ICR & the Speed of Light

We love it when all the pieces fall so predictably into place. A couple of weeks ago we posted Neutrinos Move Faster Than Light?, and as we did so we were already anticipating the creationists’ reactions. There were a few almost immediately.

Discovery Institute “fellow” David Klinghoffer posted that if relativity is collapsing, can evolution be far behind? See Another One Bites the Dust? And as we reported here, Ellis Washington, the leading creationist intellectual at WorldNetDaily, posted something characteristically silly.

Both of those early reactions revealed an instantaneous acceptance of the CERN results, which is rather funny coming from people who claim that their natural conservatism and skepticism requires them to be cautious about oddball scientific announcements, and that’s why they refuse to accept Darwin’s theory of evolution. After all, one shouldn’t leap to conclusions. But they embraced CERN’s results and all the crazy implications thereof with no hesitation whatsoever.

Then we had a good one to write about: Answers in Genesis & the Speed of Light. AIG said that they really don’t care about the speed of light, but it’s important to doubt scientists whenever they say anything that seems inconsistent with scripture. So in their own peculiar way, they were being true to their dogma.

Now we bring you the word from the granddaddy of all creationist outfits — the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). They’re the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom. Their article is Has Einstein’s Limit on the Speed of Light Been Broken?

No sane person gets his science information from a creationist website, so as we did with the AIG article, we’ll skip ICR’s description of the news from CERN. Instead will go to the second half of their article. (But if you’re not yet aware of what’s happened, you might start with this press release from CERN.)

The amusing section of ICR’s article begins with this sub-title: Implications on Creationist Views Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

In recent years, Russell Humphreys, John Hartnett, and Robert Gentry have each used the general theory of relativity to build a case for their young-world cosmogonies. Each has solved various aspects of the mass, space, and time issue in a young universe by solving Einstein’s field equations using different boundary conditions or suggesting additional coordinates.

Those are all creationist writers whose work appears at creationist websites. It must be fun to toss extra coordinates into Einstein’s equations in order to make things come out in a way that creationists prefer. But those distorted equations don’t describe reality, so such efforts are of no scientific value. ICR continues:

For example, Humphreys has suggested that rapid expansion of the cosmos at creation and the Flood would have caused time to be accelerated at distances far from earth, permitting light to reach earth from outer space in only thousands of years, not billions.

Rapid expansion of the cosmos — during the Flood? — causes “time to be accelerated”? Are these guys talking about the same universe the rest of us are living in? Well, it would bog things down if we pause to quibble, so let’s read on:

These theories [we assume they mean creationist theories] suggest that the effective speed of light relative to an earth timeframe can change. However, the general theory of relativity they used [who is “they”? CERN?] assumes the speed of light is constant and independent of all moving frames of reference.

Whatever they’re saying, it continues:

If CERN research is verified — that is, if the speed of light can change in the earth’s frame of reference — the equations of relativity may become even more complex than they are currently. Creation cosmogonies are not likely to be nullified by the speed of light not always being constant, but could be further complicated by it.

What does that mean? It it doesn’t really matter, but they seem to be saying that ICR’s creation science will survive, regardless of what real scientists may learn. Well of course! We never doubted it. Here’s more:

On the other hand, if the speed of light is found to be changeable under various conditions, this lends credence to the creationist view that basic physical constants are changeable.

The CERN research may show that physical constants aren’t constant, therefore miracles are scientific. Right! That’s consistent with creationism — but with nothing else. Well, maybe it’s consistent with everything else. Moving along:

Of course, Christians who accept the Bible as the Word of God can take His omnipotent word by faith when He said He created the world in six days, without having to fully understand how it was accomplished.

Creationists don’t need to understand such things. That’s what makes them so special. Here’s the article’s end:

However, as new knowledge is discovered, fuller understanding of how He may have done it is possible. What a blessing for a believing scientist!

Okay, dear reader, we’ve done our part. Now if you can figure out what those guys are saying, please explain it to us.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “ICR & the Speed of Light

  1. “Now if you can figure out what those guys are saying, please explain it to us.”

    The scientific method, consisting of “observation, hypothesis, experimentation, refine hypothesis, repeat” isn’t as flexible as the creationist method, consisting of “knowing the answer beforehand, find one piece of evidence that supports it, that’s it”

  2. Tomato Addict

    Feeding this into my Creationist-to-English Translat-o-tron (TM) …

    However, as new knowledge is discovered, fuller understanding of how He may have done it is possible. What a blessing for a believing scientist!

    It comes back out as …

    OOGITY BOOGITY

    which is what it always says, and why I was able to pick up this model of Translat-o-tron for such a low price.

    I’m looking forward to Jason Lisle chiming in on the the one-way speed of neutrinos. That could get interesting (if interesting meant “silly”).

  3. You cannot easily figure out what they are saying, because they themselves do not know what they are saying. They simply want to put out the message that whatever the scientific results actually mean, they will support the creationist view. They always do.

  4. solving Einstein’s field equations using different boundary conditions

    “OK, let’s see, we integrate from zero to five thousand years…”

  5. Ed says:

    You cannot easily figure out what they are saying, because they themselves do not know what they are saying.

    Right. I spent far too much time trying to understand their article. I ought to know better by now.

  6. basic physical constants are changeable
    That’s the end of the anthropic principle, or maybe of all arguments from design.

  7. rapid expansion of the cosmos at creation and the Flood would have caused time to be accelerated at distances far from earth

    I don’t think that’s right. Relativistic time dilation occurs between objects accelerating within a framework. When the framework itself stretches, it doesn’t apply. For example, no physicist (AFAIK) thinks the fact that the universe has an observable boundary proves Einstein wrong. Yet the boundary is exactly what ICR is talking about: things beyond the boundary are moving away from Earth faster than the speed of light, due to the strech of space time. So we can’t see them, no matter how powerful our telescopes, because no light will reach here from there (a literal case of “you can’t get there from here”).

  8. @Toms:basic physical constants are changeable

    It’s the end of conservation of energy too.