The Creation Explanation
|Design in the Universe|
Stars Evolved or Created28
The two principal instruments for viewing the stars have been the reflector telescope and the reflector spectroscope. In recent decades new technology has made available other important instruments such as radio telescopes and X-ray telescopes. A reflector telescope uses a large parabolic, aluminized objective mirror to collect and focus the dim light of a star so that it can be magnified by the eyepiece lens to form an image which can be observed visually or recorded on film. The latest new reflector telescopes, instead a single large mirror, use a closely spaced array of smaller mirrors which are automatically controlled to work together to do the work of a single large mirror. The smaller mirrors are much cheaper to manufacture, much lighter in weight, and eliminate the difficult problem caused by the sagging of a large mirror under its own weight and thus spoil its precisely polished parabolic surface.
The spectroscope, as explained earlier in this chapter, passes the light from the star through a fine slit and then through a glass prism, or allows it to be reflected from a fine diffraction grating. The prism bends the different colors or wavelengths of light through different angles. The grating reflects them in slightly different angles. In either case the result is that the fine strip of light coming through the slit is spread out into a wide ribbon of light called a spectrum. When this ribbon of light is observed through a lens or projected onto a white surface or on a photographic film, the red light light falls at one end, then the yellow, orange, green and blue light, with the violet light at the other end of the spectrum.
If the light passing through a spectroscope comes from a hot gas, the spectrum may contain bright lines at particular wavelengths, corresponding to particular elements contained in the gas. Or if the light has passed through cooler gas in the outer envelope of the star, particular atoms in the cool gas may absorb their own characteristic wavelengths, producing dark lines in the spectrum. Each kind of atom produces spectral lines which can be used to identify it. Thus the spectroscope may be used to tell what elements exist in the light-radiating surface layers of a star (bright lines) or in its cooler outer layers (dark lines).
For thousands of years astronomers have studied the stars, noting their relative positions and their apparent daily revolution around the earth. It was only with the advent of modern astronomical instruments that more particular information about individual stars could be obtained--for example, their temperature, compositions, distance and size. The spectroscope reveals not only some of the elements composing the outer gas layers of a star, but also the temperature, for the light from a hot object becomes less red and more blue as the temperature increases.
The distances to the nearer stars can be obtained by a process called triangulation. As the earth moves in its orbit around the sin during the year, the nearer stars appear to move against the background of the very distant stars. This apparent movement, called parallax, is what you observe from a moving automobile when the objects at the side of the road appear to be changing position more rapidly than, say, a distant mountain. Thus, from the angular movement of a near star as the earth moves in six months from one side to the other of its orbit, the distance of the star can be calculated, based upon our knowledge of the distance across the earth's orbit, some 186,000 miles. The distance to the nearest star to our solar system, a-Centauri, is about 4.3 light years, a light year being the distance light can travel in a year at 186,000 miles per second, or about 5.88 trillion miles (5.88x1012 miles). This method is only reliable for stars up to around 300 light years away, but it tells us that the universe which we view as the starry heavens is surely very large, for the general background of stars show no measurable parallax movement at all and must, therefore, be far more distant.
From the temperature of a star determined from the color of its light, it is possible to estimate the brightness of its surface. Then, by combining this information with its distance and a measurement of the its apparent brightness viewed from the earth, astronomers can calculate the size of the star, even though all stars, due to their great distance, appear only as points of light in the telescope. Such measurements for many stars reveal that our Sun is, roughly speaking, an average star in diameter (865,000 miles), mass (2x1027 tons), and temperature (about 10,000°F.). There are actually only a relatively limited number of stars which are close enough for the very difficult parallax distance measurements to be made. Therefore, indirect methods based upon assumption and theory are required for estimating the distances of the vast majority of stars.
Nevertheless, a great deal has been learned about the stars, and many different kinds of stars have been discovered. There are white dwarfs, hotter and smaller than our Sun; the "main sequence" stars, a large group with a wide range of temperatures and masses which includes the Sun; and the giants and the super giants, both of which tend to be cooler than the Sun. Then there are the pulsating stars, which vary in brightness and are divided into many different types, among which are the Cepheid variables, the RR Lyrae variables, and the semi-regular and irregular variables. Each of these kinds of stars contains subclassifications meaningful to astronomers, and there are almost endless variations based upon composition and special features of structure or activity, such as the shell stars, Wolf-Rayet stars, X-ray stars, planetary nebula stars, flare stars, pulsars, and novae and supernovae.
Most astronomers believe that stars evolve from vast clouds of gas and dust through various stages of youth, maturity and old age, finally to become dark celestial cinders.29 The stars, when placed on a graph of temperature versus absolute brightness (luminosity), show an interesting pattern. The majority of stars fall on a band extending from the very luminous, high temperature stars in the upper left of the graph to the dim, low temperature stars in the ,lower right. This graph is called a Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) diagram, and the band of stars is called the "main sequence." Many stars do not fall on this main sequence, notably the very bright, cool, red giants, the small, dim cool stars, the hot white dwarf stars, and a somewhat peculiar type called the T Tauri stars. Very complex mathematical models have been devised to explain star evolution, to show how in its life history a star moves form place to place on the diagram. Very complex mathematical models have been devised to explain star evolution, to show how in its life history a star moves from place to place on the diagram. Considerable success has been attained in constructing this theory, but there are still many difficulties, uncertainties and gaps.
In the first place, it is difficult to explain why a cloud of gas should begin to collapse and initiate the formation of a new star. The hydrogen gas in interstellar space is extremely thin, so that the force of gravity is weak. Gravitational collapse of such a cloud is resisted by the gas pressure, turbulence, rotation, and the presence of a weak magnetic field which resists being squeezed and concentrated as a gas cloud condenses into a smaller volume. Among possible causes considered for initiating cloud collapse are:30 (1) pressure waves which are thought to circulate through the galaxy and produce it spiral-arm structure, (2) pressure of hot gas produced by radiation from a hot star, which starts a chain reaction of star production along a nearby cloud, (3) shock waves from super novae explosions, and (4) stellar wind from giant hot stars. These are just theories inferred from various observed data, not actually observed processes, for the time scales are too long for man to observe even if they are real.
In recent year scenarios have usually started with huge clouds that are large enough (10,000 times the mass of the Sun) so that gravity and other effects, overcome gas pressure. Usually it is not possible to show that the gas clouds observed in space are indeed collapsing. There is one type of rather dense, dark, cold clouds called Bok globules for which some evidence suggest that they could be collapsing--if the magnetic field, turbulence, and rotation are not too great.31 But in general astronomers do not thing these Bok globules are responsible for cloud formation. Some evidence indicates they are not collapsing, or that they are fragmenting.32
The search for collapsing clouds continues, and there have been a few premature claims of new-born stars, but nothing decisive or completely unambiguous. Certain notable areas containing much gas and dust and containing hidden sources of much infrared radiation, in the constellation of Orion, for example, are called "star factories." But we are still waiting for a brand new star to be definitely identified. The final stages are said to take many thousands of years, and the process is expected to be shrouded by much dust. This is reminiscent of Darwinian evolution which supposedly is shrouded in the mists of the past, requiring millions of inferred, non-observed years.
Let us briefly follow a mathematical model of a collapsing gas-dust cloud. Composed almost entirely of hydrogen gas with a mass equivalent to 10,000 Suns, it is assumed to be rotating as our galaxy rotates, and to be infused with a weak magnetic field as is the galaxy. As the cloud collapses the rotation rate must increase, just as an ice skater spins more rapidly when he pulls in his arms. This is required by the law of conservation of angular or spin momentum. The centrifugal force rotation resists further collapse. Also, the squeezed magnetic field resists collapse. Recent studies have focused on how to get rid of the excess magnetic field and spin momentum. It is now claimed that the magnetic field can leak out of a condensing cloud, but this still may be a problem. The collapse of a typical hydrogen cloud to form the sun would concentrate an initial magnetic field of 10-7 gauss to about 109 gauss, whereas the Sun's is only about 1 gauss. Thus the material which formed the Sun must have lost a huge amount of magnetic field energy. Yet there are some stars which possess extremely strong magnetic fields. Why do some stars lose most of their magnetic energy, whereas others do not?
The spin momentum is taken care of in recent theories by having the huge beginning cloud spin apart into two or more smaller clouds orbiting around each other.33 Then each of these parts splits into smaller parts, which split again, etc. The spin of the parts can be slower because much of the spin momentum now has gone into the momentum of the orbiting of the parts around their common center of gravity. Some computer models of star formation show that a spinning ring would first form, then break into two or more spinning clouds orbiting around the common center of gravity. but other computer models do not make this prediction. The mathematical difficulties in such models are so great that many assumption and approximations must be made to achieve some desired result. Since the purpose of the mathematical models and the instructions given the computers is to demonstrate cloud collapse and star formation, perhaps we should not be too surprise that the desired results are sometimes obtained. But the uncertainties and unsolved difficulties are still great. In all of this it is important to remember that mathematicians can produce entire new universes, which although they may be internally consistent, are based upon many assumed initial conditions. Therefore, these creations of mathematicians may have little or no relationship to the real universe.
Stellar evolution theory has achieved remarkable success in predicting characteristics of stars actually observed by astronomers and in showing how stars could change in time and move from one part of the H-R diagram to another. The grand assumption for this branch of astrophysical theory is that a star with certain beginning properties first exists. In other words, the gap between gas-dust cloud and star still exists. Other large gaps in the theory also exist. Some types of stars and star characteristics do not fit easily into the theory or not at all. The unusual T-Tauri stars, which are thought to be proto-stars moving toward the main sequence, have characteristics which are difficult to explain. "What physical process or attributes could account for the distinctive features of the T-Tauri stars?...None of these phenomena are predicted by the modern theory of young stars. Each is still a complete mystery."34 "It is a complete mystery how these stars can be cited as proof of the theory since (1) the theory is not able to describe how these stars might form, and (2) when young stars are actually identified the theory cannot explain any of their properties."35
To the credit of theories of stellar evolution it can be said that they at least are constructed with known laws of physics and chemistry, unlike theories of biological evolution which depend upon events and processes which have never been observed in nature. On the other hand, as we have seen above, neither is the supposed evolutionary history of stars actually observed. It is inferred from the existence of various types of stars which are assumed to be at different stages of their non-observed evolutionary life histories. The technical literature on the subject, when read carefully, reveals many shortcomings: "There are many uncertainties in stellar evolution not least of which are the end points of stellar evolution or stellar death."36 "Nevertheless there are man uncertainties in the theory and the outlines given here are for the simple case of non-rotating stars. Rotation, magnetic fields, mixing and mass loss must all eventually be considered in detail. The fundamental problem of what the mass of a Cepheid is, how convection really works and whether the solar neutrino experiment agrees with theory must be resolved by further painstaking research."37 "What happens next is not as well known. Somehow, the red giant stars shed some of their mass and eventually end up to the left of the sequence and below in the form of white dwarfs."38 "Somehow" indicates that what actually may happen is unknown. Actually, no proof exists that anything happened.
The solar neutrino experiment referred to above is the attempt for two decades to detect neutrinos which the sun should be emitting if the accepted theory of nuclear fusion in the sun's core is correct.39 Only a small fraction of the theoretically predicted neutrinos have been detected. Numerous efforts to explain this discrepancy have all failed. The absolute foundation of star evolution theory is the theory of nuclear energy production in the cores of stars. but perhaps this is not as well understood as is common assumed.
Having made the grand assumption that by collapse of a gas-dust cloud young stars with certain properties came into being, the next assumption is that all observed stars are indeed the products of a history of stellar evolution. A principal support for the truth of this assumption is the fact that much of a theoretical history of star evolution has been worked out mathematically with great success. This is a marvelous accomplishment in theoretical physics and it unquestionably gives stature to the general theory of stellar evolution. There is another possibility, however. The fact that some of the points along the theoretical path of stellar observation agree with current observations of particular stars does not prove that these stars are actually the product of the theoretically described millions of years of evolutionary development. It could be that observed stars were created not so long ago with different characteristics which correspond to some of the points along the theoretical history. They may be presently behaving in a manner predicted by the theory, but this does not prove that they are millions of years old, that they have arrived at their present state by stellar evolution, or that they will in the future follow the theoretical scenario of star evolution. Since human life spans and even all of human history are not long enough to permit human observation of more than a very tiny fraction of the theoretical history of a star, nobody can know for sure that the theoretical history corresponds to real stellar history.
To dedicated secularist scientists and to some well-meaning Christian scientists the denial of the secular theory with all of its impressive scientific apologetics and eminent apologists is unthinkable. How can we discount the conclusions of the vast majority of scientists. Are we not adopting an anti-intellectual stance if we do this? No, not necessarily. Remember that God in His Word accuses all those, including scientists, of being anti-intellectual who refuse to recognize His existence as God and the Creator of all things:
...For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)
Christians have revealed truth from God about His creation, truth which brings into question many of the theories of men about the world. In Chapter 5 we saw that the secularists and the Christians have two opposed epistemologies(theories of knowledge), either of which must be embraced by faith. We who belong to Jesus Christ have for two thousand years been known as "the people of the Book." Can we afford to discount the Scriptures simply because unregenerate scientists would have an uncreated universe and therefore discount the Word of God? "Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar."(Romans 3:4)
There are many other difficulties with the scenario of stellar evolution. A good proportion of stars are found in pairs, triplets and larger groupings, including "galactic clusters" or "open clusters" of fifty to several hundred stars, and "globular clusters" of thousands to hundreds of thousands of stars. An open cluster is composed generally of very bright, "young" stars which are flying away from each other at high speeds. Since they presumably were formed together by the gravitational collapse of a common gas-dust cloud, why are they now escaping from each other? In the case of the globular clusters, their stars usually have velocities that are in equilibrium fairly close to the average. The "relaxation time" required to attain this equilibrium state is calculated by Harwit to be around 1,000 times the age of the universe.40 This suggests that these clusters were created in a relaxed state and could be young, not old. But stars of globular clusters in our galaxy have low metal content and so are supposed to be very old.
Another problem with globular clusters is that if they are billions of years old, their stars should have ejected vast quantities of gas into the interstellar space. Nevertheless, many globular clusters have no detectable interstellar gas, although they are composed supposedly of "old" stars. The stars of the globular clusters associated with the great Andromeda Galaxy, in contrast, have high metal content and are supposedly young, although globular clusters are supposedly old. The globular clusters of the Magellanic Clouds, two small galaxies, are composed primarily of bright, supposedly very young stars. In addition, some of the globular clusters associated with our galaxy are moving away at extremely high escape velocities. Yet they are so close that they could not have been moving with these speeds for very long.
Sometimes the smaller associations of stars such as doublets and triplets contain a "young" hot star and an "old" smaller and cooler star. Yet the two members must have originated at the same time. Another problem is that, since nuclear reactions in stars must change their chemical compositions, the composition of old stars should differ from that of young stars, and also from that of the interstellar gas from which they supposedly formed. Furthermore, the interstellar gas should also be changing with time. The fact is, however, that in many cases "old" and "young" stars do not show the required differences in chemical composition, and the interstellar gas also does not appear to have changed.
It is really all good, clean fun. When Professor William Fowler received the Nobel Prize in physics for his work in the theory of star evolution and the formation of the elements in the stellar interiors, he said in an October, 1983, CBS Radio interview, "I don't know whether there will ever be any practical application...I don't care. We get a kick out of doing this."
In the light of all the uncertainties, the conflicting and changing characters of competing theories advanced by those who believe in stellar evolution, and the inability of mere man actually to observe in the long term what is going on in the universe, the belief that the stars were created, not evolved, in many form and types, is equally in agreement with the observed data of astronomy. And even if it should be conclusively demonstrated that stars are currently evolving in accord with certain theories, the observed data do not prove that some stars are young and others very old. The possibility still would remain that stars were created in many forms and types a short time ago and are now undergoing changes which certain theories predict.
On the other hand, those who believe in the creation of stars also have some difficult problems to solve, and they should be frank in their recognition of this fact.41 Perhaps the strongest evidence for the validity of the current stellar evolution theories is the fact that when the stars of large star clusters are graphed on an H-R diagram, they show a pattern which agrees with stellar evolution theory.42 "There is as yet no complete creationist theory to explain the appearance of the H-R diagrams of clusters other than to assume that God made them that way."43
28. Steidl, Paul M., (ref. 5), pp. 124-160.
29. Mitton, Simon, Editor, The Cambridge Encyc. of Astronomy (Crown Publishers, New York, 1977), pp. 60-65.
30. Woodward, Paul R., Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 16, 1978, pp. 555-584.
31. Dickman, Robert L., Scientific American, Vol. 236, June 1977, pp. 66-81.
32. Clark, F.O., et al., Astrophyscal Journal, Vol. 215, 1977, pp. 511f.; Rickard, L.J., ibid., Vol. 213, 1977, p. 654.
33. Bodenheimer, Peter, Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 224, 1978, pp. 488-496.
34. Herbig, G.H., in Frontiers of Astronomy (W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, 1970), p. 134.
35. Steidl, Paul, (ref. 5), p. 146.
36. Mitton, Simon, Editor, (ref. 29), p. 65.
38. Harwit, Martin, Astrophysical Conceptsf (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1973), p. 344.
39. Mitton, Martin, (ref. 29), p. 438.
40. Harwit, Martin, (ref. 38), p. 94.
41. Faulkner, Danny R. and Don B. DeYoung, Creation Research Soc. Quarterly, Vol. 28, Dec. 1991, pp. 87-91.
42. Mitton, Simon, Editor, (ref. 29), pp. 54, 62-63; Steidl, Paul, (ref. 5), pp. 147-150.
43. Steidl, Paul, (ref. 5), p. 150.