Category Archives: Science

Discoveroids: The Universe Sends a ‘Big Message’

The picture above this post is one that everyone has seen by now. We copied ours from NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), whose website has this article: Black Hole Image Makes History; NASA Telescopes Coordinated Observations. A few brief excerpts should be sufficient:

A black hole and its shadow have been captured in an image for the first time, a historic feat by an international network of radio telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). EHT is an international collaboration whose support in the U.S. includes the National Science Foundation.

[…]

The stunning new image shows the shadow of the supermassive black hole in the center of Messier 87 (M87), an elliptical galaxy some 55 million light-years from Earth. This black hole is 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. Catching its shadow involved eight ground-based radio telescopes around the globe, operating together as if they were one telescope the size of our entire planet.

You can click over there and read it all if you like. We just wanted to describe the image as a way of introducing the latest new post from the Discovery Institute. Their creationist blog features this article: First Ever Black Hole Image Points to Cosmology’s Big Message, written by Klinghoffer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Discovery Institute astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez identifies two important points about the Event Horizon Telescope’s (EHT) exciting first ever image of a black hole.

Wowie — we’re about to learn about two important points from Guillermo Gonzalez, or “Gonzo” as we call him. He’s a Discoveroid “senior fellow” who co-authored the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, a “fine tuning” argument applied to Earth. Pay attention, dear reader. Here’s Gonzo’s first important point:

First, CNN and other media outlets notwithstanding, the image from galaxy M87 is not really a photo of a black hole. You can’t take a photo of a black hole: … .

We’re skipping a big excerpt from an article by Gonzo on that point. He’s technically correct, but it’s not a big deal. Here’s his next important point:

Much more profoundly, Dr. Gonzalez comments on the implications of the image for the great meaning at the heart of today’s cosmology:

Ooooooooooooh! The “great meaning at the heart of today’s cosmology.” Here’s Klinghoffer’s quote from Gonzo, which we’ll break into two parts:

The EHT images of the vicinity of the event horizon of the black hole in M87 provide new strong gravity regime tests of general relativity. And, the new data do indeed confirm the predictions of general relativity. This follows in the heels of the impressive first direct detection of gravity waves in 2015, made a century after Einstein predicted their existence. General relativity forms the foundation of modern cosmology, and, in particular, the Big Bang theory.

Okay, the existence of black holes is consistent with general relativity. We got that. Now here’s Gonzo’s stunning revelation:

The Big Bang strongly implies a beginning to the material universe and an immaterial cause.

Did you get that? It was right at the end of Gonzo’s last sentence. The big bang theory “strongly implies” that the universe had an immaterial cause!

Wowie! Do you realize what this means? That image — according to the Discoveroids — is direct evidence of Oogity Boogity! The intelligent designer — blessed be he! — created the universe, life, and you. That image is all the proof you need.

You’re gasping in amazement, aren’t you? Of course you are! And here’s Klinghoffer’s concluding paragraph:

An “immaterial cause” behind the origin of the universe is the Big Bang’s big message. [Gasp!] I bet you didn’t encounter that startling point in any of the rest of the excited news coverage of the EHT’s impressive achievement.

He’s right. And once again, dear reader, we’ve encountered one of the The Ten Laws of Creationism — that everything is evidence of intelligent design.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Jason Lisle and the Big Bang, Part 2

A week ago we wrote Jason Lisle and the Big Bang, about the first in a promised pair of posts by Jason Lisle — the creationist astrophysicist. As you recall, Jason used to work for ol’ Hambo’s Answers in Genesis, but he left Hambo to go with the Institute for Creation Research. Now he’s on his own.

We were pleased to see that Jason has made good on his promise. He just posted A Big Bang – Part 2. It appears at his creationist website, the Biblical Science Institute. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

The big bang is a secular story of the origin of the universe. It was designed to explain the origin of stars, planets, galaxies, and even the universe itself without any need for God. [Gasp!] The big bang is not compatible with the history recorded in Genesis. [Then it’s false!] But if we didn’t have Genesis, would it be reasonable to believe in a big bang? Does the big bang have scientific merit? To answer these questions, we need to understand exactly what the big bang story is.

Jason appears to be going way out of his way to be fair to the big bang, so let’s stay with him. He says:

The big bang is also called the standard model because it is the working paradigm in which most scientists attempt to understand how the universe came to be the way it is today. Many people have misconceptions about this model, so we begin with a brief summary, and then explain each of the steps in greater detail.

As was the case last week, Jason’s new post is way too long for us to critique it paragraph-by-paragraph. We’ll pluck out some of the glaring goodies for your entertainment, and then if you want to slog through the whole thing on your own, you’re free to do so. Here’s his brief summary of the standard model:

1. The entire universe is contained in a point of no size and infinite temperature.
2. This point rapidly expands, and the energy cools.
3. Some of the energy becomes matter – hydrogen and helium.
4. Some of the matter condenses into stars and galaxies.
5. Stars produce all the heavier elements which become dust.
6. Dust condenses to form planets.
7. In the future, the universe expands forever, and dies a “heat death.”

The biggest disagreement we have is with his first point. The expansion of the singularity generated the visible universe, but it’s conceivable that there could be a lot more out there, far beyond what we can see. Also, we see no reason for the singularity to have had no size and infinite temperature. His last point is also one we disagree with. Your Curmudgeon hasn’t yet given up on the idea that the visible universe forever oscillates between expansion and contraction phases. But that’s not important for our purposes today, so we won’t dwell on it.

After we skip several paragraphs about the seven points in Jason’s summary, he tells us:

The above scenario explains many of the characteristics of the observed universe. But of course, that is what it was invented to do. The question remains, is the big bang science? As always, it will be necessary to define our terms in order to answer this question rationally. By ‘science’ I refer to the method of testing claims by observation and experimentation, or the body of knowledge acquired by such a method. Testability by repeatable observation and experimentation is the key distinguishing characteristic of science. So, we must ask, of the above seven central claims of the standard model, which of them have been observationally or experimentally demonstrated? Let’s consider them one at a time.

We strongly suspect that Jason would never test his creationist beliefs that way. Let’s continue:

Has step 1 been scientifically demonstrated? Have we observed a singularity? Have we observed a universe in which all energy and even space itself is contained in a point of no size? Have we observed anything with infinite energy density and infinite temperature? None of these things have been observed. [Well, duh!] None have been experimentally demonstrated. No one has created a singularity in a laboratory. No singularities have been directly observed. And the only singularities for which we have indirect observational evidence – namely those in the core of a black hole – are of an entirely different variety. They are surrounded by an event horizon. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever of a naked singularity.

This is a slightly more elaborate version of ol’ Hambo’s “Were you there?” dismissal of evolution. Let’s read on:

In step two, the three-dimensional universe expands from this singularity. There is some observational evidence that the universe is expanding. … However, the big bang is claiming that the expansion began from a point of zero size. This is essential to the big bang model, and yet this has not been observed. [Obviously!] It follows that if we have never observed a singularity then clearly, we have not observed a singularity expand into a universe. [Duh!] Nor has any laboratory experiment demonstrated a universe expanding from a singularity. So this step does not qualify as science either, although there are aspects of it (expansion and cooling) that are consistent with what we do observe scientifically.

You gotta admit, dear reader, this is a powerful rebuttal! After going through all of his summary points with the same meticulousness, Jason announces:

Really, none of the steps of the standard model fall under the definition of science. None of them have been scientifically demonstrated. They are not testable or repeatable in the present. Only a portion of step 2 has any actual observational support; namely, observations of redshifts are consistent with universal expansion. But the notion that such an expansion began as a singularity has not been observed, nor has it been demonstrated to be possible by experimentation. As such, it does not qualify as science. The big bang model is not science.

For some reason, Jason doesn’t discuss whether the biblical account of creation is scientific. Perhaps you can figure that out. Anyway, skipping a bunch more, this is his last paragraph:

Not all truth claims can be tested by the scientific method. This is obviously the case with truth claims about the distant past or the distant future. We cannot observe or experiment on the past because it is gone. We cannot observe or experiment on the distant future because it has yet to occur. And yet, we have beliefs about the past, and beliefs about the future. The big bang is a conjecture about both the past and the future. And although it is not science, someone might argue that there are good reasons to believe in the big bang anyway. We will explore this issue in the next article. Until then, we have already seen that the big bang is contrary to the history recorded in the Bible. Christians therefore should reject the big bang as false, and should now be equipped to refute the claim that the big bang is somehow scientific. It isn’t.

That settles it! Or does it? Jason doesn’t mention another feature of science — that it makes predictions which can be observed. In that regard, Wikipedia’s article on the Big Bang theory has a large section on Observational evidence, including (of course) observing the predicted cosmic microwave background radiation.

You may have found Jason’s article to be somewhat disappointing, but be of good cheer. He promises us yet another article in this thrilling series. Wowie, we can hardly wait!

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Jason Lisle and the Big Bang

It’s rare when Jason Lisle — the creationist astrophysicist — updates his website. As you recall, he used to work for ol’ Hambo’s Answers in Genesis. He left Hambo a few years ago to go with the Institute for Creation Research. Now he’s on his own.

He just posted A Big Bang – Part 1. It’s way too long for us to critique it paragraph-by-paragraph, so we’ll just pluck out some of the glaring goodies for your entertainment. If you want to slog through the whole thing on your own, go for it. Here are a few excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

How did the universe begin? In almost all public schools and universities, the most commonly promoted idea of universal origins is the big bang. The idea is that the universe began billions of years ago as a point of infinitesimal size which sprang from nothing and began expanding. Energy became matter which then became stars, galaxies, and planets. Is the big bang really a reasonable theory about how the universe began? Can it be reconciled with Scripture? Is it based on good science?

*Groan* The so-called big bang (i.e., the standard model of cosmology) does not describe the origin of the universe — only its currently observed composition and expansion. Also, Lisle asks if the theory can be reconciled with scripture. Was there ever a less relevant question that was asked about anything? Then, after a few paragraphs about the early development of the theory by Georges Lemaître, Edwin Hubble and others, he says:

However, in 1931, Lemaître published a paper in which he speculated on how the expansion of the universe began. This goes beyond the limits of science because we cannot test or repeat what supposedly happened in the distant past. Lemaître’s conjecture was based on an extrapolation. He took the current expansion rate of the universe along with the assumptions of uniformitarianism (that the expansion rate has been consistent over time) and naturalism (that God had not supernaturally created the universe), and inferred that the universe has always been expanding since it began as a point of no size – a primeval atom. Over time the idea came to be called the big bang, or the standard model. The uniformitarian assumption is questionable of course. But naturalism is something that any Christian should reject as false because naturalism denies the supernatural.

Got that? A good creationist must reject naturalism. Why? Because everything is supernatural! Right after that he tells us:

Interestingly, Lemaître professed faith in God. He was an ordained Roman Catholic priest. He apparently rejected the literal history of Genesis, and believed that science and faith were separate issues and that one had nothing in common with the other. Hence, he embraced methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism is a softer version of naturalism, which accepts that the supernatural might happen, but that when we are doing science, we must pretend that the supernatural does not happen.

In essence, the methodological naturalist does science as if he were an atheist, though he might not actually be an atheist. It is a strange position. The methodological naturalist acknowledges that God does or might exist, but does science on the assumption that God does not exist. Is it rational to do science from an assumption that is definitely (or at least possibly) wrong? If a person’s reasoning is based on a false premise, is there any reason to trust the conclusion? Yet, it is surprising how many professing Christians hold to methodological naturalism.

None of that naturalism stuff for Jason — not even the methodological kind. It’s a false premise! He continues:

Given that Lemaître built his hypothesis on two unbiblical assumptions, we should be very skeptical of his conclusions. [Indeed!] Nonetheless, it is theoretically possible for a person to draw a correct conclusion by accident from faulty assumptions or faulty reasoning. So is it possible that Lemaître’s idea of a big bang could be true? Could the big bang be the mechanism that God used to create the universe? Is the big bang / standard model compatible with the history of creation presented in the Bible?

We’re back to the big question — is it compatible with the bible? You can probably guess the answer. We’re not even halfway through Jason’s essay, and this post has gone on long enough. So at the risk of spoiling things for you, here’s an excerpt from his final paragraph:

The big bang differs with the biblical account on the timescale, the order of events, the mechanism, and the future. Therefore, for those who believe the Bible, the big bang is not an option. What remains to be considered are the scientific merits of the big bang. If we did not have the Bible, if we did not know the true origins of the universe, would the big bang be a reasonable scientific hypothesis? More to come.

Wowie — Part 2 is coming. We’ll be watching for it, so stay tuned to this blog!

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Are UFOs Visiting Time Machines?

We sometimes stray from The Controversy over evolution and creationism, and this is one of those times. In the Daily Express, a national tabloid newspaper headquartered in London (with a comments feature) we found this headline: UFO time travel SHOCK: Professor claims UFOs ‘are time travel machines’ from the future. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

UFOs and other supposed alien spacecraft do not visit the Earth from the stars but rather from a distant point in humanity’s future. The shocking theory was presented by Montana Tech anthropology professor Michael P Masters, who penned a book on the bizarre topic.

Whoa! Let’s get our bearings here. First, Wikipedia’s article on Montana Technological University says it’s a real, state-run university. And at the university’s website, Michael P. Masters is listed as a Professor of Anthropology. Okay, this isn’t entirely fantasy, so we’ll keep reading. The tabloid says:

Speaking to KXLF, the anthropologist said: “The phenomenon may be our own distant descendants coming back through time to study us in their own evolutionary past.” According to Dr Masters, decades worth of UFO sightings and encounters have been mistaken for what they truly are. Claims of alien abductions and medical examinations, in his opinion, prove time travellers from the future are anthropologists much like himself.

Would anthropologists from the future be conducting all the anal probes we keep hearing about? Maybe so. The tabloid tells us:

The majority of people who claim to have witnessed alien visitors to Earth have described humanoid extraterrestrials with incredible technology. Dr Masters referred to these time travelling scientists as “extra-tempestrials” or distant human descendants. The anthropologist, who specialises in UFO sightings [That’s his specialty?], said these encounters can be explained scientifically, even if sceptics might consider this fringe science.

Who would consider this to be fringe science? Surely not you, dear reader. The tabloid continues:

The anthropologist explored this wild theory in his book Identified Flying Objects. The book claims future scientists travel backwards in time to study and better understand humans from the past. The expert’s book claims to use a “holistic analysis of human evolution, astronomy, astrobiology and the physics of time and time travel”.

We’re delighted that Masters used a “holistic analysis.” We always say: If it isn’t holistic, we don’t want to bother with it.

Hey — here’s the book at Amazon. We have our doubts about the publisher — Masters Creative LLC. We can’t find their website, and the author’s name is also Masters. Anyway, let’s read on:

A brief overview of the book reads: “As an anthropologist who has worked on and directed numerous archaeological digs in Africa, France, and throughout the United States, it is easy to conceptualise just how much more could be learned about our own evolutionary history, if we currently possessed the technology to visit past periods of time.

Yeah — we wouldn’t have to listen to ol’ Hambo demanding to know “Were you there?” The brief overview goes on:

“This would undoubtedly facilitate in-depth, in-person analyses of the enigmatic, non-preservable aspects of our hominin ancestors. [Yes, undoubtedly.] Furthermore, with the accelerating pace of change in science, technology, and engineering, it is likely that humans of the distant future may someday develop the knowledge and machinery necessary to return to the past.

The likelihood of developing time travel is, shall we say, somewhat dubious. It’s the Fermi Paradox on steroids!

There’s more to the article, but we’ve excerpted enough. What do you make of it, dear reader?

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