The evolution of creationist astronomy

By Phil Plait | May 28, 2009 10:01 am

Oh you wacky creationists! You make it all too easy. A warning: while easy, it does take some time to debunk a creationist’s blatherings. So I indulge your allowance of this somewhat lengthy dissection.

As you may recall, last week I took a creationist to task for creating (haha!) a video about astronomy as told from a young-Earth creation viewpoint. That is, one that is completely wrong.

Now, I did decline to debunk his video on its claims, as I’m rather a busy guy these days, and all his arguments boil down to "science doesn’t know this yet", which is a losing fight and always will be. That "yet" will kill you. Science learns, while dogma doesn’t.

Instead, I challenged him on the use of the world "evolution", because it’s painfully obvious he is using it as a buzzword meant to sway people emotionally, and not rationally. Evolution is of course a word used like a blunt instrument by creationists to gather the flock… and then, usually, shear them. And when they use it, it’s also very clearly an allusion to biological evolution.

Well, the guy who created the video, Spike Psarris, has posted a rebuttal! He does indicate that I don’t attack his specific points, but as I said clearly I didn’t intend to as there’s no need.

What I find fascinating is his long discussion about the word "evolution". Now, let me say that he makes a point when he says astronomers use the term themselves. I never deny that, of course, because I am very familiar with the term. Astronomers use the phrase stellar evolution to mean the physical changes a star undergoes as it ages. For example, a star like the Sun will eventually become a red giant when there is no longer any hydrogen in its core available for fusion. That’s one stage in its stellar evolution.

I’ll be the first to admit it’s a poor term. It was borrowed from biologists, obviously, but the meaning was changed. While biological evolution is change over time, it’s the way a species changes over time (or more accurately, the alleles in that species’ chromosomes). In astronomy the term is used for an individual star (and sometimes, but less often, for other objects like galaxies and planets). So it’s really not the best term to use for astronomy.

However, Mr. Psarris is sneaky. He says that since astronomers use the term, it’s OK to call astronomers evolutionists! But I call shenanigans on him. First, as I said, it’s clear that is not why he uses the term in the video. Second, calling astronomers evolutionists because they use the term themselves is like calling doctors "tongue depressorists" or calling carpenters "ladderists". It’s one aspect of a much larger field.

Third, (in general) creationists deny biological evolution can happen. Is he then using the term because he is saying that astronomical evolution can’t happen either? Because we do see stars exploding, and we’ve seen stars undergoing individual changes that fall under the astronomical use of the word evolution.

We also know planets change over time (even creationists have to admit that; in their mythology the Flood of Noah was a global change), as do galaxies… of course, they would deny we see galaxies change, since that takes millions of years. But we can look at millions of galaxies and see them at different stages in their lives, proving the astronomical flavor of evolution statistically. In fact, we see remnants of galaxies eaten by our Milky Way, showing it has definitely changed over time.

So by calling us evolutionists, what exactly is Mr. Psarris trying to do? I maintain my original point: despite his attempt at misdirection in his rebuttal, it’s still clear that the reason he uses that word is to generate an emotional response in his listeners. It’s as hollow and empty a use as any other political term hung by one group on an opposing group. Anti-choice, pro-abortion; neither is entirely accurate, and both clearly were coined just to elicit a visceral response, not a rational one.

Another point. He makes a big deal claiming that I call him a liar in my previous post. In fact I do not, and I never use that word. I imply he has born false witness, but actually that literally means not telling the truth. That’s different than a lie; people can simply be wrong, and think they are right.

That may seem like I’m splitting hairs, but I would argue that bearing false witness would include using a term you know is not really appropriate even if you think that the core of your argument is correct. It’s a method of speaking that is less than truthful without actually being a lie.

I think that’s what’s happening here. If he was simply mistaken in the arguments in his videos, he was already on shaky ground. But his rebuttal takes a big old jackhammer to his stance; it’s clearly a thinly-veiled attempt to justify his misuse of the term "evolutionist".

Oh, one more thing, too. Active, vocal creationists are nothing if not ironic. About my arguments he says:

Well, when your gun is out of bullets, you have to shoot blanks.

There’s a debating tactic that’s as old as the ancient Greeks. When your opponent is correct and you can’t refute his arguments, you use an ad hominem attack instead.

In fact, I do not use an ad hominem attack: I don’t attack him personally at all, I attack his (mis)use of a word. He is also setting up a false argument here; you can use an ad hominem when your opponent is dead wrong, too. Just because one person uses an ad hominem — which, remember, I did not — does not mean the other person’s arguments are right.

So his methodology is clear: misdirections and distraction. As for his claims themselves… if someone wants to sit through his sample videos and provide arguments for or against what he is claiming, please feel free to do so in the comments here. I’ll note that a lot of his references are old; some predate or come early on in the Galileo mission, when a lot of things were discovered about Jupiter that took some time to explain. I welcome any planetary scientists who wish to talk about this!

[Update: It's been brought to my attention that other sites have debunked these specific claims point by point, like PseudoAstro (which is now in my RSS feed reader!) and World of Weird Things.]

Comments (197)

  1. Matt

    Off Topic – Jerry Coyne has a bit of pareidolia from jolly old england over on his blog you might get a kick out of. What the heck is Marmite? Sounds more like a mineral than something you put on bread.

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/

  2. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Of course when you have no bullets at all, you have the option of clubbing your opponent with the gun. THIS is the creationist strategy.

  3. My comment on that site, currently being held for moderation:

    OK, now I’m confused. I thought you were saying that the solar system and the universe do not evolve. God zapped them into being, right? So, yes, evolution is a perfectly valid word to use in regards to astronomy and 99.99999% of astronomers know that the universe evolved from the Big Bang to its current state, sans influence of any arbitrary decisions by a so-called “God”.

    Phil is rightly pointing out that your desire to paint astronomy as a debate similar to biological evolution is misguided. There is no question that life evolves and no question that the universe evolves. More to the point, none of the gaps in our current models even remotely suggest the interference of arbitrary actions by a so-called “God”.

    Believe what you want, I don’t care, but your arguments are unscientific nonsense.

  4. Brian Schantz

    When your ideas are based on dogma and dearly held beliefs, you can’t accept the possibility they might be wrong. And so, the creationists will devolve into (further) irrationality in order to maintain the facade in the face of facts and logical thought.

  5. Marmite is evil.

    As to Creationists, I always find the best way to silence them is to point out they aren’t bad scientists, rather bad Christians – the Bible was never meant to be taken literally as they do; Creationists are a modern day anomaly in reaction to the eugenics carried out in the US justified through a twisted version of evolution in Darwin’s name around the 1930s

  6. Jules

    I see your shenanigans and raise you a horsepucky with a side of hinky!

    I am almost tempted to watch the video, however I cannot afford to lose any more brain cells as they are depleting as my years progress.

  7. Michael

    Linguists who describes evolution of languages would be evolutionists. Science historians who study technological evolution are evolutionists. Even, Buddhists who describe a process of “higher evolution” would be evolutionists.

    If use of the term evolution throughout publications is the criterion, he is an evolutionist. Ah, irony.

  8. Cheyenne

    Marmite is not evil. Just very awful. Vegemite though…..definitely evil.

  9. SteveG

    Never try to teach a pig to sing.
    It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

  10. I could stand to watch about 1 min. of the “Jupiter” chapter. The only word I could hear was “evolution”, because he used it so damned much! I’m no astronomer, but what in the hell does evolution have to do with Jupiter?

  11. Jules

    @Brett Jupiter is Zeus. Zeus had a thing for the mortal ladies. Zeus bred with the mortal ladies. His chromosomes, mixed with the chromosomes of the mere mortal, evolved into the species of human that now roam the earth.

  12. I have to say, dwelling so much on Psarris’ “misuse” of the word “evolutionist” — a word whose only use is to make science sound like a religion — seems like a huge case of not seeing the forest for the trees.

  13. @Jules
    It all makes sense to me now. Planets doing it with women.

  14. IVAN3MAN

    Matt:

    What the heck is Marmite?

    Marmite is made from yeast extract, a by-product of beer brewing.

    P.S. I’ve already e-mailed that ‘news’ item to Phil.

    P.P.S. Mark and Cheyenne, both of you are philistines!

  15. BJN

    His methodology is also boring. I couldn’t sit through the entire droning “Jupiter” video.

    Scientists find discrepancies between theory and observation exciting while the Creationist predictably uses the same opportunity to invoke “God did it” — a non-explanation that’s untestable, useless, and that represents a mindset for the dark ages. I daresay that if creation “astronomy” was predominant, we’d still have the Earth at the center of the universe and wouldn’t build telescopes or space exploration vehicles because the Bible’s metaphoric poetry is all we need to study.

  16. Jules

    @Brett
    Glad I could clear that up for you :)

    When it doubt, look to the Greeks, especially since a good chunk of astronomy evolved from there.

  17. Not much info here. Is this just a bitch session about so-called creationists and the word evolution?

  18. Phil Staudt,

    thank you for that insightful whine.

  19. Brian M

    Actually false witness is more akin to our modern concept of perjury than than something as simple as telling a lie or “falsehood”. In biblical times there were no contracts, not much in the way of a court system, so reliable testimony on a certain matter was critical to maintaining order in society.

  20. Kenny K.

    I thought you said that you didn’t have time to “debunk his video on its claims, as you were a rather “busy guy these days” …from the above side-track, it looks like you have plenty of time; although you do very little debunking, except of course for the typical default name-calling and the belittling of a man that you don’t even know. By the way are the exploding stars that we see on a regular basis proof of stellular evolution? …I think you are just proving Spikes point. The universe is winding down, not evolving, stellularily or otherwise (for lack of a better word).

  21. Psarris is an ignoramus who has no idea what he’s talking about. Once you get past the rhetoric and brace yourself to look at some of the woo he’s preaching, you’ll find that even middle school astronomy totally escapes him:

    http://worldofweirdthings.com/2009/05/23/how-to-fail-sixth-grade-science-in-three-pages/

    http://worldofweirdthings.com/2009/05/21/meet-the-ray-comfort-of-astronomy/

    You’ll also find that at least 65% of his spiel is directed at attacking scientists as purveyors of an intellectually bankrupt theory. Which he counters with utter ignorance as dissected in the links above.

    Well Mr. Psarris, who’s shooting blanks now?

  22. Standard Woo-ist tactic is to claim that they are the victim of an ad hominem attack, when there is not. It makes them appear to be a victim. Recall Paul Offit’s reasoning for not being on Larry King.

  23. Tim

    It seems to be all about syntax to creationist. If you use a word like heavens, unknown force, evolution, and just “the unknown” then you must mean it with a single definition. You must believe in god, Jesus and heaven if you refer to the universe as the heavens. If you describe a force that is not yet known to science then really we’re talking about the force of God since Science does know. There is no room for movement or growth in their lives. I sometimes cringe when I watch a show on the Science channel when people use these terms since I know that somewhere a creationist has just turned to their son/daughter and said that is because of god, as the explanation of the unknown. How boring to be caught in a world where lack of knowledge and strict terminology uses “god” as the answer to any question.

    I guess it also gives us insight to why they are so militant over the use of word “marriage”. If their world only allows one narrow definition then their stuck.

  24. Vern

    “So by calling us evolutionists, what exactly is Mr. Psarris trying to do?”

    Sounds like by associating other fields of science with “evilution” he thinks it’ll allow him to throw the baby out with the bath water. Only he’s too wimpy to cause much more than a ripple in the tub and the baby is now staring at him because he’s acting all weird.

    Ad homs, baby! For when it absolutely, positively has to be insulted, overnight.

  25. Steve

    Let’s see. They say the universe is 13.7 billion years old. Then they say the most distant galaxies have light that got here after 58, or was it 78, billion years. Go figure.

  26. amphiox

    I suppose then that the proper biological analogous term would be development.

  27. rob

    never argue with an idiot. they drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

  28. The Dude

    I live in southwest Ohio (within 20 miles of the Creation Museum) and have been seeing commercials for some sort of Stargazer’s Planetarium thing they are running. If the tickets weren’t $25 to even get into the museum, my wife and I would love to go in there and run an “Alternative Tour” like some people do for Natural History Museums such as the Denver one.

  29. However, Mr. Psarris is sneaky. He says that since astronomers use the term, it’s OK to call astronomers evolutionists! But I call shenanigans on him. First, as I said, it’s clear that is not why he uses the term in the video.

    Equivocation for the win

  30. I just did some research on the Creation Ministries International website and found this article blaming Darwin for what the Nazi’s did http://creation.com/darwinism-and-the-nazi-race-holocaust. He states “If the Nazi party had fully embraced and consistently acted on the belief that all humans were descendants of Adam and Eve and equal before the creator God, as taught in both the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures, the holocaust would never have occurred.” The article uses nothing but sources which are dated from the 1900-1980, with some new sources of 1998, pretty accurate information when the article was first published in 1999 and now republished (wink wink nudge nudge).

    At any rate… the article states that Hitler used evolution to go on his crusade against the Jews and that he should have followed the bible. Isn’t it proven that Hitler had drug abuse problems among other issues, I mean, this is Adolf Hitler we’re talking about here.

  31. The Other Ian

    Here’s an article that addresses the claims in the Jupiter video: http://pseudoastro.wordpress.com/

  32. Lister

    Why not make time to watch the video and make a proper rebuttal? I can’t think of a more appropiate use of this blog. Your giving him to much ammo by playing the “I don’t have time to watch this but it’s wrong” card.

    It would be cool to see you do a proper smackdown.

  33. TheBlackCat

    The chimp hit the nail on the head. It the equivocation fallacy, pure and simple. Yes, astronomers use the word “evolution”, but evolution in astronomy is totally different than evolution in biology. It is no different than the “only a theory” arguments, where they use the everyday definition of the term and apply it to situations where the scientific definition is being used.

    To give another example, what this guy is doing is no different than arguing that automotive engineers should be arrested because they are trying to get more revolutions.

    This is a really simple issue: words can have more than one meaning. The astronomical definition of the word evolution is not the same as the biological definition. Astronomers are no more “evolutionists” than automotive engineers are “revolutionaries”.

  34. Sir Eccles

    Marmite causes autism, fact!

  35. Dungheap

    “…of course, they would deny we see galaxies change, since that takes millions of years. But we can look at millions of galaxies and see them at different stages in their lives, proving the astronomical flavor of evolution statistically.”

    Creationists deny statistical evidence in the biological realm as well, though. The genomic evidence indicates with statistical certainty that macroevolution happened, yet creationists still claim with a straight face that only microevolution has ever occurred.

    If you haven’t actually measured the spectrum change, then creationists can pretend that it might not actually happen.

  36. I have long thought that the subject of astronomy might be the next area of focus for the creationists. I wonder if it has gotten less attention from them because it is not as commonly taught in high school as biology is and therefore cannot foment questions and doubt about the creation myth like biology perhaps does.

    I am not familiar with any YEC position on astronomy, but it seems to me that they would assume the entire universe to be the same age as Earth. If so, I wonder how they explain seeing objects that are more than 6,000 light years away. Do they argue that the speed of light is variable or is vastly different than our currently claimed speed?

  37. Zombie

    I disagree about the origin of the use of the term evolution in astronomy. I believe it came from physics rather than biology, or probably more accurately, the term was used technically in the 19th century amongst a variety of sciences in different fields.

    Evolution in the general sense simply means the change over time of a system. When a physicist describes a system as evolving he’s talking about the motion of its constituent parts over time; likewise an astronomer. In these cases there’s connotation that the system is following some relatively pre-determined course but that’s beside the point.

    When the term evolution was adopted for biology I think it likewise simply referred to change over time of a system, with that system meaning a set of species or however you want to identify it. Only later, because of the “controversy” over biological evolution, did the work become associated specifically with Darwin’s theory in the public mind.

    The in creationist “retconning” of the word, they took its common origin and turned it on its head, and are trying to claim that the general use of the term evolution means the specific usage that’s normally unique to biology and of course because evolution Hates The Baby Jesus, therefore all other sciences must be of the devil as well…

  38. @Tim

    “How boring to be caught in a world where lack of knowledge and strict terminology uses “god” as the answer to any question.”

    Wouldn’t it also be boring to live in a world where all knowledge and terminology is based on the presupposition that there is no possibility of anything supernatural or that cannot be explained by science?

  39. Ah yes, they love to try to blame Darwin for the holocaust because the only other alternative is the truth. Which is that the holocaust was the culmination of centuries of Jewish oppression and demonization encouraged by first the Catholic Church and later Martin Luther and other Protestants. It’s as much about making them feel better that their predecessors couldn’t do such as evil thing as it is about blaming science (not that science was innocent, eugenics was a terrible idea though based more on old ideas of breeding than evolution).

  40. @Phil Staudt

    Wouldn’t it also be boring to live in a world where all knowledge and terminology is based on the presupposition that there is no possibility of anything supernatural or that cannot be explained by science?

    Nope, because there would always be something else to discover.

  41. The Other Ian

    “Wouldn’t it also be boring to live in a world where all knowledge and terminology is based on the presupposition that there is no possibility of anything supernatural or that cannot be explained by science?”

    Theology and philosophy are unreliable. If something can’t be explained by science, then what hope is there for ever explaining it with any sort of confidence?

  42. Yep, I went through his claims, point-by-point, at least for the small video clip that he has on his website about Jupiter. Take a look at my blog (“Exposing PseudoAstronomy,” which Phil has linked to at the end of his post) to read about it.

  43. Jules

    @PsyberDave

    The story of creation has that answer.

    The universe was created on the first day, the heavens on the second day, the earth on the third and the stars, moon and sun on the 4th day. Then on the fifth day came the animals and then on the sixth he created humans.

    So the universe is 2 days older than the Earth but the heavenly bodies are a day younger than the earth.

    So there you have it.

  44. As a former member of the creationist/evangelical camp, there are 3 words that will rally the troops: GAY, (It can be GAY anything… so long as the word GAY is prominent), ABORTION, and EVOLUTION… again, like GAY, it can be used with any other word… I think my car EVOLVED a mind of its own… Creationist/Evangelical response: Cars are evil. They were made by evil EVOLUTIONISTS, and therefore you must buy only CREATIONIST cars…

    BTW, are there a growing number of ‘Michaels’ on this blog? Hmph… we must be evolving…

  45. Mike

    I can’t get past the phrase “Creation Astronomy” without tittering.

  46. Lawrence

    @Phil S – well, there used to be plenty of things that couldn’t be explained (like Volcanos, Earthquakes, Lightning, etc) that were given supernatural explanations. Then Science came along & we learned what actually caused those types of things.

    Eventually, the gaps will continue to be filled – but in the course of that process, we’ll find all sorts of new and interesting things to question. That’s the great thing about Science – it raises as many questions as it answers – which leads to new answers and new questions.

    If YEC and other similar ideologues had their way, progress would stop. The irony is, they enjoy all of the fruits of a technological society, but reject the underlying processes that allowed us to advance out of the caves and into Space.

    Loonies….

  47. Ahhhh, nothing so relaxing as a good old rationalist/creationist flame war. Sigh.

  48. I disagree that “evolution” is the wrong word to use in “stellar evolution.” It’s exactly the right word. The problem comes from when people assume it means something more than it really does.

    I mean, heck, in math, you talk about the evolution of a function if it’s a function of time. In quantum mechanics, we ask how a state function evolves.

    It’s just a word. Biological evolution has shortened it to “Evolution,” but that’s not the definition of the word– any more than the term “relative” has anything necessarily to do with either the Special or General Theories of Relativity.

  49. Michael L:

    This overuse of “hot” terms that set Creationist/fundy minds a-gibberin’ reminds me of when young children first hear a word that sets them off. They repeat it over and over and over again, self-stimming on the use of the word. So, for example, when a niece or nephew of mine learned the word “poopy” s/he would stomp around the house yelling “poopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopypoopy” in its many forms. It didn’t mean anything important, was just a term to keep the kid self-stimming. Same with these mindless idiots who can’t seem to figure out truth from magical sky daddy stories.

  50. Quatguy

    Psarris is nothing more than a charlatan who is trying to cash-in on the so called evolution “debate”. It is unfortunate that he is willing to trash and ignore proper science to try to appeal to the christian extremists and take their money in exchange for some boring astronomy videos full of unsupported mis-interpretations (at best)and outright lies (at worst). I only hope that under educated moderates are not swayed by his statements, as most reasonably educated people (e.g. with a high school education obtained outside of Texas or Kansas – no offense, it is my perception from Canada) should be able to see that what he is selling is bunk.

  51. I don’t have time to read through all the comments to see if someone else has noted this, but the word “evolve” originally comes from chemistry, not biology. It basically means “to come forth.” If you add vinegar to baking soda, CO2 is evolved. Similarly “exsolve” means “to come out of” or “to emerge as a separate entity;” “dissolve”=”merge into,” or “become one with,” and so on. We use the word evolve in many senses. As a geolgist I regularly speak of the evolution of the earth, the evolution of North America, the evolution of a body of magma, the evolution of a concept, or the evolution of a volcanic arc. The word is not inappropriate in geology or astronomy any more than it’s inappropriate in biology. It’s just that it’s taken on a seriously fractious iconography in biology. The central meaning of the word, though, is an important and indispensible one in the context of science broadly: the emergence over time of an entity that is distinctly different from a previous entity.

  52. The universe being a God fart is silly. The universe must be an ignited God fart. Stellar evolution demands irony.

  53. jasonB

    @William
    except maybe a big helping of Global Warming with lots of CAPS and “quotes” thrown in.

  54. opossum

    The statement below in quotations in no way represents an intelligent view:

    “The earth was flat until we began faring the oceans, then it became a turtles back, then, when Columbus was about to fall off the edge of the turtle into oblivion, a funny thing happened: the earth mysteriously became spherical and a great land mass rose up from the ocean, the land mass, to be known later as, America. The current rate of continental drift is a result of this new tectonic plate arising, thus forcing the other continents to “get outta the way!”.

    Before America there was no continental drift and no seismic activity whatsoever and the sun revolved around the center of the universe, or Earth.

    While, America didn’t even exist until Columbus was within sight, by the time he reached it, it was already teeming with life, including distinct human cultures, which, according to religious teachings, didn’t exist until the near future, yet there they were standing there, ready to greet the tired sailors.

    You may ask: “Where did they come from?”. Well, a mere second after the formation of the continents, two individual human beings, male and female, appeared out of thin air and began to multiply rapidly, defying the laws of time and space, almost immediately populating the land with their progeny. The plants and other animals also materialized to adult form out of sheer nothingness.

    I know, it sounds a little far-fetched, but how can you explain an entire pagan (non-Israelite, so therefore insignificant) race of people existing without any mention in the definitive resource for all man-kind?

    It had to be a miracle, because it is more feasible for life to occur miraculously, out of nothing, than to slowly adapt and evolve over time.”

    I have to believe in God because I can’t fathom matter existing without creation, but as for everything else, it’s just physics, chemistry, and biology (which I’m sure God has a profound understanding of).

    Isn’t it impossible that creation-evolution could be the key? Why can’t organic molecules intermingle without divine intervention? Most evolutionists reject God, and creationists portray him as having human flaws and being accident prone. Why not say God created hydrogen and heat, thus creating all subsequent elements, while everything else can be defined as a result of matter interacting with matter, because what did create hydrogen? We know most elements to come from nuclear fusion inside of stars, except for hydrogen. A little compromise can go a long way in squashing the bickering and semantic arguments.

  55. PhilB

    Looks like AndromedasWake is following in Thunderfoot’s, um well, footsteps. This video addresses some of Spike’s Mercury claims.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkcE5kQQiH4

  56. @Phil S.

    By definition, the supernatural cannot exist. If something exists, it is part of nature. If your god of choice exists, it can be observed in some manner, and would have been observed by now. If you argue that this deity is hidden or is insofar not observable, then you yourself could also not have observed it, nor could the writers of any religious text. You simply insert complexity where none is required. Perhaps you would like to take up the challenge to name a single, unevolved gene (since biology came up)?

    @opossum

    . Why not say God created hydrogen and heat, thus creating matter, while everything else can be defined as a result of matter interacting with matter, because what did create hydrogen? We know most elements to come from nuclear fusion inside of stars, except for hydrogen. A little compromise can go a long way in squashing the bickering and semantic arguments.

    Why not say Thor did it, or why not say Zeus, Apollo, or Vishnu? We don’t say it because there is no reason to say it; there is no evidence. Compromise is not a solution just because it makes one side or another feel better; wrong is just wrong. There is no evidence for divine intervention or any other form of deity, so why inject one? And then I will ask who made god, or is it turtles all the way down?

  57. A. The word “evolution” goes back to the early 17th century. It may be that astronomers borrowed it from biologists, but they didn’t have to. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Leibnitz used Latin “evolutio” when speaking of his planetessimal theory.

    B. Creationism is not a reaction to eugenics of the 1930s; that is an ex-post-facto justification, and the timeline doesn’t work out. It may, however, be somewhat in reaction to the intellectual movement known as Social Darwinism. Most of all, however, it originated as reaction to the general tendency of the 19th century to discard (often for surprisingly poor reasons) traditional Christianity. Darwin was simply a symbol for everyone from William Blake to Ralph Waldo Emerson to Herbert Spencer. But Creationism has lasted longer than its original enemies list.

  58. amphiox

    Steve #25: “Let’s see. They say the universe is 13.7 billion years old. Then they say the most distant galaxies have light that got here after 58, or was it 78, billion years. Go figure.”

    You need to do some fact checking. No one’s ever said that. The universe is 13.7 billion years or so. The light from the most distant galaxies (we so far know of) traveled some 12 to 13 billion years to get to us. The distance between us and the galaxies that originated that light is believed to now be 58 to 78 billion light years, but that is because space has been expanding (and the light traveling in it along with it – that’s the point of red shift) for the last 13.7 billion years or so.

    The distinction is not actually that complicated. If confused, apply a pinch of thought. Wash, lather, repeat as necessary.

  59. OmegaBaby

    I agree with Lister. Phil should be spending his time presenting opposing evidence instead of simply saying “I don’t have time to argue about this”.

    THIS IS THE BAD ASTRONOMY WEBSITE! IT’S DEVOTED TO DEBUNKING OF BAD ASTRONOMY!

    Less stuff about vaccinations, more debunking of bad astronomy!

    (Ok…I’ll get off my soapbox now. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the amount of effort that Phil puts into this website that has cost my employer endless hours of productivity.)

  60. Zyggy

    @PsyberDave: I believe that their most common answer to that is that “day” in their “reference book” (ie: The Bible) refers to differing lengths of time. “God”, in their view, does not have the same sense of time that we here on Earth do. So, a “day ” can be any arbitrary length of time from a few seconds to thousands of our “Earth years”.

    Interesting how their ‘definitions’ conveniently cannot be directly linked to reality in any way, much like most of the other nonsense that they spout.

    Once again, if their literal interpretation of an ancient text runs afoul of actual laws of physics, they don’t try change that view, they attempt to delude themselves (and others) that the laws of physics somehow change to fit what they wish to believe.

    Zyg

  61. Cheyenne

    @OmegaBaby- I agree that it would be interesting if the BadAstronomer took apart the nonsense and explained why it was so. I would imagine that might be kind of painful but if anybody is going to do it he’s got the scientific chops and the forum for it.

    But definitely NOT less stuff about vaccinations! That’s a huge issue and the work that he does on it (and guys like Todd W) is very important.

  62. llewelly

    Astronomers use the phrase stellar evolution to mean the physical changes a star undergoes as it ages.

    Just admit the truth. No crocoduck ever gave birth to a neutron star! So ‘stellar evolution’ is a lie too.

  63. opossum

    @ Richard Wolford

    I guess, what I meant to say was god with a “g”. I shouldn’t attach a name because he hasn’t introduced himself to me personally.

    But you have to explain to me how the things we perceive arose from nothingness. Explain how something as minute as a quark existed, much less exploded, without any provocation.

    By any definition we can synthesize, material existence requires a catalyst.

    What was the catalyst and what did it catalyze, if nothing existed before the bang?

  64. @opossum

    The short answer to your question is: we don’t know yet.

  65. @opossum

    Your sense of delusion is amazing. First and foremost, no one has EVER said that something came from nothing; the simple explanation is that all matter and energy have always existed. If you say god made everything, then argue that god always existed, I simply ask why we don’t eliminate god from the equation. This is a first cause argument and was long ago debunked.

    Now, explain when a quark exploded? Do you not understand the big bang? Nothing exploded; a simple google search would answer this for you. You’re trying to make an argument from ignorance combined with a god of the gaps. The universe as we know it began at the big bang; the universe continues to expand; nothing exploded. I’m sure something existed prior to the big bang, and current science hints that we may be able to actually makes observations of what came before. Unfortunately, deities have been marked off the list for quite some time due to the whole, you know, lack of evidence.

    Material existence requires a catalyst? Really, please explain this word salad to me. This of course makes your final argument not even wrong as you’ve not justified your catalyst assumption.

  66. llewelly

    Others have already pointed out that meaning of the word ‘evolution’ has changed over time. The astronomer’s use of the word has older roots. Many years ago, a museum curator of little note, one Stephen Jay Gould, wrote an essay about the word ‘evolution’, and how its meaning has changed over time. The essay was Darwin’s Dilemma: The Odyssey of Evolution. It appeared in the collection Ever Since Darwin. Among other things – it explains why Darwin never used the word ‘evolution’ in the original edition of On The Origin Of Species.

  67. Jeff

    The whole idea of “creation” or a beginning is a big misunderstanding. First of all, scientists have been grappling to understand time itself. Cosmologists are debating if the big bang really was the beginning of the “universe” or should I say “universes” plural. Because, in string theory, the big bang could have been just another collision of branes, and the universe could suddenly disappear if a brane collides with our current universe. The creation myths were just very myopic stories told since cave men days.

    At least 3 lines of evidence off the top of my head: radioisotope dating of rocks of all kinds, correlation of fossils with strata around world, known sedimentation rates all converge on 4.5 billion years old for solar system. For universe, rates of nuclear fusion plus state of development in star clusters , Hubble’s red shift law and cosmic background radiation. How can anyone in the 21st century still believe the tripe in this video??

  68. Lawrence

    Because most of this new information hasn’t filtered down into the general population yet. One of the biggest misunderstandings comes from out-dated & inaccurate science – usually half-remembered from Grade School.

    The amount that we know now vs. what we knew 30 years ago is quite a wide gulf. Things that we didn’t understand then & were portrayed as major mysteries, aren’t so much anymore – either understood better or proven to be wrong anyway.

    As long as people don’t keep current, they will continue to belief in a lot of falacious things.

  69. opossum

    Sense of delusion sounds like a contradiction in terms. Delusion implies having no sense.

    “Exploded”, “expanded”: “tomato”, “cherry tomato.”

    Hot, dense material rapidly expanding outward in all directions sounds a lot like an explosion to me. Energy released.

    Catalyst is an English word, meaning: something that causes an important event to happen.

    What caused the big bang?

  70. Jeff

    @opossum “What caused the big bang?”

    Scientists are working on that. But there is no doubt it happened and they even know when it happened.

  71. Cheyenne

    I’m not implying anything here but I think one really does have to have a little think about how bizarrely fine-tuned this universe is for life (no, I am not some creationist hack or religious extremist).

    All I am saying is that it is quite remarkable how everything has to work in order for, well, this whole universe thing to exist the way it does. The critical density, the forces of nature, the masses of the various elements, and many more. Change just one thing by a tiny amount and you get a universe that would look very different.

    It seems like the religious tend to side on the God aspect behind the Big Bang. Atheists usually go for the multi-verse theories or some version of the Anthropic principle. I don’t have a dog in that fight – I just find it all fascinating.

  72. Lars

    @opossum: “What caused the big bang?”

    You are still trying to make an argument from ignorance, combined with a “god of the gaps”, as Richard Wolford already explained to you in comment #66.

    @Cheyenne:

    “Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.” – Douglas Adams

  73. Daniel J. Andrews

    It seems the gist of Spike’s arguments fall along the lines of “Based on our past knowledge astronomers predicted X, but new measurements show that it is not X but Y, therefore astronomers are wrong and creationists are right–i.e. God did it”.

    A plant analogy. A certain plant requires nutrients A,B,C and D. It has not been found in soils without these nutrients. One day botanists return from studying a remote region where they found this plant growing in an area it wasn’t supposed to be growing in.

    Do the botanists then say, “God must have done it.”? No. Instead they study the plant and its environment carefully for clues as to why it is growing in this location, and then incorporate that knowledge into their model so it says “A certain plant requires nutrients A,B,C and D, but will grow with just A and B if Factors E and F are also present”.

    The models are altered according to the measurements gathered. If we were to say “God did it” every time we ran into something that didn’t match a prediction we’d never change our models and our knowledge would not advance.

    By trying to explain all discrepancies as evidence of a young creation you are committing a God of the Gaps type fallacy (along with Argument from Ignorance). As theologican/Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said “…how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat”.

    If creationists want to say “a young creation explains this observation that conflicts with our current understanding” then are they equally willing to say “a creation no longer explains this conflict” when more observations and a better understanding resolve this apparent conflict? Based on some of the outdated and long debunked bits of creationist evidence that are still flaunted as ‘evidence’, it does not seem likely.

    And yes, using the word “evolution” and “evolutionists” in this context is simply dishonest. Or if it is an honest mistake, then why trust someone to tell you what evolution is really about when they don’t even know enough to use the term correctly and in context?

  74. TheBlackCat

    @ Cheyenne:
    <blockquote.All I am saying is that it is quite remarkable how everything has to work in order for, well, this whole universe thing to exist the way it does. The critical density, the forces of nature, the masses of the various elements, and many more. Change just one thing by a tiny amount and you get a universe that would look very different.
    What’s wrong with different? We are very fine-tuned for this universe and this planet. That is what you would expect from evolution. Not perfectly fine-tuned, there is a lot of waste and inefficiency, but we do not appear to be fine-tuned for some other set of physical constants, which would be remarkable.

  75. PhiJ

    Funny, I see the use of the word in a completely different light to everyone else. It looks like it’s being used to mean ‘that part of modern science which is at odds with creationism’, in a similar vein to ‘what it looks like people mean’ when they talk about creationism vs evolutionism. Bloody annoying, as it can cause confusion, with many creationists saying things like ‘I don’t believe in evolution’, when they admit that they do after you press them.

    Oh, and BJN, post #15, I cite you an example of a creationist saying that ‘God made it like that’ is a copout. Although you’re right, that’s what most creationists would say (by the look of it).

  76. Jeff

    @Cheyenne: ” All I am saying is that it is quite remarkable how everything has to work in order for, well, this whole universe thing to exist the way it does. The critical density, the forces of nature, the masses of the various elements, and many more. Change just one thing by a tiny amount and you get a universe that would look very different.”

    True, but it is the way it is, and we don’t even understand it all yet, and may never. String theorists are still debating, particle physicists are still designing experiments.

    And this may just be one of infinite universes, all of which have different properties, and universes may be “created” all the time.

  77. opossum

    Can scientists ever explain how matter arose from nothingness? Can they provide a model for how matter came to be without the need for building blocks?

    Yes, I understand I’m projecting my human view point onto the cosmos. Maybe I’m using a god of the gaps, but we can’t even create matter from matter, only alter its state, so how can we ever really know what its origins were?

    To say it, has always been, seems like a semantic argument against the existence of an infinite god. It’s like comparing cars to automobiles. They’re the same thing. You still rely on existence without creation instead of a creator who existed without creation.

    I don’t picture God as the dictator the Bible portrays. I don’t think of him as a man with a long, flowing beard, but the cause of material existence, which can’t be explained scientifically. Science can only explain the existence of elements, life, planets, solar systems, and galaxies, but not matter.

  78. I love your discourse style. I hardly ever find someone with the capacity to use sophisms in reverse!

    Yes, down with creationism in the traditional sense! We’ve had enough ouvert and covert brainwash!

    Personally, I know we create everything, individually and collectively ALL the time!

    Therefore, I propose a New Creationism: every one of us, in our capacity as DIVINE BEINGS, conscious of our power, creates it all. Only, I call it MANIFESTING!

  79. Lawrence

    @Opposum – not yet….

  80. TheBlackCat

    Can scientists ever explain how matter arose from nothingness?

    Sure, it happens all the time. Google “virtual particles”. But that is irrelevant to this discussion, since as people here have already explained to you this is not what the big bang theory says. The big bang started with matter, or a weird matter/energy state that only exists under extreme conditions, I don’t know enough high-energy physics to really understand it. Whatever the case, it didn’t start with nothing.

    To say it, has always been, seems like a semantic argument against the existence of an infinite god. It’s like comparing cars to automobiles. They’re the same thing. You still rely on existence without creation instead of a creator who existed without creation.

    I fail to say how this is a semantics argument at all, unless you define the universe itself as being god (which some people actually do). The universe either always existed, or it didn’t. The universe was either created, or it wasn’t.

    Science can only explain the existence of elements, life, planets, solar systems, and galaxies, but not matter.

    Science can’t explain it yet. But there are lots of people working on that problem right now, and nothing that indicates it is fundamentally unsolvable. Just because something does not have an explanation right now does not mean no explanation exists.

  81. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    As for the term “evolution” I have the same reaction as Zombie @ #38 and Rob Knop @ # 49. AFAIK it has long been used in math and physics, it was most plausibly borrowed from there, and it is exactly appropriate.

    The difference between most other systems and biological systems are that the later are adaptable, learning from the environment, by way of the genome. I believe one can use the term “secular evolution” for the former type (more or less path independent) vs “contingent evolution” for the later type (explicitly path dependent).

  82. Over on my DittoBusters website, I predicted that Creationists would expand into other sciences. Sample from my ‘Poe’ article:

    As for the age of the Earth, Darwinists insist that the length of time for the creation is billions of years, yet in their physics classes, students learn that time is a relative thing, according to Einstein. Thus, what may be experienced as days by those in one ‘referential frame’ can be years, even millions or billions of years, to someone in another ‘referential frame’, bringing the claim of extremely long times into question according to their own ‘science’. This also causes a failure of the claims that radioactive decay is consistent.

    Comments on the ‘essay’ are welcome.

    J/P=?

  83. Torbjorn:
    The use may be appropriate in a scientific debate, HOWEVER, the Creationists use this word knowing that it will be understood in a far different way than it is conveyed in this instance. The ‘Bible believers’ and Creationists I hung out with tended not to be very well educated in matters of science. If it didn’t line up with the Bible, it was generally rejected out of hand.

  84. Oh, man! I check out for a couple days and miss all the fun!

    @ steve:

    How many times and in how many threads are you going to post that meaningless “edge of the universe” quote of yours? See ccpeterson’s “poopy” comment, above. Nicompoop.

    @ Phil Staudt:

    How pissed off were you when you discovered all that traffic that shut down your website wasn’t caused by people queuing up to buy your awful video? Greedy nicompoop.

    @ Cheyenne:

    That, exactly, is the power of the Anthropic Principle. We wouldn’t be here to appreciate a universe in which things didn’t appear to run pretty well.

    @ everyone:

    Next time, let me know in advance when the party’s going to start!

  85. Tom.m

    Why waste you’re time Phil? To this clown, and all like him, the world will all was be flat,the shiny little things in the sky will always revolve around the earth, and unfortunately he will sell books.

    Focus on what you do well…Good Astronomy/Good reality.

    PS

    JREF Rules.

  86. captain swoop

    Omegababy says.

    THIS IS THE BAD ASTRONOMY WEBSITE! IT’S DEVOTED TO DEBUNKING OF BAD ASTRONOMY!

    Actualy it isn’t. This is Phil’s Blog. There is a link to the Badastronomy Website on the page though.

  87. ccpetersen:
    Thanks, I am now self stimmimg by using the word “poopyhead”…

  88. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Can scientists ever explain how matter arose from nothingness?

    You are looking for a gap to push your small gods into. Unfortunately that isn’t a gap since it isn’t necessary for having science work and explaining the universe.

    It is also a false choice btw. It can be that matter always existed. In this case, that there is an inflationary universe in which our big bang universe is embedded.

    As it happens, there is an arxiv paper that seems to have shown that the universe is exactly zero energy. (I would link to it, but it is late and the comment would be caught in moderation.) It is quite a feat, because you can’t use general relativity to do it. But not unexpected because standard cosmology gives the universe as nearly flat, i.e. zero energy density.

    This is interesting for two reasons. First, then the universe can spontaneously emerge in the same manner as quantum particles can tunnel in and out of the vacuum fields. Both is “matter … from nothingness” and well understood scientifically. Zero energy means no need for describing initial conditions of an energy input, indeed there can be no third system acting on the universe tunneling out from, say, an eternal multiverse, as the paper points out.

    Specifically, not only aren’t “gods” unnecessary, they aren’t allowed. Philosophical agnostic “know nothing” ‘s , take that empirical fact in your face! :-o

    Also, zero energy systems are formally infinite in time by way of complementarity principles.
    Or in physics, unbounded in time. This explains why the standard cosmology universe exists indefinitely into the future.

    But it also, I believe, implies that indeed the chaotic inflation model mentioned above is correct.

    [Assuming that it is correct to use the same measure over all timelines. They are all, except possibly a zero measure continuing inflation set AFAIU, sooner or later ending up in non-inflationary observable universes so it should work I guess.]

    This model has a indefinitely pushable upper bound on timelines going back in time (ref: Andrei Linde, another paper I won’t link to right now) so can be made consistent with overall zero energy all around. This multiverse is unbounded as observed into both time directions and there seems to be, uncharacteristically but satisfyingly, no formal need for a description of initial conditions as it ends up being a self-consistent steady state process.

    AFAIU a zero energy chaotic inflation universe have always and will always exist.

    [The physicist Victor Stenger has an interesting model in "God - the failed hypothesis". He claims he has shown (in a reference I haven't read yet or read criticism on) that the universe, with entropy increasing in time, starts out with maximum allowable entropy. (Which bound thereafter increases faster than entropy, so no problem.)

    In other words, the number of available energy states (entropy) is maximized at the start, and the universe starts out in a state of maximum chaos.

    This is also the state of maximum symmetry, so all the physical laws of gauge laws (keeping symmetry) with symmetry breaking states realized on them follows naturally. I.e. according to Stenger the universe has the laws it has to have and they come from "nothing" as they must.

    The reason why there is "something" rather than "nothing" then is that "nothing" is simpler (minimum entropy) and simpler systems tend to be unstable. Thus the state transition to a more complex universe with matter and stuff. ;-) Or to return to my model above, that is the description of initial conditions we can be consistent with.

    Usually I believe "universe tunneling" needs some form of simple "prespace" like that of the paper described above. But it seems to me Stenger's result have done away with even that.]

  89. Marc

    It is right to call out the bad science and rhetoric of Mr. Psarris. However, it is awfully naive to assume that everyone who holds religious beliefs also have similar approaches to science. It would be kinder to withhold such harsh judgment on the rest who do come from a religious perspective who may have a personal reservations about some aspects of science but aren’t fundamentally opposed to rational inquiry.

  90. I have been slapping down creationist astronomy for years. This particular nonsense came at a moment when I am pressed for time; I essentially have two full time jobs plus other things I do, and cannot spend days to debunk every silly thing Mr. Psarris said. Happily, though, I could update the post to link to two others who have dismantled many of his arguments, showing that his claims are wrong.

  91. Steve

    59. amphiox Says: “The distance between us and the galaxies that originated that light is believed to now be 58 to 78 billion light years, but that is because space has been expanding (and the light traveling in it along with it – that’s the point of red shift) for the last 13.7 billion years or so.
    The distinction is not actually that complicated. If confused, apply a pinch of thought. Wash, lather, repeat as necessary.”

    I think you missed a spot. What can travel faster than light? Expansion?

  92. Steve Morrison

    llewelly@67: Gould wrote another essay called What does the dreaded E word mean, anyway? with much the same discussion of the word history, and which is available online at Findarticles.

  93. Robert T.

    One is speaking from empirical intellect, while the other from his cosmic senses. Intellect and Sense are both manisfestations, products, of either Evolution, or God, whichever of these two a person feels he must choose (I choose both). It is actually all within the context.

    Should we debunk Sense/Intellect when it is very much a part of our evolutionary/created makeup? The thing I’m trying to point out is, it’s there. Spock says, I have no need of emotions. He is basicaly purging out what Evolution has given him.

  94. Lawrence

    92. Steve – it is complicated, but technically yes. The more science-minded folks will be able to go into greater detail.

  95. Davidlpf

    If you a line dots that are evenly spaced and the space between each dot is expanding at a quarter of speed light. Between the fist and second it is expanding at a quarter the speed of light and half the speed of light between the fist and third and 3 quarters between the first and fourth, eventually the speed between first an the sixth point will be greater then the speed of light but none of spaces between dots are travelling faster then c.

  96. Davidlpf

    Creationists have been lumping the big bang thoery with evulotion for a long time now, and to them it is the same thing. They beleive that materialism is undermining society, they blame atheists and agnostics for all the ills in society. They think everyone were angels and did nothing wrong. The thing is people have been killing, doing drugs and all kinds other bad things long before their religion started and will probably continue long after their religion is dead and another takes it place.

  97. José

    @Steve
    I think you missed a spot. What can travel faster than light? Expansion?

    You nailed it. The speed of light is the limit anything can travel through space. This doesn’t apply to the expansion of space itself.

  98. zar

    Wow. By this guy’s standards, the Real Ultimate Warrior is a godless Darwinist.

  99. José

    @opossum
    Can scientists ever explain how matter arose from nothingness?

    Others have touched on this, but I’m going to try and say it in a simpler way. The Big Bang model does not say something came from nothing. It basically looks at what exists in the universe today, and rewinds back to a point where the entire universe was much hotter and denser. Eventually, we reach a point where current physics break down and we can’t yet say what came before.

  100. “Now hang on, I was an engineer with General Motors in the 80s. When I started work there I was really into belly dancing, when I left I just wasn’t a believer anymore. I switched to swing dancing and you know why? Because GM just doesn’t know anything about automotive evolution anymore. Look what has happened to them since. They were unable to explain why people liked Asian imports. This proves Asian imports are better! So I switched to a different style of dancing – and I’m now thinking of putting out a video all about the evolution of GM that will finally prove that they are completely responsible for why I like to dance. ”

    Sorry for my nonsense… But this is what I hear when Spike talks. Smooth flowing words that skip over the gaps so smoothly that you are left scratching your head in bewilderment unsure even what to grasp onto to begin to peel the onion.

    Things become painfully clear in his bio which lacks any detail of his life except he once worked in the space industry. Where? When? What did he do? For how long? What did he accomplish? What, other than his ability to retrogress his logic processes by reverting to creationism, qualifies him as a spokesperson for- not just an astronomy video- but a video that claims to question vast amounts of current scientific thought. Credentials? Apparently zero. But we should just believe him because he speaks earnestly.

  101. MadScientist

    That evilution point seems to be a common misdirection by creatards. I was just listening to a podcast of Mike Shermer vs. Eric Hovind and I had to click “go away” before 1/3 of the podcast was done – the ignorance was too painful. Anyway, Hovind’s typical creatard argument:

    The Grand Canyon didn’t take millions of years to create, it was created in a very short time by the flood in the story of Noah’s Ark, and therefore Evilution is a lie.

    Hovind’s claims are remarkable in that he can get absolutely no facts right. I also go into hysterical fits of laughter when creatards say “oh yes, yes, yes, we don’t dispute the facts, but science doesn’t know everything yet and therefore science knows nothing and therefore goddidit”. I also like “science can’t currently explain everything and therefore goddidit and goddidit explains everything”.

    Anyway, back on topic: creatards like to link mostly unrelated subjects such as cosmology and geology and claim that their absolute misunderstanding of even the most basic concepts from those subjects are proof that evilution is a lie.

    We are all born ignorant, but there are some people out there who are actually trained to be worse than ignorant and to be the champion of stupid.

  102. @MadScientist:
    We are all born ignorant, but there are some people out there who are actually trained to be worse than ignorant and to be the champion of stupid.

    I always separate Ignorant from Stupid because they actually are two different things. Ignorance is lacking knowledge/facts, Stupidity is deliberate ignoring/opposing knowledge/facts.
    As I summarize it: Ignorance is curable (through education), Stupidity is terminal.

    J/P=?

  103. papageno

    72. Cheyenne Says (May 28th, 2009 at 2:51 pm):

    I’m not implying anything here but I think one really does have to have a little think about how bizarrely fine-tuned this universe is for life (no, I am not some creationist hack or religious extremist).

    All I am saying is that it is quite remarkable how everything has to work in order for, well, this whole universe thing to exist the way it does. The critical density, the forces of nature, the masses of the various elements, and many more. Change just one thing by a tiny amount and you get a universe that would look very different.

    It seems like the religious tend to side on the God aspect behind the Big Bang. Atheists usually go for the multi-verse theories or some version of the Anthropic principle. I don’t have a dog in that fight – I just find it all fascinating.

    Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’
    (Douglas Adams)

  104. SionH

    I make it a point to try and use the word evolution specifically in a Darwinian sense just to avoid providing grist to the creationist mill. The word ‘development’ is usually an acceptable alternative for other situations.

  105. According to the OED, the term evolution was used in astronomy before biology.

    1850 J. P. NICHOL Archit. Heavens Pt. III. (title) Psyche, or evolution. 1851 J. P. NICHOL Archit. Heavens (ed. 9) 289 As on Earth, there is [sic] also{em}ruling these high Heavens{em}vast processes of evolution. 1854 W. WHEWELL Plurality of Worlds (ed. 2) Suppl. Dialogue 29 [Critic to the author] You adopt the Nebular hypothesis..not only..as applied by the elder Herschel and Laplace, to the starry world; but as it is applied by Laplace to the evolution of our solar system out of a revolving cloud of solar matter.

  106. Jeff

    Hovind’s 20 debates at:

    http://www.arrivalofthefittest.com/csehovind.html#debates

    Shermer does a good job refuting him.

  107. opossum

    Do I have to be an explicit atheist to have a rational view of the world or be a religious nut to believe in a creator?

    @Torbjörn Larsson:

    If our universe is in fact an offshoot of an eternal multiverse , then where did the multiverse arise from?

    It’s kind of a stretch to say, just because quantum particles can tunnel through a vacuum (which wouldn’t exist without the matter surrounding it), that a multiverse can arise from nothing.

    I understand that the current state of our universe is explained by the big bang theory, I get that, but it relies on an event, which relies on another, and another, and so on, and so on….

    I realize there is no proof that God is real, but there is no proof to the contrary, either. I understand the need for skepticism, too, but to assert there is no God, based on theory, seems a tad bit presumptuous. And that’s all it is so far, theory and speculation.

    In general, a moderate faith in God does more good than harm, until it gives way to irrationality and absolutes, which doesn’t have to happen unless one is blindly religious.

  108. Yojimbo

    @opossum

    “In general, a moderate faith in God does more good than harm, until it gives way to irrationality and absolutes, which doesn’t have to happen unless one is blindly religious.”

    I’m not sure about it “doing more good than harm” – at best it appears to be neutral, in that most religious people don’t let it intrude too far into their interpersonal affairs. But history shows that it is a fertile ground for generating ideas and actions that do lead to harm. If enough people do anything for long enough, one of them is bound to cause trouble :)

  109. SionH

    @opossum

    What you say has some merit, I agree, but the view you put forward is that of a deist rather than a theist.
    If a creator god did set the big bang in motion then how does one make the jump to then assume that any of the gods of Earth cultures equate to that same creator? Might as well argue that Zeus or Odin did it rather than Jehovah, there’s just as much evidence for each, i.e., none.
    Also, if one takes that standpoint of ‘a god did it’,well, I find that that rather stifles, if not utterly squashes, the spirit of scientific enquiry. Ok, so at the moment we are applying that debate to the big bang, but several centuries ago we applied that argument to things like thunder. Better to remove a deity from the answers and see what we can find out for ourselves, eh?

  110. Steve

    What can travel faster than light? Expansion?
    95. Lawrence Says:
    May 28th, 2009 at 7:58 pm
    “it is complicated, but technically yes. The more science-minded folks will be able to go into greater detail.”

    Oh I get it. Even though Einstein said nothing can, and even though it has not been “technically” proven (as in true science), you’re not a “detail science-minded” person unless you are determined to believe that a universe said to be 13.7 billion years old but most distant stars so far are 58-78 billion light years away is really not a problem for non God minded people which are the only people who really know anything about this, to you.

  111. TheBlackCat

    If our universe is in fact an offshoot of an eternal multiverse , then where did the multiverse arise from?

    I don’t think you quite get the concept of “eternal”.

    It’s kind of a stretch to say, just because quantum particles can tunnel through a vacuum (which wouldn’t exist without the matter surrounding it), that a multiverse can arise from nothing.

    No one is saying this. Please stop claiming this is our position. It has been pointed out to you again and again that this is not what we are claiming. Insistining on arguing against a strawman no matter how many times it is pointed out to you that nobody actually holds the position you are arguing against just makes it look like you are not listening.

    I realize there is no proof that God is real, but there is no proof to the contrary, either. I understand the need for skepticism, too, but to assert there is no God, based on theory, seems a tad bit presumptuous. And that’s all it is so far, theory and speculation.

    Google “Occam’s razor”. If what you are saying is true, god is an unnecessary assumption, therefore believing in it is inherently irrational.

    In general, a moderate faith in God does more good than harm, until it gives way to irrationality and absolutes, which doesn’t have to happen unless one is blindly religious.

    A lot of people disagree with you on all of these points, so I would like to see something more backing this up other than “because I say so”.

  112. TheBlackCat

    @ Steve: Please read Davidlpf’s post 96, the one immediately after the one you quoted, for an explanation.

  113. opossum

    I understand the concept of “eternity.” The Concept of Eternal sounds like a bad band name.

  114. opossum

    @SionH:

    Deist does describe how I feel about things. I don’t believe in divine intervention and all the mysticism that accompanies religion. I also don’t try to invent terms to divert people away from the possibility that there is a god who set things into motion. It might sound archaic, but even scientists are trying to find what existed before, before the big bang.

    @BlackCat:

    So, according to the multiverse theory, the multiverse is eternal (having no beginning or end). But our universe (the only one we can detect) had a finite beginning by means of a great cosmic expansion, which was discovered by the red shift of receding stars and subsequent findings. We explain it as requiring an event to exist, it hasn’t always been in its current state.

    So in your model the multiverse would be the eternal creator of our universe and, thus, the creator of our world. What you’re basically proposing is a synonym for what others refer to as God.

    God doesn’t have to be petty, meddlesome, and jealous as religious teachings portray him. Those are all human characteristics, none of which would be present in an omnipotent being.

    I’m not an anti-evolution, young earth, puppet. I just don’t know, and neither do you. No offense.

  115. opossum

    The belief in God, to me, is a sense of accountability. Even though it is highly unlikely we have sapience after death, we still can’t know until we die. I think it is good, on a planet inhabited by 6 billion people, that most of them fear that they may have to answer for their transgressions, otherwise life here would be insufferable.

  116. misetalcetera

    I suppose Psarris is an example of what happens when you watch ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ while reading the Bible.

  117. Lawrence

    Can’t a person be accountable to themselves? Why must they hold themselves accountable to some Omnipotent Spirit or God-Figure?

    Actually, we also have laws & a Justice System too. And, once you boil down every major religion, it comes up as “be a good person.” Is that so hard for people to understand? Once you put a name to your beliefs, they have a tendency to be used to go after “un-believers.”

    For thousands of years, mankind has used mythology and religion to help them explain the natural world & our place in it, because the scientific tools and knowledge weren’t available to truly explain the world around us (and the Universe as well).

    Organized religion has been used as a crutch – for thousands of years, the vast majority of people lived extremely simple, cruel, and short lives. They were lucky not to die at birth, or before the age of 5, or live beyond 30 years. They were tied to their little bit of land, rarely, if ever, travelling to the next town – living and dying by generations in the same place.

    If people didn’t have something to hold on to, promising them a better life after death, then I could just imagine how hopeless they might feel. Religion and a belief in a higher power was necessary – because there wasn’t anything else (well, plus the Church(s) wanted to keep power for themselves & tell people what they should and should not believe).

    In today’s world, we enjoy the highest standard of living that we as a species has ever had (well, and the environment in which we live has paid for it, obviously), and we know more about the world and the Universe than ever before – with new and exciting discoveries happening on a fairly frequent basis.

    At one time, we needed those bedtime stories to explain things – but we have come a long way from the past & we shouldn’t let those old beliefs prevent us from continuing to try to figure out how things work.

    “God did it” is the ultimate wall against learning and progress.

  118. José

    @Steve
    Oh I get it. Even though Einstein said nothing can
    As it’s been pointed out, that’s not what special relativity says. It says specifically that the speed of light is the fastest anything can travel through empty space. You asked a question based on some misinformation, and you were corrected. You’re just being a baby now.

  119. José

    @opossum
    I think it is good, on a planet inhabited by 6 billion people, that most of them fear that they may have to answer for their transgressions, otherwise life here would be insufferable.

    Are you really saying that if everyone on earth was an atheists, life would be insufferable?

  120. opossum

    @ Jose:

    Yes. That’s what I’m saying. Look at the debate spurred by this article, and there’s your proof.

    If we could go back in time, before the advent of religion and tell everyone about the scientific findings of the past century, then maybe it wouldn’t be necessary, but, imagine all of the guys who have found jailhouse Jesus, who, the only thing separating them from strangling every boy, woman, and man is faith in a deity. Their image of God might be contrived but at least they have something to occupy their thoughts besides rape, incest, theft, and murder. We can’t all be scientists. It is good to be afraid. Just don’t let the fear control you. Yes, people have died erroneously in the name of religion, but I’m not advocating religion.

    I think we’re better off letting the sheep continue to follow, it’s the sheep dogs who need to be reformed.

  121. TheBlackCat

    So in your model the multiverse would be the eternal creator of our universe and, thus, the creator of our world. What you’re basically proposing is a synonym for what others refer to as God.

    God doesn’t have to be petty, meddlesome, and jealous as religious teachings portray him. Those are all human characteristics, none of which would be present in an omnipotent being.

    First, I did not say the multiverse was my model, but it is a plausible scientific model.

    Second, except for very rare cases, god is presented as a conscious being with some sort of intelligence and will. If you wish to define “god” as “the rules of nature” like Einstein did, then fine we could call the multiverse “god”. But if you wish to define god as having any sort of intelligence, plan, and/or will then the two concepts are totally different.

    I’m not an anti-evolution, young earth, puppet. I just don’t know, and neither do you. No offense.

    The difference is that I have an interest in finding out the answer, while you are convinced you already have it and therefore seem to have no interest in further inquiry into the subject. At the very least your belief that you have the answer has led you to conclude that science never will find an answer, which I presume means all the current attempts to do so are a waste of time in your opinion.

    The belief in God, to me, is a sense of accountability. Even though it is highly unlikely we have sapience after death, we still can’t know until we die. I think it is good, on a planet inhabited by 6 billion people, that most of them fear that they may have to answer for their transgressions, otherwise life here would be insufferable.

    You have a very pessimistic and cynical view of humanity.

  122. opossum

    @TheBlackCat:

    I am simply stating that although you think you can explain the origins of matter, you can not. You can infer all you want from what I’ve stated but that doesn’t mean you are capable of reading my thoughts.

    I am not attempting to make a judgment on your character or world view. You could be right, but until you know, it would probably be best to refrain from preaching explicit atheism.

    You have a very disrespectful view of humanity, if you think eighty percent of the world is wrong in their belief in a creator, no matter what they think about the details.

    “The difference is that I have an interest in finding out the answer, while you are convinced you already have it and therefore seem to have no interest in further inquiry into the subject. At the very least your belief that you have the answer has led you to conclude that science never will find an answer, which I presume means all the current attempts to do so are a waste of time in your opinion.”

    I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t searching for an answer, but you certainly aren’t providing one, you only deride.

    I haven’t said science can’t find an answer, only the FACT that they haven’t.

    Science has not disproved the existence of God has it?

    “You have a very pessimistic and cynical view of humanity.”

    Why wouldn’t I?

    Until population growth is curbed and the human race concerns itself with improvement by genetics and education (not just physics) then we don’t have much hope of continuing on this path much past the next turn of the century. We (humans) have the capacity of blowing every city in the world off the map, and I’m supposed to be optimistic that it will never happen.

    Every technological society has a choice: to either improve (not just technologically) or destroy itself.

    Hopefully for our sake you can find a way of improving things in a world you wish to be devoid of all faith or accountability.

    In your model; I could rape, murder and pillage, then as long as I kill myself before the authorities skin me, I’ll have no consequences for what I’ve done (which is THEORETICALLY sound). That’s the ultimate in optimism, and for that I commend you.

    “I better get ma warpaint on sos i can go on a keelin’ spree!”

  123. opossum

    I think we’re better off letting the sheep continue to follow, it’s the sheep dogs who need to be reformed.

  124. Yojimbo

    Let’s see – it sounds like in Opossum’s world children are kept on the straight-and-narrow by parents who say “behave yourself or I’ll smack you”. And when the kids grow up or leave home, and the parents can no longer give ‘em a good belt, they need a god in their head to keep them on track – “behave yourself or I’ll smite you”.

    Well, it does have the advantage of being a simple system, and fitting for a world with lots of violent people who hold simplistic beliefs. Still – you don’t have to have a deity to have a system of morals and ethics, as many Bhuddists know.

  125. @opossum

    If we could go back in time, before the advent of religion and tell everyone about the scientific findings of the past century, then maybe it wouldn’t be necessary, but, imagine all of the guys who have found jailhouse Jesus, who, the only thing separating them from strangling every boy, woman, and man is faith in a deity. Their image of God might be contrived but at least they have something to occupy their thoughts besides rape, incest, theft, and murder.

    Generally speaking, people will act how they will and justify it after the fact. If someone is going to commit some crime, whether they believe in a god or not doesn’t really matter. If they need something to have faith in to keep them from committing a crime, they will find something in which to put their faith, be it a god or something else.

    Your pessimism about humanity aside, the majority of people behave toward others how they would like to be treated. The criminal elements tend to be a very small percentage of the overall population.

  126. opossum

    I guess I’ll never fully understand how inexorable atheism is the answer to humanity’s problems. How sad.

    It also appears that no one can present the indisputable scientific evidence that there is no God. How sad.

    I believe we should keep trying, because, either: A. We will learn something about God, or, B: we will finally put an end to religion’s reign over man. Either one would be acceptable.

  127. Lawrence

    Very few religions have ever really contributed positively to the development of society – and in most cases, the hierarchical structure of the “Church” is used to retard progess, growth, and positive change.

    This not only applies to the normal variety of Christian religions, but pretty much across the spectrum (with a few exceptions).

    Science doesn’t need to prove or disprove the existence of “God” – which is a HUGE strawman argument by the fundamentalists (of any faith). Science seeks a greater understanding of nature through observation, experiment, and research. In no way does this conflict with someone’s personal beliefs.

    When someone stands up and says, “okay, hands down everyone – we don’t understand this shaking of the Earth or fire in the Sky, so we’ll say God Did It. End of Story.” That’s a problem.

    Eventually, I do hope that people recognize organized religion for what it really is, a means of control. I respect every individual’s right to their own beliefs – but when they try to foist those beliefs on the rest of us, that’s when I really have a problem.

    When scientific progress is made, remember – it isn’t directed at negating your belief structure – it just is what it is. Facts are facts.

  128. TheBlackCat

    I am simply stating that although you think you can explain the origins of matter, you can not. You can infer all you want from what I’ve stated but that doesn’t mean you are capable of reading my thoughts.

    Aurgh. I never said I can explain the origins of matter, in fact I said the exact opposite repeatedly. What I said that it is a question scientists are hard at work solving.

    You could be right, but until you know, it would probably be best to refrain from preaching explicit atheism.

    As I have already explained, this position is irrational.

    You have a very disrespectful view of humanity, if you think eighty percent of the world is wrong in their belief in a creator, no matter what they think about the details.

    The same proportion of people, if not more, have been wrong about other things. Blood letting is a good example.

    What is more, the number, characteristics, personalities, capabilities, and pretty much every other imaginable detail about the creator or creators varies substantially. In fact not all religions even have a creator in the Abrahamic sense. Many religions have the universe predate the deity, with the deity merely shaping it or in some way turning into the form we are familiar. Sometimes it even used its own body in the process, or in some other way died or ceased to exist immediately after. In others, the deity sprung out of nothingness at a definitive point. In still others, the deity created lesser deities that than then killed the main deity and used its body to fashion the world.

    Creation stories are as variable as the religions that come up with them. The idea of an eternal creator outside of the universe that fashioned everything from nothingness is by no means universal in religions, in fact it seems to be fairly uncommon amongst creation myths.

    I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t searching for an answer, but you certainly aren’t providing one, you only deride.

    I haven’t said science can’t find an answer, only the FACT that they haven’t.

    Actually, you have explicitly said that science can’t find an answer. To refresh your memory, from your post #78:
    “I don’t think of him as a man with a long, flowing beard, but the cause of material existence, which can’t be explained scientifically. Science can only explain the existence of elements, life, planets, solar systems, and galaxies, but not matter.
    (emphasis added)

    Hopefully for our sake you can find a way of improving things in a world you wish to be devoid of all faith or accountability.

    In your model; I could rape, murder and pillage, then as long as I kill myself before the authorities skin me, I’ll have no consequences for what I’ve done (which is THEORETICALLY sound). That’s the ultimate in optimism, and for that I commend you.

    Having to kill yourself to get off the hook seems like a pretty extreme measure to me. With many religions you just have to pray for forgiveness and you are clear to go, no death is necessary. Sometimes some sort of relatively minor penance is necessary, but needing to die to escape punishment is rare (at least amongst western religions).

  129. CelticMinstrel

    opossum said:

    So, according to the multiverse theory, the multiverse is eternal (having no beginning or end). But our universe (the only one we can detect) had a finite beginning by means of a great cosmic expansion, which was discovered by the red shift of receding stars and subsequent findings. We explain it as requiring an event to exist, it hasn’t always been in its current state.
    So in your model the multiverse would be the eternal creator of our universe and, thus, the creator of our world. What you’re basically proposing is a synonym for what others refer to as God.

    Not really. The multiverse can’t really be called a “creator” since it would not be sentient. Our universe would most likely simply come about as a chance event.

    opossum said:

    I am simply stating that although you think you can explain the origins of matter, you can not. You can infer all you want from what I’ve stated but that doesn’t mean you are capable of reading my thoughts.

    Matter came from energy. Oh, what’s the origin of energy, you ask? What origin? If the multiverse is eternal, and energy is conserved in a closed system, and the multiverse is a closed system (as is likely), well, then clearly energy is also eternal

    opossum said:

    Science has not disproved the existence of God has it?

    No, it has not, and there is a very good reason for that. The statement that God exists is a non-falsifiable statement. In other words, it is not logically possible to disprove the existence of God. (Note that it is also not logically possible to prove the existence of God, except if he actually decides to show himself.)

    opossum said:

    In your model; I could rape, murder and pillage, then as long as I kill myself before the authorities skin me, I’ll have no consequences for what I’ve done (which is THEORETICALLY sound). That’s the ultimate in optimism, and for that I commend you.

    Yes, you’d have consequences. Specifically, you’d be dead. That’s a consequence if I ever heard one.

  130. Stark

    I think we’re forgetting what the definition of “evolution” is. It’s merely the change of something. Once applied to biology (species and the like) or astronomy (stellar), it can have totally different meanings. :)

    Psarris fail mode.

  131. opossum said: “It also appears that no one can present the indisputable scientific evidence that there is no God. How sad.”

    It also appears that no one can present the indisputable scientific evidence that Russell’s teapot doesn’t exist. Very, very sad, indeed.

  132. Darth Robo

    It also appears that no one can present the indisputable scientific evidence that there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    YAY!
    :D

  133. CelticMinstrel

    Yes, Darth Robo, but keep in mind that no-one (apart from the FSM himself if he exists) can present indisputable scientific evidence that there is a Flying Spaghetti Monster either.

  134. Darth Robo
  135. Spencer

    Seriously? I think you’re the smartest human ever. It is not an endearing trait. Wow though.

  136. Nigel Depledge

    Kenny K said:

    . . . although you do very little debunking, except of course for the typical default name-calling and the belittling of a man that you don’t even know. By the way are the exploding stars that we see on a regular basis proof of stellular evolution? …I think you are just proving Spikes point. The universe is winding down, not evolving, stellularily or otherwise (for lack of a better word).

    Don’t mistake an attack on someone’s argument for an attack on that person him- or her- self.

    How is “winding down” different from “evolution”? “Evolution” is simply “change over time”. Your phrase “The universe is winding down” is just meaningless.

    Of course, within specific contexts, the word “evolution” has more precise and detailed meanings. For instance, stellar evolution refers to the process by which stars form, settle into the main sequence, then shed their outer layers (as either a planetary nebula or a supernova) and eventually die (white dwarf / neutron star / black hole).

  137. Nigel Depledge

    The Black Cat said:

    This is a really simple issue: words can have more than one meaning.

    True.

    The best example is the word “set”. The Oxford English Dictionary has 128 different uses listed (including it as both noun and verb, and including modified forms such as set up, set to, set off, set down, etc.).

  138. Nigel Depledge

    Phil Staudt said:

    Wouldn’t it also be boring to live in a world where all knowledge and terminology is based on the presupposition that there is no possibility of anything supernatural or that cannot be explained by science?

    What is so boring about the concept of being able to understand the universe?

    Seriously, saying “the supernatural” is nothing more or less than saying “unexplainable” or “unlearnable”. Mysteries are wonderful things – appreciated more by scientists than by non-scientists, because they represent the challenges to be tackled and overcome that is what motivates most scientists to become scientists.

    Anticipating understanding prompts exploration, learning, experimentation and explication. Claiming that some things can never be explained is the same thing as suggesting we should never try.

  139. Nigel Depledge

    Cheyenne said:

    I’m not implying anything here but I think one really does have to have a little think about how bizarrely fine-tuned this universe is for life (no, I am not some creationist hack or religious extremist).

    Actually, that may be the wrong way around: instead, ask yourself, “isn’t it bizarre how finely-tuned life is to this universe we inhabit?”.

    The only life of which we know is Earthly life. There may be many other possible forms of life that could have arisen had the universe been different. However, the universe is what it is and life as we know it has arisen and diversified into the forms it now takes.

    The key question, really, is: how can we find out? And that is a tough one, because (AFAIK) we cannot make a set of new universes to see how life may (or may not) have arisen and diversified in universes with other physical laws.

  140. Nigel Depledge

    Opossum said:

    Can scientists ever explain how matter arose from nothingness?

    Well, if ever they find that there is a genuine “nothingness” that needs to be explained, probably yes.

    Can they provide a model for how matter came to be without the need for building blocks?

    E = mc2. Next.

    Yes, I understand I’m projecting my human view point onto the cosmos. Maybe I’m using a god of the gaps, but we can’t even create matter from matter, only alter its state, so how can we ever really know what its origins were?

    Baryonic matter all arose during the first few minutes after the big bang.

    To say it, has always been, seems like a semantic argument against the existence of an infinite god. It’s like comparing cars to automobiles. They’re the same thing. You still rely on existence without creation instead of a creator who existed without creation.

    Who created the creator? For your argument to have validity it must cut both ways, and is therefore no use in resolving the differences.

    I don’t picture God as the dictator the Bible portrays. I don’t think of him as a man with a long, flowing beard, but the cause of material existence, which can’t be explained scientifically.

    Well, there you go, shutting off possibilities.

    Anything that leaves behind physical evidence can (in principle) be explained and understood scientifically. Belief in something for which there is no evidence is irrational. You seem to be implying that god cannot, even in principle, be shown to exist.

    Science can only explain the existence of elements, life, planets, solar systems, and galaxies, but not matter.

    Not so. See above.

  141. Nigel Depledge

    Opossum said:

    Do I have to be an explicit atheist to have a rational view of the world or be a religious nut to believe in a creator?

    No.

    There is a simple alternative: acknowledge that religious belief is irrational, yet continue to hold it anyway. Just don’t expect it to explain any measureable physical aspect of the universe.

    @Torbjörn Larsson:

    If our universe is in fact an offshoot of an eternal multiverse , then where did the multiverse arise from?

    Simple. We don’t know yet.

    Science can handle being ignorant. Can you?

    It’s kind of a stretch to say, just because quantum particles can tunnel through a vacuum (which wouldn’t exist without the matter surrounding it), that a multiverse can arise from nothing.

    Are you saying that QM does not apply to the universe at large? If so, please justify your assertion.

    Also, please justify your claim that a vacuum cannot exist without the matter that surrounds it, because that sounds like pure fruit-loopery.

    I understand that the current state of our universe is explained by the big bang theory, I get that, but it relies on an event, which relies on another, and another, and so on, and so on….

    You seem to have missed the point of some of the responses to your comments.

    We can deduce from the present state of the universe that it was smaller, hotter and denser in the past. Extrapolating backwards, the universe reaches a time where our existing physics is unable to describe it in detail. Therefore, anything that occurred at or before this time is not accessible to our present physical theories unless it has left evidence in the universe that we observe.

    We simply don’t know what happened “before” the big bang, but people are looking into it. Why do you see this as some kind of flaw or failure of physics?

    I realize there is no proof that God is real, but there is no proof to the contrary, either.

    No, but there is logic.

    The principle of parsimony suggests that we should not assume the existence of anything without evidence.

    Assuming the existence of some kind of omnipotent, omniscient yet undetectable being is an extraordinary leap. You cannot argue that such an assumption is rational based on an absence of contrary evidence (and, BTW, there is a great deal of evidence that the bible is wrong, and whence else comes information about god?).

    I understand the need for skepticism, too, but to assert there is no God, based on theory, seems a tad bit presumptuous.

    No, it is only reasonable.

    And that’s all it is so far, theory and speculation.

    While, by contrast, the bible is what, exactly? Wishful thinking of the most speculative sort. The more I read of your arguments, the less convincing they become.

    In general, a moderate faith in God does more good than harm,

    Why? And how?

    until it gives way to irrationality and absolutes, which doesn’t have to happen unless one is blindly religious.

    Belief in something for which there is zero evidence is intrinsically irrational.

  142. Steve

    119 Jose says I’m just being a baby now. Wow, such response like I’m supposed to be intimidated out of my whatever.

    Expansion is not as fast as the speed of light. It is only a physical movement. Don’t you recall the train illustration? Or the bike illustration? (or maybe a tricycle illustration for you?) These readings you embrace as orthodoxy in relation to the big bang (I like to think of it as the big pop, like a balloon still full of hot air when it pops), are hypothetical because non God people have no where else to go. Oh, then there’s the whole uniform temperature dispersion from one edge of the universe to the other problem. Now there’s another light travel time puzzle for you.

  143. Steve

    119 for Jose again:

    Oh, one other thing. If the universe is not expanding through open space, then what is it expanding through? The spaghetti monster’s poo?

  144. Nigel Depledge

    Steve said:

    Expansion is not as fast as the speed of light. It is only a physical movement.

    This shows you do not understand.

    The expansion of space is something completely separate from movement through space.

    And, while the expansion does not exceed light speed in any local measurement, the cunmulative effect of many billions of light years of space that is all expanding does indeed mean that very distantly-separated points are oving apart faster than the speed of light.

    Don’t you recall the train illustration? Or the bike illustration? (or maybe a tricycle illustration for you?)

    Recalling them is perhaps not as important as understanding them. Clearly you have not (BTW, they are both illustrations of special relativity, whereas the expansion of space is a component of general relativity).

    These readings you embrace as orthodoxy in relation to the big bang (I like to think of it as the big pop, like a balloon still full of hot air when it pops), are hypothetical because non God people have no where else to go.

    No, it is not hypothetical.

    While there are details that are still not understood or are not fully explained, the general point of the big bang is incontrovertible. I.e. the universe was once far smaller, hotter and denser than it is now. BBT predicted the microwave background radiation; it predicts the observed abundances of hydrogen, helium, lithium and deuterium. We can state with confidence that BBT is at least a good approximation of what really happened.

    Oh, then there’s the whole uniform temperature dispersion from one edge of the universe to the other problem. Now there’s another light travel time puzzle for you.

    Solved by inflation. Did you have a point, or are you really 35 years out of date?

  145. Nigel Depledge

    Steve said:

    Oh, one other thing. If the universe is not expanding through open space, then what is it expanding through? The spaghetti monster’s poo?

    Again, you illustrate your poor understanding.

    Why does space have to expand through anything? The universe simply is. Whatever is outside it is (at present) utterly inaccessible to investigation, and therefore open to endless speculation without even the hope of resolution.

  146. Nigel Depledge

    Steve (111) said:

    Oh I get it. Even though Einstein said nothing can, and even though it has not been “technically” proven (as in true science), you’re not a “detail science-minded” person unless you are determined to believe that a universe said to be 13.7 billion years old but most distant stars so far are 58-78 billion light years away is really not a problem for non God minded people which are the only people who really know anything about this, to you.

    Wow, what a chaotic and rambling sentence!

    First: Nothing can travel through space faster than light (as far as we can tell). As has been pointed out by others, that does not apply to the expansion of space itself.

    Second, what do you mean by “technically proven”? That space is expanding has been demonstrated by observation. That more distant objects recede faster than nearby objects has been demonstrated by observation. By logical extrapolation, it is only reasonable to conclude that, at some very large distance, objects are receding from us at the speed of light (thus limiting the observable portion of the universe).

    Third, the age of the universe has been measured to be 13.7 billion years (± perhaps 5%). It will remain the age it is no matter what we choose to believe.

    Fourth, in a universe that is 13.7 billion years old, the most distant objects we can observe are now about 40 or 50 billion light-years away, due to the fact that the distance between us and those objects has been expanding for 13.7 billion years. Note especially that space has expanded substantially since the light reaching us from those distant objects started its journey.

    Fifth, I have no idea what you mean by “non God minded people”. Whether you believe in a god or not is irrelevant to how the universe is.

  147. Nigel Depledge

    Opossum said:

    If our universe is in fact an offshoot of an eternal multiverse , then where did the multiverse arise from?

    The Black Cat said:

    I don’t think you quite get the concept of “eternal”.

    And Opossum replied:

    I understand the concept of “eternity.”

    Go figure.

  148. Nigel Depledge

    Opossum said (in a response to TBC):

    So in your model the multiverse would be the eternal creator of our universe and, thus, the creator of our world. What you’re basically proposing is a synonym for what others refer to as God.

    Not really.

    Or, come to think of it, at all.

    You seem to be implying that the universe needed something with will or intent in order to come into being. You ignore the possibility that it simply arose through a natural process emerging from nothing more wilful that the laws of physics.

    God doesn’t have to be petty, meddlesome, and jealous as religious teachings portray him. Those are all human characteristics, none of which would be present in an omnipotent being.

    I’m not an anti-evolution, young earth, puppet. I just don’t know, and neither do you. No offense.

    While it is true that no-one knows what caused the big bang (assuming such a question has a genuine meaning), you appear to be insisting that there was some kind of part specifically reserved for a god. You acknowledge that you do not know, yet you reject the possibility that there was no conscious intent involved at all.

    Conversely, since there is no evidence that leads us to conclude that a god does exist, it is illogical to suppose that the universe required the action of a god to come into being.

  149. Nigel Depledge

    Opossum (116) said:

    The belief in God, to me, is a sense of accountability. Even though it is highly unlikely we have sapience after death, we still can’t know until we die. I think it is good, on a planet inhabited by 6 billion people, that most of them fear that they may have to answer for their transgressions, otherwise life here would be insufferable.

    I think that this belief is really a rather sad indictment of humanity.

    Why should the fear of punishment be the only thing that makes people behave fairly? Why could not respect for one’s fellow humans be an even stronger motivator?

  150. Nigel Depledge

    Opossum (121) said:

    If we could go back in time, before the advent of religion and tell everyone about the scientific findings of the past century, then maybe it wouldn’t be necessary, but, imagine all of the guys who have found jailhouse Jesus, who, the only thing separating them from strangling every boy, woman, and man is faith in a deity.

    Actually, would it not be better still, if we could go back in time, to make sure that those people were brought up in such a way that they never even consider committing those acts in the first place?

    Their image of God might be contrived but at least they have something to occupy their thoughts besides rape, incest, theft, and murder.

    So does pretty much everyone, even without faith in god.

    You seem to be saying that, without faith in god, you would think of nothing but rape, incest, theft and murder.

    Besides, not only do you ignore the gap between thoughts and deeds, you ignore that a great deal of theft, rape and murder has been done in the name of various religions.

    We can’t all be scientists.

    So? This has nothing to do with your ability to respect your fellow humans.

    It is good to be afraid. Just don’t let the fear control you.

    I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

    If you advocate not letting the fear control you, then what exactly is it that stops all of your murderers and rapists going off on crime sprees?

    Yes, people have died erroneously in the name of religion,

    How the hell do you die erroneously?

    Perhaps you meant that people have committed murder in the name of religion, and that this is inexusable?

    However, even though you condemn it, it really does undermine your argument about the prison inmates who have found religion. After all, either belief in god prevents one from committing murder etc., or it does not. The evidence suggests not, really.

    Perhaps what those prison inmates have found, in addition to religion, is a new lifestyle. One in which murder, rape and so on are not considered acceptable.

    but I’m not advocating religion.

    Er, well, you kinda are, in fact. Belief in god is pretty much a core part of religion. The two are inextricably intertwined. By advocating one, I cannot see how you can not be advocating the other.

  151. Nigel Depledge

    Opossum said:

    I am simply stating that although you think you can explain the origins of matter, you can not.

    That is not a simple thing to state.

    Besides, matter arises from energy.

    If, however, you meant to refer to the contents of the universe (i.e. matter and energy both), this is an active area of scientific research. You seem to be implying that it is a complete waste of time, since you have declared it impossible to answer. Well, I wouldn’t bet the farm on that if I were you.

    You can infer all you want from what I’ve stated but that doesn’t mean you are capable of reading my thoughts.

    Well, duh. Way to state the obvious.

    All we can do is infer from your words what is going on in your head.

    However, we can draw conclusions from what you have said and the way you have said it. We can, for instance, confidently conclude that you don’t have the slightest understanding of the state of modern cosmology.

    I am not attempting to make a judgment on your character or world view.

    Well, actually, you are making a judgement on any world view that excludes god.

    You could be right, but until you know, it would probably be best to refrain from preaching explicit atheism.

    Well, then: in the same vein, you (and everyone else) would do well to refrain from preaching belief in god until you know for sure. At least atheism has logic on its side, which is more than you can claim.

    You have a very disrespectful view of humanity, if you think eighty percent of the world is wrong in their belief in a creator, no matter what they think about the details.

    This is glib, and wrong.

    Understanding that most people are ignorant about a great many things is in no way disrespectful. It is the way people are. Similarly, it is a part of how our minds work that we believe all sorts of irrational things. Understanding that this is a part of being human is in no way disrespectful of humans.

    However, trying to use irrational beliefs to dictate how other people should conduct their lives is disrespectful.

    I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t searching for an answer, but you certainly aren’t providing one, you only deride.

    The answers you seek have been provided, but you either dismiss them or ignore them.

    Is it any wonder that TBC responded the way (s)he did?

    I haven’t said science can’t find an answer, only the FACT that they haven’t.

    No. You did actually state that science could not find an answer, to whit:

    I am simply stating that although you think you can explain the origins of matter, you can not

    (My bolding)

    You did not say “you don’t have an answer yet”; neither did you say merely that “you haven’t found an answer”. You said science “can not” find an answer to the origin of matter.

    Seriously, say what you mean, otherwise people will misunderstand you. And point and laugh when you contradict yourself.

    Science has not disproved the existence of God has it?

    Irrelevant.

    God is intrinsically not accessible to investigation, by definition. How strangely convenient.

    “You have a very pessimistic and cynical view of humanity.”

    Why wouldn’t I?

    Until population growth is curbed and the human race concerns itself with improvement by genetics and education (not just physics) then we don’t have much hope of continuing on this path much past the next turn of the century. We (humans) have the capacity of blowing every city in the world off the map, and I’m supposed to be optimistic that it will never happen.

    Every technological society has a choice: to either improve (not just technologically) or destroy itself.

    Hopefully for our sake you can find a way of improving things in a world you wish to be devoid of all faith or accountability.

    All of which is irrelevant.

    In your model; I could rape, murder and pillage, then as long as I kill myself before the authorities skin me, I’ll have no consequences for what I’ve done (which is THEORETICALLY sound). That’s the ultimate in optimism, and for that I commend you.

    You are completely wrong here. This is nothing more than your own strawman view of atheism, which indicates that you have a pretty disrespectful opinion of anyone who isn’t religious.

    Notice that, while there are many millions of atheists in the USA, there aren’t millions of people going on killing sprees. This one fact is alone sufficient to demolish your argument.

    In fact, it can be argued that atheism is more strongly moral than many religious positions. Based on a respect for one’s fellow humans, and on the knowledge that this life is all anyone ever gets, murder (and suicide) is more abhorrent to atheists than it is to people who believe in an eternal afterlife.

  152. Nigel Depledge

    Opossum said:

    It also appears that no one can present the indisputable scientific evidence that there is no God. How sad.

    Well, since it is in principle impossible to prove the absence of something that intrinsically leaves no trace of its existence, we’ll have to settle for logic and parsimony. I don’t find this sad.

    Why is it that you do?

    I believe we should keep trying, because, either: A. We will learn something about God, or, B: we will finally put an end to religion’s reign over man. Either one would be acceptable.

    Or, we could have option C: We don’t know for sure, but reason tells us that belief in god is irrational.

    Oh, hang on a sec, that’s where we are right now.

    You have yet to convince me that there is anything wrong with that. Why are you obsessed with the idea that god is accessible to being disproved?

  153. Steve

    Only several years ago they were “certain” the universe was something other than 13.7 billion years old. Now they are “certain” of that age. The former age did not come close to 13.7. What will they be “certain” of tomorrow?

    Also, the uniform temperature of the universe is not an outdated question answered by “inflation.” No one (but God) has the facts yet.

  154. Steve

    And recall Hubble himself. He discovered that the stars appeared to put us uncomfortably close to the center of the universe due to the red shifts moving all directions from us. Of course “we couldn’t have another geo centric” problem now, could we. So, he invented the “dots on the balloon” fable to deal with it for all the non God people. No proof of it. They just need it. It’s their comfort blanket. But the edges are fraying and wearing thin.

  155. Nigel Depledge

    Steve said:

    Only several years ago they were “certain” the universe was something other than 13.7 billion years old.

    Not true.

    About 15 years ago, there was a great deal of uncertainty about the age of the universe, due mainly to two things: uncertainty in the value of the Hubble constant, and uncertainty about the age of stars in the Milky Way’s oldest globular clusters.

    During the mid- to late- 90s, new observations allowed much more reliable figures to be determined for both the Hubble constant and the age of stars in globular clusters. The age of the universe (13.7 billion years) that is now accepted was initially derived from those observations. IIUC, it has been refined slightly by subsequent observations.

    But your use of the word “certain” betrays a lack of understanding of science. What has happened is we have gradually increased our confidence in our determination of the age of the universe. The data support the present figure to a high degree of confidence within ± 5% (IIRC). By contrast, 15 – 20 years ago, we had only a very little confidence in our estimates of the age of the universe. One reason for this is that measurements of the Hubble constant were crude and approximate.

    Now they are “certain” of that age. The former age did not come close to 13.7.

    No. Not certain, but with a high degree of confidence. See above.

    What will they be “certain” of tomorrow?

    That your understanding of the science is insufficient to qualify you to comment on it.

    Also, the uniform temperature of the universe is not an outdated question answered by “inflation.”

    Hmmm, let’s see . . .

    Actually, yes, inflation does solve the problem of uniform temperature. If you disagree with this, perhaps you’d care to go into a bit of detail, rather than simply claim I am wrong. Do you, for example, know and understand how the inflationary model has modified the initial big-bang model? Since one of the questions that inflation was intended to answer was that of how distant parts of the universe could appear so uniform, what exactly leads you to disagree with the leading minds of cosmological research over the last 20-odd years?

    No one (but God) has the facts yet.

    This is wrong, too. Just because you are not aware of what is known does not mean that people don’t know stuff. Your personal ignorance is not universal to humanity. There are a great many pertinent facts that are known, and claims that we know nearly nothing are actually quite insulting to science in general and cosmology in particular.

    This is not to say we know everything that we might wish to, but it is wrong to assert that ignorance of Z implies ignorance of X and Y also. We know enough facts to understand that the inflationary big bang model is at least a good approximation of what occured 13.7 billion years ago.

  156. Nigel Depledge

    Steve said:

    And recall Hubble himself. He discovered that the stars appeared to put us uncomfortably close to the center of the universe due to the red shifts moving all directions from us. Of course “we couldn’t have another geo centric” problem now, could we.

    Actually, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that there is nothing special about our position within the universe. The reason for this is that there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.

    So, he invented the “dots on the balloon” fable to deal with it for all the non God people. No proof of it.

    Rubbish. That the universe is expanding is the only conclusion one can draw from the data Hubble and his successors have obtained.

    There is now a load more data (in your parlance, facts) than Hubble had available, and it is all consistent with an expanding universe, and there is nothing to indicate that the expansion is an illusion caused by local movements. The expansion of the universe is, as near as anyone can determine, a fact. Live with it.

    Your denial of something so basic (and so well-established by factual evidence) indicates that you are either unable or unwilling to learn about how the universe actually is. This is entirely your own problem.

    BTW, labelling anyone who disagrees with you as a “non God” person is mere inflammatory rhetoric. It is another indicator that you don’t have an actual argument to make.

    They just need it.

    Nuh-uh. You’re wrong again.

    At the time Hubble made his discovery, scientists would probably have been happier with a static universe.

    It’s their comfort blanket.

    Wrong again. Science is the process of understanding what is, warts and all. Religion (and most especially the various forms of reality-denying creationism) is, to use your terminology, a comfort blanket.

    But the edges are fraying and wearing thin.

    This is merely another bald assertion. You have failed to demonstrate that any of your claims bears even a passing resemblance to reality. Unless you are prepared to back up your assertions with some reasoning and factual support, you are just being another boring creationist noisemaker.

  157. Dave

    “Can they provide a model for how matter came to be…”

    @opossum: Actually, they can. Matter was created from energy. The universe went through several stages (“epochs”) after the big bang. Several steps into this process (after the fundamental forces had separated), during the “quark epoch”, the universe did not contain any matter, but was a quark-gluon soup. The universe was still too hot at that stage to even allow the creation of protons and neutrons (which comprise the nucleus of matter) or pions (also required to allow matter to be created). During subsequent epochs, things cooled off enough to allow the creation of hadrons such as protons & neutrons (“hadron epoch”), then electrons, another component of matter (“lepton epoch”). During the next epoch, all of the building blocks were present, but the universe was still too hot to allow normal matter to form.

    The universe did not cool down enough to allow traditional matter (i.e. – atoms) to be created until several hundred thousand years after the big bang!

    Even then, this “matter” was mainly hydrogen gas. More familiar elements of matter, like oxygen (that you breath), silicon (in rocks), or carbon (from which plants, people & all hydrocarbon-based life forms are made) are created by fusion inside of large stars, the first of which did not even “fire-up” until roughly 100 million years after the big bang! (To create the heavier elements, even more extreme measures are needed – about half of such matter is created by the core collapse of an exploding supernova!)

    The idea that matter was “created from nothing” at the time of the big bang is incorrect.

    “…is really not a problem for non God minded people”

    @Steve – one of the “fundamental” problems associated with some religious extremist viewpoints is the concept that if someone does not agree with all of one’s religiously-based beliefs regarding the PHYSICAL/SCIENTIFIC world, that they must therefore be an atheist. If the science does not agree with one’s rigid view of how the universe should be, then attack the scientist!

    This same sort of intolerant thinking resulted in one recent administration “censoring” government scientific results, changing the “facts” to match their own particular religious and ideological viewpoints.

    The Catholic Church learned centuries ago the fallacy of a religion trying to dictate matters of science. Galileo was persecuted by the church as a heretic for believing that the earth revolved around the sun. After all, everybody knew that the earth was fixed and the sun revolved around it – the bible said so!

    (While based on a “literal” interpretation of the bible, I don’t see many creationists trying to argue this point any more! ;) )

    After convicting Galileo in 1633, the Church has since reversed itself, and shifted to a more modern stance, declaring that it’s viewpoints are infallible only as to religious matters, not scientific ones.

    But the idea that – “If a scientific discovery challenges my personal beliefs, then attack the science” is the same intolerant attitude we see today among religious extremists of other (non-Christian) persuasions.

    Steve, you may be surprised to learn that there are many astronomers, cosmologists and physicists that believe the prevailing wisdom about the age of the universe that are also practicing Christians. People who think that belief in spiritual matters and science is not mutually contradictory, nor that their faith is so weak that in order to prop one up, the other must fall.

    @Nigel Depledge, RE: in invalidating the erroneous concept that the threat of eternal punishment provided by religion is the only thing that keeps man civilized, you made a good point at the end of #152.

    I would also suggest that in many cases, religion has actually been the CAUSE of much wanton death & destruction (particularly when the person being killed subscribes to a different religious belief than you!) Just a few examples – the Spanish Inquisition, The Crusades, Burning Witches (Europe & America), the “Convert or Die” policy (practiced many times by various religions, such as the Spanish with native populations), Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Kamikazi pilots, or perhaps the most relevant example in modern times – they guy who straps a bomb to his chest with the intention of killing both himself and as many other people as he can take with him, because of all of the virgins and other delights he believes he will get as a reward in the afterlife!

    But all of the “religious wars” throughout history just goes to show the inherent idiocy of mixing religion with politics. The same also holds true when trying to mix religion with science – neither is a good idea!

    As Galileo (citing the Venerable Cardinal Cesare Baronius), stated – “The Bible was written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” While he made that statement nearly four hundred years ago, I believe it applies equally (if not more so) in this case.

  158. Steve

    All Nigel said was false. Facts they are not. He and his friends WANT SO MUCH to believe their dogmatism. After all, that is THEIR faith. And I never rejected expansion. If you look carefully at my words, it is the fear of us being so close to the center of the expansion (thus significant) that invented the dots on the balloon cartoon. Still, even with the balloon, there remains an empty center of hot air.

  159. Nigel Depledge

    Steve said:

    All Nigel said was false.

    This is a lie.

    I challenge you to prove that this statement, for example, is false:

    I said:

    We know enough facts to understand that the inflationary big bang model is at least a good approximation of what occured 13.7 billion years ago.

    Steve again:

    Facts they are not.

    Saying the same thing again does not make it any more true than it was last time.

    He and his friends WANT SO MUCH to believe their dogmatism. After all, that is THEIR faith.

    Projection much?

    Steve, you quite obviously have not the slightest idea what you are talking about. You have been invited several times to clarify your position and the reasons behind it, and have either ignored these or refused to do so. You persist in making baseless assertions, and misrepresenting what the science actually says.

    IOW, you are boring.

  160. Steve

    Nigel said a falsity: “We know enough facts to understand that the inflationary big bang model is at least a good approximation of what occured 13.7 billion years ago.”

    This is nowhere near factual summation.

    Consider:

    #1: Where did the universe’s original matter come from? You have no good factual approximation based on evidence which is true science (knowledge). Only faith in what you want to believe without it.

    #2: How did life begin? You have no good factual approximation based on evidence which is true science (knowledge). Only faith in what you want to believe without it.

    #3: Where are all the supposed transitional fossils between the Precambrian and Cambrian periods? You have no good factual approximation based on evidence which is true science (knowledge). Only faith in what you want to believe without it.

    #4: Where did the dinosaurs come from? You have no good factual approximation based on evidence which is true science (knowledge). Only faith in what you want to believe without it.

    I realize 2, 3, and 4 do not relate directly to astronomy, but the philosophical systems (faiths) are the same.

    Now, can you get beyond sarcasm and accusation and seriously consider the road you are on?

  161. CelticMinstrel

    Steve said:

    He and his friends WANT SO MUCH to believe their dogmatism. After all, that is THEIR faith.

    Uh… what? Dogmatism? Faith? Science is neither dogmatic nor an act of faith. It’s simply a way of learning about the world. Science essentially subscribes to the empiricist view (which goes back all the way to Aristotle!): knowledge comes from experience. When someone talks about scientific fact, it’s called a fact because someone has experienced it (made an observation) and written about it. It has nothing whatsoever to do with faith (except perhaps faith that the scientist didn’t make a mistake – but that’s why results must be repeatable). It is certainly not dogmatic (though some individual scientists may be).

    Steve said:

    #1: Where did the universe’s original matter come from? You have no good factual approximation based on evidence which is true science (knowledge). Only faith in what you want to believe without it.

    Dave (#158) explained where matter comes from. Perhaps you missed it? Or dismissed it? You contend that it is not factual, right? Or more precisely, not a “good factual approximation based on evidence which is true science”. I’m going to assume you meant “which is true science” to modify “approximation” rather than “evidence”.

    First, you contend it is not based on evidence. This is incorrect. The theory of how matter arose in the early universe is based on observations of distant objects, on the known laws of physics (general relativity), and (indirectly) on the abundant evidence supporting general relativity itself. Now, if I’m not mistaken, it’s an extrapolation, so I’ll allow that it doesn’t quite qualify as “fact”. However, it most definitely is a “factual approximation”, if that means an approximation based on fact. (An extrapolation is just a form of approximation.) So, your statement is false. The theory is a “factual approximation based on evidence”. And if it’s an accurate approximation, then there’s no faith involved really.

    The same argument can be applied to your other three points.

    Steve said:

    Now, can you get beyond sarcasm and accusation and seriously consider the road you are on?

    Hmm. “Stop accusing me!” says the accuser. And I didn’t notice any sarcasm (unless you refer to Nigel’s “you are boring”?) – are you reading sarcasm in the posts in order to justify dismissing them, or something?

    And the road I’m on? I see nothing wrong with it. What about the road you’re on? The road of arrogance, perhaps? Blindness? Ignorance? Perhaps you believe that “ignorance is bliss”. Well, that may be true, but knowledge is so much more interesting, and also much more useful.

    Oh, and dogma. You accuse us of being dogmatic, yet this is only to disguise your own dogmatism. You come here and ask questions, as if you want answers. Then, when you get answers, you essentially say “you’re wrong”, as if you had been asking merely to test people… except, you’re actually just making yourself look stupid because they’re not wrong.

  162. Dave

    Great response, CelticMinstrel!

    Did you catch the meaning of the second half of that last quote? -

    “Now, can you…seriously consider the road you are on?”

    Guess where WE’RE all going, if we don’t reject all these silly notions like science, observational evidence, and reason, and have FAITH that Adam & Eve had a pet dinosaur named Rex?

    Sorry to say, but not all of us here believe that “The Flintstones” was a historically accurate reenactment! ;)

    @Steve:

    “#1: Where did the universe’s original matter come from?”

    Already asked by opossum, and answered in great detail by me (#152 above). CelticMinstrel also covered this.

    BTW, there’s a lot of other direct evidence for this as well, like the CMB, which was created when the universe cooled off enough to allow atoms (matter) to first form. The Europeans have a new, highly advanced satellite (Planck) to study this in the greatest detail yet, from 15 million km away from Earth at the second Lagrangian point (L2), which was just launched last month -

    http://sci.esa.int/science-e-media/img/34/1_SCO6143.jpg

    In addition to studying the big bang, it was also launched with a sister satellite, Herschel, the largest Far Infrared Space telescope, cooled to almost absolute zero for maximum sensitivity, and designed to see the farthest/oldest (most red-shifted) objects yet, including observing how the very first proto-galaxies evolved over 13 billion years ago! (y’a know, before the dinosaurs!)

    High-energy physics, chemistry, astronomy, and other areas provide a host of direct evidence as well, including the spectral analysis of stars, redshift, cosmic expansion, and perhaps the most fun – so-called “atom smashers”, which allow us to create the conditions shortly after the big bang, and actually watch what happens!

    For example, we can actually create a quark-gluon plasma (like was present during the quark epoch a fraction of a second after the big bang), and watch it condense into hadrons and other particles! Once it’s fully operational, the new LHC will further our knowledge even more in these areas!

    So there’s another reason for the crazies to hate the LHC – not only is it going to “eat the world”, but it’s also going to provide more detailed proof of the big bang, so OBVIOUSLY it must be the work of the devil! ;)

    #2: This question has absolutely nothing to do with the big bang or astronomy. That is an evolutionary biology question.

    #3: This question (fossils) has absolutely nothing to do with the big bang or astronomy. That is a palaeontology question.

    #4: This question (dinosaurs) has absolutely nothing to do with the big bang or astronomy. That is another biology question.

    “I realize 2, 3, and 4 do not relate directly to astronomy…”

    No, they have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with it – they are a bunch of “talking points” and creationist nonsense! You are asking the same questions over and over again while deliberately ignoring people’s answers, refusing to respond to their questions or points raised, and finding yourself completely unable to defend you position based on anything even remotely approaching scientific reason, you are now being further disruptive by trying to “bait” people into engaging in off-topic arguments!

    Sorry, but I’m not biting.

    Speaking of biting, all of these distractions about faith & religion in a SCIENCE forum is making me hungry -

    “WHILLLLMA!!! – Where’s My Brauntoburger???” ;)

  163. Darth Robo

    Steve accuses others of “dogmatism”… and his “scientific” alternative is… “Goddidit!”

    ???????

    (shrug)

  164. Steve

    The fairy tale of #158 DOES NOT tell us where matter came from. It is an imaginary hypothesis. So, the big pop came from something the size of a tiny little ball? Or even very much smaller, according to some of you guys? These are myths because you do not choose to believe even the possibility God created by the power of His Word, something a finite, fallen, very imperfect human mind cannot understand. So, denying God, you people invent these weird stories that have absolutely no basis in fact or reality or true science. They are what you want to believe so much, contrary to evidence, that you put yourself in a “cult” like belief where you will believe nothing else. You follow your leaders no matter what. You are brainwashed. And you know you cannot answer my four questions submitted above. Still, you will embrace the faith of evolutionism (even big bang evolutionism, you know, like in the evolution of the cosmos before life evolved from where you do not know).

    Face it. It’s all evolutionism. And it is a lie. If not, answer the four questions above. But you and your PBS ilk will continue to call it “fact” along with the mainstream media. Oooooo! They come across as so scholarly, especially when they hire a British accent; and their special animations (cartoons) to add more “Oooo” to the lies of evolution. That’ll get em’……you think; you hope. The more people you can get to believe like you do, the better and more justified you feel about yourself, even in the lie of evolutionism. (And I have not once spoken of change or environmental adaptation within species or kinds, so don’t go there. Just stick with the four questions above, if you can.) But you (or most of you) can’t, or won’t.

  165. Darth Robo

    Steve accuses others of “dogmatism”… and his “scientific” alternative is… “Goddidit!”

    ???????

    (shrug)

    Steve, this is why you and people like you will never be taken seriously. And you will never understand why. But as an aside, you attempt to paint people who accept modern science as people who are somehow “denying God”, but what you ignore (or fail to realise) is that many people of faith also accept modern scientific theories like the Big Bang and evolution (which by the way are two totally separate theories). And remember, you do NOT have the power to say who is and who isn’t a “true” believer.

    So what I’m (mildy) curious about is why do you place limits on the Almighty (and supposedly all powerful universe-creating) Lord God based on a literal interpretation of ancient superstitious texts?

  166. Steve

    You accuse with “Goddidit!” responses. But you keep seeking how “Naturedidit” without God. And did I say texts? So, you do not believe God ever spoke to His people in a way that was recorded. That aside for now, you still do not know how matter came into the vast deep darkness. All you can talk about is “quark-gluon soup” or such. Really. Oh yeah, but that was after your big bang. Still, where did the matter (ok, ok, the “energy”) come from before your big bang. And what did Einstein say energy was? So, where did that, with its electrons and neutrons, some from before your big bang? There must have been a whole lot to make that tiny little ball of your go “pop.” Again, where did THAT matter come from? You do not know. And you insist on a “Naturedidit” or “Itjusthappened” and don’t confuse me with such reasonable questions! But, again, you have your faith; and I have mine. But you insist everyone believe your faith to be fact or they are fools in your sight.

  167. Darth Robo

    Point is Steve, which you still don’t appear to be grasping, is that natural occurences are all that science can deal with. Even if a god did it, IF we were able to somehow observe, measure, record or find evidence of said event, it would be a NATURAL occurence – precisely BECAUSE we could observe, measure, record or find evidence of said event. So far, there is absolutely positively NO evidence at all whatsoever (not even a ickle bit) of ANY God existing (not just yours). Something which you already admit, otherwise you would not be arguing against natural explanations as opposed to SUPER-natural ‘explanations’.

    The problem with SUPER-natural explanations is that they are indeterminable – they cannot be scientifically observed, measured, or recorded, nor can any evidence be found, nor useful predictions be made from them. Therefore, if I was to say the Hindu God Brahma created the universe and everything in it, and all life on this planet, this is also a SUPER-natural explanation, and is therefore just as valid as your idea. Science however, points to the Big Bang. Of course the very earliest stages of the Big Bang and how it started may still be a mystery, so the honest thing to do would say: “We don’t know – yet.” But people like yourself aren’t satisfied with “We don’t know” so prefer to assume (without a shred of evidence that) Goddidit. Maybe He did, maybe He didn’t. Who knows? Who cares? You are free to believe whatever you wish. But your beliefs have little to do with science.

    And again, I’d like to point out that NOTHING in science is “against God”, as NOTHING in science makes any positive or negative claim at all whatsoever as to the existence of a god. It is purely a philosophical/theological concept and nothing to do with science. But, sometimes science falsifies claims made in ancient superstitious texts. Religion had to deal with the fact that the Earth was not flat, and that the universe did not revolve around it. And now, just like then, you have a choice – you can modify your theological outlook a little to accept modern scientific findings, or you can deny reality for the sake of your beliefs. Or maybe you could ponder the possibility that perhaps your beliefs are wrong? The choice is yours and you are free to make that choice. It matters little to me what you decide, but whatever your choice is, that does not mean others have to take it seriously.

    Speaking for your own faith, I do not care one way or the other where you got your beliefs from. Whether it’s from one of the versions of the Bible, or your church, your parents or you came up with your own ideas. But remember that people’s religious beliefs are many and varied. Like for example many many people who believe in God also accept modern scientific theories like the Big Bang and evolution. They look at the Bible for instance, and do not take it all literally, but think that some parts of it are metaphors and parables, and by doing so they don’t limit God the same way you do. Their religious ideas are no more or less valid or correct than yours are. But science is science, and until theological claims can make themselves amenable to scientific testing, it can quite happily dismiss these claims as baseless since science and religion are two totally separate subjects.

  168. Dave

    “The fairy tale of #158…”

    No fairy tale. I provided numerous examples of direct physical evidence – you just choose to close your eyes and ignore them!

    Boy, are those Europeans gonna be mad, when they find out they spent all those millions of euros to send two state-of-the-art spacecraft millions of miles away to take pictures of – what, nothing? ;)

    “So, denying God, YOU PEOPLE invent these weird stories that have absolutely no basis in fact or reality…”

    Yea, it’s all one big atheist CONSPIRACY, WE’RE ALL OUT TO GET YOU! ;)

    I’m curious how you react when pictures come out of things you believe are imaginary because they conflict with your personal beliefs. Do you believe there are evil scientists in a secret lab somewhere creating fake pictures to lead ppl to hell?

    “answer the four questions above”

    I already answered the first one for you. In great detail. Twice. You just choose to ignore it, because the answer conflicts with your outdated belief system.

    And like I said already, the other 3 questions have NOTHING TO DO with astronomy, they are just you trying to bait ppl into a creationist argument!

    “…and your PBS ilk”

    I didn’t realize that PBS was part of our great conspiracy. Way to go, PBS! ;)

    “Face it. It’s all evolutionism.”

    No, it’s NOT.

    The Big Bang and biology have NOTHING to do with each other!

    The only thing they have in common is that they are two entirely different fields of study that BOTH happen to conflict with two different parts of the same fable you so badly want to believe in!

    Even the bible puts the two on different days!

    “But you keep seeking how “Naturedidit” without God.”

    That’s called “Science”.

    Seeking how God or other supernatural forces did it is called “Religion”. (or “Mysticism”, or even “Ghostbusters”!)

    Don’t you understand the difference?

    Science deals with objective reality. It allows a Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, even a Devil Worshiper(!), to all stand in the same lab, look at the same evidence, and agree on the same results.

    Then on Sunday or whenever, they can go to their favorite church, wooded clearing, etc. and talk all they want about whatever their favorite supernatural being did or did not do.

    But that’s NOT Science. That’s Religion.

    “God created by the power of His Word…denying God…believe God ever spoke to His people”

    Your posts are starting to “devolve” into preaching now. This is a science forum, not a religious one – please take that somewhere else.

  169. Steve

    NO, it’s all about knowledge. You deliberately exchange the truth of God for a lie and actually worship your own minds, which leads to these fables. And the Casini space craft or Hubble or others reveal nothing of my main question, which you ignored; where did the first matter come from that made up your big pop? You know, everything compressed into that tiny little ball. You still refuse to say there is no evidence for that. So, again, where did the first bit of matter come from? Hmmmm? Yes, this is a scientific (knowledge type) question. If there is a God, do you believe you can find out then? So, you will not believe a Creator was involved no matter how miserably far you continue falling short of the ultimate origins question I have restated.

  170. Darth Robo

    Steve, way to ignore everything people have said to you.

    You have absolutely positively NO evidence at all whatsoever of any “truth” of the existence of any god at all, much less yours. You deliberately ignore everything that goes against your religious beliefs. You deliberately ignore the fact that many people have faith have no problem reconciling their religious faith with reality – but you do have this problem. So your claim that people who disagree with your scientific opinions are also denying God is false. They may deny YOUR PARTICULAR VIEW of (a) God, and that’s a BIG difference.

    And last but not least, all you have is an argument from incredulity. Nothing more. “Science doesn’t know the answer to life, the universe and everything, therefore GODDIDIT!”

    Feel free to believe what you like. But anyone with an ounce of education or critical thinking will understand why people will never ever take people like you seriously. And you’ll never understand why.

  171. Steve

    Nice try. Very clever how you still ignore the question. You challenge motives. That’s all you can do. I have never ignored any true verifiable knowledge (true science).

    Again, where do you think the first bit of matter came from? Not to mention the tiny compact ball of yours that popped the universe into existence, you think. How will you answer that question?

    (Then we could go on to most of the universe being dark matter or dark energy, you think. But you don’t know that either. You can’t try to understand how something called the Word (not text) is holding everything together. You will never see the Word through any telescope, but there is the answer. The Word is holding all together. This is why you have to resort to dark matter/energy and cannot figure out the limits of the electrons distances from its nucleus.

    Oh, and then those gamma ray bursts out on the edge of what can be seen that defy all scientific explanation (you know, they happen frequently with more light than all the known stars in the universe.) Here is just another feature that verifies where the Bible declares: “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and from Romans 1 that explains that God’s eternal power and divine nature are clearly seen from what has been made. The point is, He made it, and that is what you are seeing (barely).

  172. Steve

    169 Dave says; “But you keep seeking how “Naturedidit” without God.”
    That’s called “Science”.

    Then how do you explain that the greatest scientists who lived saw their work as exploring the works of God and not the works of naturalism? They were really into “Science” and brought us to where we are today in significant scientific understanding.

  173. Lets stick to the self evident facts. The bottom line is that historical based theories about the supposed evolution of the universe and solar system are based on unobserved events that (supposedly) happened over vast spans of time – ensuring there was never any observers.

    As such, all historically based theory ( cosmology included) is based on subjective “presuppositions”, “inferences”, “conjecture”, “interpretations”, “explanations” and rampant “speculations”. And that is why cosmology is in a state of crisis from an evolutionary perspective. I could quote chapters and verse for those astronomers who wish to continue living in a state of widespread denial.

    The reality is that the Big Bang model has real problems, and while the vast majority of astronomers continue to support the big bang model, history has repeatedly shown that the majority often turn out to be wrong. And that scientists are all to often prone to resort to “scientism by mob rule” to protect the entrenched mob mindset, as Discovery magazine has resolved to do, in spite of its utter inability to do so.

    The reality is that most science magazines now operate on the principle of denial. They are incapable of admitting that naturalism and raw materialism goes nowhere near explaining the broader realities of life and the universe. And in attempting to do so most science publications now major in unverifiable science fiction ( i.e. string and M-theory etc. etc. etc) rather than real empirical based science.

    Lets be honest. Science starts with “beliefs” (a hypothesis), and operates on the unsustainable “beliefs” of philosophical naturalism and raw materialism. The “belief” of philosophical naturalism and materialism on which science operates is unsustainable. ( one would need to BE God in order to establish that God does not exist, and cannot exist, and was not involved). All the worlds scientists put together could not even remotely establish that material process alone can, and did, bring everything into existence. For while natural law and material processes are appointed as the atheistic gatekeeper for what is deemed to be science, natural law itself has no naturalistic explanation.

    And so we have the loopy logic where something that cannot be explained by natural law, natural law itself, is use to keep all other unexplained realities out of science, particularly God. This is like appointing an unexplained alien to guard planet earth against all other unexplained aliens. Moreover, science finishes on unverifiable theoretical “beliefs”. A reality even Phil Plait and his defenders should have long ago realized.

    Thus, all of science is ultimately “belief” based. For while matter, energy, mathematics, and natural law are integral to science, no scientist actually knows what energy and matter ultimately are. Nor do all the scientists combined know where the underlying mathematical structure of the universe came from; nor the cosmological constants; nor the laws of nature; nor even the the universe itself. All they have is unverifiable “beliefs”, and those who assert that they have some grand ‘divine evolutionary insight’ into how the universe came into being, and how it was formed, need a reality check. The fact is no one was there to see it, and neither was I.

    So spare us your subjectively based unverifiable evolutionary dogma, and try thinking beyond the narrow and unrealistic confines of philosophical naturalism, which in ultimate terms is incapable of providing verifiable answers to anything, in spite of the heated assertions to the contrary. And another thing! The inquisitional styled tactics and personal vilification of those like Spike Psarris who actually think beyond the materialist box is becoming utterly ineffective and boring.

  174. CelticMinstrel

    Gah, why do I bother…

    Again, where do you think the first bit of matter came from? Not to mention the tiny compact ball of yours that popped the universe into existence, you think. How will you answer that question?

    I don’t think it came from anywhere. I think it has always existed and always will exist.

    But the truth is, no-one knows for sure yet. There is some evidence, none of which points toward the hand of an all-powerful Creator.

    And another thing. Maybe God, or Brahma, or Ahura Mazda created the universe. It’s possible. But we can’t find any proof to show that this is the case. We have not found evidence of Creation. And in fact it’s not possible to disprove the existence of a Creator. So, because it can’t be proven or disproven, we simply don’t care. Maybe there was a Creator, maybe not; some scientists believe there was, others don’t, but when doing actual science we do not take into account the existence (or non-existence, I guess) of a Creator because it simply does not matter. Either way the results are the same, and it’s the results we’re interested in, not the Creator.

    …Yes, John, you could say science is “belief” based. But then, you would have to point out that everything is “belief” based, and there is no “truth”.

    Whether belief based or not (and I’m more inclined to think not), science uses logic to draw conclusions from physical observations. If something can’t be explained, a way is found to explain it. If something is explained yet not observed, we look for it. (That’s how black holes were discovered.) Unlike religious dogma, science changes as we discover new things. It’s flexible. And best of all, it often makes a lot of sense. Much more than many creation myths.

  175. Dave

    John Heininger says:

    “The bottom line is that historical based theories about the supposed evolution of the universe and solar system are based on unobserved events that (supposedly) happened over vast spans of time – ensuring there was never any observers.”

    That statement, and hence all of the conclusions you draw from it, is factually incorrect.

    Where there are a variety of examples given above how science has been able to make DIRECT PHYSICAL OBSERVATIONS of the things you falsely claim are conjecture, perhaps the best example is a result of this -

    The Speed of Light.

    While 186,282 miles per second may sound fast, light is actually QUITE SLOW when compared to the immensity of the cosmos. It takes light from the sun about 8.5 minutes to reach the Earth, light from Pluto over 4 hours, and light from even the nearest star SEVERAL YEARS to reach Earth!

    Because of this delay, astronomy allows us to look back in time! When we look at the nearest star, we are actually seeing what it looked like SEVERAL YEARS AGO!

    The farther out we look, the farther back in time we are seeing. This delay allows astronomers to peer back in time, and DIRECTLY OBSERVE things that happened in the distant past!

    And regarding your GOD OF THE GAPS claims…

    Since the day when Galileo utilized PHYSICAL EVIDENCE (what he could DIRECTLY OBSERVE through his own telescope with his OWN EYES!) to argue against the biblical-based belief that the Earth was the center of the universe, much of scientific knowledge is based on HARD FACTS, and DIRECT PHYSICAL EVIDENCE / OBSERVATION.

    But mankind’s knowledge will never be infinite – there will always be new stuff for us to learn (that’s why God gave us a BRAIN). But the fact that some brave scientists are willing to try to come-up with logical theories to explain those things we do not yet understand (like Einstein), does NOT therefore mean that ALL science is mere conjecture.

    Applying this same creationist nonsensical idea to another field – That’s like claiming that because I have a THEORY as to who might win the next World Series, that therefore the idea of the existence of an object called a “baseball”, or the idea of a long wooden pole called a “bat”, or of men called “players” putting on something called a “uniform”, grouping into two objects called “teams”, and engaging in playing something called a “baseball game” involving all of these hypothetical objects, must all be mere unsubstantiated conjecture!

  176. Dave

    @Steve:

    You keep vacillating between dismissing our answers to your questions because you don’t like them, or claiming we didn’t answer you! Make up your mind!

    You’ve done this to me, and others here as well. Isn’t lying a sin? Or don’t you believe in the 10 commandments?

    The Big Bang was not made of matter. And no matter existed after the Big Bang. Even the elementary particles that composed matter did not exist yet! The first matter (hydrogen atoms) was not created until several hundred thousand years later.

    “And the Casini space craft or Hubble or others reveal nothing of my main question…”

    Again, WRONG! As was already explained, the first matter was not created until about 380,000 years after the Big Bang. This process released the first visible light. That light is the CMB, which is EXACTLY what the new Planck satellite is designed to look at!!! It is designed to look at THE PICTURE OF THE FIRST CREATION OF MATTER IN THE UNIVERSE.

    I was surprised as anyone when I learned that matter (not even lowly hydrogen atoms!) was not created until 380,000 years after the Big Bang! But thinking about this from a biblical perspective as a result of your questions, I came to a sudden realization!

    The creation of the very first matter released the very first visible light, so wouldn’t that correspond to…

    “Let there be light…”

    So the CMB is a picture of the start of creation!

    But if creation didn’t start until 380,000 years after the Big Bang, that led me to another startling revelation…

    THE BIG BANG MUST HAVE CREATED GOD!

    If you’ve got any SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE to disprove that, let be know.

    Otherwise, that’s my new religion, and I’m stick’in to it! ;)

    Speaking of which, your comments led me to open a bible last night, to take a closer look at the origins fable you claim supercedes all modern science since the Middle Ages. I noticed that…

    First off, it is quite apparent that ancient Israelites did not have a CLUE as to how things worked, and this shows itself dramatically in their understanding of creation!

    There’s a variety of errors where your fable is contradicted by modern science, such as the claim that birds came before animals (science now knows that birds came later), or that fruits (and hence flowers) were created from the get-go (botanists now know that flowers are actually a fairly recent development!)

    But let’s look at astronomy, as that’s the topic of this forum, and I see now that the Big Bang is not the ONLY place your fable has problems with modern astronomy!

    Your fable claims that outer space is filled with water! The ancient Israelites didn’t understand the concepts of ocean evaporation or water vapor, or what clouds were made of. So they thought that rain actually came from “the ocean above the sky”.

    I guess that’s why today our astronauts put on those fancy outfits that look like old-fashioned diving bell suits – they don’t want to get wet! ;)

    Your fable claims that the Sun and the Moon are both “lights”. Looking up at the sky, we can see how ancient Israelites, not understanding astronomy, could make that mistake. We now know that the Moon is NOT, it’s a big rock!

    The ancient Israelites also did not understand that “daylight” is actually caused from Rayleigh scattering of sunlight by the Earth’s atmosphere. So they mistakenly list day and night (and even the first morning) created BEFORE THE SUN EXISTS!

    I am curious how you have sunlight before you have a sun?!

    Scientists now know that “photosynthesis” is required for all plants to survive. But all the plants were ALSO created before the Sun was!

    We also now know that outer space is a VERY cold place (about -454 degrees Fahrenheit), that our planet REQUIRES the heat of the Sun to allow liquid water and life, and that if we were not so close to the Sun (inside our star’s “habitable zone”), we would be a frozen ice cube like Pluto! But the ancient Israelites didn’t know that either – so they said the oceans (with liquid water) were also created before the Sun was!

    If Nature had ACTUALLY created Earth in the order proposed, we would be a lifeless rock in space!

    Your fable claims that the stars were created simply for the purpose of signposts for marking the seasons and days and years. This is because the ancient Israelites thought stars were merely pinpricks of light that God created for use in astrological calendars, rather than what science now understands them to be, actual suns in their own right, with planets and possibly even intelligent life of their own!

    In addition, most of the stars actually CONTRADICT their purpose claimed in your fable, as they are too far away or too dim to even be seen!

    Your fable claims that the Sun and all the stars were created AT THE SAME TIME. Modern astronomy has proven THAT to be false as well, as we now know that stars have their own lifecycles, are born and die at DIFFERENT times, and we can even view stars of different ages and at different points of their individual lifecycles!

    Modern astronomy has advanced to the point where we can now even see “protostars”, and witness stars actually being born!

    Not seeing “new pinpricks in the sky”, ancient Israelites would have considered that whole concept impossible, as only GOD can create a star, and our fable says he finished that task already!

    Modern astronomy also proves the “Sun & stars created at same time” antiquated idea of the ancient Israelites false as well, as we now understand that the Sun is actually a fairly young, metal-rich class star, and that the interstellar cloud from which it was formed included the remnants of an exploded supernova. So other stars went through their entire lifecycle, before our own star was even born!

    In addition, science NOW knows that day and night are caused by the rotation of the Earth. But there’s NO MENTION of this in the fable (let alone that even if God DID set the Earth spinning that day, without the Sun it STILL wouldn’t have done anything!), as the ancient Israelites wrongly believed at that time that the Earth stood still, and the entire universe (including the Sun & Moon) moved around us!

    For many hundreds of years, this myth was perpetuated by the Church, based on the fact that THE BIBLE SAYS SO, SO IT MUST BE TRUE.

    Galileo was tried on heresy charges and convicted, because THE BIBLE SAYS SO, SO IT MUST BE TRUE.

    Of course, science eventually proved that idea WRONG.

    As already mentioned, is his defense, Galileo (quoting the Venerable Cardinal Cesare Baronius), stated – “The Bible was written to show us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

    The mistakes above involve misunderstanding of astronomical concepts that are so basic that even a modern-day elementary school science student would understand them!

    If the people that wrote this fable way back then were so IGNORANT of astronomy that their fable couldn’t even get the basics right, then how in the world can we be expected to rely on something so error-prone for much more advanced and complex topics like Cosmic Expansion?

    To do so would require us to abandon the advances that astronomy has made over the past thousand years, and revert back to the days when the study of the heavens was assigned to “royal astrologers”!

    That’s like asking hospitals to replace modern antibiotics with blood-letting, modern chemistry to revert back to the practices of alchemy and witchcraft, or psychiatrists to replace anti-depressants with the time-honored practice of cutting holes in people’s skulls to let the evil spirits out!

  177. Darth Robo

    John Heininger accuses others of “dogmatism”… and his “scientific” alternative is… “Goddidit!”

    ???????

    John, perhaps you missed the whole of the rest of the thread, where it was explained that science makes no positive or negative claims on the existence of a god, that the Big Bang has nothing to do with evolution, that many religious people also have no problem reconciling their faith with modern science, and that modern science works because it makes successful scientific predictions.

    And the only basic thrust of your “argument” is the standard fundie favourite: “How do YOU know? Where you THERE?!?” (creationist handbook, page 2)

    “Therefore GODDIDIT!”

    Uh, despite the fact that you weren’t there either, that there is absolutely positively NO evidence at all whatsoever (not even a ickle tiny bit) that any god exists, that the concept itself is totally non-falsifiable (and non-scientific) and makes no useful or testable scientific predictions, and that even IF said entity (or entities) did/do exist, surely the Big Bang would not be beyond the power of afforementioned universe-creating god (or gods). Again, one wonders why they do their God such a dis-favour by placing such unreasonable limits on the Almighty.

    In conclusion, I can only refer people to my previous post, number 174. Thank you all.

  178. Steve

    #178 response to Dave.

    God can make a thing called Light before any sun. God can have a rotating earth exposed to the light and the darkness side before the sun was created. The Genesis account is talking about six days. No problem for plants not to have a sun for a day or so, especially with light already present. And your fish or birds or animal order? That is only your evolutionary belief. What you want to believe without facts because evolutionism would require it without God. Also, no one has seen stars being born. You don’t know what those appearances truly are. Again, you want to believe your “royal court” astronomers interpretations.

    Also, how did the author of the biblical text know that there were as many stars as grains of sand. Yes, that’s in at least one or two other places in the Bible.

    And the big bang. Not proven. A non God faith again. Remember, Hubble himself, like an MIT prof, did not like the idea of the “red shift” discovery making us look too precariously close to the center of the universe, so Hubble or his posterity INVENTED the idea of you appearing to be in the center of the universe no matter where you were in the universe. They took their Capernican principle way out of bounds there. And then the prevailing problem of the temperature toward one side of the universe appearing to be the same temperature throughout the universe. Not possible with a bib bang. Oh I could try to go on and on.

    I would just refer people to Dr. Jason Lisle (astrophysicist) at AnswersInGenesis.com and others. I know. I know. You may despise AIG. But no matter how hard your side tries, they are not liars. The lie is both cosmic and Darwinian apes to man evolution. Oh, and the matter origin. An atom is an atom is an atom, and you say they all got bunched up the size of a grape fruit somehow and a little later matter came. No proof. Your faith in a non God origin. So, where did the “whatever” before hydrogen come from or whatever?

    If you are honest and not lying to yourself and to God, you will have to eventually conclude there is God. His eternal power and divine nature are evident from what has been made. And that is what we are talking about. What He made, like in making you, too. But, in not giving Him thanks for your life, your heart has become darkened. You and your groups profess to be wise but have become something else. I pray you will see the Light of God, that is, the Light that existed before He created the physical light and divided it from the darkness, just before he created the sun and moon, and the stars He created, too, almost as an after thought according to the text. BTW, the Bible also teaches He hung the earth as a sphere on nothing. How would they have any concept of roundness like that, and hanging in something like space, unless the words were divinely inspired? Again, I could go on. Please just to go http://www.answersingenesis.com or the Institute for Creation Research’s site at http://www.icr.org.

    Remember too, the Bible speaks of scoffers who will go on with their scoffings no matter what the truth of God is and as evident His
    glory in creation is.

  179. Darth Robo

    Steve.

    I pray that you will stop preaching here, otherwise you may drive people to meet God far far before their intended time (read: bore people to death).

    In the meantime, in regards to your unfalsifiable religious opinions (this is the important concept which you are unable to grasp which is why no-one takes you seriously), again I can only refer you once more to post 174. Thank you.

  180. Steve

    To 181 Darth:

    Truth cannot be falsifiable, nor God’s eternal power evident in what was made. Those stars are amazing, aren’t they?

    Of course you are not speaking for everyone when you say “no one” takes me seriously.

    What about the items Scripture spoke of that I noted; things only verified fairly recently? Have you ever really explored those sites I cited?

    And the 174 link: That’s all? A childish cartoon sketch? Time to think outside the box, as in Darwin’s black box, or Hawking’s black box.

  181. Darth Robo

    “Truth cannot be falsifiable, nor God’s eternal power evident in what was made.”

    Bingo.

    Science fail. Thanks.

    Bye.

    p.s. Could you offer your great wisdom to the creationists if/when the next time science & creationism ends up in court? It’d be a big help.

  182. Steve

    Well, can the fact that you have a conscience be falsifiable? Can the fact that those are stars in the sky be falsifiable? Can the fact that you are a human be falsifiable? So, truth cannot be falsifiable, can it. I could go on and on, and so could you about things not falsifiable. Where would it end?

    And you also did not see this: How else would God display His eternal power in something that is made be more amazing that the universe as we see it? So, that fact is not falsifiable. He would not have done it any other way.

    Now what you want to do is explain away all of His art work by saying it’s all falsifiable somehow. You are so unreconciled to God. Such anger.

  183. CelticMinstrel

    How else would God display His eternal power in something that is made be more amazing that the universe as we see it? So, that fact is not falsifiable. He would not have done it any other way.

    It’s hard to say that the universe can’t possibly be more amazing than we currently perceive it. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to prove that the universe can’t be more amazing than we currently perceive.

    And you know what? Most truth is falsifiable. If something is falsifiable, it does not mean that it is false; rather, it means that if it is false, this can be easily proven. Let’s take your example: the statement “Steve is a human”. That’s falsifiable: if Steve is not human, you can easily prove that he is not human. Now, it just so happens that the statement is true, so falsification is irrelevant. But it’s still important that it’s falsifiable:

    Science only cares about falsifiable statements. If a statement is not falsifiable, science will dismiss it as “not worth examining”. This doesn’t mean the statement is true, nor does it mean the statement is false. Rather, it means that science has acknowledged that it cannot make any progress in proving or disproving the statement. And then this statement is not science, because it is not falsifiable. Again, this says nothing about whether the statement is true or false. It just says that it cannot be proven or falsified, and therefore is not science. Science is not equivalent to truth. Science is provable truth. Unprovable truth would probably fall into the realm of philosophy.

    (Oh, and the fact that a person has a conscience is also falsifiable, by the way.)

  184. Elf4God

    God have mercy on your soul, Phil.

  185. Darth Robo

    God have mercy on your soul, Elf4God.

  186. telson

    http://koti.phnet.fi/elohim/theageoftheearth3.html

    When it comes to determining the age of something, radioactive measurements are regarded as one of the most important methods. With these measurements, attempts to calculate both the age of the Earth and the age of animals and humans on the Earth have been made, and these methods have usually given the age as millions of years, especially when it is a question of rock types and elements. The measuring principle is based on radioactive materials generally having a certain time in which they change and decompose into other elements. For example, the basic idea of uranium/lead dating is that uranium should change entirely into lead always with the same speed and over a certain time.

    The fact is, however, that these methods are unreliable. By them, one can indeed measure the contents in stones and samples but it is another thing whether or not they have anything to do with the age. This is because in the measurements there are suppositions, which are impossible to prove afterwards scientifically.

  187. Darth Robo

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dating.html

    Next thing we know, telson will be telling us Piltdown was a fake…

  188. keith

    All of you forgot something, actually because you overestimate yourself and you are stuck in your own theory of science. Take one step back and see, if God created the world, and could alter the mindsets of living beings, create things out of nothing etc. what about the basic rules and laws governing this whole space?
    If we take this space, the entire universe, as what we are living in, what about God? I realize that if I say things as such, I will be breaking the rules of science, but what is science? Is it something that controls things the way for it to become, or is it something that can be controlled?
    The phrase in the bible “let there be light” said by God, what does this light mean? Why must the Sun be added in after that? Don’t you think that the Israelites in the past would have noticed that?
    Anyway, back to your theory of evolution, but I’ll just ask these questions. What is space? How did it become so? What is light? What is time? Why do rules exist in space?

  189. Tim Ballentine

    I am a Christian and everytime I debate evolutionists,they don’t stick to the topic and they continue to make strawman arguments,throw out red herrings,and use insulting names against me.So as your article has expressed,I must be winning the debate for Creation.I always thought that I was,now you have confirmed it for me.Thanks.

  190. vesey

    I think the main problem with creationism is a misunderstanding of the opening verse of the Bible which simply states “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. That statement is a stand alone statement and does not say when “in the beginning” was. The following verses then describe entirely different events of God’s creation on earth which took place in “six” days or time periods of no real stated amount of time. It was never intended as 6 24 hour days no more then when i speak of my grandfathers day. He lived more than 24 hours. The use of the term morning and night is simply an old Jewish way of saying a period of undetermined time began and ended.. Light takes billions of years to reach earth from the farthest galaxies and the universe is expanding so the universe is certainly older than 6,000 or so years. However i do thoroughly believe in God as the creator of heaven and earth and as creator of all life through creatives acts as the Bible states “each according to it’s own kind”, in which case precludes evolution which is thoroughly unproven anyway. When the various pre human life forms were created is not stated however man can clearly be traced back through Bible chronology for only 6030 or so years to Adams creation. As far as the earths age is concerned 4 billion years is as good a guess as any as the Bible has never stated when that act of creation was………………..

  191. Waci Jaci

    My trouble with the creation VS. evolution is this is scientists were studying the grains of sand and the human voice. and they put some sand on a tray and played the human voice going from the lowest pitch to the highest and the sand moved into such Intricate designs that would take a artist a really long time took the grains of sand mere milla seconds. my point the designs were created by voice and in the Bible in Genesis it says that and God Said and it was created. so weather it be designs in sand or humans or black hole with the cross in them creation has a solid stand and evolution tries to on atom and cells we technically have solid proof sorry creation takes the stand again.

  192. mcfunthomas

    ” When your opponent is correct and you can’t refute his arguments, you use an ad hominem attack instead.”

    I have been experiencing this attidude from a significant number of atheists I’ve talked to.

  193. Mary

    I have not read all the comments, so I apologize if I am repeating. The PseudoAstro site has great information, clearly stated, that debunks information in the Spike Psarris solar system videos (and lots of other neat stuff.). I watched a couple of the Psaaris videos, but that was all I could take. BTW PseudoAstro thanked Phil for mentioning him is this blog as it brought many people to his. I now have it marked as one to check in on.
    Spike Psarris has a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering and proclaims he was an engineer in the U.S. Military Space Program. So? I would be interested in knowing what his job description was. Psarris could well have worked on electrical equipment for, but with no personal involvement in the actual scientific work the equipment was designed to perform. It is qualified scientists who would be applying accepted scientific methodology to the use of the equipment.
    In his videos, Psarris keeps using the word, ‘we’–’we found’–’we learned’–etc. I think he wants the audience to believe that he was personally and actively involved in the scientific procedures and discussions regarding the implications of the observations. This appears to be a purposeful attempt to attach some false credibility to his assertions.
    He does have refined speaking skills and can sound like he actually knows what he is talking about to those who:
    –want to believe this (or any) arguement for creationism
    –and/or do not have an understanding of the stringent requirements of scientific research (a standard to which he wants to hold science, but not his own assertions as he takes on “the intellectual bankruptcy of evolution”).
    –and/or have little more than a basic knowledge of Astronomy (This is not a criticism of those people. Astronomy is not everyone’s thing. It is, however, a criticism of those who prey on people’s lack of knowledge, mine quote, take information out of context, provide misinformatilon, and use scientific terminology to sound impressive in order to promote their own adgenda.)
    Current scientific knowledge does not have, nor has it ever claimed to have, all the answers. Scientists, including those who hold religious beliefs, do not jump from–science does not know the answer to such and such–therefore god did it.
    I have seen Psarris referred to as the Ray Comfort of Astronomy.

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