A functionally mature creation
Creation of the cosmos according to the Bible
There are two main worldviews concerning the creation of the universe: the big-bang theory and the Bible. According to the laws of nature, both explanations have a light time travel problem (Appendixes C and D).
This post gives a summary of the biblical worldview of the creation of the universe. It begins with seven inferences from the Bible.
Over six days at the beginning of time, God created a functionally mature universe (Gen. 1:1-2:1) (Appendix A). This is not deceitful because God communicated to mankind what happened. According to the genealogical and historical information in the Bible it occurred about 6k years ago. After the six days:
- The vegetation was mature – it had seeds and fruits (Gen. 1:11-12). These were food for Adam and Eve and the animals (Gen. 1:29-30).
- The aquatic and marine creatures were mature – they could swim and breed offspring (Gen. 1:20-22).
- The birds were mature – they could fly and breed offspring (Gen. 1:20-22).
- Adam and Eve were adults – they could breed offspring (Gen. 1:28).
And the sun, moon and stars were visible from earth (Gen.1:14-18). Therefore, by analogy the astronomical universe was also mature after the 6 days.
In 2016, Nissan’s Sunderland factory in the UK produced about 60 cars per hour (when operating at 98% efficiency). At the end of the assembly line, each car was functionally mature – it was able to be driven. Likewise, at the end of God’s creation each part of creation was able to perform its function.
This was a miraculous supernatural creation, which cannot be explained by the laws of nature alone. In fact, the current laws of nature may not have come into existence until after the creation period.
In a few days God did what biological evolution claims took millions of years by naturalistic means – He created all biological life. And in a few days God did what the big-bang theory claims took 14 billion years by naturalistic means – He created the astronomical universe. God’s functionally mature creation makes the ideas of biological evolution and the big-bang obsolete and un-necessary.
During these few days, God stretched out the heavens to the vast extent of the observable universe and then ceased the action of ‘stretching out’ (Gen. 1:6-7; Job 9:8; Isa. 40:22; 42:5; Jer. 10:12; Zech. 12:1). He made a huge universe in a few days!
On day 6 Adam and Eve saw the astronomical universe much like what we see it today (minus any changes that have occurred in the past 6k years). The universe was huge (but Adam and Eve didn’t know this) – God is not constrained by distance or time. This was not deceptive to Adam and Eve because they didn’t know how far away the astronomical bodies (stars and galaxies) were or what the speed of light was (and the one-way speed of light can’t even be measured today).
We don’t know how God did it (so Adam and Eve could see the stars and galaxies two days after they were created), but it was like the one-way speed of light was much greater than it is assumed to be today (or infinite). This is like the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (see Appendix B). As God created light, He could control it for His own purposes (Gen. 1:3). We don’t need a physical mechanism for this – after all, we don’t seek one for other miracles like the virgin birth of Christ or His resurrection from death. However, some people do propose plausible theories about how it could have happened.
God’s miraculous supernatural creative activity largely ceased after Genesis 1-2 and was replaced with God’s providence.
Today we see the universe like Adam and Eve saw it plus any changes that have occurred in the past 6k years. But there are two ways that this can be viewed – the Einstein Synchrony Convention (ESC) and the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC) are different observational conventions (Appendix B).
Inference 7a – ESC view
Because of the speed of light, when we observe the universe we assume we are seeing how it appeared at earlier times. But according to the Bible when we reach about 6k light-years away we reach a boundary condition, which is Day 4 of creation. The light we see today from any star that is greater than 6k light-years away from the earth will have originated on Day 4 of creation. Beyond this distance we are observing activity that occurred during God’s creation of the astronomical universe. This is the answer to the distant starlight problem (Appendix C) in the ESC viewpoint.
Critics claim that according to this worldview we should not be able to observe astronomical bodies greater that 6k light-years away (because the universe is assumed to be only about 6k years old). But we do see astronomical bodies greater that 6k light-years away! This is called the distant starlight problem (Appendix C). But this ignores God’s supernatural creative activity at the beginning of time. Of course, this supernatural cause of the cosmos can’t be explained by natural laws alone!
Jason Lisle claims, “Even miracles leave evidence in the natural world. So, for example, if God drastically sped up the speed of light during creation week, this would logically affect the wavelength of distant starlight. And we don’t see any evidence of this”. The line spectra from distant nebula do not show any evidence of an increased speed of light. That’s why he believes that the ASC view is the most natural explanation of the distant starlight problem.
Inference 7b – ASC view
In this case the one-way speed of light is infinite so we can directly observe what is happening throughout the universe as it occurs (Appendix B). As we are not looking back in time there is no distant starlight problem in the ASC view.
In the ESC view, when we observe astronomical bodies beyond 6 light-years away, we are seeing events that occurred in day 4 of creation – that’s why the mature universe is said to have a distant starlight problem (in the ESC view the real age doesn’t match the apparent age determined according to the laws of nature alone).
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is a disk of stars about 100k light-years across, and about 1k light-years thick. The sun is situated about halfway from the center and is near the middle of the disk in the vertical direction. This means that most of the stars we see with the unaided eye are less than 6k light-years away. In the ESC view, when we view objects further away than 6k light-years, like the Large Magellanic cloud at 160k light- years away and Andromeda at 2.5 million light-years, we are seeing events that occurred in day 4 of creation. So in the ESC view, most observations of stars and galaxies that can only been seen using telescopes, are of events that occurred in day 4 of creation. So telescopes can gaze into the greatest miracle of all!
So according to the laws of physics, telescopes are looking at either events as they occur in real time (ASC view) or events that occurred in day 4 of creation (ESC view).
It’s interesting to note that the distant starlight problem (Appendix C) is solved if we assume that the ASC view applies, and the horizon problem in the big-bang model (Appendix D) is solved by the idea of cosmic inflation.
According to the biblical worldview, the astronomical universe was created rapidly over a few days near the beginning of time to be functionally mature and huge in size. This was a miraculous event. God’s functionally mature creation makes the ideas of biological evolution and the big-bang obsolete and un-necessary. And it means that the complexity of species hasn’t changed with time – it was built into the original genomes.
In the ESC view, God’s original astronomical creative acts can be seen through telescopes at distances of greater than 6 light-years. The claim that the biblical account of the creation of the universe has a distant starlight problem is incorrect because it ignores the account of creation in Genesis 1. It is merely saying that a miraculous event cannot be explained by the laws of nature, which is the definition of a miracle!
However, in the ASC view there is no distant starlight problem.
Appendix A: Interpretation of Genesis 1
- What was the meaning when it was written? This is the original meaning.
- What were the original principles behind this meaning?
- What has changed since then?
- What are the universal principles for us today? Here we update the principles.
- What is the meaning for us today? How should we apply these universal principles? Here we update the applications or practices of the principles.
The genre of Genesis 1 is historical narrative. Genesis 1-11 moves seamlessly into Genesis 12-50 with no change in style. And the other writers of the Bible treat Genesis as history. Hebrew poetry is characterized by parallelism of thought (the repetition in close proximity of one thing in two or more different ways); but there is no parallelism in Genesis 1.
The reasons that Genesis 1 is historical narrative and not poetic are:
– There is no parallelism,
– There are repeated instances of the vav-consecutive (prefixing a verb with the Hebrew letter waw in order to change its tense or aspect), indicating continuous narrative of the past, and
– There are sequential time stamps (evening and morning; the second day, the third day etc.).
Genesis is the book of beginnings. The book was compiled by Moses in about 1450BC. Moses probably edited a collection of far older documents that described events that occurred before the lifetime of Moses. The first document in Genesis is a summary outline of the whole creation, in chronological order (Gen. 1:1-2:3). It says that God created a universe that was good and free from sin and which culminated with humanity being created in God’s image (to have a personal relationship with Him) and given dominion over the rest of creation. It is followed by a more detailed description of events on day 6 of creation (Gen. 2:4-25).
Who was it written to?
Moses compiled the book of Genesis to give the Israelites an account of their history back to the patriarchs and Abraham and Noah and Adam. We don’t know who originally wrote Genesis 1. God could have revealed it to Adam or Moses or any of the men who lived between Adam and Moses.
The structure of Genesis 1
Genesis 1 has a repetitive structure, which was a common device in ancient literature to aid memorization. But it is not poetic. There are four basic themes on each day of creation.
- God’s command
“And God said, ‘Let there be …”
“And it was so …”. God spoke things into existence. As God is the creator of time, He needs no time for His creative acts.
“God saw that it was good”.
- Conclusion/Closure of the day
“And there was evening and there was morning – the Xth day”. As the Hebrew day went from sunset to sunset, it was made up of the night-time hours followed by the daylight hours. Each command was fulfilled within a 24-hour period.
Is it a command, a model to follow or just a report of events?
Genesis 1 is a report of events that occurred when the universe was created. But it includes a command given to Adam and Eve (v.28).
The original meaning
What did Genesis 1 mean to the Israelites? The Israelites would have understood from Genesis 1-2 that in six 24-hr days (each with evening and morning) God created the universe, including: the earth, light, water, the atmosphere, vegetation, sun, moon and stars, aquatic life, bird life, animals, and Adam and Eve. Everything was created functionally mature – there is no suggestion that they were immature. For example, the sun, moon and stars would have been visible to Adam and Eve on day 6 of creation.
The original principles
In six days, God created a functionally mature universe.
What has changed since then?
In the last few hundred years it has been suggested that that Biblical account of creation is inaccurate, namely:
– the universe is 14 billion years old, not 6k years old.
– the development of the universe is described by the big-bang model.
– the development of biological life is described by the idea of biological evolution.
The only way to make this consistent with the Bible is to change the literary genre of Genesis 1 and say that “day” means a long period of time. But translations of the Bible use “day” and not a word or phrase for a long period of time. And Adam lived throughout the 7th day, so that day was shorter than his lifespan.
According to the NET Bible, ‘The exegetical evidence suggests the word “day” in this chapter refers to a literal 24-hour day. It is true that the word can refer to a longer period of time (see Isa. 61:2, or the idiom in 2:4, “in the day,” that is, “when”). But this chapter uses “day,” “night,” “morning,” “evening,” “years,” and “seasons.” [The context indicates the correct meaning] Consistency would require sorting out how all these terms could be used to express ages. Also, when the Hebrew word יוֹם (yom) is used with a numerical adjective, it refers to a literal day. Furthermore, the commandment to keep the sabbath clearly favors this interpretation [Ex. 20:8-11]. One is to work for six days and then rest on the seventh, just as God did when He worked at creation.’
The principles for us today
The principles for Christians today are the same as the original principles. They include:
– God created a functionally mature universe. But how can we resolve apparent contradictions like the distance starlight problem?
– Humanity is created in the image of God. But this has been damaged by the fall into sin (Gen. 3).
– Humanity is to rule over the rest of creation. But this has also been damaged by the fall into sin (Gen. 3).
The applications for us today
How should we apply these universal principles? An implication is that the complexity of species has not changed with time. They were complex from the beginning. This answers many questions which cannot be answered by the theory of biological evolution (which requires structures to develop in a step-by-step fashion), like the origin of the two genders/sexes and the origin of sexual reproduction. They were created on day 6 of creation. It also removes the long time periods assumed to allow the creation of complexity in the big-bang theory and the theory of biological evolution.
The fact that God created a functionally mature universe undermines many of the assumptions in the big-bang model and the theory of biological evolution. Science would be more fruitful if it dropped these inferences and replaced them with ones consistent with the Bible.
Since the time of the fall into sin soon after God’s mature creation, all species have experienced continual genetic degeneration. Harmful mutations are accumulating in their genome. The implications of this are that:
– Human health has generally decreased with time. Adam and Eve were healthier than us.
– Human intelligence has generally decreased with time. So called, “cave men and women” were more intelligent than us.
– Species are degenerating – there is devolution and extinction, not evolution.
Appendix B: Two ways of observing the universe
In the physics of relativity developed by Einstein, measurements of time and space are observer-dependent. As a result, one-way velocities are inherently conventional to some extent. This includes the one-way speed of light.
There is no way to measure the one-way speed of light (Harnett, 2019). All experiments measure the two-way speed. And all the measurable effects of special relativity only depend on the round-trip (two-way) speed of light and not on the one-way speed (Lisle, 2018). So regardless of what the one-way speed might be it can have no effect on the measurable physics in the universe. The one-way speed is only used to time stamp events.
This means we are free to choose the one-way speed of light, provided that the round-trip speed is the canonical speed c (300,000 km/s). Scientists usually assume that the speed of light is isotropic – the same in all directions. This is called the Einstein Synchrony Convention (ESC). But anisotropic cases are also possible as long as the average round-trip speed is c. One such case is when the inward-directed speed of light is infinite, and the outward-directed speed is 1/2c. Lisle (2018) calls this the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC).
Under the ASC the one-way speed of light can be determined from c/(1-cos θ) where θ is the angle whereby the light beam departs from the directly incoming direction (Harnett, 2019). Light coming directly toward the observer travels at infinite speed because θ = 0° and light moving directly away from the observer travels at ½c because θ = 180°. And light moving perpendicular to the incoming direction travels at c because θ = 90°.
The ESC and the ASC are like two different units of measurement (e.g. metric or imperial), or like two different coordinate systems (e.g. cartesian or polar), or like two different frames of reference (e.g. a point on the earth’s surface or a point stationary relative to fixed stars). You can use one or the other, but they shouldn’t be combined or mixed together.
Until modern times the ASC was the standard synchrony convention for astronomical observations. The ancients didn’t know the distance to the objects nor the speed of light. So the ESC wasn’t available to the ancient world. In the Bible, God used the linguistic conventions of the time period and the people group to whom the biblical text was written. This would include how they described events observed in the cosmos. And they used the ASC.
In Genesis 1:14-19 the Bible says, “14 And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light [sun] to govern the day and the lesser light [moon] to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.” Here we see that the light from the stars illuminated the earth on the same day they were created. It was like the ASC – there was no time delay.
So according to the Bible, we observe the present state of the universe at the moment we see it. We are not looking into the past. All the stars and galaxies were created “mature” on day 4 of creation. None of them are more than 6,000 years old. Just because we observe a “mature” galaxy or star does not necessarily imply that it evolved from some simpler primordial form over billions of years. So what we see in the universe is not millions or billions or years old but only about 6,000 years old. It was formed miraculously over a few days, not gradually over eons of time.
Appendix C: The distant starlight problem
The distant starlight problem often raised against biblical creation cosmology is as follows: “If creation occurred only a few thousand years ago, how can we see light from stars that are billions of light years away”?
Appendix D: The horizon problem
The horizon problem in the big-bang model is as follows “Why is there large-scale homogeneity in the universe although there is insufficient time for light to travel between all the regions of the universe”? The current explanation is that there was a time when space expanded faster than the speed of light. But the cause of the start and the end of this proposed expansion is unknown.
Lisle J, 2018, “The physics of Einstein: Black holes, time travel, distant starlight, E=mc2”, Bible Science Institute.
Lisle J, Personal communication.
Harnett J, 2019, “Einstein’s physics says there is no biblical creationist starlight travel-time problem”, J Creation, 33, 2, 22-28.
Muller D, 2020, “Why the speed of light can’t be measured”, YouTube.
This post benefited from helpful discussions with Tom Murphy.
Written, February 2021