Twinkle, Twinkle

I want to devote some attention to Wacky’s “joke”:

Many of the stars we see are non-existent. So, they are older than they appear. Indeed, they appear to exist while they don’t!

This turns the apparent age of stars question on its head, focusing on the destruction, rather than the creation, of a star. If YEC has to take flack for insisting that stars must be younger than they appear, why can’t OEC be similarly faulted with respect to stars being “older than they appear”? I’m not sure why Wacky thinks this is a joke, but it doesn’t really matter, because the criticism is wide of the mark. Every OEC (and atheist materialist) understands and affirms that every star is older than it appears — that what we see of any star is from an earlier point in its life. This is as sure as the fact that we receive sunlight that was emitted 8 minutes ago, the Jupiter we see is the Jupiter of an hour ago, and the self we see in a mirror is who we were 0.000000003 seconds ago.

So yes, every star is older than it appears, and we have no way to be certain that any stars actually exist right now. Who knows; maybe no stars exist right now, and God is almost finished with a star elimination schedule so that, from Earth’s time-lagged perspective, they all dis-appear at once.

Speaking of appearing, note that the most tenuous point (to my mind) of Hugh Ross’ flavor of OEC is day 4, when he has to push the Hebrew to say not “God made”, but “God had made” the heavenly objects, and on day 4 they were only made apparent to the Holy Spirit’s earth-surface perspective. Critics, I think, are justified in objecting that this “creative” act is not creative at all, since it involves only the thinning of the atmosphere from translucent to transparent. Surely day 4, like all the other days, should involve creating, not making apparent.

But note that also from the 6×24 perspective, the same “making apparent” is essential to God’s activity on day 4. Even our very closest star neighbor is 4.2 light years away. So without supernatural intervention, Adam wouldn’t start to see stars in the night sky until years after he was kicked out of the garden. Stars would continue to pop into view as their light reached earth. Given that the Milky Way is about 100,000 light years in size, we might not even have been able to see all of our own galaxy yet!

But the fact is, we can see to the edge of our galaxy, and to galaxies far, far beyond. So from a 6×24 perspective, God’s fiat creation of stars is irrelevant unless he also makes them immediately apparent (because otherwise we would never see them). And even so, 6×24 makes the actual existence of anything beyond our galaxy irrelevant, since the astronomical distances involved ensure that all we could ever experience of it would be miraculously-staged light.

Note also that God’s hypothetical miraculous making-apparent of distant stars and galaxies is not a simple photoshop job; it is full video from all directions; stars are born and die, quasars flash, galaxies collide. But 6×24 would have us believe that God has chosen to show us a universe’s-worth of history, from a past that never existed. In fact, this could be considered the opposite of revelation; God uses a light show to conceal the fact that the stars we “see” did not exist long enough ago for us to be seeing them now!

Forester has equated the observation of billions of years from starlight to the “construct” of billions of years that comes from observation of “rock layers and fossilized remains.”

Darwinists claim to observe, in rock layers and fossilized remains, billions of years and the seamless evolutionary progression of life, but they do not; they observe only rock layers and fossilized remains. Billions of years and seamless evolutionary progression are constructs with the potential for error despite the inductive processes used to reach them.

You claim to observe, in starlight, billions of years, but you do
not; you observe only starlight. No stopwatch has ticked off billions
of years. That is a construct with the potential for error despite the
inductive processes you used to reach it. We live but a moment on a small speck of dust in a great big sky. No sweeping vantage on the cosmos, that.

Granted, radiometric or other geologic dating methods are forensic — in that we don’t observe events, we make inferences from observing the residuals of events. But observing starlight is not such a forensic construct — no more than using eyeglasses is a construct. When we see a star (when we see anything!) we see the actual past event! And if the light we see did not originate from a star, and travel to our eyes (across that great big cosmos, while billions of years ticked away), then it is not starlight that we observe, but merely light. And if the light we see did not originate from a star, where was the light when the stars were created X thousand years ago? What is the relationship of that light to any stars that might or might not exist?

What is the genre of this fully-spherical IMAX movie that God has projected into our night sky? Is it documentary, or is it fiction?

58 Responses

  1. Excellent post. Of course it hits while I’m at work, so just a quick reply for now.

    I have to chuckle at this …

    RubeRad: When we see a star (when we see anything!) we see the actual past event!

    … because (you may recall) I’m the one who gave you this counterargument in the first place! It was your last trip out to Maryland, we were tootling around the airport in your rental car playing with its mapquest gizmo, and I reported this counter I’d heard from none other than Answers in Genesis. So it would be interesting to look at their own acknowledgement of the starlight issue:

    Answers in Genesis: However, what the astronomer receives is also a particular, very specific pattern of variation within the light, showing him/her the changes that one would expect to accompany such an explosion—a predictable sequence of events involving neutrinos, visible light, X-rays and gamma-rays. The light carries information recording an apparently real event. The astronomer is perfectly justified in interpreting this ‘message’ as representing an actual reality—that there really was such an object, which exploded according to the laws of physics, brightened, emitted X-rays, dimmed, and so on, all in accord with those same physical laws.

    Everything he sees is consistent with this, including the spectral patterns in the light from the star giving us a ‘chemical signature’ of the elements contained in it. Yet the ‘light created en route’ explanation means that this recorded message of events, transmitted through space, had to be contained within the light beam from the moment of its creation, or planted into the light beam at a later date, without ever having originated from that distant point. (If it had started from the star—assuming that there really was such a star—it would still be 90,000 light years away from earth.)

    To create such a detailed series of signals in light beams reaching earth, signals which seem to have come from a series of real events but in fact did not, has no conceivable purpose. Worse, it is like saying that God created fossils in rocks to fool us, or even test our faith, and that they don’t represent anything real (a real animal or plant that lived and died in the past). This would be a strange deception.

    I don’t agree with everything above, but we must note that not even Answers in Genesis suggests light was created midway. (When I appear to do so later, it will be for a different argumentative purpose.)

    If you read my comment closely, I didn’t suggest midway light. Your rejection of the term “starlight” is justified — you’re right that it’s essentially no different from the light reaching me from my computer screen. My point was that we use starlight to extrapolate time, and such extrapolation, like any, has potential for error.

    Here’s a recent case of incorrect starlight-extrapolated time: Oops! Huge distant galaxy actually small and close Astronomers are rubbing their eyes after discovering that a galaxy assumed to have been a giant for the past 23 years is in fact a dwarf, according to new observations.

    NGC 5011C, a galaxy in the vicinity of the Milky Way is located towards the Centaurus constellation, one of the largest constellations of the southern hemisphere. Because of its low density of stars and absence of other features, astronomers would normally classify such a galaxy as a dwarf elliptical–a small faint galaxy with little gas and dust that mainly consists of old stars.

    However, for years scientists thought that NGC 5011C was located in the more distant Centaurus cluster–located some 155 million light years away–close to the NGC 5011B galaxy, its bright red companion. So they pinned it as a giant galaxy that was just far away.

    Most galaxies–the basic units of the universe which contain stars, gas, dust, and dark matter bound together by one central gravitational force–are found in gravitationally joined binary pairs or in groups. So it was no surprise that the projection of NGC 5011C and NGC 5011B in the sky had astronomers believing that they were cohorts at about the same distance from our own.

    But new data obtained with the 3.6-m ESO telescope, revealed that the two galaxies have very different red shifts and are not at the same distance as once believed. NGC 5011C is centered around the Centaurus A galaxy group which is estimated to be about 13 million light years away from our galaxy, while the NGC 5011B galaxy–a member of the Centaurus cluster–is about 12 times farther away.

    The NGC 5011C galaxy lies outside of the Local Group, a small group of around 30 galaxies that include our own Milky Way. Being that the Universe is about 14 billion years old, observing NGC 5011C will giving us a small glimpse of the universe as it was just yesterday–more than 95 percent of its current age.

    The astronomers then determined that NGC 5011C contains only about 10 million times the mass of the Sun in stars. Therefore it’s considered a dwarf galaxy.

    “Our new observations with the 3.6-m ESO telescope thus confirm a new member of the nearby Centaurus A group whose true identity remained hidden because of coordinate confusion and wrong distance estimates in the literature for the last 23 years,” said Ivo Saviane, a researcher from the European Southern Observatory.

    Don’t get me wrong — I don’t pretend a mistake in the case of one particular star, and of only one order of magnitude, throws out all astronomical calculations of an old universe. But I do think it shows us that such calculations are indeed that — calculations — that include a possibility of error. We’re not observing billions of years, we’re extrapolating it.

    You’ve got an excellent larger question here …

    RubeRad: What is the genre of this fully-spherical IMAX movie that God has projected into our night sky? Is it documentary, or is it fiction?

    … and I don’t mind addressing it here before continuing my larger case on the other thread. (Gotta get back to work now.) In the meantime, I would think you could acknowledge billions of years is an interpretation of general revelation. The case that it’s not trustworthy will be the harder one to make.

  2. “billions of years is an interpretation of general revelation” — yes, it’s an interpretation that follows from the presupposition that God’s IMAX movie is a documentary. Even AiG sez “The astronomer is perfectly justified in interpreting this ‘message’ as representing an actual reality.” AiG’s third paragraph up there is also a perfectly valid criticism of YEC.

    But your “it’s not trustworthy” = “God’s IMAX is fiction”, no?

  3. RubeRad: “billions of years is an interpretation of general revelation” — yes, it’s an interpretation that follows from the presupposition that God’s IMAX movie is a documentary.

    Cool, I can work with that.

    RubeRad: But your “it’s not trustworthy” = “God’s IMAX is fiction”, no?

    No. (Convincing you of that will be one of my goals.)

  4. Adam wouldn’t start to see stars in the night sky until years after he was kicked out of the garden

    Do you know how long Adam was in the garden?

  5. Not to divert threads but how are distances to stars determined?

  6. Bruce S: Do you know how long Adam was in the garden?

    Great Scott, that’s it! Before Adam and Eve were kicked out, they weren’t touched by death — they had free access to eat from the tree of life, which means they could’ve been in the garden hundreds, thousands, even billions of years before sinning! Duncan and Hall really are agnostic!

    (No criticism, just joshing around.)

  7. Do you know how long Adam was in the garden?

    I would say that Adam was in the garden for less time than it takes to knock up Eve.

    Not to divert threads but how are distances to stars determined?

    I’ve always been surprised that YECs always seem to object to the billions of years needed to see objects billions of light years away (which is simple arithmetic), but they swallow whole that the objects really are billions of light years away (which we know from a more complicated bootstrapping of various techniques).

    Because the earth is in a different vantage every 6 months (being on the far side of the sun), for close stars we can measure distance by measuring parallax and using trigonometry. Apparently that works to about 100 light years, and those measurements provide for the calibration of the more sophisticated and indirect methods that are required to reach into the billions of light years away. Here’s an interesting read about a relatively recent technique that can measure very much smaller parallax angles, thus confirming stellar distances with geometric calculations out to around 100 million light years.

  8. I’ve always been surprised that YECs always seem to object to the billions of years needed to see objects billions of light years away (which is simple arithmetic), but they swallow whole that the objects really are billions of light years away (which we know from a more complicated bootstrapping of various techniques).

    Ironic! Before posting this comment I actually revised it to remove mention of star distances — precisely because I didn’t want to raise unnecessary objections. (The original version included the humorous line, “No pedometer has racked up billions of light years.”)

    The difference between time and distance is that of immediacy: the universe really is the way it is; how it came to be that way is the question. Of course those two are entangled when it comes to objects as far away as stars, but perhaps not necessarily so. So while distance calculations also contain potential for error, such errors are irrelevant to the theological teaching I see in Genesis.

  9. Despite your editing, I still saw your acknowledgment of size in the phrase “We live but a moment on a small speck of dust in a great big sky.”

    The difference between time and distance is that of immediacy

    But there is no such thing as absolute immediacy for us. As long as we are trapped inside spacetime, we never see any event immediately when it occurs, but after a time lag.

    You understand that we see the sun from 8 minutes ago, and yourself in the mirror from 0.000000003 seconds ago. Where do you draw the line between “distance + fact of observation = time since event” and “distance + fact of observation = something funny going on”? Is there a “Creation horizon” out there in a sphere with a radius of X thousands of light years, short of which our observations are “trustworthy”, but beyond which they are not?

    I know, I know, you have all the answers bubbling slowly to your fingertips — all will be revealed soon enough.

  10. Coincidentally, I was reading this article from forester’s and my (grammar?) alumni magazine last night.

    Don’t let the perspective and calm of a clear night sky fool you: The universe is a mess.

    Astrophysicists, cosmologists, theorists, and other Big Thinkers intimately understand this. It’s a lot to clean up, intellectually speaking. They will tell you that the whole shebang is up for grabs, that theories of its vastness and mechanics are constantly in flux, falling in and out of fashion almost as rapidly as amateur television singers.

    …Early on, he and his dad would look up at the sky to ponder a thunderstorm or a black blanket dotted with planets, stars, and the occasional comet. Michael Riess told his son that the light he was seeing from stars is millions of years old, and that a star or two he was viewing may no longer exist.

    …All controversies aside, there may never have been a better time to practice the science, Riess says. “We’re in a special time right now, a time some call The Era of Precision Cosmology. This used to be a more speculative science, but in the last decade we’ve come up with new ways to measure the universe.”

    As ‘in flux’ as secular cosmology may be, there doesn’t seem to be any disagreement that the universe is 13.7 billion years old.

  11. Another article about the discovery of a supernova 5 billion light years away.

    “The distance of this supernova in light-years corresponds roughly to the age of the solar system,” said Dr. Saul Perlmutter, a physicist at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California and a member of the discovery team. “That means that the light from this supernova began its journey just about the time the Earth was being formed and arrived here in April. We’re glad we were around to see it.”

  12. I owe some responses but have limited time, so I’m posting the next step of my larger argument. Again, this is just laying a foundation, it isn’t meant to score — and yes, I anticipate dissent and discussion!

    How Versus Why

    In past discussions with limejelly you argued that science can answer questions of HOW, but not WHY, claiming the latter as the domain of religion. (A perusal of that thread, started 3 Apr 06, shows this current discussion has been a long time coming!) A key passage:

    RubeRad: Now everybody, Religion or Science, whether or not they want to admit it or even think about it very hard, is faced with the question of WHAT we should do. And though HOW is helpful in determining WHAT we can do (and of course HOW it can be done), ultimately a WHY is needed to justify doing one thing vs. another.

    Thus you couched HOW-versus-WHY in the context of decision-making, suggesting that we either need or desire some framework of direction to motivate us. Any such framework must contain a conception of human nature, which in turn must relate to an ontological conception of how humanity fits into the larger universe. So even though you focused HOW-versus-WHY on decision-making, it’s fair to broaden the questions out: HOW the universe, and WHY the universe.

    To proceed I’m going to guess your answers to these two questions. I’m keeping my guesses simple, not to set up a strawman, but to avoid unnecessary objections. If these guesses are wrong, please correct me:

    HOW the universe?
    RubeRad: Big Bang. (“What is the Big Bang but ex nihilo?”)

    WHY the universe?
    RubeRad: God set off the Big Bang for His own glory.

    Limejelly’s materialist perspective didn’t agree with two distinct questions:

    limejelly: I disagree that how or why are helpful divisors – as a scientist, there is a level of abstraction at which I ask “why is there heat here”, which will be answered with some form of reason to do with a radiator, or an angry person, or a cheap publishing company. … (Heat is a magazine over here that caters for the stereotypical daytime TV audience)

    Likewise, when cosmologists ask HOW they don’t stop at the Big Bang, leaving anything beforehand to a religious WHY. Strict induction reduces all WHY questions to HOW. In the case of cosmological origins this reduction yield great comedy. I’ve argued in the past that both sides, evolution and creation, ultimately boil down to tautologies, but when it comes to abitrary speculation, creationists can’t compete with today’s cosmologists:

    New York Times: Big brain theory: Have cosmologists lost theirs?, Dennis Overbye, 15 Jan 08

    It could be the weirdest and most embarrassing prediction in the history of cosmology, if not science.

    If true, it would mean that you yourself reading this article are more likely to be some momentary fluctuation in a field of matter and energy out in space than a person with a real past born through billions of years of evolution in an orderly star-spangled cosmos. Your memories and the world you think you see around you are illusions.

    This bizarre picture is the outcome of a recent series of calculations that take some of the bedrock theories and discoveries of modern cosmology to the limit. Nobody in the field believes that this is the way things really work, however. And so in the last couple of years there has been a growing stream of debate and dueling papers, replete with references to such esoteric subjects as reincarnation, multiple universes and even the death of spacetime, as cosmologists try to square the predictions of their cherished theories with their convictions that we and the universe are real. The basic problem is that across the eons of time, the standard theories suggest, the universe can recur over and over again in an endless cycle of big bangs, but it’s hard for nature to make a whole universe. It’s much easier to make fragments of one, like planets, yourself maybe in a spacesuit or even — in the most absurd and troubling example — a naked brain floating in space. Nature tends to do what is easiest, from the standpoint of energy and probability. And so these fragments — in particular the brains — would appear far more frequently than real full-fledged universes, or than us. Or they might be us.

    Alan Guth, a cosmologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who agrees this overabundance is absurd, pointed out that some calculations result in an infinite number of free-floating brains for every normal brain, making it “infinitely unlikely for us to be normal brains.” Welcome to what physicists call the Boltzmann brain problem, named after the 19th-century Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann, who suggested the mechanism by which such fluctuations could happen in a gas or in the universe. Cosmologists also refer to them as “freaky observers,” in contrast to regular or “ordered” observers of the cosmos like ourselves. Cosmologists are desperate to eliminate these freaks from their theories, but so far they can’t even agree on how or even on whether they are making any progress.

    If you are inclined to skepticism this debate might seem like further evidence that cosmologists, who gave us dark matter, dark energy and speak with apparent aplomb about gazillions of parallel universes, have finally lost their minds. But the cosmologists say the brain problem serves as a valuable reality check as they contemplate the far, far future and zillions of bubble universes popping off from one another in an ever-increasing rush through eternity. What, for example is a “typical” observer in such a setup? If some atoms in another universe stick together briefly to look, talk and think exactly like you, is it really you?

    “It is part of a much bigger set of questions about how to think about probabilities in an infinite universe in which everything that can occur, does occur, infinitely many times,” said Leonard Susskind of Stanford, a co-author of a paper in 2002 that helped set off the debate. Or as Andrei Linde, another Stanford theorist given to colorful language, loosely characterized the possibility of a replica of your own brain forming out in space sometime, “How do you compute the probability to be reincarnated to the probability of being born?”

    The expansion of the universe seems to be accelerating, making galaxies fly away from one another faster and faster. If the leading dark-energy suspect, a universal repulsion Einstein called the cosmological constant, is true, this runaway process will last forever, and distant galaxies will eventually be moving apart so quickly that they cannot communicate with one another. Being in such a space would be like being surrounded by a black hole.

    Rather than simply going to black like “The Sopranos” conclusion, however, the cosmic horizon would glow, emitting a feeble spray of elementary particles and radiation, with a temperature of a fraction of a billionth of a degree, courtesy of quantum uncertainty. That radiation bath will be subject to random fluctuations just like Boltzmann’s eternal universe, however, and every once in a very long, long time, one of those fluctuations would be big enough to recreate the Big Bang. In the fullness of time this process could lead to the endless series of recurring universes. Our present universe could be part of that chain.

    In such a recurrent setup, however, Dr. Susskind of Stanford, Lisa Dyson, now of the University of California, Berkeley, and Matthew Kleban, now at New York University, pointed out in 2002 that Boltzmann’s idea might work too well, filling the megaverse with more Boltzmann brains than universes or real people.

    In the same way the odds of a real word showing up when you shake a box of Scrabble letters are greater than a whole sentence or paragraph forming, these “regular” universes would be vastly outnumbered by weird ones, including flawed variations on our own all the way down to naked brains, a result foreshadowed by Martin Rees, a cosmologist at the University of Cambridge, in his 1997 book, “Before the Beginning.”

    Another contentious issue is whether the cosmologists in their calculations could consider only the observable universe, which is all we can ever see or be influenced by, or whether they should take into account the vast and ever-growing assemblage of other bubbles forever out of our view predicted by eternal inflation. In the latter case, as Alex Vilenkin of Tufts University pointed out, “The numbers of regular and freak observers are both infinite.” Which kind predominate depends on how you do the counting, he said..

    In eternal inflation, the number of new bubbles being hatched at any given moment is always growing, Dr. Linde said, explaining one such counting scheme he likes. So the evolution of people in new bubbles far outstrips the creation of Boltzmann brains in old ones. The main way life emerges, he said, is not by reincarnation but by the creation of new parts of the universe. “So maybe we don’t need to care too much” about the Boltzmann brains,” he said.

    “If you are reincarnated, why do you care about where you are reincarnated?” he asked. “It sounds crazy because here we are touching issues we are not supposed to be touching in ordinary science. Can we be reincarnated?”

    “People are not prepared for this discussion,” Dr. Linde said.

    (Consider reading the whole article — I left out some juicy parts.)

    Amusing, eh? While we might be tempted to shrug it away as sophistry (the inevitably farcical consequence of extracting infinity from transcendent Creator and stuffing it into empirical creation), scientists don’t treat these ideas as speculation. Recently one researcher claimed “the first experimental evidence for the existence of another universe”:

    The Blog of Science: Evidence for a parallel universe?

    However, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill physics Professor Laura Mersini-Houghton made a staggering claim. She says, “Standard cosmology cannot explain such a giant cosmic hole” and goes further with the ground-breaking hypothesis that the huge void is “… the unmistakable imprint of another universe beyond the edge of our own”.

    The idea of alternative, or parallel universes has been around for quite a while and has provided considerable inspiration for Sci-Fi literature and sparked endless philosophical debate, but although begin seriously considered within the scientific realm it never crossed the limits of speculative of purely theoretical grounds. Perhaps until now. If Mersini-Houghton is right, Eridanus’ giant hole would be the first experimental evidence for the existence of another universe. The implications of this possibility are obviously of huge importance for everybody, but it also has further relevance for the astrophysics community as it would bring support for the hotly debated string theory and other central debates.

    But Mersini-Houghton and colleagues’ theory of entangled universes make testable predictions, providing the opportunity to confirm or refute the claim as more data arrive to the astronomers’ computers. Her model predicts the existence of two voids rather than one, one in each hemisphere of our universe. The one that has been found by WMAP’s data lies in the Northern hemisphere. They expect new data will show a second similar void in the Southern side. This and other cutting-edge experimental projects testing Mersini-Houghton’s ideas will tell us whether a new era in cosmological thinking has indeed arrived.

    So the HOW question doesn’t stop at the Big Bang — inductive science goes on ad infinitum. The great irony is its final answer: “Everything! Just everything, okay? The set of everything you can possibly imagine, plus the set of everything you can’t!” Everything, that is, except God. No, you can’t have God. Naked brains floating in patchwork universes, sure — just no God.

    Are you not reminded of I Corinthians chapter 1?

    For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

    So we come to another principle common between us: natural observation cannot answer every HOW.

    RubeRad: Science cannot even answer every HOW
    Science probably cannot even determine exactly how much of HOW it can answer, so there is indeed merit to reaching the boundary empirically (by continually probing)

    That second point of yours is important, as it permits free scientific inquiry (the kind many wrongly presume me to oppose — but more on that later). Yet I can’t help but noting several cases in which you might predict, on the basis of special revelation, where the limit of natural observation of general revelation will fall:

    1. Because you see the Big Bang as creation ex nihilo, I presume you would assert that, contrary to the New York Times article above, nothing will be found to have existed prior to the Big Bang.

    2. The Drake equation predicts up to 5,000 intelligent civilizations in our own galaxy. For a host of reasons including humanity’s bearing the image of God and the fact that Jesus cannot be crucified again, I presume you’re skeptical that another intelligent civilization will ever be found in the universe.

    3. Strict materialism sees human consciousness as a matter of electro-chemical impulses that one day will be duplicated by artificial intelligence. (Indeed, by the year 2050 we’re predicted to legalize marriage with robots.) Because you believe humanity was made in the image of God, I presume you would dispute the notion that artificial consciousness can be fundamentally the same as human consciousness.

    In listing these cases I’m not suggesting a special revelation-derived suspicion on your part would motivate you to oppose inductive inquiry on these fronts. You wouldn’t; neither would I (especially not as continued research may confirm our suspicions!). But from these cases we may see an extension to the principle above: in some cases special revelation may inform our observation of general revelation.

    That’s not to suggest that Genesis necessarily informs our observation of starlight, fossil record, etc. What I do mean to suggest is that, as long as it meets the heliocentrism standard

    RubeRad: What I want to see is an argument that shows why theologians who resisted the heliocentric model were WRONG where theologians who are clinging to 6×24 are somehow different.

    … a case may be made for it to do so.

  13. I don’t know that I have any significant dissent, but there can at least be discussion!

    1. “prior to the Big Bang” is a meaningless concept. Time also had its beginning at the Big Bang, so there is no before. Also, it seems to me fundamentally true that our observation is confined to the space-time of the universe in which we find ourselves. I’m not sure how that relates to special revelation.

    2. Here’s another link for the Drake Equation. Your wiki link uses f_l=100% (the probability that a life-supporting planet will develop life), whereas I (and I think Hugh Ross, and probably all of ID) would assert that f_l is 0 without Divine intervention. So yes, I’m skeptical that another intelligent civilization will ever be found, but I wouldn’t say that is the same as special revelation providing a limit to where general revelation will fail. I would say rather that, if special revelation dictates that there are no other intelligent civilizations, and general revelation does not find them, then the reliability of general revelation is upheld. You can’t call general revelation a failure for failing to find something that isn’t there!

    3. That’s an odd insertion into this discussion. I don’t have anything useful to say about it right now.

    the heliocentrism standard

    For the record, I have failed to respond that I think Wacky has provided a number of useful bits of information in this very long comment. Most notably, I agree that exegetical evidence for 6×24 is stronger than for geocentrism; and since I’m uninformed, I’m willing to stipulate that the geocentric church was hand-in-hand with the prevailing “secular” science of the day.

    But contrariwise, I find sufficient exegetical evidence that Gen 1-2 cannot be consistently literal and/or sequential, and the scientific consensus of the day makes the Galileo issue one of timing. Historically, we see that, at the (possibly) appropriate time, after secular science had digested Galileo’s hypotheses, the church recognized the accuracy of heliocentrism, and mended its faulty exegeses. Which brings me back to the original question of this post, which is to ask the parallel question: “When will YEC give up in the face of continually unfalsified secular science, so the church can move past this controversy?”

    I predict that, maybe not quite in my lifetime, but in 100 years, the church will have gotten over the Scopes hysteria, and something like day-age exegesis will be the norm.

  14. Not that we’re in disagreement on this point, but I just saw another piping-hot case of extrapolation error:

    University of Sydney: The Milky Way is twice the size we thought it was

    It took just a couple of hours using data available on the internet for University of Sydney scientists to discover that the Milky Way is twice as wide as previously thought.

    Astrophysicist Professor Bryan Gaensler led a team that has found that our galaxy – a flattened spiral about 100,000 light years across – is 12,000 light years thick, not the 6,000 light years that had been previously thought.

    Proving not all science requires big, expensive apparatus, Professor Gaensler and colleagues, Dr Greg Madsen, Dr Shami Chatterjee and PhD student Ann Mao, downloaded data from the internet and analysed it in a spreadsheet.

    “We were tossing around ideas about the size of the Galaxy, and thought we had better check the standard numbers that everyone uses. It took us just a few hours to calculate this for ourselves. We thought we had to be wrong, so we checked and rechecked and couldn’t find any mistakes.”

    The rest of the article is a good read.

    Again, don’t get me wrong — I don’t pretend a mistake like this one throws out all astronomical calculations of an old universe. But I do think it shows us that such calculations are indeed that — calculations — that include a possibility of error.

    I particularly appreciate the article’s last line:

    “Some colleagues have come up to me and have said ‘That wrecks everything!'” says Professor Gaensler. “And others have said ‘Ah! Now everything fits together!'”

  15. Rube,
    Somewhere up above you have a link to a NY times article mentioning a supernova some 5 Billion years ago that we are just now seeing.

    I recently read of a much larger and more impressive supernova from 7.5 Billion years ago being visible to the naked eye….

    I’ve been trying to take Ross’ “had made” objection seriously but I find it illogical.

    Even your latest post supposing the creation account to be prophetic, that doesn’t help to answer the questions as to why God would create Earth 9 billion years after the Universe and why he would destroy stars at least 3 Billion years before creating Earth (are we then to assume he said “It is good” followed by a galactic finger flick?)

    This alludes up to the foresters question about extra terrestrial life. Knowing what we know about the importance of earth, humanity and the church to God how can we argue for billions of years of cosmic playtime before those are materialized?

  16. Daniel,

    Considering the importance of Christ in history, what sense does it make for God to withhold him for thousands of years between Adam and Christ? Why didn’t Christ come and die right after Adam and Eve sinned?

    The answer is clear: preparation.


  17. I would say also that your anxiousness about that huge amount of time, is due to being a creature, trapped in time; we are used to the difficulty of patience (when there is “too much” time), and we are conscious that our lives are busy and finite (“not enough time”). God doesn’t have those kind of concerns.

  18. I don’t see it as a “time anxiety” problem. I see it as a confliction in what time is telling us problem.

    Unless of course Ross is right in saying God “had made” the stars billions of years before he made the earth. But even he had “had made” them (and destroyed them) billions of years before he made the earth then why, pray tell, did he indicate that he made the earth before he made them?

    It seems that one of your greatest complaints about a YEC position (that it makes God out to be in some sense dishonest) is a complaint that you’d have to also make towards Ross presentation.

    As for Echo’s “preparation” response.

    That’s fine, I acknowledge God’s preparatory work. But I also acknowledge his supernatural ability to do his work outside of the scientific “laws” we try to impose upon him.

    Whether God took 6 days or 13 billion years isn’t a issue to me. What is an issue to me is whether or not we make science or scripture the standard that convinces us.

  19. simple yes/no question based on what we see in the stars right now:

    Did God destroy a star 3 billion years before he created earth?

  20. Did God destroy a star 3 billion year before he created the earth?

    Because I know you’re looking for a simple yes or no, I’ll just say, “yes”.

    But I really don’t get the point. I’ve never seen a star being destroyed. I guess since there are black holes, some have in fact been destroyed. Was one destroyed 3 billion years ago? I haven’t the slightest idea. If one WAS destroyed 3 billion years ago, did God do it? Depends on what you mean. Sure, God decreed all things, and in that sense, governs all things by his providence. I couldn’t type these words if God had not first decreed it.

    But I don’t suppose that God reached down from heaven and squeezed the life out of a star in his hand.

    I suppose your point is that the Gen narrative says that stars were created after the earth, and now you’ve really got us backed into a corner by pointing out that our view entails that a star must have been destroyed before the earth was even created.

    But if that’s where you’re going with all of this, you don’t understand our view.

    Our view does not entail, at least mine doesn’t, that the narrative depicts events in the order in which they happened. I don’t care which he created first, the stars or planet earth, I’ll still interpret the text the same way.


  21. Daniel,

    You said: “I also acknowledge his supernatural ability to do his work outside of the scientific “laws” we try to impose upon him.”

    What you mean “we” white man?

    Sounds like the 6-24 types are the ones trying to impose laws on Scripture. “It can’t speak analogically!” Sure it can.

    Now what?


  22. But if that’s where you’re going with all of this, you don’t understand our view.

    I agree. I think I’ve made it very clear that I don’t understand your view.

    What you mean “we” white man?

    I mean “we” humans.

  23. Did God destroy a star 3 billion year before he created the earth?


    Although the more relevant question is “did anything happen 3 billion years ago, or does it just look like it did?”

    Also, I don’t see why you would care whether any stars were destroyed before the earth was created, since what you are really concerned with is whether any stars were created before the earth was created.

  24. since what you are really concerned with is whether any stars were created before the earth was created.

    right you are.

    My concern is in whether or not God intentionally misrepresented his creative abilities. Why he would do that? What message would he be sending? Why would only the beginning part of Genesis take this level of writing? (meaning why stop at the creation narrative as being analogy when the description of the fall and the flood are equally as difficult to grasp scientifically).

    Actually more than the message God would be sending in misrepresenting the order of creation what is the message he is intending to deliver through this analogy?

    Echo gave a very lengthy and well thought out answer to this question on ycehpor. I doubt many people read it other than me because most of the readers seem bored with the never ending circle and when a really long comment appears they decide it isn’t worth the investment.

    But even in Echo’s reasonable explanation of what he thinks the analogy is saying it fails to take into account the simple fact that there may very well be a purpose for which the 6 days of creation are ordered as such.

    and this is the part that is so confusing to me with Ross’ take. He admits this is a problem and so argues for day 4 to be a “God had made” instead of “God made” day.

    Why? Why is it out of order? Why did God create the stars before he created the earth and then describe it as having created the earth before creating the stars?

  25. Although the more relevant question is “did anything happen 3 billion years ago, or does it just look like it did?”

    This I actually don’t have a problem with. I don’t have any problem with billions and billions of years of the universe, the stars or of the earth. No problem at all. My problem is in trying to make Genesis 1 (or any part of the Bible) say something it doesn’t say.

    If it’s analogical then there is a reason why it describes the earth being created before the stars. I would like to know the reason.

  26. Why would only the beginning part of Genesis take this level of writing?

    Because this is the part that no man was around to witness.

    If it’s analogical then there is a reason why it describes the earth being created before the stars. I would like to know the reason.

    This is a good question. I think the answer has something to do with presenting an earth-surface-bound, phenomenal perspective (what the human observer would have observed — what the Holy Spirit (who was “hovering over the waters” did observe), rather than the outer-space “bird’s eye” (God’s eye) view that we Western scientists would like have.

    Think if you wanted to make a movie about Creation, a movie that shows the way you visualize what you read Gen 1. I bet, straightaway, you have an opening shot from out in space, and you see somehow the Big Blue Marble pop into existence. But add the restriction that you are not allowed to have “hyper-crane-shots” in your movie; the camera must always be, say, within a few hundred meters of earth’s sea level. How different would that movie be?

  27. your movie theory is exactly the reason why I doubt that God created the earth after the stars.

    There just doesn’t seem to be any real reason for it. And since there isn’t a reason for it we should go back to the default order of what God said about how he created.

    On the other point of view…

    I think it’s pretty significant if there was light, darkness, day and night, sky, land, water and vegetation before there were sun, moon and stars.

    And that those things would be given not as creators but as governors is even more significant.

    You see the ultimate reason for desiring a universe of many billions of years is to be able to explain an earth created as a result of evolution. But an earth created before the stars is the sole result of the spoken word of God. Not billions of years of chemical reactions (accidental or intended).

    An earth filled with vegetation even before the sun takes away power from the sun and puts that power completely in the sovereign LORD.

    clearly God gives the Genesis narrative to demonstrate his superior ability to give life over the pagan sun and moon worship. He gave life before he gave the sun. He doesn’t need the sun to sustain life. Therefore worshiping the sun is worshiping the created thing rather than the creator.

    But since it’s scientifically impossible to have life without the sun we know he must have made the sun before making vegetation. (sarcasm fully intended).

    It seems to me that the efforts to change the order of God’s creation is an effort (be it ever so veiled) to detract from his creative ability.

    Or perhaps God is mixing the order up to make sure we aren’t tempted to worship the sun for it’s creative ability. But then again wouldn’t that just be a deception employed by God to help him overcome his own insecurities?

    I’ll take the “deception” of stars appearing billions of years older than they actually are over the deception of an insecure creator.

  28. Daniel,

    I mean this sincerely: I rejoice that you read my long comment in the other thread. I appreciate it greatly. Thank you. I think this is to your credit, and I think the rewards are yours for taking the time to read it, and to think about what I was trying to say.

    To answer your question, I have talked about the ordering before.

    In the past, I have asserted that in Gen 1:2, three conditions are listed, three conditions that make the creation uninhabitable for man. The point of God’s creating all things is to enter into covenantal relations with man. Thus, the creation is formed in the way that it is so that man could dwell in it. Why did God make water? To quench man’s thirst. Why did he make plants and animals? To satisfy man’s hunger, and so sustain his life. Why did God create light? So that man could see and interact with his world, to dwell in it. Why did he make air? So that man could breathe.

    If we take this as our starting point, then we see that in Gen 1:2, there are three conditions present that make the creation uninhabitable. It is dark, it is formless, and it is empty.

    So God goes about solving these problems, in order to create a habitat in which man can live. On day 1, he creates light, solving the problem of the darkness. On days 2 and 3, he forms man’s world, solving the problem of formlessness. On days 4-6, he fills the earth with creatures, solving the problem of emptiness. Now, all problems being solved, he forms man, who dwells in that habitat, ruling over it, and in so doing, God enters into a covenant with him. “I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

    The specific ordering of the events of the creation week points us not to HOW God created, but WHY. Why did he create? To enter into covenant with man. And everything about the narrative screams this truth. Everything about the narrative points to authorities and powers of various kinds being set up to point to one truth: that man is to be in submission to God, just as the sea submits to fish, the sky submits to birds, the earth submits to plants, the plants submit to animals, and light submits to the sun moon and stars. And as all of it submits to man, man is to submit to God, even as woman submits to man.

    This is the point of the narrative. What the order of the events is doing is not showing us the actual order of all the events that actually took place. The narrative is not a science textbook. It’s a theology textbook. It teaches us that God created the universe to enter into covenant with man. That’s the center and focus of the narrative. The ordering of events serves THAT goal, that focus, not some other.

    The point of any passage of Scripture must govern how we interpret the details, because the details, when properly understood, add up to the point of the passage. So the point and the details mutually illumine one another. This is true of any passage of Scripture.

    So that means that whether God created planet earth first or the stars first is not the point of the passage. It does not intend to speak to this question, it doesn’t answer it. It answers a different question, and we must not make the text answer questions it is not asking and answering.

    Whether you agree with my interpretation of this passage in particular is not all that important to me. But what I do find to be crucially important is this method of interpreting Scripture according to the relation between the point of the passage and the details of the passage. These two aspects of the passage must be made to reconcile. This is what I find to be very important.


  29. Again your answer is well thought out and reasonable and I agree that what you are asserting is the priority of Genesis 1. But don’t you also agree that there is a reason it’s ordered in days and there’s a reason day 1 comes before day 3 and day 6 comes after day 4 and day 5 is before day 2? Why days? Why day 1, 2, 3, etc?

    I’ve presented this opinion (which I hadn’t heard earlier) about it being a demonstration of God’s superiority over creation specifically the false ideals of the pagan sun god, Ra.
    The LORD is showing life could indeed exist without the warmth and light of the sun.

    This is a beautiful reality seen also in the new Jerusalem…

    Revelation 21:22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

    Think about that… the city does not need the sun or the moon

    creation is completely dependent upon the sun. Without it, in fact, without our exact proximity to it, there is no possibility of life.

    Except for this demonstration given us by God in telling us he created the earth. He did so without the help of the sun. He did it without any assistance. He didn’t need to balance one thing on top of the other.

    That’s the awesome God of creation. That’s what he wants us to gather from Gen 1.

    That’s why it’s important (sez me) that we admit he created the earth before he created the stars especially our star, the sun.

    That’s why, when trying to reconcile science and scripture, we stop and submit to scripture not science.

  30. Gen 1:2 “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.”

    In Gen 1:2, the earth already exists before the days even start. You don’t need the order of the days to prove your point.

    However, you don’t have any creatures prior to day 4, when the sun is created. So you don’t have any life before day 4. So I’m not sure you can really prove what you’re saying from the ordering of the days.

    But anyway, I think the ordering DOES matter. The darkness problem is solved first, then the formlessness, then the emptiness. The ordering of that problem solving matters, and it puts creatures in the place of importance, the goal is the creatures, the goal is life, with man at the head, the pinnacle of creation.

    So yeah, the order matters. It means something.

    But as I said, there are three things, that if we take the narrative literally, are uncreated: darkness, the waters, and the earth. These three are not said to be created ex nihilo (out of nothing).

    So actually, if we want creation ex nihilo out of Gen 1, then we can’t interpret it literally (univocally).


  31. So actually, if we want creation ex nihilo out of Gen 1, then we can’t interpret it literally

    Um Genesis 1:1 in the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth. (not the stars and then 3 billion years later the earth).

    But anyway, I think the ordering DOES matter.

    But not in the case of the celestial bodies coming after the earth?

    So you don’t have any life before day 4. So I’m not sure you can really prove what you’re saying from the ordering of the days

    Day 3 vegetation. seed-bearing plants. Life. Not happening on a world without sun light.

    You don’t need the order of the days to prove your point.

    My point is the sun,moon and stars come after earth, light, waters, mountains, sky and vegetation in the narrative. God did this to demonstrate his power over the “sun god” Ra (the predominant god to the very first readers of Genesis.)

    I might not need to prove my point from the ordering of the days but God certainly did prove it in the ordering of the days.

  32. gotta go now. Honestly this thing about the sun god is just now coming into my mind I haven’t really given it much consideration but this whole idea of WHY God has the things in the order he has them has really got me thinking.

    I hope I don’t sound like someone who thinks he knows it all because I’ve said many, many times that is not the case especially in this subject. I’m just thinking. So please don’t think I’m trying to pick a fight with anyone.

  33. Gen 1:1 is a summary statement. You don’t get “heaven” until the firmament is formed to hold back the waters.

    So the point is that creation doesn’t start until day 1, and on that day, the only thing created is light.

    So this is just an argument against the literalists. If you take the days literally, then all the acts of creation have to take place on the 6 days, and in those days, very specific things are mentioned as being created.

    But if the creative activity is constrained to those 6 days, you don’t get creation ex nihilo, because the waters, the earth, and the darkness already exist before day 1 of the creation week.

    But anyway, your life without the sun business is interesting. I suppose you can say that one of the things that the narrative is teaching is that God is the source of life, and light is the way of teaching that. And John picks up on that in John 1:4-5. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

    Of course, you have begun on the path of analogy here, if light symbolizes life, and if the narrative is teaching that the sun is not the source of life, but God himself.

    But then, I wouldn’t begrudge you embarking on such a journey in this text, because there are layers upon layers of analogies.

    Note, though, that that doesn’t mean that we who believe that the narrative is an analogy are liberals. Liberals would say that the days have NO meaning, that they aren’t like our days. Or they would say that the fact that it’s a week teaches nothing about the Sabbath. They would say that the narrative is just a poetic way to say that God is the Creator. Nothing more. That is untrue. They might even say that God really isn’t involved in creation, but just got the ball rolling, like the Deists would say, and that evolution has taken over from the moment of creation. That would be perhaps an extreme liberal view.

    But viewing the text as analogy isn’t the same as this. It’s different. We think the words have meaning. We just think that it’s like saying “My car is a lemon.” It’s a true statement, and the word “lemon” says something about my car. It just isn’t saying that my car is a piece of fruit.


  34. I’ve never argued against understanding certain portions as analogy. i.e. the “lesser light” obviously refers to the moon, but we also know that the moon isn’t actually a light but a reflector of light.

    But the point of any analogy of course is to communicate truth to the hearer.

    This means that analogies have significance.

    My problem with the argument that the days are analogous and not literal is that no explanation for “there was evening, and there was morning- the first day” is adequately offered.

    Why, day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6?
    Why this before that and that before this, especially if this didn’t come before that?

    My problem goes a step further when I consider why I am even forced to consider this question. Why do I have to look and see if it’s just analogy and not actuality?

    Because it’s being challenged by science?

    Science challenges every part of the Bible. the Bible is filled with events that transcend natural law.

    So why should I choose just one of those events to rationalize “scientifically” while attributing the others to the super natural ability of God?

    Again, I don’t doubt that God could have created the universe over the course of billions of years. But also and equally don’t doubt that he could have created it just 10,000 years ago. I don’t know and the Bible doesn’t tell me.

    But I do think that Bible tells us that the earth was the beginning of his creation with regards to the natural/physical realm. I think this is important because it reminds us that there aren’t other planets with other peoples and other Saviors. I think it should remind us that this tiny little insignificant planet is remarkably significant to the creator, so much so, that he would send his only begotten son to get himself a bride from her inhabitants.

  35. Daniel,

    The point is not to answer science. Maybe that’s Rube’s point, but it’s not mine. The point is to interpret the text correctly. Let science be damned, but if God doesn’t intend us to interpret the text literally (univocally being the more precise term), then we are in the wrong for interpreting it that way, regardless of what science says.

    In all of this very careful distinguishing to make sure our non-literal views are not simply a reaction to science, ask yourself if anyone who takes the passage literally isn’t reacting against science too. Are there any people who interpret Gen 1 literally out of hatred for evolution? Whether your view is literal or non, let science not be the controlling factor.

    Why morning and evening? Darkness and light, death and life, seed of the serpent, seed of the woman. And never the two shall meet. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night”. And these two continue, first the one, then the other. This is foundational to everything we know and believe. We just don’t realize it because it’s so fundamental that we take it as a matter of course.

    Why days 1,2,3, etc? I’ve already answered that question with the problem solving business. But further, it IS teaching the doctrine of the Sabbath. Obedience to the law is a matter of imitating God (Eph 5:1). So if God wanted us to observe the Sabbath, he showed us how he observed it first, that we might obey him by imitating him.

    Does that mean that God had to get up in the morning and go to work for 6 days and then sip margaritas the 7th day? No, God’s work is not like our work, and his rest is not like our rest. And yet it is like it. It’s an analogy. Our week is a type of his week. Our rest is patterned after his rest. It’s not exactly the same, but he is teaching us.

    Sort of like when you want a baby to eat their baby food, and you put it to your mouth and pretend to eat it, so that they’ll know what to do.

    All your questions have answers. It’s just a matter of whether or not you are willing to believe them.


  36. It’ll be some time before I draft my starlight argument. When I do, I’ll definitely reference this event:

    CNN: Star dies an explosive death

    In a stroke of cosmic luck, astronomers for the first time witnessed the start of one of the universe’s most fiery events: the end of a star’s life as it exploded into a supernova.

    “A star exploded right before my eyes,” lead author Alicia Soderberg, an astrophysics researcher at Princeton University, said Wednesday in a teleconference.

    She likened it to “winning the astronomy lottery.”

    The chances of two simultaneous supernovae explosions so close to each other is maybe 1 in 10,000, Soderberg said. The odds of looking at them at the right time with the right telescope are, well, astronomical.

    Add to that the serendipity of the Berkeley team viewing the same region with an optical light telescope.

  37. Not to reopen a can of worms — I wouldn’t have time to keep up with them all …

    … but this is a major whammy from a source that’s no friend to creationism:

    The Daily Galaxy: Are we living in a giant void?

    The idea of an astronomical void is not just science fiction fodder however, and rather, according to Timothy Clifton and colleagues Pedro G. Ferreira and Kate Land at the University of Oxford, a possible explanation for why it looks as if our universe is expanding at an accelerated pace.

    So far, the general consensus has been that dark energy – though unfound and unproven – is to blame for this acceleration. And although corroboration has been found from several independent sources, such as the cosmic microwave background and large scale structure, as well as improved measurements of the supernovae, this consensus is filled with uncertainties, considering that the observed value of dark energy is 120 orders of magnitude smaller than what is predicted from quantum physics.

    At this point, Timothy Clifton’s paper, entitled ‘Title: Living in a Void: Testing the Copernican Principle with Distant Supernovae’, can be brought in to play as the basis of an alternative theory explaining what we are witnessing outside our proverbial window.

    The opening line of their paper, states that “a fundamental presupposition of modern cosmology is the Copernican Principle”.

    The Copernican Principle states that the Earth is not in a central, specially favored position, according to Herman Bondi in his 1952 book Cosmology. Clifton and co want to challenge this principle scientific theory, with an explanation that would also help us understand what we are seeing.

    Their theory posits that if in fact Earth and our surrounding neighbors are in fact in an unusual or special region of space, ie, a void, then our perspective on the universe would be severely challenged. The local geometry of space-time would be different than expected. The curvature of space around us would affect how light from those distant supernovae that originally saw us explain their dimness as an ever accelerating and expanding universe. In fact, if the proposed void were large enough, it could do away entirely with the scientific need for dark energy to explain what we cannot.

    Note the strange conclusion of the writer, which surely would be attacked as creationistic if it weren’t coming from a tried-and-true pro-materialistic source:

    It is no surprise that Clifton’s theories are speculative, but the best science always starts out that way. But one aspect of this paper, that at least one writer – Amanda Gefter, opinion editor at New Scientist – has picked up on, is that by blinding adhering to a scientific principle because to do otherwise is too hard, is tantamount to crime. Without making this a “rattle the cages” message, rules are there to be broken, and in science this is even more the case than elsewhere.

  38. Good stuff, forester, thanks for the tip!

  39. Of course this one caught my eye:

    CBS News: Our galaxy is bigger than once thought

    The Milky Way is considerably larger, bulkier and spinning faster than astronomers once thought, Andromeda’s equal.

    Scientists mapped the Milky Way in a more detailed, three-dimensional way and found that it’s 15 percent larger in breadth. More important, it’s denser, with 50 percent more mass, which is like weight. The new findings were presented Monday at the American Astronomical Society’s convention in Long Beach, Calif.

    That difference means a lot, said study author Mark Reid of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. The slight 5-foot-5, 140-pound astrophysicist said it’s the cosmic equivalent of him suddenly bulking up to the size of a 6-foot-3, 210-pound NFL linebacker.

  40. Nonbelieving scientists questioning the concept of the Uniformity of Nature? What in the world is going on???

    The Daily Galaxy: Will Einstein’s laws apply beyond our universe?

    [Note that this passage is from an article that criticizes the concept of local physics. But Smolin and Unger are no creationists.] Emphasis added:

    A science/philosophy mixture can lead to metaphysical claims that the laws of physics are nothing but local zoning ordinances, as demonstrated by Lee Smolin.

    Smolin is author of “the fecund universes theory” of cosmology which suggests that the rules of biology apply on the grandest scales, and is often referred to as “cosmological natural selection”. Smolin summarized the idea in his book, The Life of the Cosmos.

    The theory surmises that a collapsing black hole causes the emergence of a new universe on the “other side”, whose fundamental constant parameters (speed of light, Planck length and so forth) may differ slightly from those of the universe where the black hole collapsed. Each universe therefore gives rise to as many new universes as it has black holes.

    The Perimeter Institute theoretical physicist got together with philosopher Roberto Unger and arrived at three radically new conclusions. The first is that there is only one universe – the idea of a multiverse might be awesome science fiction, and essential to the slightly less credible string theory, but there’s no reason to base your worldview on worlds where the Nazis won or the universal constant of gravitation has a different value.

    The second idea is that time is real. Remember when you read that first sentence? Okay, you agree with us – this is one of those discussions that takes place at a level regular humans don’t argue at. Some say that all of existence is a crystal of reality that we happen to move through, Dr Manhattan style, which is wonderfully imaginative but displays incredible cognitive disconnection. Even speaking the words aloud demonstrates the passage of time, and most arguments beyond that depend on bringing the debate to an extremely specific linguistic field of hyper-definitions that the opponent hasn’t wasted their life learning, and will therefore “lose” at. Luckily for us, Lee agrees that time actually exists and we can move on to the real problem: the idea of physics as local rules.

    His argument that physics can change over time and space is apparently based on an extremely specific strawman argument which depends on separating experimental procedure into initial conditions and laws. He says you can only arrive at laws by examining a large “configuration space” of possible setups. In the lab you can set up a large number of tests, in cosmology you can look at a wide variety of situations, so in both you can arrive at laws. His argument is that since you can’t actually rearrange the stars themselves to set up different initial conditions in each place, you can’t make conclusions about the physical laws there.

  41. the fecund universes theory

    Absolutely fecal!

  42. More on what we refer to as the “uniformity” of nature:

    New Scientist: Is time out of joint?

    To look for potential deviations from general relativity, Bean reanalysed the data and dropped the requirement that these two components of gravity had to be equal. Instead the ratio of the two was allowed to change in value. She found that between 8 and 11 billion years ago gravity’s distortion of time appeared to be three times as strong as its ability to curve space. An observer around at the time wouldn’t have noticed the effect because it only applies over large distances. Nonetheless, “there is a preference for a significant deviation from general relativity”, says Bean.

  43. More proof that time and distance aren’t fully settled issues when it comes to space: Discovery that quasars don’t show time dilation mystifies astronomers

    Since expansion occurs throughout the universe, it seems that time dilation should be a property of the universe that holds true everywhere, regardless of the specific object or event being observed. However, a new study has found that this doesn’t seem to be the case – quasars, it seems, give off light pulses at the same rate no matter their distance from the Earth, without a hint of time dilation.

    The astronomer who published this finding has a possible explanation, of course — one that requires an arrangement of black holes so precise as to make heliocentrism seem haphazard:

    One of Hawkins’ possible explanations for quasars’ lack of time dilation is that light from the quasars is being bent by black holes scattered throughout the universe. These black holes, which may have formed shortly after the big bang, would have a gravitational distortion that affects the time dilation of distant quasars.

    Note the full implication of the quasar finding hasn’t been lost on reporter Lisa Zyga:

    There’s also a possibility that the explanation could be even more far-reaching, such as that the universe is not expanding and that the big bang theory is wrong.

  44. You knew I’d reappear to drop this bit of craziness here, didn’t you?

    BBC News: Speed of light experiments give baffling result at CERN

    Neutrinos sent through the ground from Cern toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away seemed to show up a tiny fraction of a second early. The result – which threatens to upend a century of physics – will be put online for scrutiny by other scientists.

    The team measured the travel times of neutrino bunches some 15,000 times, and have reached a level of statistical significance that in scientific circles would count as a formal discovery.

    Gotta love BBC’s closing quote.

    But for now, he explained, “we are not claiming things, we want just to be helped by the community in understanding our crazy result – because it is crazy. And of course the consequences can be very serious.”

  45. Ars Technica: Fundamental constants are not constant—or maybe they are, we don’t really know

    But if the properties of the vacuum are found to change, then so too will the speed of light. Our model for the vacuum doesn’t preclude this, but our observations tell us that, if it has, it didn’t change drastically. Now, since the vacuum has been expanding away like crazy since time began, it isn’t unreasonable to assume that vacuum properties might have changed. Hence, in the distant past, the speed of light might have been different.

    Similar arguments can be made for the other fundamental constants. We know so little about this that we can’t even say if they apply to any, all, or none of the constants.

  46. Ars Technica: Getting the math of the Universe to cancel out

    At the time, no one gave the issue a second thought because we thought that most of space was empty vacuum.

    Unfortunately, it turns out that the vacuum is anything but empty. And since it has energy, it should curve space and time. In other words, the vacuum of space should contain enough energy to curl the Universe up into a tight little ball or blow it apart so fast that no stars could ever form (it depends on whether the energy is positive or negative).

    Given our current data, there’s no argument over the approximate value of the cosmological constant: it is small and positive. So why doesn’t the vacuum energy bend space and time? When physicists bolt the quantum vacuum energy on to general relativity, they get absurd results unless some kind of correction factor (to the tune of 10^120) is carefully added to counteract the vacuum. This fine-tuning bothers people because there is simply no way to obtain these numbers naturally.

  47. Daily Galaxy: New Light on Our Accelerating Universe –“Not as Fast as We Thought”

    Certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought, a University of Arizona-led team of astronomers has discovered. The results, reported in two papers published in the Astrophysical Journal, have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say.

    The team, led by UA astronomer Peter A. Milne, discovered that type Ia supernovae, which have been considered so uniform that cosmologists have used them as cosmic “beacons” to plumb the depths of the universe, actually fall into different populations. The findings are analogous to sampling a selection of 100-watt light bulbs at the hardware store and discovering that they vary in brightness.
    “We found that the differences are not random, but lead to separating Ia supernovae into two groups, where the group that is in the minority near us are in the majority at large distances — and thus when the universe was younger,” said Milne, an associate astronomer with the UA’s Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory. “There are different populations out there, and they have not been recognized. The big assumption has been that as you go from near to far, type Ia supernovae are the same. That doesn’t appear to be the case.”

    The discovery casts new light on the currently accepted view of the universe expanding at a faster and faster rate, pulled apart by a poorly understood force called dark energy. This view is based on observations that resulted in the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to three scientists, including UA alumnus Brian P. Schmidt.

  48. IFL Science: Earth’s Core Is Two Years Younger Than Its Crust Thanks To Relativity

    The researchers applied these calculations to the Sun as well. They worked out, based on a realistic model called Model S, that the core of the Sun is 39,000 years younger than its surface.

    This work also highlights the need to always double check calculations. Uggerhøj states how many physicists, including himself, have just assumed the calculations were correct but somebody, either Feynman or the transcriber, must have switched years for days.

    The authors believe this is very important from an educational point of view. In the paper, they write: “Realising that even geniuses make mistakes may make the scientist more inclined towards critically examining any postulate on his/her own.”

    Another reason to hesitate rather than swallow whole the scientific status quo concerning light and time.

  49. Of all the articles I’ve posted here, this is easily the most important.

    New Scientist: Gravity may have chased light in the early universe

    In Magueijo and Afshordi’s model, certain details about the CMB reflect the way the speed of light and the speed of gravity vary as the temperature of the universe changes. They found that there was an abrupt change at a certain point, when the ratio of the speeds of light and gravity rapidly went to infinity.

    This New Scientist article answers at least 2 primary points of the original post above. (1) God does not need to have supernaturally intervened to bring light across vast distances to Earth by day 4, as strict materialist scientists are proposing means of accomplishing this through purely natural means. (2) When we see a star, we do NOT see the actual past; we see evidence. The means by which that evidence (light) came to us are still being worked out by scientists who have no inclination to prove a 6×24 creation, yet their proposals also de-fang the starlight objection to 6×24.

    The original post wraps up with, “What is the genre of this fully-spherical IMAX movie that God has projected into our night sky? Is it documentary, or is it fiction?” Thanks to the many strict materialists I’ve posted above, I’m with you in answering, “Documentary!” My prayer is that the science of the age will continue to uncover ways that assure us of God’s handiwork.

  50. That is very interesting. The beginning of the article says the cosmologists are looking for a way to explain “inflation — which suggests that the universe went through a short period of rapid expansion early on”. So it sounds like the existing big bang model already has an (observed?) early period of unexplained fast expansion, and this theory is taking a stab at explaining it. They don’t mention any possible revision to estimates of the age of the universe, in particular, they say that this theory can be validated (or disproved) by study of the cosmic background radiation, the same phenomenon which puts the age of the universe at about 13.7by. I’d be very interested to see if these guys were to discuss any potential changes to our understanding of the age of the universe from this theory.

  51. Science Alert: How fast is the universe expanding?

    The discrepancy calls into question not only our idea of how old the Universe is, but also our ability to fundamentally understand the physics that drive its behavior. … “The discrepancy that we saw before has not gone away, but this new evidence suggests that the jury is still out on whether there is an immediate and compelling reason to believe that there is something fundamentally flawed in our current model of the Universe.”

  52. Science Alert: How fast is the universe expanding?

    The discrepancy calls into question not only our idea of how old the Universe is, but also our ability to fundamentally understand the physics that drive its behavior. … “The discrepancy that we saw before has not gone away, but this new evidence suggests that the jury is still out on whether there is an immediate and compelling reason to believe that there is something fundamentally flawed in our current model of the Universe.”

  53. Something strange is going on with the North Star

    “However, as we learn more, it is becoming clear that we understand less” about Polaris, wrote the authors of a new paper on the famous star.
    The problem with Polaris is that no one can agree on how big or distant it is.

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