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The Creation Explanation

Creation Explanation Design in the Universe

Is the Universe Expanding?45

As more powerful telescopes were trained on every more distant galaxies four decades ago, a curious fact was discovered by spectroscopic analysis of their light. It was observed that the characteristic spectral lines of the elements were often shifted from their normal wavelengths. In particular the spectra of the galaxies believed to be more distant were shifted toward the red or long-wavelength end of the spectrum. The amount of shift appeared to increase with the distance. This effect called the "red shift" has been interpreted to mean that the distant galaxies are moving away from the sun with velocities that are appreciable fractions of the speed of light. This is not considered to be the result of a reduction of the frequency of the light because of the velocities of the distant galaxies through space. Rather, cosmology based on Einstein's general theory of relativity holds that the recessaion of the distant galaxies from the earth is the result of the expansion or stretching out of the space in the entire universe. This expansion supposedly began with the Big Bang that secular scientists believe originated the universe. Some of the more distant galaxies appear to moving away from the solar system with velocities approaching half the speed of light. The natural logical step was to correlate the observed red shift of the nearer galaxies, whose distances had been estimated by the methods we have outlined. This correlation then led to a correlation between red shift and distance.

Thus the red shift provides astronomers with what they consider to be a yardstick for measuring distances to the farthest observable regions of the universe. They believe that the galaxies which have been observed with red shifts equivalent to velocities of recession greater than half the speed of light are more than five billion light years away. The red shift of light from distant galaxies does afford powerful support for an expanding universe. Tracing this expansion back to the beginning leads to a beginning called the Big Bang. Practically all astronomers believe this to be the case. As we shall see, however in Chapter 8, an expanding universe is not necessarily the result of a Big Bang.

Is the red shift of galactic light actually the result of an expanding universe, and is the universe as large as astronomers believe? It has been suggested that some physical effect acting over large distances depletes the energy of photons and thus produces the observed red shift. One theory proposes that collisions between photons may be responsible for some of the red shift. Some observations can be interpreted to support this theory, but the argument is not too convincing.46

One serious question concerning the red shift-distance scale arises from the discovery of quasars. Quasars are faith objects with quite large red shifts, which is interpreted to mean that their distances from the earth are very great. Several observations relative to quasars lead, however, to difficulties with this interpretation of quasar red shifts.

1. Changes in brightness have been observed in quasars over periods of only days or weeks.47 Since physical effects, according to relativity theory, cannot exceed the speed of light, this means that the size of the quasars cannot exceed a few light days or light weeks. But, if their red shift distances are correct, they are then only about 1/300,000th the size of an average galaxy. Yet they seem to be radiating up to 100 times the energy of a galaxy. This massive energy generation in such a small volume appears to be impossible.

2. Quasars studied by radio telescopes appear to be ejecting streamers or extensions at speeds up to ten times the speed of light, if their red shift distances are correct.48

3. Triplets of quasars are observed lined up close together in the sky, precisely in a straight line, thus appearing to be closely associated, but having widely different red shifts.49

4. Quasars are sometimes associated in space with or connected by luminous streamers with galaxies having much smaller red shifts.50

Such contradictions and anomalies as these have led some astronomers to conclude that red shifts may not be reliable indicators of distance. If this is actually the correct conclusion, then the principal evidence adduced for an expanding universe is invalid.

Thus it can be seen that the currently adopted astronomical scale of distances for the universe is subject to serious questions as a result of recently acquired data, at least in the minds of a small cadre of competent scientists. And it should be remembered that the red shift distance scale was originally developed upon the foundation of the Cepheid variable star distance scale, which itself has a considerable degree of possible error. But is it a problem for biblical creationists if the universe is in fact billions of light years across and expanding? The obvious problem is that it would presumably take light ten billion years to travel ten billion light years. This is not easily reconciled with a universe only thousands of years old, as proposed by perhaps the majority of creationists. Thus we have the problem of light transit time.

There are several possible solutions for the problem of light transit time in a universe billions of light years across but which is only ten thousand or so years old:

1. The red shift and Cepheid distance scales may prove to be erroneous, resulting in a distance scale collapsed to around ten thousand light years for the radius of the universe. It is easy to imagine that the accepted scale of the universe might indeed be reduced in the future. Recall that the accepted size of the universe has oscillated up and down several times during this century. But one finds it difficult to conceive that the currently held size of the universe is in error by the factor of one million, which is necessary to remove the light transit time problem in a young universe. This solution based on making the universe small to go along with a young age is simply not acceptable.

2. The time of light transit across great distances may prove to be much less than has been supposed on the basis of the assumed constancy of the speed of light. Einstein's theory of relativity, based upon the assumption that the speed of light is constant for all observers, has come under some strong criticism in recent years.51 MIT professors Moon and Spencer theorized that the speed of light may depend upon the velocity of the source.52 Proposing that light travels in curved space, they adduced evidence from binary stars that the radius of curvature of space is five light years. A consequence of this would be that the light transit time from the farthest reaches of the universe would never exceed 15.71 years. This view was highly controversial and speculative. Additional supporting evidence never turned up, so the idea was discredited and forgotten.

3. Light from the stars may have been created instantaneously in rays throughout space at the same time the stars were created. The simple form of this model involves some difficulty. Light now arriving upon earth from stars supposedly many tens of thousands to millions of light years distant indicates the occurrence of such past historical events as pulsating light intensities and supernovae. But if the light was created in transit less than ten thousand years ago, the light rays must have been created so, reaching earth now, they bring a record of historical events which actually never occurred. Thus God the Creator is made to tell false stories, something like fictional TV dramas. This appears to be logically and theologically unacceptable.

4. The speed of light may have changed with time. One hypothesis which involves changing speed of light is that of Australian physicist Barry Setterfield.53 Noting that historically the published values of the speed of light have been gradually decreasing since the years 1675, he matched a best-fit mathematical curve to the data. His conclusion was that at the time of creation, about 6,000 years ago, the speed of light was some ten million times its present value--that it at first decreased very rapidly, and since then has been slowly decreasing to a minimum, the present value in the present century, around 1950. The total distance traveled by light since creation would be about 12 billion light years, which is roughly the currently estimated radius of the universe. This hypothesis has received very rough treatment by many critics in the ranks of creationists.54 But other Christian scientists and mathematicians have supported Setterfield.55 In addition to the evidence from a statistical analysis of the measured values of the speed of light since 1675, Setterfield adduced supporting evidence from statistical studies of the measurements of values of other physical constants which depend upon the speed of light. Their measured values have changed with time in a manner predicted from the hypothesis that the speed light has been decreasing. Furthermore, two eminent scientists have published independent, studies that support the concept of a decreasing speed of light. Dr. T.C. Van Flandern over a period of about 25 years compared dynamic time determined by the motions of planets and satellites in the solar system with atomic time measured with atomic clocks. His observations indicated that atomic time has been slowing down compared to dynamic time. In 1984 he concluded that, "...the number of atomic seconds in a dynamical interval is becoming fewer. Presumably....this means that atomic phenomena are slowing down with respect to dynamical phenomena. "56 In addition, Russian scientist V.N. Troitskii who was working entirely independently at about the same time had concluded that the speed of light at the beginning of time was probaqbly greater than 10 million times the present value, perhaps even 10 billion times as great.57

There are difficult theoretical problems inherent in Setterfield's idea, but if these problems could be solved, his hypothesis would remove serious difficulties which face the young-earth creationists. We must await future developments. It might be that the Word of God contains truths important to solving this problem for the biblical creation explanation of the origin of all things. Consider the following discussion.

5. Space-time may have been created by an expansion or stretching out from a point in a short period of time. Before Genesis 1:1 nothing existed but the infinite-personal God. No space, matter, energy or time existed, but now we exist inside of a vast bubble of space-time. God exists outside of and independent of time and space--in eternity--but He is also present with us by His Spirit inside of space-time. So the space of this universe had to be stretched by God from nothing. This view is in fact supported by the scriptural data on God's work of creation. First, Genesis 1, understood literally, tells us that the creation was accomplished in six normal days. Second, the creation of the world is said to have been rapid (Psalm 33:9). 'Third, beginning in Job 9:7, some dozen times in the Old Testament God is pictured as "stretching out" or "spreading out" the heavens. The entire physical order with all of the laws of physics and the properties of space was being put in place by the Creator of all things. What was happening to the speed of light and the Doppler effect on the frequency of light, especially in the earlier stages of the creative expansion, are unknown. The unique, rapidly changing sequence of conditions during this beginning of creation could account for the currently observed red shifts of distant galaxiesm, for the present visibility of galaxies billions of years away in a universe that could be only thousands of years old, and upon many other observed data which need to part of any successful creation model of the universe. Christians concerned with these matters would do well to examine more closely all of the scriptural data which could throw light on them. Perhaps hidden in God's Word are clues which could lead believing scientists into new scientific research and successful scientific theories which would help build a stronger Christian scientific apologetic. "Thy Word is Truth."



45. Pasachoff, Jay M., op. cit. (ref. 5), pp. 519-523; Narlikar, Jayant, New Scientist, 2 July 1981, pp. 19-21.

46. Mitton, Simon, Editor, op. cit. (ref. 29), p. 376.

47. Burbidge, G.R., Nature Physical Science, Vol. 246, 12 Nov. 1973, pp. 17-24; Steidl, Paul, op. cit. (ref. 5), p. 211.

48. Porcas, Richard, Nature, Vol. 302, 28 April 1983, pp. 397-399.

49. Arp, Halton, Nature, Vol. 302, 31 March 1983, pp. 397-399.

50. Steidl, Paul, (ref. 5), p. 214.

51. Dingle, Herbert, Science at the Crossroads (Martin Brian and O'Keefe, London, 1972).

52. Moon, Perry, and Domina E. Spencer, Journal of the Optical Soc. of America, Vol. 43, Aug. 1953, pp. 635-641.

53. Setterfield, Barry, Ex Nihilo, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1981; _________, The Velocity of Light and the Age of the Universe (Privately Published, 1983).

54. Aardsma, G.E., ibid., Vol. 25, 1988, pp. 36-40; ibid., Brown, R.H., Vol. 26, March 1990, pp. 142-143; Humphreys, D.R., ibid., Vol. 25, 1988, pp. 40-45.

55. Montgomery, Alan, Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 26, March 1990, pp. 138-142; Setterfield, Barry, ibid, Vol. 25, pp. 190-197.

56. Van Flandern, T.C., Precision Measurements and Fundamental Constants II, pp. 625-627, B.N. Taylor and W.D. Phillips, Eds., National Bureau of Standards (U.S.), Special Publication 617 (1984).

57. Troitskii, V.S., Astrophysics and Space Science, Vol. 139, pp. 389-411, reported by Setterfield in Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 25, March 1989, pp. 190-191.

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