Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics

A question on ad hoc in my cosmologies

Hi John,

Here are quotes from two of your articles that I’d like to ask a question about:

  • “My first model (2003)1 employed no gravitational potential well, but a supernatural causation only. During Creation week, God miraculously slowed Earth and the solar system clocks in comparison to cosmic clocks. The model doesn’t need an expanding universe, but it is rather ad hoc. That is, it invokes a miracle.” quoted from STARLIGHT AND TIME: IS IT A BRICK WALL FOR BIBLICAL CREATION?
  • “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),2 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.” quoted from THE ANISOTROPIC SYNCHRONY CONVENTION MODEL AS A SOLUTION TO THE CREATIONIST STARLIGHT-TRAVEL-TIME PROBLEM — PART I.

In the first case, God miraculously slowing local vs cosmic clocks is deemed ad hoc; however, in the second case God is required to do trillions of smaller miracles (creating all the stars in a certain order, over billions of years). How is the second any less ad hoc than the first?

Blessings, BKH 

PS: I’ve been enjoying your site and thinking about matters of cosmology and starlight.

My reply:

(Update 24 September 2015: Footnote 4 added for clarification)

Thanks for the question. I do largely agree with your inference that either both are ad hoc or neither are. It is somewhat subjective. But there is a difference, and the difference is in how the clocks, in the two proposed cosmologies, are synchronised.

1. In the first mentioned cosmology there are two zones, one local to the earth, where, during Day 4 of Creation week, all clocks run at a slower rate to all cosmic clocks and are synchronised, and a second zone incorporating most of the Universe where all clocks run at the same rate as clocks today, and hence are universally synchronised to current day Earth clocks.3 Such synchronisation only the Creator could manufacture at Creation. That requirement provides the necessary time dilation to explain a vast universe in a 6000 year timescale but not cause any unusual observations in the cosmos, because there is essentially no difference between clock rates (cosmic vs local) now when the light we see now arrives from the distant cosmos. But during Creation Week that was not the case. At the end of Day 4 God made all Earth clocks run at the same rate as they do today. That aspect of the creation process was by supernatural.

2. In the second mentioned cosmology, the synchronisation of clocks is only via the transmission of a light signal to Earth. That is when the light from the galaxies was first to reach Earth. So for all galaxies and stars to be created on Day 4 of Creation Week they must have been created in past time4 under the assumption of the Einstein Synchrony Convention (ESC; where light travels at constant speed, c) but simultaneously under the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC; where light travels towards the earth at infinite speed). There is no assumed difference in clock rates but only a timing convention by which the events are time-stamped. No unusual observations are caused nor expected in the cosmos. But no apparent processes in the cosmos can have ages indicated to be greater than a little more than 6000 years either.

I have been told by others in the creationist community that the latter (2.) is an ad hoc solution to the problem. I personally don’t believe so. And I have said myself that the former’s (1.) assumption of the way God had to create the Universe is ad hoc. So maybe it is just a matter of choice. But because this was Creation Week where physical laws may have been suspended until the creation complete, the former (1.) requires more of that than the latter (2.).

God is not in time so He has no preferred choice of a timing convention. That is entirely a man-made construct. But the latter (2.) fits nicely into a 6000 year creation of the Universe. The Bible was written for man, God’s message to us, so it make sense to me that He would use the language of mankind, which has always been to time events when we observe them, not by when we calculate the light left the source. That has only been the case in the past 100 years since we have measured the value of the two-way speed of light, c.

References and notes

  1.  J.G. Hartnett, A new cosmology: solution to the starlight travel time problem, Journal of Creation 17(2):98–102, 2003.
  2. 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.
  3. Such a synchronisation is assumed as part of the creation. It is not something that could be verified.
  4. To be perfectly clear, this means that under the ESC timing convention the beginning of the Universe was billions of years before the creation of planet Earth. God created the Universe is a special way such that, chronologically, He created the most distant sources (galaxies) first and systematically created all others progressively closer and closer to where He would eventually create the Earth, so that all the light from these sources arrived for the first time on Day 4 of Creation Week, after travelling at constant speed c for millions and billions of years. Under the ASC timing convention (since there is no travel time for light) the light from all sources arrvies at Earth instantly on Day 4. Hence I use the expression “in past time” under ESC but that is the same as being “exactly on” Day 4 under ASC, as required by the scriptures

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.

9 replies on “A question on ad hoc in my cosmologies”

When we are dealing with one-off historical events (i.e. origins) for which we have inadequate data to give a detailed account as to exactly how it happened, the best anyone can do is give ad hoc speculative answers that attempt, as well as possible, to fit the data we do have. This is true for both the Atheist and the Christian. The difference between the Creationist’s ad hoc explanations versus the Atheist’s ad hoc explanations is twofold:

First, the Creationist has a sufficient cause for the existence of the universe–namely, an eternal, all-powerful, all-wise self-sufficient Creator who exists outside the creation–whereas the Atheist is forced to a closed-system universe that contradicts the very Laws of Nature that supposedly form the basis for his philosophy. To be specific, entropy, whether it be in the thermodynamic sense or in the sense of information theory, works against any materialistic explanation of origins. When the Atheist engages in speculation on origins, his explanations must of necessity violate the observed scientific fact that, in a closed system, both the matter/energy available to do useful work and also information content inevitably decrease with time.

Second, the Biblical Creationist has additional data that the Atheist does not have, in that he has the inerrant Word of the eternal God who cannot lie, who was both a witness to Creation, as well as its Designer and Efficient Cause. The explanations available to Biblical Creationism are therefore informed and constrained both by the clear teachings of scripture as well as by the raw scientific evidence.

In contrast, whereas Atheistic explanations ought to be constrained by scientific evidence alone (since it claims to have no divine revelation), it then becomes an overdetermined system–a clock that is running down with no way for it to have initally been wound up. But since Atheists want to have their cake and eat it too, they are forced to deny the very science they claim as support for their view. They have to deny the laws of Thermodynamics and the analogous laws of Information Theory–laws based on scientific observation and experimentation.

This demonstrates that Atheism is self-contradictory and untenable–or, at the very least, that it is certainly not supported by scientific evidence and is instead a faith-based philosophy destitute of any actual knowledge. If it has no divine revelation, and also cannot trust the scientific evidence (such as the laws of Thermodynamics and Information Theory), then it is epistemologically bankrupt, with no logical basis on which to support its truth claims.

The Creationist can rest in the confidence that his position is logically consistent and epistemologically sound. While the Creationist may not be able to definitively answer how God created a universe 13+ billion light years in radius in the space of six days of ordinary duration, or precisely how He brought about the flood, he nevertheless can be confident that God is able to do this, that the Biblical claims are consistent with the evidence we see in nature, and that the Biblical account is logically self-consistent. When the Creationist posits his “ad hoc” explanations, he does not need to contradict any scientific facts, Biblical teachings or principles of logic to do so.


Haven’t you heard that the Einstein Synchrony Convention has been confirmed? Scientists from University of Western Australia and Humboldt University of Berlin, including Stephen Parker, among others, have confirmed that the speed of light is the same in both directions. They did this by studying microwave signals from perpendicular sapphire oscillators which rotated every 100 seconds. I found this on a Polish website, but I’m sure you can find something about it in English. Note however that this still doesn’t disprove Young-Earth Creationism, since YECs have got other theories like your Carmellian based cosmology as well as Dr Humphreys’.



That is so strange you mention that because I am one of the authors/researchers involved in that experiment. The paper was just published in Nature Communications. We performed the most precise Michelson-Morley experiment ever, over a period of more than a year. It is a test of the isotropy of the speed of light, c. That is the two-way speed of light. According to Einstein’s special relativity (SR) theory, which assumes the Einstein Synchrony Convention, such a test should yield exactly zero difference between the two-way speed of light, c, measured in two orthogonal directions in space. But new physics is sought on the boundary of SR and quantum theory. See Nagel, M., Parker, S.R., Kovalchuck, E.V., Stanwix, P.L., Hartnett, J.G., et al., Direct Terrestrial Test of Lorentz Symmetry in Electrodynamics to 10^-18, Nature Communications 6:8174, September 2015 | doi:10.1038/ncomms9174. You must understand, a convention cannot be proven, it is assumed in order to analyse the results of the experiment. There is no fundamental clock synchronisation convention in the Universe. We are free to choose, and if you assume ESC you always measure the two-way speed of light, not the one-way speed.


Hi John,
I think there is a way to synchronize distant clocks and therefore to measure one way speed of light.
This is my proposition:

Let’s have three collinear points: A, B and C in the middle. Let’s have three clocks at each point and additionally two stopwatches at points C and B. ( The clocks can be initially pre-synchronized, but it is not absolutely necessary).

At time t0 as indicated on all three clocks we will send signals from A to C and from C to B and start the stopwatches at C and B. The Stop watch at C will stop after receiving signal coming from A and Stopwatch at B will stop after receiving the signal from C. Times of the flight of the photons from A to C and from C to B are exactly the same (the same distance and the same direction). If the time measured by stopwatch at C equals the time measured by the stopwatch at B, the clocks at A and B are perfectly synchronized, making one way speed of light measurement quite trivial. If the readings are different, we can readjust the time at A to obtain the same readings of the stopwatches at C and B.
Please let me know if I have made a mistake in my reasoning.

Kind regards,


Yes, you have made a major mistake in you reasoning. You need to think about who is observing and where he is located and how does he communicate information with other observers (or clocks).

You say the three clocks don’t need to be synchronised, but then you assume they are by writing that you send a light signals at t0 presumably the same time in some assumed universal frame of reference. How do you know what time each clock (A and C) sends the light signal when an observer can only be in one reference frame at a time, co-moving with a clock at A, B, or C. You would have to send a light signal between the clocks to get a calibration. You can’t just assume they are synchronised nor can you synchronise them all at A, say, and then move the other two to B, and C. You would have to verify they are still synchronised, when you send out your light signals. If I assume the observer is at B. At C a light signal is received from A and C sends one to B, which you assume is simultaneous (hence the convention on simultaneity), but without knowing when they were sent out from A and from C on your local clock the measurement of the speed between A—C and C—B is impossible. I assume you are using stop watches at C and B to record the interval of time, but how are they synchronised with the clock at A? And how do you know when to start the stopwatches? There is no need to add any stopwatches anyway. You have three clocks at three locations that can only be synchronised by sending and receiving a light signal, without which you cannot measure the travel time between spatial points.


Hello again, Dr Hartnett!

I’ve mentioned ASC in a comment on an article. Somebody answered saying that it’s nonsense and just complicating things deliberately. He said there is no evidence to support it. He also said that the horizon problem has been solved with inflation and that inflation has predicted the spectrum of anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background correctly. He also pointed out that in the past there used to be more quasars and that is evidence against ASC. I mentioned Halton Arp’s discoveries in response, and he responded by saying that these are out of date claims, that Arp based his ideas on just 100 galaxies, and now we have discovered a lot more, and analysed them using modern techniques like Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the observations don’t match Arp’s theories. What are your thoughts on this?



That person is very ignorant. The assumption of ASC does not need physical evidence because it is a convention, therefore it precedes evidence. You use it to evaluate the evidence. The ASC is by definition a convention. A convention means it is something that is chosen among a group to use to evaluate something.

To say the horizon problem has been solved by an unknown — inflation, is a semantic word game. Inflation is a theoretical idea, which is still in total infancy. No one theory describes it. No one knows why it started or how it stopped. There is no direct observational evidence in support of it — just a lot of hope. Read COSMIC INFLATION: DID IT REALLY HAPPEN? and the listed Related Articles, particularly INFLATION—ALL IN THE ‘DARK’. Inflation has not predicted the CMB spectrum because the latter is measured and inflation theory is still being developed. At best it would be a post-diction, not a pre-diction.

I don’t know what he means by there was once more quasars. If the big bang is correct the quasars long ago went extinct. The biblical history can be consistent with that also, if quasars are embryonic galaxies, but it would mean they were created in that form by the Creator. They could have changed into more normal galaxies too. Arp’s work is not out of date. The latest publication was in 2012. Read GALAXY-QUASAR ASSOCIATIONS. Note Ref. 3. That was published in the Astrophysical Journal, the top astrophysics journal. Tens of thousands of galaxies and quasars are used in that analysis and a very strong case for association is found. That is hardly just 100 galaxies. The Ref. 3 I mentioned used Sloan Survey data and the observations do match Arp’s theory.


Thank you for your reply. By the way, this is from 2012, as I see. That guy said that my knowledge had stopped at the 60s, lol.


It’s funny, the people who say this are the same people who believe in dark matter and other things dark. Yet those things are not “complicating things deliberately”. And apparently 95% of physicists agree with the dark matter model. Our world is a funny place isn’t it?


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