Review: Starlight and Time

Image from Goodreads.

Author: Dr. Russell Humphreys

Publisher: Master Books

As mentioned in a previous blog post review, one of my areas of nerdiness is linguistics. I love language and history, and it’s even better when they are brought together. But I have another love, one that has been around since I was a kid: scientific apologetics. Like most kids, my enthusiasm started with dinosaurs (which, I am unashamed to say, has not died). But I quickly came to love just about every major field of science. And yet, while I studied certain subjects in-depth, there was one in particular that always seemed just a little beyond my depth, and that was astrophysics. I like astronomy, and I’ve looked into some aspects of physics where they applied to other areas I was studying, but put them together? It can be a little overwhelming. But while the math itself doesn’t always make sense, if you have a good communicator, the process will be understood. And that is what I think if found with Dr. Humphreys’s Starlight and Time.

This book is relatively short compared to most other scientific apologetics books I have read. In fact, if you want to read related (and succinct) ideas on starlight, time, and the heavens, I’d suggest you check out Creation: Basics and Beyond. Although that book deals with much more than astronomy. But as for Starlight and Time, this brief book has been divided into 2 sections. The first is divided into two chapters, and the second into three appendices. Oddly enough, the second part is significantly longer than the first. I was puzzled by this at first, but this division ended up making the book an easier read.

The first section gives something of a summary of Dr. Humphreys’s theory. Consider it the part for the layperson. He lays out the issue at hand and then describes how others have tried to overcome it (both secular and Christian) and then lays out his own theory. In the next chapter, he shows how this theory might have played out on creation week, which I will discuss further down.

The second section holds the technical meat of the book. First, Dr. Humphreys discusses previous attempts by creationists to solve the starlight problem and why they are insufficient. Then he goes into a biblical basis for the cosmology that he is describing, going even so far as providing Hebrew word studies. Throughout all of this, he also provides diagrams. Finally, he gets to his paper on his solution to the distant starlight problem. This is by far the longest “chapter” of the book and the most technical. I will note that math is not my strong suit, but I feel like his descriptions around the equations were fairly straightforward.

Now as to his layout of creation week. To begin, both he and I agree that our faith does not rest on science but on the Word of God. Creationism cannot answer all of our questions, be they about nature or otherwise. But, God has given us a desire to search out what He has created, to His glory and praise, and also to help those around us. Thus, we trust that God did create, even if we don’t know how it happened exactly. Dr. Humphreys notes several times that, just like any theory, his own may need alterations or to be scrapped altogether later on.

But for creation week itself, read his explanation with an open mind. He is not saying that “this is exactly how the miracle of creation happened.” Rather, he and other astrophysicists have noticed certain things about our solar system, galaxy, and even universe. Moreover, they want to know how to explain those observations. So we know there are certain things we observe – redshift, CMB, an expand(ed/ing) universe, distant stars, etc – and we know that God did create. So how do we understand the former in light of the latter? That is what Dr. Humphreys attempts to do in the areas around his technical explanation. He says, in essence, “If we could see what was physically happening during the miracle and speak-into-being creation by God, this is what it might have looked like.” Throughout his book, he notes that this is not a chance happening but a directed process, not taking millions of years but during creation week relative to earth standard time (his phrase). So while we would see the consequence of a natural process at any step, for all of them to happen the way they did could only be done if someone was directing them at the time, not if they happened “naturally” or on their own.

While I do not feel that I can recommend this book outright, mainly because I recognize there are parts that I do not understand, I do think this is a book well worth the read, even though it is a bit old. Though quite technical, it is short. And if you only want to read the first third of the book, you’d probably get it done in an hour or two. He will point out the bad assumptions made by scientists of all sorts in the past and how it leads to different (and often wrong) conclusions. But this is good. Starlight and Time stretches the mind. This book has made me better appreciate the work scientists do to help the layperson appreciate the world that God has made for us, and maybe help us understand this world a little bit better, too.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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