The Universe is 14 Billion Years Old, Or Younger. Seriously.

I barely made it through physics. I am a musician, for crying out loud. But I am entranced, bewildered and mesmerized by all things cosmological. To that end, I am curious to hear other opinions on the following topic. For a long time I have been uncomfortable with the party line of most Christians I associate with on Creation and Cosmology. I find it hard to believe the universe and the earth are not billions of years old, and I wince when I read overly simplistic rebuttals of the science that strongly indicates an old universe and earth. I have absolutely no problem with the Big Bang being the means God used to create the universe. But if you’ve been fighting the idea all your life…

This sounds like heresy, creating tension with other’s views of the Bible and specifically the first 3 chapters of Genesis. I don’t disbelieve Genesis – I just don’t quite get it yet, and I refuse to take a stand on this or any other issue if I’m not nigh unto 100% confident of my position. I’m not saying that young earthers are wrong – just that it’s possible they are. It’s also possible I will rejoin them down the road.

One of the theories I find intriguing is the 6 days = 14 billion years proposal as explained by a few different scientists – some who peg the conservative meter, and others who swing from the left. Many of you will recognize this theory, but if not, I think as a non-scientist I can explain it in terms we can both understand. (If these discussions leave you colder than a mackerel, now is your change to make a run for it. I’ll never know).

Shortly after the Big Bang (bypassing super-inflation/Planck time), the universe was expanding at a rate exceedingly close to the speed of light. If you could somehow have been on a spacecraft moving outward from the central point of the BB at the speed of the expanding universe, everything around you would appear quite ‘normal’. That’s the nature of relativity. No matter what “system” you’re a part of, it always seems normal to you; clocks run at the correct speed, and so forth.

But to our chosen observer (we’ll call her Katie) at a fixed point in space, say, where the earth will eventually be formed, the passage of 50 years according to her reckoning is merely the blink of an eye for you as you whiz through the universe at warp speed. And by the time you have finished your chores, eaten your vegetables, removed your gravity boots, and are ready to sleep the sleep of the just, 1/2 billion years may have passed on “earth”, or more correctly the place where earth will be formed in a couple days as you observe it through your super-telescope. Katie, as it turns out, died at a ripe old age after living a full life in the middle of space, between heartbeats for you.  Such is the nature of relativity.

So perhaps you can see at least the possibility that 6 days could equal 13.7 billion years, give or take. I am well aware this will cause a train wreck with all kinds of things related to many of your theological leanings, convictions, and bedrock beliefs. And admittedly it leaves us with a lot more questions than answers. There would now officially be an almost infinite number of monkey wrenches in the system to be accounted for. (I hope you liked the way I made a sideways reference to the infinite monkey theorem. I know I did.)

One thing is absolutely certain, at least to my way of thinking. God created everything ex nihilo. He thought it all up, and then commanded it to be so, and we can only gaze at it dumbfounded and try to figure it out. And logic dictates that none of us has it all right, so it is only prudent to consider other’s ideas carefully, especially if it involves science, and you happen to be a rank hacker like this musician who lives in a corn field in Indiana.

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2 Responses to The Universe is 14 Billion Years Old, Or Younger. Seriously.

  1. Paul Race says:

    Steve,
    I think you have it backwards. To an observer, a century would go by in what would be a blink of an eye to a near-light-speed traveller. I think. I’m an English and Bible teacher, writer and musician, not a physicist.

    But I would assert, and I think you might agree, that creationists are overstating their case when they make people’s salvation conditional on whether or not they believe in a literal 6-day creation. If I can point to one of my articles on the subject:

    http://schooloftherock.com/html/does_evolution_disprove_the_bi.html

    Then its your turn to let me know if you think I’ve “left the faith.” :-)

    • admin says:

      To a casual observer sitting (standing, lying down, falling, flying, levitating) on planet earth, if they read through my article and then your assertion that I have it backwards, they might say Paul Race, having apparently listened to too much rock music in his younger years, is delirious.

      However, if they could travel out into space at speeds exceeding that of light for a time, they could then turn around, point their super telescope back at earth, and watch me editing my article after the fact, removing the offending blunders, whilst grimacing sheepishly. That is to say, thanks for noticing I had it backwards!

      Hey, nothing to disagree with in your article. I do notice your grasp of history as it relates to these matters is exponentially greater than mine. The best I can do is cherry pick a few things here and there, but I don’t really own that much of the background information. But your observations are helpful – long range, over-arching perspective usually is.

      Honestly, I don’t know what I think about the Creation events. I’m perplexed by the facts, which seem to be almost deliberately presented (by the Creator) to make simple understanding impossible. I greatly enjoy reading and pondering such things, but then it doesn’t take much to amuse and baffle me.

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