Not many years ago I listened to and accepted words asserting the universe was over 13 billion years old. Words are powerful, but they are not always powerful in a good way. At the point where you think they are offering insight they lead you into delusions coating your eyes with a cultural cataract that blurs your vision.
I no longer see the universe as anywhere near as old as I used to. This essay is my testimony of having been healed from that cultural blindness by going through arguments I now find convincing for a young universe.
By Themselves the Speed of Light and a Distant Galaxy Cannot Tell Us How Old the Universe Is
The constant of relativity known as the speed of light, or c, is not the one-way speed of light, but its average two-way speed. If you measure the speed it takes light to go from a clock to a mirror and back to the clock you will get the two-way speed, c. It is the same in any inertial frame of reference. That average two-way speed is what the constant c measures. That means the one-way speed of light could be anywhere from c/2 to some arbitrarily fast value as long as the speed going in the opposite direction compensates to make the average two-way speed equal c.
Misunderstanding what c measures leads to the distant starlight problem used as an argument against a young universe. It is set up as follows. Find the distance of a galaxy far, far away (say, by using red shifts). If we can see the galaxy (which we obviously can through some telescope since we can measure the red shift), then assert that the universe must be at least as old as it took light to come from that galaxy to us at the two-way speed c. The problem confuses the one-way speed of light coming from that galaxy to us with the two-way speed of light going from us to that galaxy, bouncing and coming back.
The universe does have a specific age as measured from our position on earth and the light coming from that galaxy reaches us with some average speed. We just don’t have enough information to determine what that one-way speed is. Because we cannot determine that one-way speed we cannot tell how old the universe is, at least, not using this method. We need more information not provided by the distant starlight problem.
At the heart of this problem is a view of humanity. An old universe view of us is that we are insignificant beings residing on a blue dot lost somewhere in the universe. This view eagerly stipulates that the one-way speed of light is the same as the two-way speed c. Why? Because using that speed as a convention implies there is nothing special about us. Those claiming that the one-way speed of light reaching the earth is anywhere close to being instantaneous are saying just the opposite.
This issue was my number one problem with accepting a young universe. Once I realized the distant starlight problem was a non-problem the other pieces fell into place.
Brian Koberlein, There’s no way to measure the speed of light in a single direction
Jason Lisle, Anisotropic Synchrony Convention – A Solution to the Distant Starlight Problem
John A. Winnie, Special Relativity without One-Way Velocity Assumptions
Global Catastrophic Flooding
Some people looking at oceans, canyons, high mountains, fossil deposits in vast sedimentation layers extending over continents and glaciers see this as the result of slow processes taking hundreds of millions of years even though it is better explained as the result of a global flooding catastrophe.
One reason to try to avoid such a catastrophe is if it happened there would be no archeological site prior to it to dig through. Any trace of human activity from before the time of the catastrophe would be mixed, scattered and buried somewhere in the fossil record if it had not been completely destroyed. Archeological dating would have to start with the date assigned to the catastrophe.
Think about what this would mean for archeologists today. if the catastrophe actually happened and archeologists refused to accept it, then all of the events they described prior to the catastrophe would have to be labeled modern mythology. The controversies over ape and human bones that Christopher Rupe and John Sanford document suggest to me that much of it already is modern mythology.
Ian Shaw claimed that the Egyptian dynastic chronology begins about five thousand years ago. Let’s assume to establish a temporary anchor point that he was right and Egyptian civilization began five thousand years ago. Let’s also assume that a global catastrophe occurred. The survivors (however they managed to do that) would need a few centuries, perhaps a millennium, to get civilization started again. Then the catastrophe would have occurred somewhere between five and seven thousand years ago. The reason to claim this is if the catastrophe occurred more than, say, ten thousand years ago, I would expect evident markings of human civilization, such as a pyramid or two, from Egyptian civilization to go back at least eight thousand years, but no such markings exist.
The lack of clear markings of human civilization before Shaw’s date suggests a line of argument against those who reject that such a catastrophe happened. If there were no catastrophe and humanity were around for the last 100,000 years, then I would expect to see chronologies of various civilizations with architecture such as pyramids, art on display in museums and literature available on the internet that goes back at least 90,000 years, but nothing like that exists.
From a biblical perspective rather than an Egyptian one if there were a global flood as recorded in Genesis 6-9, then what we see around us makes sense and an assessment of when that occurred could be made using biblical chronology. Once one chooses which textual variants best represent the original autographs there would be enough information to come up with precise dates as anchor points. Henry B. Smith Jr and Steve Rudd both see the flood occurring about 3298 BC (and creation about 5554 BC). This is the oldest date I’ve seen for the global flood. It puts that catastrophe within the five and seven thousand year range that fits Shaw’s estimate of when Egyptian civilization began.
Given the biblical perspective of a global flooding catastrophe what we would expect to see is what we in fact do see: continent-wide sedimentary deposits filled with fossils, tectonic plate movement and uplifted mountains, floodwater flattened planation surfaces etched by deep canyons formed when flood waters flowed into ocean basins and an ice age with glaciers that persist to this day. Without those eight men and women and all kinds of birds and beasts safe on the Ark none of us would be here.
Steve Rudd, Nimrod, 2019
Christopher Rupe and John Sanford, Contested Bones, 2017
Jonathan D. Sarfati, The Genesis Account, 2015
Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, 2000 (page 4)
Henry B. Smith Jr, The Case for the Septuagint Chronology in Genesis 5 and 11, 2018
Decay Rates Falsify Deep Time
If one is given a theory that something is very old, one way to test that theory would be to look for processes with measurable rates of decay that might falsify the theory. As it turns out such falsifying decay rates for deep time theories can be found.
Within 50 million years the landforms we see around us should all be eroded down to sea level. That’s the decay rate. However, theories based on radiometric and fossil dating claim there are currently landforms over 500 million years old. If the modern erosion rate is correct those supposedly old landforms would no longer be here.
Theory claims that mutations are the mechanism by which natural selection turns pond scum into human beings. However, mutations are generally deleterious. Our bodies do not always repair them. They are passed to the next generation. All that leads to mutational meltdown. When that occurs the species goes extinct because it is no longer able to reproduce. John Sanford called this genetic entropy. Going backwards Nathaniel Jeanson and Ashley Holland report on pedigree-based mutation rates showing that they are able to trace humanity back only thousands of years.
Dinosaur Soft Tissue
Collagen from a dinosaur would completely decay away within 3 million years even if optimally stored. According to theory dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago and yet some of their fossils contain original soft tissue. The conclusion should be obvious. The remains of these dinosaurs were laid down recently.
Carbon-14 Where There Shouldn’t Be Any
Carbon-14 has a half life of 5730 years. After a million years it should all be gone. However, fossils and even diamonds dating over 100 million years contain carbon-14. After a certain point does carbon-14 cease to be a reliable clock or is it that these fossils and diamonds are nowhere near as old as theory claims them to be?
The earth’s magnetic field is decaying at the rate of 5% per century. Extrapolating the rate backwards the earth would have melted from the strength of the electric current as recently as 10,000 years ago. Regardless what any theory says about the age of the earth, given this rate of magnetic field decay the earth is younger than 10,000 years.
For those accustomed to think in terms of billions of years God’s universe as I have portrayed it is shockingly young. However, there may be a hidden blessing awaiting those who finally see what is going on. The shock and bounce back could lead to a deeper appreciation of the glory of God.