Is Starlight Travel Time Incompatible with the Biblical Account of Creation? Pt. I

How do those like me who believe in a recent creation and that the days of Genesis chapter one are actual solar (24 hour) days (see my article A Day is A Day) reconcile that with the time scientists say is necessary for starlight to travel to earth?

Astrophysicist John Hartnett succinctly states the difficulty thusly, “The problem is simply that in the time available since creation (about 6,000 years) there has not been enough time for light to get to Earth from even the nearest neighbor galaxies (1.5 to 3 million years travel time at constant speed of light let alone the most distant galaxies (billions of years travel time at constant. How then do we see them and how did Adam see them?” (( accessed 11/19/11))

So the argument against the reliability of the biblical account of creation in Genesis one is that if it were true, we would not be able to see stars further than a few thousand years travel time away; however, that is not reality because we can see galaxies millions and billions of years travel time away; therefore, Genesis one is not true. Both parts I & II of this article provide scientific answers to this scientific problem, which reminds us once again that the Scripture is the word of God and therefore always true (John 17:17).

In his paper “A new cosmology: solution to the starlight travel time problem” Hartnett briefly summarizes five plausible scientific solutions that offer explanations of how to answer this problem and then introduces his own. ((For a review of other proposals including mention of Hartnett’s, see accessed 11/19/11)) The following mentions a few of his comments, but any evaluation of his theory should be based upon his paper rather than my comments, which are intended for those who do not wish to read the full article.

His model, which is the same class as an earlier (1994) theory by D.Russell Humphreys, “allows billions of years to pass in the cosmos but only 24 hours on Earth during Day 4. In this model, the laws of physics are suspended while creation is in progress and enormous time dilation occurs between Earth clocks and astronomical clocks. This solves the light-travel-time problem faced by creationist cosmology and makes all astronomical evidence fit the Genesis account.” ((

Meterologist Dr. Richard Carpenter notes that some other possibilities are that “Perhaps God used a different set of physics during the creation week, or today’s physics are only a subset of those God has put into effect. ((Dr. Richard L. Carpenter, Jr., is a Senior Scientist and Program Manager with Weather Decision Technologies, Inc., in Norman, OK))

Hartnett says, “The Creation Week period, by definition, is not expected to be a period where Natural law explanations apply.” To me that is the issue. Those who for any reason reject the simple reading of the text, which most assuredly communicates God created in six solar days, is because they, at the outset, seek to understand the creative week according to natural law, which therefore makes creation to be what it is definitely not i.e. “ordinary.” ((

Hartnett also notes, “During this time the rotation speed of the newly created Earth was about 10-13 times [very much smaller than] the current rotation speed as measured by astronomical clocks, but normal by Earth clocks. By the close of Day 4 the clock rates on Earth rapidly speeded up to the same rate as the astronomical clocks. All of this was maintained under God’s creative power before He allowed the laws of physics to operate ‘on their own’ at the end of Creation Week…

“An ‘observer’ on Earth at this time looking at the heavens would have seen apparently accelerated motions. Conversely, an ‘observer’ outside our solar system would observe apparently very slow advance of time on Earth clocks. In fact, only in an extra-solar system frame of reference would Earth clocks appear to be running slow. This effect would allow millions and billions of years to pass in the cosmos, while only a few 24-hour days pass on Earth. Hence the light from the most distant stars travelling at the normal speed, would have plenty of time to get to Earth. Of course, I am not suggesting there were any such observers, except the Creator, but He doesn’t live within time.” ((

With regard to an expanding universe, he remarks that there are verses that may speak of an expanding universe during Creation Week. “The issue of whether or not the universe rapidly expanded during the Creation Week is not crucial to this model; however it seems the scriptures demand it. Verses like Job 9:8, 37:18; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22, 42:5, 44:24, etc. may have their fulfillment in an expansion scenario.” ((

Those who attack the biblical account of creation do so based upon the presupposition that the laws of physics were operational during creation week. However, this is not only an unprovable assumption; it is also an unfounded one as well. The laws were created to govern creation rather than creation appearing so that the laws would have something to do. Simply, one should not expect to see the laws governing the operation of a combustion engine controlling the engine before it is created or exists. It is clear that an existing car engine requires gas to operate, but one could pour enough gas to fuel an infinite number of SUVs upon the platform of the non-existent engine, and it would never make the engine appear or run. Why, because the laws governing its creation are radically different than the laws which govern its operation.

Other theories, which are more compatible with Scripture than those necessary for a Darwinian descent, are in part II of this article. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

Ronnie W. Rogers