Category Archives: Science

Creationist Wisdom #1,008: The Rev Has Proof

This one is about Secular humanism, a philosophy that seems to be despised by all creationists. Wikipedia says:

Secular humanism is a philosophy or life stance that embraces human reason, secular ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making.

That sounds reasonable, but not to the writer of today’s letter-to-the-editor — it’s actually a column — which appears in the Murray Ledger & Times of Murray, Kentucky. The title is The religion of humanism: a self-created universe, and we don’t see any comments feature.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a preacher. It’s John McKee, described as Evangelist of the West Murray church of Christ. We’ll give you some excerpts from the rev’s column, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, some bold font for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Okay, here we go:

Secular Humanists pride themselves in accepting only what can be established scientifically. Yet they begin with the premise that a Supreme Being cannot exist [Gasp!] and they cling desperately to that assumption with the greatest of religious fervor despite what the scientific evidence suggests.

Ooooooooooooh! The rev has scientific evidence. Eagerly, we proceed with his column. He says:

According to Al-Ghazali, a 12th-century Muslim theologian [an unexpected authority], sound logic demands that whatever begins to exist has a cause, the universe began to exist [It did?], therefore, the universe has a cause. The law of cause and effect has been understood and validated for centuries. But what scientific evidence currently available to us indicates that the universe had a beginning?

We know there’s evidence for the so-called Big Bang, the start of the expansion of the visible universe, but whether that was literally the beginning of everything, and nothing existed earlier is an open question. The rev thinks otherwise, and he tells us:

The universe is expanding. [True.] Regardless of your opinion regarding the big-bang theory and the age of the universe, the fact that the expansion of the universe has been measured proves it cannot be eternal. [Not necessarily.] In 2003, three leading scientists, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe that has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite but must have a past space-time boundary. An expanding universe had a beginning.

*Groan* The expansion had a beginning. As for what, if anything, was going on prior to the expansion, that remains an open question — at least for your Curmudgeon. The rev continues:

The universe is “running down.” The second law of thermodynamics states that, unless energy is being fed into a system, that system will become increasingly disorderly.

Creationists love to cite the second law of thermodynamics — without comprehension — and then run wild with it. Let’s see what the rev does:

Given enough time, the universe will inevitably stagnate in a state of heat death. If the universe were eternal, that state of disorderly equilibrium would have already happened an eternity ago. The fact that we are in a state of disequilibrium, where energy is still available to be used and the universe has an orderly structure is evidence that we are on a finite timeline that had a beginning.

He’s stating the obvious. We know that the expansion of the visible universe hasn’t been eternal. It started about 13 or 14 billion years ago, and it hasn’t had nearly enough time to arrive at a state of heat death. We don’t know whether it will then re-collapse into another singularity and start expanding again, or what. But the rev seems certain that he does know, so let’s see where he’s going. Here’s another excerpt:

The scientific evidence we have available suggests that the universe began at some time in the distant past. There has never been a greater “effect” than the sudden appearance of all matter, energy, time and space. A secular humanist is free to believe that the universe came into existence out of complete nothingness and without a cause [Huh?], but such a belief is a tenet of his faith which has no basis in science. I am unable to muster enough faith to join his religion.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The rev doesn’t have enough faith for that — but he does have enough to believe Genesis, as we shall now see:

The Cause [with a capital “C”] sufficient to account for the creation of all matter, energy, time and space would have to be a source of indescribable power, will and intellect and would necessarily be outside of and independent of His own creation. Jehovah God as described in the Bible is the best possible fit for the attributes suggested by the evidence.

Yup — that fits the evidence. And now we come to the end:

David the Psalmist wrote, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). The more scientists learn, the more evident David’s observation becomes.

Okay, dear reader, now that you’ve read what the rev has to say, are you ready to give up your silly secular humanism? If not, why not?

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

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What Should We Call the Big Bang?

We sympathize with this article at PhysOrg: Top cosmologist’s lonely battle against ‘Big Bang’ theory — and no, it’s not about the TV show. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

James Peebles won this year’s Nobel prize in physics for helping transform the field of cosmology into a respected science, but if there’s one term he hates to hear, it’s “Big Bang Theory.”

Here’s Wikipedia’s write-up on Jim Peebles. He’s the real deal. PhysOrg says:

The leading explanation for the universe in its earliest periods has held sway for decades, with Peebles’ early work investigating cosmic background radiation helping to cement many of the details. But “the first thing to understand about my field is that its name, Big Bang Theory, is quite inappropriate,” the 84-year-old told a rapt audience at an event honoring US-based Nobel Prize winners at a Swedish Embassy event in Washington on Wednesday.

It is indeed “inappropriate.” As you know, the expression “Big Bang” originated as a term of derision, coined by Fred Hoyle, who preferred what he called the “steady state” theory. Hoyle is known around here for his opposition to evolution, dismissing it by claiming that it’s as improbable as a tornado in a junk-yard assembling a Boeing 747.

Okay, back to PhysOrg, which quotes Peebles some more:

“It connotes the notion of an event and a position, both of which are quite wrong,” he [Peebles] continued, adding there is in fact no concrete evidence for a giant explosion. The Nobel committee last month honored Peebles for his work since the mid-1960s developing the now prevalent theoretical framework for the young universe.

PhysOrg continues:

But he is careful to note that he does not know about the “beginning.” “It’s very unfortunate that one thinks of the beginning whereas in fact, we have no good theory of such a thing as the beginning,” he told AFP in an interview.

Right! Contrary to the babbling of creationists, the so-called Big Bang was not the beginning of the universe. No one knows what was going on before things started to expand. Let’s read on:

By contrast, we do have a “well-tested theory of evolution from an early state” to the present state, starting with “the first few seconds of expansion” — literally the first seconds of time, which have left cosmological signatures referred to as “fossils.”

Yes, but “evolution” is already being used for something else. Skipping a bit, here’s another excerpt:

“We don’t have a strong test of what happened earlier in time,” said Peebles, a professor emeritus at Princeton. “We have theories, but not tested. Theories, ideas are wonderful, but to me, they become established when passing tests,” he continued. “Theories of course, any bright physicist can make up theories. They could have nothing to do with reality. You discover which theories are close to reality by comparing to experiments. We just don’t have experimental evidence of what happened earlier.”

Right again. Here’s more

One of these theories is known as the “inflation model,” which holds that the early universe expanded exponentially fast for a tiny, tiny fraction of a second before the expansion phase. “It’s a beautiful theory,” said Peebles. Many people think it’s so beautiful that it’s surely right. But the evidence of it is very sparse.”

And now we come to the end:

Asked what term he’d prefer over “Big Bang,” Peebles replies: “I have given up, I use Big Bang, I dislike it. But for years, some of us have tried to persuade the community to find a better term without success. So ‘Big Bang’ it is. It’s unfortunate, but everyone knows that name. So I give up.”

If Peebles can’t come up with a better name that other scientists will use, it’s probably hopeless to try — but we’d really like a better name. A couple of years ago in Discoveroids and the Big Bang we said:

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.

We know it’s hopeless to try renaming a well-known theory, but we can still think about it. What name would you prefer to use, dear reader, instead of “Big Bang”?

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

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Creative Challenge #61: Was It the Telescope?

Today’s challenge is a difficult question — at least for your Curmudgeon. As you know, throughout human history various preachers, swamis, gurus, holy men on mountain tops, and all kinds of Oogity Boogity practitioners have been claiming that they — and they alone — know The Truth. And even though they all disagreed with each other, nothing really challenged their claims to wisdom.

But then everything changed. In what we think of as modern times, most people know that religion — even the one that is dominant in their own culture — not only has no monopoly on knowledge, but it may even be error-riddled. What happened? That, dear reader, is today’s question.

We’ll give you our answer, but it’s little more than a guess. We think it was the invention of the Telescope four hundred years ago. According to Wikipedia:

The earliest existing record of a telescope was a 1608 patent submitted to the government in the Netherlands by Middelburg spectacle maker Hans Lippershey for a refracting telescope. The actual inventor is unknown but word of it spread through Europe. Galileo heard about it and, in 1609, built his own version, and made his telescopic observations of celestial objects.

It was because of the telescope that the universe described in Genesis could be seen — literally seen — to be woefully inaccurate. That’s why we think it’s the explanation we’re looking for. But you may have a better answer. Maybe it was the printing press, or maybe something entirely different.

The form of today’s challenge is that you must tell us, with reasonable brevity:

What was it that forever shattered religion’s claim to omniscience?

You know the rules: You may enter the contest as many times as you wish, but you must avoid profanity, vulgarity, childish anatomical analogies, etc. Also, avoid slanderous statements about individuals. Feel free to comment on the entries submitted by others — with praise, criticism, or whatever — but you must do so tastefully.

There may not be a winner of this contest, but if there is, your Curmudgeon will decide, and whenever we get around to it we’ll announce who the winner is. There is no tangible prize — as always in life’s great challenges, the accomplishment is its own reward. We now throw open the comments section, dear reader. Go for it!

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Jason Lisle, Quantum Mechanics, & Divine Logic

We are always surprised by Jason Lisle — the creationist astrophysicist. After previously working for the Institute for Creation Research, and then ol’ Hambo’s Answers in Genesis, he’s now running his own show — the Biblical Science Institute. We’ve blogged about a few of his articles there, but today, to our surprise, he unexpectedly popped up once more at ol’ Hambo’s website.

His article is titled Quantum Weirdness. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Physics is the science dealing with how the universe works at its most basic, fundamental level. There are many sub-categories of physics, each dealing with a particular aspect of the universe. The branch of physics dealing with how the universe operates at very small scales — interactions involving particles smaller than atoms — is called quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is weird.

Indeed, it is weird. Then he says:

I suspect that most physicists would agree that of all the branches of physics, quantum mechanics is the strangest and least intuitive. Frankly, the way things behave at the smallest scales is simply not what we would expect. Why is this? Is there a better way to understand quantum mechanics, one that is more congenial to our expectations? And what does all this have to do with the Christian worldview?

You’ll be disappointed if you expect Jason to say that because quantum mechanics is weird, the Christian worldview must be weird also. Instead, he ends up telling us the opposite. But first, there are numerous paragraphs about quantum mechanics, and we’re going to skip them all — but if you want to read them, go right ahead and click over to Hambo’s website. After all those paragraphs, Jason tells us:

The Christian worldview is what makes science possible. [Yeah!] The universe is always logical because logic is a description of how God thinks. God is perfectly rational [as the tale of Noah’s Ark demonstrates]. And since God’s mind controls the universe, the universe will always be logical. Being made in God’s image, human beings have the capacity to think logically, although in our sin we sometimes fail to do so. The success of science is, therefore, evidence that the Christian worldview is correct.

Jason is, of course, a creationist, so things don’t always work out logically — but let’s not get into that. He continues:

In a chance universe, why expect to find patterns in nature? Why expect those patterns to follow the laws of logic? The fact that secular scientists do expect to find patterns in nature, and expect such patterns to be logical, shows that in their heart of hearts they really do know God, although they suppress that truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18-20).

Are you suppressing the truth, dear reader? Let’s read on:

Although God is logical, he is also very creative. His ways and thoughts are far above ours (Isaiah 55:8—9). And therefore, some aspects of the way God has chosen to uphold his universe may seem very strange and surprising to us. Quantum mechanics is a great example of this. And yet, we trust that the universe will always be rational, if not always intuitive, because it is upheld by the mind of God.

Ah yes, it all makes sense. The six-day creation of a world that was good, and then its destruction in the Flood because it was bad — it’s quite logical. Jason ends with this:

Although God is logical, he is also very creative. His ways and thoughts are far above ours (Isaiah 55:8—9). And therefore, some aspects of the way God has chosen to uphold his universe may seem very strange and surprising to us. Quantum mechanics is a great example of this. And yet, we trust that the universe will always be rational, if not always intuitive, because it is upheld by the mind of God.

It’s always rewarding to read one of Jason’s posts. Wouldn’t you agree, dear reader?

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

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