Starlight and Young Earth Creationism

Even the closest stars are many light years away

Even the closest stars are many light years away
Image credit: ESO/Yuri Beletsky. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

A light year is the distance light, racing at 299,792 kilometres per second (186,000 miles per second), can travel in a year. That’s a long way. But the stars are even further away than that. In fact, many stars are millions and billions of light years away. So, if young Earth creation is true and the Earth is only 6,000 years old, how could the light from distant stars travel to the Earth when this requires billions of years to do so?

Young Earth creationists typically answer this objection by saying that the speed of light is not constant – light does not have to take billions of years to reach Earth. Although this might be possible, it has to overcome Einstein’s E = mc2 where mass and energy is drastically altered if the speed of light changes.

Time Dilation

But what most objectors fail to mention is that time itself varies as predicted by Einstein’s relativity.

The world’s first atomic clock

The world’s first atomic clock
Image from Wikimedia Commons, and is in the Public Domain

Atomic clocks on aeroplanes “tick” slower than those which are stationary because time progresses more slowly on moving objects. Atomic clocks on top of Mount Everest “tick” faster than those on the ground because time progresses faster where there is less gravity.

Yes, stars are billions of light years away, and yes the speed of light is most probably constant – but time itself can vary. The Earth’s position in the universe may be such that time runs a lot slower than in other parts of the universe (you are referred to Russel Humphreys’ theories for more on this). This would allow billions of years to pass in the farthest parts of the universe in order for starlight to reach Earth, while only a few thousand years have passed here on Earth.


Although the debate on time dilation theories continues to rage, we can be sure of one thing: time varies. And so it becomes very rash to jump to the conclusion that young Earth creation is refuted.

Time dilation

Notice how time on the moving red clock progresses slower
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Cleonis Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic

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