astronomy Cosmology Creation/evolution hermeneutics Physics

Mature creation and false information in starlight

Some biblical creationists argue for a mature creation as an explanation for the history of Genesis to align with modern cosmological observations. Don DeYoung1 is one who argues that such a view is not refutable, and he is quite right. But neither is any cosmology as really cosmology is not science.2 It is not subject to repeatable laboratory type tests that is normally required in science. Its goal is to reconstruct the history of the Universe, and in so doing cosmology is more akin to evolutionary biology or geology in which researchers must simply accept some facts as given. That makes cosmology more like a religion, a belief system, with its unprovable axioms upon which everything else is based.

De Young argues that all biblical creationist cosmogonies (i.e. worldviews) contain some level of mature creation, which I do agree with. The problem, though, which he does not address, is the issue of false information in starlight.

Credit: ESA & NASA; Acknowledgement: E. Olszewski (U. Arizona)

We know that the Universe is very large. Light travels very fast indeed, yet light travelling at its measured speed travels one light-year distance in one year (by definition). The Bible tells us that the Universe is only about 6000 years old, but the distances light needs to travel from the most distant sources to Earth, since creation, is about 14 billion light-years. So DeYoung, and others like him, claim that God created the ‘light in transit’. He says that this explanation is valid as it is equivalent to the mature creation of our sun or even to adult forms of life created on Earth (i.e. Adam and Eve created in the Garden as adults and not babies or embryos). On some level this may be true, but the ‘light in transit’ remains a problem in terms of God’s truthfulness.

No doubt DeYoung, and those others who hold similar views, believe that God is 100% truthful, yet they see no problem with false information in the ‘light in transit’. DeYoung excuses it by saying that it is nevertheless true in the mind of God. But there still remains a problem.

In Psalm 91 (and other passages in the Bible) we are told that the heavens tell us of God’s workmanship. Is this also only in the mind of God? Is everything that is in the astrophysical heavens just part of a big light show, which has no reality, such as the reality we can discover with the rest of our senses here on Earth? I don’t think so.

So how do you justify ‘light in transit,’ which does not relate back to real events in the past history of this Universe? If you want to take the approach of the least number of assumptions, that is, using Occam’s Razor,3 a law of economy, then I would say that a time-dilation model or a time-convention model is a far simpler and better choice.4 For example, I could construct a cosmogony (description of the origin of the Universe) where our Creator God makes the sun, the moon, the planets and all the stars and galaxies on Day 4 of Creation Week, according to Genesis 1.5 But in so doing He slows the rate of clocks on Earth during that day only. Really that means he slows the rate at which time passes on Earth relative to elsewhere in the cosmos. He makes some galaxies initially and places them throughout the Universe, like unfurling a flag or tent. It does not necessarily involve any stretching of the fabric of space, or of time or of space-time. This Universe is not an expanding, but created static, with the galaxies essentially in the same locations now as when they were created 6000 years ago, as measured by Earth clocks.

In that cosmogony God continued creating throughout the Earth Day 4 of Creation Week, taking only one 24-hour Earth day, but, as measured by astronomical clocks that would have taken ten or more billion years of current Earth time. Or even using the ASC time-convention model6 of Jason Lisle, viewed from the perspective of the ESC time convention,7 billions of years would have passed in the cosmos but only one day passed in Earth.8

God was creating and hence He can do as He likes. All the light we see today has travelled from the distant reaches of the cosmos. It all represents real events that occurred on the stars that it originated from. Nothing is ‘in the mind of God’ only. They are all real events. We can believe it to be true and the laws of nature (creation) are valid. After all, they are God’s laws. God simply created during Day 4, while Earth clocks ran nearly a trillion times slower than clocks in the rest of the Universe, in the case of my first creationist cosmogony model.5 Or in the case of Lisle’s ASC model, light in the rest frame of the cosmos (not Earth) had millions and billions of years to travel to Earth and all arrived the first time on Day 4. In the rest frame of the Earth under such a model the light travelled instantaneously from source to Earth, and also thus represents the real state of the sources it came from.

In my first cosmogony, after Day 4 was finished, the Creator set Earth clocks to run at the same rate as cosmic clocks, and you would not be able tell any difference from astronomical observations. However, that would be untestable today. It would be consistent with all we observe and also with the Genesis text, Neither would it have any ‘light created in transit’ assumption.

In the case of the ASC model no time dilation is needed. There are billions of years of travel time available under the Einstein Synchrony Convention for light to travel to Earth, but when viewed from the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention the light travels instantaneously to Earth, so also there is no ‘light created in transit’ assumption there either.

GALAXIES pia17569-640
Credit: NASA & Spitzer

So far I have only made one assumption—God created, ex nihilo, for some of the galaxies, at least, and they were created in various stages of maturity and at various times during Day 4 of Creation Week. That is consistent with the Genesis account. All that we see in starlight is true history of real events that once happened.

We don’t even need to invoke that God used a general relativistic time dilation mechanism, resulting from an expanding universe that was or was not accelerating at some time in the past.9 The Universe does not need to be expanding at all–it could be static.10

You would only need to explain the many verses in the Bible which seem to say God spread out the heavens, but a plain reading of those verses would suggest that it was simply like rolling out and setting up a tent, and not that the tent was stretched out like a balloon.11 You could not refute that either. Even the Tolman test12 on whether the Universe is expanding or static, independent of cosmology, cannot distinguish. The data fit either the standard big bang model, which is expanding, or a static universe just as well, once all assumptions are taken into account. In fact my analyses of different methods of testing whether or not the Universe is expanding have resulted in nothing definitive either way.10

In addition quasar scintillation (regular variations in light intensity) show no evidence of time dilation as a function of redshift, and hence distance, if the cosmological distance interpretation for the Hubble Law is correct.13 It seems that there is one fact we can rely on—the Hubble Law applies to galaxies, relating their magnitudes (and hence distance) with their redshifts, at least at low to moderate redshifts. But you cannot irrefutably say the Universe is expanding from that. Such expansion has never been observed in a lab environment. So a static universe, where the Hubble Law is valid, and results from some other, as-yet-unknown, mechanism–though many ideas have been proposed–is as good as any. Maybe it is even the simplest.

And if we want to solve the big unknowns, the problems for the standard consensus14 model of the origin and structure of the Universe, the ΛCDM big bang inflation model,15 then a static universe like that described above could work. In that universe there is no exotic16 dark matter, no dark energy,17 no cosmic inflation (for which there is no known mechanism to start or stop it), no need to assign the source of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation to the cosmic fireball, called the last scattering surface of the big bang (with some wrinkles, i.e. temperature fluctuations, which were too small to seed galaxies as expected18 and they cast no shadows19,20) and no expansion.21

All these ‘unknowns’ of big bang cosmology vanish. You even get a few side benefits—the horizon problem22 is solved because the Universe can be much bigger than we observe, but you just choose an age in astronomically measured time sufficiently long enough–finite but long enough–for all the radiation to mix up throughout the whole Universe and get a perfect black-body curve from the thermalisation of all the energy confined within the finite Universe. Also one has no worries with the flatness problem because I would argue that God simply created a flat Euclidean space for the whole Universe. Only where matter density is locally large is that perturbed and that fulfils all the requirements to agree with general relativity measurements done within our solar system and even in the case of gravity waves from stellar-mass-size black holes.23

It seems to me that those biblical creationists, including DeYoung, attempt to simplify things with ‘mature creation’ and ‘light created in transit’. But if you want a simple fully mature Universe, with no false history (which can hardly be described as simple), the choices I have suggested above, and referenced below, would do. The only time dilation comes directly from God, not from some complex, non-intuitive relativistic effect and/or a model that needs lots of patches and ad hoc assumptions to support it. The ASC model is very simple and involves no time dilation at all, just the adoption of a different time-stamping convention for the language used in the Bible. See A biblical creationist cosmogony.

The only difference, of course, is that most of the problems the big bangers have result from their rejection of anything from the hand of God. Maybe we all should take William of Occam’s advice.


  1. D. DeYoung, Mature creation and seeing distant starlight, Journal of Creation 24(3):54-59, 2010.
  2. J.G. Hartnett, Cosmology is not science, December 28, 2013.
  3. Occam’s Razor, the principle of assuming as little as possible to decide the truth of a hypothesis; named after William of Occam.
  4. J.G. Hartnett, Starlight and Time: Is it a brick wall for biblical creation?, July 31, 2015.
  5. J.G. Hartnett, A new cosmology: solution to the starlight travel time problem, Journal of Creation 17(2):98–102, 2003.
  6. ASC = Anisotropic Synchrony Convention.
  7. ESC = Einstein Synchrony Convention.
  8. J.G. Hartnett, A student’s understanding of the ASC model, March 12, 2016.
  9. J.G. Hartnett, Is the Universe expanding?, May 26, 2015.
  10. J.G. Hartnett, Is the Universe really expanding – the evidence revisited, July 29, 2016.
  11. J.G. Hartnett, Does the Bible really describe expansion of the universe?, April 14, 2014.
  12. Tolman surface brightness test, which is a test for expansion or not, which is meant to be independent on any assumed cosmology, but to get a sample of equal absolute brightness galaxies it requires unverifiable assumptions. See J.G. Hartnett, Is there definitive evidence for an expanding Universe?, August 19, 2014. See also Tolman surface brightness test in Wikipedia.
  13. J.G. Hartnett, Quasars exhibit no time dilation and still defy a big bang explanation, August 16, 2016.
  14. When has science been decided by consensus anyway?
  15. ΛCDM = Lambda Cold Dark Matter where Lambda stands for the cosmological constant.
  16. The type of matter that has never been measured in a lab, which gravitates, but does not easily interact with matter. It is called exotic because it is not known to local laboratory physics.
  17. Very strange energy that has the effect of an anti-gravity force law, also totally unknown to local laboratory physics.
  18. This problem resulted from the need for the temperature fluctuations to be the beginnings of density variations that formed the seeds from which galaxies evolved after the Universe expanded.
  19. This anomaly was first measured by Lieu, R., Mittaz, J.P.D. and Zhang, S.N., The Sunyaev–Zel’dovich Effect in a sample of 31 clusters: a comparison between the x-ray predicted and WMAP observed cosmic microwave background temperature decrement, Astrophysical Journal 648:176, 2006, and has been confirmed by several others as late as 2010: Bielby, R. M. and Shanks, T., Anomalous SZ contribution to three-year WMAP data, M.N.R.A.S., 382:1196–1202, 2007; Diego, J.M. and Partridge, B., The Sunyaev–Zel’dovich Effect in Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe data, M.N.R.A.S. 402:1179–1194, 2010; Jiang, B-Z., Lieu, R., Zhang S-N. and Walker, B., Significant foreground unrelated non-acoustic anisotropy on the 1 degree scale in Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy probe 5-year observations, Astrophysical Journal 708:375–380, 2010.
  20. J.G. Hartnett, ‘Light form the big bang’ casts no shadows, December 16, 2014.
  21. J.G. Hartnett, Big bang fudge factors, December 24, 2013.
  22. J.G. Hartnett, Big bang has a light-travel-time problem, January 7, 2014.
  23. J.G. Hartnett, What impact does the detection of gravitational waves have on biblical creation?, February 16, 2016.

 Recommended Reading

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.

8 replies on “Mature creation and false information in starlight”

Thanks again for your thoughts on Creation John. Much appreciated. Can I ask you to explain please, under your model whereby God slowed time on Earth to almost stop whilst billions of Earth years worth of processes occur in stellar space, all occuring on Day 4 of creation, how this impacts on Day 3 creation products, namely the flora. Is it feasible for them to ‘grow’ at such a slow rate? Or are they effectively in a state of suspended animation?


Mark, Relativistic time dilation has no effect locally on living things. You could only tell that clock rates were different in different parts of the Universe by a comparison, but locally time proceeds as normal. My suggestion in this article was that God slowed time on Earth only during Day 4 as compared to the rest of the Universe. It could have even been for Days 1 through 4. Then at the close of Day 4 Earth clock rates became the same as those in the cosmos. For that reason, we could not detect any difference now. So even if it was slowed on Day 3 it has no bearing on anything. Day 3 would still have been an ordinary 24-hour day.


If God can slow down time on earth, what about the opposite – accelerating all physical processes (not just light) in the rest of the universe as he “stretched out the heavens”? Wouldn’t this achieve the same effect as time dilation models?


Colin, Yes, that is possible. That is the process that occurs in my second cosmology, as in my book Starlight Time and the New Physics. It is also the same as occurs in Russ Humphreys first cosmological model from his book Starlight and Time. The problem that needs to be taken care of is that if clock rates are faster in the cosmos than on Earth, that means when the light left the sources in the past the rate at which time flowed was faster at the star/galaxy at emission than at Earth at reception. That would result in massive blueshifts in the starlight, unless there is another mechanism that counteracts that. In my second cosmology there is, which has to do with another dimension of expansion speed of space. Russ Humphreys had to abandon his 1st model because of this problem. (One might suppose expansion of space to be much greater and causes a net redshift, but that is somewhat contrived to balance it so precisely at all redshifts.) Read my category No. 2 here.


Thanks for your reply, John. I’ll have to read your book for more details on 5D cosmology. Wouldn’t light traveling through expanding space produce a net redshift?


The answer is: It depends! In an unbounded universe there is no unique centre of the universe and hence no central potential around which all matter is arranged. In such a universe (as is the current BB universe) expansion of space means lightwaves are stretched as the universe expands resulting in redshifts. If your universe is a finite and bounded universe, which has a unique centre, then there are two competing effects as seen by an observer at the unique centre. I should have prefaced my comments previously with this, because both mine and Russ Humphreys creationist cosmologies are of this latter type, but my second cosmology does not have a blueshift problem. Normally, light from distant sources should be blue-shifted as it travels towards the centre, meaning the wavelengths would be compressed relative to the observer, but if the universe is expanding, that would have the opposite effect of stretching out the wavelengths and causing a redshift. So details of your model matter a lot here. I recommend that you read this article THE UNIVERSE: FINITE OR INFINITE, BOUNDED OR UNBOUNDED.


Hi John

I am reticent to write because I am such a novice with science, but, as a person who has returned to Genesis after believing evolution MUST be true, I do have a strong interest in these things and would just like to make a comment.

I was listening to a Christian speaker some months ago who said that really there is a veil drawn between now and what we can know about time before the fall. There is no reason for us to expect the laws of physics and nature (which now include decay) to be in place before that point. Likewise, we believe that when the Lord intervenes in history again, the day of the Lord will come like a thief (suddenly) – the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (2 Peter 3). That is, at the other end of history, the Lord will not be obeying the laws of physics either. So, really, if we believe in Christ’s return and His supernatural intervention at supernatural speed in the world as we know it, it is just as reasonable to believe in supernatural creation in a multiplicity of complex actions in supernatural speed at His command before the all the laws of nature were put in place, or confined to their roles, so to speak. In my opinion, this view is different to false information in starlight.

I know this sounds ridiculous to unbelievers, but in between the bookends of history is the life, death and resurrection of Yeshua of Nazareth, Jesus Christ. This is the One who is described as “the eternal life which was with the Father and has appeared to us” 1 John 1. The One who said before his death that he would rise again, as was foretold in Psalm 16:10. The One who commanded the wind and the waves to be still and the disciples were terrified and said ‘Who is this?’ Nature obeyed Him.

Job 9:8 says “He (God) alone stretches out the heaves and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south…” When He walked on the water Jesus identified himself as the One spoken of in Job; that is, the Creator: He alone can do this. And his resurrection, witnessed by many and substantially documented, authenticated his credentials. The miracles and resurrection are case in point that our God does not obey the laws of physics; they obey Him.

In spite of my view I am very interested in the whole evolution/creation discussion – a pursuit of truth – including the starlight question. I believe that these issues will never be solved; there will always be something squirming out sideways that doesn’t fit the model, a planet rotating the wrong way. The grandeur of the design will never be ‘solved’. However, I am thankful for creationist scientists who have the courage to keep digging for truth, pursuing the integrity of science, respectfully challenging the group-think and speaking out about speculative scientism, a faith in godless supernaturality its own right.
Many thanks for your work, the many thought-provoking articles and the forum to make comment.


Some of the way we look and think about the subject of creation and starlight can depend on how we interpret some scriptures. One that you mention, 2 Peter 3:10, I believe is commonly misinterpreted to mean God destroys the heaven and earth and starts again completely brand new. Please read Scientific evidence in the Bible: Information or misinformation? to see what I mean. That then might give you a view to interpret what God will do when He returns in the Day of the Lord. Will the heavens and the earth literally be destroyed to make way for a new heaven and new earth? I no longer think that is the case. Read Do the heavens literally pass away or don’t they? and Our eternal Universe.


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