Is it possible that when we look into the cosmos that we are seeing into the past?
We hear all the time that we are looking into the past when we look out into space. But we can’t definitively say that! In the following I’ll explain why.
Astronomers say that because the speed of light is a finite value (c = 299,792.458 km/s ) it takes light 1 year to travel a distance of 1 light-year. On the surface of it that seems very reasonable.
That means that light leaving the star alpha Centauri, which is 4.3 light-years away, took 4.3 years to get to Earth and thus the information in that light is 4.3 years old by the time it gets to Earth. Thus they say we are looking back in time — into the past. And for distant galaxies this means we are looking back in time even billions of years.
— a review of two cosmology papers presented at the International Conference on Creationism in 2018 (to be published in Journal of Creation)
In 2001 Jason Lisle (under the pen name Robert Newton) introduced the idea of Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC) into the discussion amongst biblical creationists to solve the starlight travel-time problem.1 The ASC is a convention on clock synchronisation, or put another way, the conventionality of the simultaneity of distant events in spacetime.
This topic is relevant to the discussion of the creation of the stars in the universe on Day 4 of Creation week 6 thousand years ago. The ASC posits that an event occurs when an Earth observer sees, or could have seen, the event happen. And Lisle proposed that the ASC is the language used in the Bible. As such it leads to the initial simultaneous2 creation of all stars in the universe on Day 4, where, in principle, the event is timestamped3 as occurring when the starlight from all stars arrived on Earth for the first time. This means there is no light travel-time problem because the events were seen to occur (on Earth) simultaneously (or at least, within the period of one Earth day, that is, on Day 4). Therefore, there is no light travel-time problem.
In 2010 Lisle strengthened his original arguments with a discussion of the past light cone and Special Relativity.4 In that paper he introduced the ASC model, a model that uses the ASC. And his ASC model makes testable predictions.5
Lisle also carried further the notion of the one-way speed of light. Since the one-way speed of light cannot be measured it really has no physical meaning in the universe.6 Thus there is a free choice. And by Lisle’s choice of the ASC it follows that the incoming speed of light is infinite, and thus the outgoing speed must be ½ c (where c ≡ 299 792 458 m/s is the canonical isotropic—i.e. two-way—speed of light that we are very familiar with).7
Many people, biblical creationists included, have expressed disbelief, concern, and other emotions over the concept of the one-way speed of light being any different from the usually assumed isotropic speed c. Nevertheless it is important to note that concepts around the one-way speed of light are based on real physics.
The choice of a timing convention in no way affects any underlying physics. The physics is always the same no matter what convention one may choose.8 Einstein chose a value of the clock synchronisation parameter, known as the Reichenbach synchronization parameter (ε), in his equations for Special Relativity that defines the one-way speed of light as being equal to the two-way speed.9 Any value for the parameter ε between 0 and 1 may be chosen. Nature itself does not choose, nor impose any requirement on its value within this domain. The parameter represents our free choice of a timing convention. Hence we are free to choose any value of the Reichenbach synchronisation parameter ε, provided it is between 0 and 1. Einstein chose ε = ½ (ESC) and Lisle chose ε = 1 (ASC). Choosing a value for this parameter is in no way dissimilar to a choice of a different coordinate system. And regardless of which coordinate system one may choose the underlying physics is unaffected. What is different is only how we represent the physics in the different coordinate system. The equations of motion may be more complex in one coordinate system than in another but in all cases the physics is unaffected.10
Thus no amount of appealing to Maxwell’s equations (derived pre-Einstein)11 or any other well-known physics can refute the notion of free choice for the one-way speed of light, or more precisely, the conventionality thesis of distant simultaneity.
“Astronomers detect light from the Universe’s first stars” is the headline of a Nature news article, which appeared February 28, 2018.1 It relates to observations made by a team of astronomers led by Judd Bowman of Arizona State University in Tempe. The team published their results in Nature the same week.2 According to Bowman,
“This is the first time we’ve seen any signal from this early in the Universe, aside from the afterglow of the Big Bang.”
They used a small radio-telescope situated in the Western Australian desert, far away from human settlement to minimise interference from radio signals generated by human technology. (See Fig. 1.) The antenna was tuned to a waveband of about 78 MHz, which is at the low end of FM radio, so isolation from human generated radio signals was essential.
To understand what the astronomers interpret from this research I quote an editorial summary from Nature:3
“As the first stars heated hydrogen in the early Universe, the 21-cm hyperfine line—an astronomical standard that represents the spin-flip transition in the ground state of atomic hydrogen—was altered, causing the hydrogen gas to absorb photons from the microwave background. This should produce an observable absorption signal at frequencies of less than 200 megahertz (MHz). Judd Bowman and colleagues report the observation of an absorption profile centred at a frequency of 78 MHz that is about 19 MHz wide and 0.5 kelvin deep. The profile is generally in line with expectations, although it is deeper than predicted. An accompanying paper by Rennan Barkana suggests that baryons were interacting with cold dark-matter particles in the early Universe, cooling the gas more than had been expected.”
Let’s look at this in two stages. What was observed and what is the interpretation of the recorded data.
Can we definitively know the global structure of spacetime? This is a good question. It is one that is actively discussed in the area of the philosophy of modern physics.1,2
However it is a question that highlights the fundamental weakness of cosmology and hence of cosmogony. (Cosmology is the study of the structure of the cosmos whereas cosmogony is the study of the origin of the universe.) That weakness is the inherent inability to accurately construct any global cosmological model, i.e. a model that accurately represents the structure of the universe at all times and locations. The reason for this is underdetermination.3
“There seems to be a robust sense in which the global structure of every cosmological model is underdetermined.”1
In the philosophy of science, underdetermination means that the available evidence is insufficient to be able to determine which belief one should hold about that evidence. That means that no matter what cosmological model one might conceive of, in an attempt to describe the structure of the universe, every model will be underdetermined. Or said another way, no matter what amount of observational data one might ever (even in principle) gather, the cosmological evidence does not force one particular model upon us. And this underdetermination has been rigorously proven.1
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:1-5)
As someone once said, “the first four words of the Bible are some of the most sublime words ever written.” In fact, that first creation day contains mysteries that the mind of man will never be able to comprehend. In this feeble attempt, I want to highlight just a few of these unfathomable secrets. This is not a scientific paper as such, rather, it is theological which contains inherent scientific concepts. Obviously, what I will present to the reader are just my own beliefs and thoughts regarding some of the mysteries involved in God’s creation of light.
In the beginning. This phrase denotes the element of time. Thus, it speaks to the origin of time itself. As a biblical creationist, I accept the fact that God as Creator exists outside the boundaries of time and His own creation. Here, in this verse, it alludes to the idea that God created time. To have time, matter must exist.
This verse has become a gateway for a controversy that exists within Christianity today. Many Christians support the idea that God used the vehicle of evolution to bring about His creation. Those that do so also embrace cosmic evolution. Cosmic evolution accepts the alleged Big Bang and the belief that our universe “evolved” over a period of billions of years. If one were to take the plain meaning of Jesus’ words, then they would discover that Jesus did not share this view. In fact, his words denounce such an inference. We find in scripture that Jesus placed the creation of man at the very beginning of creation. There is not a gap or billions of years found within the Creation Week. If Jesus were to address the Church today regarding this issue, I believe He might begin with these words, “Have ye not read.” The Jews of Jesus’ day knew exactly His point of reference when He used the word “beginning” in the passages below.
“…Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.” (Matthew 19:4)
“But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” (Mark 10:6)
God created. God is the “First Cause.” He is transcendent of His creation, that is, God exists apart from and not subject to that which He created. To the secular scientist, this is incomprehensible. The Hebrew word “bara” is here translated created. The Latin phrase for this word is ex nihilo, which essentially means, “out of nothing.” As others have pointed out, this word is only used in the context with God, never man. Contrary to secular science, and the supposed Big Bang, there really was nothing. There were no quanta (energy particles) or matter. What an awesome God we serve! True are the words of the writer of the book of Hebrews, “For the word of God is quick (living), and powerful…” Yes, He spoke, and matter began to exist as did time.
The heaven and the earth. Many Hebrew scholars say that the phrase, heaven and earth, is a merism. A merism is a term which means that two contrasting words denote the entirety or totality of a thing. The example given for it in a dictionary is, “I searched high and low.” In other words, he searched everywhere. So, in this first verse, the Bible declares that God created all matter which He would use to form the universe.
The beginning of the universe in time is the single biggest bug-bear for the secular cosmologists. They must eliminate the need for the beginning in order that they can eliminate the need for the Creator Himself. If you have an origin in time, you can argue that anything that exists, and had a beginning in time, also had to have a Creator.
This is the Cosmological Argument. And if the big bang cosmologist agrees the universe exists and began to exist at some moment in time past, then it also had to have had a cause–a first cause. That first cause can only have been an infinite Creator, who is greater than the universe itself.
Some long age/old earth Christian apologists use this argument starting with the assumption that the big bang was a real historical event. That also is a flawed approach even though they use valid logic after the fact. Their initial assumption–their starting premise–is not a fact (or cannot be proven to be a fact) and hence the rest of their argument fails.
But what would these apologists, like W.L. Craig or H. Ross, say when the secular big bang theorists continue to push towards the elimination of the origin in time, even the big bang beginning itself?
Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel is quoted (September 21, 2017) in an article in Forbes titled “The Big Bang Wasn’t The Beginning, After All”:
The conclusion was inescapable: the hot Big Bang definitely happened, but doesn’t extend to go all the way back to an arbitrarily hot and dense state. Instead, the very early Universe underwent a period of time where all of the energy that would go into the matter and radiation present today was instead bound up in the fabric of space itself. That period, known as cosmic inflation, came to an end and gave rise to the hot Big Bang, but never created an arbitrarily hot, dense state, nor did it create a singularity. What happened prior to inflation — or whether inflation was eternal to the past — is still an open question, but one thing is for certain: the Big Bang is not the beginning of the Universe! [my emphases added]
He states his belief as if fact, i.e. that the big bang definitely happened, even though cosmology is not actually science. See Cosmology is Not Science! His theory has no super-dense initial singularity. But he assumes, as fact, an early period of cosmic inflation (which is a best speculative), which eventually finished and gave rise to the hot big bang fireball that the rest of this universe allegedly evolved from. He leaves open the question whether the universe was eternally inflating in the past, but the one thing he is certain of is that the big bang was not the beginning of the universe. Others have proposed an eternal universe that eventually explodes in a big bang.
Eliminate the need for the big bang to be the beginning in time and eventually they hope they can eliminate any need for the Creator Himself. After all didn’t the universe create itself?
Quite obviously not. For, in the beginning God created the universe (Genesis 1:1).
For the past 6 months I have been battling various health issues. The major one has been gastritis caused by a helicobacter pylori (h. pylori) bacterial infection in my stomach causing stomach erosions, much pain, loss of appetite, nausea and many other symptoms. This has been a difficult time of ups and downs in my health and I have not been able to research or write much on creation based issues. I have not yet got an ‘all-clear’ on the eradication of the bugs but I am hoping for that very soon, Lord willing!
During this time I have listened to many very good sermons (really Bible studies) by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones (which may be found at mljtrust.org).
The following three sermons cover the very important creation relevant verses found in Romans 8:18-23
“An Appeal to Reason” is subtitled “Examining the evidence of origins in the evolution verses creation debate”. The author, Jim Gibson, employs a witty and, in some cases, sarcastic style. He intends the book to appeal to the younger generation, who have little knowledge of the facts surrounding the story that is now taught universally in the education system of the origin of life on this planet. Evolution is marketed as a fact—as the true history of life on Earth. The author points to many scientific discoveries that contradict that story. Published by Tate Publishing, Oklahoma, USA (2014) and available from Amazon.com.
The book is wide-ranging in its subject matter, yet does not load the reader with too many or superfluous details, yet provides sufficient explanation to show that the biblical creation model of understanding the history of the universe and life on Earth is a far better explanation than that offered by the evolution story.
Jim Gibson’s approach to the subject is different to the approach I have read in many other creationist publications that deal with similar material. It is fresh, insightful and challenging to anyone willing to open their mind and use commonsense and reason in understanding the evidence—both present day observations and accounts from history as recorded by scientific observers over the past few hundred years. Therefore I recommend it to everyone.
Part 11 and the final part of my review of the book: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself,” by Sean M. Carroll. Part 10 is found here.
In the last section of the book titled “Caring” he opens the first chapter with a quote from Carl Sagan’s wife. In response to people who knew Sagan was not a believer, seven years after his death his wife, Ann Druyan, wrote:
“We knew we were the beneficiaries of chance … That pure chance could be so generous and so kind … That we could find each other … in the vastness of space and the immensity of time…. The way he treated me and the way I treated him… that is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.” (pp.387-8)
This then leads to the question of the afterlife. Being a naturalist Carroll does not believe in such. He states though that he would like to continue living in some fashion after death, but only if it was pleasant and if he was not “tortured by ornery demons” (p.388)
And he writes that it takes courage to face up to the finitude of and the limits on our existence. Thus he agrees with Druyan that it was only chance that she met Sagan. The message here is that man is just another animal and not any more important that a sea slug. By chance we meet our spouses—there is no more meaning in our existence than chance.
“Ideas like ‘meaning’ and ‘morality’ and ‘purpose’ are nowhere to be found in the Core Theory of quantum fields, the physics underlying our everyday lives.” (p.389)
But he tries to add meaning by saying that these are emergent ways of talking about our human-scale environment. Nothing more.
“The source of these values isn’t the outside world; it’s inside us.” (p.389)
We could discuss where such ideas have ultimately led to. In the 20th century alone at least one hundred million people were killed, directly or indirectly, by atheistic despotic regimes, which were the invention of man’s values. Nazi Germany eliminated the handicapped because of ideas from inside the mind of man—ideas that were based on humanist Darwinian thinking.
Carroll tries to save the atheist position with
“If you are moved to help those less fortunate than you, it doesn’t matter whether you are motivated by a belief that it’s God’s will, or by a personal conviction that it’s the right thing to do. Your values are no less real either way.” (p.391)
That is true. But in a culture that developed from the Judeo-Christian mind-set it is not surprising that altruism in part remains in the society, even among atheists. But what is their motivation. It would seem they would be acting contrary to their selfish Darwinian belief system.
Most societies that developed aid to the poor or the handicapped did not arrive at those ideas using man’s values. Most hospitals, aged care homes, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other outreaches (the anti-slavery movement, for example) began with Christians desiring to follow Christ’s admonition. (Matthew 25:37-40)
The unsaved sinner did not just think it would be a good idea to help the poor themselves. History tells us—Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, to name a few—that man’s ideas are decidedly selfish and destructive. The scriptures tell us (James 4:1-2) that it is from lust (or desire) that many undesirable actions and even wars result.
But according to Carroll,
“[d]esire has a bad reputation in certain circles. But that’s a bum rap.” (p.392)
And he tries to give it a positive spin, but not by mentioning any of the negative traits that desire or lust lead to. He says once we have provision of food and shelter we challenge ourselves to show some accomplishments.
“That makes sense, in light of evolution. An organism that didn’t give a crap about anything that happened to it would be at a severe disadvantage in the struggle for survival when compared to one that looked out for itself, its family and its compatriots.” (p.392)
Part 10 of my review of the book: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself,” by Sean M. Carroll. Part 9 is found here.
The fifth of the six section divisions of the book is titled “Thinking,” which includes chapters on the origin of consciousness. This section is very vague, perhaps because there is a major lack of any real experimental evidence in support of what gives rise to consciousness and therefore any evolutionary speculations on how it arose in a Darwinian world are very tenuous.
Carroll opens the first chapter in this section “Crawling into Consciousness” with:
“Almost 400 million years ago, a plucky little fish climbed onto land and decided to hang out rather than returning into the sea. Its descendants evolved into the species Tiktaalik roseae, fossils of which were first discovered in 2004 in the Canadian Arctic.” (p.317)
Only the second part of the second sentence has any factual basis in being a true statement. The rest here, though stated as a fact, is completely assumed—made up—just pulled out of the air. There is no evidence—fossil or otherwise—of a fish that climbed onto land and decided to stay there.
“If you were ever looking for a missing link between two major evolutionary stages, Tiktaalik is it; these adorable creatures represent a transitional form between water-based and land-based animal life.” (p.317, emphasis added)
On the same page he shows a reconstruction of a Tiktaalik roseae fish half in and half out of the water. See Fig. 1.
The animal was more likely a fish with some mosaic like features in the same way that Archaeopteryx, a bird, had teeth and claws on its wings, resulting in claims that it was also a transitional form.1 But note Tiktaalik roseae, could not walk.2Tiktaalik’s fin was not connected to its main skeleton, so it could not have supported its weight on land. Thus the story of it coming out of the water and walking on land is pure fiction.
Then Carroll continues with his storytelling about how a fish evolved while climbing onto land. He uses expressions like “We don’t know, but we can make some reasonable guesses.” (p.318) He then argues that the evolutionary pressure on the fish as it swims under water and its need to think quickly caused its brain to evolve to think more quickly. “A fish brain is going to be optimized to do just that.” (p.318) But this is just another statement of faith—faith in an unobserved process, based on a belief that evolution happened over billions of years.
“Bioengineer Malcolm MacIver has suggested that the flapping of fish up onto dry land was one of several crucial transitions that led to the development of the thing we now call consciousness.” (p.319)