subject of an old earth versus new earth, I have relied on two things, concrete earthly evidence and God’s Word. I am doing the same with the subject of distant starlight and how it has reached the earth from millions of mile away. To “assume” that the speed of light “perhaps hasn’t been” constant, is pure speculation, and another effort to make science fit into the young earth theory! It’s not the old-earther who has preconceived ideas, it’s the Young Earth Creationists!
I once had a young-earther argue with me that we really don’t know for sure if any stars or planets are more than 6000 light years away. That was his answer to the problem of how we are seeing distant starlight. Now if you believe his theory, it’s no use even trying to discuss the subject with you any further. Modern science has proven that there are millions of miles in distance between our earth and millions of other heavenly bodies. Does anyone dispute this fact? If you do, then you join the group of modern-day “flat-earthers” that make the rest of us Christians look stupid! Your proclamation to the world, “Hi, I’m a born again Christian, and I believe dinosaurs lived with man 5000 years ago and our universe is only 12,000 light years in diameter.” You are making born again Christians look like a bunch of flat-earth weirdo’s who know nothing about anything worth knowing.
According to the young earth theory, on the fourth day, God created the sun, the moon, and the stars. Let me remind you that the Bible does not say that God “created” the sun and the moon” Genesis specifically states that God “made” the lights, a completely different action than “creating” something (See chapter six). The first mention of human beings seeing stars in the heavens is in Genesis 15:5, when God says to Abram, “And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou are able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall they seed be.” This occurred in 1913 BC, which is about 2100 years after Genesis chapter one. For light to reach the earth from Andromeda in 2100 years, that light would have to travel at over 267 million miles per second, over 1,400 times it’s normal speed.
We have absolutely no evidence in history or in science that the speed of light was any faster in the past than it is today. Dr. Jason Lisle’s assertion is pure speculation, and there is no room for speculation in this investigation. If his statement was presented to the jury in a court case, the judge would immediately order it stricken from the record and the jury would be instructed to ignore the statement. So that is what we are going to do here. We are going to ignore Jason Lisle’s statement. It’s absurd! I once had a YEC argue with me about this point by stating, “With God, all things are possible” This was his answer to the speed of light being thousands of times it’s normal speed in the past in order for us to now see distant stars. He added, “Jesus turned water into wine, didn’t he?” This is another example of ignorance of Biblical text. Although the verse the YEC quoted appears to be conclusive, a close examination of the original text and other scriptures regarding God’s abilities proves otherwise. Exodus 34:6 states, “The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving the iniquity of the upon the children, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” Titus 1:2 states, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” So God cannot clear the guilty. God cannot lie. So a simple reading of the text, “With God, all things are possible,” doesn’t hold up. There are certain laws and ordinances that are set by God and cannot be changed.
Since we are unable to determine through science if the speed of light has ever fluctuated, we have to rely on God’s Word. The first piece of evidence that I am going to examine regarding this subject is our reliable witness, the Bible. The Bible gives us a clear indication of how God’s laws were designed. Jeremiah chapter 31, verses 35 and 36 state, “Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar. If these ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever.”
Let’s examine what kind of evidence God gives us about his laws of nature. The word “ordinances” is used twice in this passage, each one having a distinctive meaning. The original Hebrew word for “ordinances” in “the ordinances of the moon and the stars” is “khook-kaw’.” It means to “be appointed.”
The second word “ordinanaces,” used in “If these ordinances depart from before me,” in the original Hebrew text is “khoke.” It means “a decree.” In all occasion where this Hebrew word is used, it is describing a “fixed law or statute.” The text strongly suggests an unwaiverable standard.
God also uses this term in Jeremiah chapter 33 and verse 25, where He writes, “Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, Then I will cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob.”
In this verse, God states clearly that he has “appointed” the ordinances, or laws, of heaven and earth. The Hebrew word for appointed is “suwm.” The word means “to set or ordain.” It also means “to constitute or establish.” Again, God is telling us that he has ordained and constituted the laws of nature that we observe today.
God also says in Psalm 74 and verse 16, “The day is Thine, the night also is Thine: Thou hast prepared the light and the sun.” Notice the word “prepared” and how it is used in this verse. The original Hebrew word for prepared is “kuwn.” It means “to be fixed,” or “to be stable and unchangeable.” This verse strongly suggests that when God made the light, he made them in the same condition that they are today. When God brought light into existence, it travelled at 187,282 miles per second.
So we can conclude from God’s word, the the laws of nature are fixed, and have been from the time He created the universe. In fact, in another lecture given by Dr. Jason Lisle, he contradicts his theory of variable light speeds by stating that the laws of God and nature are, have been, and always will be, fixed. He stated the following to his audience.
“We have a standard of correct thinking because we have the Biblical God. God is our correct standard for everything. Why would there be uniformity in nature? Because God upholds the universe in a consistent law-like fashion. He does that for our benefit and he has promised us that there will be a certain degree of uniformity in the future as there has been in the past. We rely upon a certain degree of orderliness in nature, which we’ll call uniformity. The way in which God upholds the universe, what we would call the laws of nature, do not arbitrarily change.”
It appears that we have an inconsistency here. Two differing views about the speed of light given by the same person. The Young Earth advocates always make it a point to expose the discrepancies in the theories of anyone disagreeing with them, as Dr. Jason Lisle pointed out in another one of his lectures. He stated, “Laws of logic stem from God’s nature. We are made in God’s image, so we instinctively know these laws of logic. We act on them , like the law of non-contradiction. Even if you’ve never heard of the term before, you immediately know that it’s true. Two contradictory statements cannot both be true. That is a law of logic that cannot be violated. Why is it that two contradictory statements cannot both be true? It stems from God’s nature. Second Timothy two and thirteen says ‘If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for he cannot deny Himself.’ Truth will not contradict itself.” I think it’s apparent here that the Young Earthers have indicted themselves.
Another lecturer for Answers In Genesis, Dr. Werner Gitt, has an entire presentation on the laws of nature. It’s apparent that the left hand of AIG has no idea what the right hand is doing, because different speakers for this organization propose different theories. Dr. Gitt was the director of the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology and a “Creation Information Scientist” with Answers In Genesis. In his presentation, Dr. Gitt states that God’s laws of nature are universally valid and have never varied in time, contradicting the theories being proposed by Dr. Jason Lisle.
Scientist have discovered that each one of nature’s laws are dependent on each other. It’s interesting to note that secular scientists have recognized the fact that all of nature’s laws concerning the operation of our universe work so closely together, that if one natural law would change, the entire universal machine would result in chaos. The fact that each law of nature is dependent on other laws of nature are prerequisites for life. The law of Gravitational Force depends on the Speed of Light and the Electromagnetic Force. The Proton Mass and the Electron Mass and the Nuclear Force need to be consistent in order for our universe to exist.
You can see that the Young Earth Advocate’s attempt to explain how light from stars millions of light years away are now reaching earth by asserting that the speed of light changed over the years, is impossible. It is a theory being proposed by the YECs with absolutely no scientific evidence and without any Biblical evidence to back them up. In fact, God’s Word seems to indicate that the laws of nature have, and always will be, consistent.
Another explanation being suggested at Young Earth seminars is what is called the Alternate Synchrony Convention. Jason Lisle gives this explanation to his audiences in a effort to explain another one of his theories. He proposes that an airplane leaves it’s departure city at 4:00 PM. Based on the speed of the plane and distance to the destination, it should be a two hour flight. “Amazingly,” he says, “the plane arrives at the destination at 4:00 PM.” He tells the audience that the plane left Virginia at 4:00 PM local time and landed in Colorado at 4:00 PM local time. Jason Lisle goes on to say that there are two time conventions that we use, local time and universal time.
No matter what convention we use, the theory of Alternate Synchrony Convention cannot apply to the speed of light. The reason is this. If you leave Virginia in a plane at 4 PM, and you call your spouse when you arrive safely in Colorado, the phone at your home will ring at 6 PM. That is two hours later. Your friends in Colorado, who received your call at 2 PM Colorado time to tell them you were on your way, meet you when you land at 4 PM Colorado time.
The Alternate Synchrony Convention theory cannot be used when calculating the speed of light in the vast universe. Jason Lisle states to his audience that the Bible uses “local time,” but we are required to use “universal time” when we are dealing with the universe. No matter how you attempt to explain this theory in this situation, it boils down to one thing.
When God created the entire universe, he created the earth and Andromeda at the same time. If this occurred on day four in Genesis as Young Earth advocates believe, then it occurred on day four in both locations, Andromeda and earth. Light from Andromeda began traveling at 187,000 miles per second toward earth. Mind you, according to YECs, this is day four in both locations. The attempt by Jason Lisle to convince his audience that “local time convention” can be used in these circumstances is another attempt to fit his preconceived ideas into his theory of a young earth.
It takes 3 million years for the light from Andromeda to reach earth. When Abram looked up into the sky and saw the millions of stars pointed out to him by God, the Andromeda light was included in what he saw. Because God himself tells us that when he created the universe, his laws and ordinances were “fixed,” then I have to concluded that the speed of light has been consistent since the creation of the universe. Therefore, I have to conclude that the universe is millions of years old.