Friday, July 9, 2010

Light Travel Problem

In order for the massive amount of mainstream scientific evidence for the great age of the universe (13.73 billion years) and earth (4.54 billion years) to be rejected, the accepted beliefs about the behavior of light must be called into question. I encourage readers to investigate the issue for themselves. There are thousands of resources on this topic in the literature of science. Theologians weigh in on the question with their support for one view or another.

Mainstream science discoveries of the past century support a universe of enormous age based largely on our knowledge of distances in the universe and our knowledge of the speed of light. Elapsed time (the age of the universe) is calculated by a simple formula: time = distance divided by speed. The distance to the farthest object in the universe divided by the speed of light gives us the age of the universe. Hundreds of independent discoveries affirm the findings. Scientists recognize the Big Bang event as the beginning of the time, space, matter, and energy of our universe.

Interestingly, there is disagreement on neither the size of the universe nor the speed of light. Both young earth and old earth scienstists agree on these issues. Instead, what is in question is how light behaved in the past under circumstances which may have differed, and whether what we think we observe today is really true. Stated another way, if light behaves differently now, or if something acts to distort our perception of light's behavior, our calculated time frames for the age of the universe may be in error, perhaps enormously in error.

Many theologians have realized the need for a rigorous adherence to good science as it relates to theological matters. Thomas F. Torrance (1913-2007) wrote, "You are compelled to think by the evidential grounds upon which you work." In Preaching Christ Today: The Gospel and Scientific Thinking, Torrance stated, "I believe God has created the universe in such a way that the invariance of light in its creaturely way is a reflection of his eternal invariance, his changeableness, and his faithfulness. If light were to wobble, the universe would be thrown into complete lawlessness. If God were to wobble, if God were not utterly faithful, the same yesterday, today, and forever, there would be an utterly chaotic state of affairs in space and time."

A serious problem is denial of the reality of what we believe we observe. There are many young earth scientists posing questions casting doubt on an old universe. For example, young earth astronomer Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis sees a so-called "horizon problem" he says throws the age issue into doubt. Astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner of Creation Ministries International admits (young earth) creationists do not have all the answers, but the questions he raises are enough for Faulkner to place himself staunchly in the camp of believers in a 6000-year-old earth. Diverse and overwhelming evidence for an old universe is not persuasive for Lisle and Faulkner. Rather, isolated questions and uncertainties win the day for them.

Sometimes it is desirable to ask, "What if...?" Scientists ask such questions all the time, and well they should. But relentless questioning and reinterpretation of a constant such as the behavior of light may run counter to our quest for knowledge of the truth. We may then be operating outside the insights of the inspired Old Testament prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 33:25) who referred to "God's covenant with day and night, and the fixed laws of heaven and earth." God requires that we examine the weight of evidence and judge accordingly.