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).
— 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.
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. For full understanding of those issues read here, here and/or watch this. With that came the notion of the one-way speed of light. Many people, creationists included, have since expressed disbelief, concern, and other emotions over the concept, but what is important to say at this point is that it is based on real physics. The point is that the one-way speed of light cannot be measured and as a result it really has no physical meaning in the universe. And this might sound crazy, but as a result, we are free to choose its value. In the ASC model, proposed by Lisle, and supported by myself, the incoming speed of light is chosen as infinite and the outgoing speed as ½ c (where c ≡ 299 792 458 m/s is the canonical speed of light that we are nowadays familiar with).
I note that at the 2018 International Conference on Creationism (ICC) two papers were presented that largely boil down to the same model that Lisle originally presented. Those papers are
This is all quite significant because, since 2001, I have largely supported the ideas that Dr Lisle has presented. Others within the creationist community have ridiculed them. Personally I now take the position that a biblical creationist model based on the ASC or at least the concept of defining an initial creation scenario which involves the ASC or a variant of that, such as Tenev et al have suggested in their paper, is the best solution to the creationist starlight travel time problem. In such a case, there is no problem.
Many months ago I received a paper wherein the authors attempted to show that the one-way speed of light could be measured by an experiment sending a light signal around a ring bouncing it off a few mirrors. (See the figure to the right) But any such experimenter who thinks it does that assumes the conclusion (begs the question) by not properly understanding the physics and the underlying assumptions of such an experiment. There are components (relative to the Source measured at the Timer) of outbound and inbound light vectors that must be considered. So no such experiment is ever only one way, it is always two-way, and as such it can never measure the one-way speed of light. (Besides the ASC is a convention, it is not something that can be refuted. We use a convention to define the basis under which we make a measurement, not the reverse.)
The authors of the same paper(s) also must have sent it to Dr Lisle for a review. He sent me his response to their paper(s) and I publish it below with his permission.
The following I received in an email in relation to the ASC model. The ASC model, I believe, answers the biblical creationist starlight-travel-time problem. Actually it eliminates it, because there is no light-travel problem, of any sort, in that biblical cosmogony. I do agree though that people not familiar with ideas of relativity and the speed of light measurement may have confusion or misunderstandings on this topic. The writer’s words are in blue text and my responses in grey.
Hello. I appreciate greatly your ongoing contribution to the creation-science cause. However, I find I just don’t get ASC. I’m sure the following will expose a misunderstanding, but when you suggest ideas like celestial events being ”time-stamped” only when seen on Earth, that comes across as if God really created the stars earlier than Day 4, but their light was only visible on Earth on Day 4. ASC also sounds to me like it’s not describing actual reality, but only appearances. Thus it seems (again, to my confused perspective) that straightforward biblical statements about actual celestial events are not trustworthy.
Firstly let me define ASC model. It is the biblical creation model where the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC) is assumed as the clock synchrony convention for timing all events. The ASC model was developed by Jason Lisle (references below) and I have developed my own model as an extension of his using the exact same ASC convention.
If starlight travel is to fit within 6 Earth-days, then it confuses me even further when you say that the ASC model doesn’t require time dilation.
I suspect you may tell me that my reasoning “assumes the ESC model,” as I’ve read you telling several others. In case you would say the same to me, I don’t see how that could be the case, since I’d never heard of the ESC before an hour ago. No, my only assumption here is that Genesis statements about celestial events are statements about actual reality, not mere “time-stamps.” I don’t see how the ASC model can be squared with Exodus 20:11.
Quite obviously not having heard the term, or even the reason, for something does not exclude the use of it from our experience as it could be something we have been taught all our lives but never known what it was called. Does the average person, who keeps their food cool in a refrigerator, actually know why it preserves food better than being left in a room temperature box? And does the average person even know the term ‘thermodynamics’ and how it works? Have they ever heard of ‘Gibbs free energy’ without which the fridge couldn’t do any ‘work’? Do they even know that refrigerators do ‘work’? Ignorance is not necessarily a valid argument.
Just never having heard the expression “Einstein Synchrony Convention (or ESC)” does not mean that a person doesn’t automatically assume itwhen thinking about an event connected to the reception of a light signal.
“When the light from this massive solar flare left the sun we had our eyes closed but when we opened them, 8.3 minutes later, the light entered our eyes and we saw it at the moment of the eruption.”
A graduate student at my university, contacted me recently about the biblical creationist starlight-travel-time problem. He said that he had attended a lecture on the recent detection of gravitational waves, where the professor had mentioned that the source of the binary black hole collision event occurred some 1.3 billion years ago. The issue has made him contemplate how that time scale fits with the biblical time scale of an approximately 6000 year old universe.
In response first I pointed out that the standard big bang model also has a light-travel-time problem called the horizon problem. It may be over a different time scale but it is still the same type of problem.
I explained that there were different biblical creationist models, in 5 different categories. I also suggested he view this lecture, which I gave last year on the problem, with lecture notes found here. I have looked at various solutions, and proposed a few myself, which I mention in the lecture, but now I personally prefer the solution outlined here, with details found in the linked articles there.
I asked him, in relation to how he understands the ASC model, if he could write a paragraph, in his own words, describing how it explains the starlight-travel-time problem. This is what he wrote.
“Caught in the act”1 reads the news headline for the first-ever observation of a predicted exploding star. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured the image of the first-ever predicted supernova as shown in the image below (bottom right), compared against an image from months earlier (top right). The reappearance of the Refsdal supernova was calculated from different models of the galaxy cluster whose immense gravity is warping the supernova’s light.