Jason Lisle: Creationism & Extra-Solar Planets

This is about Jason Lisle, Ph.D., the creationist astrophysicist who functions as a retained servitor, credentialed and compliant, employed by the ever-growing creationist conglomerate of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo). Hambo is the genius who brought you the website Answers in Genesis (AIG) and the mind-boggling Creation Museum.

As our regular readers know, Jason is the author of an astonishing “solution” to a long-standing creationist problem, about which we posted Jason Lisle’s “Instant Starlight” Paper.

It fascinates us that Jason lends his astrophysics degree to the creationist cause. Today we see that he’s written Exoplanets — Unpredictable Patterns, which appears at the AIG website. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Before the year 1992, the only known planets were those in our own solar system. Astronomers had long suspected that other stars might have orbiting planets, but it is nearly impossible to see something as faint as a planet even with our most powerful telescopes.

[…]

Astronomers have now devised some ingenious indirect methods to detect distant planets, known as “extrasolar planets,” or “exoplanets.” These techniques make use of the fact that every planet gravitationally “tugs” on the star it orbits, causing the star to wobble slightly.

[…]

Using this technique (and a few other methods, as well) astronomers have now discovered over 500 extrasolar planets (and counting)! The progress in this field of astronomy is just astonishing, considering we did not know of even one confirmed exoplanet twenty years ago.

We already know that. You’re growing impatient and asking: “Where’s the weirdness that we’ve come to expect?” Don’t worry, dear reader, it’s coming. Let’s read on:

Consider the first confirmed exoplanet to orbit a “normal” star, discovered in 1995. … The star is called “51 Pegasi,” and so the planet is named “51 Pegasi b.” The planet is at least half the mass of Jupiter, yet it orbits 19 times closer to its star than the earth’s distance from the sun. … So astronomers refer to this massive infernal type of exoplanet as a “hot Jupiter.” The existence of a large gas planet so close to its star was quite a shock to secular astronomers.

“Secular” astronomers? Secular? Well, yes — the expression makes sense when used in contrast to creationist astronomers like Jason. We continue:

Since 51 Pegasi b went against secular predictions, it was considered an anomaly at first. However, many other “hot Jupiters” have since been discovered. … [T]he fact that hot Jupiters exist at all is a challenge to the secular models. However, it is perfectly consistent with the creative diversity we expect from the Lord.

Aha! You knew we wouldn’t let you down. Here’s more:

Another aspect of exoplanets that challenges secular scenarios is the eccentricity of their orbits. … Secular astronomers were expecting other stellar systems to have nearly circular orbits like ours, since they believe stellar systems have formed from rotating gas clouds. Yet many exoplanets have orbits that are quite elliptical.

Those secular astronomers didn’t know in advance what they would find. They gotta be a bunch of idiots! Creationists like Jason were expecting hot Jupiters and elliptical orbits. They must have predicted such findings. Their papers with those predictions are probably in the journals. Here’s more:

Although extrasolar planets challenge the secular understanding of the universe, they are consistent with the creative diversity of the Lord.

[…]

Research on planets beyond our solar system is still in its infancy. It is exciting to consider the discoveries that await us over the next decades, and how these will continue to reflect the glory of God.

Your Curmudgeon usually wraps up a post by trying to say something witty, but this time it just isn’t there. This whole Jason Lisle thing is very depressing.

[See also: ICR: Extra-Solar Planets Prove Creationism.]

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “Jason Lisle: Creationism & Extra-Solar Planets

  1. “Although extrasolar planets challenge the secular understanding of the universe, they are consistent with the creative diversity of the Lord.”

    Didn’t these people call Physics “God’s Laws” at various times. This asshattery once again contradicts earlier handwaving, goalpost moving and deceptions.

  2. Bah, It’s early and my brain isn’t fully functioning. There was a finer point I was trying to make in the previous post. I think all of you can catch my meaning without me prattling further. bah

  3. Gee, I totally missed the part where the bable predicted these planets, or any other theistic “prediction” method said that they would be out there…

    TYPICAL post facto rationalization as usual.

  4. I think it best to wait and see what Martin Gaskell has to say about
    Lisle’s observations. Any other comment I would make would just be “secular”. God forbid.

  5. I like this line of argument. “Secular scientists have discovered something new and unexpected. This just shows what silly sausages they are! It doesn’t bother me, though, because no matter what crazy thing we find out there, I know God did it all, and he can do *anything*.”

    It would sure cut out all that time-consuming business about going to college and becoming an expert cosmologist! What does Jason Lisle do with that Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, anyhow?

  6. Genesis says quite clearly that the stars were put in the sky to be signs, to mark the seasons, days, and years. That’s it. Jason has referenced that point before in his writings, in fact he has stated that there is no life elsewhere in the universe because only the earth was made for life, and the rest was made to be signs for seasons, days, and years. So, if the stars are only meant to be signs, why do they have planets at all?

    A literal reading of Genesis would predict that astronomers would find nothing in the universe that was not visible to the naked eye. Period. The fact that the deeper we look, the more we find, is not proof of god’s “creative diversity”, it is disproof of the creation account in the ancient myth.

    In a few years, when the Kepler data is in, we will hopefully have many examples of earth like worlds orbiting sunlike stars, and can make statistically valid predictions of their frequency throughout the galaxy. I can’t wait to read Jason’s response to evidence that myriad other earths were also created, orbiting those “signs to mark seasons, days, and years”.

  7. Muslims do this too, claim every modern scientific discovery is anticpated in the Koran.

  8. LOL! Lisle has forgotten the lessons we learned from the Galileo ordeal… that is, when you try to pit religion against science, science wins every time.

    Nope! His attempt to verify the ancient writings of bronze age sheep herders is going to work!

    What a rube.

  9. There is a guy on the radio I listen to that is smart, other than the fact that he claims atheism is a religion. His logic is that there once was a time when people didn’t know about (or, as he puts it, “believe in” – “have faith in”) radio waves. So…. there is something in this world that is invisible and there was a time when people didn’t believe in it, but now we know about it. Therefore… god exists.

  10. What does Jason Lisle do with that Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder, anyhow?

    He uses phrases like “creative diversity of the Lord” and “reflect the glory of God” to demonstrate just how sciency and non-religious ID is.

  11. “Another aspect of exoplanets that challenges secular scenarios is the eccentricity of their orbits. … Secular astronomers were expecting other stellar systems to have nearly circular orbits like ours, since they believe stellar systems have formed from rotating gas clouds. Yet many exoplanets have orbits that are quite elliptical.”

    LOL….wot?

    Is he really saying that he believes “secular” astronomers were expecting to find “nearly circular orbits like ours” when in fact the orbits of our solar planets are quite elliptical, and not “nearly circular”?

    So what if some extrasolar planets have more elliptical orbits than solar planets? There are lots of reasons why the degree of ellipticalness of orbits could vary to greater or lesser degrees, from planets formed out of rotating gas clouds. In fact the one thing we should never expect to find are “nearly circular orbits”.

    F_cking dumbass. I know more than this idiot about science, and my science education is limited to a year (each) of high school physics, biology, and chemistry.

  12. Jay, arguments like the radio man’s are really ridiculous.
    Radio waves were discovered because their effects were noticed then measured and tested. Where are the effects of god being measured and tested?

  13. Lisle is one of the most annoying creationists out there, because he just so smugly waves away all of cosmology. People like Todd Wood and Kurt Wise at least admit the evidence favors evolution, they just hope that somehow reality doesn’t match up with the evidence. Wood in particular needs to hang it up and come over to our side, with all the reputable scientists.

  14. Benjamin Franklin

    So, to sum up the exo-planet thoughts of Jason Lisle,

    Pisle in the Skyle.

  15. Gabriel Hanna

    @lurker: when in fact the orbits of our solar planets are quite elliptical, and not “nearly circular”?

    They are very nearly circular, all of them. Most of them have eccentricities of about 0.05 (0 is circular, 1 is parabolic).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_of_planets_in_the_solar_system

    Jason Lisle is exactly right when he says that current theories of planetary formation set limits on the eccentricity of planetary orbits. He’s not ignorant and he’s not an idiot, let’s criticize him for what he gets right. Assuming whatever he says is wrong, because he’s a creationist, plays into his hands and makes you look foolish. Something very similar has happened with the starlight paper, which is much smarter than people think it is.

  16. Sorry, but I thought the entire point of Kepler’s breakthrough was that planetary orbits weren’t circular, but elliptical.

    “Nearly circular” sounds like semantics to me; we are “nearly identical” genetically to chimpanzees if you are only considering percentages of shared genes; but “close enough” only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. The 0.05 is only an average, because the actual planets on that link you posted range in eccentricity from 0.008 to 0.2, with several planets over 0.05. That’s “nearly circular”? That looks, to me, like a wide range of eccentricity in orbits is the norm, especially if you aren’t limited to just the eight “true” planets.

    Why should it matter that degrees of ellipticalness vary between different planetary systems? Surely no one was expecting all planetary systems to have identical formation histories? Are these new extrasolar planets so eccentric that they can’t be accounted for by modern planetary formation theory?

  17. Gabriel Hanna

    @lurker: Sorry, but I thought the entire point of Kepler’s breakthrough was that planetary orbits weren’t circular, but elliptical.

    Are we going to be that pedantic? In that case no such thing as a circular orbit exists, because it will be found to have some tiny variation due to the attraction of the Andromeda Galaxy or some such. Of course, there’s no TRULY elliptical orbit either, then…

    If you plot the orbits of the solar system to scale, you will not be able to tell they are elliptical by looking at them. Kepler had decades of precise measurements to work with.

    especially if you aren’t limited to just the eight “true” planets.

    Well, are we trying to explain planets, or are we trying to explain the orbit of every chunk of gravel that might have wandered in from wherever? In fact, one of the ways you tell if something wandered in from wherever is that it has an eccentric orbit that’s not very well lined up with the ecliptic.

    Why should it matter that degrees of ellipticalness vary between different planetary systems?

    Well, this is where Jason Lisle knows far more about it than you do.

    Surely no one was expecting all planetary systems to have identical formation histories?

    We were all expecting that planets coalesced out of clouds of rotating gas and dust, and therefore they should have nearly circular orbits and be in nearly the same plane. Conservation of angular momentum demands it.

    Are these new extrasolar planets so eccentric that they can’t be accounted for by modern planetary formation theory?

    If the modern theories were correct, then something catastrophic happened to make those extrasolar planets the way they are. But we keep finding them over and over, not just one or two like that. In each case we have to posit some catastrophe, and that starts to sound like creationist special pleading when you’ve done it a few dozen times.

    I think the real answer is that we can only see the odd cases right now, because of the crudity of our techniques. We can’t see these planets directly. We have to take carfeul measurements of stellar wobbling, and the easiest ones to see are large planets that have eccentric orbits. So it could be that our ideas of planetary formation are way off, but it could also be that our techniques can only collect a biased sample of extrasolar planets.

    In either case, it is a serious problem that cannot just be waved away because a creationist has noticed it. Almost everything we know about the cosmos is based ultimately on extrapolation of the laws of physics we see here to places billions of light-years away in space and time. Granted, what else can we do but work from what we know? But our knowledge is very provincial right now. Honest scientists know this. And if layman want to help defend science, that’s great, but you have to do it frankly and honestly, and not just ignore objections brought up by people you don’t want to listen to.

  18. @Gabriel: It might be true that the number of systems with “hot Jupiters”, planets in highly elliptical orbits, and other oddities clearly challenge our model of solar system formation which was developed to explain the solar system we live in, and the only one we knew about until recently. However, Jason apparently takes the view that anything new and unexpected is somehow a challenge to a secular, scientific view of the universe. For someone trained in science, that is a completely inexcusable position to take.

    I would like him to explain why planets with elliptical orbits is somehow consistent with the “creative diversity of the lord”. Logically, a diversity of solar systems is more consistent with natural processes ensuing from randomly occurring initial conditions than it is with an intentional process by a designer. It’s like his theory of light, Lisle starts with real scientific knowledge and then goes places that make no sense at all.

  19. Gabriel Hanna

    @Ed: However, Jason apparently takes the view that anything new and unexpected is somehow a challenge to a secular, scientific view of the universe. For someone trained in science, that is a completely inexcusable position to take.

    I agree one hundred percent–but that doesn’t excuse people on “our side” getting the basic science wrong themselves in their efforts to anathematize “the other side”.

  20. NO ONE EXPECTS The Spanish Inquisition the hot extra solar gas giant!

    The most eccentric ones are always the easiest to spot, be they planets or Creationists.