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Saturday, February 16, 2013

It's about the questions, not the answers

 GEORGE TEMPLETON: 
          COMMENTARY       

Answers

The 1873, 430 page edition of Earth, Not a Globe, made a scientific argument for a flat, motionless earth at the center of the Universe with the sun, self-luminous moon, and stars circling at an altitude of about 600 miles. It agrees with the Bible, but where did the energy of motion go when the Cosmos halted as told in Joshua 10:12-14?

Supposedly, the Earth was once surrounded by an immense canopy of water vapor sufficient to flood it 5.5 miles higher than the present sea level.  It’s more than 3.5 times all the water in the world at present.  Supporting this argument, the Ark’s remains settled on the 16,873 foot peak of Mount Ararat.  Where did all the water go?  The barometric pressure must have been immense in the days before Noah.

Science cannot require starting with and standing by the absolute unalterable “facts” of Genesis, but the Bible is not enough for creationists.  In order to masquerade as science, their ideas need legs to stand upon.  So, they pick portions of science they agree with, distort others, and deny what they don’t like.

It is unlikely that the literal Genesis model will be the replacement for evolution’s flaws.  Science deals with the boundaries between truth and illusion, but not with myth, history, revelation, and supernatural causes.

Intelligent Design, (ID)

ID, a rebranding of creationism, uses slogans about “teaching the controversy” (Science sees none.), “critical analysis” (Authoritarian beliefs aren’t critical.), and “academic freedom” (It already exists.).  ID wrongly claims that evolution is unproven, teaching it is harmful, and that it is not fair to prevent their ideas from being taught as science in public schools.  They bring Answers magazine, the Confound the Wise Ministry, the politically conservative Discovery Institute, and their creationist’s arm, the Center for Science and Culture, to discourage critical thinking.

In a time when Protestant evangelicals and Catholics have united under the banner of Republican theology, it should not be surprising that ID ignores “evolutionary” interpretations held by recognized denominations, differing on the age of the Earth, length of a day, when man was created, the number of floods, and whether the Universe was pre-existing or created out of nothing.  Some less political “born again” evangelical Christians fully accept evolution.  However, the borderlines between science and religion transcend Christianity.  Gary Zukav’s 1979 book, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, suggests how science and Buddhism could be combined and brought into public education.  Buddhism is more in harmony with science then Genesis.  It demonstrates what cultural diversity could bring to bear on education.  They are the reasons why we can’t merge religion and science in public education.

When fairness, popularity, and public demand become the only criteria for public school curriculum, we open the gates to teaching about flying saucers.  Religion, combined with politics, legitimizes an assault against scientific integrity.  It confuses students about the difference between facts and beliefs.  It is not a matter of academic freedom, but rather is academic fraud.

Young Universe

It was Archbishop Ussher who in in 1654 calculated the Earth’s creation on 4004 B.C.  Science does not prove him wrong, but it does have data and models that help us understand nature.  Science estimates the Earth at 4.5 billion years, a hundred million percent older.  Dating inaccuracy cannot explain the difference.

Quoting from the magazine Answers, An Evolutionary Dilemma, “So if fossils are really millions of years old, as evolutionary scientists claim, no carbon 14 atoms would be left in them … after only 1 million years absolutely no carbon 14 atoms should be left.”  As Algebra students know, an exponential decay steadily approaches but never reaches zero.  It goes on forever.

Carbon 14, whose half-life is 5568 years, is not useful beyond about 30,000 years, because of background radiation and signal-to-noise ratio limitations.  The five hundred percent difference between that and the Biblical estimate far exceeds measurement tolerances.

Carbon 14 is not the only method of radioactive dating.  Uranium 238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.  It changes gradually through a series of 14 steps into lead 206.  Samples also contain U235 which is six times more radioactive than U238, but has a half-life of 890 million years and decays into lead 297.  Likewise, thorium 232 disintegrates into lead 208. The age of the sample then involves measuring the mass of and relative proportions of all the elements, each of which is an independent estimator of age that must agree.  Other methods of dating include rubidium-strontium (half-life of 50 billion years), potassium-argon, zircon-lead, and fission tracks.

Rock layers date the fossils found in them and never the other way around.  There is no circular reasoning as creationists claim.  There is a scientific correspondence principal, a loop which encompasses and explains all the data from different branches of science.

Anisotropic Synchrony Convention, (ASC)

A professor asked his class about how reality would change if the laws of physics were different.

Quoting Answers magazine, The Anisotropic Synchrony Convention, “… The speed of light in one direction cannot be objectively measured, and so it must be stipulated (agreed upon by convention)”.  No so!

A Danish astronomer, Ole Roemer, in 1676 used the periodic eclipses of Jupiter’s satellites and differences in their timing when observed over a year when the Earth and Jupiter were on the same or opposite sides of the sun to measure the one-way speed of light.  In 1728, Bradley used aberration, an optical distortion caused by the Earth’s motion, confirming Roemer.  There have been many very different methods used for measuring light’s speed that agree so well that the speed of light in a vacuum has come to be treated like a constant whose value is precisely known and can be used in the evaluation of most other fundamental atomic constants.

Denial of the one-way speed of light is a cornerstone of ASC that must also be made Biblical.  “… The Bible in Genesis (and throughout) uses ASC.”  ASC must also be made scientific, so “… We are free to choose what the speed of light will be in one direction, though the “round trip” time averaged speed is always constant.”

Wrong!  Einstein wrote “… light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity “c” which  is independent of the state of motion of the emitting body.”

Having denied any possibility of knowledge about the one-way speed of light, the article proceeds to theoretical two-way reflected measurements of the speed of light using watches.  “…it is impossible because moving a clock to the mirror may change the time on the clock!”  Wrong!  A clock moving at extreme speed does not change.

Time itself changes.

“… Travel affects time, so we cannot be certain the clocks are still in sync after one moves to the mirror”.  It is true in cosmology, but locally weak.  Simultaneous events, viewed from systems moving differently, do not exist.  A belief in absolute simultaneity rests on the subconscious assumption that information can be carried with infinite speed.

Experimental physics has to deal with light’s immense speed, high frequency, wave-like nature, and difficulty of generation and control.  History reveals a wide variety of practical techniques that are more accurate and easier than using clocks. 
The famous Michelson and Morley experiment of 1881, that proved the constant speed of light, avoided measuring it.  Instead, they measured two-way path phase differences in light waves from a single source, using interference technology. 

Answers magazine conveniently holds that the speed of light can be instantaneous and that it depends on direction thus explaining a 6000 year old Universe that secular astronomers think is billions of years old.  Einstein would ask, what is direction?  How does light know when to change its speed?   Light and radio waves are both forms of electromagnetic radiation.  Does this also hold true for radio (radar) waves? 

ASC halves the speed of light that moves away from us and makes it infinite when it comes toward us, violating relativity’s claim that the speed of light is a maximum that cannot be exceeded while making the Earth unique and special in the entire Universe.   Answers magazine informs that the Earth was the first object and planet in the Universe, the focus of the Creator, and formed to sustain life.  Adam and Eve’s sin brought the Curse to the entire Universe, proving Earth’s special nature.   Relativity holds that no place in the Universe is special.  The laws of physics are the same everywhere.  We microwave and eat our dinner and use the radio on the jet airliner just as if it were stationary on the ground. 

In the late 1800’s, before Einstein’s Relativity, scientists united the physics of static electricity with electromagnetism.  Maxwell, Poisson, and Stokes found that their equations predicted and required the constant identical speed of light and radio waves.  When ID changes this, they confound all of electricity and electronics.

The speed of light is affected by no head-wind or tail-wind, instead propagating in and by electric and magnetic fields.  When the only universal constant speed is made infinitely variable, speed, past, present, future, and causality become absolute nonsense.

In case this is bothersome, the article reassures us, “Einstein tells us that we may freely choose which convention to use” referring to round trip or same speed in all directions.  “…There is no fundamental reason we cannot use ASC instead.”

Conservapedia’s Relativity


Conservapedia’s encyclopedia incorporates many facts to provide the impression that it is authoritative, while arguing that relativity is little more than a liberal conspiracy or fantasy doubted by scientists.  They prefer Newton, but forget that his laws suggested a reality not requiring pre-destiny and a personal God.   They liked Einstein’s quote about God not playing dice with the Universe but seem to have forgotten that.  They ignore that his space-time supports pre-destiny.  They forget that E=mc^2 persuaded President Roosevelt to build the atomic bomb.  They confuse physics with morality.  They deny relativity by combining out of context measurements made by the Hubble space telescope and the 1919 experiment credited with proving relativity, as though it were their single experiment, designed and ran by them to conclude about.  They are not just doing bad science.  They are doing no science.

Conservapedia publishes a list of 49 Counterexamples to relativity, but they lack consistency and explain nothing.  One sees only what one is looking for.  Uncertainty does not prove ID.  Claiming that science is a waste of taxpayer dollars, they say relativity contradicts the “action at a distance” by Jesus described in John 4:46-54, Matthew 15:28 and 27:51.  In so doing they ignore Biblical feelings and consciousness, misrepresent the Bible as a quantifiable experiment, and use the materialism that they criticize.

Conservapedia claims that unbiased ID scientists are persecuted by secular scientists and have been unfairly denied Nobel prizes.  They refer to an alleged conspiracy by President Obama to link Einstein’s theory to abortion legislation!

Design
It is remarkable that out of all that has ever lived, only man developed an intelligence that built civilizations.  Human intelligence has been characterized as recursion, the ability to repetitively use a rule to create new expressions and mixing them to produce new ideas.  It combines different, widely separated concepts generating new relationships and it encodes these experiences as mental symbols.  It contemplates beyond the senses.  Intelligence is more than an artifact of structure, irreducible complexity, or ordered simplicity.   It is not about the answer.  It is about the questions.  Seeing “how” does not threaten “why”.

Science asks us to appreciate things we cannot see, that happen too fast, and that take too long.  Religion asks as to confront not just the past, but the present, and to ask not only what was in the heart and mind of the writers of Genesis, but what happens inside ourselves to account for our feelings.

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