Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Distant Starlight in a Young Universe?

"If the universe is only thousands of years old, how can light reach us from stars that are millions of light-years away?"
This is perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions relating to the Biblical account of creation and a young universe.  Many solutions have been proposed, but none are without their difficulties and challenges.  However, one astronomer by the name of JASON LISLE, has claimed to find the solution to the "problem."  Personally, I have not researched his theory thoroughly enough to pose much of a defense, but I just thought i'd share it with those who are interested.

For those unfamiliar with the arguments that have been proposed as a solution as well as the background information concerning starlight and time, I would recommend watching Dr. Lisle's PRESENTATION.

To read about his theory in more detail, he has written an lay-friendly article HERE and a more technical article HERE.

If you'd like to read some of Dr. Lisle's responses to his critics, go HEREHEREHERE, and HERE.  


Vas said...

Jason Lisle is obviously . . .

A liar.

or he bribed his way to and through a Phd.

Give me a holler when he submits his model for peer-review.

The Apologetic Front said...


It would be nice if you had something constructive to say about this.

Vas said...

Like? I skipped the video and read the listed readings. Lisle is basically giving the same old argument, that is "they got their intepretation, we got ours."

I'm sure even he's smart enough to know he's full of it, which is why I don't think he'll ever submit his model for a legitimate peer-review.

vasquez said...

Anyways, having looked into it further, Lisle is simply arguing on top of another argument which is: Conventionality.

You can read more about it here:

Sorry for being dismissive and rude in my first comment.

The Apologetic Front said...


I think the fact that Lisle is building upon other ideas is pretty obvious, as he was clear to admit. None of this is really anything new. The question is; would this be applicable for starlight?

The main strength in his argument is that the one-way speed of light is conventional, whereas the round-trip speed is always objective. As long as the latter is the case, one is free to use whatever convention they like in determining the one-way speed.

And keep in mind that big bang cosmology may have problems of their own with regards to starlight (i.e. the "horizon problem"). Therefore, Lisle's hypothesis may be attractive to others besides creationists.

Its too early on for Lisle to consider peer review. Right now I think he's inviting constructive criticism so that his idea can be revised or possibly abandoned. If he does submit his idea for peer review in a secular journal, he would have to intentionally void any mention or hint of a young earth, universe, God, the Bible, etc. Otherwise, no peer reviewed journal will bother to take even a glance. And there is always the possibility that they won't take a glance anyway, since Lisle is a creationist.

I appreciate the apology and I always appreciate your willingness to interact.

vasquez said...

I'm not sure I agree with you about the "horizon problem" because there are other theories (i.e. explanations). I think the problem is with AiG and not so much the physics behind big-bang cosmology and even if I did concede (for simplicity) that "problem" Lisle's explanation is still filled with holes and ignores a number of things (Maxwells equations).'s_equations

The relation between electricity, magnetism, and the speed of light can be summarized by the modern equation:

The left-hand side is the speed of light, and the right-hand side is a quantity related to the equations governing electricity and magnetism. Although the right-hand side has units of velocity, it can be inferred from measurements of electric and magnetic forces, which involve no physical velocities. Therefore, establishing this relationship provided convincing evidence that light is an electromagnetic phenomenon.
The discovery of this relationship started in 1855, when Wilhelm Eduard Weber and Rudolf Kohlrausch determined that there was a quantity related to electricity and magnetism, "the ratio of the absolute electromagnetic unit of charge to the absolute electrostatic unit of charge" (in modern language, the value ), and determined that it should have units of velocity. They then measured this ratio by an experiment which involved charging and discharging a Leyden jar and measuring the magnetic force from the discharge current, and found a value 3.107×108
m/s,[19] remarkably close to the speed of light, which had recently been measured at 3.14×108
m/s by Hippolyte Fizeau in 1848 and at 2.98×108
m/s by Léon Foucault in 1850.[19] However, Weber and Kohlrausch did not make the connection to the speed of light.[19] Towards the end of 1861 while working on part III of his paper On Physical Lines of Force, Maxwell travelled from Scotland to London and looked up Weber and Kohlrausch's results. He converted them into a format which was compatible with his own writings, and in doing so he established the connection to the speed of light and concluded that light is a form of electromagnetic radiation.[20]

Unless light isn't an electromagnetic wave, then there's no reason why we should work under the condition that it's not.

Having skimmed through the articles again, it looks like Lisle is "peer-reviewed" but through Ham's little peer-review thing he's got going on.

I don't think Lisle really cares about any criticisms because his answer to those seems to be that if none of his critics can get anything peer-reviewed (through Ham) then they're not worth it.

This idea that we need to ignore a bulk of experiments that contradict what he's saying is a bit absurd, and it really comes down to the "God did it" thing again, with his explanation of things being created "mature" which explains why e.g. The Earth may appear aged.

The Apologetic Front said...


Thank you for your substantive reply. While there are some attempts to overcome the "horizon problem," i'm not so sure there are any solutions to the problem. To illustrate; in YEC cosmology, creationists have to explain 13 billion light-years. In big bang cosmology, they have to explain far more, so long as there is a uniform temperature of the CMB in all directions. So clearly, light has traveled more than 13 billion light-years. But the question is, how does one account for it?

You can get more of an idea on this here:

As far as "Maxwell's equations," i'm not sure what Lisle is "ignoring" here that would jeopardize his theory. There is much that Lisle didn't mention in his articles, but I don't think it would be fair to suggest that Lisle had to exhaustively cover everything.

But given what you've said, i'm not so sure how Maxwell's equations would contradict Lisle's theory. If light is an electromagnetic wave, can you be more specific in how this would deny the conventional nature of the one-way speed of light?

Lisle's comment about peer review was with regards to any published responses that he might offer. Obviously, its not the case that Lisle would accept other avenues of criticism. Clearly, he does since he wrote three blogs in answer to various challenges. However, given that Lisle spent a lot of time in research and publishing the technical article; I don't think its unfair to ask that detractors offer the same in return.

vasquez said...

YEC cosmology, creationists have to explain 13 billion light-years. In big bang cosmology, they have to explain far more, so long as there is a uniform temperature of the CMB in all directions. So clearly, light has traveled more than 13 billion light-years. But the question is, how does one account for it?

Lisle doesn't answer that question and I don't think anyone else has. Actually, Lisle does answer that question but the answer amounts:

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). 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.

So, it all comes down to light looking the way it does because "God created it that way."

That is why ARJ is a bit of a joke and why Lisle couldn't get that published anywhere else. He simply escapes any problem by using God.

The published responses that he's looking for are those submitted to ARJ (Ham's Journal):

So far, no one has published in a peer-reviewed journal any criticism of this model. Of course, there have been some evolutionists who simply mocked the paper since it goes against their strongly held beliefs. But that is hardly a rational response. So far, no rebuttals have been submitted for publication in the ARJ, which would be the scholarly way to point out problems with a published model. This gives us increased confidence in the ASC model. ASC seems to lack the scientific problems which plague other creation-based starlight models and enjoys much scriptural support as well.

Honestly, what's the chance another physicist could submit a paper for peer-review and have it published through Ham's journal? Especially one that doesn't reflect scripture?

I don't think we have any evidence to even back up the assumption that light does not travel the same speed in different directions.

Anyways, if you want to learn more about this I'd suggest visiting a physics forums. This is getting way beyond what I can articulate without screwing everything up.

The Apologetic Front said...


I can sympathize with some of what you say because the technicalities relating to physics and astronomy are way beyond me.

As far as getting something published in the ARJ, Lisle was not referring to non-creationists. Instead, he was referring to other YEC's who would critique the model. If you didn't know already, YEC's have differing views on the starlight issue. So yes, there is a very good chance that another YEC would get something published in the ARJ.

I don't know what Lisle would say about a non-creationists critique getting published. I agree that no secular journal would publish a critique of Lisle's model, as they wouldn't give his model even a glance in the first place. So i'll have to leave it to Lisle on what he would or would not accept as a worthy response from a non-creationist.

Contrary to what you say, I think Lisle gives us good reason to think that light travel is conventional on a one-way trip.

I'm not sure about going to a physics forum. I only wrote this blog to offer Lisle's model for others to see; not necessarily to defend it. If I were to start publicly defending his model, I probably would go to a physics forum and offer a challenge there. However, I would expect a lot more ridicule and ad-hominen rather than a substantive response from a secular forum.