Einstein’s physics says there is no biblical creationist starlight travel-time problem

Review of the book “The Physics of Einstein” by Jason Lisle


I would say that there is no other biblical creationist book like this on the physics of Einstein. Astrophysicist Jason Lisle explains the subject matter in a style that any educated non-specialist could understand. However, there are sections that contain equations, which are important, but they are sectioned off into boxes so that one may skip those without loss of the train of thought.

In the book Lisle addresses questions such as:

“Is it possible to travel faster than the speed of light? Will future humans beings build spaceships that can travel at ‘warp’ speed like in Star Trek? Is time travel possible? If so, could we ever travel back in time to prevent a catastrophe from occurring? What does E = mc2 really mean? What are black holes, and do they really exist? What would happen to a person who fell into a black hole, and how do we know? Is the universe really expanding? How long does it take starlight to travel from distant galaxies to Earth? Does this distant starlight require the universe to be billions of years old?” (p.7)

Figure 1: The Physics of Einstein

The book starts with a short history of Einstein and his discoveries in physics. Though Einstein never performed any physical experiments to test his theory of relativity, today it is one of the most well established theories of science.

One small initial criticism I would make is how Lisle uses the word ‘prove’ in relation to relativity theory. He does qualify what he means:

“My point here is that relativity, unlike most branches of science, is actually provable, within the context of its foundational premises” (p.9)

I think it is unfortunate that he was not clear enough on this. He writes that the proofs involve basic logic, basic geometry and basic mathematics. This is a different sense to experimentally testing a theory. In an experimental sense no theory can ever be proved. It can be tested and even disproven, but never proven. Even so, relativity—both the special and general theories—has been extensively tested on Earth and in space and has be found to be exquisitely consistent with all results.  Nevertheless, there is a domain where it is expected to break down, and that is at the quantum level.

Newton and Maxwell

Chapter 1 starts out with a discussion of Newtonian physics, involving gravitation as well as the three laws of motion. Newton realised that all motion is relative, that is, that any speed and direction of a particle is only meaningful when quoted with respect to a particular observer. And this sets the scene for the rest of the book. One important aspect of that is ‘reference frames’. The outcome of any experiment will always be the same for all inertial reference frames, though the measured values may vary. An inertial reference frame is one where the observer is not accelerating—but either stationary or moving in a straight line. So Newton’s laws of motion apply only to inertial reference frames. The Earth is not an inertial reference frame but for some applications it is approximated as such.

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Synopsis: A biblical creationist cosmogony (Japanese translation)

The starlight-travel-time problem has been a difficult issue for biblical creationists for a long time. Big Bang cosmologists also have their own starlight-travel-time problem but creationists have proposed various solutions to this problem in the past decade or more. Recently I proposed an expansion on a solution, first proposed by Jason Lisle, in an article entitled “A biblical creationist cosmogony.” It is somewhat technical so I thought I’d write a very short layman summary here.


Hubble Deep Field: Extremely distant galaxies on the edge of the visible universe. Credit: NASA/Hubble



もし、光の速度は一定(c)であるという視点からこれを見れば、光は1年で1光年の距離を進むので、遠い星の光は100億年以上もかけて地球に到達したということになります。したがって、この視点から宇宙を考えるなら、すべての銀河は創造主が創造の第1日に地球を創造するはるか前に造られたということになります。しかし、これも単に観測者の視点(どう見えるか)の問題なのです。「光の速度は一定(c)である」という仮定は、(始点と終点にある)複数の時計の時刻が一致していることを想定しています。私たちは同様に、これとは別の想定、すべての出来事は観測者が目撃した時点で起こったとする想定を選ぶことができるのです。そうすると、「新しく」造られた星々や銀河の光が、創造の第4日に地球に到達したのです。それは、本当にこれらの銀河が造られた時に発せられた最初の光です。 Continue reading

Lecture: A biblical creationist cosmogony in Japan

An illustrated lecture I presented on March 19th, 2017, at Saidaiji Christian Church in Okayama, Japan. It was translated into Japanese by Mr Toru Yasui. The lecture covers the issue of the need to assume a worldview before we can interpret any observational data from the cosmos. Two worldviews are contrasted: The biblical creation worldview and the pagan big bang worldview. Biblical creation cosmogonies are explained and how they provide an answer to how we see distant starlight, from galaxies billions of light-years distant, in a 6000 year old universe. Running time 1 hour 14 minutes.

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Questions on the ASC model

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.


Massive solar flare imaged with NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: NASA

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 it when 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.” Continue reading

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. Continue reading

A letter from a reader

The following is a letter from a reader of Bible Science Forum with my comments in square brackets […].

UniLecture1004May I take the liberty of suggesting that you should be a theologian teaching the simplicity of faith – Christian faith – Belief in The Redeemer – if one believes in the Redeemer, one believes in His Word – that He is the Truth, the Way and the Life – will believe Him when He says that He is the Creator –  believe His account of Creation week.

The entire faith hinges on just Belief – HE is The Redeemer; yet man prefers unbelief or lies.

Scientific concepts:

The sum of all natural numbers 1+2+3+4+…. ∞ =  -1/12
And they prove that by starting with [the series sum] 1-1+1-1….∞ = 1/2. Depending on whether the series is stopped at a positive or a negative number will determine whether the initial answer is 0 or 1; therefore an average of 1/2 is taken as the final answer.
Then they do a few other series of steps and voila — the sum of all natural numbers 1+2+3+4+…. ∞ =  -1/12.
Non-measurability: The one-way speed of light from a star or galaxy –  as a continuous ray or wave from the original that can never be replicated, a one-way speed is not directly measurable and thus physicists assuming uniformitarianism resort to use the ECS (and hence the two-way speed of light) as a convention (as you have so convincingly established).  [See How do we see distant galaxies in a 6000 year old universe?
These are just a few of the assumptions made for each and every scientific theory which people have to accept as far better the Gospel truth. We swallow — hook, line and sinker.

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A student’s understanding of the ASC model

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.

CMB horizon

Figure 1: Horizon problem: Light from the alleged big bang fireball has not had sufficient time to equalise in temperature over all directions in space yet it is measured to be a uniform 2.73 K degrees in every direction. Credit: Wikipedia.

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. Continue reading