Young-Earth Creationists Believe Supernovas are Beautiful Lies told by God

Young-earth creationists, strictly speaking, can’t believe that there are such things as “supernovas” in the sense in which other people use that term. That term refers to stars exploding in faraway parts of the universe. For instance, the NASA page about one supernova visible in recent memory, SN 1987A, says this: “The star is 163,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It actually blew up about 161,000 B.C., but its light arrived here in 1987.” A young-earth creationist has to deny that, and must instead claim that God put the light from the explosion on-route to us at some point. Here’s a photograph of that supernova:

What we have seen in the sky on such occasions, and the remains seemingly left behind by the star’s explosion, are all – according to young-earth creationists – a lie that the Creator has told to human beings. And of course, according to young-earth creationists, that same Creator also supposedly takes great pleasure in those humans who can see that God is a liar (except in and through the Bible), and go around spreading the word to others, all in the name of defending the truthfulness of their interpretation of what is in fact a human book about God.

I think that even most young-earth creationists, if they think about this honestly and carefully, will realize how nonsensical this stance is, and how dishonoring it is to God.

There are other supernovas which, according to mainstream science’s understanding of things, would have happened billions of years ago.

But what if we consider the Crab Nebula, formed by an explosion that could be seen on Earth in the 18th century, which is a mere 6,000 or so light years from Earth, so that perhaps a young-earth creationist could assent to that time frame? They will have to say that the star did not explode for the reasons scientists say they do, reaching the end of their long stellar lifespan, but simply because God willed it.  So here too, a young-earth creationist has no choice but to deny mainstream science. All of it: observation, physics, astronomy, and chemistry, and not just geology and biology.

If you are a young-earth creationist, do you really believe that this is what God desires from you? Do you not realize that in denying the evidence from creation itself, you are making Paul (and thus the Bible) out to be a liar, too? For in Romans 1:20, Paul writes, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Paul says that God’s invisible qualities can be clearly seen and understood from creation. The young-earth creationist stance, on the other hand, says that looking at creation does not give accurate information about God’s majesty, power, and activity in creation.

And let’s not forget Psalm 19:1, which says “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

And so given that young-earth creationism is both antiscientific and antibiblical, isn’t it about time that its adherents gave it up?

  • Tim Webb

    Dr. McGrath,

    Can you provide a link(s) or source to some YECs who say supernovae & such are lies told by god? I’d like to see how they defend this.

    Thanks, Tim

  • http://www.simon-cozens.org/blogs/simon Simon Cozens

    Being from the UK, I’ve never really come across any of these supposed YECs. (It seems to be a uniquely USian phenomenon.) All I’ve heard about them comes from secondary sources – unreliable secondary sources. Which means that I have no evidence that YECs have actually existed in any historical sense.

    • Geoff Hudson

      Being a physicist from the UK, it never occurs to me that this could be an issue.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Here’s a classic example of a YEC writing about supernovas: http://www.icr.org/article/star-witness/

    Here’s one example of the lame sort of attempt YEC proponents are prone to make about supernovas in relation to their view of things: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2007/06/01/reason-seven-supernova-1987a

    And here are some good responses in detail to what young-earth creationists have said about supernovas:  http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/supernova/
    http://www.answersincreation.org/malone_supernova.htm 

  • Geoff Hudson

    If in 2012 YECers can promote such lies, surely around 70 CE, Flavian authors did the same, much more cleverly than YECers it would seem.  

  • Gary

    “a lie that the Creator has told to human beings. And of course, according to young-earth creationists, that same Creator also supposedly takes great pleasure in those humans who can see that God is a liar”…maybe beliefs close to native American’s “Coyote”, the “trickster”. As far as US only, I thought I saw some “experts” from England listed on the Creation Museum home page. Although I will admit that some places in the bible, if taken literally, makes God a trickster. When God made animals as companions for Adam (before Eve was though of), he must have had a smile on his face. Not quite what Adam had in mind. I could see God say, “April fools!”, and have a good laugh.

  • Geoff Hudson

    1.19.since [what may be known about] {the Spirit of}
    God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 

     

    1.20.For since the creation of the world, God’s

     

    [invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine
    nature -]

     

    {Spirit} [have] {has} been clearly [seen] {heard}, being
    understood from what he has [made] {spoken}, so that [men] {priests} are
    without excuse.

    The language of existing Romans has a later more academic language than the original prophetic document aimed at priests- I would suggest the words in square brackets. 

  • Psiloiordinary

    Don’t get too smug in the UK

    http://bcseweb.blogspot.com/

    Have a root around on there – plenty of YEC attempts to infiltrate or disrupt education over here too :-(

  • Red9001

    As a young earth creationist I have delved into this subject. If you take into account that the earth is not infinite the possibility of a white hole comin in touch with the earth is likely. A white hole is basically a black hole running in reverse. White hole is predicted in Einstein theory of relativity and would explain a billion year old universe around us while we are only in the thousands

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Red9001, I am having a hard time guessing whether you are an atheist pretending to be a young-earth creationist talking nonsense to try to make YEC proponents look even more foolish than they already do, or an actual young-earth creationist who genuinely believes that if he uses words that scientists use and the name of a famous scientist then hopefully that will make the legitimate criticisms of the YEC position go away. Either way I am not impressed.

      • David Evans

        I believe Red9001 is referring to the cosmology described by Russell Humphreys in his book “Starlight and Time” (1994). Humphreys does indeed say that general relativity allows a model in which thousands of years have elapsed for the Earth while billions of years have elapsed for distant galaxies. I am not an expert on GR, but I think that model would have many other effects that are not observed, also that it doesn’t explain SN 1987A. YECs I have discussed it with don’t seem interested in comparing it with observation, possibly with good reason.

    • rizzo

       Huh?

  • Geoff Hudson

    The UK has good reason to be smug.  Non-believers in evolution (and believers) couldn’t do much better than watch the latest TV programme by Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication at Plymouth University.
    http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/pages/view.asp?page=38492  His latest programme is How to Grow a Planet.  It is nothing short of brilliant. 

  • Herman Cummings

    The Truth of Genesis:  When Are Elected Creationists Going to Learn?                        I had written Indiana State Senator Dennis Kruse, about dropping the foolishness of Creation Science, and teaching the truth of Genesis.  But he remained in a delusion, refused to respond, and continued to think that “young Earth” creationism is what the Bible teaches.  He is wrong.  In fact, all current creationism doctrines are in error, and misrepresent the Genesis text. 
     
    So then, instead of just the truth of Genesis being presented along side of the (false) conclusions of science, the education reform bill was mired down with the myths from Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others.
     
    Genesis does not have any “creation stories” or myths.  Genesis chapter one is about the 4.6 billion year history of life on Earth, and not about Creation Week.  Both the worlds of Creationism and Theology do not understand the Genesis text, and teach false doctrines that Genesis does not support.
     
    Herman
    ephraim7@aol.com

  • Jim

    What do you think of the YEC argument that millions of years of creation means millions of years of death and suffering? When God said “it was very good,” does that include millions of years of death? Wouldn’t that seem like a lie, too, to say “it was very good?”

    Thanks,
    Jim

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Jim, here is something I wrote a while back that explains one of many problems I see with the YEC view of a pre-Fall, death-free world: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2011/12/the-creationist-vision-of-paradise-is-like-living-on-a-crowded-tokyo-subway.html

      The account in Genesis actually has a tree that allows people to live forever, which humans might in theory have been granted access to but were not. It does not featuree a world in which there is no death – that is just one more YEC misrepresentation of Genesis.

    • Anonymous

      the problem with translating tov as good is that good is our major moral term. tov means complete, suitable, lacking nothing that is needed. it does not mean perfect. the point of good in Gen 1-2 is that God didn’t leave anything out because he was unable to control the chaos. Gen 1 is the story of differentiation, of separation, of naming, of the dividing of the dark, watery, chaotic mass into a world suitable for the man. in this scheme the chaos could be just a little bit too much for God to handle, thus exerting its purposes rather than God’s. the refrain of pronouncing in good explicitly denies chaos has the power to thwart God’s will. it is literally like silly putty in his hands, offering no resistance to god’s will.

      we tend to personify chaos as evil, i don’t see this in genesis, the stuff of the world is just stuff, de-spiritualized, the names for the sun and moon aren’t used because they are, like the days of our week, derived from gods, they are simply lamps in the firmament.

      it seems odd for YECists to make such a dogmatic statement of no evil, no suffering, no death before the fall on such slim to non-existent evidence.

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  • Randy

    It is actually the title of this article that is a lie. In fact, supernovas are evidence of a young universe, See why at the link below:

    http://creation.com/exploding-stars-point-to-a-young-universe

    • Anonymous

      nonsense. long ago rebutted, 
      http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/supernova/

      on “There are actually no third stage SNRs observed in our galaxy!”
      see http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~matthewt/yeclaimsbeta.html

      which brings up an interesting question, why doesn’t aig/icr/creation ministries date their articles? i’ve had problems determining how old their information is several previous times.

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  • http://twitter.com/geirern1 geirern

    The article say: ”
    A young-earth creationist has to deny that [ light has traveled for 100.000 years], and must instead claim that God put the light from the explosion on-route to us at some point.” That is usually not what YECs say. Even popular YEC organisations like AiG denies that god created the light at the same time. They say the light must have traveled after creation. But they are typically sceptical to various assumptions we do about light traveling trough space etc.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      There are indeed young-earth creationists who are happy to have light travel at incredibly different speeds never observed, simply to arbitrarily make evidence that doesn’t fit their worldview appear to. I don’t see that as fundamentally different than what I was talking about here, since presumably light would only travel at the unprecedented speeds required if there were divine intervention to cause that to occur. 

      • David_Evans

        Some YECs (Russell Humphreys comes to mind) have proposed variants of general relativity to try and explain the light-travel-time problem. In effect they propose a new model of cosmology. I don’t take them seriously because the first thing a real scientist would do with a new model is to see what it predicts about (for instance) the variation of red-shift with brightness among distant galaxies (which is what led to the Big Bang cosmology in the first place). My feeling is that its predictions would be wildly different from what we observe. But no YEC even raises that question.

        Even allowing the speed of light to be much greater doesn’t solve the problem. There’s a supernova, SN 1987A, which is 168,000 light years away. So for us to see it 6,000 years after creation, the average speed of light from there to here must be 28 times the accepted value. But we can see its light reflected from gas clouds near it (light echoes, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_echo )

        at different times after we saw the initial explosion. That lets us compare the speed of light near it to the speed of light near us. Guess what – they are pretty much the same.

  • Mark

    I’m not opposed to the universe being billions of year old, but I would like to point out that the logic of the article is somewhat flawed.

    Supernovas, could be placed in the “did Adam have a belly button” category. What I mean is that when God makes instantaneous creations they often have the appearance of age.

    Take for example, Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes, or Jesus turning water into wine. Let’s say you where there, and somehow got a hold of on of these items on the very day of the miracle and you somehow had a modern day lab to bring it in for examination. How “old” would the fish or the bread or the wines be?

    You might examine the fish and determine it to be of consistent size and development of other fish of the an age between 2-3 years old. Also, your lab determined that the fish seemed cooked and smoked consistent with a fish that has been cooked and smoked a day or two ago. But you know that this fish was actually created today and that no one had smoked it.

    The same goes with your finding of the bread and the wines. All appear to have an age when you examine them. But since you collected them and examined them on the day that they miraculously appeared, you know something your lab doesn’t. Namely, these items are, in fact, 1 day old.

    What this points out is that Jesus wasn’t trying to lie or trick anybody into thinking that what they had were previously smoked adult fish, or baked bread, or aged wine, but that the point of a miracle is something else entirely.

    This could mean that we wouldn’t have any scientific way of knowing how old the earth is, (e.g. if 8,000 years ago it had the appearance of being several billion years old, yet was only 1 day old) but I’m really only trying to say that one could still be YEC without having to insist that certain cosmological data are lies/tricks from God.

    Personally, I’m on the fence (YEC, OEC, who knows?). While there is interesting amount of scientific data to consider, I’m usually troubled by how OEC read parts of the Bible that aren’t Genesis 1. For instance, OEC might say Adam isn’t real. Well, if sin didn’t enter through one man’s disobedience (because Adam wasn’t real) then is sin really destroyed by one man’s obedience?

    Or OEC say that the 7 day creation didn’t happen in 7 days, well then what was the point of the 4th Commandment (Honor the 7th day, and keep it holy), if in fact, God didn’t work for 6 days and rested on the 7th? Was God lying about how many days He worked/rested?

    • beau_quilter

      I’m glad you’re not opposed to the universe being billions of years old, because all of the scientific evidence points to precisely that fact.

      You make very good points. If something with the appearance of age (with all the evidence of a history) were to magically pop into existence, we might not be able to tell it from things that have actually aged.

      This leads me to one of two conclusions:

      Perhaps we must give up on science entirely, since we can never know if what we are studying just magically popped into existence the second before …

      Or perhaps, the stories about loaves and fish magically popping into existence are just as mythological as the woman made out of a rib, who conversed about fruit with a snake shortly after the universe popped into existence.

      • Mark

        Science (a system of inductive reasoning) can’t prove with 100% certainty that the world and all it’s history and memories wasn’t created an hour ago, and you just think you’ve been alive for many years.

        Science can’t prove you aren’t dreaming about everything including reading this sentence, RIGHT NOW. That’s not sciences job. I’m glad it’s not science’s purpose. I don’t need to give up on a tool when it doesn’t work for a job that it was never intended to be used for.

        Philosophy (deductive reasoning) and theology are the areas I’m trying to explore.

        • beau_quilter

          More power to you, Mark! You keep exploring those things pop into existence with the appearance of age. Far be it from me to stand in your way!

    • stuart32

      You might get away with arguing for an appearance of age to an extent, but how far does it go? Adam might have been created with a navel but would he also have been created with signs of wear on his teeth?

      A supernova is the death of a star. It takes billions of years for a star to age to the point where it explodes as a supernova. If the Universe is only 6000 years old and supernovae are happening now It means that God must have created those stars so that they were already almost at the point of death. Wouldn’t that be an unnecessary appearance of age?

      • Mark

        To be honest, I don’t know how far it goes. Would newly created trees have rings? Would newly created animals have signs of what they ate (e.g. would flamingos be pink without having eaten any shrimp?)

        Suppose it did go back into ridiculous details. And the stars were created with some dead for millions of years and the super nova was almost here. Now what?

        • stuart32

          Don’t you think that that view of things is theologically unacceptable? Some of us see great beauty in the scientific picture of the world. There is great satisfaction in trying to understand how the Universe has evolved over billions of years. Shouldn’t that be taken into account?

          • Mark

            Not necessarily. Although, I admit I’m not comfortable with it, but… well, just read my response to David Evans, below

    • David_Evans

      When we look in detail at the stars, we see them with every evidence of being different ages, based on how much of their hydrogen they have converted to helium and other elements. Those ages vary but are mostly in the millions or billions of years. For a YEC, God must have created them all with different, false, apparent ages. Why would he do that?

      I can see that fish, bread and wine have to appear more than a day old, or they wouldn’t taste right. I can see that a newly created tree has to have the appearance of having grown, or it wouldn’t be structurally sound. But according to Genesis the stars are just lights in the sky. They could fulfil that role just as well if they were created with the same apparent age. Why the elaborate charade, which has the effect of making science (appear to) contradict YEC?

      • Mark

        I’m wondering what’s the apparent problem with a “false” age. The miracle of the creation of a thing that wasn’t there before and now is (albeit, with some signs of age) doesn’t seem that big of a deal.

        If God had a purpose, He didn’t write it down. Who knows? Maybe it’s just there to remind us that even our world has an end. Maybe 20,000 years from now humans have advanced so much we can make our own stars, and learning how stars have been made and why they die, would be a good thing.

        Still. My problem is an exegetical / theological one. Not really a scientific one. I want to know how the Bible is supposed to be read and not just Genesis 1, like I stated earlier.

        • David_Evans

          We would know our world has an end as soon as we worked out that the Sun’s fuel supply is finite. We would know it even if the Sun looked 6,000 years old, rather than 4+ billion years. But I can’t help thinking that if Revelation is any guide, the Sun dying billions of years from now is the least of our worries, and we probably won’t have enough time to make any stars.

          Here’s what gets me. Maybe a planet like the Earth needs to look as if it has a 4 billion year history. Maybe. OK. Why did God need to make the universe, and some of the oldest stars, look THREE TIMES THAT OLD?

          Sorry to shout, but I despair of making you see how very strange that is. Can you at least see that it’s a stumbling block for me, and for many other people, and wonder why he put it there?

    • David_Evans

      Cards on the table here. I’m an atheist, though I’ve attended church enough times to be fairly familiar with the Bible. The apparent age of the universe is only one of the problems I have with the Old Testament.Some of the others are :
      the story of Noah’s flood (flatly impossible),
      Eve being made out of Adam’s rib (with thousands of changes to be made to the DNA in each cell, to make them female, and with the useful implication that women are there to serve men),
      the Sun being made after 3 “evenings” and 3 “mornings” (at least it doesn’t say “sunset” and “sunrise”!)
      the Sun, Moon and stars being “in the firmament”, but there is apparently water “above the firmament” (and therefore above the stars) some of which falls to Earth during the Flood
      the Sun standing still for Joshua
      etc
      I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. But all this seems to me consistent with a flat-Earth, Bronze Age cosmology, not with what we now know. You can perhaps deal with the age problem. What about all the others?

      • Mark

        To be honest, I’m okay with the denial of a literal reading of Genesis. Genesis 1 reads like poetry, so if someone reads it as PURELY poetry then it’s probably fine.

        Eve being made from a rib of Adam doesn’t bother me as impossible if God was the one who did it. But again, you are right, it seems somewhat poetic – and yes, it might imply that men are above women, but personally, I don’t know how. What part of the body would show equality more than a rib? Should she have been made from a chip off his skull? Also, even if she was made to serve Adam, Adam was made to serve God, but it’s not like God is constantly trying to smother Adam, rather He empowers him, like anyone who actually loves someone they are in charge of.

        Noah’s flood has it’s flaws, but even if it’s just an allegory, there are some interesting things. But then again, one can read it as poetic.

        All in all, IIRC, the Catholic Church’s position is that the early Genesis chapters are somewhat “take-it or leave-it”. Not to be completely ignored, but it’s no big deal if scientific data contradicts the accounts. There are only philosophical truths that anyone can come to, that shouldn’t be ignored.
        For instance: There must be a first cause / an unmoved mover / something outside of time and matter that started time and matter.

        Or: The design of this universe is implication of a designer. (e.g. the 20 or so physical constants – speed of light, constants of gravity, etc. – that make are universe even capable of sustaining life are too tailored to be accidental.)

        Or: The fact that moral rights and wrongs are real and objective (otherwise we could never say someone or some society had better or worse morals), and that a conscience (that thing inside you that dictates which instincts you morally aught to go with) is not itself an instinct but rather metaphysical reality outside yourself (it tells you what you don’t want to hear sometimes) and yet within yourself (no one else can really know what your conscience is like).

        I don’t think anyone is going to argue into believing in God, but there are still good reasons outside of the Bible. Still, your heart has to be open to the possibility of God, before you ever understand the reasons for God.

        Hope this helps,
        Mark.

        • arcseconds

          Must there be a first cause? How do you know the cosmos had a beginning?

          • Mark

            A “first cause” is simple logic, although, admittedly hard to conceptualize, because everything we’ve ever seen and experienced is a contingent being.

            The universe is a whole myriad of contingent beings; i.e. everything we see came from somewhere. If we were to follow what current science seems to be discovering is that all this stuff on Earth came from an explosion from some star that existed before the Sun and that star come from some nebula and that nebula originated from a ball of matter which exploded at the big bang several billion years ago (source: Something I saw on the discovery channel a year ago).

            However, even this ball of matter and energy came from somewhere. Even time itself come from somewhere. There has to be an ultimate source. An unmoved mover.

            The reason we know this, deductively speaking, is the other options don’t work.

            IIRC, there are 2 alternates to a first cause of this universe/space and time:
            1 – time/space came from an infinite series of other causes.
            2 – time/space came from nothing

            For the first alternate option, the people who put this idea forward, have no actual idea of what infinity would look like if it was part of the physical universe. The physical universe would be completely broken (google Hilbert’s paradox or Zeno’s paradox). Also, if time was infinite, time would really never get to 2013; there would still be an infinite amount of years to go through before 2013 ever happened.

            The second option is even worse, IMHO. Something coming from nothing. It’s akin to saying the amount of apples on my desk (zero) might somehow morph into some amount of apple, without any outside help. Zero begets zero.

            Out of nothing comes nothing. Yet if there is an apple on my desk it is not illogical to say “it had to come from someone/something.” If something exists, it came from something. Space and time exist. Therefore they came from something.

            The only logical conclusion is that space and time came from a cause outside time itself.

            If you want to say “but multiverse!” you still have the same conclusion. You just pushed it back a few trillion universes.

            Anyways, I hope that helps.

            • arcseconds

              I can’t see why either Zeno’s paradoxes (he had several) or Hilbert’s paradox show that the Universe has infinite temporal extent is a problem.

              Zeno’s paradoxes show that it’s easy to make mistakes when you consider space and time to be infinitely divisible, and Hilbert’s paradox (and many others) show that infinite manifolds have properties that are counter-intuitive if you’re only used to dealing with finite quantities. Neither shows infinity to be impossible.

              Physicists don’t seem to think these are problematic, either. Physics still uses continuous spaces, so if Zeno was a problem it’d still be a problem for modern physics, and in the recent past (maybe still now! I don’t keep up with these things) the universe being infinite in spatial extent and infinite in the forward temporal direction were still open questions. And serious physicists are continuing to propose models where the universe is eternal but oscillates:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscillatory_universe

              Perhaps you could explain further just how, exactly, either Zeno or Hilbert has ruled out infinite space or infinite time in either direction? Also, why have cosmologists missed this?

              The business with ‘not being able to get to 2013′ only exists if you’re thinking that there’s a beginning point, then an infinite amount of time between then and 2013. If the universe is infinitely old, then there is no such beginning point. Between any specifiable point and now there is only a finite amount of time.

              • Mark

                1, lots of physicist and cosmologists do agree that the universe is not infinite. Partially because an Infinity of a thing has never before been observed in our physical universe and partially because it wouldn’t be possible either. (see the “Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem” a.k.a. the “Kinematic Incompleteness Theorem”).

                2, your last paragraph made no sense. You proved Hilbert’s point with your inability to phrase what a “2013″ on an infinite plane even is. It’s akin to imagining a squared-circle, you cannot even imagine it correctly because it is nonsensical.

                Neither can you even imagine how to describe how you could take an abstract mathematical principal (infinity) and apply it to a concrete reality (time) (i.e. what does a timeline going back -∞ years and somehow actually getting to the present day even look like?) How can you begin to imagine how to move forward If there is no start and time just goes back infinitely, . (-∞ years ago + 1 year forward = -∞ years ago).

                You cannot show how there would be a present time if an infinite amount still needed to occur before now. There simply would be no present day. End of story.

                • arcseconds

                  It’s certainly true that many physicists and cosmologists think that the universe does not extend infinitely into the past. But they do not do this for the reasons you state.

                  The Borde Guth Vilenkin paper is an interesting one, thanks for drawing it to my attention.

                  However, nowhere in the paper can I find anything like the arguments that you are giving. They do not argue that ‘infinities aren’t observed’, and they do not argue that ‘an infinite past makes no sense’. Instead, what they give is a fairly involved physical argument involving geodesics, inflation, and the Hubble parameter.

                  If things were as simple as you say they are, why would they bother doing this?

                  Moreover, I’ve had occasion to read the odd article etc. on cosmology, and I’ve never seen a cosmologist argue as you are arguing. I don’t think they find your kind of argument persuasive.

                  Here is a paper from Peter Frampton arguing that infinitely cyclic cosmology can still take place despite the BGV result.

                  He says:

                  Theorists are comfortable with an infinite future as occurs in the standard model with a cosmological constant. In that case the universe expands exponentially forever, and
                  other galaxies recede from ours to become invisible. Entropy gradually increases.

                  There seems to be less widespread acceptance of an infinite past. One reason is the old worry about entropy [2] that it must increase and so at a finite time in the past would fall to zero. This is avoided in [1]. Another possible concern is provided by arguments about null geodesics into the past and whether the spacetime manifold can be past complete; this is alleviated in the present Letter.

                  So it still seems like an open possibility.

                  Also, note the absence of the kind of argument you’re making.

                  (The ‘arguments about null geodesics into the past and whether the spacetime manifold can be past complete’ is the BGV argument you cite, by the way)

                  Seeing as you’re so adamant infinities can’t exist, do you also think an infinite future is a problem? If not, why not?

                  Also, presumably you also think the universe must be finite in spatial extent, because many of your arguments (in so far as I can make sense of them) would apply equally well to a spatial infinity as they would to a temporal one.

                  So what happens, in your view, if I got in a spaceship and flew the length of the finite universe? Is there some kind of edge?

                  • Mark

                    BGV theorem is a sample of what SCIENTIFIC counter-arguments are out there again an infinite timespace universe. But technically, inductive reasoning (science) can NEVER prove a negative. (e.g. you can’t prove unicorns don’t exist but only hypothesize this based on the evidence so far)

                    Deductively, (philosophy) you can actually prove a lot of things. Things we could never know scientifically, but need to know in order to have any of the higher forms of society that we have today. (e.g. science can’t tells us how much someone is responsible for any particular action, or how just/unjust a society is, or how much liberty someone has or ought to have.)

                    This deductive reasoning is what I’m particularly interested in, and what I think the real argument breaks down to.

                    If you cannot even show how an infinite timeline would even work conceptually, (according to occam’s razor) we have to assume a finite reality.

                    But as your questions go, I would have a problem with someone suggesting an infinite future, though it could be possible, I just don’t think we could know that would like. Suppose there were a centillion years of time left after the last human ever lived. That would still technically be a finite number. All that to say is if the universe had no end, I don’t know how anyone could mentally capture what that looks like. Kind of like wondering if someone can count to infinity. Even if the numbers they are counting go to infinity, infinity will never be reached. I would say the same goes for a universe/multiverse – even if they seem like the can go on forever, forever is technically unattainable, and therefore the chance the universe will end before it reaches infinity is 100%.

                    For your second question; to begin with, we know that space is not nothing, but actually something and we have good reason to believe it t is expanding/stretching at a very fast rate. But expanding into what? I seen people throw around the word “hyperspace.” But that seems like a fancy way to say “stuff we don’t know and probably can’t know by observation.”

                    However, this is a really good question, and I always have fun pondering this. I’m wondering what do you think would happen if there were a 3 dimensional edge to space, and someone was to “dive” into it.

                    I have heard, on NPR, that under a 9 dimensional theory of space, we would end up where we started if we say, continued in a straight line. What the theory is NOT saying is that space/the universe is curved, but to say that the edge of the universe is not 3 dimensional, but 9D. And since we are tied to 3D like our shadows are tied to 2D and can’t ever leave the sidewalk, we could never leave our 3D reality and in the act of trying to do so we would just be diverted along one of the vertices of 9D universe til we came back to our 3D starting point.

                    I’ve also head it theorized that if you go far enough into outer space you could go crazy and become a reaver haunting the out planets with your endless rage and sleepless hunger for murder.

                    • David_Evans

                      If you have a deductive proof of how much liberty anyone ought to have, I would love to see it. With generally agreed premises, of course, or it’s no use.

                      “All that to say is if the universe had no end, I don’t know how anyone could mentally capture what that looks like. Kind of like wondering if someone can count to infinity.”

                      Clearly no-one can count to infinity. We are finite beings. That isn’t a serious argument against the infinity of the natural numbers, which follows from the fact that we can always add 1 to any given number.

                      Personally I find it easier to imagine an infinite future time – which after all is just business as usual – than to imagine time having a stop. My mind insists on asking “what happens next?” That just shows, I think, that what we can imagine is not a useful guide to what’s possible.

        • David_Evans

          It doesn’t matter which part of Adam was used. That she was made from his body at all (contradicting Genesis 1.27, in which “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”) makes her an afterthought. And perhaps (this has only just occurred to me) not even made in God’s image?

          What do the women in your life think of the idea that men should be “in charge of” them? No woman I know would be happy with that.

          I wonder how the Catholic Church knows which parts of Genesis are not factual? It seems to me that they have been fighting a rearguard action, giving up YEC, geocentrism and the Flood only when forced to by science.

          I don’t have complete answers to your philosophical questions. On cosmology, look at the wikipedia entry on “eternal inflation” to get an idea of how little we know. On morality, my conscience usually says things like “How would it feel if someone did that to you?” Even when I was a regular churchgoer it didn’t, as far as I recall, say “What would God think of that?”

          • Mark

            I see how this could be confusing, and you ask good questions.

            But let me ask you, if God made woman in Gen 2 on the same day as man, does it contradict the Gen 1 statement that God made her in the 6th day?

            Also, if God made man after he made all the other land animals on the 6th day not to mention making 5 other days of stuff before coming around to man, does this mean that man is an afterthought? Or could this mean that God saves the best for last?

            Also, how do you feel about God commanding us to be obedient to our parents even though they are just as insane and dysfunctional as we are?

            Also, the Catholic Church used to take some stands on science – especially when they were a more secular institution and held together a large kingdom and had paid scientists in their government. Side note: Johannes Kepler (the guy who actually proved heliocentrism, whereas Galileo stated his theory was fact without observed proofs) was a protestant hired by a Catholic Emperor to publish such things, illustrating that Catholics didn’t have a problem with science, in fact they came up with the university system and the scientific method.

            But all in all, the Roman Catholic Church now takes no hard stances on science – just on faith and morals. So the RCC would say that there are real truths to be learned from Genesis, but how historical things are, will be left up to science – we are not afraid of the facts.

            Lastly, our consciences are designed to guide us in as much as we have knowledge about. So if you only know about natural things then it will guide you to natural rights and wrongs, whereas supernatural goods have to come from the supernatural knowledge (Things you couldn’t discover on your own through science or philosophy but are nonetheless true.)

            This would explain why you or anyone else wouldn’t normally think about helping the poor because of God’s desires. And this is okay. You have to live by the knowledge you have been given. But if you could understand more, you would want to, correct?

            • David_Evans

              In your view, why did the church show Galileo the instruments of torture, to force him to agree not to teach heliocentrism as fact, if it had no problem with science?

              Kepler proved that the observed planetary motions can be described as elliptical orbits around the Sun. That doesn’t prove that the Sun is actually stationary. To prove that you need the science of mechanics which was essentially founded by Galileo. Galileo’s observation of the phases of Venus disproved the Church’s favoured Ptolemaic model. This was so obvious that several clerics refused to look through his telescope, arguing that what he saw must be an illusion.

              “But if you could understand more, you would want to, correct?”

              Certainly, from a source I trusted. History does not lead me to regard the Catholic church as an authority on morals,

              • Mark

                After the Ptolemaic model was disproved, some of the clergy agreed and shifted over Tycho Brahe’s geo-centric model, but Galileo was starting to pick up favor for his idea and ultimately the Pope gave him express permission to write about heliocentrism as a theory, despite the Church edict against heliocentrism.

                Galileo’s main problem was political. He got too greedy, and the Pope thought Galileo called him an idiot and what not and then all of Galileo’s enemies pounced.

                The inquisition’s job was to enforce the Church’s edicts but also save people’s souls. I seriously doubt that Galileo, being as old and as sickly as he was at the time, would’ve been subjected to torture, because it might have killed him, and that’s the last thing the Inquisition wanted, a soul dying in heresy.

                Also, the Inquisition, where possible, did there best to save as many lives from the governments that would’ve executed capital punishment on heretics. The “Insanity defence” was never heard of before in the history jurisprudence until it was invented by the inquisition so that people claiming to be Jesus, could be kept alive (“he’s not a heretic; he’s just crazy.”)

                On Church history, the Catholic Church has definitely had it’s share of Judas’s. But that’s not to say there weren’t any people who were Christ-like. Even in our history of Jewish/God’s chosen people’s kings that preceded Jesus, most of them were evil/wicked.

                The point is, If you want an abstract, pristine religion in the sky that makes you feel good about it’s history, then I suppose there’s The Force. Catholicism is the religion for sinners, for the broken and the dysfunctional. Just as It is our recognition that we are a sick people, that will ultimately get us to the doctor, it is the recognition that we are a sinful people that will get us to the Forgiver.

                We don’t claim moral authority because of our historical actions, we claim moral authority because of our knowledge about God. Knowledge that is open to the public for scrutiny and judgement (unlike say, the free-masons or some other club/government/religion with all of their secret truths you won’t be told until you get to the top.)

                Check out “Why Be Catholic?” by William J. O’Malley, S.J. Great read.

                • David_Evans

                  “We don’t claim moral authority because of our historical actions, we claim moral authority because of our knowledge about God.”

                  Yes, but your actions must be part of the evidence for evaluating that claim. I remember a Church dignitary excusing the practice of moving a paedophile priest from one parish to another because “we didn’t understand paedophilia so well then”. Excuse me? You have claimed a unique insight into the nature of sin for nearly 2 millennia, and you didn’t understand that? God didn’t see fit to mention it?

                  • Mark

                    Just because somebody is fat, doesn’t mean they couldn’t possibly be a good fitness coach. And just because someone is a hypocrite doesn’t mean he ignorant or morality. On the contrary, it is people who do evil yet find no wrong in it, that you ought to be afraid of (e.g. the Khmer Rouge executing people with for wearing prescription glasses)

                    To be fair, ignoring our history of Judas-types (those thieving from or murdering good people) would be wrong, but so would or ignoring our Christ-like people. Chances are, if you go into any of the 3rd world countries right now, if there is a hospital for those poor people, it is a Catholic hospital. If there is an orphanage, it is Catholic orphanage. If there is a elementary school, it is a Catholic school. 1,000s and 1000,s of good, educated Catholics reaching out to people all over the world; to people who could really never pay them back in a meaningful way. Not to mention the work with the poor and disenfranchised we do in 1st world countries.

                    And I could go on but concerning the paedophilia scandal; there was, at the time several factors, that lead up to this, I am not suggesting they ever justified, but I think we begin to understand some of this.

                    http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/three-great-lessons-of-the-abuse-scandal

                    Skip to this part (or read all of it) – but here’s an excerpt that I think germane, from “Lesson 2″:

                    The first of these positive factors is the learning curve. The dominant professional psychological opinion when sexual abuse was at its worst was that offenders could be sent for treatment, rehabilitated, and returned to service. It was understandable, then, that there should be a period in which this approach was tried.

                    The second positive factor is a perfectly proper reluctance on the part of the Church to involve the civil authority in internal Church affairs. There is a long and vital tradition of the independence of the Church which is necessary to its spiritual mission. Sorting out when to turn a priest over to civil authorities can be difficult.

                    The third positive factor is the desire, not only on the part of Church leaders but often on the part of victims, to handle such matters as quietly as possible. The culture of forming victim groups and demanding reparations was not nearly as strong in the 1970s and 1980s as it has since become, especially in the area of sexual abuse.

                    (my own words, here)
                    In essence, a 1960′s disease model was adopted over and above the more ancient “sin” model, wherein anyone practicing any form of major sexual misconduct – especially, abuse was severely disciplined. (c.f. Titus 1:7-11)

                • David_Evans

                  “Galileo’s main problem was political. He got too greedy…”

                  …said the Pope, in his gilded vestments.

                  Oh, you didn’t mean that kind of greedy. You meant greedy for the right to teach a theory he believed to be true, and which actually was true, as the truth. Well, yes, scientists often are greedy like that.

                  “I seriously doubt that Galileo, being as old and as sickly as he was at the time, would’ve been subjected to torture, because it might have killed him, and that’s the last thing the Inquisition wanted, a soul dying in heresy.”

                  I’m sure that was a comfort to Giordano Bruno, whose fate must have been in Galileo’s mind.

                  Does your knowledge of God suggest to you that the use of torture was wrong then? If so, how do you know God so much better than the great theologians of the time?

                  • Mark

                    No, I meant greedy for success/recognition/publication.

                    Giordano Bruno was executed for a number of things, albeit he was a heliocentrist, he also denied the Trinity and several other central Christian beliefs about God and Jesus. Things, Galileo himself would’ve had no problem with seeing someone like Bruno receiving capital punishment for denying.

                    I understand the harshness with which governments used to persecute heretics, though I am not sure I agree with it, largely because it seems ultimately ineffective. Just as I believe if there was a someone caught committing homicide, I do not have a big problem with the state executing this person, even though I think there are better ways of handling such things (not to mention the injustice of rich people who were charged with the same crimes having a lot greater percentage of getting a more desirable verdict). A murder kills someone’s body, but a persuasive heretic, might kill someone’s eternal soul.

                    Also, there was the fact that living in a state with an adopted religion, to run around claiming that the government is following the religion wrong, or that the people should do things your way, could cause major instability. It’s important to remember that most states used religion to inspire loyalty in their soldiers – so if someone actually convinced the soldiers that their lord/king/emperor was a heretic, they might ignore orders, desert, or even outright rebel.

                    So, I understand the theologians and the culture of the time. What gives us better wisdom when it comes to the practice of morality, is seeing the long-term repercussions. Basically, I am no smarter, nor wiser than they were, because I would, and frankly, probably everyone we know would, just as well done those same practices. Someday, people in the future might look back on us, and be horrified on how we treat our prisoners or parents or children, or something. But living in the now, it’s harder to see your own societies faults (and we have many).

                    However, I really don’t believe these are close to the main the reasons you have for not believing in God. I feel like we are diving into some silly internet argument that has no end in sight, rather than the honest discussion we started out with.

                    Tell me, do you honestly think that love and justice and caring for people who need help, ultimately won’t matter one bit after the last human is dead and our history forgotten? i.e. Does any of this ultimately matter? Is there any good reason we should give special care to retarded children instead of just bashing their heads in if there is no God and no ultimate purpose?

                    • David_Evans

                      Most scientists desire success/recognition/publication. I don’t see how it’s possible to be too greedy for these things, except in the obvious sense that one should be cautious in pursuing them when living under a totalitarian regime.

                      “A murder kills someone’s body, but a persuasive heretic, might kill someone’s eternal soul.”

                      I used to think that was a sensible argument, in my C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton phases. I don’t any longer.

                      Point 1. We know when someone’s body has been killed. We can do post-mortems and such. How do we know when an immortal soul has been killed?

                      Point 2. The same argument can be used in Muslim countries to justify the death penalty for a Muslim who converts to Christianity, or for one who persuades him to convert. Do you agree with that use of the argument?

                      I suppose they are really the same point. No-one knows (as opposed to believes) that their religion is true, therefore no-one is justified in inflicting death or suffering because of it.

                      I see the point that heresy can endanger a theocratic state, and that such a state must therefore restrict and punish some expressions of free speech. I see this as a point against theocracy. Don’t you?

                      My view is that a state which has talked itself into regarding theories of astronomy as heretical has made a big mistake. As the Catholic Church eventually recognised.

                      Do I honestly think that love etc ultimately won’t matter? In a sense, yes. If there are no beings in the world to whom they (or anything else) could matter, then they won’t matter. They matter to me here and now.

                      I’m surprised at your final question, in view of Psalm 137 (KJV):
                      “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”
                      Written by a theist, not an atheist.

  • Rullbert Boll

    Well, the YECs could always opt to explain the light as originating from an “older creation” … or can’t they?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    We had a troll spamming here earlier today. Apologies to anyone who was annoyed by the nonsense-and-insult-spouting individual.


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