Natural History 3 – Humphreys’ cosmological theory

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted March 06, 2017

In my blog of February 20, 2017, I commenced a four-part series on natural history in the Bible. The first two parts were devoted to a discussion of the cosmology in Genesis 1:1 – 2:4, which  I call the Creation Chronicle. This third part will be devoted to a discussion of D. Russell Humphreys’ cosmological theory, which accounts for the events in that chronicle.

Preamble

Any cosmological theory purporting to explain the biblical account of creation must meet certain criteria:

→ The theory must allow for something without form or substance – i.e. primordial chaos – appearing ex nihilo – i.e. out of nothing.

→ The theory must allow for this something becoming impressed with structure that determines first what is possible within it, then what is probable within it, and finally, what is first actual within it – i.e. Universe.[1]

→ The theory must allow for Universe becoming a sphere which consisted of a giant globe of water at Universe’s center and a spherical shell – i.e. 2nd heaven – of unknown composition above and surrounding it.

→ The theory must account for the giant globe of water being divided into three parts; (1) a small globe of water – i.e. a watery earth – at Universe’s center, (2) an intermediate, spherical shell of water – i.e. the firmament or 1st heaven – above and surrounding the watery earth, and (3) an outer spherical shell of water – i.e. the upper waters – above and surrounding the firmament.

→ The theory must account for the watery earth being divided into three parts: (1) a solid globe of minerals – the land – at its center; (2) a spherical shell of water – i.e. the sea – above and surrounding the land, and (3) a spherical shell of air – i.e. the atmosphere – above and surrounding the sea.

→ The theory must account for the interface between the land and the sea being adjusted so that the surface of the earth consists of a single continent surrounded by the sea.

→ The theory must account for the firmament being vastly expanded and populated with astronomical bodies and objects, starting with the sun and the moon.

→ The theory must account for all of the above occurring within a period of six 24-hour earth days roughly 6,000 earth years ago.

The resulting spatial organization of Universe would be the following: (1) the earth at its center, (2) interstellar space – the 1st heaven – above and surrounding the earth, (3) the upper waters above and surrounding the 1st heaven, and (4) the 2nd heaven above and surrounding the upper waters. The outer limit of the 2nd heaven would be the boundary of Universe. [2]

Humphreys’ Theory

The only cosmological theory that satisfies the above criteria, which I have found, is the one developed by D. Russell Humphreys which he describes in his book, Starlight and Time.[3]

Introduction

Humphreys starts by asserting that scientists today generally agree that Einstein’s General Relativity Theory (GRT) “…has been well-established experimentally and is the physical framework for all modern cosmologies.”[4]

One characteristic of GRT is something called gravitational time dilation (not to be confused with the better known “velocity” time dilation in Einstein’s Special Relativity Theory [5]). Gravitational time dilation predicts that clocks at low altitudes tick more slowly than clocks at high altitude. It has been confirmed by many scientific measurements.

Humphreys examines the application of GRT to the cosmological problem. Four possible scenarios emerge. If Universe is unbounded (Condition A) – i.e. it has no outer boundary; it is spatially “infinite” – there are two alternatives: a big contraction (Scenario A1) in which Universe is collapsing into a Black Hole[6] or a big expansion (Scenario A2) which must have commenced with a Big Bang. If Universe is bounded (Condition B) – i.e. it has an outer boundary; it is spatially finite – there are also two alternatives:  a big contraction (Scenario B1) in which Universe is collapsing into a Black Hole or a big expansion (Scenario B2) in which Universe is moving out of an event horizon [7] (Scenario B2 is the reverse process to Scenario B1; Humphreys calls Scenario B2  “White Hole” cosmology).

Observations have established – at least to Humphreys’ satisfaction – that Universe is currently expanding. Distant astronomical objects appear to be receding from the earth. That would appear to eliminate scenarios A1 and B1.

Now, any cosmological theory purporting to explain the biblical account of creation must account for the vast dimensions of interstellar space, which cannot have been traversed by the astronomical bodies and objects within it during a time period of 6,000 earth years at the currently accepted maximum speed in Universe – the speed of light.[8] Interestingly, in an expanding Universe (Condition B), GRT implies that, in early Universe, while a few days were passing on earth, billions of years would have been available for light to travel to the earth from distant stars.[9] The two frames of reference (earth and interstellar space) must be measured by different clocks.

That brings us to the choice between an unbounded Universe (Condition A), with its expanding Universe (Scenario A2) and a bounded Universe (Condition B), with its expanding Universe (Scenario B2).

Humphreys points out that current advocates of the Big Bang Theory assume that Universe is unbounded – i.e. spatially “infinite;” an immortal voyager could travel in any direction “forever” – and they call their assumption the cosmological principle. Humphreys insists that this assumption is arbitrary. He suggests, however, some plausible psychological reasons for it. First, atheistic materialists are uncomfortable with a finite Universe because it would create an opening for asking the question, What or – even more disturbing – who might exist outside Universe? [10] Second, atheistic materialists are uncomfortable with a center because, if it turned out that the earth lies near it, that would imply something special about the earth and its inhabitants and create an opening for asking the questions Why? and Who put the earth there? [11]

So, Humphreys argues, Universe can be just as reasonably be considered bounded – i.e. spatially finite – with a center. In a bounded Universe, it would have a center of mass and be subject to the time-distorting effects of gravity on a massive scale.

A White Hole will have an event horizon. Inside an event horizon, light and matter will expand and pass through the event horizon. Since the radius of an event horizon is proportional to the amount of matter inside it, it will shrink as the matter passes outside of it until it reaches a vanishing point – literally; it will disappear. All that will be left will be a center point with zero radius., at which point the expansion of matter outside of it will cease.

Assume that the earth was once located at the center of an event horizon. As the radius of the latter contracted, it would eventually have reached the surface of the earth, at which point time would have stood still for a terrestrial observer. Thus during an earth day, objects on earth would not have aged, but distant astronomical objects would have aged by billions of years.

Application of White Hole Cosmology to the Bible’s Creation Story

Based on the above, Humphreys imagines the following scenario:

On Day 1 of Creation, God created a large, three dimensional space with a radius of 500,000 light years. At its center lay a rotating ball of water – the “deep” – with a radius of one light year, which was large enough to contain all the matter in Universe. At its periphery was an event horizon with a radius of 500,000 light years. The deep’s concentration of mass created an immense gravitational force, more than 1015 “g”s. This force compressed the deep very quickly, rendering it very dense and hot. The intense heat ripped apart the water molecules, atoms, and even nuclei into elementary particles.

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, ‘”Let there be light;” and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.” (KJ21 Genesis 2:3).

A thermonuclear fusion reaction began, forming heavier nuclei from lighter ones and liberating huge amounts of energy. As a consequence, an intense light illuminated the interior and then broke through to the surface. As the compression continued, however, the force of gravity became so strong that light could no longer reach the surface, which became dark again. At this point, the Holy Spirit began hovering over the surface of the waters, thereby becoming a source of light on one side of the globe only and thereby separating the light and the darkness.

On Day 2 of Creation, God marked off the globe of water into three parts: (a) an inner globe which he called the waters below the firmament (v. 1:7), (b) a middle, spherical shell of water which he called the firmament or expanse (v. 1:6), and (c) an outer spherical shell of water which he called the waters above the firmament (v. 1:7). Then God began stretching out space[12] – a process of expansion that would last until at least the end of Day 4. The Black Hole became a White Hole. The change in dynamics affected the three parts differently.

The globe of water maintained its integrity, but expanded until gravity and temperatures at the globe’s surface reached roughly present values, thereby becoming liquid water beneath an atmosphere. Meanwhile, heavier atoms formed beneath the surface waters, thereby producing the minerals with which God would form earth’s mantle and core.

The firmament was stretched out into a vast expanse now called interstellar space, where matter was distributed in irregular clusters of hydrogen, helium, and other atoms that were formed by the nuclear processes on Day 1. Since the Sun and other stars had not yet been created, the Holy Spirit continued to provide a source of light to the globe below.

The upper waters also maintained their integrity, but as the expansion continued, they reached the event horizon and passed through it. As the amount of matter within the event horizon began decreasing, the event horizon began shrinking.

On Day 3 of Creation, the core and mantle below the surface water cooled and solidified, thereby “…laying the foundations of the earth” (Job 38:4). Meanwhile, if I understand Humphreys correctly, rapid radioactive decay near the surface of the globe produced heat that cooked the earth’s crust and rendered it buoyant relative to the mantle rock below it, thereby causing “the dry land appear” (v. 1:9) above the waters. God then created vegetation on the dry land.

On Day 4 of Creation, early in the morning, the shrinking event horizon reached earth. During this day, billions of years of processes occurred in distant, interstellar space. Gravitational forces compacted the clusters of hydrogen and helium atoms into stars, planets, etc. that were organized into galaxies and other astronomical objects.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day and the night….And God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. (v.1:14-16)

Under compaction, the earth’s sun and the other stars underwent thermonuclear fusion[13] and emitted light.

The light from distant stars required billions of years to traverse the still expanding firmament (interstellar space) and exhibited increasing red-shift as the distances from their sources to earth increased.

God stopped the expansion of Universe when the event horizon reached its vanishing point – which certainly occurred no later than the end of Day 6. – for on Day 7 God rested from his creative work.

Concluding Remarks

I hope that I have portrayed Humphreys’ proposal accurately. I don’t know if it is correct or not because I lack the necessary, sophisticated mathematical ability to understand GRT fully or to detect errors in hypotheses based on GRT. What I do know, however, is that Humphreys has followed the correct procedure for investigating Universe scientifically. First he examined God’s Word to see what it says about the phenomena under investigation and then he formed an hypothesis that conforms to what God’s Word says. As I have maintained consistently throughout my writings, any scientific hypothesis that cannot accommodate what God’s Word says is wrong and represents an enormous waste of time, effort, and often resources – to say nothing of its being deceptive, encouraging people to doubt the trustworthiness of God’s Word.

© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.

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[1] See my previous blog of February 27, 2017.

[2] Outside Universe is the Third Heaven. Its content and extent are unknown. It has not been detected; its existence is established by the biblical account (2 Colossians 12:2).

[3] Humphreys, D. Russell, Starlight and Time, Master Books, Colorado Springs CO, 1994.

[4] Ibid, p. 11.

[5] Ibid, p. 11.

[6] A Black Hole is an astronomical object within which the gravitational force of its matter is so strong that light rays cannot escape from it – hence the name. Its existence is predicted by GRT. Astronomers now believe that one out of every thousand stars that form are massive enough to become a black hole and thus that Universe contains billions of them.

[7] The boundary surrounding a black hole is called an event horizon. From the point of view of an observer inside the black hole, any object approaching the event horizon will appear to slow down and never quite pass through it, and any light radiating from the object will be further and further red-shifted. From the point of view of the traveling object, however, it will actually pass through the event horizon in a finite amount of time.

[8] The diameter of our galaxy alone is roughly 100,000 light years.

[9] Humphreys, Op. Cit., p.13.

[10] I would add that Big Bang advocates misapprehend the nature of infinity. INFINITY is an operational concept, not a numerical concept which can be applied to a concrete referent. It states that, in principle or theoretically, in any series of numbers, the operator can add another number to the series – going forward or backward. In actuality, any finite being, which every creature in Universe is, cannot live long enough to produce anything but a finite series of numbers. That raises the issue of eternity. ETERNITY is also an operational concept, not a temporal concept. It states that, in principle or theoretically, in any series of temporal intervals, the operator can add another interval to the series – going forward or backward. As I have already pointed out, however, no finite being in Universe lives forever. At some point, the operator’s adding stops. Thus Universe (in general) or anything within Universe (in particular) is finite – i.e. it is bounded in space and time (or more accurately space-time). It cannot be either infinite or eternal.

[11] I would add that scientists maintain that everything else in Universe has a center – its center of gravity – from an atomic particle to a galaxy. Why would the whole be so categorically different from its innumerable parts?

[12] Humphreys is convinced that Universe has expanded by a factor of at least 1,000 since its inception, which derives support from biblical verses such as “Have ye not known? Have ye not heard? Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth,…who stretcheth out the heavens like a curtain and spreadeth them out like a tent to dwell in” (KJ21 Isaiah 40:21-22).

[13] Here I differ from Humphreys. I believe that the stars are probably powered by electromagnetic activity, not nuclear reactions.

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