How old are the stars and the universe? A Bible perspective


Major update: 12th November 2021

Table of Contents for: How old are the stars and the universe? A Bible perspective

The Milky Way Galaxy. How old are the stars and the universe?
The Milky Way Galaxy [i] How old are the stars?

Stars and galaxies apparently billions of years old

How old are the stars, how old is the universe?

There are distant galaxies in the universe that are millions or billions of light years away and yet we are just seeing the light from them now.

So many people with that knowledge would say that obviously the universe is billions of years old.

Perhaps there is a different way of viewing this, but firstly let’s look at Hubble’s Law:

Hubble’s Law: galaxies moving apart

Hubble’s law, also known as the Hubble–Lemaître law, is the observation in physical cosmology that galaxies are moving away from the Earth at speeds proportional to their distance.
In other words, the farther they are the faster they are moving away from Earth.
The velocity of the galaxies has been determined by their redshift, a shift of the light they emit toward the red end of the spectrum.
Hubble’s law is considered the first observational basis for the expansion of the universe, and today it serves as one of the pieces of evidence most often cited in support of the Big Bang model.
The motion of astronomical objects due solely to this expansion is known as the Hubble flow.”

‘Hubble’s law’ Wikipedia [ii]

Hubble’s law can be depicted in a “Hubble diagram” which can be seen below.
Velocity (assumed approximately proportional to the redshift) of a galaxy is plotted with respect to its distance from the observer.
A straight line of positive slope on this diagram is the visual depiction of Hubble’s law:

Scatter Plot of Fit of Redshifts to Hubble's Law.
Scatter Plot of Fit of Redshifts to Hubble’s Law [iii]

The parameters that appear in Hubble’s law, velocities and distances, are not directly measured.
In reality we determine, say, a supernova brightness, which provides information about its distance, and the redshift z = ∆λ/λ of its spectrum of radiation.
Hubble correlated brightness and parameter z.
Combining his measurements of galaxy distances with Vesto Slipher and Milton Humason’s measurements of the redshifts associated with the galaxies, Hubble discovered a rough proportionality between redshift of an object and its distance. Though there was considerable scatter (now known to be caused by peculiar velocities—the ‘Hubble flow’ is used to refer to the region of space far enough out that the recession velocity is larger than local peculiar velocities), Hubble was able to plot a trend line from the 46 galaxies he studied and obtain a value for the Hubble constant of 500 km/s/Mpc (much higher than the currently accepted value due to errors in his distance calibrations).

‘Hubble’s law’ Wikipedia [ii]

How old are the stars? Well we can say that the universe is expanding, so logically we could roughly work out when they were all together in one place.

But there are a lot of ‘young stars’ that don’t fit with the ‘Big Bang’ theory

Blue stars are the biggest and brightest of all ‘main sequence’ stars, but this means they burn up their nuclear fuel very fast.
Indeed, they burn so fast that the biggest ones could not last more than a million years, and the smallest around 10 million years.
Yet blue stars abound in spiral galaxies, including our Milky Way.
This suggests that these galaxies cannot be even one million years old.”

‘Star witnesses to a young creation’ by Don Batten [iv]

It is easy to say; ‘Well they obviously were formed more recently than the rest of the galaxy.’
But no such star formation has been observed and there is not a known mechanism for it to happen. [v]

To solve this problem, astronomers suggest that the first stars formed in a burst of activity in the early universe triggered by some unknown mechanism.
Do astronomers have any evidence for such a mechanism early in the universe? They claim that they do.
For example, since the collapse of gas clouds should produce stars of all masses, astronomers expect to detect light from the most massive, hot, bright stars—blue stars—wherever much star formation has occurred.
As predicted, very distant galaxies (and hence galaxies from the early universe) are systematically brighter than nearby galaxies.
Astronomers call these “starburst” galaxies and say the blue colour is evidence for explosive star formation early in the universe.
Furthermore, though astronomers have not observed the actual contraction of a gas cloud into a star, they have identified a number of different kinds of odd star-like entities that they view as snapshots of stars in various stages of formation.
Despite these claims, we should note that astronomers think that in the universe today, condensed clouds overwhelmingly produce low-mass red stars, but in the early universe they formed massive blue stars.
So evolutionary astronomers must ultimately rely upon some unknown mechanism to form the first stars in a manner that is very different from the inferred mechanism for present-day star formation.
But when did unknown mechanisms and unobserved processes become scientific concepts?”

‘Blue Stars – Unexpected Brilliance’ by Dr. Danny R. Faulkner [ix]

Astronomers state that blue stars have a limited life of only several million years whereas the proposed age of the universe is nearly 14 billion years old, which is only solved by proposing an unknown mechanism, while giving the impression that the Big Bang is fact and a proved science.

Here is another problem for an old universe:

Globular clusters are compact, ball-shaped groups of stars that orbit the centre of a galaxy.
They supposedly contain ‘very old’ stars.
The secular big bang story has great difficulty explaining them.[vi]
Astronomers have seen many fast-moving neutron stars in globular clusters.
These are thought to arise from supernovas (exploding stars) within the cluster, where a neutron star is created that is ‘kicked’ out at very high speed.
With the compact sizes of globular clusters and the high speed of the neutron stars, all neutron stars should be ejected from such clusters in less than two million years.
Many globular clusters should have emptied in a few thousand years.”

‘Star witnesses to a young creation’ by Don Batten [iv]

This unanswered non-retention of neutron stars is a problem in that it doesn’t confirm a ‘Big Bang’ hypothesis.
A major study has called it a “long-standing mystery”. [ vii]
Here is the problem stated by scientists in their field of expertise:

Observations of very high speeds among pulsars in the Galactic disk present a puzzle regarding neutron stars in globular clusters.
The inferred characteristic speed of single pulsars in the Galaxy is ∼5−10 times as large as the central escape speed from the most massive globular clusters.
It is then reasonable to ask why any pulsars are seen in globular clusters, whereas, in fact, quite a large number have been detected and as many as ∼1000 are thought to be present in some of the richest clusters.
We use a Monte Carlo approach to generate a population of massive primordial binaries.
If we utilize the convention assumptions regarding mass transfer and neutron star kicks, we find that < 5% of the neutron stars initially formed in a massive cluster can be retained.
We suggest that this fraction is too low to account for what is observed, and we speculate on possible alternative solutions to the retention problem.”

‘A Comprehensive Study of Neutron Star Retention in Globular Clusters’ by Eric Pfahl, Saul Rappaport, Philipp Podsiadlowski Cornell University [viii]

So how do I, as a believer in God creating the universe, harmonize all these different situations?
Well I will start by asking a question which probably seems trivial, but bear with me:

How old was Adam?

The Bible tells us that God created Adam in this way:

the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Genesis 2:7

Adam’s apparent age was (say) 20 years old only one second after he had been created, if we take the Biblical account to be factually correct.

From just the dust of the ground, he suddenly became a living man comprised of bones, muscles, skin, etc.
His body which should have taken 20 years to grow and mature was immediately there.

How old were the plants and trees?

The plants also were created instantly and therefore if a bough of a tree had been sawn in two, the rings of growth would have shown a history.

But the tree that looked (say) 15 years old would only have been just a few seconds old.

How old are the stars, galaxies and universe?

In the same way that Adam was created instantly, one theory could be that the stars were also instantly created and they have got an apparent age built-in which is much greater than their actual age.

That could mean that the universe when it was created had a history, a central point from which the stars and galaxies were being flung from and they are all now still moving outwards.

That makes it rather tricky to answer the question: ‘How old are the stars?’ In effect we can’t then work out the age of the universe!

What if the stars and galaxies had been created with an apparent age of billions of years old?

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Hebrews 11:3

References:
[i] Photo by AEyZRiO. Published on 26 October 2016
[ii] ‘Hubble’s law’ Wikipedia
[iii] Brews ohare, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
[iv] ‘Star witnesses to a young creation’ by Don Batten
[v] Lisle, J., Blue stars confirm recent creation, Acts & Facts 41(9):16, 2012; icr.org.
[vi] Hubble observations cast further doubt on how globular clusters formed; astronomy.com; 20 November 2014.
[vii] Pfahl, E., Rappaport, S., and Podsiadlowski, P., A comprehensive study of neutron star retention in globular clusters, Astrophysical Journal 573:283–305, 2002; | doi:10.1086/340494.
[viii] ‘A Comprehensive Study of Neutron Star Retention in Globular Clusters’ by Eric Pfahl, Saul Rappaport, Philipp Podsiadlowski
[ix] ‘Blue Stars – Unexpected Brilliance’ by Dr. Danny R. Faulkner


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