Monday, November 12, 2018

Anonymous Asks (13)

“If the stars are so far away and it would take millions of light years for them to be seen from earth, why do we see stars?”

Ah yes, the perplexing problem that the appearance of age raises for creationists.

The standard difficulty is not about whether it would have been possible for God to cause starlight to provoke its usual reaction from Adam’s retinas in a nanosecond rather than taking light years to travel to earth from the moment the stars were created. Obviously someone powerful enough to speak the universe into being could make both light and human nerve endings dance to any tune he pleased.

No, the standard complaint is moral rather than practical; something like “Wouldn’t it be a bit deceptive of God to bend what we perceive to be the established rules of science?”


The Belly Button Conundrum

I suppose I should develop that a bit. The creation account in Genesis seems like it has both Adam and Eve appear on the scene as fully mature adults. I don’t know if they had belly buttons, but if they did, these would have presented a similar intellectual difficulty for some. I expect they did not.

If we find the idea of fully-formed adults unreasonable, picture the additional complexities if God had made both Adam and Eve as newborns. God would have had to raise Adam to adulthood, since even in Eden a baby could not find food for himself, and Adam (presumably) would have had to raise Eve. And even that, some might complain, would have been a bit of a cheat, because neither had really been “born” in the sense the rest of us experience. To allow for that would have required a mother, which would mean creating someone whose existence would give rise to all the same intellectual difficulties attendant to creating Adam or Eve, and so on ad infinitum.

Uniformitarianism and Occasional Intervention

At some point we have to concede that in order to start the ball rolling God had to do SOMETHING in a manner he does not ordinarily do it today, and in fact Genesis 1 and 2 are full of such one-time events. Animals present the same birth problem Adam and Eve do, and plant life would not be much use to either humans or animals if it was all in the form of seeds and seedlings. It certainly would not produce oxygen the way it does for us today, and you couldn’t eat fruit if there were no trees yet. For all the various moving parts of the creation “machine” to operate correctly, pretty much everything would need to have been created in its mature form. If we accept that for just this one special situation God bypassed years of the normal human, animal and plant maturation process, then we can surely accept that he could easily bypass the normal process by which light reaches us.

Further, if we are going to reject or contest anything that doesn’t conform to a uniformitarian view of the universe, we’re also going to have to reject the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the turning of water into wine, and so on. Anyone who accepts a Christian worldview accepts with it God’s occasional intervention into the ordinary processes we observe around us every day.

Appearance of Age

Like it or lump it, the appearance of age is kind of baked into the creation cake, so to speak.

For those who don’t like it, there are plenty of belief options out there.


  1. Here is the problem with this whole thing. (BTW, is this a pseudo Ananimous writing in to get a discussion started or a real one :-?). The main thing that has to be realized is that God, being God, is clearly also aware of this and all similar discussions and obviously has decided to leave everyone in a lurche about topics and ideas like that. The real question for us as individuals is therefore, what was his intention for handling it that way and what are his expectations from us on how it is best handled? Any thoughts on that?

    My answer would be that he certainly built into human development this awakening and coming to awareness process of what physical reality is really like. I also have the slight suspicion that he wanted to make that process as interesting and intellectually challenging for his creation as possible (he does not want us to be bored but rather be in awe, I suspect. I.e., he is a master psychologist interested in all developmental aspects and growth of his creation that he stuck into a material universe). Therefore, it can obviously be perfectly OK to have a creationist or an evolutionary type of universe (both actually being creationist) and for us to slowly discover what is really going on. This also means that the intertwined spiritual component of reality is also being discovered alongside the material one whether or not some people will admit to such a possibility.

  2. These are real questions passed on to me from someone who worked with teenagers at youth camps this summer.