Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Rapidly Matured Creation

If the universe is young, how can we see light from galaxies billions of lights away? A simple solution is that of Rapidly Matured Creation. This was discussed, in passing, in my previous posts Is Mature Creation Deceptive? and Cosmology at Creationist Convention. For convenience, that material is summarized here in a separate post.

1. Mature Creation
This solution is a generalized version of Mature Creation, which was popular among creationists a few decades ago. According to the Mature Creation model, God created the full-blown stellar heaven (including stars, galaxies, and their light in transit) instantaneously on Day 4. [See my post  Mature Creation].

The Mature Creation model is observationally beyond disproof. It draws upon no speculative physics nor unusual conditions. At least not beyond Day 4. It merely requires a miraculous creation on Day 4.

One common objection is that, if light was created in transit, then the starlight that Adam observed did not actually originate from the stars where the light seemingly came from. Moreover, the details of starlight seemingly relate specific historical events. For example, a supernova, observed to occur in 1987, appeared to be 170,000 light-years away, suggesting that it exploded 170,000 years ago. If this event never really happened, is this not just an elaborate fiction, a hoax created by God? 

The charge that Mature Creation makes God deceptive is refuted in my post Is Mature Creation Deceptive? 

2. Creation Involving Miraculous Process
The alleged deception of Mature Creation can be avoided simply by dropping the assumption that God made the entire stellar heaven instantaneously. After all, the Bible tells us only:
"And God made the two great lights...and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good." (Gen.1:16-18)

That God saw that "it was good" suggests the stars were functioning as planned, their light reaching the Earth, before the end of Day 4. This leaves room for the possibility that the making of the stars may have involved some (very rapid)process.

Indeed, there are indications of process for at least some of the work on the other days. For example, on Day 3, “the earth brought forth vegetation” (Gen.1:12), on Day 6,  “let the earth bring forth living creatures" (Gen.1:24). In Genesis 2 Adam, trees, beasts, and birds are all formed "out of the ground" by God. These all  suggest the employment of process, albeit rapid and miraculous.

A particularly pertinent miracle is Jonah’s shade tree, “which came into being in a night” (Jonah 4). It seems that everything else around Jonah continued normally, but God miraculously accelerated the plant’s growth so that a year’s growth took place in just a few hours. Does this not seem similar to the earth sprouting trees on Day 3?

Might not the same apply for Day 4, where normal providence held for the earth while God worked miraculously to form the Sun, stars, and galaxies? All celestial processes (gravity, light, nuclear reactions, etc.) may have been highly accelerated, so that watching the creation of the stellar sky on Day 4 might be like watching a video in fast motion. What normally takes billions of years happens on Day 4 in just a few hours. This includes not just the formation of celestial objects, but also the transmission of their light to the earth.

The notion that God used miraculous process in producing a mature creation is hardly original. It must have occurred to many people. It was very briefly discussed in my book "God and Cosmos" (2001, p.199), where I attributed this idea to Dr. Edgar Andrews (in O.R. Barclay (ed.), "Creation and Evolution: When Christians Disagree, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1985, p.65). More recently, a somewhat similar proposal has been promoted by Dr. Danny Faulkner (2013), except that he seems to attribute the miraculous transmission of light to the rapid stretching of space, rather than to light itself moving very quickly.

3. Energy Concerns
One might well ask: if all the energy received on earth from space (including Sun, Moon, stars, etc.) over billions of years, were compressed into only one day, would this huge amount of energy not destroy the earthly vegetation created on Day 3? 

This energy problem could be solved if processes were accelerated at a rate directly proportional to distance from the Earth, so that light from any star, no matter how distant, would only take one day to get to the Earth. That would alleviate concerns about excessive energy flux. However, this would allow little time for process in the formation of stars and galaxies, which would then have to be created virtually instantaneously in mature form.

A better, more general, approach is to note that creation generally requires further miraculous activity beyond merely accelerating normal processes. For example, the accelerated growth of Jonah’s vine seems to have required a miraculous power source, since there was no solar energy during the night. 

Likewise, normal physical laws may well have been modified or superseded during the miraculous formation of celestial objects on Day 4.

4. Rapid Geology?
Could rapid process be usefully applied to  a mature creation of the earth? The separation of water and earth on Day 3 might well have involved rapid geological processes, perhaps even accelerated radio-active decay.

However, fossil-bearing rocks seem more problematic. Some proponents of mature creation (e.g., P.G. Nelson
Another Look at Mature Creation) propose that God created the earth with fossils in it. To postulate that such fossils were formed by a rapid process involving animals created, dying, and fossilizing, all in Day 3, seems rather implausible, particularly since no animals were created before Day 5. Although one might suggest that such fossils were formed, via rapid process, from non-living material, this does not seem very helpful.

In sum, with a Rapidly Matured Creation the celestial light we see may actually have come from stars and galaxies. Supernova explosions may have actually occurred, galaxies may show scars of actual collisions, etc.

However, since these astronomical phenomena are largely due to accelerated, miraculous processes operative on Day 4, interpreting these events in terms of current physical laws may yield erroneous conclusions about the past.

This proposal draws only upon the miraculous nature of the creation events of Day 4. It does not rely on speculative physics, extraordinary initial configurations, or ad hoc conventions, particularly not after Day 4.


Jim Pemberton said...

Thank you! I've been telling people this for years. Now I have a reference from an authority.

john byl said...

Thanks, Jim. Glad that you found it useful.

Henry said...

It would be helpful if you would collect your various thoughts on this topic into a paper. Is that something you would consider?

Henry said...

I see John Hartnett had some criticisms of Danny Faulkner's version of rapidly matured creation:

Do you think these criticisms are good and/or apply to your version?

john byl said...

My thoughts on this topic are pretty well covered by this post and previous posts that I linked too. I try to keep my posts fairly short. Were I requested by some journal to expand this into a more detailed paper I might consider doing so.

john byl said...

John Hartnett's criticism of Faulkner's version is not in the paper you cite, but in

Faulkner's response can be found in

Faulkner claims that Hartnett has misunderstood his proposal, and that his criticisms do not apply. That seems largely to be the case, although Hartnett does validly question Faulkner's appeal to the stretching of space to account for the very rapid speed of light on Day 4.

Hartnett's criticism don't apply to my proposal.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

It's been awhile since we have touched base. Thank you for your faithful mulling of this challenging question.

You write: "In sum, with a Rapidly Matured Creation the celestial light we see may actually have come from stars and galaxies. Supernova explosions may have actually occurred, galaxies may show scars of actual collisions, etc. However, since these astronomical phenomena are largely due to accelerated, miraculous processes operative on Day 4, interpreting these events in terms of current physical laws may yield erroneous conclusions about the past."

The catch in my spirit arises when I think of explosions and collisions occurring on Day 4, as part of God's creative work. Surely in a cosmos untouched by the curse that later fell on all nature we would not see such destruction. I definitely think you're on the right track with you Mature Creation model, but wonder if it needs to be tweaked a bit to take into account the very supernatural work of God in laying a curse upon the heavens. What think ye?

Dean Davis

john byl said...

Hi Dean

Thanks for comment--good question.

It depends on what one might expect to see in the original creation. Some might have no problem with celestial explosions or collisions, as long as they cause no suffering in sentient creatures.

However, one might contend that, if the present heavens are to be renewed, this entails that they must currently be deficient.

Some proponents of mature creation have argued for drastic changes in the universe—and its apparent history--(1) at creation, (2) after the Fall, (3) after the Flood, and (4) at the final judgment.

The notion of rapidly matured creation could likewise accommodate such changes, while allowing that such changes need not be instantaneous discontinuities, but could be brought about somewhat more smoothly via rapid, miraculous process.

JohnV said...

Dr. Byl:
For me it doesn't matter so much whether the RMC answers all the questions. What matters is that the alternative theories offer alternative possibilities.

It is enough for me that such theories expose that the objection itself, the "light-travel problem" is based on human conventions, not on truth.

That is, given that the speed of light is such and such, given that it has always been so and can be no other at any time in the projections of time past or future that we may have (a physics "constant"), how do we explain the light of a supernova 300,000 light years away if we hold to a Fourth Day creation of it some 6,000 years ago? That's the convention challenge. But why do we assume these givens are "constants" when what we're talking about is God's creative power where these constants are completely subject as yet?

That is all a theory for the Fourth Day has to do: demonstrate that it is conventional constants put up against a point in time when the only constant is God Himself.


Anonymous said...

Hi Again,

A couple of responses and further thoughts on this interesting topic.

First, my personal expectation of a recent good creation is that it would not include "scarring" or any other token of violence, disintegration, or decay. Like leprosy, blindness, lameness, etc. all visible wounds to the world of nature are meant to teach and remind us about the spiritual wound that befell the prince of creation at the fall.

Secondly, it is certainly true that the promise of renewed heavens implies deficiency in the present heavens. However, to my mind the promise does not leave much room for any deficiencies in the original good heavens God created on the 4th Day. Had Adam not sinned, I take it that universal history would have unfolded for several thousand years along far different and better lines than we see today; but in the end, the heavenly lights would still have given way to the perpetual light of the Lamb in the new heavens and the new earth. Thus, the promise of new heavens need not entail any defect in the original ones. And again, in order to preserve the goodness of the original, I am inclined to trace exploding supernovae to the Fall and the Curse.

Finally, I see that you leave room in the RMC model for supernatural changes (and processes) in the heavens introduced at the "time" of creation, fall, flood, and judgment. We both agree that such changes must surely have occurred very fulsomely and rapidly on Day 4. I question, however, whether the flood, which was a strictly local event more or less confined to the earth (Walt Brown thinks that in a measure it touched the solar system as well), would impact the heavens in general, and the speed of light in particular. The curse, however, is an excellent candidate for further cosmic changes, since Paul explicitly states in Romans 8 that fell on "the whole creation".

Now, please give me your thoughts on this: You recall that after the Fall there was a span of some 1500-2000 years in which the average age of man "decayed"from nearly a thousand to a steady-state of 70-80 (Psalm 90) (Gulp, I'm now 71!). Could there be an analogous or corresponding decay in the speed of light, such that it too started off very high, then settled in a c?

As ever, we are shut up to guesses in this area. But some guesses are better than others, in that they draw upon biblical revelation. That's why I like the RMC model. And with a secondary appeal to the effects of the curse on the speed of light (and rates of radioactive decay) we can offer some reasonable explanations of starlight and time issues without confusing appeals to that sink of scientific mysticism and irrationality, Relativity Theory.

Well, 'nuff for now. Pretty soon, dear brother, we'll know for sure!

Blessings to You and Yours,

john byl said...

Hi John

Thanks for your comment, with which I totally concur. We don't know anything about the humanly unobserved past, other than what Scripture tells us. We also know that God is completely sovereign over His creation, and can modify it as He wishes. Hence we are in no position to challenge the Biblical account of creation.

My proposal, as you point out, merely suggests one possibility of reconciling what we presently see with that Biblical account.

john byl said...

Hi Dean

Thanks for your further comments. You may well be right about celestial changes happening after the Fall, but not after the Flood.

The problem is that the Bible gives us very little direct information on the interesting question of how much the Fall might have changed the stars and galaxies. Thus, as you say, our thoughts here are mostly speculation.

This applies also to the question of whether the curse affected the speed of light or rates of radioactive decay. In my proposal these could both have been much greater for very short periods of time.

My proposal stresses the miraculous nature of creation, etc. without drawing upon any specific physical mechanism that operates otherwise, during non-miraculous times. As such, this proposal is scientifically unrefutable.

Your suggestion that the speed of light decayed over hundreds of years, on the other hand, involves a gradual change in actual physical laws. That involves much more elaborate speculation as to its precise mathematical form, and the ensuing observational consequences. Barry Setterfield has done some interesting work here, but most creationists no longer promote it.

Anonymous said...

Would not the decay of the average age of man over 1500 years involve some kind of change in a physical law?

JohnV said...

Hi Dean:
I think that the difference here is that of taking man's conclusions as fact, and whether imposing them on revelation is acceptable or not.

All the RMC is saying is that the speed of light is not a consideration in the fourth day scenario.

I think it is Job 38 that seems to indicate that God escorts the light to its destination. That it is a set rate in our present age is to be expected. That this is the physical law for light is an arbitrary judgment; that it is a God-ordained law is Biblical, whatever speed light may travel for any given occasion.

Just my humble opinion,

john byl said...

Not necessarily. It could be due to a change in conditions. For example, consider the hypothetical situation where a decreasing earthly magnetic field enabled more cosmic rays to strike the earth, thereby causing mutations that degenerated the human genome, leading to a reduced lifespan.

Anonymous said...

Good point. However, it seems like we still would have to trace the decay of the Earth's magnetic field (and the decrease in human lifespans) to the Fall. Analagously, even if a decay in the speed of light did not involve "a gradual change in physical laws" it too could still be traced to the Fall. This enables us to place exploding galaxies after the Fall, and to point to them as a lesson from God that sin destroys integrity, while Christ and redemption restores it, so that his kids will shine forever like the sun in its strength. Amen! :)

Cale B.T. said...

Hi Dr Byl. I find this idea fascinating. Genesis says that the stars are for "signs and seasons", so this gives a functional explanation for why we can see the immediately visible stars. I was having a discussion on this, and somebody raised the point of why we can see stars which can only be detected by advanced radio spectrometry methods. What is your take on this?

john byl said...

Hi Cale

Thanks for your question. The Bible mentions various functions of the stars. These include not only to serve as lights, signs, and seasons (Gen.1), but also to declare the glory of God and proclaim His handiwork (Ps.19). As we use special instruments (telescopes, microscopes, etc.) to study details of nature not visible to the naked eye, we are ever more impressed by its wonderful grandeur, complexity, and beauty, thereby pointing us ever more to the power and wisdom of its Creator (Roman 1).

Steve Mitchell said...

Anonymous wrote, "my personal expectation of a recent good creation is that it would not include "scarring" or any other token of violence, disintegration, or decay." This type of assumption seems to assume that the second Law of Thermodynamics is a consequence of the fall. Yet, all the interaction of galaxies, including supernovas, are merely the outworking of the natural laws God has built into the universe. The sun was emitting light on day 4, yet that light originated from a violent outworking of the physical laws built into the universe. We might even consider the destruction of vegetation by consumption. Such outworking of the second Law seems to be a natural, good, part of God's original creation. So I do not see how such celestial phenomenon, such as supernovas and galaxy interaction, could be considered as a result of the curse. But I am in no way a 'scientist,' merely someone who desires to 'rightly handle the word of truth.'