The effects of the Curse visible in the cosmos present another biblical creationist starlight travel-time problem

Abstract: The notion that the Curse was applied to the whole universe creates another light travel-time problem for biblical creation. Even if we assume that God supernaturally instantly cursed all parts of the universe how do we see those effects now? Any biblical creation cosmology that assumes the ASC is the language of the Bible, which includes an infinite one-way speed of light to the observer on Earth, has an answer to this question. Yet, any cosmology that assumes the ESC is the language of the Bible, which includes the speed of light limited to c (approximately 300,000 km/s), appears to not be able to answer the question. This alone would appear to rule out all cosmologies that rely of the ESC as the language of the Bible.

Introduction

The Curse is an event that many Bible reading Christians know something about. We read in Genesis 3:14-17 that God cursed the earth after Adam and Eve sinned against Him by eating of the tree which He commanded them not to eat of. Their sin brought on them the serious consequence of death. God also cursed the creation, bringing about various forms of corruption, which resulted in life being much more difficult for Adam and Eve and the rest of all life on Earth. The Scriptures tell us that God cursed the whole creation—the whole universe. We may conclude this from Romans 5:12:

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world [Greek kosmos] through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men  because all sinned” (ESV, emphasis added)

The Greek word kosmos meaning ‘orderly arrangement’is translated ‘the world’ in this verse, but meaning the whole universe. (Incidentally, it is the word from which we drive our English word ‘cosmos’.) Thus it was not only humans that were cursed but the whole universe. This is standard biblical creationist doctrine. This conclusion is strengthened when we read Romans 8:19-23:

“For the creation [Greek ktisis] waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (ESV, emphases added)

In this passage the Greek word ktisis meaning ‘original formation’ is translated as ‘the creation’. From the context it has the meaning of the entire creation—animate and inanimate—with the exception of two sets of beings. From verse 23 we can conclude that the creation here does not include the saved children of God. Also it would not include the unbelieving humans as they are not eagerly waiting for the adoption as sons of God. It also cannot include the angels, because the good angels are not subject to futility and therefore the Curse. The bad angels ‘fell’ sometime before the Curse itself and many are kept in chains in prison (2 Peter 2:4) until the final judgement.  So the meaning is all other living creatures and all the physical universe.

We are familiar with the effects of the Curse in our environment. Corruption and decay is all around in nature and in the inanimate physical world.  It has been argued by creationists that the Law of decay (the Second Law of thermodynamics) is not itself the result of the Curse because it is a law that living organisms, prior to the Curse, would have relied upon.

One way of explaining God’s action at the Curse is that He withdrew some of His withholding power, which, prior to the Curse, would have been sufficient to reverse any net corruption in the bodies of Adam and Eve as well as in the physical world. Thus when He withdrew that withholding power, starting at the earth, a wave of corruption and decay set in. If the meaning of kosmos and ktisis in these verses are as suggested then God cursed the whole universe in such a way that we on Earth are able to see those effects in the cosmos. For this discussion it does not precisely matter which are those effects, but only that the language of ‘the creation’ being subject to ‘futility’ means that it all was affected and as earth observers we can see that.

Now here is where the problem comes in.

A light travel-time problem

God is not limited by anything so He could simply have instantly cursed the whole universe. But how are we able to see those effects in the distant universe, millions and billions of light-years away? This would seem to be another starlight travel-time problem.

We don’t know how long after the creation it was when Adam and Even sinned and God cursed the universe. It most probably was a very short period or but could have been several years.[1] It does not matter. But we do know that the Curse occurred after the conclusion of Creation week. That is important!

If the language of the Bible uses the Einstein Synchrony Convention (ESC) then all events are clocked by when[2] any Earth observer would calculate that the light left the source in the cosmos. Under the ESC the speed of light is isotropic and travels at 1 light-year per year or approximately 300,000 km/s and is usually denoted by the letter c. If God cursed the cosmos and instantly and supernaturally did so then you have another light travel-time problem in the universe, billions of light-years in extent. At the speed of light (c) it should take millions and billions of years for the light to reach Earth but clearly the biblical texts imply that we earthlings can see the effects not only on Earth but also in the cosmos.

This is the exact same problem for the creation of the stars on Day 4 of Creation week but now we cannot point to the fact that it occurred in Creation week. If you argue that we can see the effects of the Curse in the universe as a result of some sort of time dilation effect in a proposed creationist cosmology then you also have to explain how that cosmology could apply after God has finished His creative acts. You no longer have the benefit of some extraordinary supernatural effects during Creation week because God was creating at that time.

One way out of the problem would be to argue that those Greek words translated, respectively, as ‘the world’ in Romans 5:12 and ‘the creation’ in Romans 8:19-23 do not include in their meaning ‘the whole universe’. It might only be referring to the world that man is influenced by. Romans 8:20 states that the ‘creation was subject to futility’. As explained above ‘the creation’ here does not include mankind nor angels but all other lifeforms created by God. God cursed His own physical creation. He also cursed mankind in different ways, but the context of Romans 8 indicates that the creation itself will be released from the bondage of the Curse and will be set free like the saved children of God. So perhaps it is only a reference to the creatures and not the physical world? But from the context that does not seem to be the most satisfactory solution.

If the Curse was only on the solar system there would be no problem. The effects of the Curse could easily be seen within the solar system as light travelling at speed c, has no difficulty to reach Earth in less than 24 hours. 

Another solution, which I tend to believe, is that we do not see any effects of the Curse outside our solar system. That is, we should never consider a supernova itself, for example, to be directly a result of the Curse. Rather, when God withdraw some of His withholding power from the universe, the Second Law took full control and we see the effects of decay all around. The Second Law then is the agency by which stars age and ultimately that leads to star going supernova (exploding), yet all a result of the current laws of physics. However, that is a topic beyond the present scope of this discussion and is not central to it.

Let’s proceed with the most widely held interpretation of these verses. Let’s assume the meaning of the Greek words kosmos and ktisis include all of the visible universe.

The Anisotropic Synchrony Convention provides a solution

As stated above, this presents a starlight travel-time problem for any cosmology where the ESC is assumed to the language of the Bible. But for any cosmology that assumes the language of the Bible is the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC) there is no light-travel-time problem.

The Curse occurs on Earth sometime after Creation week. Assuming the whole cosmos is cursed there are two possibilities as to how the Curse was applied to the whole universe. If a ‘wave of corruption’ was applied it would need to travel outwards at the speed c under any ESC model or ½c under any ASC model. That means it would take billions years for those effects to take effect in the cosmos. But the second possibility is that God instantly and supernaturally simultaneously cursed the whole universe. There was no ‘wave of corruption’ travelling out from the earth.

For any ESC model the wave of corruption idea is doubly difficult because is doubles the time we would need to see the effects of the Curse in the distant cosmos. So let’s assume that any model we consider, there was no such speed-limited wave but the cursing of the creation was instantaneous. Furthermore, let us assume that we do see effects of the Curse in the universe ‘now’. 

This alone would appear to rule out all cosmologies that rely of the ESC as the language of the Bible.  The light from those ‘cursed’ sources in the distant cosmos would take billions of years to travel to Earth. So how can we see them ‘now’?

Yet, under any cosmology that relies on the ASC as the language of the Bible light from distant galaxies travels to Earth instantly. Events are timestamped at the moment an Earth observer sees it happen.  So if God supernaturally instantly cursed all the universe, any effects of that Curse would be instantly seen by Earth observers.

However you then might argue that the ASC only uses phenomenological language and ‘really’ it means that it ‘really’ takes light, travelling at speed c, billions of years to get here.  That objection assumes that the speed of light is isotropic and finite—that that is some absolute truth about the universe. However, it is an unprovable assumption. You are just assuming it to be true and hence just begging the question. The one-way (incoming) speed of light might actually be infinite and you could never prove otherwise. You definitely cannot disprove such a claim. This issue then enters the realm of circularity in the argument to disprove the conventionality thesis of the simultaneity of distant events.[3]

But again let’s give the claim the benefit of the doubt. Even though we cannot make this assumption based on any empirical measurement, let us assume that the speed light ‘really’ travels in from the cosmos is c and hence finite. In such a case God could have created an acausal (spacelike) hypersurface at the appropriate time after Creation that reflects all events that would be seen in a cursed universe. This hypersurface could have been created exactly the same number of seconds after the initial Creation hypersurface of all stars and galaxies as the number of seconds from the Day 4 creation to the Curse.[4]

Since God is omniscient and has knowledge of all events in space and time it would be no difficulty for Him to have done so. He sees the future from the beginning.

Isaiah 46:10:

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” (KJVER, emphases added)

Light from all these Curse events would have arrived at the Earth at the exact same moment under the assumption of the ASC. That means under the ASC (language of appearance) we always see everything in the universal ‘now’—that is, at the same instant the event occurs, without any billions of years of light travel time.

In the ASC model, but viewed under the assumption of the ESC, the light from all Curse events arrives at the earth at the same moment but the stars would not have been created at the same moment.[5]  Under the ASC the Curse event occurs throughout the whole universe the instant God gave the word.

This is reflected in Isaiah 48:13:

“Mine hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call to them, they stand up together.” (KJVER, emphasis added)

This verse indicates instantaneous creation. Regardless of how far apart the stars are they were created together at once, meaning at the same time (measured on Earth), but not at the same place. This is easily understood as instantaneous under the ASC model. That is, viewed from Earth the stars were created simultaneously or at least all on Day 4.

In the same way God affected the Curse upon the heavens. He spoke the word and the effects were instantaneous and simultaneous. No delay at all. No millions or billions of years of waiting. From this perspective there is no alternative but to believe that the language of the Bible is the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention.

Conclusion

If you believe that the Scriptures describe the Curse as a universal event and that the effects of that were and are currently observed in the whole universe then this introduces another light travel-time problem for biblical creation.

Even if God instantly and supernaturally simultaneously cursed the whole universe how are we able to see such effects in the distant cosmos, millions and billions of light-years away?

The Curse occurred after the conclusion of Creation week. Though the Curse itself required some supernatural intervention in the creation there is no suggestion that anything like a universe of stars was being created. That means there were no supernatural creative processes on the whole scale of the universe that one might argue produced some sort of relativistic time dilation effects.

Rather I suggest the main effect of the Curse on the cosmos was the removal of some of God’s withholding power which allowed full reign to the Second Law of Thermodynamic. Hence stars began to burn up their fuel. Effects of that type we see everywhere in the cosmos.

So if the light from cosmic sources affected by the Curse travels in to Earth at the speed of light, c, then wouldn’t the light from those events still be travelling in towards Earth?  Any cosmology that assumes the ASC is the language of the Bible can answer this question within the biblical timeframe of about 6000 years. But it would seem that any cosmology that assumes the ESC is the language of Bible, and is hence limited to the finite speed of light, has another light travel-time problem.  This fact alone would appear to rule out all cosmologies that rely of the ESC as the language of the Bible.

References

[1] It had been argued by CMI authors that since Adam and Eve were created to fill the earth, they would have been fecund. And no child was conceived until after the Curse/Fall, so the Curse must have occurred before Eve could conceive; that is, within days or a week or so at most.

[2] Using local earth clocks. All biblical creationist cosmologies must record the creation of all stars on Day 4 of Creation week, a 24-hour day. It is essential that this is measured by local Earth clocks, but it is not necessary that it be so if measured by hypothetical cosmic clocks.

[3] Hartnett, J.G., New cosmologies converge on the ASC model—a review of two cosmology papers presented at the International Conference on Creationism in 2018,  Journal of Creation 33(1) (in press) 2019.

[4] Dennis, P.W. Consistent young earth relativistic cosmology. In Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism, ed. J.H. Whitmore, pp. 14–35. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship, 2018.

[5] The ASC model viewed under the ESC requires the stars to have been created in such a way that the light from all stars arrives on Day 4. Thus closer stars had to be created later and more distant stars earlier so that all light travelling at speed c arrives at the earth within the 24 hours of Day 4. A star a billion light-years away had to have been created a billion years before a star one light-year away.

15 thoughts on “The effects of the Curse visible in the cosmos present another biblical creationist starlight travel-time problem

  1. I am curious about the idea that it is “arbitrary” whether one chooses ASC or ESC–that it is analogous to choosing which time zone to use when reporting the current time.

    Given that the light from all the stars arrived on earth on Day 4 of creation week, ASC says that the stars and galaxies were created the very instant the starlight arrived because the one-way speed of light toward Earth can be assumed to be infinite.

    My question is how would the very same phenomena (light from all stars first arriving on earth sometime during Day 4) be described using ESC, where the one-way speed of light equals the round-trip speed? Under this interpretation, would we not have to say that the stars were created prior to earth, in a sequence such that the time of a star’s creation would be t=-r/c, where r is the distance from the star to where the earth would be?

    Clearly, the scriptural language is consistent with ASC, and not with ESC (stars created thousands/millions/billions) of years prior to Earth. Nevertheless, I’m trying to understand how the choice of ASC vs. ESC is “arbitrary” and what an ESC interpretation would look like.

    Like

  2. Just to be clear, any timing convention where light travels at different speeds in different directions would properly be called an “Anisotropic Synchrony Convention”, correct? The specific one that the Bible appears to use is one where the one-way speed of light in the direction of Earth is infinite. However, if light were assumed to travel at 1.001 C in one direction, and a correspondingly smaller speed in the opposite direction, that would also qualify as an example of an ASC, would it not? Obviously, this example would not solve the problem of distant starlight, though. The point is that I sometimes think of ASC as being a specific convention when in fact it is a class of conventions having the common property that the one-way speed of light is not the same as its two-way speed.

    Like

    • It is true that any convention where the speed of light is non-isotropic we could call anisotropic, but we reserve ASC = Anisotropic Synchrony Convention for one special convention.
      We can write generalised equations for the speed of light
      v=c/2ε away from observer;
      v=c/(2(1-ε)) toward observer.
      If you substitute in ε = ½ you get ESC. This is what Einstein assumed for isotropic speed of light and is a special case.
      But for all other cases where ε ≠ ½ the velocities in the two opposite directions are not equal and range between ½c and infinity for all allowed values of ε between 0 and 1. AS such they are anisotropic. Only the case of ε = 1 do we called the ASC. That also is a special case.

      Like

  3. I see that when we speak of “one-way” speed, the “one-way” direction is different for different light sources, so each light source is thought of individually, in order for the infinite speed to converge on earth, which could not occur if the infinite direction were the same (i.e. parallel lines) for all light sources. We are not simply imagining a universe where one specific direction is the “infinite” direction.

    So, for light emanating from a single source, I am curious how the speed of light oblique to the “infinite” direction would be calculated. For example, what would be the speed perpendicular to the infinite direction, and how would one calculate the speed at other angles to the infinite-speed axis? If z is the direction of infinite speed and x is a vector perpendicular to this, then a simple vector sum of an infinite z-direction speed with a finite x-direction speed would yield an infinite speed in the z-direction, and so all photons emanating from that source having any positive component in the z-direction would travel in parallel toward the Earth. I assume there is an error in this analysis–can you explain?

    Like

    • //We are not simply imagining a universe where one specific direction is the “infinite” direction.//

      No we look at it for each source.

      //I am curious how the speed of light oblique to the “infinite” direction would be calculated. For example, what would be the speed perpendicular to the infinite direction, and how would one calculate the speed at other angles to the infinite-speed axis?//

      The one-way speed of light (v) under ASC can be written as
      v = c/(1-cosθ) where c is the measured two-way canonical speed of light and θ is the angle between the source and observer. So for θ = 0 then cosθ = 1 and the speed v is infinite. For θ = 180 degrees away from the observer cosθ= -1 and v = c/2. When θ= 90 degrees, ie. at right angles to the sources direction cosθ= 0 and v = c.

      //If z is the direction of infinite speed and x is a vector perpendicular to this, then a simple vector sum of an infinite z-direction speed with a finite x-direction speed would yield an infinite speed in the z-direction, and so all photons emanating from that source having any positive component in the z-direction would travel in parallel toward the Earth. I assume there is an error in this analysis–can you explain?//

      This gets a little technical now. But if you start with the generalised Minkowski metric (line element) in flat spacetime which is applicable to Special Relativity we have as follows.

      Generalised Minkowski line element in radial coordinates about the observer
      ds^2 = {cdt+(2ε-1)dr}^2-dr^2-r^2dΩ^2
      The term with dΩ^2 has all the angular components dΩ^2 = dθ^2 +sin^2θ dø^2
      The term in { } brackets contains the radial term dr. When ε = 1/2 (which Einstein chose) the { } term becomes c^2dt^2 and the line element becomes standard flat spacetime Minkowski.

      This line element can be used for any choice of epsilon ε, which represents any synchrony convention where ε is an element of [0,1]. We say this parametrises all possible synchrony conventions in Special Relativity including Einstein’s ε = 1/2.

      So you can see that a choice of ε cannot change the physics. It is by choosing a value for ε that we might make a measurement in some coordinate frame of reference.

      Note: The line element is spherically symmetric about the observer in space. An expanding wave front moves out from the observer under ASC ε = 1, at 1/2 c. In time t it travels 1/2 r (compared to travelling at c) but at speed 1/2 c so that t = 1/2r/1/2 c = r/c. Even though light reflected from the expanding sphere wave front reaches the observer instantly he only calculates the travel time as t = r/c just the same as under ESC. There is no space distortion here because it is symmetrical about observer. Note also the angular terms (Omega terms) are unrelated to the { } terms which means the speed of light in the θ and ø directions are unchanged (ie c)

      Write it in Cartesian coordinates and it is easier to see.

      ds^2 = {cdt+(2ε-1)dx}^2-[dx^2 +dy^2 + dz^2] with source in the x direction

      Put ε = 1/2 and you have standard SR. But without specifying ε (i.e. the general case) and with light towards observer (at 0,0,0) along x axis the components dy and dz indicate one-way speed of light is c in those directions.

      To calculate the general case for the speed of light, set ds = 0 and find dx/dt while assuming source is along the x direction. That means set dy = dz = 0.
      This gives you dx/dt = c/{-(2ε-1) +/- 1} which gives two solution c/2(1-ε) (inward direction) and -c/2ε (outward direction)
      Now set dx = 0 and you get dy/dt = dz/dt = c.

      You can then solve the generalised line element in spherical coordinates for the speed of light in any arbitrary direction. It is more complicated.

      Like

      • Another thought: Consider a star at some distance R from Earth. Some of the light from that star is traveling along a line L, at a slight angle from the path directly to Earth. This beam of light would have some finite velocity, and so would not arrive at a distance R along its path until some time later than when light from the same star arrived on Earth. In this case, we might expect an expanding surface where the light from that star is just now reaching. I am curious how much of the cosmos could actually see the star. Photons traveling in the plane perpendicular to the earthbound vector would be traveling at velocity c, and so would only have traveled 6000 light years from their source. Behind this plane, they would be traveling even more slowly, but at least c/2.

        If one were to graph the shape of this surface, it seems to me that it must have a sort of teardrop shape, with the point of the teardrop going to infinity in the earthward direction.

        So, much of the light of each distant star has not had time to travel very far, except in the direction of Earth. Perhaps this explains the “blackness” of space and why the universe is not illuminated with light more than it is?

        Like

      • To rephrase: In a sense, ASC describes the stars and galaxies as spotlights directed at the Earth. Any non-luminous objects (e.g. dust clouds) not in the beam of the spotlight may not yet be illuminated by it, due to the limited speed of the light and the youthful age of the universe.

        Like

      • Right, but the trip from the star to the dust cloud would be some finite speed, even if the trip from the dust cloud to earth was infinite. If there hasn’t yet been time enough for light from a distant star to reach the dust cloud, then that star would not yet illuminate the dust cloud, and thus there would be nothing to reflect back to earth. Or, am I missing something?

        Like

      • In that situation that seems right. The tangential speed of light under ASC is the canonical speed c. So if the light from a neighbouring star has not had time to reach the cloud in time t = r/c where r is the star-cloud distance then there is no light to reflect back to Earth.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s