A correspondent (in Usenet talk.origins) is debating a creationist who seems to have posed a rather unusual question (but it may be very familiar?) "1x10^22 [in the universe, estimated] is too many stars to have formed in 13.7 billion years."
This probably does not mean anything - apparently it was offered wrapped in Humphrey "cosmology" - but I think it must be interpreted as "The orthodox theory and rate of formation of stars is not sufficient for the number of stars now seen in the universe, therefore science has got it wrong and in fact God did it."
I presume that if theory really wasn't up to the job of accounting for the stars in the sky then there would be more talk about it - 'dark matter" in its first theoretical incarnation represents a similar cosmological "problem" and it remains a live question - but I am asking in order to make sure.
I also presume that to consider the history of this our own galaxy will be sufficient. Apart from corporate acquisitions, which are common, there is little intercourse between the galaxies.
I am very very much a layman, I don't even look out of the window at night, but it's my understanding that massive stars in the early universe (Populatiion II, III) formed, burned, changed cycle and were liable to explode in the end, seeding the hydrogen/helium gas between stars with "metals" (any element not beginning with H, and the ones that do that I've forgotten), which then appeared in the Population I stars as well as the planet Earth. Smaller early stars lasted for longer, some until now. Smaller bodies still never lit themselves up like proper stars, because there wasn't enough pressure to cause fusion.
And, as stars use up hydrogen, they will leave less around to make new stars. It's like that mathematical puzzle where you make cigarettes out of the butt-ends of used cigarettes, then you smoke the butt-ends of those, and finally you give up and buy nicotine patches.
So, present-day star formation rate may be less than in the old days, and conversely over time it needs to account for stars that no longer exist as well as those that do.
Other interpretations of the original question include that a sign is reversed and 13.7 billion years would produce many -more- stars than we find now, therefore the universe is not as old as that, after all; or a highly garbled version of the argument here,
- that 13.7 billion years and 10^22 stars are not enough to produce living things by "random chance". The last is nonsense, but numbers one and two are astronomy.
So - are stars known to be born quickly enough to account for the ones that we see? Remember not to beg the question. Thank you!