Did God Create the Universe with the False Appearance of Age?

by on

Did God create light from distant stars “in transit” to earth? Dr. Jason Lisle examines this argument from a biblical perspective.

Your Answers article on distant starlight and the long time it would take to reach Earth seems to be seeking an explanation that is unnecessarily complex. You state that it’s unreasonable to simply say that God created starlight “already on its way” to Earth, because (you said) that would imply we were observing events (i.e. stars exploding) that had never actually occurred. But such an explanation doesn’t seem unreasonable, especially considering the other supernatural events of creation. Adam opened his eyes to see trees around him that had never sprouted from seeds, adult animals that had never been juveniles, fertile soil that had not been produced by decaying compost, etc. For 900 more years, Adam himself would be appear to be a regular man, born of a mother and father — something that also had never happened. Why must AIG assume that it is too simplistic and unreasonable to assume that the light from certain stars also had a supernatural origin?
D.W., North Carolina

I knew it!

Thank you very much for your recent Billions of People in Thousands of Years? article. As an engineer, that is a calculation I’ve always wanted to make, but I never took the time to investigate the effects of normal fluctuations such as disease, famine, [conflagration] on an exponential curve generation that would be necessary to accurately do such a permutation.

I often thought that if anyone were to sit down and simply do the mathematics [thoroughly] and accurately, we would be able to see where millions, or even hundreds of thousands, of years would place us in terms of global populous versus just a scant few thousand years. This [question] has burned within me for a couple of decades now, but thankfully has finally been [answered] by you. I knew it. I KNEW IT! I knew, scientifically, that it could be logically shown through the current number of people inhabiting this planet how far back we could trace our true origin using exponential decay mathematics taught to everyone in college.

—R.B., Waco, Texas

A New Way

Thank you for the new Answers Research Journal Website! Although I'm only a lay person with an [interest] in science (undergrad physiology major who chose to be a stay-at-home, home schooling mom over grad school), I appreciate having a more in-depth window into the world of science. And better still is knowing there is a place for PhD scientists to publish when the larger scientific community is so closed to creationists. As for the Jan. 11 feedback, I couldn't disagree with the author more. We find your website very easy to use and have always found excellent answers to our scientific questions. And with your continual improvements, it just gets better and better. Mr. UpChurch's answer was excellent; science is wonderful but it can't save anyone.

—J.N., Roseville, MI

Have Something to Add?

Let us know what you think.

Thank you for contacting Answers in Genesis. I appreciate your comments, and let me first state that we agree in general that God made the universe mature. By this, we mean that the universe was fully functional from the first week and did not take a long time to come to this state. Furthermore, we agree that many things were created as “adults”—not only Adam and Eve, but the various living creatures and plants as well. The first animals did not come from juveniles, nor the first plants from seeds, as you correctly pointed out.

But then again, Adam would have had no reason to assume otherwise. Adam (on his first day) had never seen a juvenile grow to an adult, nor had he seen a seed become a tree, even though he would later learn (through experience) that such things are possible. So, it’s not deceptive at all on God’s part to make adult animals and tall trees, etc., even though today He uses different means to bring about new plants and creatures. But creating light beams of stars that never existed seems to be in a different category. We must carefully consider the serious biblical and philosophical implications of believing that God created the light from stars “already en route.”

Would it be reasonable for God to create movies in space of things that never happened? If He did, then the entire universe (as we see it) beyond 6,000 light-years is merely an illusion created by God. Any events we see beyond 6,000 light-years never happened, even though we see them! If God creates movies of things that never happened, then it follows that we cannot trust our senses. (As one example, we should not believe that supernova 1987A ever actually happened, even though we have pictures of it! Nor should we believe, in fact, the star that exploded ever actually existed in the first place! God merely created an image of it, if the light was created on its way to earth.)

But if God has created illusions beyond 6,000 light-years, why should He not also create illusions nearby? Is the computer on which I’m typing real, or merely an illusion from God that fools my sense of sight and touch? If we’re willing to grant that our senses are not reliable at distances beyond 6,000 light-years, then how can we be sure they are reliable at lesser distances? In fact, to be consistent, we could not even believe that the words you are now reading actually exist! This may sound silly, but I cannot think of any rational reason to trust our senses if we grant that God would fool our senses by making fictitious “movies.”

But when we consider passages such as James 1:13 and 1 Corinthians 14:33, it becomes clear that God does not intentionally deceive us or tempt us by planting evidence; so, it seems inconsistent with God’s nature to make false images of things that do not exist. Biblically, we can assume that our senses are basically reliable, even though we sometimes misunderstand what we observe. Therefore, events that we see happening beyond 6,000 light-years really have happened; it’s just a question of how long ago.

We should also consider this: If God created the light en route, then it does not really come from the stars, does it? Genesis tells us that God made the lights in the sky “to give light upon the Earth” (Genesis 1:15). But if the light beams between these stars and earth were simply supernaturally placed there by God, then the stars (beyond 6,000 light-years) do not really give light upon the earth. That is, light that they have actually produced has not yet reached earth (assuming the standard secular assumptions for the sake of argument). So, it seems more reasonable that stars really have produced light that has reached earth in fewer than 6,000 years.

Regardless of whether you agree with our position, hopefully this has given you some things to consider. I also hope it is now clear why the light-en-route idea is not embraced by most creation astronomers.

I hope this helps.

God bless,

Jason Lisle, PhD


Get the latest answers emailed to you or sign up for our free print newsletter.

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390