Creationist cosmologies

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Creationist cosmologies are explanations of the origins and form of the universe in terms of the Genesis creation narrative (Genesis 1),[1] according to which God created the cosmos in eight creative acts over the six days of the "creation week":

  • Day 1: Creation of light, separation of light from darkness;
  • Day 2: Creation of the firmament, separation of waters above the earth from waters below;
  • Day 3: Separation of waters below the firmament from the dry land; the earth is commanded to produce vegetation;
  • Day 4: Creation of "lights" (Sun, Moon and stars) in the firmament;
  • Day 5: Creation of fish and birds to populate the sea and sky;
  • Day 6: Creation of animals (followed by) creation of mankind.

Young Earth creationists interpret the six days as six 24-hour periods; Old Earth creationists allow for millions or even billions of years within the "creation week". Both regard the Genesis story as history, rather than the scholarly consensus of "creation myth"; both conflate the creation of the earth and the universe, (i.e. they hold that the two are equally old and were created together[citation needed]).

Bases of creationist cosmology[edit]

Cosmology is the study of the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.[2] Scientific cosmology uses the scientific method, which means forming theories or hypotheses which make specific predictions that can be tested with observations; depending on the outcome of the observations, the theories will be abandoned, revised or extended to accommodate the data.[2] The scientific model of the origin and evolution of our universe is the Big Bang.[2] The Bang was not like a conventional explosion, in which fragments of a bomb are thrown outwards, but rather was an explosion of space within itself; all the matter and energy of the universe had been contained in a single point, and at the Bang all of the particles of the embryonic universe began rushing away from each other.[3] The "bang" occurred approximately 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus the age of the universe.[4]

Creationism is premised on belief in the inerrancy of the bible.[5] According to prominent Young Earth advocate Ken Ham, president of creationist ministry Answers in Genesis, the Book of Genesis cannot be questioned, lest the entire bible be compromised: "Refute or undermine in any way the biblical doctrine of origins, and the rest of the bible is compromised."[6] Ham continues: "Genesis is the only book that provides an account of the origins of all the basic entities of life and the universe: the origin of life, of man, of government, of marriage, of culture, of nations, of death, of the chosen people, of sin, of diet and clothes, of the solar system..."[6] The first chapter of Genesis describes God creating the world through divine command over six days:[7]

  • Day 1: Creation of light, separation of light from darkness;
  • Day 2: Creation of the firmament, separation of waters above the earth from waters below;
  • Day 3: Separation of waters below the firmament from the dry land; the earth is commanded to produce vegetation;
  • Day 4: Creation of "lights" (Sun, Moon and stars) in the firmament;
  • Day 5: Creation of fish and birds to populate the sea and sky;
  • Day 6: Creation of animals (followed by) creation of mankind.

Varieties of creationist cosmologies: Old Earth and Young Earth[edit]

Young Earth cosmology[edit]

The age of the earth is one of the most polarizing issues within the evangelical Christian community today.[8] Young Earth creationists hold that the world is no older than about 10,000 years - a belief apparently shared by 47% of Americans and taught in 10% of American colleges.[9] This is based on the comprehensive chronology built into the Old Testament, rather than on the six days of creation (the belief that creation took place over six days does not automatically lead to a 10,000 year old earth). The creationist website Answers in Genesis, for example, has an outline of world history from an Old Testament perspective in which the period from Abraham to Jesus is listed as "approximately 1992 years"; this period, plus the 2,000 years from Christ to the modern day, "is not in question," and the debate focuses on the centuries-long lifespans of Methusaleh and other figures from Genesis 1-11.[10] This approach has a deep history in Christian thought: prior to the mid-18th century, the age of the earth was calculated partly or wholly on the basis of the bible and religious theory.[11] Using these methods, the 17th century scholar Archbishop Ussher arrived at the conclusion that the earth was created in 4004 BC, exactly four thousand years before the birth of Christ, giving the universe an age of some six thousand years.[12] Ussher's date was still being printed as a marginal note in many bibles until the early part of the 20th century.[12]

Old Earth cosmologies[edit]

A 6,000 year old universe contradicts the evidence from a range of sciences that the earth is four and a half billion years old.[13] Old Earth creationists accept that the earth is old, while (mostly) still holding the events of Genesis 1 to be historical.[14] In the late 19th century, Old earth cosmologies dominated, and few Christian apologists did not accommodate scientific geology and paleontology (the study of fossils) by interpreting vast ages for earth history within the biblical "days" (day-age creationism) or else separating Genesis into two creations, one "in the beginning" and a second Edenic creation in six days.[15] (It is implausible that the authors of Genesis intended the "creation week" to be understood in this way: the "days" are parts of a week, "evening" and "morning" are emphasised, and in any case the order of events conflicts with science, having trees appearing before marine creatures and the first morning and evening before the sun and moon are created.[16])

Tenets of creationist cosmology[edit]

Origin (cause) of the universe[edit]

Space and time ("spacetime") are properties of the universe, so that to talk about a time before the universe began "would be like asking for a point south of the South Pole" (Stephen Hawking).[17] Creationist cosmology, however, holds that the cause of the universe does lie outside time and space: a 1981 law from the US state of Arkansas setting out six cardinal tenets of "creation science", described the first as the principle that the universe, energy and life were the result of "sudden creation ... from nothing."[18] The idea that God created the world "out of nothing" has been a fundamental tenet of Christian theology since the 2nd century,[19] but scholars agree that the idea is not actually in Genesis, nor in the entire Hebrew Bible, and is found no earlier than later Judaism.[20][21]

Form[edit]

The pagan greek cosmology included: a flat earth, heavens above, and the underworld below.[22] Surrounding this were the "waters of chaos", the cosmic sea, home to mythic monsters defeated and slain by God (Exodus 20:4 warns against making an image "of anything that is in the waters under the earth").[23] There were waters above the earth, and so the solid bowl-shaped firmament of the second day was necessary to keep them from flooding the world.[24] Young Earth creationists deny this, and hold that the bible describes a spherical earth hanging in empty space,[25] and most teach that the earth goes round the sun (although the Association for Biblical Astronomy holds that the earth is stationary and the sun moves around it). This is the standard modern scientific picture of the cosmos, but its elements are comparatively recent - the fact that the earth circles the sun, for example, was only established in the 16th century, and the existence of separate galaxies not bound to our own was confirmed only in the 1920s.[26] Creationist cosmologies thus credit the biblical authors with cosmological knowledge well in advance of their contemporaries in the ancient world.

The universe has no edge; it is not known whether it is finite or infinite, but we can only observe a finite amount of it (the "observable universe").[27] It has no centre: the Big Bang should not be visualised as an explosion outwards from a central point, but as an equal expansion at all points within itself.[28] This expansion still continues: a useful analogy for the shape of the universe is therefore the surface of an expanding balloon, on which every point is moving away from every other point (but bearing in mind that the universe has at least three dimensions, while the skin of the balloon has only two).[28] Creationist cosmologies have no single position on these questions, but there seems to be a bias towards a universe which is curved rather than flat, bounded rather than unbounded, and finite rather than infinite. Most strikingly, there seems to be a common hypothesis that the universe has a centre and the earth is at or near it ("Galactocentrism"): "A creationist cosmology requires a finite universe that is most likely spherically symmetric about our galaxy ."[29]

Purpose: the universe and God[edit]

Creationist Jonathan Sarfati describes God as "by definition ... the uncreated creator of the universe" (italics in original).[30] The existence of the universe thereby serves as proof of the existence of God, expressed by theologian William Lane Craig as the kalam cosmological argument: "Given ... that whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence, we have been led to conclude that the universe has a cause of its existence. ... [T]his cause would have to be uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial. Moreover, it would have to be a personal agent who freely elects to create an effect in time. Therefore ... I conclude that it is rational to believe that God exists."[31] The demonstrated existence of God in turn leads into God's purpose in creating the cosmos, which is mankind: "The observations that place the earth near the centre of the universe are consistent with God’s focus on mankind."[29]

For the authors of the bible, and for centuries afterwards, the earth was believed to be the centre of the universe. Only in the last few hundred years has this been challenged, first by proof that the Earth is not the center of the solar system, followed, early in the 20th century, by the discovery that the Solar System is far from the center of the Milky Way.http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmo_01.htm

Creationist cosmology and science[edit]

The Young Earth website Creation in Genesis dismisses the Big Bang as "entirely fiction",[32] "nothing more than an attempt by men ... to try and explain how they think we might have been created without a Creator."[33]

One of the most common creationist criticisms of the Big Bang concerns the horizon problem and supposed problems with the inflationary theory of the early universe.[34] Creationists have claimed that dark matter and dark energy are doubtful concepts invented by Big Bang theorists in order to uphold the theory.[35][36][37][38] Creationists also point to the Baryon asymmetry problem, i.e., that the big bang is expected to have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter.[39]

The "starlight problem"[edit]

One of the largest problems facing a Young Earth is the starlight problem, which runs as follows: (1) there are galaxies billions of light-years from earth, meaning it would take light from their stars billions of years to reach us; (2) we can see these galaxies, so their starlight has already arrived; (3) therefore the universe must be billions of years old.[40] As an old earth (and universe) is not acceptable (it conflicts with the Bible-based age of the earth), alternative explanations are advanced by Young Earth supporters. One is that God created starlight when he created the universe six thousand years ago and the age of distant starlight is skewed because the Bible refers to God stretching the universe (e.g. Isaiah 51:13.) Those who do not accept the biblical explanation of God stretching the universe consider the age of distant starlight as deceptive and the explanation is not entirely satisfactory, as the first implies a God who deceives.[40] A second, posed by Barry Setterfield, that the speed of light was faster in the past than it is now (the theory is called C-decay, from the cosmological symbol C representing the speed of light).[40] Setterfield's theory, however, would produce consequences which have not been observed,[40] and has been refuted by other creationists such as Russell Humphreys.[41]

The universe has no center and no edge.[42] A third idea, put forward by Russell Humphreys in 1994 and refined by others since, sets this aside and proposes that the Earth is located near the center of a finite and bounded (i.e., spherical) universe. Time dilation would allow events at the edge to appear to have happened billions of years in the past as seen from earth. Humphreys also finds a place for the "waters above (and below) the earth," locating them at the edge ("above") and the centre ("below") of the universe.[43][44]

Russell Humphreys and John Hartnett have both been criticized by members of their own ranks, to which both have submitted rebuttals. In his remarks, Hartnett says he is "under no illusion" and is well aware that his cosmology uses an "unknown" (namely, the introduction of a fifth spacetime dimension) to help solve another "unknown" - dark matter. When challenged about a possible horizon problem in his model, Hartnett deferred to an inability to understand the problem posed by his critic and did not oblige an answer.[45] Humphreys' critic pointed out that the well-known equation for gravitational redshift/blueshift may countermand his model’s efforts to achieve today’s observed redshift from cosmic sources, to which Humphreys countered by terming the gravitational redshift equation a “flawed equation” and became dismissive in his remarks about any potential applicability to his model.[46] Since Humphreys relies heavily on the anomalous sunward acceleration of the Pioneer spacecraft to underscore a fundamental component of his cosmology, his critic was obliged to cite the findings of researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California who attributed the apparent anomaly to the thermal recoil force acting on the spacecraft.[47] In response, Humphreys adopted a wait-and-see attitude.[46]

Stellar evolution[edit]

Young Earth Creationists typically reject standard accounts of stellar evolution, and observational evidence of recent star formation.[48] In particular, creationists dispute the widely accepted nebular hypothesis for star formation.[49][50][51]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ruse, Michael; Travis, Joseph (2009). Evolution: The First Four Billion Years. Harvard University Press. p. 841. ISBN 067403175X. 
  2. ^ a b c Wollack 2011, p. Cosmology.
  3. ^ LaRocco Rothstein, p. The Big Bang.
  4. ^ Wollack 2011, p. Age.
  5. ^ Rosenhouse 2012, p. 34.
  6. ^ a b Rosenhouse 2012, p. 35.
  7. ^ Hendel 2012, p. 35-37.
  8. ^ Greene 2012, p. A Biblical Case for Old-Earth Creationism.
  9. ^ Gebel 2008, p. 9.
  10. ^ McGee 2012, p. Creation Date of Adam from the Perspective of Young-Earth Creationism.
  11. ^ Dalrymple 1994, p. 1.
  12. ^ a b Dalrymple 1994, p. 23.
  13. ^ Dalrymple 2004, p. 1-2.
  14. ^ Rosenhouse 2012, p. 165.
  15. ^ Numbers 1992, p. x.
  16. ^ Wilkinson 2009, p. 136.
  17. ^ Hawking 2010, p. The Origin of the Universe.
  18. ^ Numbers 2006, p. 272.
  19. ^ May 2004, p. 179.
  20. ^ Nebe 2002, p. 119.
  21. ^ Walton 2006, p. 183.
  22. ^ Aune 2003, p. 119.
  23. ^ Wright 2002, p. 53.
  24. ^ Ryken 1998, p. 170.
  25. ^ Schneider 2001, p. Does the Bible Teach a Spherical Earth?.
  26. ^ Harrison 2000, p. 67-71.
  27. ^ Castelvecchi 2011, p. What Do You Mean, The Universe Is Flat?, Part 1.
  28. ^ a b Gibbs 1997, p. Where is the centre of the universe?.
  29. ^ a b Hartnett, p. A creationist cosmology in a galactocentric universe.
  30. ^ Sarfati & If God created the universe, then who created God?.
  31. ^ Craig & The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe.
  32. ^ Lisle 2010, p. Chapter 10: Does the Big Bang Fit with the Bible?.
  33. ^ Berg & 2013 The Big Bang and the Age of the Earth.
  34. ^ Lisle, Jason (1 September 2003). "Light-travel time: a problem for the big bang". Answers in Genesis. Retrieved 2010-03-30.  ("Robert Newton" is a pseudonym "Dr Jason Lisle, Ph.D. Creationist Astrophysicist Institute for Creation Research (ICR), USA Biography". Creation Ministries International. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  35. ^ Hartnett, John (8 September 2006). "Has 'dark matter' really been proven?". Creation Ministries International. 
  36. ^ Oard, Michael (1 April 1995). "Astronomical problems". Answers in Genesis. 
  37. ^ Gitt, Werner (1 June 1998). "What about the big bang?". Answers in Genesis. 
  38. ^ Oard, Michael; Sarfati, Jonathan (April 1999). "No dark matter found in the Milky Way Galaxy". Journal of Creation 13 (1). 
  39. ^ Oard, Michael (1 December 1998). "Missing antimatter challenges the 'big bang' theory". Answers in Genesis. 
  40. ^ a b c d Lisle & 2007 Does distant starlight....
  41. ^ Humphreys, Dr. Russell (1996). Starlight & Time. Master Books. p. 28. ISBN 0890512027. 
  42. ^ http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/nocenter.html
  43. ^ Williams & Hartnett 2005, p. unpaginated.
  44. ^ Williams, Alex; Hartnett, John (2005). Dismantling the Big Bang: God's Universe Rediscovered. New Leaf Publishing Group. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-89051-437-5. 
  45. ^ Letter to the editor (April 2013). "Starlight, time and the new physics". Journal of Creation 27 (1). 
  46. ^ a b Letter to the editor (August 2013). "Russell Humphreys' cosmology". Journal of Creation 27 (2). 
  47. ^ "Support for the Thermal Origin of the Pioneer Anomaly". Physical Review Letters 108 (241101): 241101. June 2012. Bibcode:2012PhRvL.108x1101T. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.241101. PMID 23004253. 
  48. ^ Spencer, Wayne (19 November 2008). "Star Formation and Creation". Answers in Genesis. 
  49. ^ Lisle, Jason (18 September 2007). "The Stars of Heaven Confirm Biblical Creation". Answers in Genesis. 
  50. ^ Parsons, T.; Mackay, J. (1 August 1980). "Pièrre Simon Laplace: The nebular hypothesis". Answers in Genesis. 
  51. ^ Spencer, Wayne R. (1 April 2001). "The existence and origin of extrasolar planets". Answers in Genesis. 

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Sciences, 2nd edn (1999)
  • Donald B. DeYoung, Astronomy and the Bible: Questions and Answers. Baker Books, 2nd edn, April 2000
  • Danny R. Faulkner, Universe by Design. Master Books, September 2004
  • John Hartnett, Starlight, Time and the New Physics. Creation Book Publishers, 2007
  • Russell Humphreys, Starlight and Time. Master Books, 1994

External links[edit]