Distant star light and the age of the earth?

How do we reconsile the question of star light traveling from so far away if the earth is only about six thousand years old and created befor the stars?

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@tfloraditch It really depends on your view of Genesis 1 and the age of the earth. Not all Christians believe the universe is only 6K years old. Generally, the explanation I have heard about distant star light from young earth creationist is that God created the universe so that it appeared older than it actually was - since it was a miraculous event this would not have been a problem.

But if you take a different view of Genesis 1 and accept an old earth view then this question is not really problematic.

Here is a response from AiG:

You may find some of the threads / resources below helpful:

@SeanO I tend to think there is a problem with our understanding of time.

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@tfloraditch That’s interesting :slight_smile: In what way?

Our concept of time has changed significantly in the last 50 years. No one can really say what time actually is. It is not a tangible thing we can touch, but it is also not a mear concept that we all just agree upon like a yardstick. It is also affected by gravity and speed. Many scientists think that the past and the future always exist as does the present we just experience them differently.

We can assume our understanding of time will continue to develop. Until we have a better explanation I see this as a point of further examination.

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@tfloraditch I’ve wondered about this question too - what is our concept of time (as compared to eternity like we had in a different discussion about ‘What will we do in Heaven’, which still has me pondering your final post thankyou for sharing)…

I was interested to learn that clocks tick faster in an aeroplane than on the ground - shown by the Hafele–Keating experiments? . What on earth is time at the end of the day? :slight_smile:

There are quite a few verses about ‘God stretching out the heavens’ http://230nsc1.phy-astr.gsu.edu/Nave-html/Faithpathh/stretch.html - if earth was made first like Genesis 1 states, why couldn’t the heavens be stretched out in all directions starting from earth’s perspective. seems pretty simple to me. :laughing:

I’m showing my utter lack of scientific knowledge here of course :grinning:: is the latest information that the cosmic background radiation (red shift?) show that earth appears to be at the centre of the universe?

creation.com has some articles about starlight and time, and some book resources such as Starlight and Time by Dr. Russell Humphreys, and Starlight, Time and the New Physics by Dr John Hartnett (both are physicists) - I’ve not read the books.

I’m still in the YEC camp at this stage and haven’t had a need to study further - I have read John Lennox book ‘7 days that divide the world’ and loved it. I’m still pondering it all - and I agree with Lennox suggestion at the end of the book that we should not divide over the issue.

The only thing that would worry me about the different viewpoint on Creation, is the question

’Does an old earth creation viewpoint compromise the Gospel?’.

  • The Gospel being that Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrificial lamb, and to which all the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to
  • the lamb that God killed in Eden to provide a covering for Adam and Eve’s sin was perfect (I presume this because the Israelite system required a perfect lamb that was unblemished)
  • if Old Earth Creationism has death before the Fall (millions of years of death/decay?), then why was the killing of a lamb a big deal in the garden of Eden. Just another single animal death would carry less or little significance and meaning?
  • the question being: Does it matter that so called ‘nephesh-chayyah’ animals died before the Fall of man??


sorry to go off topic a bit here.


@matthew.western I like the idea of God stretching out the heavens. I had not thought or read about that quite this way before. Perhaps what is so far away now was once much closer. I can see astrophysicists having problems with that but you know how that goes. Thank you that is a new piece to consider in the question.

I certainly agree with Lennox that these are not things to divide over, but by examining the hard questions like this I think we get closer to God. I have five children and when they were young we often played hide and seek in the house after dinner. Just as I enjoyed them trying to find me I know that God loves to see our search for Him in every area of the universe.


I also like considering the simple idea of how is God omnipresent (in all places at once), as compared to our concept of time.

From the perspective of an ant, my foot when standing on the ground is in two places at once. It takes time for an ant to travel the length of my foot. I doubt ants worry about how my foot is in two places at once. :slight_smile:

I had a friend of my father-in-law who was a surgeon and liked these types of conversations - one time we had a discussion about how one could try to conceptualize infinity. His way of describing it I have completely forgotten as it was years ago - and he was much cleverer than me so I didn’t understand all of what he was saying at the time. This conversation made me wonder over the years, is God infinite, or is God infinite from our perspective and is the size of the Universe.

Either way, I’m so glad He loves his Creation and reached out to us through Jesus his Son. If you start with thoughts of trying to conceptualize infinity, and omnipresence and the size of the universe, then you move towards his Love - suddenly you are quite moved with emotion when you realize the size of his Love.

Might be time to look at the stars tonight in worship. :thinking:


Great question. Personally, I don’t believe that the Earth, nor our Universe, is only 6K years old. I recommend listening to Hugh Ross, a Christian, who is an astrophysicist. He makes really good points on the age of the universe and how we can know the exact age of the universe without any problem. He says that the universe is billions of years old, and the evidence I’ve personally seen points towards that view. We can reconcile scripture with science. God gave us two amazing books. The Holy Bible and the book of nature.

I believe in the gap theory. As far as if the days of creation were 24 hour days or not, we have to leave that in the hands of God. It could have been, but also remember that God created time and space and whether creation was on a time scale of 24 hours or not is something that I think we will find out until the next life in Heaven.

Hope this helps.

Thanks Cameron, that’s great thankyou.

Lennox is Day-Age, you are Gap Theory, I’ve grown up with YEC (although I don’t get as excited about it being the only possibility like a lot in the YEC camp, having learnt there are actually 8 positions on Genesis).

With Gap Theory, there is a gap between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2 I think? Does this position hold a literal 24 hour earth days for the Genesis account?

If so, perhaps my question should be re-worded:
‘Does a Creationist position that includes pre-Fall death of animals compromise the Gospel?’

I think the theBibleProject.com guys are Gap theory, and describe ‘wild and waste’ from the Hebrew ‘Tohu wa-bohu’ (i think they pronounce it tohu va vohu??) As in ‘the earth was void and without form’ is what some of our english translations have.

hehe. I love just trying to say ‘tohu va vohu’ in a normal conversation. :wink:

@CamKufner @matthew.western The problem I have with the gap theory is that it doesn’t tell me anything new about God. It doesn’t bring me closer to Him. At least it hasn’t to this point. Typically when I struggle with a biblical concept the answer reveals something new about God that I didn’t know.

Frequently someone will share a commentators explanation that suggests a different context of uses semantics to explain and it just makes me think, ok maybe. Then there is a revelation that reveals the heart of God in a new way and I feel God’s excitement at my getting to where He wanted me. Gap theory just doesn’t do that for me.

What I am saying is that I can’t say it is wrong, just that I am still looking.

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I am a retired high school math teacher who stumbled across a high school math problem, that was totally unexpected…the result of which could only be explained using Relativity ( of which, initially I knew nothing)
Using high school algebra, it can be shown that t, the time rate inside a moving system, is related to T( the time measured by someone outside the system) by the equation
t= square root of( 1-p^2)X T, Where p is %age of the speed of light of the moving system

So, put God outside the moving system, and me inside the moving system, moving first at 20%=.2, then 40% =.4 then .6=60%, then .8=80% of c( the speed of light), then 1.0=100% of c,
and calculate t ( the time rate INSIDE THE SYSTEM, for me compared to T the time rate for God(OUTSIDE THE SYSTEM) and you get

t(inside)…at 20%…=sqrt(1-(.2^2)) =sqrt(.96)T
ie. t=sqrt(.96)T
At 40% of c, t(inside)= sqrt(1-.4^2)T outside
At 60%. t=sqrt(1-.6^2)T
At80%. t=sqrt (1-.8^2)T
At 100%. t=sqrt(1-1^2)T=sqrt(0)

Clearly, as the system moves faster, the time rate inside moves slower and TIME RATE INSIDE STOPS AS THE SYSTEM IS MOVING AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT!!

So, how long does it take for a light ray to travel those great distances, at the speed of light?


Einstein claimed that the faster you move in a system, the slower time moves for you…
and at c …time rate stops

How does this answer the big Q asked as the cause of this article?
Neil…(high school algebra available on request)


I don’t think that we have a good grasp of creation. I see Genesis as literature explaining a series of events that we cannot completely understand. The first verse of Genesis is an introductory statement, the creation event, the following verses give the sequence and is prose, not poetry as many have tried to claim. When the word for day (Yom) is used with an ordinal it always refers to a 24 hour time period. The sequence of the creative events do not follow what the scientific explainion would mandate. This implies a supernational process of creation not a process that could happen naturally. God operates outside of the space-time dimension in which we operate, intering our dimension to interact with us. The New Testament clearly identifies God through Jesus creating our universe even sustaining it. There is a logic and order to the universe which allows us to understand much of it but there seems much that we do not know regarding our universe, science is just not there yet and may never completely understand the universe or the process it came into being. An example would be the history of the development of evolution we used to think the single celled omeba was filled with a liquid but we now know that it very complex with the mechanisms of life; a parallel to our understanding of the universe, how it works and was created. Natural evolution of life is mathematically impossible and this is being understood by some top evolution scientists, not all but some. The development of life is best described as a creation of God, not chance evolutionary developments. I suspect our universe and creation is similar.

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Hi Neil (@mace1),
interesting. I’m a little lost in the algebra side of things.

So when we say a ‘light-year’ - the distance that light takes to travel in one year; are we referring to time as measured in human years (that is; 365 days for the earth to rotate around the sun)?

So, what you are saying is that if a human could travel at the speed of light (speed) for 1 light-year (distance), they they would not age 1 human year?

as this is an older thread started by Timothy, I’ll just tag @tfloraditch in case he doesn’t see it and he’s interested, since he asked the question originally…

Hi Robert (@Aleric) ,
yes, agree totally. some great points. I’m a young earth creationist so I still take ‘Yom’ to mean one earth day; although there are people much smarter than me that think differently (I enjoy all John Lennox books). We can all agree that the eternal God spoke the universe into existence from nothing, and that Jesus is the Creator (John 1:1-3 and other passages), who loved us and died in our place to redeem us back to himself (amazing love!)… The universe is neither self-creating or eternal.

some great thoughts, thankyou…

Hi Timothy @tfloraditch and all the others who have responded to this question. I have absolutely no science or math, or physics, etc. background, but have been so impressed at all the varying answers.:dizzy:
But I’m also amused, picturing God on His throne smiling down at all our attempts to understand, “How did He do that?”–and probably all are wrong because our ways are not His. I am satisfied that God gave us all we need to know in the Genesis account, and that is that He created the heavens and the earth in a sequential order. I know also that without God there would be no science for us to discover the intricacies of His handiwork. I do love how science is proving Scripture.
One day I will know even as I am known. In the meantime, I’m learning so much from those of you who are scientific and mathematical (although I’ll never understand Neil’s algebraic explanation :confused:). God bless each of you for your knowledge.:slightly_smiling_face:

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I too am a little fuzzy on the math here, but thankfully I have a friend who does an excellent job of explaining this. Professor Mike Merrifield and the nice folks at the University of Nottingham have a Youtube channel called Sixty Symbols which explains this concept of time dilation very well. You really need to watch it. Also, if you email him directly at the university he will answer additional questions.

Be sure to also watch the videos on Gamma and Gamma Reloaded that they include links to. They all work together. Basically, what @mace1 is saying is true that time stops for light as it is traveling but not for us here on earth waiting to perceive that light. So light doesn’t get older but the universe does. We still have this problem of it taking 14 billion earth years for light to get to us from distant stars and a 6000 year old earth that was created first.

Rather than this shaking my faith it really only strengthens it because if all of this was easy for me to figure out then God wouldn’t be very big. Would He?

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I lean to a young earth because that seems to be the best explanation from the Scripture. There are Christians who advocate for deep time (15.5 Billion yrs).and the best advocate for this position is Hugh Ross an Astro-physicist. He looks at the data from his back ground of studying the physical universe. He believes in A Creator God but that God uses evolution to bring about life and the Big-bang theory to form the universe. I need to note that the big-bang theory is in present dispute because there are too many problems with the math, and don’t ask me to explain them for I am lost at that level. The best sources that advocate for a young earth would be Answers-in-Genesis lead by Ken Ham and ICR lead by Henry Morris iii. Both provide great research supporting a 7,000 year creation time.The issue of the time it takes for light to reach earth is the basis for 5.5B years. There is no final word on explaining how we see stars and galaxies that are that far away and is the biggest obstacle to a 7000 yr. creation time frame. Some hypothesis have been advanced but no definitive proof.

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See the site. Creation Ministries International,
and the research done byRussel Humphries and John Hartnet…both PhD ‘s in that area of research…one idea is based on Einstein’s model…the deeper you are in a gravitational field, the slower time passes for you…verified in the planning and establishing the GPS system…it seems that the gravitational fields distort the time-rate…so which clock to use to measure the time(my Q)