AIG: The Mystery of Betelgeuse

One of the few stars that almost everyone knows and can point to is Betelgeuse. Wikipedia says: “Betelgeuse is generally the eleventh-brightest star in the night sky and second-brightest in the constellation of Orion (after Rigel).”

It’s been in the news lately. PhysOrg posted this article a week ago: Waiting for Betelgeuse: what’s up with the tempestuous star? They say:

Have you noticed that Orion the Hunter — one of the most iconic and familiar of the wintertime constellations — is looking a little… different as of late? The culprit is its upper shoulder star Alpha Orionis, aka Betelgeuse, which is looking markedly faint, the faintest it has been for the 21st century. When will this nearby supernova candidate pop, and what would look like if it did?


Betelgeuse is always worth keeping an eye on, as it’s one of the closest candidates in our galaxy for a nearby supernova. We see supernovae frequently in distant galaxies, but such an event has not been witnessed in our galaxy in the telescopic era: Kepler’s Star in 1604 in the constellation Ophiuchus was the last supernova observed in the Milky Way, though a supernova in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud put on a good show in 1987. A red giant like Betelgeuse lives fast and dies young, exhausting its supply of hydrogen fuel in just under 10 million years. The star is destined to undergo a core implosion and massive collapse and rebound as a Type II supernova. Such an explosion could occur 100,000 years from now… or tonight.

Is the fading act a prelude to a truly spectacular show, or a false alarm? Astronomers are unsure, but a supernova event just 700-odd light-years away would be an unrepresented [sic] opportunity to study one up close.

That’s the background. Betelgeuse may or may not be ready to explode — according to all the hell-bound secular astronomers. Now let’s hear from the creation scientists at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.

Their headline is Betelgeuse: Supernova or Fading Star? It was written by Dr. Danny R. Faulkner. Here’s AIG’s biographical information about Danny. They say he taught physics and astronomy until he joined AIG, and his undergraduate degree is from Bob Jones University. Here are some excerpts from Danny’s article, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Recent news reports [link omitted] have said that Betelgeuse is soon to erupt in a supernova. If Betelgeuse were to go supernova, then it would become incredibly bright, about as bright as the moon, rendering it easily visible during the day. But its light would be packed into a tiny pinpoint, making it difficult to look directly at it. That would be quite a spectacle, a supernova this bright would be unparalleled in human history. But is it likely to happen?

Well, what does Hambo’s astronomer think? After a few paragraphs of textbook information, he says:

Keep in mind that this possibility [of going supernova] is based upon ideas of stellar evolution over vast ages. [Egad, vast ages!] That assumes that astronomers’ models are correct. There are good reasons to doubt this because astronomers often are surprised when stars change. For instance, a relatively bright supernova in 1987 caused rewriting of astronomy textbooks. It happened because that supernova didn’t obey any of the expectations. Also, keep in mind that stellar evolution is based upon long time periods, something that biblical chronology does not allow.

Aha — it’s based on that “long time periods” stuff those secular scientists are so fond of. But they’re all fools! So what’s The Truth? Danny tells us:

What are supernovae then? They could be processes like what most astronomers think but on a much shorter timescale. Or they could be something quite different, not yet contemplated by astronomers.

So what are they? Danny ends his article like this:

There is yet no good theory of stellar astronomy from a biblical creation viewpoint. [What?] That is why we need more astronomers committed to biblical creation — to develop such models.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Danny doesn’t have a clue! This is the first time we’ve ever encountered anything like this from a creationist. We always assumed those guys knew everything. Are you as shocked as we are, dear reader?

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16 responses to “AIG: The Mystery of Betelgeuse

  1. Laurette McGovern

    WTF! Back in my day village idiots were a lot more coherent.

  2. Eddie Janssen

    If all we have to go by is the Bible than I don’t see how he is going to succeed.
    I am afraid it will need some science…
    Meaning a conversation with Ken HAm himself.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    Confirmation that the strongest route to foibiling a creationist where they have to pretty much give up, is with the starlight problem.

  4. But ….. but ….. what about the brilliant work of Barry Setterfield? Once again:

    Why don’t Danny and Barry team up?

    @This time LauretteMcG is baffled: “Back in my day village idiots were a lot more coherent.”
    Well, yes, nothing and nobody beats creacrap in this respect either. Coherence and creacrap don’t go together by definition; that’s what happens when you foster predetermined conclusions.

  5. Theodore Lawry

    “For instance, a relatively bright supernova in 1987 caused rewriting of astronomy textbooks. It happened because that supernova didn’t obey any of the expectations.”

    Faulkner knows better than that. Astronomers expected that most supernovae are explosions of red supergiant stars. SN1987A was the first supernova where astronomers could look at older “before” photos and identify the star which exploded. It was (shock, horror) a blue supergiant. Since that time, astronomers have identified the “progenitor” star for a number of supernova. They were red supergiants, just as predicted. SN1987A was actually a red supergiant going through a blue period, which explains why it was considerably less bright than “normal” supernova. By picking an oddball supernova to the be first one where the progenitor could be seen, Nature was just having her little joke. Speaking of jokes….

  6. Living up in the Seattle area I’ve been waiting for the skies to clear so that I can see the beautiful Orion constellation and Betelgeuse before it goes kaboom! Predictions are anywhere from tomorrow to 100,000 years from now for this spectacular celestial event. Per my sky observations however, Seattle skies as a rule are always cloudy for any such celestial events, as they are now.

  7. Stephen Kennedy

    Danny, unlike Jason Lisle, sometimes has moments of lucidity and when he does he actually writes some good and accurate information about Astronomy and may be the one “creation scientist” at AIG who secretly is not on board with AIG and Hambo’s dogma but he needs the job.

    Danny has long recognized and lamented the fact that while secular astronomers have a very robust theory of stellar physics, creationists have no explanation for the differences between stars and why some stars are variable and even display obvious changes like supernovae. He blames the situation on a dearth of biblical creationists studying Astronomy.

  8. While this is not obvious, ISTM that the authors of the Bible thought that the motions of the stars meant that the stars were living. What everybody today reads as poetic when the Bible speaks of the singing and praise of the stars, was meant seriously. Neighboring peoples thought that stars were gods, while the Bible points out that the stars were subservient to God.

  9. @StephenK: “He blames the situation …..”
    If he has been doing this for so long it’s all the more reason for my battle cry: all creacrap astronomers unite!

  10. The defining characteristic of a Red Giant is that it has already used up the Hydrogen in its core, and its core nuclear reactions involve fusing of heavier nuclei such as He. (Red Giants may also have a Hydrogen fusion shell closer to the surface than the core, but the core has already evolved beyond the Hydrogen fusion stage. That’s why Red Giants are not on the Mains Sequence of the Hertsprung-Russell diagram — the Main Sequence denotes the evolutionary phases of stars that are fusing Hydrogen in their cores.

  11. There is yet no good theory of stellar astronomy from a biblical creation viewpoint. [What?] What??

    Stars were created on Day 4 and now they pop one after the other. What is there to study?

  12. Dave Luckett

    hans435: Well, there’s Job 38:31-33, which implies that God can bind or loose the stars at his will, which is to say that He can alter them. It states explicitly that Aldebaran “and its satellite stars” (vs 32) are guided by God. Aldebaran does indeed have at least two companion stars, at eleventh and fourteenth magnitude respectively, so not to be observed by unaided eye. The scripture seems to have got that right, although the original writer probably only meant to refer to the Hyades.

    But more crucially, Job refers to the laws and rules instituted (it says) by God as governing the heavens and the Earth. That implies that the stars are merely natural objects, material entities to be observed and studied, as are the laws ruling them. In all fairness, you wouldn’t expect the writer of Job to have any more of a “theory of stellar astronomy” than that. In any case, whoever it was, was a poet who wrote brilliantly. Walt Whitman’s “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” refers.

  13. Dr. Danny, “That is why we need more astronomers committed to biblical creation — to develop such models.”
    Vicious cycle there Danny, if one is committed to biblical creation they are also committed to career suicide. There are only so many positions in the world for one such as you Danny, oh and of course it isn’t like you’re doing any research. A creationist astronomer is a failed astronomer.

  14. Tsssk, Troy, skimming scientific texts for quotes to mine is hard work.

  15. How does Faulkner know that God did not create all the stars with the appearance of age, and that appearance comports with the current model of stellar evolution?

  16. @Troy
    We are often told about the large number of scientists who are creationists. Newton, etc.