Creationist Wisdom #471: The Miracle of Uranus

One of our clandestine operatives — code name “Omega” — has sent us a hot tip, for which he will be amply rewarded from the overflowing coffers of Darwinite Hegemony. It’s a letter-to-the-editor that appears in the Journal & Courier of Lafayette, Indiana.

The letter is titled Evolutionary history is based on godless ideology, but to see it you need to scroll down to the fifth item at that link.

We don’t embarrass letter-writers by using their full names, unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures. Today’s writer is responsible for several letters-to-the-editor, but otherwise he doesn’t register at all on the internet, so we’ll use only his first name, which is Jim. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

How did stars and planets form?

Huh? His letter is supposed to be about evolution. Okay, let’s give Jim a chance, dear reader. He’ll get around to it. Then he says:

According to modern science it can be explained by a theory known as the solar nebula concept. According to the theory, large clouds of gas and dust collapsed to form the central star and the planets that orbit it, and thus everything should be orbiting and spinning in the same direction. But that is not what we actually see.

Oh? Tell us more, Jim:

Some galaxies, planets (Venus and Uranus) and many moons are spinning backwards (retrograde motion). Some moons even have a retrograde orbit around their planet. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune have moons orbiting in both directions.

Ignoring Jim’s mysterious mention of retrograde galaxies — whatever they are — we can look at the Wikipedia article on Retrograde and prograde motion. The solar system isn’t much of a problem — all the planets orbit the sun in the same prograde direction as the rotation of the sun. However, Venus and Uranus do rotate on their axes in an unusual way. Venus is virtually upside-down, and seems to rotate in the opposite direction as the other planets. Uranus has slightly more than a 90 degree tilt, and seems to rotate on its side. Explanations have been proposed to explain their rotation (maybe Uranus got whacked), but we’ll leave that for you, dear reader, to discuss in the comments.

Further, Wikipedia says: “There are some satellites [in the solar system] which orbit in the retrograde sense, but these are generally small and distant from their planets, except for Neptune’s satellite Triton, which is large and close. It is thought that these retrograde satellites, including Triton, are bodies which have been captured into orbit around their planets, having been formed elsewhere.” These are interesting, but not catastrophic problems for astronomers.

Also, a few of the recently observed extra-solar planets have a retrograde orbit around their stars. It’s currently thought that those planets formed in what were once clusters of stars, and the planets we observe may have formed around a different star and then got captured by the stars they now orbit. These are interesting problems, but no one is throwing away his telescope and giving up on astronomy.

What does any of this have to do with evolution? Nothing, so let’s skip most of Jim’s letter, because he doesn’t even mention evolution until the end:

Real science is based on data from experiments and observation and its laws can predict with certainty what will happen under various conditions. Evolutionary theory is based on a godless ideology and its laws conflict with what we actually observe in the universe.

Aaaargh!! We went through Jim’s whole letter, and that’s it? What’s he saying, that God is responsible for retrograde motion? Where is that in the bible? And what does Uranus have to do with evolution?

Well, this may not be a total loss. Maybe y’all can come up with some tasteful Uranus jokes.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

26 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #471: The Miracle of Uranus

  1. So what your friend Jim is saying is that you can tell God created the solar system because it’s a really sloppy piece of work, what with some moons revolving in the wrong direction and a couple of planets rotating in the wrong direction? He could have added the unstable orbit of Mercury and the weird orbit of Pluto, not to mention what comets and asteroids get up to.

    If the solar system had evolved, by contrast, everything’d be neat and tidy. But trust God to bog it up.

    I’m having real difficulty with this theology stuff.

  2. Gee, Jimbo, the guys that wrote the bible didn’t have the foggiest idea that that other planets have moons, let alone what their orbits and rotations were like. So I guess the most likely explaination is that the gods they invented hadn’t any clue either.

  3. And in Indiana they have a growing private/parochial school voucher system using state tax dollars that will help future students learn about Jim’s detailed perspective on science and evolution.

  4. Summary of Jim’s argument in twelve words:

    I don’t understand physics, astronomy, and cosmology, thus evolution is a godless lie.

  5. BTW, when Uranus starts spinning the opposite direction, it’s time to visit a proctologist.

  6. Out where the gas giants abide,
    A planet rotates on its side,
    It’s name is Uranus,
    Which is really quite heinous,
    But it’s a source of creationist pride.

  7. Ceteris Paribus

    No telling what visions and dreams of gods or/or satanic devils that creationist Jim may personally experience if he goes to the toy store and gets himself a “Tippe Top”, and thinks of it as a model planet.

    You can watch a Ken Ham impersonator demonstrate the quirky top here

    And some physicy-sciency stuff about the top is here

  8. There has to be some limit to accepting as an “explanation”: “I can’t think of a reason for this, so it has to be the work of an agency which is apt to do anything.”
    There has to be some excess which will begin to make the point that it is not an explanation at all, for anything.
    But with people thanking God for a football victory, or why one person survives when many others did not, or the details of orbits … that limit does not seem imminent.

  9. @Ceteris Paribus, thanks for sharing the links about the Tippe Top — I had one of those plastic ones from Post cereals when I was a kid. Now I know what made it work — cool!

    FYI — you can do the same thing with a big, top-heavy class ring. Start it spinning on its head; it soon flips.

  10. Why do newspapers keep publishing this [bleep]? These letters have nothing to do with the news of the day, nor anything that appeared in the paper, for that matter. These ignorant, pro-creationism letters greatly lessen the status of the papers that publish them.

    The editor should think — “Would the New York Times publish this? If not, then why should I put it in my newspaper?” These letters make the editors look as ignorant as the letter-writers.

  11. Back in the 1980s there was a big movement among the neo-Velikovskians to justify Their Man’s theories through the physics of the tippe top: not so hard to flip planets upside-down if you forget the gyroscope and think of the tippe top instead. When others pointed out that the tippe top doesn’t, er, tippe unless it has a table to rest on, there was a deathly silence.

  12. I imagine that Jim, after carefully crafting his letter, had thought he had laid waste to all of modern science, none of which he has a clue about. The certainty that so often accompanies the ignorance as displayed by our pal Jim always amazes me.
    Oh well, onward through the fog . . . .

  13. When it comes to knowledge of Solar System Astronomy, someone needs to say to Jim, “you have your head up the seventh planet”.

  14. this [bleep]?

    Please, please, please: our host asks us not to deploy profanity. “Codswallop!”, perhaps, or “Baloney!”, but surely not “[bleep]”. There are standards of behavior, are there not?

  15. Kennard Walter

    Be worried that your proctologist has things spinning around there at all, and not so much concerned about the direction he says they are spinning. Just make like a Disco tooter and ignore certain evidence. Your priest didn’t ignore the recent Moons significance or the occulting of Uranus , why should your friendly uhhhh….down there doctor.

  16. Sorry, realthog, I didn’t intend to offend your sensibilities. Would you have preferred “Why do newspapers keep publishing this [substance that has been extruded from Uranus]?”

  17. Sorry, realthog, I didn’t intend to offend your sensibilities. Would you have preferred “Why do newspapers keep publishing this [substance that has been extruded from Uranus]?”

    Basically, well, anything would have been better than — *shudder* — [bleep],

  18. Our Curmudgeon notes

    Uranus has slightly more than a 90 degree tilt, and seems to rotate on its side. Explanations have been proposed to explain their rotation (maybe Uranus got whacked)

    Sorry, but Jim’s explanation in his letter to the editor really does explain it best: it’s God’s fault that Uranus is bass-ackwards…

  19. Uranus actually has a prograde rotation, when it got bonked early in its history it knocked it more than 90 degrees so astronomers do say it is retrograde only because the angle is now in a different quadrant.
    Venus is interesting because its retrograde rotation is so slow. It strongly suggests an impactor that slowed it down.
    The Genesis literalist like Jim here should be confronted with the ignorance of the Biblical authors where the Earth isn’t a rotating planet and where “day” (really just the perception we Earth dwellers get from the Earth’s rotation) precedes the formation of the Earth.

  20. What does Uranus or anybody’s for that matter have to do with evolution? :-))

  21. What we see here is that creationists are retrograde humans.

  22. realthog laments—

    “I’m having real difficulty with this theology stuff.”

    Not to fret, it’s really quite easy once you know the recipe: Take your favourite feel-good fantasy, dress it up in verbose pseudo-profundity, and construct an elaborate and impenetrable flood of bombast in its defence. It helps to zest up this hodgepodge with a sprinkling of ad hoc jargon of your own invention.

    With a bit of practice, anyone and everyone can master its rudiments — and many do so, which is why one bloke’s theology invariably is another’s sacrilege…

  23. Oh, and if inspiration is lacking, look no further than Uranus.

  24. @Troy
    … and days preceded the placing of the Sun in the Firmament (day 4).

  25. You wanted clean Uranus jokes? Here’s one from my brother, ca. 1974:

    Q: If humanoids live on Earth, where do hemorrhoids live?
    A: They live on Uranus.

  26. I can’t ever again read or hear the word “Uranus” without thinking of Ben Stein, many years before “Expelled,” as the science teacher on “The Wonder Years,” pronouncing in his slow, inimitable way.