After posting earlier today about the detection of when the cosmic dawn (i.e., the appearance of the first stars) occurred, I started thinking about how religious people would react to news like this, especially those religions that have anthropocentric views of the universe, like the Abrahamic religions that have the Genesis story as their foundational myths
Young Earth creationists will reject any idea that the universe is that old and will come up with some ad hoc explanation, such as that the signals that were detected by the researchers were created by their god at the same time as the universe was created about 6,000 years ago, just like he created the fossils. This was all done in some mysterious attempt to make us think that the universe is old when it is not. Their god is such a kidder, always messing with the minds of his creations!
More sophisticated religious apologists take the Genesis story as metaphors and will interpret their creation myths to include these results. “In the beginning …” will be taken as a metaphor for the Big Bang and this latest finding will signal the moment when their god metaphorically said “Let their be light!” All this effort will be expended in pursuance of the anthropocentric idea that their god created the universe and set in motion a complex process by which human beings in his image would eventually emerge billions of years later.
Both groups need to explain why human beings are special. The young Earthers have a straightforward explanation for how humans appeared (“God created them directly”) that requires them to reject pretty much all of science. The sophisticated apologists who largely accept science are forced to create a highly contrived scenario of their god creating a Rube Goldberg apparatus of the universe to eventually produce humans when he could have simply and directly created them.
It is not easy being religious in this scientific age.