What is the problem with starlight in transit?
William M., United States, asks:
I had a question regarding the article How can distant starlight reach us in just 6,000 years?. My basic question is: Why does it seem inconsistent with God’s nature to create the light from a supernova that never existed? It seem the Bible has the same “problem” when it speaks of Christ creating wine from grapes that never existed. Or bread from wheat that never existed, or fish too for that matter. I just wondered if anyone from your organization had ever been asked this question? Has it ever been asked? (I did try to find it) Do you have a response? Blessings to you and thanks in advance.
Thanks for this very interesting question. The fundamental reason why God would not have created light in transit is that it implies a history that never existed. If we look at Star X’s light, we can tell how much hydrogen, helium, etc. is in the star. If we see its supernova, that’s an implied historical event. But if Star X never existed, and God simply created light in transit, that would mean that we could do scientific testing on a star that never actually existed.
To see how this differs from the creative miracles of Christ (and even events such as the virginal conception and Resurrection of Christ), we have to look at this idea of implied history. On Day 6, Adam was created as a fully-grown human man. If you or I were to go back in a time machine and see Adam, we might think he looked like a 20-something year old man, when in fact he was only hours old. Is this the same sort of implied history? Actually, it’s simply created maturity; when God created the universe, He did so in such a way that it could function with ecosystems, etc. See God created with functional maturity, not ‘appearance of age’ for more information. But if, for instance, Adam had been programmed with memories of a childhood that never happened, and had scars from knee scrapes that never happened, that would be the sort of unacceptable implied history that we’re talking about.
So what about the miracles of Jesus? There are a couple obvious differences. First, the miracles were on a much smaller scale, and there were witnesses who knew them to be miracles. No woman at the feeding of the 5,000 would have been asking for the recipe for the multiplying loaves, for instance. And the miracles were intended as signs. I.e. the miracles were clearly extraordinary events intended to require a response of either belief or unbelief.
We know that God is always at work providentially upholding the universe; if He weren’t we would all cease to exist. But because of His own nature, He does so in ways that are usually able to be described as physical laws—the speed of light is the same today as it was yesterday, and God isn’t going to speed it up tomorrow just for laughs. But He reserves the right to intervene in what we consider to be ‘the natural order’ at whatever scale He desires.
I hope this helps.