Starlight Wars: Starlight and Time withstands attacks
11 October 2000
Six years ago, a small group of opponents of the traditional historical view of Genesis (i.e., that it means what it says!) declared a “holy war” on Starlight and Time, my book about a creationist cosmology (see below, right).1 Their leader is Hugh Norman Ross, whose apologetics organization “Reasons to Believe” markets a theology heavily based on the big bang theory (as well as geological uniformitarianism). See:
- “Progressive Creationist” Hugh Ross, who is he and what does he believe?
- Exposé of NavPress’s new Hugh Ross book: The Genesis Question.
- The dubious apologetics of Hugh Ross.
- [The most comprehensive is Refuting Compromise; see Introductory chapter and reviews—Ed.]
The saga begins with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which is well supported by experiment. Dr. Ross assumes that general relativity can lead to only one cosmology, the big bang theory and its billions of years. But my book offers a counter-example—a relativistic cosmology that fits into the biblical timescale of thousands of years.
Believing that secular academia cannot be so wrong, Ross thinks the biblical account of creation must be “re-interpreted” to accommodate a big bang. He claims the days of creation should be understood as long ages of time.2 In contrast, Starlight and Time demonstrates that we can understand Scripture straightforwardly and explain the astronomical observations, leaving no room for billions of years. It further shows that the Bible contradicts the central assumption of big bang cosmology, the Copernican Principle.3 See our Q&A sections on Astronomy and Genesis.
Starlight and Time did not mention Ross, but he correctly saw it as a threat to his organization, so in 1994 he started the negative publicity campaign I call “Starlight Wars”.
The Journal of Creation debate
The Rossites launched their first attacks in lay publications, such as Ross’s own newsletter4 and a creationist newsletter.5 I published answers to each attack.6,7 Then, in 1997, they switched to a better arena for scientific debates, the peer-reviewed Journal of Creation. It has published both sides of the debate once a year since then. Here is a chronicle of those clashes, which are now available on the internet.8
Another long-ager, Dr Perry G. Phillips who is trained in astrophysics and theology, objected—not specifically to my science, but rather to my theology.9 He claimed that interpreting Scripture straightforwardly would lead us to incorrect scientific conclusions, for example with Joshua’s “long day” (Joshua 10:13). I pointed out10 an ironic flaw in Phillips’s argument. His Ross-style interpretation had caused him to overlook modern science in that very passage (see also Astronomy and Astrophysics Q&A). Finally, Dr Jonathan Sarfati rebutted Phillips’s arguments point by point.11
Two Rossites, Samuel R. Conner and Don N. Page, submitted a long technical-looking critique,12 charging that the cosmology of Starlight and Time “is actually only a trivial variant of the standard big bang model.” Their main argument was that gravitational forces in the big bang model are the same as in my model. They tried to prove that matter evenly dispersed through an infinite space would fall toward a point that, in their drawings, resembles a center. A secondary argument was that, because my choice of time coordinate is not to their taste, my model’s gravitational time dilation does not apply to physical clocks.
To their main argument, I replied that they had overlooked that the big bang model has no center of mass, thus no center of gravity and no gravitational time dilation.13 My model has all three. To underscore the problem with their falling-matter proof, I quoted Nobel Laureate cosmologist Steven Weinberg:
“… if matter were evenly dispersed through an infinite space, there would be no center toward which it could fall.”14
On their secondary argument, I clarified my time coordinate, and I pointed out a simple equation that supports my book’s picture of time dilation in a white-hole cosmos, concluding:
“Therefore, physical clocks at the centre of a white hole must stop … when the event horizon arrives.”15
My reply unveiled a newer type of time dilation, showing that early in the white hole’s expansion, clocks would be completely stopped throughout a shrinking volume of space around the center. I quoted a 1997 paper by respected relativists Charles Hellaby, Ariel Sumeruk and George Ellis supporting such a timeless zone in a white hole.16
Writing without Page, Conner ignored his problems with a center and the quotes by Weinberg and Hellaby, Sumeruk, and Ellis.17 He tried to disprove timeless zones. My rebuttal18 exposed what he ignored, including a comment and footnote in my 1998 paper that derail his attempted proof.19
K.J. Duff, a retired solid-state theorist and long ager, alleged22 I overlooked elementary principles of general relativity theory. I rebutted23 each allegation by quoting statements in textbooks and my papers that Duff had overlooked.
Conner and Page tried to confuse the issue of centers and used circular reasoning to try to disprove the timeless zone, again ignoring the Weinberg and Hellaby-Sumeruk-Ellis quotes.24 My reply clarified what “center” means, exposed their circular reasoning, and again pointed out what they had ignored.25
Next I supported my book’s time dilation by citing a paper by Martin Harwit in the Astrophysical Journal.26 Harwit showed that even using Conner’s preferred time coordinate, real time dilation of physical clocks occurs at an event horizon. That renders irrelevant all the Rossite quibbles about time coordinates.
Help for the confused reader
The Rossites chose tactics that confuse the nonexpert reader, in order to leave him depending on their professed academic authority. Most of their equations only regurgitate standard textbook proofs whose conclusions they could simply have cited. If I had not replied on a technical level, nonexperts might have assumed I was not knowledgeable on the issues. Unfortunately, my technical responses leave the average reader in a quandary about who is correct.
However, my quotes of experts from the secular astrophysics literature may help you. Without intending to, these experts support all my major points. Weinberg shows that the crux of the Conner-Page argument is wrong.14 Hellaby, Sumeruk and Ellis show that a white hole can occur naturally and contain a timeless zone.16 Harwit shows that real time dilation of physical clocks occurs in my type of cosmology.26 The Rossites have steadfastly ignored my challenges to comment on the first two citations (the third being more recent). Their silence seems to endorse Starlight and Time.
- D.R. Humphreys, Starlight and Time, Master Books, Green Forest, Arkansas, 1994. For an excellent summary, see chapter 5 of The Creation Answers Book, D. Batten (ed.), D. Catchpoole, J. Sarfati and C. Wieland, Creation Book Publishers, 2006 [see online chapter, updated 2006—Ed.]. Return to text.
- M. Van Bebber and P.S. Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, Eden Productions, Mesa, Arizona, pp. 25–40, 1994; see online chapters. Return to text.
- Humphreys, Ref. 1, pp. 86–89. Return to text.
- H.N. Ross, Progress towards resolution of the creation-date controversy, Facts and Faith 9(1):12–13, 1995. Return to text.
- S.R. Conner and D.N. Page, Light-travel time in Starlight and Time, Bible-Science News 33(7):12–16, 1995. Return to text.
- D.R. Humphreys, An open letter to Hugh Ross, Bible-Science News 33(4):21–22, 1995. Return to text.
- D.R. Humphreys, How we can see a young universe, Bible-Science News 33(7):12–19, 1995. Return to text.
- Russell Humphreys answers various critics, True Origins website, 2000. The following refererences marked with an asterisk (*) are available there. Return to text.
- * P.G. Phillips, D. Russell Humphreys’ cosmology and the “Timothy Test”, Journal of Creation 11(2):189–194, 1997. Return to text.
- * D.R. Humphreys, Timothy tests theistic evolutionism, Journal of Creation 11(2):199–201, 1997. Return to text.
- * J.D. Sarfati, D. Russell Humphreys’ cosmology and the “Timothy Test”: a reply, Journal of Creation 11(2):195–198, 1997. Return to text.
- * S.R. Conner and D.N. Page, Starlight and Time is the Big Bang, Journal of Creation 12(2):174–194, 1998. Return to text.
- * D. R. Humphreys, New vistas of space-time rebut the critics, Journal of Creation 12(2):195–212, 1998. Return to text.
- S. Weinberg, The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe, 2nd paper edition, Basic Books (Harper-Collins), New York, p. 32, 1993. Return to text.
- * Humphreys, ref. 13, p. 203, third sentence below eq. (20). Return to text.
- C. Hellaby, A. Sumeruk, and G.F.R. Ellis, Classical signature change in the black hole topology, International Journal of Modern Physics D6(2):211–238, (p. 235), 1997. Return to text.
- * S.R. Conner, Vistas—one more, Journal of Creation 13(1):56–58, 1999. Return to text.
- * D.R. Humphreys, Russell Humphreys replies, Journal of Creation 13(1):59–60, 1999. Return to text.
- * Humphreys, ref. 13, p. 208 (last paragraph of section 10) and p. 212 (ref. 63). Return to text.
- * H.N. Ross, Humphreys’ new vistas of space, Journal of Creation 13(1):49–50, 1999. Return to text.
- * D.R. Humphreys, Russell Humphreys replies, Journal of Creation 13(1):50–52, 1999. Return to text.
- * K.J. Duff, More on vistas, Journal of Creation 13(1):53–54, 1999. Return to text.
- * D.R. Humphreys, Russell Humphreys replies, Journal of Creation 13(1):54–55, 1999. Return to text.
- * S.R. Conner and D.N. Page, Starlight—time and again, Journal of Creation 14(2):69–73, 2000. Return to text.
- * D.R Humphreys, Starlight and time: a response, Journal of Creation 14(2):73–76, 2000. Return to text.
- M. Harwit, Time and its evolution in an inhomogeneous universe, Astrophysical Journal 447:482–490, 1995. Not being interested specifically in time at the event horizon, Harwit does not state its behavior explicitly in words. However, his eq. (11) relates (A) the rate of a clock moving with the surface of an expanding (or contracting) dust cloud to (B) the rate of a clock co-moving with the inner surface of an expanding shell of dust much further away. In the equation, when the radius rvi of the first clock becomes equal to the Schwarzschild radius rs, the rate of the first clock becomes zero, as measured by the more distant second clock. This means that time dilation at the event horizon is a slowing of proper time as measured by co-moving physical clocks. It is not merely an alleged “artefact” of using Schwarzschild time. Return to text.
- * E.D. Fackerell and C.B.G. McIntosh, Errors in Humphreys’ cosmological model, Journal of Creation 14(2):77–80, 2000. Return to text.
- * D.R Humphreys, Errors in Humphreys’ cosmological model: Humphreys replies, Journal of Creation 14(2):81, 2000. Return to text.