Fourteen Billion Years of Creation
Vol: 112 Issue: 28 Friday, January 28, 2011
An international team of astronomers working with NASA claim that they have discovered the most distant and most ancient galaxy ever found. The light now visible from that galaxy left its original starting point, according to NASA, left there 13.2 billion years ago.
So in that sense, NASA astronomers are actually peering backward through time. Here is how that works (with a tip o’ the hat to Canadian astrophysicist Michio Kaku).
Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. That’s so fast that it is impossible to detect movement, but it is movement, just the same. So there a time lag between when the light leaves an object and when it reaches the eye of the viewer.
When you look in the mirror, you aren’t really seeing yourself as you are. You are seeing yourself as you were a billionth of a second ago – you are actually peering through time into the past – recent past, but the past, nonetheless.
So when NASA is looking at this ancient galaxy, it is actually looking into the past to a period some 450 million years after the Big Bang. In cosmic terms, that is like the time lag between when the mirror reflects your image to when you are able to see it. It is practically like being there.
Roughly a 10th the width of the Milky Way galaxy, the new star-packed discovery confirms that a period of rapid star-birth unfolded in the era after the Big Bang, which took place about 13.75 billion years ago.
“The nighttime sky would have looked very different then,” says study lead author Rychard Bouwens of the University of California Santa Cruz and Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.
Massive blue stars created by dense clouds of hydrogen gas would have been born and died within millions of years’ time, quick by cosmic standards, their death blasts filling space with charged, radioactive particles. “Probably, it wouldn’t have been a very healthy time for life, if planets even existed then,” Bouwens adds.
The report, in this week’s edition of the journal Nature, shows stars formed in the galaxy at a 10th the ratethey did in galaxies only slightly younger, ones dating to about 700 million years after the Big Bang. Those galaxies themselves were much busier star factories than today’s comparatively quiet ones.
Newly installed instruments aboard the Hubble space telescope, 30 times more sensitive than their predecessors, allowed astronomers to peer deeply into space to find the galaxy, one of 6,000 contained in a “deep-field” view collected over 100 hours of telescope viewing time. “We have pushed Hubble about as far back as it can go,” Bouwens adds.
“Just as archaeologists sift through deeper layers of sand to uncover the past, cosmologists use large telescopes and sensitive detectors to study galaxies at ever greater distances from Earth,” says Naveen Reddy of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, in a commentary on the study. Because the speed of light, 5.9 trillion miles per year, is finite, he notes, looking at more and more distant stars allows astronomers to “peer farther back in time.”
As already noted, the speed of light is finite. Because the universe has that speed limit, science is able to measure distances as expressed in light years with more or less pinpoint accuracy.
So if the Bible is true and Creation took only six days, how did the light Galaxy UDFj-39546284 manage to get so far away?
“For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”(Psalms 90:4)
One might argue that the Psalmist was simply using a figure of speech to express the unknowable and incalculable, except for two things. First, a thousand years is neither unknowable nor incalculable. It is ten centuries or one hundred decades. It is roughly 14 lifetimes.
So it can be both known and calculated.
Secondly, the same figure is repeated as a literal truth by the Apostle Peter.
“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)
Assuming that this defines the length of a Creation ‘day’ as taking one thousand years is therefore no exegetic stretch – but still, it is interpretative, not doctrinal. A Creation ‘day’ could mean a thousand years . . . or it could mean a literal 24 hour day.
But a ‘day’ is measured by the length of time it takes the earth to complete one turn on its axis and the earth wasn’t formed until the beginning of the Third Day.
Of course, one might argue that Genesis 1:1 covers the creation of both heaven and earth, setting the cosmological clock in motion and defining a ‘day.’
What do I think? I think that Genesis 1:5 defines a day pretty clearly: “And evening and the morning were the first day.”
But even if we take the interpretative view that a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day, we come up 13.75 billion years short, give or take six thousand. Is Genesis wrong?
I think not. And I believe that this latest NASA announcement confirms it. NASA also confirmed the existence of what it calls the “dark force” that it says is pushing the universe apart as it has been since the “Big Bang.”
In theory, at the point of the Big Bang, the known laws of physics, such as gravity and relativity, break down in the state of singularity. But after the Big Bang, the newly born universe inflated and continues to expand.
So the scientific theory of the Big Bang is not much different than the Creation story, except that it excludes a Creator and attributes the Big Bang to an unknown cosmic Force.
Science postulates that at the moment of the Big Bang, the universe was packed so tightly together that it was no larger than a pinpoint before it started to expand.
First the pinprick of light, which then expands and expands at the speed of light, but how long the process actually took would depend largely on your point of reference.
Suppose you were able to stand outside of space and time with God and watch the process take place. But your point of reference is the twenty-four hour earth clock.
So you watch and witness the creation and expansion of the universe (Genesis 1:5) until the light that began with the Big Bang catches up with the expanding universe. God says that counted as the evening and the morning of the first day.
Follow along with me. You are standing with God and outside of space and time, but your wristwatch is set according the rotation of the earth on its axis. So six days how long it actually took from your point of reference, (which is the same as God’s.)
In the Bible, who is describing Creation? Moses?
Moses is writing it down — but Moses wasn’t there. Moses writes “God said” – and it was so. What took a day — from God’s point of view – was what the Big Bang describes, from the universe’s point of view, as having taken 14 billion years.
A star that was bumped up flat against our star at the point of Creation would move away from it as fast as the universe is expanding – which is 186,000 miles per second at the universe’s current size – how fast would light travel when the universe itself was compressed into the size of a baseball?
How long did it take to travel 186,000 miles per second when the earth and Venus were two inches apart, as the Big Bang Theory demands?
It makes one’s head hurt to spend too much time on it, but it doesn’t hurt as much as arguing that first the universe spread out to the size it was six thousand years ago and then God created the earth in six twenty-four hour days.
Where are we going with this? It is really pretty obvious. Whenever the sciences make a discovery, medical, geographic, astronomic, physical, or natural, it ultimately confirms, rather than denies, the teaching of Scripture.
Mankind might fill in the gaps in his knowledge with mythology, but when the myths are disproved, the actual science brings us back to the Bible. The Bible told us light was in motion before astronomy did. The Bible declared the expanding universe way before Edwin Hubble discovered it.
The Bible says that creation took six literal days – the Big Bang theory says it took an instant of time – or it took 14 billion years — depending on where one is standing when one takes the measurement.
From where God was standing, it took six literal days. It really isn’t that complicated.
The discovery of the world’s oldest galaxy, together with an actual image of both the galaxy and the dark force that continues to expand our universe, are so completely in harmony with Creation that it astonishes me that there can be such a thing as an unbelieving scientist.
“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:21)
The ignorant and uneducated might be excused for their skepticism, but the scientist finds himself indicted by the Apostle Paul – he is without excuse.
How is it possible that the world could be created in six literal days and yet there are galaxies 13.75 billion light years away?
With God, all things are possible. Including creating the universe in six days. Or even the really, really hard, stuff.
Like saving a wretch like me.