While most of the creationists busily at work undermining science education are fundamentalist Protestant Christians, Catholics and Jews can be creationists also. We have just seen how Henry Morris deals with the problem of distant stars seeming to prove the great antiquity of the Universe. Creationist Jews have pondered the problem also, and one of them has come up with a rather different solution.
In 1988, the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists published a volume of articles entitled Challenge: Torah Views on Science and its Problems. Among the articles in that book is one written by one Rabbi Simon Schwab. Its title is "How Old Is the Universe?"
The rabbi writes:
Our question is: How old is the Universe? Answer: the Universe is 5735 years old, plus six Creation Days. [The article was originally published in 1962, so we can add thirty more years to the age of the universe.]
Rabbi Schwab, like Henry Morris, is concerned with light. Unlike Morris however, he focuses on the problem posed by light being created on the first day of creation, even though the sun and stars were not zapped into existence until the fourth day. He also is concerned to explain the peculiar fact that Elohim is said to have divided the light from darkness -- a process Mark Twain likened to picking black-eyed peas out of tapioca, ridiculing the authors of Genesis for not knowing that darkness is merely the absence of light.
According to Rabbi Schwab, however:
Light was first intermingled with darkness. This "darkness" seems to have been not all absence of light, but a created "darkness," the exact nature of which is not revealed. Maybe it was akin to what scientists today call a Concentration of cosmic dust, dark "nebulae" or the like. When Light appeared for the first time, it was obscured partly by some dark matter and it did not unveil its brilliance.
You can see already we have gone light-minutes beyond the reasoning of the experts at the ICR! It should be mentioned, however, that Professor Richard Niessen, of Christian Heritage College-which is closely affiliated with the ICR -- back in 1985 told attendees (including me) at a creationism conference in Cleveland that creationists should devote more time to darkness research. Agreeing with Rabbi Schwab that darkness is a thing in itself, not just the absence of light, Professor Niessen laid out projects for the assembled creationist savants to pursue:
A second possible thing that creationists might look for is some kind of an instrument that will detect darkness. It is my conclusion, based on [scripture] that darkness is a positive thing.
But to get back to Rabbi Schwab: the thesis of his article gets better -- that is to say more difficult to understand. According to the rabbi, there is a universal, unalterable marker of the passage of time, the appearance and reappearance of what he calls "the creation light." As you know from the Bible, the first "day" began in the "evening" -- and to this day, Orthodox Jews consider the Sabbath to begin at sundown on Friday.
Hearken unto Rabbi Schwab:
Here we have a clear definition of the first creation Day. It begins as "evening" by the appearance of the creation Light, partially obscured by darkness, until the darkness disappears to leave the creation-Light to shine brilliantly for some time until it disappears. In other words, the first creation Day is equal to the time it takes the creation-Light to appear, alternately shining dimly and strongly until it fades away....
Although no one was aware of the fact until Rabbi Schwab revealed it in 1962:
Each time our globe turns, the creation Light appears until a full rotation of the earth has been completed; whereupon it reappears again for the same performance, and so on and on, until the end of days.
A word of caution is in place. It is obvious that what nobody can see cannot "appear." What we mean to imply by the word "appear" is, that a real event takes place in the Universe regularly, which our human senses cannot register at the present time. Yet the Torah informs us that such an event is occurring with undeviating regularity.
Although this now-undetectable light has always flashed on-and-off at twenty-four-hour intervals, during the six days of god's creative activity other measures of time were not working the way they do now. During creation week, all the processes of nature worked much, much faster than they now do. During what are now six periods of twenty-four hours billions of years of physical, geological, and chemical processes were able to transpire by virtue of their enormous rapidity. Thus, both Gentile science and the Torah are correct. All the processes that would take billions of years to complete did in fact run their course; they simply were compacted into six days. Beginning with the evening of the seventh day of creation week, when Elohim had to take a rest, natural processes slowed to their current rate, with each rotation of the Earth on its axis corresponding to one reappearance of the "creation-Light" you can't even see!
Dazzling, isn't it? The reasoning, I mean. The "creation-Light" you can't even see.
While the rabbi seems to have come up with an unfalsifiable method for reconciling the great age of the Universe required by astronomy with the absurdly young age required by Genesis there remains a problem. Apart from the fact that unfalsifiable statements -- statements for which you can't even imagine a way to devise a test -- are scientifically meaningless there is the awkward difficulty involving the sequences of events recorded by Genesis on the one hand, and geology on the other.
Thus, we have Genesis chapter one telling us that green plants are older than the sun, whereas the record in the rocks gives us something more than a sneaking suspicion that the sun is older than green plants! It quite boggles the mind to contemplate green plants waiting millions of years for the sun to begin to shine. Genesis tells us that birds are older than reptiles, whereas the paleontological evidence is crystal clear: birds are descended from reptiles, and did so many, many millions of years after the first reptiles appeared. In addition to the problems with the sequence of creation given in Genesis chapter one, there is the stupendous problem of Genesis chapter two. In that chapter we learn that Adam -- the first male of the human species -- was created before all other kinds of living things, even before plants -- and Eve was created as an afterthought when Adam couldn't quite get into bestiality. Perhaps the timewarp proposed by the good rabbi also worked as a sequencewarp.