Essay:Young Earth Cosmology
This essay is an original work by TerryH. Please comment only on the talk page.
Young Earth Cosmology
Those you do not accept Young Earth Creationism (YEC), or who don't understand it, might ask, and quite reasonably, about the favored cosmology of YEC. YEC cannot be consistent with the favored model of the universe and its beginnings among old-earth proponents: the Big Bang. In fact, YEC does have its own take on chronology, one that explains virtually any objection that old-earth proponents care to make.
The central problem
The central problem with YEC has always been the starlight-and-time problem: if God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and this a scant six thousand years ago (give or take a couple hundred), then:
- How can we see starlight from the limits of visibility of the known universe, when those limits extend an incredible thirteen billion light-years from our familiar earth?
- Did Adam see the same objects we see, allowing for his having nothing but is naked eyes?
Old earth cosmology summarized
Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the central belief system in astronomy took its cue from the uniformitarianism of Charles Lyell in geology. Paraphrased for astronomy, this kind of uniformitarianism would say that the same processes we observe operating in space have always operated in the past. And furthermore, classic uniformitarianism says that this past had no beginning.
Later observations became impossible to reconcile with "no beginning." So uniformitarianism now says that the universe had a beginning but need not have an end. The usual model expressing this thought is the Big Bang. It called for an explosion, not merely of matter, but of space itself.
But Big Bang theorists have a problem of their own: in any explosion, uniformity of temperature cannot be assured. For temperature to equilibrate, radiation has to pass from one part to another. Now if the temperature of space is uniform (and it might be), how did this come about if equilibrating radiation could not propagate itself any faster than the speed of light?
Five Biblical scenarios
- That the language of the Bible is phenomenological only, and that the universe is old but the earth is very young, and God built the solar system at the right time for the light from the furthest-distant galaxies, quasars, and other objects to arrive. Phenomenology has never been a good way to interpret Scripture&mdashor to interpret any observation of the natural world, either. So you can consider this scenario out-of-favor.
- That the meaning of Day Four of creation is that God strung the photons in a line from any given luminous object to the earth so that we could see them beginning in Day Four of creation. In other words, God created a mature-looking universe. The problem with that is that the light we see bespeaks catastrophic or even cataclysmic stellar, galactic, and supragalactic events. I for one do not believe that God created this marvelous universe as nothing more than a big fireworks display. And John Hartnett (from whom these scenarios come) doesn't believe it, either.
- That the speed of light was much greater in the past than it is today. This is the c-decay theory of Barry Setterfield and others. Let me quote John Hartnett directly and step up to the plate right now to disavow that theory: if the light slowed down, the stars would wink out—and the Bible nowhere tells a tale like that, and a Reference that goes back more than six thousand years surely wouldn't miss an event like that. For that matter, no other historical reference talks about stars winking out. Why, the sun and moon might wink out, and disappear from view for eight minutes in the sun's case, and a second-and-a-half or more in the moon's.
- That clocks on the fringes sped themselves up and later on slowed down to our level. I'll step up to the plate again, as Hartnett does: if that happened, then we would see blue shifts in the incident light from the fringes. Those shifts are not blue; they're red. And the shift goes further to the red the further out you look.
- That clocks on earth slowed down tremendously and only after Creation Week did they speed up to catch up with the clocks in the rest of the universe. This is the model that most YEC people follow—including myself, Russell Humphreys, and John Hartnett.
Russell Humphreys was the first to propose a model consistent with this last scenario. His White Hole Cosmology basically has the universe flowing out of a white hole—an aperature through which matter flows into the universe, not out. In the earliest times of this flow, matter grew so dense that time behaved like a spatial dimension, not a dimension of time. This means that space had four dimensions, but that time stood still on earth while it flowed everywhere else.
That's all very well. But as Hartnett recognized early, this model essentially places our galaxy at the bottom of a gravity well, because we are at or near the point of introduction of all the matter. We would therefore expect far-distant incident light to be shifted toward the blue as it gained energy by falling into the well. But this light is not blueshifted at all; it's redshifted.
Then Moshe Carmeli pondered a very vexing problem that the Big Bang has: dark energy. Basically, galaxies other than our own appear to be rushing away from us—and faster as you look further away. If they are under acceleration, then something must be impelling them. But what? Most astronomers say that an undetectable but still-physical agency is providing the impulse. This is the dark energy that they routinely invoke.
Carmeli suggested a radically new consideration: the galaxies aren't so much moving as being pulled along for the ride as the universe is expanding. And if the velocity of the expansion increases with increasing distance from earth, then one can treat it as another dimension of the cosmos. This Carmeli proceeded to do. And he found that he could account for the apparent acceleration within the uncertainties of our measurements of that acceleration, without invoking dark energy at all. And thus was born cosmological relativity—a relativity theory for an entire cosmos, not merely for one planet (like Mercury) in one solar system.
Hartnett took Carmeli's equations and solved them for a universe that is both centered and bounded. This is an important concept. Astronomers since Edwin Hubble have long realized that the far-off objects appear to be rushing away from us. But rather than admit that the universe has a center (and we are at or near it), they conceived of the universe as a hypersphere—rather like a balloon blowing up. Hartnett rejected that idea and suggested that the universe does have a center, and we are standing quite close to it. (It might be centered on the galaxy of which we are a part.)
Hartnett also turned his attention to another vexing problem: the rotation curves of large spiral galaxies. A rotation curve plots rotational speed of any part of a galaxy (or orbital speed of any star in it) as a function of radial distance from that galaxy's core. Again, every astronomer has known for some time that galactic rotational speed does not vary inversely as the square of radial distance. In fact, at the fringes of the galaxies, the objects within them rotate much faster—too fast for the amount of luminous mass detected. Hence we observe a discrepancy between luminous mass and dynamical mass, computed as:
To make up this deficit, most astronomers invoke dark matter, which they say is distributed mostly in a halo around a galaxy's core.
Other astronomers have already realized that such a concept is contrived. Indeed, some have already observed that rotational speed varies inversely as the first power of radial distance, not the square—an inverse linear law, not an inverse square law. But they have no idea why this should be so.
John Hartnett has the solution. It falls out from treating the physical continuum as one including three dimensions of space, one of time, and one of the velocity of expansion.
But: the solution also requires that time on earth was once dilated by a factor of several trillion—so that on Day Four, only one day ticked by while far more than fourteen billion years ticked by at the outer fringes. How did this happen?
The detailed progression
- Day 1: God creates a vast quantity of water out of nothing. He then introduces electromagnetism, thereby light. And He made this light one-sided, so that an observer could see distinct day and nght.
- Day 2: God establishes a boundary between an inside and an outside. This boundary might have been 8 million light years in radius.
- Day 3: God gathers the inside waters into one place and forms the earth with dry land on it, and creates the first plants. Very likely at this point God made all the other planets of the solar system, and the Trans-Neptunian Objects.
- Day 4: God stretches out the universe by a factor of thirty-six billion. This results in a universe about 13.7 billion light-years in radius—roughly the value of the Carmeli-Hubble time constant. And as the universe expands, energy transforms into matter and leaves behind stars, galaxies, quasars, and all manner of glorious objects. And during this time, any incident light would be blueshifted.
- Day 5: God creates the animals of the sea. The expansion mostly stops, and the shifting of light moves from blue to red.
- Day 6: God creates the animals on land, and man.
At no time is the speed of light any different from what it is today. But the light had a longer time to travel than a Day Four observer would have been able to perceive.
So are we in fact at or near the center? Well, if we were not, then the distribution of luminous matter in the universe would be uneven. In fact, the galaxies that surround us turn out to have an isotropic distribution, in multiple concentric rings centered on or near the earth.
If the expansion were still ongoing at the tremendous rate with which it began, then we ought to detect blueshifting where we are. We do not. However, Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 recently demonstrated an anomaly in their two-way communication with earth: basically they appeared not to have traveled as far away as they should have. But what might have happened instead is that they had entered a region of the cosmos showing the last lingering effects of the earlier expansion. This manifested itself in a very slight time dilation of our clocks in relation to the Pioneer vessels' clocks. Thus the radio communications had a longer time to travel than we were able to perceive.