Rev. David Rives Interviews Jason Lisle

If you have 25 minutes to spare, and you remember the several times we wrote about Jason Lisle’s “Instant Starlight” Paper, then this video is for you.

This is about Jason’s solution to the Distant Starlight problem. The problem — for young-earth creationists — is that the light we see from distant sources required literally billions of years to reach earth, yet the creationist’s universe is only 6,000 years old.

Jason is the the creationist astrophysicist who used to be employed by Answers in Genesis (AIG), but for never-explained reasons he left AIG a couple of years ago to become director of whatever it is that they call research at the Institute for Creation Research.

The title of this video is Distant Starlight In A Young Universe. Jason doesn’t show up until shortly after the first three minutes, so to save time you might want to zoom to that point. Then be prepared to be amazed. We’ve never seen Jason speak before, and he’s surprisingly articulate. He gives a good presentation. Rev Rives spends most of the time saying nothing except: “Wow, that’s amazing!”

If the subject interests you, you’ll want to watch this. If not, we’ll certainly understand. We enjoyed it. We’re certainly not convinced by Jason, but the point he’s making isn’t actually wrong. Nevertheless, it’s irrelevant except for young-Earth creationists. It’s difficult to imagine that Jason is devoting his life to creationism.

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28 responses to “Rev. David Rives Interviews Jason Lisle

  1. At 0:08:30 in the video, the image of Supernova 1987a as seen today debunks Jason Lisle’s anisotropic speed of light “solution” to the distant starlight problem. If the speed of light were different in different directions, the light echo shown in the image would not be circular. The fact that it is circular demonstrates clearly that light does indeed travel at the same speed in all directions (at least, at that part of the universe in the vicinity of the Large Magellanic Cloud).

    What we see in the photograph is the gas in the interstellar space around the supernova being irradiated by the light and radiation generated in 1987 by the supernova explosion. The radius of that circle is now 28 light years (2015 minus 1987), and it expands one light year in all directions each year. The fact that we see it as a circle is convincing evidence that c is constant in all directions.

    So, how do you explain that, Jason?

  2. Good point, retiredsciguy.

  3. Ah, the Dreamteam of Creacrap … alas it’s too late in the evening, but as soon as I have the time I’ll certainly watch this.
    I wonder – is this the new project the Good Rev was working on? I am thrilled! And of course I have boundless faith in our dear SC to keep me totally updated.

  4. Stephen Kennedy

    In the video Lisle gives the impression that the only way to determine the speed of light is with clocks. He gives all kinds of reasons why the one way speed of light can not be measured using clocks to determine how long it took a photon to travel a certain distance.

    If he actually knew any Physics he would realize that the energy of a photon, E = h x f where E is energy, h is Planck’s constant = 6.626 x 10^-34 J sec., and f is the frequency of the light wave. Light has a dual nature where it can behave as either a particle or a wave. f = c/l where c is the speed of light and l is the wavelength.

    We can write:
    E = h xc/l
    Solving for c, the speed of light, we get:

    c = (E x l)/h

    If we examine a photon coming from a star we can measure E with a photoelectric photometer, l from its spectrum and h is a constant which is a finite number. When we make observations we always find that E and l are finite numbers that we can use to calculate the speed of the incoming photon and it is always equal to about 3×10^8 meters/second.

    In fact Planck’s law as the form that prevents f from ever going to infinity so the energy will always be finite and c will always be finite.

  5. A YEC doesn’t need a speed of light to be infinite, only greater than the standard number by a factor of about a million. (14 billion years/10,000 years) Of course, the question is why choose any such number. Why infinity, a million, a thousand, one, or even factor less than one? (If less than one, then the universe is even older than it seems.)

  6. If the speed of light were to vary by a factor of one million depending on its direction, that is a huge difference and would be readily apparent in everyday life. A red beam of light from one direction would be a cosmic ray from the opposite direction, you would have to be in just the right direction from a radio station to tune in its signal, etc., etc.

    Jason Lisle’s “anisotropic light” is a myth. Light HAS to travel the same speed in ALL directions, and it does — as demonstrated by the circular light echo of Supernova 1987a. Any notion of a ~6,000 year-old universe is utter nonsense. There is SO much evidence of deep time that one has to be in total denial of all reality to think the universe is less than several billion years old. (13.8 billion years, give or take.)

    If the religionists want people to believe the deeper truths in the Bible, they should stop making fools of themselves by insisting on a literal interpretation of all scripture.

  7. @retiredsciguy
    I quite agree with you.
    It seems to be that, among all the coherent evidence for “deep time”, the one that causes the most consternation among YEC is starlight. If only they could make that go away. And if there are only thousands of years, then they have a killer argument against evolution.
    But some times I get the impression that it is not so much following where the Bible leads them, as an imposition on the Bible of what they want to believe. If the Bible says something contrary to what they believe, then there has got to be some way of reading it otherwise. If the Bible is silent on the point, then they are free to make up stuff.

  8. Rsg produces a pearl of wisdom: “….. they should stop making fools of themselves …..”
    But that would be the end of this very nice blog, so pardon me for saying that you give bad advise.

  9. Richard Bond

    What a shame that someone so obviously intelligent and articulate should be so misguided.

    There are many phenomena in physics that demonstrate the constancy of c. One of the most compelling is the easily demonstrated existence of standing waves, which was an experiment that I performed in the second year of my physics degree. Standing waves are the consequence of the interference of two beams of light travelling at the same speed in opposite directions. Then we have the dependence of c on the permittivity and permeability of free space, which are clearly isotropic: capacitors and magnets do not change their values as they are rotated in space.

    The simplest explanation of all, which I understood as a teenager, is Romer’s original measurement of c using the cumulative delay in the eclipses of Jupiter’s moons as the Earth orbits the Sun. This uses the one-way speed of light. It can measure that speed in any direction in the plane of the solar system by picking different parts of Jupiter’s own orbit. Galaxies in this plane appear just as distant as others.

    Lisle’s quotation from Einstein is real, but has been taken out of context: what a surprise! It is actually part of an presumed objection by an imaginary critic of Einstein.

  10. Richard Bond says: “Romer’s original measurement of c using the cumulative delay in the eclipses of Jupiter’s moons as the Earth orbits the Sun. This uses the one-way speed of light.”

    We discussed that in Lisle’s “Instant Starlight” Paper: Jupiter’s Moons.

    My current objection to light having a dual speed is that light would somehow need to “know” where the observer is, so that it could travel toward the observer instantaneously.

  11. @mnbo: I don’t think we have to worry about that… 😉

  12. waldteufel

    A drooling, credulous knave interviews a drooling, incompetent fool. News at 10:00.

  13. Jason Lisle is the epitome of the UNCF “a mind is a terrible thing to waste”
    If the production of electromagnetic waves were some sort of mystery, Lisle might be able to sneak this in as a possibilty. But we know how they are formed. Anytime you accelerate a charged partical you get an electromagnetic wave. Since the electrical and magnetic fields are not directional, EM waves can not be either.
    I guess the question for me is Lisle fooling himself or just the flock?

  14. Richard Bond

    SC: Thanks for pointing out that earlier discussion. I think that it took place before I found this most excellent blog.

    I could not find Lisle’s answer to Romer’s method (a couple of the links no longer work), but from the discussion it seems that he simply introduces an ad hoc clock synchronisation system to fit his particular prejudices. The trouble with ad hoc solutions for special cases is that they generally introduce more anomalies than they solve, which then require yet more ad hoc schemes to explain away those. For example, his scheme might conflict with Newton’s law of gravitation, which provides an accurate description of Jupiter’s position at any time. I cannot be bothered to work out this, because the ultimate objection to Lisle is that all the phenomena involving c have to be in mutual agreement, and many of these do not depend on directly measuring c. Also, the Wikipedia article mentioned by you refers to five experiments to detect anisotropy, and these all set very small limits on any effect.

    I also noted from the discussion that some of the justifications for ASC seem to rely on special relativity. I have just checked Einstein’s 1905 SR paper, and constant c is a postulate for arriving at his results. It hardly seems correct, therefore, to use SR to contradict this postulate.

  15. Richard Bond, also, Jason correctly mentioned that the “c” in e=mc^2 implies enormous variations in energy or mass if c is variable. But if the speed of light is always nearly infinite in one direction, and is only “corrected” by a different speed on the return trip, then where are those effects?

  16. Richard Bond

    SC: I noticed that, but I could not quickly work out any testable consequences. Having thought about it a little more, it occurs to me that the whole point of SR and GR is that physics is invariant with respect to point of view. It should therefore be invariant with respect to conventions of simultaneity. Thus the release of energy from a change in mass (in hydrogen fusion, for example) should be invariant, implying that c is constant. This prompts the further thought that electromagnetism is a local gauge theory, so that electromagnetic phenomena should be invariant under transformations of time.

    This is all very much off the top of my head, and not properly evaluated; perhaps others could comment.

  17. RB explains some science: “all the phenomena involving c have to be in mutual agreement”.
    Ah, but that’s not how creationist “science” works. They have another methodology, as our dear SC has pointed out long ago. You ignore step 3 of that methodology: “Ignore the rest.”

    “perhaps others could comment”
    Don’t worry. Your point is more than clear. Lisle produces creacrap, exactly what we expect from him.

  18. @SC
    I must bring up a complaint about your use of the phrase “nearly infinite”. No finite number is nearly infinite. If the speed of light were a googolplex of megaparsecs per millisecond, that is still merely finite, and is much less than other finite velocities – such as a trillion googolplex of gigaparsecs per nanosecond, etc., etc.

  19. Charles Deetz ;)

    Like anti-evolutionists, Lisle has to base his plausibility on holes in existing science. Not one bit of actual current science has proved convention wrong, not one bit of actual science supports his standing thesis that god was right. That they continue to call it a ‘starlight problem’ themselves is telling.

  20. When Ken Ham or Ray Comfort spew pseudo-science rubbish about physics, it is not hard to understand why their nonsense flows so easily. (They have negligible backgrounds in science.) Jason Lisle is another story. He’s got a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado. On the other hand, last I checked, Lisle had zip for peer-reviewed publications.

    In contrast, John Gideon Hartnett is the pride and joy of CMI and earns a physics Ph.D. from an Australian university, has quite a substantial C.V. in terms of peer-reviewed articles, awards, and is a Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide. Unlike Lisle, he actually does real research as a professional physicists within the academy. Moreover, he’s written copiously on speed of light/starlight issues including the book Starlight, Time and the New Physics.

    The fact that Hartnett denies the Big Bang Theory and criticizes Dark Matter and Dark Energy has given him a lot of notoriety in addition to his Young Earth Creationist promotion and propaganda. Even though cognitive dissonance probably has no theoretical limit, I do wonder how someone with Hartnett’s background and training appears to promote YECist themes very similar to Lisle’s. My training in physicists is quite limited–but everything posted already about relativity and the experimental verifications of light’s speed “coming and going” has been my understanding of the science which I thought was settled in such regards long ago. So, does anybody know enough about Hartnett’s astrophysics to understand his arguments?

    A YEC scientist like Kurt Wise makes relative sense to me in that he admits the preponderance of the scientific evidence but simply says that his interpretation of the Bible will always trump the science no matter HOW MUCH contrary scientific evidence he is shown. Hartnett, on the other hand, strikes me as much harder to figure out. He appears to truly believe that all of the physics is on his side.

    By the way, if I had to choose the very worst abuse of alleged-logic in an alleged “proof”, Jason Lisle’s Ultimate Proof of Creation would be a very strong contender. It left me downright “dazzled” for all the wrong reasons. And when he got ticked by my review of his book, his reaction became an almost surreal experience. I think he has been accustomed to being “the boy genius” for much of his life and only after earning his PhD did he start realizing that the “real world” is not only isn’t impressed by his thinking, the real world is laughing and pointing. Frankly, that one interaction with him left me feeling a bit sad for him. It seemed like he just wasn’t accustomed to considering that he could be not only “not exceptional” but viewed with either contempt or pity.

    I got the strong impression that Lisle–unlike a Ken Ham or Ray Comfort–he is having to exert an enormous amount of mental energy in convincing himself that his arguments for a young earth are logical. Perhaps he will be able to keep himself inside of the origins industry cocoon. Yet, there is something about him which may lead to his “burn out” in his present role. (Notice that he started out at Answers in Genesis and now he is at ICR. I doubt that he was able to stomach Ken Ham. Notice how Georgia Purdom, despite her Ph.D. training, can repeat all of Ham’s mantras and slogans almost mechanically and without hesitation. I’ll bet that Lisle found himself unable to do that. ICR, in contrast to AIG, no longer has the strong personalities and “YEC VIP” roster of their golden age. So Lisle probably feels like he can be more “genuine” there–though I find it difficult to use that term in such a context.)

  21. Prof Tertius, Lisle’s m.o. is to look for logic loopholes, he suspect he doesn’t need to expend enormous energy, though obviously he has to maintain a rather large blind spot. I think it is more important where someone spent Sunday as a child rather than the initials after their name. This from ICR: Lisle grew up in a Christian home, and because his family believed in the authority and accuracy of the Bible, he had little difficulty in dealing with the evolutionary bombardment he received in school.
    Evidence of Lisle’s slick road to a Ph.D., his creation papers were all written as “Robert Newton” to stay under the radar to get his legit credentials.

  22. Creationists actually have two approaches to the distant-light problem.

    The first is fiddling with the speed of light, either by making it dependent on direction as Lisle does (and as pre-relativistic astronomers did, though to a much smaller degree). But as posts above point out, this would

    The second leaves c alone but assumes that when God created the universe, he did so with light seeming to come from distant objects but in fact coming from much, much closer. Just what it would be coming from . . . well, there are some things man was not meant to know.

    Oh, and as for that quote from ICR: I grew up in a Christian home, that of my grandfather, a Protestant minister. He, however, didn’t reject modern science. Unfortunately, for reasons I’ve never understood (other than that the local public schools really stunk), he chose to send my sisters and me to a Seventh-Day Adventist elementary school for several purgatorial years, and those people made no bones about being YEC’s. One teacher went so far as to have us students go through our science texts (purchased from a mainstream publisher) and, wherever those books mentioned “millions of years,” cross out “millions” and write in “thousands.”

    Eventually my grandparents had had enough of our teachers and fellow students trying to convert us dirty little infidels (they actually used that word, which always called up visions of sword-swinging Saracens for me) and put us into other, more mainstream schools. But four years in Fundy World was enough to convince me that I never, ever wanted to see these people in a position to dictate to public schools.

  23. Holding The Line In Florida

    Oh I stumbled on the Creation in the 21st century while channel surfing. The topic was fossils and The Flood. Oh it hurt! The cartoons were really pathetic and the drool was deep. I lasted all of five minutes before I turned to a more intellectually stimulating program. The Histerical Channels Ancient Aliens episode on how the aliens were responsible for the American Civil War!

  24. It’s apparent that Jason Lisle is deliberately ignoring any and all evidence that contradicts his religious view of a young universe. Thus, he is not truly a scientist. Either he is a) blinded by his faith; b) ignoring what is before him so he can falsely proselytize others to follow his peculiar faith; or c) quite dense.

  25. My choice is all three.

  26. @mnb0: Let me add to my post:

    d) all of the above.

    There we go.

  27. Charles Deetz ;)

    Up to 101 views. Getting the word out to ‘millions’ per Rives.

  28. Re my post above, the second paragraph gotr cut off somehow. It should read:
    “The first is fiddling with the speed of light, either by making it dependent on direction as Lisle does (and as pre-relativistic astronomers did, though to a much smaller degree). But as posts above point out, this would have drastic and easily detectable effects on a range of physical phenomena. Those effects are not observed. So much for a direction-dependent speed of light.”