Starlight Wars: Starlight and Time Withstands Attacks
Jan 1, 1999
D. Russell Humphreys, Ph.D. Physics
*Additional resources are available at the bottom of this article.
Six years ago, a small group of opponents of the traditional historical view of Genesis (i.e. that it means what it says!) declared a ‘holy war’ on Starlight and Time, my book about a creationist cosmology (see below, right).1 Their leader is Hugh Norman Ross, whose apologetics organization ‘Reasons to Believe’ markets a theology heavily based on the Big Bang theory (as well as geological uniformitarianism).
The saga begins with Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which is well supported by experiment. Dr Ross assumes that general relativity can lead to only one cosmology, the Big Bang theory and its billions of years. But my book offers a counter-example — a relativistic cosmology that fits into the Biblical timescale of thousands of years.
Believing that secular academia cannot be so wrong, Ross thinks the Biblical account of creation must be ‘re-interpreted’ to accommodate a Big Bang. He claims the days of creation should be understood as long ages of time.2 In contrast, Starlight and Time demonstrates that we can understand Scripture straightforwardly and explain the astronomical observations, leaving no room for billions of years. It further shows that the Bible contradicts the central assumption of Big Bang cosmology, the Copernican Principle.3 See the Answers in Genesis Q&Amp;A sections on Astronomy and Genesis.
Starlight and Time did not mention Ross, but he correctly saw it as a threat to his organization, so in 1994 he started the negative publicity campaign I call ‘Starlight Wars’.
The Tech Journal debate
The Rossites launched their first attacks in lay publications, such as Ross’s own newsletter4 and a creationist newsletter.5 I published answers to each attack.6,7 Then, in 1997, they switched to a better arena for scientific debates, the peer-reviewed Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal. It has published both sides of the debate once a year since then. Here is a chronicle of those clashes. There is a brief summary for each debate with the entirety available in pdf format.8
Another long-ager, Dr Perry G. Phillips who is trained in astrophysics and theology, objected — not specifically to my science, but rather to my theology.9 He claimed that interpreting Scripture straightforwardly would lead us to incorrect scientific conclusions, for example with Joshua’s ‘long day’ (Joshua 10:13).
I pointed out10 an ironic flaw in Phillips’s argument. His Ross-style interpretation had caused him to overlook modern science in that very passage (see also Q&A: Galileo, Geocentricism, and Joshua's Long Day).
Finally, Dr Jonathan Sarfati rebutted Phillips’s arguments point by point.11
Two Rossites, Samuel R. Conner and Don N. Page, submitted a long technical-looking critique,12 charging that the cosmology of Starlight and Time ‘is actually only a trivial variant of the standard Big Bang model.’ Their main argument was that gravitational forces in the Big Bang model are the same as in my model. They tried to prove that matter evenly dispersed through an infinite space would fall toward a point that, in their drawings, resembles a center. A secondary argument was that, because my choice of time coordinate is not to their taste, my model’s gravitational time dilation does not apply to physical clocks.
To their main argument, I replied that they had overlooked that the Big Bang model has no center of mass, thus no center of gravity and no gravitational time dilation.13 My model has all three. To underscore the problem with their falling-matter proof, I quoted Nobel Laureate cosmologist Steven Weinberg:
‘… if matter were evenly dispersed through an infinite space, there would be no center toward which it could fall.’14
On their secondary argument, I clarified my time coordinate, and I pointed out a simple equation that supports my book’s picture of time dilation in a white-hole cosmos, concluding:
‘Therefore, physical clocks at the centre of a white hole must stop … when the event horizon arrives.’15
My reply unveiled a newer type of time dilation, showing that early in the white hole’s expansion, clocks would be completely stopped throughout a shrinking volume of space around the center. I quoted a 1997 paper by respected relativists Charles Hellaby, Ariel Sumeruk and George Ellis supporting such a timeless zone in a white hole.16
Writing without Page, Conner ignored his problems with a center and the quotes by Weinberg and Hellaby, Sumeruk, and Ellis.17
He tried to disprove timeless zones. My rebuttal18 exposed what he ignored, including a comment and footnote in my 1998 paper that derail his attempted proof.19
Hugh Ross entered the fray personally,20 attacking not my science, but my character. While he failed to cite documents and dates, my reply21 did so, refuting all his charges.
K.J. Duff, a retired solid-state theorist and long ager, alleged22 I overlooked elementary principles of general relativity theory. I rebutted23 each allegation by quoting statements in textbooks and my papers that Duff had overlooked.
Conner and Page tried to confuse the issue of centers and used circular reasoning to try to disprove the timeless zone, again ignoring the Weinberg and Hellaby-Sumeruk-Ellis quotes.24 My reply clarified what ‘center’ means, exposed their circular reasoning, and again pointed out what they had ignored.25
Next I supported my book’s time dilation by citing a paper by Martin Harwit in the Astrophysical Journal.26 Harwit showed that even using Conner’s preferred time coordinate, real time dilation of physical clocks occurs at an event horizon. That renders irrelevant all the Rossite quibbles about time coordinates.
Long-agers E.D. Fackerell and C.B.G. McIntosh, two of the reviewers of the 1998 exchange, added nothing new.27 My rejoinder exhorted them to catch up with the controversy.28
Help for the confused reader
The Rossites chose tactics that confuse the non-expert reader, in order to leave him depending on their professed academic authority. Most of their equations only regurgitate standard textbook proofs whose conclusions they could simply have cited. If I had not replied on a technical level, non-experts might have assumed I was not knowledgeable on the issues. Unfortunately, my technical responses leave the average reader in a quandary about who is correct.
However, my quotes of experts from the secular astrophysics literature may help you. Without intending to, these experts support all my major points. Weinberg shows that the crux of the Conner-Page argument is wrong.14 Hellaby, Sumeruk and Ellis show that a white hole can occur naturally and contain a timeless zone.16 Harwit shows that real time dilation of physical clocks occurs in my type of cosmology.26 The Rossites have steadfastly ignored my challenges to comment on the first two citations (the third being more recent). Their silence seems to endorse Starlight and Time.