Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics

The Anisotropic Synchrony Convention model as a solution to the creationist starlight-travel-time problem — Part I

This paper reviews (in two parts) Lisle’s cosmological model, which uses the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC). That model claims the ASC is that of the language used in the Bible, and has special relevance to the creation account. Events are time stamped by the moment they are first observed on Earth. Lisle contends that the stars really were made on the fourth day of Creation Week, and that their light reached Earth instantaneously due to the way clocks are synchronized. (First published in Journal of Creation 25(3): 56-62, 2011)

Jason Lisle has expanded on his solution to the creationist starlight-travel-time problem in “Anisotropic Synchrony Convention—A Solution to the Distant Starlight Problem”.1 The concept in his paper is essentially the same as he has previously published,2 except he explains the concept using light cones. The following is a short summary of his model, followed by a more in-depth review.

In order to determine the outcome of any experiment one has to assume a ‘convention’ on simultaneity, which one is forced to assume; there is no rigorously compelling choice. Choosing a simultaneity convention means you have to decide what conditions you will accept to define that two signals you receive are from ‘simultaneous’ events. Lisle is saying that by using his ASC, which we are free to choose, we can regard the speed of light coming to us as ‘infinite’. If so, we see the light from the stars and galaxies ‘at the same time’ the light left them. That is, the ASC defines the phrase ‘at the same time’ to mean ‘adjusting the clocks all along the path of the light beam so that they will all read the same time’.

Figure 1: Distant galaxies are created ‘mature’ in the ASC model. Light that was first seen on the earth on fourth day of Creation took billions of years to travel to Earth under the usual ESC but can be considered instantaneous under the ASC.

The ASC model, the model incorporating the ASC, claims that it is what God used in the Bible, when, for example, God said in Exodus 20:11, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth …”. From the ASC model it follows that in a galaxy far, far away, the biblical text must mean that the first four days occurred, in our usual way of thinking about time, a long, long time ago.

As viewed from the Einstein Synchrony Convention (ESC), which is the standard used in most physics textbooks today, the ASC has light travelling for billions of years prior to, and all arriving on, the fourth day for the first time. This means placing the earth at the centre of a truly vast spherical universe, where the most distant galaxies were first created tens of billions of years before the first day of creation of Genesis 1 (figure 1),3 and subsequently created closer and closer towards Earth at the constant speed of light c such that the light from all the galaxies arrived at the earth on the fourth day, for the first time.

The ASC is a convention that defines the occurrence of an event at the moment it is observed. The ESC defines the occurrence of an event, at a past moment in time, allowing for the finite speed of light. Lisle is saying that the common man’s idea is the ASC, not the ESC. For example, “I see the sun rise ‘now’” is true under both ASC and ESC. In the latter one could calculate, at speed c for light, the sun actually ‘rose’ 8.3 minutes earlier, because of the finite travel time of the light from the sun. So in that case, one actually sees the sun as it was 8.3 minutes earlier. In the ASC, one sees the sun not as it was but as it is at the moment it is observed. The event of the sunrise would be defined from that observation.

Lisle’s claim is that the language of the Bible is that of the ASC. In the ASC, events are time stamped by when they are observed for the first time. Before the 1600s, no one subtracted light-travel time from any celestial event. The ASC was universally accepted before the 1600s.4

The review

Lisle’s solution is innovative and internally consistent with our understanding of physics today.5 It solves the creationist starlight-travel-time problem by redefining what ‘now’ means. The ASC is a possible convention among many that one could choose, even though it is not the convention used by relativity experts, other physicists or lay people today. The remaining question is whether it is that of the language of the Bible.

The ASC can be treated as either language of appearance (a phenomenology6) or the actual state of the physical universe—the laws of physics that describe what we observe. And this convention is applied to the earth’s frame of reference. And relativistic physics does not preclude the possibility of a special frame, a unique place in the universe. What it precludes is that there is any special frame of reference for the laws of physics. That means that in order to find the correct formulation for the laws of physics, we should look for one that does not depend on the frame of reference of the observer.7 This is one of the fundamental assumptions from which Einstein derived his theory.

Crucial to the ASC model is its notion that the ASC is the synchrony convention that the Bible uses. Whether or not this is true, at least the phenomenology of that convention may be chosen as that of the language of the Bible, because we are free to choose any convention we like. In his paper, Lisle makes his strongest statement yet, saying that he believes it is not just phenomenology but is the very nature of the universe. This means that the ‘one-way speed of light’ towards any observer can be regarded as infinite,8 regardless of the observer’s location. Hence the outgoing speed would need to be half that of the measured two-way speed of light. Since the one-way speed of light is not a measurable quantity, this concept does not violate the known laws of physics in any way. Previously, the credibility of this idea9 was questioned. However, no matter how one constructs an experiment, one cannot measure the one-way speed of light. As observers in the universe we are free to choose that speed to reflect the synchrony convention we adopt. This may sound counter-intuitive, but in the same way, there are other aspects of modern physics that seem counter-intuitive but they have been eventually borne out by many successful laboratory tests.10 See the Appendix in Part II for further discussion on this.

In itself the ASC is acceptable, though not necessarily helpful, in relativistic physics. The open question is, “Is this the convention used in the Bible?” Particularly, in Exodus 20:9–11, did God mean 24-hour days based on the ASC or 24-hour days based on what is the modern, almost universally accepted view of timing events, which would mean one has to include the light-travel time of the photons from the stars to the observer? Also is this the convention that God had in mind when He penned, through Moses, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”? Genesis 1:1—meaning the whole universe of space and time. This was all on the first 24-hour day.

Lisle contends that throughout history men have imagined some form of simultaneity consistent with the ASC and that as mankind developed a knowledge of the finite speed of light, so the starlight-travel-time problem developed. Rather, what everyone naturally imagines is that the present is what an infinite speed of light would show us. The recently acquired knowledge that light has a finite speed does not change people’s intuitive feeling of what the present should be. For example, a TV reporter, commenting recently on the live signals from the Mercury Messenger spacecraft as it was being inserted into orbit, said, “Of course the signals that we’re hearing don’t show Messenger’s status right now, but as it was eight minutes ago.”

Mature creation

The ASC model, like many other creationist models, needs some sort of ‘mature’ creation in the cosmos. I agree with Lisle when he says ‘age’ is not a measurable quantity, but is only determined in comparison to some other criteria, which must be assumed. In his paper, however, he says that his model makes certain predictions, but (and I am being pedantic here) he does not make any. The cited examples are not predictions at all but are known parameters (observations) that are consistent with his model. For his model to be falsifiable it must make new predictions against which it can be tested.11 He uses the expression “indications of youth of the universe (in contrast to billions of years) [emphasis added]”, but that also presupposes one knows what youth looks like. A claim is made about the youth of spiral galaxies based on the supposed speeds of rotation of constituent stars within the galaxies. But how does one know what youth is? An unwound spiral? Is not this also begging the question?

I questioned Lisle12 on this and other issues regarding his model. Lisle contends that nothing truly ‘looks’ old or young as there is no basis for comparison and that one cannot tell the age of something by its appearance. However, when we look at processes, using certain assumptions about their initial conditions, we can arrive at a maximum age for something. For example, spiral galaxies, based on their observed spiral structure and the measured speed of the stars, cannot be older than a billion years (at an absolute maximum). This result then cannot be taken as the true age but an age indicator showing an inconsistency with the secular model. But taking all maximum-age estimators in the universe, the lower boundary should be close to 6,000 years. In the ASC model, such age estimates should yield roughly the same lower boundary for all regions of the universe.

As an example of this, Lisle cited planetary magnetic fields. From measured decay rates of these fields in the solar system, they indicate unrealistically high field strengths in the past, less than hundreds of thousands of years ago. These are on the low end of age estimates since magnetic fields apparently decay exponentially. As technology improves, and we eventually are able to measure planetary magnetic fields in other, more distant, solar systems, he expects that many will give similar results. And it follows that strong planetary magnetic fields will not be found in the distant universe if it is genuinely old. The systematic absence of distant planetary magnetic fields would falsify the ASC model, and would lend strong support for time dilation (figure 2).13

Comparison with time-dilation models

Figure 2: Time-dilation models: a generic picture. Different models are proposed, but ultimately they depend on a difference in clock rates between those on Earth and those in the cosmos. At least hundreds of millions of years are available for process in the cosmos during the fourth day of Creation.

In regards to Humphreys’14 and my own time dilation models,15 Lisle does not insist on anything like that because he believes the ASC can solve the starlight-travel-time problem without such. However, with mature creation, which is needed, why stop there? Why accept anything on face value; that the universe is expanding, for example?16 The expansion of the universe is not verifiable, even though he suggests it is. No experiment has ever measured cosmological expansion. So a static universe is just as compatible with a mature creation and an infinite one-way speed of light.

The concept itself of the infinite one-way speed of light (not the two-way speed) has similarities in the Carmelian cosmology, which I have explored and have explained in my book Starlight, Time and the New Physics.17 That cosmology is based on the notion that we can see the galaxies and that one can construct a 4D universe of space and velocity—called spacevelocity, instead of Einstein’s spacetime. Carmeli originally posited that because we observe the galaxies in the universe like in a still photograph, it is as if we observe them frozen in time, at a definite instant in time.18 The assumption Carmeli made is the same as saying all events in our past light cone are simultaneous.19

In the Hartnett­-Carmeli model, it is equivalent to saying that the local observer would calculate (cannot measure) a one-way speed of light that is practically infinite. It does not have to be infinite, in practice, to observe redshifted galaxies in an expanding universe.20 No blueshifts, due to high clock rates in the past, are observed, because the effect can be understood not only as an extremely fast one-way speed of light but also as a massive acceleration of the expansion of the cosmos, as measured by local atomic clocks. In that case, the latter neatly cancels out the time dimension when one looks at the whole universe, and what remains is an equation describing the expansion, a version of the Hubble Law.18

In the model the universe is expected to look pretty much like Lisle describes for his; it can have very similar stages for processes in galaxies at all redshifts (or distances) throughout the universe. The minor difference is that the Hartnett-Carmeli model permits hundreds of millions of astronomically measured years of change (or process) in galaxies at all epochs except those near the very beginning. A mature creation of large distributions of matter is not necessarily assumed, but can be understood to have originated from ejections of new galactic matter from the hearts of other active parent galaxies, in a gigantic light show, which all happened during the fourth day of Creation Week. In Lisle’s ASC model mature creation of all structures with apparent process age greater than 6,000 years is absolutely required.


  1. Lisle, J.P., Anisotropic Synchrony Convention—A Solution to the Distant Starlight Problem, Answers Research Journal 2:191–207, 2010;
  2. Newton, R., Distant starlight and Genesis: Conventions of time measurement, J. Creation 15(1):80–85, 2001 and Lisle, J., Taking Back Astronomy, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, pp. 48–50, 2006.
  3. Here I have used the usual language that we use today in science. That means if there were some sort of universal clocks, all synchronized together, then they would measure the first creation of the first galaxies billions of years before the first day of Creation, so there is all that time available for the light to travel at constant speed c.
  4. Humphreys believes that the ancient readers of the Bible would not have used the ASC for two reasons: (1) it would have been counter to their intuitive idea of ‘now’ and (2) because some of them already had the concept of delayed events. For example, they see a lightning flash and after some delay hear the sound of thunder. The sound travels slower than the light. Though they may not have conceived of a finite speed of light at that time, they would have had the notion that events are not timed by when they heard the sound but by an earlier moment when they observed the flash. He suggests, contrary to Lisle, that the ESC is the more natural choice.
  5. If correct, it would provide a neat simple solution to the problem, and it may in fact be the most important ever produced by a creationist, but, as stated here, it is not clear to me that it is what the language of the Bible implies.
  6. A phenomenology does not have to apply to appearance only; it could also mean something that we observe without yet being able to explain its underlying principle.
  7. That comes from the principle of relativity, which is best explained as a mathematical symmetry.
  8. Or sufficiently fast that there is no problem seeing the distant sources in the cosmos within the 6,000 years since Creation.
  9. Hartnett, J.G., Distant starlight and Genesis: is ‘observed time’ a physical reality? J. Creation 16(3):65–68, 2002.
  10. Einstein’s relativity and also quantum theory are examples.
  11. Most of cosmology is essentially untestable. Cosmology ultimately comes down to probability arguments because one cannot run any control experiments or interact with the universe like one can in the lab. See
  12. Jason Lisle, personal communication.
  13. The details of any time-dilation cosmology will vary and therefore affect this comparison.
  14. Humphreys, D.R., Starlight and Time, Master Books, Colorado Springs, CO, 1994; Humphreys, D.R., New time dilation helps creation cosmology, J. Creation 22(3):84–92, 2008.
  15. Hartnett, J.G., A new cosmology: solution to the starlight-travel-time problem, J. Creation 17(2):98–102, 2003;; Hartnett, J.G., A 5D spherically symmetric expanding universe is young, J. Creation 21(1):69–74, 2006; Hartnett, J., Starlight, Time and the New Physics, 2nd Ed., Creation Book Publishers, November 2010, the second edition of the STNP book is recommended, where a misinterpretation of the type of time dilation the model involves has been corrected.
  16. Hartnett, J.G., Is the Universe really expanding?, 2011, preprint available at
  17. Hartnett, J., Starlight, Time and the New Physics, 2nd Ed., Creation Book Publishers, November 2010.
  18. This meant that in the 5D Minkowski-type metric, connecting events in the spherically symmetric spacetime, dt = 0. From this he deduced his 4D cosmological special relativity theory. There is no angular spatial dependence in the metric (dφ = dθ = 0). Hence dr represents the radial distance to the source in the Hubble sense. And dv represents the velocity of the expansion of the universe as observed from the redshifts of galaxies in the Hubble flow. You can see, then, that for null 4-vectors in this spacevelocity (ds = 0) the metric becomes the differential form of the Hubble Law , where τ ≈ 1/H0, H0,the Hubble constant.
  19. This fact is one of the major objections to the theory by theoretical physicists. They say it results in tachyon fields, i.e. particles which travel faster than the speed of light, c. But this would only be true if it applied to the two-way speed of light.
  20. The expanding universe is the main assumption in that cosmology.

Continued in Part II


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By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.

4 replies on “The Anisotropic Synchrony Convention model as a solution to the creationist starlight-travel-time problem — Part I”

Can you measure one way speed of light?
I think you can :
Let’s have 2 points A and B and point C exactly in the middle. We can indirectly synchronize the clocks at A and B by sending the signals to C and calculating back the time on A and B clocks so the signals from A and B would arrive at C at the same time. Let’s assume temporarily that uni- directional speed of light is the same in both directions and equals c.
We can now synchronize the times at A and B with C knowing that at the moment signals were send towards C (assuming the signals arrived at C at the same time) the time at A and B should be same as time at C minus travel time of the photon from A (or B) to C.
Now we can send the signal from A and B towards C at the same time as indicated on clocks A and B. If the speed of light is indeed same in both directions, both signals will arrive at C at exactly the same time. If there were any differences, we could easily calculate speed of light in either direction


You write “Let’s have 2 points A and B and point C exactly in the middle. We can indirectly synchronize the clocks at A and B by sending the signals to C and calculating back the time on A and B clocks so the signals from A and B would arrive at C at the same time.” But if you send light signals from A or B to C how do you even know when it has arrived? Only by sending back a light signal. This is then the 2-way speed of light. And to calculate anything is making assumptions. This is not about assuming anything or calculating anything, it is all about how to synchronise the distant clocks to make a 1-way measurement. If you were located at position C how do you tell A and B to send a light signal to perform the synchronisation? Only by sending a light signal to A and B. So again it becomes a 2-way measurement. I am afraid you have not ‘easily’ calculated the one-way speed of light. It physicially cannot be done.


Hi John,
Let me try to explain the idea:
At a random time you send signal from A (and start clock A) to C and from B (and start clock B) to C. Let’s say signal from A has been received (at point C) 2 min later than from B. Using any method (even mail) you communicate that you need to delay clock B by 2 min. Now by correcting clock B you can assume that clocks A and B are synchronized (which would be true if the speed of light is isotropic – the same in all directions). Now you verify your assumption by sending signal from A to B and from B to A and measuring the travel times in each direction.


You still have a problem. I have thought about this and I now understand what you are saying.

Ok, let’s assume your method of calibrating A and B is correct. A and B are now synchronized. How do you now measure the speed of light between A and B? You must send a light signal from A to B and B must send it back to A. That is now a 2-way speed of light measurement.

You might say but since B can read in the signal the time it left A, only a one way trip is needed because the clocks are synchronised? That is right. But your synchronization method assumes isotropy in the speed of light. If you didn’t, the 2 minute delay between arrival of the signals at C can indicate anisotropy. Hence your letter telling B to delay its clock by 2 minutes forces isotropy on the system. That is your choice of simultaneity convention right there.

Finally, if you don’t send the letter telling B to adjust his clock, B has to send his light signal back to A, and it is a 2-way measurement. So the speed of light cannot be measured apart from a choice of simultaneity convention. You assumed speed of light to synchronize clocks in the first instance and then used that fact to measure the speed of light.


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