Could God Really Create in Just Six Days? (Part 1 of 3: Starlight and Time)

If we truly affirm that God made the heavens and the earth in six literal days several thousand years ago, we are forced to consider four questions that have a direct association with such a worldview. If the heavens and the earth are young, then: (1) How could light from the edges of the universe, which is estimated to be 15 billion light years away, be here now? (2) Why does radioisotope dating seem to point to the vast majority of the earth’s rocks being many billions of years old? (3) How do we account for the many layers of strata in places like the Grand Canyon indicating that it was formed over millions of years? (4) What about many fossils in the geologic column which are claimed to prove millions of years of evolution? We will very briefly touch upon these enormous areas of study just to see that there are very plausible answers from a literal, six-day creationist perspective.

These four questions have essentially served as the foundation of the evolutionary time scale and provide a dilemma for all who hold the Bible as God’s Word. A solution popularized by Dr. Hugh Ross is to set up the witness of creation on a par with God’s written Word. He says:

God’s revelation is not limited exclusively to the Bible’s words. The facts of nature may be likened to a sixty-seventh book of the Bible. Just as we rightfully expect interpretations of Isaiah to be consistent with those of Mark, so too we can expect interpretations of the facts of nature to be consistent with the messages of Genesis and the rest of the Canon.

Some readers might fear I am implying that God’s revelation through nature is somehow on an equal footing with His revelation through the words of the Bible. Let me simply state that truth, by definition, is information that is perfectly free of contradiction and error. Just as it is absurd to speak of some entity as more perfect than another, so also one revelation of God’s truth cannot be held as inferior or superior to another (Ross 1994: 56–57).

Dr. Ross is of course correct in that we expect the facts of nature to be consistent with Scripture. The problem, however, is not with the revelation of nature as a testament of God’s power. Indeed, Psalm 19:1 even supports such a statement: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Paul in the book of Romans (1:20) adds decisively “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” There is no conflict between the Bible and nature, but rather with man’s interpretation of nature and the Bible. God’s general revelation of nature correctly interpreted is always 100 percent consistent with God’s written revelation the Bible.

Dr. Ross is assuming that the evolutionary paradigm is the correct interpretation of nature. He has failed to mention that many of the theories that have provided us with ages of the earth and the universe are based on the evolutionary belief that there is no God. He has also erred because the Bible never changes. The truths contained therein never change and have withstood the testing of skeptics and critics for over two thousand years. However, man’s interpretation of the world around him has done nothing but change as long as man has kept history. By making creation the sixty-seventh book of the Bible by which we can interpret the Bible, he is requiring man’s interpretation of nature (with all of our biases and incomplete knowledge) to be the judge of the Bible. Rather, we need to let nature be subject to the interpretation of the Bible, for only then will the correct interpretation be obtained.

Starlight and Time

The question of how could light from fifteen billion light years away arrive in just six days has been taken up by Dr. Russell Humphreys. Star Light and Time In his book, Starlight and Time (PDF download) (2004), he proposes an answer to the seemingly unsolvable enigma. The foundation of his theory lies in the fact that we know for certain that clocks change based on how close one is to a strong gravitational field or potential. He points out that the atomic clock in Greenwich, England, which is at sea level, ticks five microseconds slower per year than an identical clock in Boulder, Colorado (Humphreys 2004: 12). Because the clock in Boulder is approximately one mile higher in altitude than its counterpart in Greenwich, it ticks five microseconds per year faster. The Boulder clock is further away from the center of the earth, approximately the center of gravity, and is in a weaker gravitational field as a result. Dr. Stan Sholar, a retired aerospace scientist, confirms the reality of this phenomenon:

One should make a distinction between the rate of passage of time and the behavior of clocks, or anything that measures time. If we define time as behavior of clocks then this distinction disappears. Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity shows that lengths change with velocity, and clocks, whether pendulums or atomic, respond to such, but also to gravity. For clocks in GPS satellites, we have to correct for the slightly non-circular orbits where velocity and altitude vary continuously.

For example, near apogee (the greatest distance from earth), the slower velocity causes the clock to run faster, due to Special Relativity. Also here there is a General Relativity effect due to the higher gravitational potential (though lower force) causing the clock Evidence of a young universeto run even faster at the higher altitude. The point being that it is actually an even more profound example because of the fact that the clocks on orbit are much higher than Boulder CO, and relative to Greenwich (Sholar, personal communication September 23, 2006).

Thus, just here on earth we find concrete evidence that the measurement of time’s rate of passing changes according to the proximity of the clocks to a strong gravitational field, as approximately indicated by proximity to the earth’s center of gravity. Humphreys then notes that the mathematics demonstrate that while the earth’s clock was ticking at what he coins “Earth Standard Time” the clock in the outer parts of the universe was ticking faster and hence “the light has ample time in the extra-terrestrial reference frame to travel the required distances” (Humphreys 2004: 13).

I spoke personally with Dr. Humphreys at a conference in Anaheim, CA in February of 2005 after hearing him present his theory. After sharing with him how much I liked his theory, he humbly replied that his was not the final answer, but merely a plausible explanation. Dr. Humphreys presents a theory to solve such a difficult dilemma, but in the end, it is not the answer but a plausible explanation, which is satisfactory because none of us was there to witness exactly what techniques God used. Nevertheless, what is crucial to note is that there are scientifically plausible theories that support the biblical account without seeking to spiritualize, or allegorize, or even dismiss the clear writing of the text.

From The First Six Days: Confronting the God-Plus-Evolution Myth