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Essay:Victorious Biblical Astronomy Part 3
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Why should a Christian examine the first principle?
- Because Peter’s prophesy has come true. The idea that “all things continue the same in being” is now the most basic assumption in scientific reasoning. II Peter3:3 - 6
- Because we should interpret the Bible as it would have been understood when it was written, in the language and culture of the writer. When we interpret the Bible with science, we tailor our interpretation to fit our culture. May I suggest that this is the reason we struggle with the billions of years that separate the universe’s scientific age and a biblical chronology.
- The distant stars are the only place we can actually see the past. The long-ago star paths are evidence for a literal biblical chronology - vast ages in few years.
Probably the most unique feature of Western civilization is its concept of unchanging time. During the Old Testament era the common belief was that the earliest generations lived long, slow lives. Hesiod, one of the first Greek poets, wrote that an infant in the early generations played at his mother’s knee until he was a hundred years old. He clearly believed that the rate and quality of life worsened with each generation. He expected this degeneration to continue until future children would be born with grey temples. Biblical genealogies show that the earliest patriarchs lived for the better part of a thousand years. The Bible also records the age when the heir was born. It shows that succeeding generations sired children at an earlier age. The Bible also seems to agree with the contemporary understanding that the earliest ages were long. For example, “the mystery of the gospel was hidden for long ages (aionos)” Romans 16:25. By contrast, in the present age our “time is short (kairos sustello)” a limited period of time that is contracted, drawn together, shortened, abridged. I Corinthians 7:29
Isaiah mentions the owlam, the ancient days, the generations of long ago. Isaiah 51:9 With respect to the past, owlam meant long duration, ancient, old. Yet if we count the biblical genealogies, Isaiah lived less than 3,500 years after creation. The writer of Hebrews says Christ came at the end of the ages, the eons, Hebrews 9:26 even though less than a hundred generations separated Adam from Jesus. Peter said that the stars are of old, of a long time, even though they were formed during the fourth creation day - about 4,000 ago before he wrote these words. II Peter 3:5
Our shared time-concepts profoundly affect our world-view. Yet in the Old Testament era our time-ideas had not yet been invented. The rules of hermeneutics demand that we interpret the Bible using the culture and language when it was written. What evidence is there that our time-ideas are false? We can see the past in the distant heavens and galactic orbits continually spiral out. This is so obvious that evolutionary scientists invent invisible matter and place it in a halo around every galaxy to explain why the stars are accelerating. If all orbits continually change, how can years have a fixed nature? In the Hebrew language, Isaiah says God continually brings out and calls out the stars. We can confirm a literal reading of this text because we can compare the earliest galaxies with closer ones. We see stars continually spreading out from the dense core of ancient galaxies. Isaiah 40:25-26
Here are some objections we might have to a “vast ages in few years” biblical interpretation.
A. But we measure uniform time and changeless atoms. No we do not! The founders of the Western system defined time with Aristotle’s assumption that matter does not change. Then they circled back to define the system of measurement using the same assumption. No clock can compare a past second with a present one. Even if durations were continually changing, we would still count 9,192,631,770 oscillations of cesium as a second. Yet all ancient atoms clocked much lower frequencies than local matter.
Today we use atomic clocks to define the length of a meter and most other scientific units. If matter is changing, most of our units of measurement would change with it. In a universe were matter continually changes, an experimental system could not detect this in a laboratory. Fundamental change cannot even be modeled with mathematics. One cannot measure changelessness without assuming that matter does not normally change. If matter were continually changing, local clocks and local orbits could change together, concurrently. If all matter changes, both sides of a scale would change equally and it would remain in balance. Aristotle’s assumption that matter does not normally change must be valid in order for a system of scientific measurement to decode earth-history.
Yet we can see with our eyes the simple evidence that all matter continually changes. The farthest galaxies in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field are dwarfs whose light shone in the infrared. Some primordial galaxies are lined up in equally-spaced chains. Ancient galaxies sometimes are seen shooting out condensed clusters of stars to form the spiral arms we see in closer galaxies. Primordial galaxies clearly did not have the shape, motion, light frequencies or the extension of local galaxies. In closer galaxies we see that the stars have moved out and rotated around to form diffuse structures. Nine times the Hebrew text says that God continually spreads out the heavens. It is beyond dispute that galaxies cannot radically change their shape in 6,000 current years.
B. But our constants remain unchanged! Every equilibrium has “equilibrium constants.” You can visibly see salts precipitating in chemical equilibria, even while the constants remain unchanged. Why? Because the constants embrace the whole dynamic relationship, billions of reactions dithering back and forth continuously. How can we tell that change is ongoing since the equilibrium constants do not change? We can see it with our eyes. We can see relational change: springs stretching and precipitates precipitating in mechanical and chemical equilibria.
Atoms are a complex relationship with light. They are full of activity, a continuous dithering of electrons and light that gives matter its shape. Like equilibria, atoms also have constants. How were these constants “discovered?” Our ancestors (a.) began with the assumption that the properties of matter do not change; (b.) defined scientific versions of matter and time using this assumption; (c.) defined our units of measurement using this assumption; (d.) and calculated laws and constants using the same assumption. We can see with our eyes that all matter in the distance was different from local matter. Yet scientists measure constants, even in the distant universe. Why? The constants are artifacts of our assumption. We an see ancient matter as it looked and acted long ago. We can see that continuous changes have been on-going in all directions and at all ranges in the universe. The constants of physics are really evidence for relational change, not changelessness. Like in equilibria, what you see indicates that matter is a shifting relationship. The structure and characteristics of matter changes-together.
C. We measure the age of rocks with radiography. The measurements agree with the billions of years from astronomy. For example, the intensity of the light from substances formed in the SN1987a supernova fell off at the same rate as these substances do today. Is it significant that the Magellanic Clouds, where this supernova exploded, are linked to the Milky Way by a long stream of hydrogen gas? These neighboring galaxies must have been ejected since creation. We can see in the distant primordial galaxies the same thing, dense clumps of stars shooting out, spreading out into the surrounding empty space. Weren’t the same constellations mentioned in the earliest astronomical literature? If the inertial properties of matter continually change, local stars would move out together with the earth. What we see in the distance is what God says He is doing, continuously stretching out the heavens by Himself. Isaiah 44:24 We cannot decode the age of long ago rocks or distant astronomical phenomena because all orbits are visibly changing. All we have is the count of variable years handed down to us in the Biblical genealogies.
In Hebrew Jacob said “days and years” shorten and worsen for following generations. Genesis 47:9. In Jacob’s era, the length and quality of life was thought to deteriorate from one generation to the next. The reader may think, that’s nonsense. But wait! Jacob drove suckling lambs more than 300 miles from the Euphrates to the mountains of Gilead in ten days. A century and a half ago, cowboys in America only drove full grown cattle about 10 miles a day. The histories of Alexander and Xenophon show that they could march much further in a day than later armies.
Do days and years shorten, as Jacob seemed to think? Job mentioned what it was like getting old in the age of dinosaurs. He says in Hebrew, shanah paniym. The verb shanah is in a form that shows an intensive change. The word is sometimes translated double or disguise. The word paniym means face. Job says faces change intensely or double as men age. Job 14:10-20. He compares getting old with geological events: the sea drying and the mountains wearing down. Drill cores show that the Mediterranean dried up and refilled, apparently after the flood. We measure these events as having happened millions of years ago, but Job is talking about a single lifetime. Our brows thicken gradually as we age. If we lived for geological ages, our facial bones would grow thick with age. Adult Neanderthals had thick brows, but the children’s skulls looked like ours.
A year is not a mathematical calculation or the dithering of atoms. A year is cyclical, one rotation around the sun. Genesis 1:14-18 The ancients believed that ancient years were long. The Bible seems to agree. We can see in the distance that the earliest galactic orbits were radically different from our clock-like idea about orbits.
D. If earth’s orbit changed, we would either fry or freeze. If matter continually changes, the sun would also change. We can see that the light from primordial stars was warm, low-frequency light. The ancient astronomers measured a smaller solar system and even larger planet diameters with angles. Angles are ancient ways of measuring that do not rely on the assumption that matter has changeless properties. I will examine the evidence from archaeoastronomy in section five of this series.
Peter said the first thing to know is the arché, the first principle, of the last day mockers. A first principle is not a theory. The first principle Peter predicted is the basis of scientific reasoning. Can God really make a universe in which man by his wisdom cannot find Him? I Corinthians 1:20-21 Think about it.
- Essay:Victorious Biblical Astronomy Part 1
- Essay:Victorious Biblical Astronomy Part 2
- Essay:Victorious Biblical Astronomy Part 3
- Essay:Victorious Biblical Astronomy Part 4
- Essay:Victorious Biblical Astronomy Part 5
- Essay:Victorious Biblical Astronomy Part 6
- Essay:Victorious Biblical Astronomy Part 7