Theology of Creation,
Scientific Evidence,
and Education

Appearance of Age:
Theological Questions about

Mature Creation in a Young Universe

This page is part of
and the sections in it are:

      Appearance of Age in a "Young yet Mature" Creation 
      Theological Questions about Appearance of Age in Starlight 
      1857 — Appearance of Age in Creationism of the Early 1800s 
      NOW — Appearance of Age in Modern Young-Earth Creationism
      Other Pages about "Apparent Age Theology
      Young-Earth Scientific Alternatives to Apparent Age Theology

Appearance of Age in a
Young-yet-Mature Creation

IF there was a recent creation, then to produce immediate functionality — with mature humans (not helpless infants), complete ecosystems, and our energy-giving sun — some appearance of age would be necessary, because some features of the world would necessarily appear to be older than their actual age.  For example, in a 6-day creation Adam would actually be one day old on Day 7, but he might appear to be 20 years old.  Is this possible?  Yes, an all-powerful God could skip the pre-human history of nature and create everything in the world instantly (or in six days) as a mature creation that was exactly the way He wanted it.

Did God create with the appearance of age? by John Morris (President, Institute for Creation Research) is a vigorous defense of apparent age.  (3 k)
• But a theological question is raised about The Integrity of God's Creation by Keith Miller, who doesn't think God would create nature with a misleading apparent history, because "God's creation, as a revelation to His creatures of who He is, should provide an accurate record of God's creative activity: of the way the universe actually was and is."  (2 k)
• In quotations from The Genesis Flood, Henry Morris defends the honesty of creating a world with appearance of old age, because a young-and-mature creation "would necessarily have an appearance of some age."  (8 k for Section 7, in a page from Creation Questions)
The Appearance of Age: It's Morning in Creation-Land by Ken Miller, is a vigorous criticism.  (11 k)

Are the defenses too strong — do they ignore some relevant questions? — and is the criticism, for similar reasons, also too strong?

In a young-yet-mature world created with apparent age, what kind of apparent history might we see?   There are three possibilities:  a minimal apparent history, with only the essential apparent age that would be necessary for an immediately functional universe;  a total apparent history, including nonessential apparent age, to show us everything that "would have happened" before the instant of creation but never actually happened;  or a partial apparent history, between minimal and total.
Apparent Age & Theology by Craig Rusbult, is a defense-and-criticism in an overview of these principles (asking "in a young universe, what kinds of false-ages would be essential and nonessential?") along with analysis of four views: apparent history (total, partial, minimal) and actual history.  (26 k + 1k)

Appearance of Age in Starlight — Science & Theology

If the universe is young, how can we see light from distant stars, from stars so far away that light coming from them would take billions of years to reach us?  If the universe is young, yet we can see faraway stars, which part of "distance/speed = time" is wrong?  Or is appearance of age, with light created "in transit to us," a satisfactory explanation?

DISTANT STARLIGHT and SCIENCE describes the simple arithmetic of starlight physics (distance/speed = time) and why young-earth explanations — by claiming an error in one of the terms (distance to stars, speed of light, time for light-travel) — are not scientifically credible.

DISTANT STARLIGHT and THEOLOGY:  Sometimes the details of starlight seem to be "telling a story" of a specific historical event.  For example, when scientists observe light that is changing in a detailed way corresponding to the sequence of events during a supernova explosion, should they conclude that this supernova-event really did occur, or that it's a pseudo-event and is part of an elaborate apparent history (due to light being created in-transit by God) about events which never really happened?
Distant Stars and Apparent Age by Robert Shier, and A Detailed False History? by Deborah Haarsma & Loren Haarsma, describe how multiple details, in a wide variety of independent old-universe evidences, lead to theological questions.  (2 k)
Starlight & the Age of the Universe by Greg Koukl, explains that a functional recent creation does not require detailed appearance of age, and describes the "difficulties with details" for those who propose that God created a detailed apparent history, with events we see that never happened.  (11 k + 1k)
How can we see distant stars in a young universe? by young-earth advocates (Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati, and Carl Wieland) writing for Answers in Genesis (AiG), is optimistic about one scientific alternative, but they criticize a theological explanation (made by some young-earth creationists) proposing detailed nonessential apparent age because "To create such a detailed series of signals in light beams reaching earth, signals which seem to have come from a series of real events but in fact did not, has no conceivable purpose.  Worse, it is like saying that God created fossils in rocks to fool us, or even test our faith, and that they don’t represent anything real (a real animal or plant that lived and died in the past).  This would be a strange deception." (15 + 2k)   This page was AiG's answer to "the distant starlight problem" from 2001 to 2008, when it was replaced by a page (Does Distant Starlight Prove the Universe Is Old? by Jason Lisle) with the same view of apparent age: "It seems uncharacteristic of God to make illusions like this. God made our eyes to accurately probe the real universe; so we can trust that the events that we see in space really happened. For this reason, most creation scientists believe that light created in-transit is not the best way to respond to the distant starlight argument."  Instead he suggests several scientific solution, although he doesn't seem confident about any of them.  (21 k)

In an earlier page on the website of AiG, Donald DeYoung says "the fourth suggestion [mature creation with appearance of age] is accepted by many creationists; it is a simple solution and is entirely consistent with the creation account" but this was in a book written independently (not for AiG) by DeYoung so it probably didn't
• I.O.U. — Later, we'll find some deeper discussions/defenses of Apparent Age by young-earth creationists, especially for the "nonessential appearance of age" that Henry Morris proposed but ICR (John Morris) ignores, and AIG (Ham, Sarfati, Wieland) criticizes.  But finding this information could be difficult because most young-earth websites avoid the question of nonessential apparent age.

1857 — Appearance of Age in Creationism of the Early 1800s

• A navel (belly button) is produced by the process of birth, but Adam was never born, so did he have a navel?  This question inspired Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot, a book by Phillip Henry Gosse who in 1857 proposed a radical "apparent age" theory.  Recently, it was summarized and critiqued in a book review by John Burgeson.  (6 k)
• The early history of an idea — as expressed by Chateaubriand and others in the early 1800s, and later by Gosse — is described by David Krause in Apparent Age and its Reception in the 19th Century.  (24 k + 6k)
• biographies of Phillip Henry Gosse, author of Omphalos, are in Wikipedia (6 k) and The Dictionary of Canadian Biography (8 k + 2k)

NOW — Appearance of Age in Modern Young-Earth Creationism
• Ken Ham (founder of Answers in Genesis) proposes a mature creation but he rejects an "appearance of age" because this would imply that the earth-and-universe appear to be old, and he wants to defend the credibility of young-earth science.  But is their science credible? or is he giving it more credit that it deserves?  AGE OF THE EARTH - SCIENCE and AGE OF THE EARTH - ASTRONOMY.
• Jason Lisle, also writing for AiG, agrees: "Yes, we do believe in mature creation" but "we recommend against using the term appearance of age" and "we recommend (for biblical and logical reasons) against the light-in-transit model for distant starlight" because this would require some starlight to contain detailed non-essential apparent age and he "does not believe that God purposely includes misinformation in His creation. To intentionally create misinformation is (by definition) to lie. And the Bible tells us that God cannot lie."  Mature Creation (scroll down to second section)

Three Views of Young-Earth Creationists — Phillip Gosse, Henry Morris, Ken Ham — who, in their search for truth and harmony, developed differing views about apparent age in history, about whether the detailing is total, partial, or minimal.  [quotations selected, and comments added, by Craig Rusbult] (26 k + 15k)
A New Creation: Creation Ex Nihilo and Apparent Age by Joshua Klose, is a coherent paper summarizing the views of Phillip Gosse (proposing a Total Apparent History), updating his arguments, and explaining why "the supposed conflict between a young universe and an old appearance is, most amusingly, merely apparent."  (51 k +11k)
Young or Old?  Four Options for Christians by Jason Browning (young-earth creationist);  slides 8-12 (11 k of total text) are about the options, which include Apparent Age.

More about the Theology of Apparent Age
Creation, Time, and Apparent Age by Clarence Menninga, is a theological perspective on time-and-history.  (15 k) PSCF
• a starlight mystery (2 k + pictures) and question (2 k) by Hill Roberts
• if you want to explore more deeply, many posts (in 16 pages) are in The Mars-List Discussion on Creationism  (total estimated at about 700 k)
• And due to space restrictions, many good pages cannot be included in this section;  eventually, some of these will be in Additional Resources.

Scientific Alternatives to Appearance of Age,

in Young-Universe Astronomy and Cosmology
If the universe is young, how can we see distant starlight?  This problem, discussed above, has motivated young-universe creationists to propose "appearance of old age" as a theological solution, and to search for the scientific solutions — such as Setterfield's "change of light speed" theory, Humphrey's "white hole cosmology", and more — that are in the "Distant Starlight" section of ASTRONOMY: AGE OF THE UNIVERSE.

In this page you'll find links to resource-pages expressing a wide range of views, which don't necessarily represent the views of the American Scientific Affiliation.  Therefore, linking to a page does not imply an endorsement by ASA.  We encourage you to use your own critical thinking to evaluate everything you read. 

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This page, written by Craig Rusbult (editor of ASA Science Ed Website), is
and was revised May 25, 2010

all links were checked-and-fixed on July 3, 2006


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