Theology of Creation,
Scientific Evidence,
and Education

Astronomical Evolution:

Intelligent Design and
Age of the Universe

This page has two major sections:
Intelligent Design of the Universe
(Was nature designed so it would evolve?)
How old is the universe? (based on scientific evidence-and-logic from astronomy)  

The general meaning of evolution is just "developmental change over time," and there are major differences between four types of proposed developments — in astronomical evolution (to form stars and galaxies, planets and solar systems), geological evolution (to form the earth's features), chemical evolution (to form the first life), and biological evolution (to form the biocomplexity and biodiversity of life) — which involve four very different sets of questions and scientific observations.

      Intelligent Design of the Universe?  (before history)
      If astronomical evolution is to occur, many properties of the universe must be "just right."  Should we therefore conclude that the universe was cleverly designed to allow its natural astronomical evolution?  This question is examined in INTELLIGENT DESIGN OF THE UNIVERSE?

There might be FOUR DIFFERENT TYPES OF DESIGN.  A theory proposing an intelligent design of nature (above) is based on evidence that natural process can produce some features, so it differs from the design theories (below) which propose that natural process cannot produce a particular feature.

      Intelligent Design-Directed Action?  (during history)
      Some astronomers (Hugh Ross, Guillermo Gonzales,...) think earth has a large number of special life-allowing features, and it would be extremely improbable for all of these to occur by chance for one planet.  But they — along with most other proponents of intelligent design (if we exclude young-earth creationists who think the universe is young) — don't claim that the production of any individual feature required design-directed action, which would be necessary if undirected natural process could not produce the feature.

      How old is the universe?

      Age of the Universe?  Science versus Young-Earth Creationism

      Almost all scientists think there is abundant evidence — from Big Bang Cosmology, the physics of star fusion, the fact that we see faraway starlight, and much more — to support a logical conclusion that the universe is billions of years old.
      But a few "young universe" scientists disagree.  Usually, young-earth creationism is also young-universe creationism.  Because they oppose scientific conclusions that are strongly supported by abundant evidence that is logically analyzed by competent scientists, young-earth creationists produce a problem of "science versus religious faith" for Christians who follow their teaching about a recent creation of the earth and universe.  By contrast, this science-versus-faith dilemma is avoided by fellow Christians who are old-earth progressive creationists or old-earth evolutionary creationists.

      connections between design and age:  Most evidences for a design of nature are due to the many fine-tuned properties of nature that must be "just right" for the natural developments that occurred during astronomical evolution.  Ironically, when young-earth creationists argue against age-principles (below) they argue against the strongest evidences for an intelligent design of the universe.

      This section will help you understand the natural processes that, according to conventional scientific theories, produce astronomical evolution to form stars and galaxies, planets and solar systems.  By contrast, most proponents of young-universe theories claim this natural evolution could not occur, and all of them think it did not occur.

      Some of the abundant evidence for an old earth and old universe is in AGE OF THE EARTH & UNIVERSE — SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE which is based on this educational philosophy:
      "Our goal is to help you get an accurate understanding, so we've tried to find the best information and arguments claimed as support by both sides, young earth and old earth.  And even though the overall result won't be NEUTRAL, we will try to be FAIR by letting representatives of each perspective clearly express their own views and criticize other views, and by treating their views with respect."
      Below are two parts of the page (Overviews & Responses, Selected Topics) plus questions about Distant Starlight:

      Astronomy — Overviews & Responses
      To help you learn quickly and well, here are some carefully selected resources:

      The Big Bang Expansion
      There is strong evidence indicating that the universe has been expanding for the past 14 billion years.
FAQ from NASA explains why the Big Bang was not an "explosion".
      NASA's Universe 101 [also in PDF] — The Big Bang (from Exploratorium) — Three Supports (by Perry Phillips) — news + FAQ + tutorial (from Ned Wright) — Chapters 10-17 in Foundations of Modern Cosmology.
      Scientific Confidence:  An introductory overview about The Big Bang from All About Science ends with questions that are more skeptical than is justifiable based on evidence and logic.  Among scientists who have studied the evidence, almost all (everyone except young-earth creationists whose "scientific" views are based on their interpretations of Genesis, not on scientific evidence-and-logic) have concluded that our universe began with a rapid "big bang" expansion 13.7 billion years ago.  Many cosmologists think the expansion was extremely rapid at the beginning, in an inflationary phase, and then slowed down to the current rate of expansion.
      More information about cosmological inflation is in the links-page about DESIGN OF THE UNIVERSE, including an explanation of the early shift from high-energy conditions to (relatively) low-energy conditions, which is outlined in Wikipedia's history of the Big Bang (assuming inflation) in a graphical timeline and (with a caution that "all ideas concerning the very early universe are speculative") verbal timeline.

      The Life Cycle of Stars
      Although there is some variation in lifetimes, for most stars the processes in a life cycle require billions of years.  And when we look at different distances away from earth (and thus different times in the past) we can observe many successive generations of stars, each lasting billions of years.
      The Life Cycle of Stars - and Birth of Planets (by Deborah Haarsma & Loren Haarsma) — The Life and Death of Stars (from NASA) — Life Cycle of a Star (Protostar & Lifetime - main sequence, equilibrium, after - and HR-Diagram introduction) — How Stars Work (introduction) by HowStuffWorks, including Life & Death and How the Sun Works and more — The Birth of Stars (from Enchanted Learning)

      Distant Starlight
      This is a major problem for those who propose a young earth-and-universe.  Why?  If the universe has existed for less than 10 thousand years, 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?  This problem, and proposed solutions, are examined in Distant Starlight - a problem for Young-Earth Creationists.

      Determining Age from Observations
      • Calculating Age (a short series of pages by Exploratorium)
      • old-universe claims by TO and Hill Roberts;  a good overview of current young-universe astronomy by Danny Faulkner;  young-universe claims by Don DeYoung and Jason Lisle (in chapters from Taking Back Astronomy).  The overviews & responses above also include some astronomy, especially in Humphreys (topics 1-3), and TO's Topic-List & Tiscareno (astronomy plus the final topic in page, Star Distances).
      There is plenty of evidence for the Big Bang, as described by Hugh Ross & TO (brief) & TalkOrigins (in depth), plus responses to 10 Problems for the Big Bang (Richard Deem) and Astronomical Complexity & The Second Law of Thermodynamics.  David Berlinski (OE) wonders what happened before the beginning and Apologetics Press (YE, A B) describes science history and science.  John Hartnett and Carl Wieland think disagreements among OE-scientists shows the Big Bang theory is in trouble, but Greg Neyman (A B) explains that this is just how science works.
      You can also learn about Distant Starlight (which includes subsections for Light Speed Slowdown [c-decay] & White Hole Cosmology) and more in ASTRONOMY: AGE OF THE UNIVERSE [which is the page you're now reading].

      And in the Selected Topics,
Speed of Moon Recession — a problem for OE?
  If the moon had moved away for 4.5 billion years at the current rate, it would be much further away.
  Speed of Moon Recession — an OE solution?
  The arrangement of continents has changed, and this changed the rate of recession, so the "if" isn't correct and neither is the calculation. (TO)
Number of Supernova Remnants — a problem for OE?
  In an old universe, we would see more second- and third-generation supernova remnants.
  Number of Supernova Remnants — an OE solution?
  The YE math is based on wrong premises, and supernovas support OE in several ways. (TO  Neyman)

      If you want to explore more widely, the Potential Resources Page for Astronomy has links (that are several years old, because the page was assembled in 2006) for resources to supplement those above (the overviews & responses, plus pages about moon recession & supernova remnants and Distant Starlight.  The potential resources include these topics:
      distant starlight   c-decay   white hole cosmology  apparent age   —   astronomy  Big Bang   red shift   CMB   dark matter   —   galaxy shapes   supernova remnants   star evolution   black holes   faint sun   shrinking sun   solar neutrinos   —   NASA & Joshua  solar system origin   extrasolar planets   planet problems   comets   astronomical cycles   planet magnetism   space dust   water on Mars   earth rotation   moon recession   moon dust   moon craters   moon-misc   —   Big Bang & Theism

I.O.U. — Later, other topics (check the Potential Resources Page above for possibilities) will be added to this page.

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. 

This website for Whole-Person Education has TWO KINDS OF LINKS:
an ITALICIZED LINK keeps you inside a page, moving you to another part of it, and
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This page, written by Craig Rusbult (editor of ASA Science Ed Website), is
and was revised August 14, 2010
( and all links were checked-and-fixed on July 3, 2006 )

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