Discoveroids and the Big Bang

This one from the Discovery Institute is strange — but we could say that about pretty much everything they’ve been posting lately. We miss the old days when Casey would post about the “evidence” for intelligent design, and the reasons why the Kitzmiller decision didn’t mean anything. Those were fun! Now, all we get is stuff like this: Big Bang: Put Simply, the Facts Are Wrong.

It was written by Denyse O’Leary. Our last post about one of her essays was Denyse O’Leary Is Back. The Discoveroids have a page of biographical information about her, with a photo — you can see it here. We’re told: “She received her degree in honors English language and literature.”

Denyse is one of the best of the current Discoveroid bloggers — which says a lot. It’s always entertaining to watch her try to say something profound. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Typing “Big Bang Theory” into a search bar links us immediately to the long-running (debut 2007), immensely popular CBS sitcom, a post-modern look at the lives of Caltech physicists. The conventional meaning of the term, our universe’s origin starting with a small singularity currently pegged at 13.8 billion years ago, is a mere second thought.

A great beginning to a post about cosmology! Then she says:

But the Big Bang is unpopular among cosmologists. It survives on evidence alone. And sadly, evidence matters much less than it used to.

Those are three of the most bizarre sentences we’ve seen anywhere, and Denyse strung them all together in a single paragraph. Most impressive! After that she tells us:

Science historian Helge Kragh [Wikipedia write-up on him] tells us that astronomer Fred Hoyle coined the term “big bang” in 1949: “Ironically… to characterize the kind of theory he much disliked and fought until the end of his life… As Hoyle said in an interview in 1995: ‘Words are like harpoons. Once they go in, they are very hard to pull out.’” In 1949, he had described the theory as “irrational.”

Yes, poor ol’ Fred Hoyle (1915 – 2001) never gave up on his Steady State theory. He’s popular among creationists as the originator of the junkyard tornado argument against evolution. Denyse continues:

But in 1965, the evidence of aftershocks (the cosmic microwave background) made the irrational theory [Huh?] an apparent fact. … Kragh tells us, “Many people feel that ‘big bang’ is an unfortunate name, not only because of its association with a primordial explosion, but also because it is such an undignified label for the most momentous event ever in the history of the universe.”

It wasn’t “big” (when it began) and it didn’t go “bang,” so we prefer to call it the “Great Expansion” — but we seem to be alone in that. Let’s read on:

Undignified, possibly. But that is hardly the only reason the detractors didn’t (and don’t) like it. Arthur Eddington (1882-1944) exclaimed in 1933, “I feel almost an indignation that anyone should believe in it — except myself.” Why? Because “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.” Others chimed in, making it clear that the principal problem is not with the evidence, then or now, but with obvious conclusions.

This is ancient history. Today’s astronomers and cosmologists don’t have any trouble accepting the fact of the Big Bang — or whatever term they prefer. Another excerpt:

As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy sniffs:

[Denyse quotes from an article titled “Cosmology and Theology”:] A naive or ideological reading of twentieth century cosmology might count big bang cosmology as providing new support for theism, and alternatives such as steady-state cosmology as atheistic backlashes.

Yes, possibly. The entry conveniently demonstrates the very point it seeks to dismiss: The half-century war against the Big Bang is not going well for the warriors.

According to some encyclopedia article, the “war against the Big Bang” is all about its theological implications. We’re always suspicious of creationist quote-mining, so we checked Denyse’s source. After the part she quotes, the encyclopedia goes on to say:

But such a view misses many nuances, both in the historical record, as well as in the logical structure of these issues. From a historical point of view, there has been little correlation between religious views of scientific cosmologists and their proposed cosmological models. From a epistemological point of view, there are numerous obstacles to claiming that the big bang confirms the hypothesis that God exists. And from a metaphysical point of view, God’s hand is not manifest even in big bang models: these models have no first state for God to create, and these models have no time for God to exist in before the big bang.

Make of that what you will. Here’s more from Denyse’s brilliant post, as she shows how wild and crazy scientists are in their ongoing “war against the Big Bang.” She tells us:

We are now told that there is more to the universe than the Big Bang. and that, with the help of physicist Sean Carroll, we can speculate wildly as to what it was like before the Big Bang. A recent theory relies on a quantum fluid of “hypothetical massless particles.” Or a holographic mirage from another dimension.

And now we come to the end:

It all sounds like a guy explaining why he can’t pay his rent. Only the last sentence matters.

Wasn’t that fun? Now, dear reader, we have a question for you: What is Denyse trying to say?

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Discoveroids and the Big Bang

  1. Dave Luckett

    Answering that question isn’t really difficult: Denyse, who would know about as much about the Great Expansion as I do, is trying to suggest that it occurred because of the action of God, or such ultimate cause as is synonymous with the same. She is implying, without actually saying, that the Kalam Cosmological argument holds. There. Simple, isn’t it?

  2. Eric Lipps

    Fred Hoyle is a brilliant man but has the sad distinction of being on the losing side of several scientific controversies, most recently in claiming that fossil fuels have a non-biological origin and are an essentially unlimited resource.

  3. “And sadly, evidence matters much less than it used to.”
    I think here she was trying to insert a comment regarding ID, for if she’s writing for the Dishonesty Institute, they are very much in favor of ignoring science and substituting their green-screen wherever and whenever possible as well as her skills at quote mining.
    Also, a quick search of Amazon of her book entitled “By Design or by Chance?” brought up many books with similar titles on the very same topic. A search of her book versus some of the others might turn up some interesting, just maybe same arguments, same words, etc.

  4. The single most mind-boggling sentence here isn’t actually from O’Leary’s own pen, but from her potted biography, wherein it is claimed she received a

    degree in honors English language and literature

    What!? From where? I mean, I could understand if she had been awarded a Michelin Star for impenetrable culinary Word Salad concoctions, or maybe a Pulitzer (with Dangling Modifier Clusters) for Obfuscation Above and Beyond the Call of Comprehension, or maybe even the Jo–but a genuine academic degree? For English language and literature? Her tortured prose and convoluted syntax makes Joyce’s Finnegans Wake seem as transparent a read as Dr. Seuss.

    It is claimed that if one could give an infinite number of monkeys and infinite number of typewriters, one of them would produce a word-perfect copy of Hamlet; this is an interesting concept, but not subject to an empirical test.

    However, it would be relatively easy to test a claim about the other end of the probability scale, viz.: give a single lobotomised chimpanzee an old Underwood typewriter on which half the keys don’t even work, and within 10 minutes it would produce a text more intelligible than anything Denyse O’Leary has ever produced in an entire lifetime wasted blogging.

  5. I make no apologies for the typos in the above rant.

    I was assisted by a lobotomised chimpanzee, clearly…

  6. Ceteris Paribus

    No apologies necessary. The lobotomized chimp is also to be congratulated. But a caution: – When dangling, watch your participles.

  7. As far as empirical test of the “Infinite monkey theorem”, see the Wikipedia article with that title, in the section “Real monkeys”.

  8. longshadow

    The Origin of the Cosmic Microwave Background

    One of the profound observations of the 20th century is that the universe is expanding. This expansion implies the universe was smaller, denser and hotter in the distant past. When the visible universe was half its present size, the density of matter was eight times higher and the cosmic microwave background was twice as hot. When the visible universe was one hundredth of its present size, the cosmic microwave background was a hundred times hotter (273 degrees above absolute zero or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which water freezes to form ice on the Earth’s surface). In addition to this cosmic microwave background radiation, the early universe was filled with hot hydrogen gas with a density of about 1000 atoms per cubic centimeter. When the visible universe was only one hundred millionth its present size, its temperature was 273 million degrees above absolute zero and the density of matter was comparable to the density of air at the Earth’s surface. At these high temperatures, the hydrogen was completely ionized into free protons and electrons.

    Since the universe was so very hot through most of its early history, there were no atoms in the early universe, only free electrons and nuclei. (Nuclei are made of neutrons and protons). The cosmic microwave background photons easily scatter off of electrons. Thus, photons wandered through the early universe, just as optical light wanders through a dense fog. This process of multiple scattering produces what is called a “thermal” or “blackbody” spectrum of photons. According to the Big Bang theory, the frequency spectrum of the CMB should have this blackbody form. This was indeed measured with tremendous accuracy by the FIRAS experiment on NASA’s COBE satellite.

    FIRAS Spectrum This figure shows the prediction of the Big Bang theory for the energy spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation compared to the observed energy spectrum. Specifically a measurement was made of the surface brightness per unit frequency interval (𝛪𝜈), not 𝛪𝜆 – which is a per unit wavelength interval. The FIRAS experiment measured the spectrum at 34 equally spaced points along the blackbody curve. The error bars on the data points are so small that they can not be seen under the predicted curve in the figure! There is no alternative theory yet proposed that predicts this energy spectrum. The accurate measurement of its shape was another important test of the Big Bang theory.

  9. @longshadow: Thank you for that article. I have no clue what dear Denyse thought she was trying to say. I can’t imagine anyone who paid attention in high school English writing so poorly, let alone someone who allegedly has a college level degree in English. In contrast, the article you posted is clear and demonstrates why cosmologists think the great expansion happened, based on analysis of data and agreement of the data with theoretical considerations — things the IDers seem happy get along without.

  10. From the Wikipedia article on the Infinite Monkey Theorem, to which TomS kindly directed my attention:

    In 2003, lecturers and students from the University of Plymouth MediaLab Arts course used a £2,000 grant from the Arts Council to study the literary output of real monkeys. They left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Celebes crested macaques in Paignton Zoo in Devon in England for a month, with a radio link to broadcast the results on a website.

    Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five total pages, largely consisting of the letter S, the lead male began by bashing the keyboard with a stone, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it.

    Sounds indistinguishable from an editorial conference at the Seattle offices of Evolution News and Views

  11. docbill1351

    Dense O’Dreary got her degree in “English.”

    She also co-authored the “Spatula Brain” or “Why Religion Suffocates Thought” in which she successfully avoided ALL neurological research.

  12. “three of the most bizarre sentences”
    Indeed. I had to close my eyes for a moment and reread them again to get over one of the biggest WTF moments in my entire life.

    “little correlation between religious views of scientific cosmologists and their proposed cosmological models”
    For which exactly the history of the Big Bang (in Dutch it’s only 50% better, but of course creacrappers never will learn that sloppy scientific terminology – like biologists using the word design – can’t be understood as support for their crap) provides evidence. The second one who proposed the idea, the catholic priest Georges Lemaitre, explicitly warned against using it as an argument for theism.

    “What is Denyse trying to say?”
    Many have asked, nobody has been able to answer. Hence she’s called Dense. The O’Smeary part has another origin. With my working class roots I don’t care about being “classy” (that’s for snobbisch people who dislike socialism because they look down on the common (wo)man) Dense O’Smeary is good enough for me.
    At the other hand if you think up of something better that is classy I’ll take ot over for sure.

  13. I can’t propose a suitable sobriquet for the redoutable Denyse O’Leary–but I do believe the proper name of the recipe for her word salads is Salade Denyçoise

  14. Michael Fugate

    I found that her degree is from Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. I am sure they want it back.