Is the Universe billions of years old?
Modern cosmology explains the universe is 13.7 billion years old, starting from the Big Bang. Following a period of “Inflation” where the size of the universe expanded exponentially (it grew by a factor of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times) in a tiny fraction of a second, the universe has been expanding ever since. The Big Bang theory is a consequence of science’s attempts to explain observable phenomena in the universe (i.e., what we see in telescopes) within the known laws of physics, and absent the presence of any Creator. The theory actually does provide possible explanations for the history of the universe, although it makes no attempt to explain the origins of the universe. What came before the Big Bang? What caused it to happen? There are no secular theories that provide any answers to these questions any better than any other mythology.
The Bible taken literally tells a different story, and results in a timescale on Earth of only 6,000 years. This number can be derived by using the genealogical and generational data provided in Genesis to date events prior to the Flood, and then combining these dates with known archeological evidence discovered after the Flood. Based on archeological and literary evidence (not based on carbon dating) we can calculate 6,000 years of human history. It should be noted that carbon dating disagrees with this timescale.
So what should we believe? Has the Earth been around for billions of years, or 6,000 years? There is scientific evidence that can be considered to help answer the question. I am not interested in using science to prove the Bible is correct! I operate from a fundamental belief that the Bible IS correct, and that science must agree with it. Remember this very important track record: human understanding about science has changed countless time over the millennia as new discoveries alter our understanding of older theories and cause us to rewrite the science books. The Bible has not changed at all.
Recession of the Moon
As the Moon orbits the Earth, the Moon’s gravity pulls on the Earth’s oceans, resulting in the tides (there are also tides in the Earth’s crust, but they are so small only sensitive instruments can measure them). The Earth, of course, is exerting its gravitational pull on the Moon at the same time. The interesting thing is that the tidal bulge formed in the ocean also pulls gravitationally on the Moon in such a way that it pulls the Moon forward a little bit every day. This tiny movement adds up! In a single year, the Moon moves 1.5 inches away from the Earth. The Moon is slowly spiraling away from the Earth! An inch and a half does not sound like much, but it adds up over time! 6,000 years ago, the moon would have been 800 feet closer to the Earth. No big deal. But secular science says their evidence shows that the Moon was formed 4 billion years ago. The problem is, at the rate the Moon is spiraling away from the Earth, 1.4 billion years ago the Moon would have had to be touching the Earth. In order to make the billions-of-years-old models work, secular science needs to add assumptions to their models of the Earth-Moon system to explain how the Moon receded at smaller rates in the past. But the models offer no proof,
Earth’s Magnetic Field
Measurements taken since 1829 show that the Earth’s magnetic field has been decreasing in intensity by an average of 7% per year. This decrease in strength is actually explainable by a theory which is based on the electrical properties of the materials expected to be found at the Earth’s core. Secular theories attempt to describe models that explain how the magnetic field fluctuates (and reverses) over billions of years. The secular theories are challenged by the geological record which shows wild and unpredictable (not good for models) fluctuations 3,000 years before Christ. At about the time of Christ, the geological record of the Earth’s magnetic field show strength about 50% higher than today’s field, followed by a gradual but steady decrease. The only working theory today to account for the origin, fluctuations, rapid reversals, and decay of the magnetic field is a creationist theory, and this theory is the only one that fits all the data. In summary: the best theory and data available today point to a magnetic field which must be less than 100,000 years old, and is very likely less than 10,000 years old.
Rotation of Galaxies
All galaxies rotate slowly. Our own Milky Way galaxy rotates at a speed that would take it over 250,000,000 years to complete one rotation. The Milky Way is also a spiral-shaped galaxy, one of many observable spirals. All of the stars, gas, and dust in a spiral galaxy are in orbit around a common center point, held in orbits by gravity. When an object is in orbit around a massive object, the speed of the orbiting body decreases with distance from the massive object. This means that stars in a spiral galaxy would orbit faster the closer they are to the center of the galaxy. Over time, this should result in a spiral galaxy becoming twisted up, until after a few complete revolutions, the spiral structure would no longer be recognizable. Yet we have literally millions of telescopic observations of spiral galaxies, all considered to be billions of years old. They should not be spiral-shaped any more. Secular science is aware of this problem and has created an explanation called “dark matter” to fix the problem. Dark matter is supposed to comprise the majority of the mass of a galaxy, and solves the orbital velocity problem, because the majority of the mass of the galaxy would extend far outside its visible structure. Except for the fact that dark matter has not been actually discovered, it is an explanation that might possibly work! Perhaps an alternate explanation is that galaxies are not as old as the Big Bang theorists think they are.
Comets are icy, dirty snowballs that orbit the sun in very elliptical paths that have them spending most of their time far away from the sun and occasionally close to the sun. When they are near the sun (within the orbit of Mars) the solar wind literally evaporates the comet material and drives the gases away from the comet in the direction of the solar wind. We see this as the comet’s tail. Comets have limited life spans, as every close encounter with the sun results in mass being lost. Theory indicates that the maximum age of a comet cannot be more than 100,000 years. If this is true, then it is a valid question to wonder why we still see comets if the solar system is 4 billion years old? Science tries to explain this by theorizing that there is a cloud of comets outside the solar system (the “Oort Cloud”) from which comets occasionally fall in to the inner solar system. There is currently no direct evidence of an Oort Cloud.
Extra Solar Planets
In recent years, astronomers have been able to discover thousands of new planets in orbit around nearby stars. We still do not have the technology to “see” these planets directly, but astronomers can detect their presence by how these planets make their stars wobble as each planet’s gravity tugs on its primary star. The sizes, distances from their primary and properties of these extra solar planets have caused scientists to completely discard their theories about the formation of our own solar system. The models used to explain our own sun and eight planets (plus Pluto) cannot explain what astronomers are observing in other solar systems: the models do not work! Secular science is starting over on this one…
Maybe the Universe is Really That Old
There is a theory that tries to explain a young Earth in the midst of an old universe. Dr. Russell Humphreys of the Institute for Creation Research has developed a complete creationist cosmology which attempts to reconcile the Biblical teaching of a recent creation with the apparent age of the universe. After all, we know what the speed of light is (we can accurately measure it) and we can use solid and repeatable astronomy experiments to observe distant galaxies and estimate their distances. If light left a source 10,000,000,000 years ago, then we can only conclude that today that source is 10 billion years old. We can attempt to create un-testable and un-provable models to explain the discrepancy between what we see and what we believe (such as the idea that in the past the speed of light was much faster than it is today). But if we do this, we are being no different that the secular scientists who create Oort Clouds and Moon orbiting models that have no experimental evidence in order to explain away our problem with observations. In neither case can it be called science! If that is the case, why bother. Just rest on faith in Scripture and be done with it!
But just for the fun of it (not because he needed to convince himself that the Bible is true), Dr. Humphreys developed a complete theory that explains that since the speed of light cannot be changed without completely re-writing the fundamental laws of physics, the only thing left to change is time. And guess what? Einstein’s theory of relativity proved that time is not constant: time is distorted by both velocity and gravity. This effect on time has been measured experimentally any times. If an object could travel at the speed of light, the effect on time for that object would be for time to stop. Likewise, in the presence of a gravity well so strong that even light cannot escape (the event horizon of a black hole), time literally stands still.
Dr. Humphrey’s theory is that if the universe has a boundary, and if the Earth were near the center of the universe, then there is net gravitational direction towards the center. This means that clocks on Earth would run slower than clocks at the edge. To say that God created the universe in six days would only make sense if we define which clock we are referring to. Put another way, six days on Earth (in the center of gravity well) happens a lot slower relative to a clock running at the edge.
Humphrey’s theory also describes an expanding universe, which is supported by many phrases in the Bible that speak of the heavens being “stretched out” by God. The implication of an expanding universe is the same for Humphrey as it is for Big Bang theorists: it means that at some time in the past the universe was much smaller. Using Einstein’s equations of General Relativity (GR), Humphrey showed that if the universe was 50 times smaller that the size we observe today, then it would have had to have expanded from the initial state and that the initial state was surrounded by an event horizon. What did we say a few paragraphs ago about time at an event horizon? It stands still! Continuing his use of the GR equations, Humphrey proposed that this initial state of the universe was a white hole (the reverse of a black hole which sucks in matter. A white hole passes matter and energy out). As matter passes out of the white hole, its event horizon shrinks. During the initial state and the beginning of the universe’s expansion, time inside the white hole’s event horizon stands still, while time outside proceeds. This would not feel like anything inside the event horizon, but in the meantime, billions of years are passing outside. Eventually, the event horizon shrinks to a size smaller than the Earth, bringing the Earth into the same time frame as the rest of the universe. The result is that while less than an ordinary day passes on Earth, billions of years occur in the universe – enough time for stars and galaxies to be form, and light to travel billions of light years to reach the Earth from the distant edge of the universe.
Humphrey’s theory has so far stood up to challenges from both creationists as well as Big Bang theorists, because it is based on accepted and tested laws of physics. It has explanations for all the major cosmological observations that astronomers have, and it does it without compromising the Biblical account for creation.
Is it the correct theory? God only knows! Always be careful of Man’s theories about God’s works. After all, God Himself says “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 NIV