Genesis chapter 1 tells us that God created the sun on the 4th Day of Creation week and the chronology of the Bible puts that about 6 thousand years ago.
The sun is at a distance of about 150 million km and that means light travelling at about 300,000 km/s would take about 8.3 minutes to travel from the surface–the photosphere–to Earth.
But doesn’t the very existence of the sun present a problem for biblical creation? The idea is that the sun is no more than 6 thousand years old. Then how does light reach Earth in that short period of time?
No problem you say! It only takes 8.3 minutes to get to Earth so it easily fits into the 24-hour period of the Creation Day 4. And certainly into the 6 thousand years that have passed since Creation. You say there is no problem there.
In relation to the stars and galaxies, millions and billions of light-years distant, it is admitted by biblical creationists that there is a problem–a starlight travel-time problem–which some have suggested potential solutions for.
My current view is that the ASC model is by far the simplest solution to that problem (see list below).
Here and now I want to focus on the Earth and our solar system only. Let’s not venture farther than that.
Along with all the stars, God created the sun on the Day 4 of Creation week. All biblical creationists must agree on that. It is in the scriptures (Genesis 1:14-19).
Based on the distance to the sun and the canonical speed of light, c, the light travel time from the sun to Earth is about 8.3 minutes. But, and here’s the problem, it has been suggested that light from the core of the sun takes about 170,000 years to reach the surface. This is because gamma photons, generated in the thermonuclear fusion reaction at the sun centre, undergo a random walk as they are absorbed and re-emitted by nuclei on their way to the surface. This is based on modelling the average step length near 1 mm.1 See Figure 2.
Now, plants were created on the 3rd Day
(Genesis 1: 11-13). At that time there was no sunlight, but if the sunlight came the next day there would be no problem. How did the sunlight reach the plants the next day after God created the sun?
This question assumes the sun was created as a ball of hydrogen gas and thermonuclear reactions had to start up in the core. Only after the gamma photons from that reaction randomly walked their way to the surface, taking about 170,000 years, could light from the surface fly off to illuminate the earth.
Adam was created on the 6th Day. How did he see sunlight on the 6th Day? Should it not have taken another 170,000 years for the light from the core to reach the sun’s surface and then shine on Earth?
So if God created the sun with nuclear fusion in the core leading to generating light from its surface, for the sun to be visible on the 4th Day and after that, God would have had to have created it about 170,000 years before the 1st Day (when He created the Earth). But that seems to conflict with the order of events in Genesis chapter 1, doesn’t it?
This is then a light travel-time problem for biblical creation. If the solar system is 5 billion years old, as big bang cosmic evolution believers say, then there is no problem. How then does a biblical creationist explain this conundrum?
The first suggestion has been what we call ‘mature creation’. Mature creation in this case is the idea that God created (on Day 4) the sun fully functioning with all those zillions of gamma photons already in place at all depths in the solar interior. That is certainly a possibility but it is one that I take issue with.
We should not consider for a minute that that is the solution to the starlight travel-time problem for light from the galaxies. It would imply God created all the light beams in place, between all the stars and Earth. Each beam carries real information about its source. Then if this is the case all those light beams carry false information (because their source stars never existed prior to the day of their creation about 6000 years ago) and thus the light we see in the universe does not represent real history of the universe. That idea is called ‘created in transit’ and should be rejected.
So how do we avoid the idea of ‘created in transit’ for the gamma photons from the core of the sun?
There is only one biblical creationist cosmogony that I know which can explain it, and it does it easily. It is Jason Lisle’s ASC model. That ASC model says that the physics of Einstein allows us to time events as in the Days of Creation, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. And we time those events by when an Earth observer could see the events happening.2 Thus when the light from the sun first arrived at the Earth it was Day 4. It does not matter, it is even irrelevant, how long the light took to travel. Read Can we see into the past?
This is the language of the Bible. Events occur when they are observed. The sun was first seen by Earth observers on Day 4 and that defines when the sun was created. That event occurred 3 days after God created the Earth on Day 1 about 6 thousand years ago. See Related Reading for more information on this.
- R. Mitalas & K.R. Sills, On the photon diffusion time scale for the sun, Astrophysical Journal 401(2): 759, 760, 1992.
- Even there was no human on Earth on Day 4 the plants were perfectly good observers to receive the light from the sun. They react to sun light. The plants use solar photons for their vital life-giving process called photosynthesis.
- Einstein’s physics says there is no biblical creationist starlight travel-time problem
- Jason Lisle’s new book “The Physics of Einstein”
- New cosmologies converge on the ASC model
- Can we see into the past?
- Can we see into the past? Powerpoint presentation (6.3 Mb)
- Update on the ASC model and the one-way speed of light
- Synopsis: A biblical creationist cosmology