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Distinguishing Between Apparent Age and Mature Creation

Galaxy and swirling space artists' impression, photo credit: Pixabay

There is an important difference between a mature creation and apparent age. God is not deceptive and would not create things with a false appearance of age. But he did create the universe functionally mature. Careful study can show the difference.

For example, while Adam was created as an adult, and adults usually have to go through the childhood stages to reach adulthood, Adam didn’t. He was created mature. However, he was not created with false signs of aging. Thus, on first glance, a doctor examining him right after his creation would have thought he was 20 or 30 years old due to the body size, ability to grow a beard, sexual maturity, etc. But on closer inspection, the doctor would notice something peculiar. There would be no wrinkles, no scars, no callouses, and no belly button. Adam wouldn’t show signs of actual aging or having lived years on the earth or having been injured in events that never happened. If he had, that would be apparent age, not merely a mature creation. Close inspection would be needed to indicate the difference. Whereas a cursory inspection and initial conclusion might point to a man who had lived a couple decades or more, closer and more detailed inspection would give reason to think he hadn’t actually started as a baby and grown to adulthood, and thus the appearance of age would disappear.

Citrus fruit on a tree. Photo from, used via David Rives Ministries subscription

God also created animals fully grown, not as embryos, and created trees that were mature and bearing fruit, not mere seeds or seedlings. Looking at a newly created tree, one might think it had taken decades to grow to that size, but closer study might find that the tree has no growth rings indicating seasonal changes it had never experienced or that it has no scars from broken branches that never existed. A newly created animal would similarly bear no scars or defects indicating a history that never occurred. While soil of some kind might be necessary to create for sustaining plants, it would not be necessary to have the ground covered in dead leaves from trees that never existed.

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Observations like these could potentially tell the difference between a functionally mature creation and a false appearance of age that is not necessary for function. I don’t know what the world actually looked like at creation, but these are the sorts of things one could have examined to find evidence of a supernatural creation or other unusual origin in something that would usually take a long time to develop.

We can do much the same kind of investigation when we study our planet today. At first glance, there are a number of features that appear to be signs of great age. On closer inspection, there is evidence that they did not actually take a long time to develop. Distinguishing between apparent age and real age takes careful scrutiny.

One might look at the amount of sedimentary rock on the planet, which would indicate millions of years of slow sediment deposition (which is the way we usually get such sediment deposition), and think these rocks are many millions of years old. But on closer inspection, we see that there is little or no erosion between most of those layers and there are animal and plant remains in the layers that appear to have been buried very rapidly and are well preserved and in positions that indicate catastrophe. There are fossils that extend between more than one layer. There are soft tissues found in some of these fossils, including in the remains of dinosaurs, in which individual cells and their parts can be distinguished quite clearly. These features and others lead one to believe that the sediment did not actually take millions of years to deposit and that another, more rapid and catastrophic explanation fits the evidence best.

In some creationist circles, because we believe in a supernatural creation that was made mature, and thus that some things may look older than they actually are, some may wish to simply accept all cases of apparent age as being created that way. This, however, is a bad approach. It’s a God-of-the-gaps argument in which we simply assert that God created it that way to avoid having to deal with the evidence. And when we use that sort of argument, we give ammunition to those who wish to criticize Biblical creation.

Perhaps the most problematic embrace of apparent age is to explain away distant starlight by suggesting that it might have been created in transit rather than originating at a star. Yet this would be apparent age, not merely a mature creation. Mature creation is creating an actual star instead of a dust cloud that must condense into a star. Saying that the starlight we see that appears to tell us chemical composition, location, distance, motion, and also events that have happened to that star did not actually come from an actual star or actual events would mean that starlight serves only to deceive through apparent age. What’s more, if that were true, then the night sky (all but the nearest stars, anyway) is just a sparkling facade – a light show with no substance – and we have no ability to know what is actually out there in space or to study it. This is a necessary and unavoidable conclusion from starlight created in transit.

For a more specific example, take SN 1987a, a supernova observed on earth in 1987. It occurred at a distance of about 168,000 light years from Earth. Because of the great distance (far greater than 6,000 light years), the light from this supernova event that reached earth in 1987 would have been created in transit, according to this model, as was the light from the star before that time. Thus, the light showing a star and the light showing an explosion did not come from real events and there was no star there. If one could follow the light trail back through space shortly after creation, one would find light indicating a star for around 6,000 light years, then light depicting a supernova event, then light depicting supernova remnants, but at no point would that light trail lead to an actual star. This is the problem we must deal with under this scenario of light created in transit. The light tells us a false story.

SN-1987A – under the Bible verse. Photo credit: NASA Hubble

So if starlight was created in transit, when we think we are seeing a star explode or a galaxy turn or binary stars dance around one another, those events never actually happened, and we see only light without a source. In fact, for distant stars that explode, the explosion event seen by mankind on earth is only created light, not an actual explosion, and the star was never actually there. There was only light that looked like a star. Further, we don’t know if the stars we are looking at today are really there, or whether a supernova event a few years (or millennia) from now will reveal that the light we see today was only created in transit, along with a fake explosion, and the star was never there at all.

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There are several potential explanations for distant starlight reaching a young earth, but starlight created en route is not a good one because it destroys the entire study of astronomy, and thus the ability to study the heavens God created, and makes God the author of deception.

The fact that God created Adam as a grown man and trees that never grew from seeds and animals that were never juveniles does not allow us to ignore evidence like celestial events recorded in starlight or to fail to seek good explanations for things like rock strata that might look superficially old. We can’t lump all those things together as if they were all the same kind of thing. That’s lazy thinking.

It’s important to distinguish between unnecessary apparent age and a creation that was created functionally mature. Created maturity is a necessary part of allowing creation to function properly from the beginning while apparent age includes features that are not necessary for functioning and have no purpose other than to deceive.

We should not attribute deception to God or offer simplistic explanations that fail to account for the facts. Neither of those bring glory to God. Wrestling with the facts, building models, seeking all the evidence, and looking deeper when things don’t fit are how we should study the world around us and bring glory to God for His creation.




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Written by Lindsay Harold

Lindsay has a Master's degree in biology and taught college-level biology courses, including General Biology and Human Anatomy and Physiology, until she became a homeschool mom. She loves science in general, as well as biology in particular. She and her husband Doug met at a creation research conference and they discuss and debate creation and evolution topics regularly. Lindsay blogs about a variety of worldview and apologetics topics at Lindsay's Logic.

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  1. For years, Young Earth Creationists (YEC) had to deal with a legitimate starlight-time problem, and a common response was to suggest Apparent Age, but since that requires that most of the visible universe consist of fake stars rather than real ones, it is widely rejected, and should be.

    Fortunately, with the development of modern YEC cosmologies, YEC no longer has a starlight-time problem. It has been completely solved. With the proper (plausible) initial and boundary conditions, these cosmologies predict that the earth underwent a period of time dilation relative to the universe at large, and as a result, has experienced far less time than other regions of the universe, providing ample time for distant starlight to reach earth – even though the earth is only thousands of years old, and was created at about the same time as the rest of the universe (which has since experienced far more time).

    These models were developed using modern physics and depend on particular initial and boundary conditions for the universe which are both plausible and consistent with scripture. Of course, these conditions are quite different than those used for the standard model and which lead to the Big Bang cosmology. However, that model – and any Old Earth Creationist (OEC) scenario which incorporates it – still has a huge legitimate, ongoing starlight-time problem, and as a result the standard Big Bang cosmology (as well as the initial and boundary conditions upon which it’s based) should be considered less likely and viewed less favorably than modern YEC cosmology.

    When people continue to criticize YEC because they think it has an ongoing starlight-time problem, they reveal that they are unfamiliar with modern YEC cosmology (and should go educate themselves) or they reject the use of general relativity for cosmological models (i.e. the modern physics upon which it is based).

    Currently, the starlight-time problem is a problem for OEC and for the Big Bang. Whenever it is directed at YEC, it should be pointed out as an old canard that no longer has any substance.

    YEC no longer has a starlight-time problem, and it makes little sense to try to bring it back with nonsensical ideas like Apparent Age. Creationists need to be careful to avoid such simplistic and self-defeating explanations.

    Unlike OEC and anything else that relies on the problematic Big Bang cosmology, we have far better and scientifically rigorous models which do away with the starlight-time problem altogether. It makes little sense to resurrect the problem in order to use such a bad “solution.”

  2. I beleive God Created the Universe to display His Glory to His prize Creation… Man. Now in order to do that he would have needed the stars to be visible and all the other things that and “Old Universe” would need to display that Glory. I don’t think we need to defend His honesty or Integrity in creating a Universe that was fully functioning and showing the signs of maturity , It is not “Deception” it is “Art”. The fully functioning and apparent maturity of the Universe refects far more of His Glory that a universe that man would have to wait millions/billions of years to appreciate. His early promises to say, Arbram about his offspring being mor in number than the stars just would make sense if he couldn’t seer any stars. (You can tell I’m not a scientist, and I admit that… I also admit that I’m not an artist. However, one thing I do know is that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge” (Psalm 19v1-2). Pxx

    • I agree that God wished to make the light from stars visible to mankind. However, that does not require light created in transit. There are several young earth cosmologies which involve time dilation that naturally results from known principles of physics under certain circumstances. In short, most YEC scientists believe the distant universe has experienced much more time than the earth, on the order of billions of years, while the earth has only experienced a few thousand years.

      Time dilation causes different amounts of time to occur in different places, and time dilation is an expected result from the same general relativity equations that are used to model the Big Bang if you insert different initial and boundary conditions. Since no one knows what those initial and boundary conditions are, any set is as good as another as long as you get a universe like the one we observe. Big Bang proponents choose parameters that fit their assumptions (e.g. infinite universe, earth has no special location, etc) while creationists start with the assumption that the universe is likely finite and that the earth may have a special location within the universe due to God’s purpose in creating mankind. Choosing reasonable parameters in keeping with YEC views produces time dilation as a natural result.

      Some YECs have also proposed that light travels at a different speed in deep space, far from matter. The idea is that light is a wave propagating in the medium of space, and that the properties of the fabric of space may be affected by matter. If this is the case, it would not take as long as expected for light to reach earth, even over very long distances. This proposal is quite speculative at this time and not widely accepted.

      There are a number of possible ways to reconcile distant stars with a young earth timeline, but light created in transit is not a valid one because it makes God the author of deception and make it impossible for us to actually study the universe (despite God’s stated desire that we should do so – Psalm 19, etc).

  3. Excellent, My Dear Miss Harold!
    There is nothing on the face of science, either secular or sacred (I know, everything’s sacred!), that should indicate to us that the study of science and the universe around us should be simplistic or knee-jerk. God isn’t that way, and our evo colleagues would certainly say that the universe itself isn’t that way (especially since they approach it from a godless angle, that’s got to be very hard work, indeed!). Yet so often we meet dear people who want simple answers. If it were simple, it would not require gifted people to explain it, to support it, and to use it to confirm the Biblical Creation stand. God bless you, and all who use their talents to do the hard work of confirming the truth.

  4. Doug,
    I wish it were as cut and dried as you indicate, but as I understand it there are various theories that have been proposed for the starlight problem. I don’t think any of them (including the big bang theory and other secular models) fully account for what we see. Russell Humphreys’ model has been criticized. Jason Lisle is currently championing ASC.
    I absolutely believe in the six literal day creation, as set forth in Genesis. However, we make ourselves look like we have our heads stuck in the sand when we insist that creation scientists have proved things that in fact they haven’t. I think a better approach would be to acknowledge we don’t have all the answers, and invest our curiosity into learning more–I’m sure that the more we learn, the more impressed we will be with how God does it!
    I am not trying to be a wet blanket here. I just think we should be accurate in how we represent things to the world.

    • You are correct. There is no one model in all of science that accounts fully account for all of what we see. That’s the holy grail of science, and will probably never be attained. In addition, science isn’t all about proving an idea beyond any possible doubt. Nothing in all of science meets that standard. Everything that has ever been proposed as an explanation for any observation has been criticized.

      However, science does include many models which have robust observational support, which do fit with what we know of the universe, and which do make predictions and explain observations. Our time dilation cosmologies are among those. The fact that there are several such solutions is not a criticism. That’s the way science advances – all of science, not just YEC. We frequently – in all fields of science – find ourselves with competing models, and it’s only through further research that we begin to see a subset of those models rise to the top as the most plausible, and we should not expect anything different with regard to our time dilation cosmologies. And as I pointed out, “There are a number of possible ways to reconcile distant stars with a young earth timeline, but light created in transit is not a valid one.” And that was the main point here – that apparent age is not a plausible solution to the problem.

      Furthermore, please note that I did not suggest that we have “proved” anything that we have not. Please do not attribute such things to me. However, my point remains valid that we have numerous time dilation cosmologies which fit with observational science and which *predict* that the earth underwent a time dilation event and as a result has not experienced as much time as the universe at large. Thus, we can accurately point out that this starlight-time problem no longer exists for YEC. While these cosmologies have not been proven beyond any possible doubt (none of science meets that standard), we can confidently point out that they do match observation and our understanding of modern physics. Many well-accepted scientific models have no more support than this. Take plate tectonics, for example. Or the dynamo theory for the earth’s magnetic field. Even the idea that the earth’s inner core is solid, but the outer core is liquid is no more supported. However, each of these are widely accepted throughout the scientific community. We should be no more reluctant to point out the successes of our own theories, and should not hold ourselves to a different standard than we do for the rest of science.

  5. Regarding some of the solutions to the distant starlight problem, I summarize solutions by Humphrey, Hartnett and Lisle at the end of my article Distant Starlight – Which theory has the bigger problem?.

    It appears we’re all in agreement that light created in transit is not the answer; and it also appears that Lindsay is not advocating an apparent age solution. Rather she is making a subtle distinction between functional ability – which we tend to link with age; the actual age ( -however young that may be), and the apparent age – (based on functional ability) which can easily be misleading. Using the example of Adam on his first day of life, he had the functional ability of an adult, and thus the apparent age of a young adult – most suggest around 20-30 years of age; but his actual age was only the number of hour since his creation.

    This is an important distinction to make because many methods to date apparent age such as tree rings and ice core layers are not based on an absolutely time locked, reliable process as is often assumed; and thus the apparent age does not always equal actual age.

  6. I think all the key points have been made in the above discussion. But I would like to point out a double standard creationists often get from secular scientists:

    The argument was made that science can never prove anything to a standard of “beyond all possible doubt.” This is what scientists often protest when creationists point out that evolution has not been proven. Here’s the problem:

    Science claims to be more accurate than biblical creation precisely because it is based upon the scientific method, which entails measuring and testing and falsifying. In other words, science represents itself as being more accurate than the Bible because it CAN prove things to a level of scientific certainty via the scientific method. This is the argument that is made to keep the biblical record out of the classroom.

    If in fact science CANNOT prove things to a standard of scientific certainty, then upon what are science’s claims of superiority based? In my series, “The Evidence of Creation,” I demonstrate that the biblical account is more reliable because it is based upon evidence in the form of testimony, whereas science (when it enters the field of origins) must rely to a large degree on mere speculation.

  7. I think we need to be open to possibilities and not use “mature creation” as an easy way to shove off any difficulties to the time of Adam and Eve, where we can say they simply didn’t exist, and deny that God might have other ideas about what to include in a fully-formed universe. It’s true that there doesn’t seem to be any reason for God to create the Earth with fossils, and besides, the Flood provides a perfectly good explanation for fossils. I recall one evolutionist arguing that a full creation would have to include ancient artifacts and ruined cities! Clearly that’s going too far. On the other hand, if God designed the ecosphere to recycle fallen leaves to fertilize new growth, I think it would be perfectly understandable for the whole cycle to be represented in creation.

    It seems to me that the concern here is largely based on the old notion that creation is more than just a demonstration of God’s power and creativity, but a “second book” of revelation, and that God would by “lying” by creating things that would look older than they actually were. YECs of course have to believe that things looked old in some ways, because the world Adam and Eve saw couldn’t exist at all without billions of years of history, apart from supernatural creation. So apparent age was mostly just a problem for silly philosophers who wondered about Adam having a bellybutton or not. Then the “starlight and time” problem came up and people who had no problem with Adam walking along a river with sandbars and harvesting fruit from trees suddenly had a problem with seeing something themselves that God had created fully formed — the light created on day 1 for stars that weren’t created until day 4. “OH no, God wouldn’t have created something THAT deceptive!” I don’t think most old-agers would see all that much difference between “apparent” and “mature” creation.

    Well, it doesn’t seem deceptive to me when God told us He created light first. Maybe he didn’t form it to fit the stars until day 4, or maybe indeed He used relativistic effects to make the heavens billions of years old in six days. I think we should at least agree that we should be careful about claims of what must have been when the Bible doesn’t clearly say so. .

  8. Lindsay, I think your article has a lot going for it. I would like to see you develop your thoughts on mature creation and make future contributions. Your paragraph 4 seems to rule out a rapidly matured creation. You seem to favor instant maturity rather than accelerated growth leading to maturity. However, this approach could be problematic when it comes to cosmology. Without accelerated stages of history it will be almost impossible to explain major features of our universe. Take a look at the thoughts of this PhD YEC as he grapples with this very subject:
    So many YEC cosmologies have failed that it has probably caused mature creation to be revisited of late. I hope to hear more from you.

  9. Basic reading comprehension, such as what we learned at school, requires that the context, immediate and overall, be considered in order to understand what the author is trying to say. This is the basic problem the YEC and OEC are having. They struggle over problems that are not really there. The Bible is made to conform to popular assumptions rather than the other way around.

    The overall context of the Bible is the struggle between Christ and Lucifer (Satan). This cannot be ignored.

  10. In regards to Genesis Chapters One and Two it seems that popular traditions have made a simple story complicated and confusing. Let us use the basic reading comprehension skill of looking at the context when attempting to understand what the author of Genesis is trying to say in Chapters One and Two.

    Genesis 1:1 tells us that God made the heaven and the earth at the start of a creation process. This means that God made other things throughout the rest of that process up to when He ceased making anything.

    This is backed up by the context found in the rest of the chapter from verse 3 onwards, which tells us that the creation process that Moses mentioned in verse 1 took place over 7 consecutive 24 hour days.

    The heaven and the earth were made on the 2nd and 3rd days respectively. We can see from this that “the beginning” simply refers to the early part of that week-long process and not to anything that was made during that process.

    Verse 2 tells us why God had to make the heaven and the earth early in the week. Before we look at that let us get the Bible’s definitions of what heaven and earth are.

    Down in Day 3 verse 10 it is clearly stated that ‘earth’ is the DRY land. It is not the land itself, but the dry condition of the land that is new! So ‘the earth’ is not God’s name for the whole planet, it is God’s name for the dry part of the land. This provides a context to apply to verses 1 and 2.

    Notice on Day 3 that God made seas. That means He made sea basins, which means that He had lowered some of the land (the face of the deep) to form the basins. The land He didn’t move became exposed when the water level went below the level of that land. This is how that land got dry. So ‘earth’ is God’s term for the portion of the land that projected above the water level and got dry. It is the dryness of the exposed land that is young, not the land nor the planet!

    Let us look at Isaiah 45:18. Here we are told that God created the earth (dry land) so that it could be inhabited. In Genesis 1 verse 2 we are told that the earth (dry land) wasn’t formed yet and so was void. Void of what? Answer: Inhabitants! The rest of the same verse tells us that the land God wanted to put inhabitants on was under deep dark water, which is why the earth was said to be without form. Day 3 tells us how the earth went from unformed to formed.

    What is ‘heaven’? Day 2 tells us that heaven was made out of the middle portion of the water that covered the land (the face of the deep). Heaven was God’s name for the resulting firmament located between an upper layer of water (that would spread the sun’s heat etc evenly over the whole planet) and a lower layer of water that covered the land. Day 5 tells us …fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. Day 6 tells us that these fowl fly in the air.

    So if we let the Bible interpret itself then ‘heaven’ is the atmosphere as far as the Bible is concerned. Since air is transparent we are able to see the stars like looking through a glass window, but the stars are not a part of our atmosphere (heaven).

    Now we can see why the heaven and the earth had to be made at the ‘beginning’ of the week. There had to be dry land to live on and air to breathe here before God could put life on it. The upper layer of water fell down during the flood, which is when this planet also got its tilt that caused the seasons that we now have.

    Consider 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness… This tells us that the light that shone on Day 1 shone not directly from the sun, but from out of the darkness near the face of the deep in Genesis 1:2. The term, ‘the evening and the morning…’ tells us that the sun was already there so it may be that God activated the visible light spectrum on this day? 2Cor 4:6 also confirms that our planet existed BEFORE Day 1.

    So verse 1 could be read as, “In the beginning of the week God made the atmosphere and the dry land (so that He could put Adam and Eve on this planet)”

    Moses was only telling us how God put life on this planet. He said next to nothing about the universe. People trying to push the story of the creation of the universe into Genesis Chapter 1 are attempting a grammatical impossibility, hence making the Bible look confusing.

    Btw the host of heaven refers to the flying fowl, not the stars. The sea and the dry land(earth) also have host, which are obviously not stars. The creatures made on Day 5 and Day 6 are the host of each respective element (Genesis 2:1).

    What happened on Day 4? Given the dramatic change from a water covered airless and lifeless planet to one with seas and land masses with plant life on it, plus an atmosphere and a water envelope around the planet, there needed to be modifications in the way the sun and moon operated, especially considering the abundant life forms about to turn up over the next two days.

    The reference to the stars in verse 16 is a past tense type of reference that simply gives God the credit as the maker of the stars. Keep in mind that in verse 16 it says that only TWO lights were made on this day so again we see that the universe was not made on this day.

    Btw notice that everything made during this week was made from or used something that God had made earlier. When we are told that God made, formed or created something we need to check the context to see whether He used something already there or did it ex nihilo.

    Although nothing in Genesis 1 appeared ex nihilo the fact that on Day 4 that God is given the credit for making the stars tells us that the water covered planet of verse 2 was originally made ex nihilo by God. We are not told when or exactly how the water and land or the sun and moon and the stars were brought into existence as that is a story that is not relevant to Moses in the scope of the Genesis story.

    Briefly, the entire universe, including other inhabited worlds and angels were already in existence, created by God’s spoken word at an unknown time in the past. No evolution or death etc occurred. No issues about star light travel or gaps.

    The key issue was the rebellion of Lucifer and his angels against God. What God did in Genesis One and Two was in relation to dealing with this rebellion, which is the overall context.

    It seems that God used this water covered planet that never had life on it so that Satan could not make up various stories in regards to God and Adam and Eve?

    Unfortunately, Adam and Eve fell in sin which greatly complicated matters, resulting in the terror of sin plus the global flood and the earth’s tilt and seasons. Hence the way things are now for us and for God needing to become flesh to save us, while at the same time defeating Lucifer’s rebellion.

    By keeping in mind that heaven is the atmosphere and earth is only the dry land that humans live on, we can then more accurately understand what is being said throughout the Bible and avoid apparent contradictions.

    • You have oversimplified some of your terms. For example, you claim heaven refers to the sky or atmosphere. Yet the Bible is clear that the “heavens” (note the plural) refers to much more than just the atmosphere of the earth. The Bible refers to a heaven where the birds fly and the rain falls, which is obviously the atmosphere of the earth. However, the sun, moon, and stars are also said to be in the heavens (Genesis 1:14-17), indicating that outer space is also part of “the heavens.” In addition to that, heaven is also used to refer to the place where God has His throne (Deut. 26:15, Psalm 103:19, Isaiah 66:1). The apostle Paul referred to a man caught up to the “third heaven” (II Cor. 12:2), meaning the supernatural place where God dwells. So heaven does not solely refer to the earth’s atmosphere. That is a position directly contradicted by the Biblical text.

      Similarly, the word “earth” does not solely refer to the dirt or dry ground. That is one common meaning, but by extension, the word often refers to the whole world – all the place where there is dry ground. The earth can refer directly to dirt or dry ground, or to an area of land such as a country or region, or to all of the land collectively (indicating the planet). Discovering the meaning means relying on contextual clues to clarify.

      In Exodus 20:11, the scripture tells us that God created the heavens (again, plural) and the earth and all that is in them in six days, indicating a universal beginning for all created things in the universe within the six days of creation week. Keep in mind that this passage was directly spoken by God and heard audibly by thousands, so if there’s anything in scripture we should be sure was written accurately, this is it. There might be some room for creative interpretation in Genesis, but Exodus 20 makes it quite clear that all created things have their beginning in creation week.

  11. In response to Doug- It’s hardly the case that the starlight and time issue has been completely solved by Humphreys’ white hole cosmology or Hartnett’s 5D cosmology. These are very different models, and it’s not sufficient to have models on the table. Like all models, they have internal and external problems. Myself, I strongly doubt any model whose substance is found in time dilation- there is evidence for a young cosmos that suggests genuine youth. Why are there so few supernovae, for example? A genuinely ancient cosmos outside our local region would suggest that this should not be. I welcome the continued construction of models, but this is something which reflects a need for more mature thought. We young age creationists must cease framing this as an apologetic issue. The problem is not answering challenges thrown at us by “evolutionists” or whomever. It’s the same challenge placed before the secular scientist- we simply have additional constraints on our models imposed by scripture. Since scripture is true this is not a negative thing, but it prevents the wasting of time on false trails.

    We’re looking for a cosmological model which allows for six day creation from our frame of reference and is totally consistent with the data. My own view is that it’s silly to even try to pursue this until we have a much more developed account of theoretical physics. How can we possibly claim to make the universe’s reconstructed history intelligible when the largest problems in physics remain unsolved? When we are still inventing ad hoc constructs like dark matter? When the equations, taken alone, simply do not successfully predict much of the cosmic order? The starlight problem is one which secular models have as well- thus the horizon problem. There is starlight older than the conventional age of the universe. Inflationary cosmology (with the cosmological constant arbitrarily set to fit the data) is the secular version of starlight created in transit.

    There’s something about the physical laws that we don’t understand. I suspect that when we have an advanced synthesis of physics and cosmology in a couple thousand years, it will turn out that light reaches us more or less instantly, and in a way that can be empirically tested (contra Lisle).

  12. You know, it’s absolutely correct that God did not create things with an appearance of age, because originally there was no reference for what something with age was like. Today, for example, we do see people growing from a baby to an adult, so we know that an adult was once a baby, hence his age. So, in one sense you could call maturity “appearance of age,” since today anything practically everything that is mature is also older than something immature. However, there was certainly no evidence of deterioration or imminence of death in God’s creation.

    Your definitions of created maturity and apparent age are good, but perhaps somewhat equivocal. For example, what if we found out that there was a logical, functional reason for God to create starlight already reaching the earth, or to program “pulses” that appear as novae or supernovae? We would then have to reclassify it as created maturity. It seems that you are assuming there is no reason for God to do this, then arguing that He didn’t do it, since He doesn’t do things for no reason but deception.

    I agree that, at this point, that particular theory seems very unlikely, and if it were true it would make astronomy much more complicated and uncertain. However, I’m not sure if we should merely argue that “God didn’t do it because it would make our theories wrong.” God (apparently) created light reaching Earth before he created the sun; are we to conclude that this light gave the appearance of a star when there was none, and therefore He was being deceptive? (I realize that no humans were on earth to observe the light, so perhaps it’s not a good analogy). Alternatively, the earth’s orbit gives the appearance of planets and stars circling around the earth. My point is, I’m not sure we can say definitively that God would have no reason for creating light already reaching earth.

    I agree with you 100% that God does not do things just to deceive us. However, I feel like there’s a lot more to unpack here than just what was covered in this article. I think you’re definitely on the right track, but we may need to go a bit deeper. Thanks for your patience with my rather long comment.


    • There is certainly a lot more to this issue than this brief article can cover. This was to get people thinking about the difference between function and just deception when it comes to something appearing older than it is. It is possible that we will discover a reason for light to be created in transit. However, as of now, I don’t see any reason for the night sky we see today to be a facade. It would potentially make sense for starlight to arrive quickly in the beginning so that Adam could see the stars. But a facade going on for thousands of years seems difficult to justify. I think we have better models to explain distant starlight reaching us without resorting to apparent age and light created in transit. Time dilation, for example, explains it handily. Time dilation models derive directly from general relativity models – the same equations used to model the Big Bang – but with different initial and boundary conditions. We also observe time dilation (on a smaller scale) all the time. We have to account for it in geosynchronous satellite orbits, for example. So this forms a much better explanation for seeing distant stars and their motions than the idea that we’re still seeing light God created en route and we don’t know if a star is really there.

      • I don’t pretend to be an expert on the issue. It was just some ideas I had. Again, I don’t think the “facade model” is at all likely; accelerated or instant travel during creation week seems more feasible. I’m only pointing out that we can’t rule out that possibility completely, since we’re not omniscient to know every possible reason God could have for doing something. I think there’s room for lots more research by creationists into this fascinating issue.

        Thank you again for your gracious response.


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Dating Creation Week: A Fun Biblical Challenge

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