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Explaining a misunderstanding about a YEC cosmology

Was the fourth day an ‘ordinary’ day?

Published: 8 August 2009 (GMT+10)
Photo by Nathan Smartt Time dilation is a real phenomenon that affects such things as the GPS.  Without correction of the fact that clocks in satellites run faster than on Earth, the calculated position would be in error.
Time dilation is a real phenomenon that affects such things as the GPS. Without correction of the fact that clocks in satellites run faster than on Earth, the calculated position would be in error.

Our June 25 article, New Creation Cosmology, disturbed one reader:

“[Humphreys’ new cosmology] says that early on the fourth day, God’s creation of Sun and planets nearby plunges Earth into a zone of timelessness"?

After all the years of work of publishing fantastic material to GOD’s glory, it’s been shattered by a fanciful and ridiculous proposition—not that I was there at the time of course.

What’s happened to the seven ordinary days now? One of them is not looking so ordinary now.

You’ve taken one giant step in the wrong direction. The sooner you disown this story, the sooner your credibility will be restored. — Chris W., Australia.

Russ Humphreys replies,

Dear Chris,

I’m glad you want to defend the Biblical record of a young universe, created in six days of ordinary length, according to Exodus 20:11 and many other clear passages. I’m sorry you didn’t see that my new cosmology rests comfortably within that constraint. Perhaps you missed one very important phrase in the article’s first paragraph (emphasis added):

“ … all during one ordinary-length day on Earth, the fourth day of creation.”

By “ordinary-length,” I mean that as measured by clocks (and by all physical processes) on Earth, the fourth day was the same length of time as an ordinary day of the week at present. If you had been on the earth during the fourth day, you would have experienced just one day of ordinary duration. You would have experienced only 24 hours worth of thoughts, words, meals, sleepiness, clock ticks, and earth-turning.

According to my new theory (which of course could be wrong), on Earth there was one instant during the fourth day when God created the stars and brought their light here.1 If you had been on the night side of the earth and awake, you would have seen the sky black one instant and filled with stars the next. During that transition, no time would pass on Earth.

I doubt you would have felt the instant of timelessness, even though in that instant billions of years worth of events happened in the distant cosmos—billions of years as measured by distant clocks.2 If you could have seen (you couldn’t) what happened in the far cosmos during that instant, it would have been like seeing a movie in extreme fast forward.3 A billion-year epic in the blink of an eye! Although the fourth day was of ordinary length, it was nonetheless extraordinary in what happened elsewhere in the cosmos!

Perhaps the core of the problem is that you feel the billions of years registered by the distant clocks are the ones that really count. Most people feel that time is something absolute, running continuously and unchangingly at the same rate everywhere. There may be such a time behind the scenes, but that is not the time we experience. The physical time in which we are enmeshed is a created thing, like space, matter, and energy. It had a beginning and will have an end.

We know from experiments that time flows at different speeds in different places. For example, clocks run faster on the tops of mountains than at sea level. The clocks in GPS satellites run faster than clocks on Earth and the calculations of position have to account for this, otherwise the position given will be seriously in error. These are real, measurable effects.

So time dilation is a reality. My new cosmology simply takes advantage of that fact, as do the other three relativistic creation cosmologies as well. God chose that His creation, physical time, would flow at different rates in different places.

It is indeed confusing not to have the same time everywhere. But we do have reason to give preference to Earth clocks. They are the ones that count both personally and biblically. In Genesis chapter 1, God set up a system whereby we could measure time by means of the Earth’s rotation and its orbital motion around the Sun relative to the stars and constellations. And He gave us times according to those clocks. It was in six days E.S.T.—Earth Standard Time—that God made the universe, He said in Exodus 20:11 and elsewhere. So when someone asks you, “How old is the universe?” you should say, “By whose clocks?” By the only ones that matter, the cosmos is 6,000 years young!

You’ve taken one giant step in the wrong direction. The sooner you disown this story, the sooner your credibility will be restored.

Well, I’m not much concerned with my credibility. If credibility, especially in the academic world, motivated me, I should never have become a young-world creationist! I’m more interested in what Christ thinks of me. I hope that, when I see Him, I can be in line, though far behind Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell and Henry Morris, for whatever honors (the “Noble Prizes”?) He may award scientists who are faithful to Him.


Russ Humphreys

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  1. This fits the implication of Genesis 1:15, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and it was so,” namely that the light from the stars (made on the 4th day, Genesis 1:16) arrived on earth before the end of the 4th day. Return to text.
  2. According to this new theory, and my previous one, we are observing the galaxies as they were a relatively short time after their creation, not as they are now, all worn out from billions of years (by their clocks) of aging since then. We observe the past, not the present. This “look-back time” is a feature of all cosmologies in which light travels at a finite speed. Return to text.
  3. As an example of such a fast movie, Luke 4:5 tells how Satan showed Christ all the kingdoms of the world in a moment (lit. “point”) of time. For an example of God performing a mighty physical work in an extremely short time, see 1 Corinthians 15:52, where the Greek word for “moment” is “atom”, literally meaning “an uncuttable thing”. That is, here is a length of time so brief that it cannot be cut any shorter. For physics aficionados, this suggests that time, like matter and light, is quantized. Return to text.

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A reader’s comment
Joe F., United States, 13 October 2011

Thank you, Dr. Humphreys, and CMI for a clear explanation of time, and how it affects our understanding of the distant-starlight “problem”. When we realize that time is relative to where we are, a creation in six, 24-hour days, as it pertains to distant starlight, is easy to understand and explain. The confusion evaporates. Thanks for a job well done.

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