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Young-earth creationists, Henry Morris, Ken Ham, and Jason Lisle fail to provide insight into the cosmos. Lisle's answer to "The Distant Starlight Question" (Alternate Synchrony Convention) fails to add scientific weight to young-earth creationism

Beginning with a classic quotation from Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, whose book, The Genesis Flood, inspired Ken Ham to create his own young-earth organization and Creation Museum…

As far as distant stars and galaxies are concerned, there is no evidence either in science or Scripture, that any of them have planets.
—Henry Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids: Bier Book House, 1984) p. 244

A year after Morris published that comment astronomers discovered…

“Beta Pictoris was one of several nearby stars embedded in clouds of dust-clouds that look very much like planetary systems in the act of formation. Furthermore, if it was simply a uniformly distributed disk of dust, then looking edge on through such a disk should block out most of Beta Pictorisʼ light. Since we can clearly see the star, the inner parts of the disk probably do not contain much dust-which is exactly what one would expect if the material had already condensed into planets.”—M. Mitchell Waldrop, “First Sightings,” Science 85, June, 1985

Young-earth creationists

As of February 1, 2017, there have been over 3,500 exoplanets in over 2,500 planetary systems and over 600 multiple planetary systems confirmed. Click here for latest listing.

The worldʼs newest and most powerful exoplanet imaging instrument, the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), was designed to capture infrared images of exoplanets, and captured its first image Jan. 2014. But even before that Imager was implemented we had visual images of exoplanets via standard techniques:

The earth is the center of Godʼs interest in the universe, with the sun, moon, and stars merely providing various essential services for the earth and its inhabitants. —Henry Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), p. 162

Doesnʼt the light of stars extend in all directions to the farthest reaches of the universe, and not merely “provide” such “service” to the “earth and its inhabitants?”

In fact countless stars blaze away countless kilowatts of energy in every corner of this vast cosmos for no apparent purpose while the earth—which God allegedly worked on for “five” out of the “six days of creation”—receives only an infinitesimal portion of the energy expended by even the nearest star, the sun.

How “essential” is the light produced by the two trillion or more galaxies (per 2017 data) that we know about in our cosmos? When you look up outside on a dark night, you can see thousands of stars. But the Milky Way has two hundred billion stars in it. Youʼre only seeing a tiny tiny fraction of the number of stars tooling around the galaxy. In fact, with only a handful of exceptions, the most distant stars you can readily see are 1000 light years away—but the cosmos contains stars starting with our nearby sun that lay only about a light minute or two away, all the way to stars that lie over 13 billion light years away. Worse, most stars are so faint that they remain invisible even when they are much closer than 1000 light years away. In fact our nearest star, the Sun, is too dim to see from farther than about 60 light years away… and the Sun is pretty bright compared to most stars. So the little bubble of stars we can see around us is just a drop in the ocean of the Milky Way. With the naked eye you can only see 0.000003% percent of the stars in the galaxy we live in, and nothing but two dim dots in the sky correspond to two galaxies one can see with the naked eye, with over two trillion more galaxies out there in the depths of space and time, each containing tens to hundreds of billions of stars.

If the light of the moon was arranged so as to provide “essential services” for people on planet earth, then why do other worlds exist with more moons than the earth? A couple thousand years after the Bible was written, astronomers discovered a curious thing about that “great lamp” the moon, which was allegedly created for “signs and seasons” on earth and to “rule the night.” They discovered that Mars has two moons. Yet Mars has no people who need their steps “lit” at night, or who need to know the “signs and seasons” [literally, times of worship]. Even more curiously, it was discovered that Neptune has four moons, Uranus has eleven, Jupiter has sixteen, and Saturn has eighteen moons (one of them, Titan, is even larger than the planet Mercury). The earth was created with just one moon, and it “rules the night” so badly that for three nights out of every twenty-eight it abdicates its rule and doesnʼt light the earth at all—at which time I suppose creationists may bump into each other in the dark.

The Distant Starlight Problem Stated:

When we look into regions or space lying more than several thousand light-years away (try tens of thousands, millions, billions of light-years away) we see two trillion or more galaxies spinning, rings of matter expanding from explosions in the distant past, pulsars pulsing, stars changing in brightness or exploding, even wandering planets that have long escaped from their orbits around distant stars. But if the speed of light takes a year to travel a certain distance then what we are observing are things that happened in the very distant past of the cosmos, a past far older than any young-earth creationist is willing to accept. To quote young-earth creationist Ken Ham,

Now - let me add this. Weʼre not going to have all the answers. There will be some things like the issue of light from the farthest star in a young universe… we donʼt have all the answers. —Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis iTunes Podcast “Sermon: Six Days & The Eisegesis Problem”, time into program: 1:09:12

Like Ham, his fellow YEC, Jason Lisle, admits that most attempts by young-earth creationists to explain away the distant starlight problem fail [see the ENDNOTE to read Lisleʼs admissions]

Lisleʼs Solution

Lisle assumes or rather guesses that maybe light travels at near infinite speeds when it is headed toward the earth from distant stars. He cites the current debate in physics over whether the speed of light is a “constant” or a “convention.” Experimentally speaking, we can apparently only measure the speed of light when it is traveling in one direction, so we will never know exactly how fast it might be traveling in the opposite direction, say between two mirrors. If the speed of light is viewed as a “convention” then measurements of the speed of light here on earth cannot by themselves resolve the issue of how fast light is traveling in any particular direction or in the cosmos at large, and neither would varying speeds of light affect other constants in the cosmos. Itʼs a complicated debate. But Jason utilizes the debate by assuming it is over, and also adds additional assumptions. He has to assume that God has rigged the cosmos since the beginning so that light travels at near instantaneous speed (simultaneously from every star) when it is traveling “toward the earth.” That assumption goes way beyond what science can actually say.

To quote Lisle:

“Itʼs possible the stars were created on Day Four… and that their light reached earth on Day Four… in the same way that a plane on earth can leave at 4:00PM and arrive at its destination at 4:00PM as long as itʼs going west, which wonʼt work going in other directions. Likewise this would only work for light coming towards the earth. But thatʼs the only place we need to get it really, cause God made those lights in the firmament to shine upon the earth anyway.”
—Dr. Jason Lisle - The Distant Starlight Mystery

Still Waiting These Past Two Years for Lisleʼs Response to the Challenge Others Have Put to His Distant Starlight Answer

Two years ago Lisleʼs alleged solution to the creationist “Starlight Problem” was challenged by the math of Einsteinʼs General Relativity. Critics confronted Lisle with a handful of different mathematical and observational arguments that refuted his alleged solution to the Starlight Problem, which he calls “ASC” [Anisotropic Synchrony Convention]— one point being that his ASC would in require a gravitational field that ought to be observable, but isnʼt observed. In his only response, two years ago today, Lisle promised to explain why old-eartherʼs are wrong and his model is the one and only true one.

Lisle: Iʼve seen this criticism [observable gravity field] but I havenʼt responded yet. It is very easy to refute. I plan on doing a series on this blog on the topic of ASC, in which I will refute this and other criticisms made by those who have not studied the topic. [Jason Lisle, comment September 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm]

Still, no response from Lisle, see here for a far more in-depth discussion of Lisleʼs attempted solution to the distant starlight problem.

Lisleʼs Additional Guesses

Among Lisleʼs added guesses is that God could have created galaxies in mid-collision, and created rings of expanding stellar matter in mid-explosion which tell the tale of an explosion long ago that never happened in reality. (One wonders how this helps creationism seem more scientific. Lisle is offering mere guesses to try and uphold his view that the cosmos is only thousands of years old. And one need not stop piling on such guesses, but might just as well continue guessing with equal abandon that maybe God created some species in the act of already going extinct [in mid-extinction], or created the earth with fossils of long dead [long exploded] species already buried in the earth that never took a breath in the first place.)

Lisle denies that any new stars are forming because Genesis 1 says that God made “the sun, moon, and the stars also,” and “set them in the firmament” on “Day four,” and God never mentions anything about new stars being created or formed after He created the heavens and the earth. So Jason denies that new stars continue to arise in various places throughout the cosmos. (I hope Jason has a Google Alert set for the phrase “star formation” because I get several hits on that topic every week from some of the best astronomy sites on the internet.)

The star-forming region, known as Monoceros R2, sits in a massive dark cloud thatʼs rich in molecules and dust. The scene is packed with massive, young stars.

The central parts of the starburst galaxy NGC 1313. The very active state of this galaxy is very evident from the image, showing many star formation regions. A great number of supershell nebulae, that is, cocoon of gas inflated and etched by successive bursts of star formation, are visible.

Lisle also continues to promote the view that the “circle of the earth” in Isaiah is a revelation from God of the earthʼs sphericity, when it is no such thing, click here for instance, though many Evangelicals have already debunked such a claim after noting how “circle of the earth” always referred to a flat earth in the ancient world.

How About the Evidence for Stellar Evolution & the Long Lives that Stars Appear to Have Behind Them as Well as Ahead of Them?

To quote one young-earth creationistʼs admission…

“Perhaps the most important remaining question [in astronomy] for [young- universe] creationists is the origin of the turnoff points in the H-R diagrams of different clusters. The stars are real physical objects and presumably follow physical laws; we would rather not take the easy way out by saying simply that ‘God made them that way.’ But if creationists take the position of rejecting stellar evolution, they should provide a feasible alternative.”
—Paul Steidl [young-universe creationist], The Earth, the Stars, and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), p. 153 — as quoted by Howard J. Van Till in The Fourth Day: What the Bible and the Heavens Are Telling Us about the Creation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), p. 239

To quote a similar admission by another young-earth creationist…

“The theory of stellar structure appears to be founded on a good physical basis and…stellar evolution is intimately related to stellar structure… If creationists wish to scrap stellar evolution completely, then it is incumbent on us to rework stellar structure and/or physics in a convincing fashion… The standard observational tool used in studying stellar structure and evolution is the Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) diagram… It consists of a plot of stellar luminosity increasing upward and temperature increasing to the left…Most stars are found on a roughly diagonal band called the main sequence (MS)… This agreement is quite impressive and the physical assumptions that go into it are so well founded it is doubtful that many creationists would have much to argue with in main sequence (MS) stellar structure. However, what is generally called post MS evolution is not far removed from the brief outline of stellar structure given above. The most massive stars may pass through successive steps of fusing helium nuclei with increasingly more massive nuclei up to iron…Note that these transitions have not actually been observed. However, they are based on physics principles and will naturally occur… The upshot is that the most massive stars have MS lifetimes of only a few hundred thousand years (of course, still much longer than young-age creationists would allow), while the lowest mass stars have MS lifetimes approaching 100 billion years… And evolutionary assumption concludes that the stars in a star cluster should form from a single cloud so that the members represent…a homogenous group. Different clusters should have different ages, and though they technically have different compositions, even large differences in composition do not seriously affect the overall appearance of an H-R diagram…”

“The agreement of the theory [of stellar evolution] is quite impressive…”

“[The expected evolutionary] trend between globular and open clusters is observed…”

“Evidence [exists] that the formation of planetary nebulae and the evolution of white dwarfs are related…These two ages have a very good correlation…”

“A similar relationship holds for neutron stars and supernova remnants. As with planetary nebulae, the expansion velocity and observed size of the remnant can be used to estimate the time since the explosion…Where a pulsar can be identified in a supernova remnant, the ages of the remnant and the pulsar are well correlated.”

“Very brief discussions of stellar structure and evolution have been presented. Though it would seem that creationists would not have much with which to quarrel in the former, most would largely dismiss the latter. However, the two are intimately related, and one cannot be rejected without seriously calling into question the other. We are appealing to readers to give much attention to the study of stellar evolution.”
—Danny R. Faulkner and Don B. De Young [young-universe creationists], “Toward a Creationist Astronomy,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 28, Dec. 1991, pp. 87-91

Additional Difficulties For Young-Earth Creationism & Admissions

YECʼs admit that SN 1987A poses a problem

This webpage consists of an email thread from a discussion group at the American Scientific Affiliation website, a major national organization consisting of Christian men and women who are professional scientists, most of whom are old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists, with some young-earthers. The ASA is older than Henry Morrisʼ ICR and Morris actually quit the ASA to form the ICR after having some of his pet young-earth and flood geology hypotheses questioned by scientists who were ASA members.

What Does the Bible Say?

The Bible does not list the number of planets in our solar system. Back then, planets were called “wandering stars” because they appeared to be tiny lights in the sky like all other “stars,” but the ancients noted that some “stars” did not rotate in the same enormous circle each night round the pole star as did all the rest. In fact, the word “planet” is derived from the Greek word for “wanderer.” The “wandering stars” known by the ancients included Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Add the above five “wanderers” to the sun and moon which also traced their own unique paths across the sky, and you get a total of seven major heavenly objects that stood out from the stars. The ancients imagined that these seven were special gods overseeing the earth below. For instance, the Babylonians referred to the “watchful eye” of Shamash, the sun, who notes all things; and a prayer to Nergal (Mars) states, “With Sin (the Moon) in Heaven thou perceivest all things.” Compare the Hebrew notion that “these seven [lights] are the eyes of the Lord which range [wander] to and fro throughout the earth” (Zechariah 4:10). Nor does the Bible reveal that its authors were aware of the earth being one more “wandering star” like the rest. Instead, “the heavens and the earth” are spoken of as the two halves of creation with the earth forming a firm foundation and the heavens “spread out” above it in an equally “firm” fashion.

According to Genesis 1:16 only “two” great lamps were created. The Hebrew term translated as “great lights” in Genesis, means literally, “great lamps”—the two great lamps being the “Sun” and the “moon.” (Calvin in his Commentary on Genesis, agreed that the moon shone with some light reflected from the sun, but he also stubbornly asserted that the moon “must… be a fiery body… it is also luminous.”) They had no recognition of the fact that every twinkle in the sky might be another great lamp like the sun, or that other moon existed, circling other worlds, some of those worlds having many more moons than our own. Rather, the Bible depicts stars as relatively small objects, created after the earth and “set” in the firmament above it.

Astronomers, not theologians, discovered that we live on one planet out of 9 known planets in our solar system, circling one star out of nearly a billion in our galaxy, a star that lies near the end of one curved arm of that galaxy with two trillion or more additional galaxies lying hidden in the depths of space—and only sighted recently by mankindʼs first space telescopes. Furthermore, beyond our system of planets lay a gargantuan ring of matter, i.e., the Kuiper belt (visually confirmed in the late 1990s), and our Kuiper belt resembles similar rings of matter that have been observed circling nearby stars. So it is assumed that our star looks from a distance pretty much like other nearby stars. Most recently, hundreds of planets have been detected circling nearby stars, including some visual confirmations. As astronomers continue to develop more powerful telescopes they have begun to focus on smaller planets orbiting nearby stars, planets the size of earth. As far as such scientific visions of the cosmos are concerned, one does not seek them out in the Bible. Yet many Christians today continue to seek out “scientific” truths in the Bible.


1. Dr. Lisle points out that varying the “speed of light” part of Einsteinʼs equation, E[energy]=M[matter] times C[the speed of light] squared, would result in difficulties concerning mass and hence gravity (objects falling off the planet), or even result in difficulties concerning energy (with radioactive decay happening so fast that deadly mutations multiplied, and the planet might even melt). For instance. Lisle states,

“The speed of light might have been much greater than it is today. But thereʼs some potential problems with this model, and this is why a lot of creationists have abandoned this idea… You see, the speed of light is not arbitrary. It is linked to nature. There are a lot of things that depend on the speed of light being “just so.” Let me give you one example. Another famous equation, E=mc2, Einsteinʼs famous formula. And that equation relates energy and mass. E = the energy of something, and m = the mass that that something possesses, and those two quantities are related by the speed of light which is the c in that equation, the speed of light squared in fact, which is quite large, because the speed of light is large, the speed of light squared is very very large. Which means that if something has very little mass to it, it has an enormous amount of energy… [So if the speed of light was infinite or near infinite at creation and then slowed down to its present speed] either energy (e) had to go down or mass (m) had to go up. One of those two things would have had to have happened. So you imagine earth orbiting the sun, it orbits because itʼs got orbital energy (e) so if the speed of light decreased, the energy drops and the earth would plummet into the sun potentially, and thatʼs not good. The other possibility is that maybe the mass (m) goes up to compensate for that change in the speed of light, and that would work too, but if the earth and the sun become more massive, the gravity increases and the earth falls into the sun again. So you get sort of the same answer. So this argument only works if other constants also decreased rapidly at the same rate as a change in the speed of light… Another point is, is this testable? What would we expect to see in the universe if in fact the speed of light has decayed? Iʼve looked at a lot of images of the universe. Thereʼs nothing that shouts out to me that the speed of light has decreased in time.”
—Dr. Jason Lisle—The Distant Starlight Mystery (2/5)

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