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Feedback archive Feedback 2009

Distant starlight, and dino and human fossils

Published: 21 March 2009 (GMT+10)
Horizon problem: (1) Early in the alleged big bang, points A and B start out with different temperatures. (2) Today, points A and B have the same temperature, yet there has not been enough time for them to exchange light.

Figure 1: Horizon problem—
(1) Early in the alleged big bang, points A and B start out with different temperatures.
(2) Today, points A and B have the same temperature, yet there has not been enough time for them to exchange light.

First, Sigurd E. from Norway asks some further questions about the distant starlight answer in the recent feedback How can distant starlight reach us in just 6,000 years? which Dr Jonathan Sarfati answers. Second, Paul N. of the UK asked why we don t find humans and dinosaur fossils together, which Dr David Catchpoole explains.

Questions regarding the article “How can distant starlight reach us in just 6,000 years?”

There are several unclear issues in this otherwise interesting article:

  • What does the “horizontal problem” mean, what does it imply and why is this a problem to somebody?
  • It is the horizon problem, and it was explained in the article linked to, Light-travel time: a problem for the big bang. Thanks to this article (by creationist Ph.D. astrophysicist and excellent biblical apologist Jason Lisle), I could write the following in my book Refuting Compromise:

    Horizon problem

    The cosmic microwave radiation indicates that space is the same temperature everywhere, to within 1 part in 100,000)1. However, the initial conditions of the big bang would have produced wide fluctuations in temperatures between different regions. So to produce the observed temperature uniformity, there must have been a common influence, i.e. all parts of space must have once been in thermal equilibrium. The fastest way for regions to come into equilibrium would be for electromagnetic radiation to carry heat from one region to another. However, some of these regions are too distant for light to have traversed between them, even in the assumed time since the alleged big bang. The finite speed of light is a ‘horizon’ which can’t be crossed, hence the term ‘horizon problem’. Even when the CMB was emitted, supposedly 300,000 years after the big bang, it already had a uniform temperature over a range at least ten times larger than this horizon2 (see Figure 1, above right).

    One of the commonest attacks on the YEC model by old-earthers such as [progressive creationist Hugh] Ross is that light would supposedly not have had enough time to reach earth from distant stars. But the horizon problem is the big bangers’ own ‘light travel problem’. How can old earthers so freely criticize YEC on the very problem that they have not yet solved from their own perspective?3

    As an ad hoc solution to the horizon problem, Alan Guth (b. 1947) proposed in 1980 that the universe once underwent a period of very rapid growth, called ‘inflation’.4 Guth, then a particle physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California, proposed that 10–35 seconds after the big bang, the universe expanded by a factor of 1025 in 10–30 seconds. 25 orders of magnitude is mind-boggling―it is like going from smaller than a pea to the size of our galaxy. But Guth’s proposal starts with the universe tinier than a subatomic particle. So the different regions of space were so close that they could come to the same temperature before inflation occurred.

    Cosmologists imagine the big bang theory by means of an analogy to an expanding balloon. The analogy confines the three space dimensions we can see to merely the 3-D surface of the 4-D balloon. The galaxies would be like dust on the surface, spreading apart with the expansion. In this scheme, no galaxy could claim to be the unique centre. The true centre of the expansion would be in the region within the balloon, a region the inhabitants of the surface cannot perceive.
    Figure 2: Cosmologists imagine the big bang theory by means of an analogy to an expanding balloon. The analogy confines the three space dimensions we can see to merely the 3-D surface of the 4-D balloon. The galaxies would be like dust on the surface, spreading apart with the expansion. In this scheme, no galaxy could claim to be the unique centre. The true centre of the expansion would be in the region within the balloon, a region the inhabitants of the surface cannot perceive.

    It’s important to note that it’s space itself that is expanding, so it doesn’t violate relativity, which prohibits only mass/energy from moving through space faster than light. But, despite that, now it seems that even this may have its own horizon problem. So some physicists have proposed that the speed of light was much faster in the past, which would allow the ‘horizon’ to be much further away and thus accommodate the universe’s thermal equilibrium.5

    This is ironic, because creationists have been disparaged for suggesting the speed of light may have been faster in the past, with accusations that they don’t understand relativity. Apparently, it is now acceptable to promote a ‘scientific heresy’ if used to support evolutionary scenarios;6,7 and for that matter, to explain fine structure constant changes.8,9

    It’s also notable that Guth’s original hypothesis was proven false,10 and modern inflationary cosmologies have since modified his original proposal. Also, there is no satisfactory physical mechanism for starting inflation, as opposed to playing with mathematical equations. Nor is there a mechanism for halting the inflation, which is known as the ‘graceful exit problem’.11

  • Under “We live in a galactocentric universe” it says that according to the big bang theory, “the universe was neither a centre nor an edge.” This is news to me. I thought that this theory in contrary indeed predicts that the universe is finite, with a supposed diameter of 28 billion light years although the age is supposedly currently “only” 13 billion years…
  • This is a misunderstanding. From my book Refuting Compromise, ch. 5:

    Philosophical assumption: the cosmological principle

    It is important to note that while the first assumption is scientific, and one which creationists should have no quarrel with, the second (sometimes misnamed the ‘Copernican Principle’) is completely philosophical. This is illustrated by none other than the famous lawyer-turned-cosmologist Edwin Hubble (1889–1953), who discovered that distant objects had red shifts approximately proportional to distance from us, which he interpreted as evidence of an expanding universe. He made a revealing admission in 1937:

    ‘Such a condition [these red shifts] would imply that we occupy a unique position in the universe, … But the unwelcome supposition of a favored location must be avoided at all costs … is intolerable … moreover, it represents a discrepancy with the theory because the theory postulates homogeneity.’12

    This is from his book titled The Observational Approach to Cosmology, ironic because this statement has nothing to do with observation! But there is no scientific or biblical reason why Christians should accept this assumption. The popular view of the big bang, which Ross seems to foster, pictures everything exploding from a central point in a universe bounded by an edge. As shown by Hubble and the EB, this is a totally misleading picture―the big bang posits a universe without a centre and without an edge (unbounded).

    Another famous physicist, Richard Feynman (1918–1988), who won a third share of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on quantum electrodynamics, also admitted that the cosmological principle is based on ‘prejudice’:

    ‘ … I suspect that the assumption of uniformity of the universe reflects a prejudice born of a sequence of overthrows of geocentric ideas. … It would be embarrassing to find, after stating that we live in an ordinary planet about an ordinary star in an ordinary galaxy, that our place in the universe is extraordinary … . To avoid embarrassment we cling to the hypothesis of uniformity.’13

    George Francis Rayner Ellis is a high profile cosmologist who has co-authored papers with ‘big bang’ guru Stephen Hawking (b. 1942). In a profile in Scientific American, he honestly admitted the role of philosophical assumptions:

    ‘“People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations,” Ellis argues. “For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations.” Ellis has published a paper on this. “You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”’14

    What big bang theorists really believe

    Note that this is combined with the no-centre assumption to illustrate how most cosmologists picture the big bang. Space itself can be represented in two dimensions as the surface of a balloon as it inflates, with a number of small cardboard disks glued on it to represent galaxies. As the balloon inflates, the disks don’t move per se, but they appear to move apart because they are carried by the balloon’s expanding surface (see Figure 2, above right). Also, a tiny observer on any disk will see the others move away―no disk has any unique central location. It is a complete misapprehension to think that big bang theorists believe any observer is in a spot corresponding to the 3-D centre of an inflating balloon.

  • I can’t see that the article explains why redshift is a “problem” to the big bang theory. This is not obvious.
  • No, it’s not redshift per se but the quantized redshift, as explained below, and in Figure 3 (below right).

    It is unclear in what way that redshift implies or predicts a galatocentric universe and that the earth supposedly therefore has a unique position.

    As I explain in Refuting Compromise (and I would suggest reading the updated and powerful information in Dr John Hartnett’s groundbreaking book Starlight, Time and the New Physics):

    Quantized redshifts point to galactocentric universe

    spherical shells of galaxies
    Figure 3: Galaxies tend to be grouped in concentric spherical shells around our home galaxy. The distance interval between shells is of the order of a million light years, but since several different intervals exist, the true picture is more complex than the idealization shown here. [Click image to enlarge.]

    As Hubble admitted, the observed cosmic expansions could equally well be explained by the fact that we really are near the centre of the universe. In fact, features of the redshift are consistent with this but are a problem if the earth is not unique.

    William Tifft at the Steward Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, analyzed a number of redshifts. He performed standard statistical techniques, and the redshifts were clustered around discrete intervals or quantized. He observed clusters at z intervals of 0.00024, or 0.024%, or equivalent velocity intervals of 72 m/s, and other clustering at 36 m/s. Tifft published his observations in the major astrophysical journals over more than 20 years.15 , 16 , 17

    Tifft’s observations are a puzzle if the earth is not in a unique position. A non-unique position can explain observed recession, but would predict z in a continuous range not in discrete intervals. But Tifft’s data make sense if our galaxy (not necessarily the earth itself) was at or very near the centre of the universe and surrounded by concentric spherical shells of stars.18

    This fatally undermines one of the key assumptions behind the big bang, i.e. the part of the Cosmological Principle that there is no preferred location or centre in the universe.

    And why is this consistent with the Bible? Does the Bible say that that the earth is in the centre of the universe?

    No. Indeed, as explained in a recent feedback, Answering another uninformed atheist: Galileo, Miller Urey, probability:

    For much of church history, the centre was regarded as the lowest place to be. At the lowest was Hades at Earth’s centre, and the abode of man on Earth’s surface was the next worse, quite corrupted compared to heavenly perfections. The further away from the centre, the closer to heaven you were thought to be.

    The moon, as fairly close to Earth, was regarded as a transitional place. The sun was in a higher plane, planets were pretty good, in their spheres made of the imperishable fifth element (quintessence), but not as exalted as the distant fixed stars, while the firmament was depicted as beyond even the stars, and God’s realm was further beyond that.

    So moving the earth away from the centre was, in the context of the middle ages, actually exalting it.

    The model proposed is a galactocentric not a geocentric model. Indeed, our earth is in an ideal place off-centred to the galactic centre, as explained in The sun: our special star:

    The sun’s position in our spiral Milky Way Galaxy is also ideal. Its orbit is fairly circular, meaning that it won’t go too near the inner galaxy where supernovae, extremely energetic star explosions, are more common.19 It also orbits almost parallel to the galactic plane—otherwise, crossing this plane would be very disruptive. Furthermore, the sun is at an ideal distance from the galactic centre, called the co-rotation radius. Only here does a star’s orbital speed match that of the spiral arms—otherwise the sun would cross the arms too often and be exposed to supernovae.

  • I don’t think that the author describe the new model very clearly. The author cites:

    ‘This “horizon problem” is a big headache for cosmologists, so big that they have come up with some pretty wild solutions. “Inflation”, for example. You can solve the horizon problem by having the universe expand ultra-fast for a time, just after the big bang, blowing up by a factor of 1050 in 10–33 seconds. But is that just wishful thinking?’

    Isn’t this precisely the new model proposed in the article, where the idea is that expansion of space entails expansion if time according to general relativity?

  • That’s the whole point! They have no right to object to certain creationist explanations when they propose very similar explanations themselves. But the difference is, an omnipotent creator of the universe is certainly capable of expanding it; the secularists basically wave a magic wand and propose some mathematical fiction that has no basis in real physics.

    Similarly, since some evolutionists have proposed a much faster speed of light in the past to solve the horizon problem, they have no basis to object in principle to some creationists who proposed the same.

    It’s hardly right for evolutionists to propose an idea to prop up the big bang theory, then whinge when creationists proposes something similar to defend God’s written account in Genesis.

    I hope you could provide some clarifications to these issues.

    Best regards,
    Sigurd E.

    Hope the above helps

    Best regards
    Jonathan Sarfati
    Creation Ministries International (Australia)

    Paul N. (UK) wrote:

    I am a “young” Born again Christian and I have just read your booklet titled What about Dinosaurs? by Dr David Catchpoole. I found it very good, and accepting this is about Dinosaurs, but I ask one question, why does it not include content about the mass graves/bones etc of humans, as this would have happened at the same time? I feel if I try to have a debate, with a "non-believer" they may ask this question, and I would find it difficult to answer or to provide them with the information. I think this would be better if mentioned to back up our belief that God created the heavens and earth and all things upon it.

    If you have other information covering this topic, could you please direct me in the right direction?

    Kind regards

    David Catchpoole responds:

    We receive many such enquiries along the same lines as your question, i.e. “If dinosaurs and man lived together, then why don’t we find their fossils buried together?”

    A number of articles on our website address that issue. For example:

    From that 2nd article, note particularly this section:

    So, how should we be ready (1 Peter 3:15) to answer? In cases like this, sometimes it can be more strategic to answer the question by asking a question—one that highlights the flawed assumptions behind the original question, e.g., ‘Coelacanths and whales live together—but why don’t we find their fossils together?’

    The flawed assumptions behind the original question are, in essence, evolutionary by nature. That is, the layers of sedimentary rock layers with their embedded fossils are presumed to be a “record” of evolution and extinction over millions of years. The fossil evidence, however, makes much more sense when viewed from the perspective that the biblical account of history is correct—i.e. that there was a global Flood. Hence the worldwide legacy of fossils, many of them beautifully preserved, found even in the highest mountain ranges.

    Of course, that will no doubt raise other questions in the minds of many people. For example: “If the dinosaurs haven’t been extinct for 65 million years, where are they today?”

    To answer, you could point out:

    Note that chapter 19 of The Creation Answers Book (see index) provides a good overview of the whole “dinosaur question”. Also note that chapter 15 addresses your question about the human fossils further, including the issue of the paucity of human fossils from Flood sediments. Here are some excerpts:

    Photo courtesy Films for Christ and published in The Creation Answers Book, p237 Dinosaur graveyards testify to catastrophic burial conditions, consistent with the Flood.
    Figure 4: Dinosaur graveyards testify to catastrophic burial conditions, consistent with the Flood.
    Human fossils have been found, hundreds of them, but generally in deposits which most creationists would think were post-Flood (e.g. buried in caves during the post-Flood Ice Age—see Chapter 16). However, in at least one case, human bones have been found in “older” strata.20


    If there were, say, 10 million people at the time of the Flood21 and all their bodies were preserved and uniformly distributed throughout the 700 million cubic kilometres of fossil-bearing sedimentary rock layers, only one would be found in every 70 cubic kilometres of rock. Thus you would be unlikely to find even one human fossil.


    People would cling to rafts, logs etc. until the very end and then tend to bloat and float and be scavenged by fish, with the bones breaking down rather quickly, rather than being preserved. This would make human fossils from the Flood exceedingly rare.

    Further, the more mobile, intelligent animals would tend to survive the Flood longest and be buried last, so their remains would be vulnerable to erosion by the receding floodwaters at the end of the Flood and in the aftermath of the Flood. Hence their remains would tend to be destroyed. The intelligence factor could partly account for the apparent separation of dinosaurs and mammals such as cattle, for example.22


    When God pronounced judgment on the world, He said, “I will destroy [blot out] man whom I have created from the face of the earth” (Genesis 6:7). Perhaps the lack of pre-Flood human fossils is part of the fulfilment of this judgment?

    For more, see The Creation Answers Book. It’s just the thing to have on hand when witnessing to (or, as you said, “debating”) non-believers, so as you can “be ready” (1 Peter 3:15) to answer their questions.

    David Catchpoole
    Creation Ministries International (Australia)

    Related Articles

    Further Reading


    1. Peebles, P.J.E., Principles of Physical Cosmology, Princeton University Press, 1993; p. 404. Return to text.
    2. Coles, P., Lucchin, F., Cosmology: The Origin and Evolution of Cosmic Structure, p. 136, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, 1996. Return to text.
    3. Newton, R., Light travel-time: a problem for the big bang, Creation 25(4):48–49, September–November 2003. Return to text.
    4. Guth, A.H., Inflationary universe: A possible solution to the horizon and flatness problems, Physical Review D 23(2):347–356, 15 January 1981. Return to text.
    5. Adams, S., The Speed of Light, Inside Science 147:4, New Scientist 173(2326), 19 January 2002. Return to text.
    6. Barrow, J., Is nothing sacred? New Scientist 163(2196)29–32, 24 July 1999. Return to text.
    7. Wieland, C. and Sarfati, J., God and the electron: Interview with physicist Keith Wanser, Creation 21(4):38–41, September–November 1999. Return to text.
    8. Davies, P.C.W., Davis, T.M. and Lineweaver, C.H., Black holes constrain varying constants, Nature 418(6898):602–603, 8 August 2002. Return to text.
    9. Wieland, C., Speed of light slowing down after all? TJ 16(3):7–10, 2002; . Return to text.
    10. Coles, Ref. , p. 151. Return to text.
    11. Kraniotis, G.V., String Cosmology, International Journal of Modern Physics A 15(12):1707–1756, 2000. Return to text.
    12. Hubble, E.P., The Observational Approach to Cosmology, Clarendon, Oxford, 1937. Return to text.
    13. Feynman, R.P., Morinigo, F.B. and Wagner, W.G., Feynman Lectures on Gravitation, Penguin Books, London, 1999. Return to text.
    14. Gibbs, W. Wayt, 1995. Profile: George F.R. Ellis; Thinking Globally, Acting Universally. Scientific American 273(4):28, 29. Return to text.
    15. Tifft, W.G., Discrete states of redshift and galaxy dynamics. I. Internal motions in single galaxies, Astrophysical J. 206:38–56, 1976. Return to text.
    16. Tifft, W.G. and Cocke, W.J., Global redshift quantization, Astrophysical J. 287:492–502, 1984. Return to text.
    17. Tifft, W.G., Redshift quantization in the cosmic background rest frame, J. Astrophysics and Astronomy 18(4):415–433, 1997. Return to text.
    18. Humphreys, R., Our galaxy is the centre of the universe, ‘quantized’ red shifts show, TJ 16(2):96–104, 2002. Return to text.
    19. Chown, M., What a star! New Scientist 162(2192):17, 1999. Return to text.
    20. Two human skeletons in a copper mine in Moab, Utah, in the (Cretaceous) Dakota Sandstone, which is supposed to be “dinosaur age”. C.L. Burdick, 1973, Discovery of human skeletons in Cretaceous formation (Moab, Utah). Creation Research Society Quarterly 10(2):109–110. Return to text.
    21. Woodmorappe, J., 1983. A diluviological treatise on the stratigraphic separation of fossils. Creation Research Society Quarterly 20(3):133–185. Return to text.
    22. Most creationists would regard large mammal fossil deposits, such as in the John Day County of Oregon, USA, as post-Flood. Return to text.

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