THE eagerly-awaited paper by Jason Lisle, Ph.D., the creationist astrophysicist employed by Answers in Genesis (AIG), has finally appeared. We last posted about it here: Still Waiting for Jason Lisle’s “Starlight” Paper, in which we discussed the biblical requirements of the journal to which Jason’s paper had been submitted.
You can read Jason’s paper here: Anisotropic Synchrony Convention—A Solution to the Distant Starlight Problem. As expected, it’s posted at the Answers Research Journal. Like the Creation Museum, the Journal is part of the creationism conglomerate run by Ken Ham.
This paper contains Jason’s solution to the Distant Starlight problem. The problem — for young-earth creationists — is that the light we see from distant sources required literally billions of years to reach earth, yet the creationist’s universe is only 6,000 years old. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold added by us. Let’s begin with the abstract, which says:
In particular, we ﬁnd that an observer-centric anisotropic synchrony convention eliminates the distant starlight problem by reducing radially inward-directed light travel-time in the reference frame of the observer to zero.
Our very preliminary reaction is that Jason proposes the observer — presumably that’s us on earth — is in a privileged reference frame. That strikes us as contrary to everything we’ve learned about relativity, but let’s not judge too hastily. Jason begins by discussing:
Mature Creation: It has been suggested that God supernaturally created the beams of light themselves. That is, the light beam from every star to earth is created “in transit” at the same time the stars are created. This light en-route model is often presented in the context of mature creation: the idea that God created the universe fully functional from the start, and that the universe required no time or process to become what God wanted it to be.
Just as Adam was created mature, needing no time or process to reach adulthood, so was the universe.
The overwhelming majority of old-earth, or old-universe arguments are fallacious because they are based on faulty, unbiblical initial conditions.
There’s no way to discuss that in a scientific context, so we won’t try. Besides, Jason doesn’t rely on that notion. He next turns to:
The Light-in-Transit Model: Mature creation is a biblical concept, and easily shows the majority of old-earth claims to be fallacious. But does distant starlight fall in this category? One of the assumptions involved when light travel times are computed is that the light did indeed originate at the star. If God created the beams of light en-route, then they did not originate at the stars. This would indeed eliminate the distant starlight problem. However, this proposal introduces biblical and philosophical difficulties of its own. I suggest that it is reasonable (and in fact necessary) to suppose that distant starlight did in fact originate from the star, and was not created in transit.
We won’t dwell on Jason’s reasoning here. Let’s just agree that the “Light-in-Transit” model is useless, and then proceed to Jason’s next topic, which is what he actually proposes:
Scripture Implies a Synchrony Convention: Genesis itself may suggest a simple answer to distant starlight. In Genesis 1:14–18 God tells us that the stars were created on the fourth day to give light upon the earth. This text also seems to strongly suggest that the stars fulfilled their purpose immediately (“and it was so”). Therefore, it would seem that the light emitted by the stars reached earth instantaneously, or nearly so. This suggests a synchrony convention: a procedure for synchronizing clocks separated by a distance.
Jason discusses the relativistic difficulties of dealing with “simultaneous” but distantly separated events, after which he says:
Starlight from the most distant galaxy can reach earth on the fourth day of the Creation Week when the correct relativistic synchrony convention is employed.
Really? Then he tosses in several space-time diagrams illustrating the simultaneity problem (we haven’t played with such diagrams for years) after which he discusses the observer’s frame of reference (which is something we’ve been expecting) and he says:
The relativity of simultaneity is rarely discussed in creation-based literature. [Your Curmudgeon can't imagine why.] And yet it is crucial to the construction of biblically-based cosmological models. Let us suppose for the sake of argument that the description of the creation of the universe in Genesis … is the same system astronomers and physicists use today. Most creationists implicitly assume this. Since the creation of the celestial objects (the lights of the heavens) occurs on the fourth day, all stars were created simultaneously, or nearly so (within 24 hours).
That’s a whopping big assumption. Here’s more:
But we’ve just seen that what is considered “simultaneous” is relative to the observer’s reference frame. Since God is omnipresent, what reference frame would He choose? The reference frame of the earth is the obvious choice, since the days of creation are described in terms of earth rotations (“the evening and the morning were the Xth day”). Moreover, since the Bible is written for human beings, it stands to reason that the planet on which all humans live would be the reference frame God would use for all time-stamping.
Ever since we learned that this paper was coming we’ve been expecting the use of a privileged reference frame, and now we’ve got it: Earth is God’s chosen frame of reference. Then Jason discusses some relativistic problems even with that, due to the earth’s motion. To solve the problem, he assumes that the Bible uses “anisotropic synchrony” (a highly privileged reference frame) and he says that we could thus “consider the creation of the stars to be simultaneous on Day Four — even for the most distant galaxies.”
You see, dear reader, it’s all so easy if we discard everything we know about relativity. Having done that, Jason says:
[I]t follows that the creation of a star on Day Four happens at essentially the same time as the light from that star reaches earth. Under ASC [Anisotropic Synchrony Convention, or privileged reference frame], the “distant starlight problem” disappears. Even the most distant galaxy is created on Day Four, and its light reaches earth effectively simultaneously on Day Four.
The remainder of Jason’s paper purports to justify all of this. We haven’t read that far yet. What we’ve posted here should be sufficient to get the discussion started. We will, however, jump to Jason’s final conclusions:
The distant starlight problem is resolved if we accept that Genesis is using the anisotropic synchrony convention (ASC) rather than the Einstein synchrony convention. … Thus, the light from stars that are created on the fourth day will naturally reach the earth essentially instantaneously.
Taking all the Scriptural information into account, ASC seems to be implied by the Bible, and naturally solves the starlight problem by reducing inward-directed light-travel-time to zero. Moreover, ASC forms the basis for a new young-universe cosmological model which has made successful predictions.
So there you are. We await your comments.
[Update: See Jason Lisle’s “Instant Starlight” Paper, Again.]
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