Compelling Evidence for the Big Bang?

I am surprised that Hemant Mehta is so impressed with this exam answer a student gave to a question about the Big Bang:

HomeworkBigBang

On the one hand, theism doesn’t posit a floating man in the sky. And in context the suggestion is self evidently silly, since by definition, there was no sky before the Big Bang. And no gases. The answer botches both science and theology, badly.

But on the other hand, if one anthropomorphizes God as a “floating man in the sky,” then how would a powerful being of this sort snapping his fingers and creating a universe look different from the Big Bang?

I think the student’s answer was disappointing from the perspective of not only theology and science, but even in terms of the impression it gives of atheists. Am I missing something?

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  • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

    Maybe you’re missing the age of the student. Clearly this is not a kid who’s at college (perhaps not even in high school), so let’s not get too excited.

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

      I assume the student was expected to know something about the topic, and the answer is completely wrong in relation to the question asked.

      • Rowland Reeves

        Not wrong just incomplete. She didn’t provide back up references for her statements. But essentially she was correct.

        • arcseconds

          She was asked for evidence.

          She discusses no evidence in her answer.

          This is a failure to answer the question.

          (Instead, she gives a causal theory, part of which is incorrect, and part of which is speculative and contentious, but even if she had correctly described the mainstream view, it would still have failed to answer the question)

          • Rowland Reeves

            I agree. She seems to be a very young person that has not been properly trained to provide evidence for given answers. But in my opinion the concepts she presents are correct. What parts of her “casual theory”. do you feel were incorrect. And what is the mainstream view for this question?

          • arcseconds

            Would you not expect that if she is being examined on something, that she would have been taught the material?

            I suppose it may be that the teaching wasn’t great, but on the other hand normally we understand failing to answer an exam question properly as a measure of the student’s lack of success more than the teacher’s, don’t we?

            (This is of course assuming that the picture is genuine, which we could doubt. Not every reproduction of a test answer on the internet is an answer that someone actually submitted for a real test.)

            Note that she has been explicitly asked for evidence. That is what the question is. The question is not “give a theory that explains the big bang, give evidence”, which is what you seem to think it is and she’s just failed to answer the second part.

            And presenting correct concepts does not get you any credit if they’re not actually an answer to a question. If I set a test question “Name three 19th century English prime ministers” and you respond “Three monarchs of England in the 19th century were George III, Willian IV, and Queen Victoria” then it doesn’t matter that that’s a correct statement, it’s not an answer to the question I asked, and may indicate you have failed to understand the question.

            I’m saying this because this seems the salient point here: she presumably has had the evidence for the big bang presented to her in the material for the course she has taken, but she doesn’t seem to have even understood what was being asked of her here.

            And there’s a pedagogically important point at stake here. It’s far more important for people to get an understanding of how science is a response to evidence than it is for them to understand any particular scientific fact or other.

            Anyway, in answer to your question, the notion that the Big Bang is the result of the death of some previous universe is contentious, and no cosmologist thinks it came about by gases reacting. The existence of pre-Big Bang gases certainly has not been established. So all of that is quite wrong.

            The correct answer to the question might look like:

            — red-shift of galaxies
            — cosmic background radiation
            — observed uniformity (e.g. of elemental abundance)
            — the fact that the sky is not one uniform glowing background, due to the fact that every sightline would end on the surface of a star

          • Rowland Reeves

            I agree she didn’t properly answer the question and should not have earned any credit for it but if she had access to the most recent research and evolving evidence she would have realized that her theoretical answer was essentially correct. Her use of the terminology “gases” is also incorrect. But her inference that there are a progression of universes with one new one proceeding from a prior old one is now becoming an accepted cosmological concept. We do not live in a “universe” we live in a multi-verse of “universes” each with its own big bang stretching infinitely across space and time. The multi-verse concept implies that the “universe” has always existed. It had no single beginning but rather is simply a continuously churning mass of expanding and collapsing volumes of space. This in turn lends credence to the idea that there has been an infinite amount of time for civilizations to evolve to super advanced levels of knowledge and power. Levels that to us would seem godlike. Thus in detail the young lady’s answer was incorrect but in theory it was correct and has implications that go far beyond her answer. If you have the time please see the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39qmbl7mpJQ
            and
            http://www.astronomy.pomona.edu/Projects/moderncosmo/Sean's%20mutliverse.html

          • arcseconds

            EDIT: oops, forgot that Rowland had agreed she didn’t answer the question by the time I got to the end of his post. Leaving this here as I don’t like deleting things:

            Why is it so difficult for you to understand she is not answering the question given? She doesn’t even attempt this.

            When you were a teacher, did you just mark anything that happened to be true as being correct, regardless of whether it was the answer to the question or not?

            Could I get 100% on your tests just by answering every question with 2+ 2 = 4?

          • Rowland Reeves

            arceseconds – yes I agree I’m being way, way too “understanding” with this young ladies response. She would definitely have gotten an “F” for that answer in my class. Never-the-less I am very curious about her answer and would want a rewrite of the test or a least a discussion with her as to how she came up with the answers she did. Obviously the “sky man” comment was quite flippant. I wonder if her Teacher had talked about multi-verse concepts. To me it’s an interesting situation that would warrant further discussion and exploration with the student. I think in the posts that I’ve presented here I was wondering if anyone else saw anything in her answer that was worthy of discussion.

          • arcseconds

            OK, sorry, probably got a bit carried away there, I had forgotten you had agreed she hadn’t answered the question at the beginning.

            However, the fact is that multiverse theories (there are more than one of them) are not accepted by the consensus of cosmologists, see:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse#Proponents_and_skeptics

            And any individual multiverse theory is only held by a small number of physicists.

            If she has worked this out herself, then OK, she’s very smart(*), but one’s personal musings aren’t science. If somewhere along the line she’s been taught about multiverses, then she hasn’t been taught (or it hasn’t stuck) is that they’re just some theories at the moment.

            One thing a decent scientific education should do, and all too often we fail at this, is to teach the difference between an idea and a well-supported scientific theory, and the importance of scientific consensus.


            (*) Imagine this in Peter Falk’s voice.

            I’m sure any reasonably bright and imaginative child with an interest in science can come up with a multiverse idea, I know I did. But if they’re sufficiently bright and imaginative, they should be able to come up with many incompatible theories, and it’s even better if they work out that they need some criteria to pick between these theories.

          • Rowland Reeves

            Again, I agree that it would be interesting to find out if she got these ideas from her own reading or was taught them in class and never really grasped the concept. It seems that she’s quite young or maybe just immature. Also it seems that someone – parents ? not sure – have been making disparaging remarks about God or Theism in general to her.
            As far as the multi-verse goes it is true that the “parallel universe” multi-verse concept is only speculative at this point. (Referencing your Wiki article). However, the concept that there are untold volumes of space out there each one of which is equal in mass and volume to our own “universe” has become quite a compelling concept with some evolving evidence to support it. There are also very recent developments that indicate that our own volume of space; our own “universe” has way more galaxies in it than previously believed. Some recent sky surveys with our improved instruments is showing that there are perhaps as many as a trillion galaxies in our universe as opposed to the 100 billion previously believed. In other words the possibility that there are other civilizations out there just grew ten fold. There are probably very primitive life supporting planets out there and some super advanced ones. It’s really exciting to think about the possibilities.

          • arcseconds

            I wonder about her age, actually. This question I think would be appropriate for a year 9 or 10 class at the earliest, which would put her somewhere around 14. The answer might sound a bit like a precocious 10-year-old, but I would be surprised to find this material being taught to 10-year olds. The answer shows she has a vague understanding of some science and can write coherent sentences, so I think we’re dealing with a 14 year old who isn’t inexpressive, but hasn’t done her homework. Her parent says she was tired, so maybe we should be forgiving. At best she misunderstood the question, I suppose, but it still doesn’t seem as though she’s that familiar with what she should be.

            It’s a bit hard to say when we’ve got only one sure data point, but I agree if there’s any non-negligible probability for creatures like us (in whatever sense of ‘like us’ one is considering) then there must be many examples.

            But the probabilities might be negligible. Would you expect another planet to have peacocks with exactly or almost exactly the same iridescent tails as they do here? So many things would have to go so exactly the same as they did here so as to make that virtually impossible. But is there any reason to think human-like cognition is any less contingent?

            Or would you expect another civilization to develop the symphony orchestra? I don’t mean something vaguely comparable, but something exactly or almost exactly the same, down to a four-part string ensemble, a smaller woodwind ensemble, four conical-bore horns, tuned floor drums played with mallets with alterable pitch, and a conductor?

            That would seem to defy credibility, as it’s so contingent on so many random details of our history. Yet isn’t the route to scientific culture about as contingent?

          • Rowland Reeves

            With possibly over a trillion galaxies in our volume of the multi-verse and with over 100 billion stars in each of those and with possibly 1 to 9 planets around each of those stars it just seems that the numbers are so huge that any and all types of life must exist “out there”. With some very primitive life forms and others that could be very advanced perhaps far past our own civilization. In spite of those probabilities however it seems very remote that any planet would be some kind of match of planet Earth. Maybe similar but not an exact copy for sure.

          • rationalobservations?

            What is the evidence of the existence of the (originally Canaanite) god “Yahweh/Jehovah”,or any of the thousand of other similar gods? What is the evidence of the existence of any of the god-men (like “Jesus”) of mythology?

            What is the evidence of accuracy of either of the two diverse and different Judaeo-christian creation myths?

          • arcseconds

            What is the relevance of this comment?

            Do you think it’s an appropriate answer to a test question to ignore the question and discuss the non-existence of something not even mentioned? If the question had been about the kinds of teeth and their function, would “well, the tooth fairy doesn’t exist!” be a good answer?

            I would have liked to think that someone called ‘rationalobservations?’ might care about the evidence for the Big Bang and be concerned when someone doesn’t even understand the question.

            I suppose I can’t expect everyone to care about science and science education, but it’d be nice if the people who signal that they do actually did…

          • rationalobservations?

            There are several main pieces of evidence that support the Big Bang theory. One is the fact that the universe is very rapidly expanding, proven with something called red shift. The second is something called cosmic microwave background radiation. The third is the abundance of different elements in the universe.

            1. Redshift of Galaxies
            The redshift of distant galaxies means that the Universe is probably expanding. If we then go back far enough in time, everything must have been squashed together into a tiny dot. The rapid eruption from this tiny dot was the Big Bang.

            Cosmic Microwave Background
            2. Microwave Background
            Very early in its history, the whole Universe was very hot. As it expanded, this heat left behind a “glow” that fills the entire Universe. The Big Bang theory not only predicts that this glow should exist, but that it should be visible as microwaves – part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum.

            This is the Cosmic Microwave Background which has been accurately measured by orbiting detectors, and is very good evidence that the Big Bang theory is correct.

            The Sun is a fairly new star
            3. Mixture of Elements
            As the Universe expanded and cooled down, some of the elements that we see today were created. The Big Bang theory predicts how much of each element should have been made in the early universe, and what we see in very distant galaxies and old stars is just right.

            You cannot look in new stars, like the Sun, for this evidence, because they contain elements that were created in previous generations of stars. As such, the composition of new stars will be very different from the composition of stars that existed 7 billion years ago, shortly after the Big Bang.

            4. Looking back in time
            The main alternative to the Big Bang theory of the Universe is called the Steady State theory. In this theory, the Universe does not change very much with time.

            Remember that because light takes a long time to travel across the Universe, when we look at very distant galaxies, we are also looking back in time.

            From this we can see that galaxies a long time ago were quite different from those today, showing that the Universe has changed. This fits better with the Big Bang theory than the Steady State theory.

            Now: Can you present any evidence that supports the hypothetical existence of any of the many thousands of mythological deities or any of the hundreds of ancient creation myths?

          • arcseconds

            Well, it’s good that you can answer the question.

            But I still don’t understand why you are pressing me for evidence of the existence of mythological figures, this is still a non sequitur which you are being bizarrely demanding about.

            Prove that aliens built the pyramids. Go on: prove it! And scratch your ear with your foot while you’re at it!

          • Rowland Reeves

            Just one more revisit to the young lady’s answer. Obviously a test was given which means that the Teacher expected the students to show that they understood the material that had been taught. This student did not. Again, very curious as to whether the Teacher simply didn’t present the material properly or the student didn’t study. This definitely is not elementary school curriculum so conjectures that this is a very young girl seem to go out the window.

          • rationalobservations?

            How bizarre.
            “Prove that aliens built the pyramids. Go on: prove it! And scratch your ear with your foot while you’re at it!”??
            Really???

            You appear to concede/agree there is no evidence of the existence of “gods” or “god-men/messiahs” – so I am happy to agree with you in that sensible conclusion regardless of the bizarre flights of fantasy and off topic red herrings you appear to offer.

          • arcseconds

            Yes, I’m glad we agree: demanding evidence for claims that were never made and are irrelevant to the topic at hand is both bizarre and an off topic red-herring.

            And, you know, presumptuous and kind of rude.

            So you should think about that the next time you’re inclined to do it.

          • rationalobservations?

            Of course you will be aware that this is an open forum and many points raised and questions asked are directed at the readers as well as (or sometimes in stead of) the person under which they are entered.

            Sorry to have caused you so much worrying trauma. Your hypersensitivity is noted and you have my sympathy.

            The old adage about “heat” and “kitchens” comes to mind. Perhaps you should think about that before becoming so hysterical?

          • arcseconds

            When I demand you prove things you’ve never claimed to believe and which aren’t relevant to the conversation you respond with an excited remark filled with punctuation and condescension.

            So it seems to me everything you’ve said here relates equally well to you as it does to me.

            Apparently when you demand proofs out of the blue to me, it’s all part of a changing conversation and just fine, but when I do it to you, it has to be responded with incredulity, condescension, insults, and sarcastic faux-apologies. If anyone here is oversensitive it’s certainly you, as anyone can see from looking at the conversation.

            Why were you so persistent and demanding about proofs for mythological beings out from me, anyway? I asked about its relevance, which you never answered, but instead just continued to press.

            Normally when people press for evidence, it’s because someone’s made a claim that they refuse to support, but in this case the only thing I can think of is that I was insufficiently enthusiastic about atheism.

          • rationalobservations?

            I appear to have touched a raw nerve, my friend.
            All you needed to say is: The claims folk make about all the thousands of fake imaginary deities is without evidence.

            Your impotent fury and unjustified paranoia is harmful to only you and for that you have my sincere sympathy.

            Meantime: Back to sanity and calm evidence based discussion with any luck….

          • arcseconds

            Funny, that wasn’t your response when I demanded you prove the pyramids were built by aliens.

            You responded with incredulity and insults, remember. A much more dramatic and aggressive response than mine was. And here we have more hyperbole, sarcasm and insults.

            You really don’t like it when you’re presented with an absurd demand for evidence, and respond in all sorts of theatrical ways, but apparently when I’m presented with the same and respond in a far more restrained manner, that’s proof I’m paranoid and furious?

            Can you not see how absurd and hypocritical you’re being? Do you always make up such over the top stories about people’s emotional states every time you don’t get your own way?

          • rationalobservations?

            I responded to your entry that contained several (off topic) questions regarding the probability of parallel evolution/”creation” of life on another planet with two specific questions regarding the Judaeo/christian creations myths.

            If any questions you cannot answer or do not wish to answer cause you such manic hysteria – perhaps these comment columns (and other forums of often random discussion) are not a healthy environment for you?

            Best wishes and sincere sympathy to you and yours.

          • arcseconds

            To your first demand for evidence for claims I never made and weren’t germane to the conversation, I asked you why it was relevant.

            You didn’t answer me, but instead went on at some length about evidence for the Big Bang. While relevant to the general topic of the conversation, it was a rather strange reply, as I hadn’t asked for it, and wasn’t in any doubt about any of it, had never expressed any doubt about it, etc. Then you repeated your demand.

            I then demanded an irrelevant proof and an irrelevant action from you. Of course this wasn’t hysteria or evidence of a thin skin: it was to demonstrate to you how strange and presumptuous demands like these are.

            Since then someone has flown off the handle and demonstrated a thin skin by responding in a heated and impassioned manner, spouting forth insults, condescension, and made-up unflattering stories about the other person’s mental state. Without tone of voice to go on, endless insults and gratuitous lies are a pretty good sign of being worked-up, aren’t they?

            Now, which of us was that person, again?

            Oh, yes, that would be you!

            But do continue, please. What do you imagine my mental state to be now? We’e already been through paranoia, and now we’re on to mania and hysteria. Maybe I should draw myself up a bingo card…

          • rationalobservations?

            I think your ocd is self evident.

          • arcseconds

            (* looks at bingo sheet *)

            I hadn’t thought of that one, dammit.

            Next?

          • rationalobservations?

            ROFL

            Please don’t stop but try to maintain your prior levels of mania?

            Next..??

          • Rowland Reeves

            rationalobservations – There is little evidence for any god or prophet. But the impacts of certain individuals; Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, etc. whether myth or real have been massive. Something happened to make billions of people change their life style and moral beliefs that coincided with each of the individuals just mentioned.
            My purely speculative conjecture is that with possibly trillions of civilizations in the universe their are possibly advanced one’s which on occasion send out “helpers” who try to steer lesser civilizations in the right direction. Why would they do this? It seems that they are trying to insure that the right kind of civilizations develop. One’s that are going to be peaceful and not pose a threat to them. They are making long term down payments on their own preservation. They are trying to make sure that hostile, violent, and militarily aggressive civilizations do not rise too high in weapons and transportation technology. It seem to me that “someone” / “they” are messing with our evolutionary development. Is this too far fetched an idea?

          • rationalobservations?

            You write: “But the impacts of certain individuals; Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, etc. whether myth or real have been massive.”

            That makes no sense but appears to confirm that there is no first hand evidence left by any of the mythological figures upon whom later human businesses of religion have been based.

            Everything associated with all the religions of the world have been human originated and human run.

            Otherwise your flights of SciFi fantasy are amusing but too far fetched for serious consideration. Maybe you should join the wackos of the Scientologist movement?

          • Rowland Reeves

            But actually it’s not SciFi fantasy. There are over a trillion planets in our galaxy alone. Virtually every astrophysicist and astronomy now believes that there is probably life in various stages of advancement all over the galaxy and probably all over the universe. Any advanced civilization even a million years older than our own probably has super advanced technologies. They are out there and once we get our act together and demonstrate some global civility and maturity they are going to help us link up with them.

            As far as the foundation individuals that I mentioned the evidence of their impact is all around us. Whole societies are based upon Buddhist, Christian, and Islamic moral codes.

          • rationalobservations?

            You may wish to look up the “Fermi paradox”?

            You may also consider a little less attention to Star Trek and a little more attention to Cosmology and Astrophysics?

            It takes the sun (and our solar system) roughly 200-250 million years to orbit once around the Milky Way Galaxy. In this orbit, the Earth (and the rest of the Solar System) is traveling at a velocity of about 155 miles/sec (250 km/sec).

            The Milky Way Galaxy in which our Solar System is located does not sit still, but is constantly rotating. As such, the arms are moving through space. The Earth, the sun and the whole of our little solar system travel with them. The solar system travels at an average speed of 515,000 miles per hour (828,000 kilometers per hour).

            The star nearest to the Sun is Proxima Centauri. Astronomers measure the distance between stars in units called light-years. A light-year equals 5.88 million million miles (9.46 million million kilometers). The possibility/probability of any civilisation acheiving faster than light velocity is remote. The immense distances between the stars within our own Galaxy (“The Milky Way”) are such that no civilization could breach them.

            The nearest Galaxy to ours is known as the “Large Magellanic Cloud” – 179 thousand light years away Small Magellanic Cloud – 210 thousand light-years away Andromeda Galaxy – 2.9 million light-years away.
            A reminder that one light year is the distance that light travels in one year in a vacuum at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. Even if another civilization achieved light speed vehicles – they would take 179,000 years to reach the Earth and as their civilization developed radio communication – there signals would reach us long before there vehicles.

            Taking our very, very recently evolved species of ape as a benchmark of mutated intellectual development. We will almost certainly be wiped out by the next mass extinction event (there have already been 5 in the Earth’s history) and the consumption of the Earth’s resources. The possibility that we will survive to evolve to a much higher level is doubtful., and since evolution itself is not “progressive” or “improving” it is very possible that the best minds among us today could be the pinnacle of intellectual development any where and at any time in the infinite 13,820,000,000 year old universe.

            The foundation of “moral codes” appears to originate within the “golden rule” that predates all human politico-corp[orate businesses of totalitarianism called “religions”.

            The Golden_Rule cannot be claimed for any one philosophy or religion; indeed, the successful evolution of communities has depended on its use as a standard through which conflict can be resolved. Throughout the ages, many individual thinkers and spiritual traditions have promoted one or other version of it.

            Here are some examples of the different ways it has been expressed:
            Do not to your neighbour what you would take ill from him. (Pittacus, 650 BCE)
            Do not unto another that you would not have him do unto you. Thou needest this law alone. It is the foundation of all the rest. (Confucius, 500 BCE)
            Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.(Thales, 464 BCE)
            What you wish your neighbors to be to you, such be also to them. (Sextus the Pythagorean, 406 BCE)
            We should conduct ourselves toward others as we would have them act toward us. (Aristotle, 384 BCE)
            Cherish reciprocal benevolence, which will make you as anxious for another’s welfare as your own. (Aristippus of Cyrene, 365 BCE)
            Act toward others as you desire them to act toward you. (Isocrates, 338 BCE)
            This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. (From the Mahabharata (5:1517), 300 BCE)
            What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. (Rabbi Hillel 50 BCE)

            Religions hijack the best of secular humanism and poison it with mythology, discrimination, tribalism, taboos and lies. Not the other way round.

          • Rowland Reeves

            Hello rationalobservations – Yes the galaxy is big but we will conquer the distances with ever improving technology. You are assuming that our technology will not improve and that the speed of light rule will always limit us. Given today’s technology you are correct but technology is ever improving. When you look at where we were a thousand years ago compared to where we are now all you have to do is project that same rate of technological innovation into the future to realize that literally almost anything is possible. There’s a famous article in Scientific American magazine in the 1850’s stating how scientists had proved that locomotives would never be able to go over 60 mph because they would disintegrate. Maybe they were correct for the technology of the times but they failed to consider that technology improves at a geometric rate.

            Yes, the great spiritual leaders of our current epoch took their beliefs from prior civilizations but then they formalized those codes so that the messages were spread to the masses. You are correct that corrupted religious leaders have manipulated those messages for their own benefit. Never-the-less the positive message still comes through to most people. If people didn’t voluntarily follow those codes civilization would not exist as we know it. It’s the difference between barbarism and civility.

            Yes, our window is still closed as far as a mass extinction event or self-inflicted destruction. That window will remain closed until we start living on other planets and in space stations around the solar system. But those developments are coming in a relatively short time frame relative to a repeated mass extinction.

            There are three evolving technologies that within the next 50 years are going to change everything. Those are commercial fusion power, nano-technology, and human like robots/AI powered. And those are just the ones we’re working on right now. 50 years from now they might be harnessing dark energy or matter/anti-matter technologies.

            I think the worst case scenario right now is self-inflicted destruction. I feel that this is the case because our government structure and processes have not kept up to date with the evolving technologies. If some type of greatly improved government system develops the possibility of self-destruction will be minimized.

            I think other civilizations across the universe have passed through these same challenges. Some have failed and some have succeeded. I’m going to put my efforts into making sure our civilization succeeds.

          • rationalobservations?

            Even at the speed of light it would take 179,000 years to reach the nearest galaxy, and as the universe is so very rapidly expanding – that distance increases by many, many thousands of miles each passing day. I know of no one who predicts any method by which any vehicle could get anywhere near the speed of light.

            I like your naive and guileless enthusiasm and optimism – but it may be too many millions to one odds of that optimism ever being realised.

            Meanwhile: To infinity and beyond! (In our imagination)

          • Rowland Reeves

            Again, you are correct given our current level and understanding of technology. The closest star is too far given the speed of light barrier. But technology and theories advance and change continually. Can trains go faster than 60 mph. Absolutely not ! Oh, wait a minute this isn’t 1850. For example, some are suggesting that entanglement which happens instantaneously regardless of distance might be a possible door through the light speed barrier. Technology advances exponentially.

          • rationalobservations?

            Your straw man aside.

            I hope you’re correct and the Star Trek era may occur before the next mass extinction event occurs or the Earth’s resources are totally exhausted, or the magnetosphere runs down or…., well there are so very many ways in which this short lived period of the dominance of our so very recently evolved species of ape may terminate.

            (Hint: Interstellar travel is nothing to do with the early development of steam trains.)

          • Rowland Reeves

            Technology advances exponentially. We cannot right now know what even 100 or a 1,000 years from now holds. The limited view of technological advancement as exemplified by 1800’s belief that trains could not go over 60 mph still permeates our thinking today in spite of two centuries of unending technological advancement. We will have to meet in a 1,000 years on the Earth like planet in Alpha Centauri. You’ll owe me a beer if we can get their by then. Otherwise I’ll have to buy you one here on Earth.

          • rationalobservations?

            See you in the New York bar that comes first in the vidcom directory 25/10/3016 or in a similar bar in the capitalcity of first planet colonised in Alpha Centauri.

            Happy futurology to you and have a super Saturnalia and real cool Yule in December.

          • Rowland Reeves

            OK, it’s a bet and future touch base agreement.

          • rationalobservations?

            Having enjoyed the off topic hypothetical speculation regarding the future, do you have any observations regarding the mountain of evidence concerning the infinite, 13,820,000,000 year old universe and the evidence of a singularity event at the beginning of the expansion of that universe?

          • Rowland Reeves

            rationalobservations – ah, how should I say this; your question has tapped into my whole belief system. Sooo when I get too long, ridiculously preachy, or show any other indications of dogmatic blindness please feel free to say . . . . . . ., you know, “shut up”.

            Well that being said; my opinion based on literally years (really 30 years to be exact ) of personal seeking, research, investigation, and speculation.

            The universe as we know it started 13 billion years ago in a big bang. OK, fine. But the complication develops when increasing evidence seems to suggest that our “universe” is just one of an infinity of “universes”; that is we live in a “multi-verse”. Our “universe” is just one volume in the multi-verse. Our volume has a start and finish date but the entire multi-verse has existed forever.
            What’s occurring is that volumes of the multi-verse bubble in and out of existence in 100+ billion year cycles. As some volumes are expanding others nearby are crushing down into “universe” mass black holes. Those black holes eventually blow up in big bang fashion starting an entirely new cycle.

            What’s it to us that we actually live in a multi-verse that has existed forever? Basically it allows one to speculate on the evolution of sentient beings over such long time periods.
            ( Had enough yet ? There’s more. )
            Specifically, one can ask the question: to what level of consciousness, energy, and will-power would beings have developed if given trillions of years to keep evolving. That is if they evolved to the point where they could transcend from one volume of space to the next.
            For that matter any civilization that has been able to evolve over billions of years in just one volume of space.
            Of which there may be millions in our “universe” Specifically just how powerful would such beings be? Would they be like gods to us? I’m speculating that they would be and in fact are the gods that we as just evolving beings have long worshiped. Why do we worship them? Because they have been messing with our evolution for thousands if not millions of years and we have gotten hints of their presence from time to time. Why would they be interested in helping us evolve? Because they want to make sure that we evolve in a positive way and do not “grow up” as mean kids on the block who are going to be attacking all the advanced civilizations who have learned to live in peace. They want us to have what they have but only if we follow the rules and behave ourselves. They want us to have what they have because the “universe” is infinite, there’s plenty for everyone and also because if they attempt to hold us down or destroy us there are billions of more evolving civilizations just like ours so to keep them all down would simply turn the advanced beings into blood thirsty murderers, which would just lower them down to our level which they don’t want to do.

            There that’s it. That’s my observation regarding the mountain of evidence concerning the infinite, 13 billion year old universe. Gleaned from 30 years of searching.

          • rationalobservations?

            You appear to be like the religiots who take the evidence supported facts then extrapolate “god” – only in you case you extrapolate “multiverse”.

            In recent years there have been many claims made for “evidence” of a multiverse, supposedly found in the CMB data (see for example here). Such claims often came with the remark that the Planck CMB data would convincingly decide the matter. When the Planck data was released two months ago, I looked through the press coverage and through the Planck papers for any sign of news about what the new data said about these multiverse evidence claims. There was very little there; possibly the Planck scientists found these claims to be so outlandish that it wasn’t worth the time to look into what the new data had to say about them. One exception was this paper, where Planck looked for evidence of “dark flow”. They found nothing, and a New Scientist article summarized the situation:

            “The Planck team’s paper appears to rule out the claims of Kashlinsky and collaborators,” says David Spergel of Princeton University, who was not involved in the work. If there is no dark flow, there is no need for exotic explanations for it, such as other universes, says Planck team member Elena Pierpaoli at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. “You don’t have to think of alternatives.”

            One of those promoting the idea that “dark flow” was evidence for a multiverse was Mersini-Houghton, who in a 2008 paper with Holman wrote:

            Our contention, then, is that these observations of bulk flow can be construed as evidence for the birth of the universe from the landscape multiverse imprinted on the superhorizon sized nonlocal quantum entanglement between our horizon patch and others that began from the landscape. When we calculate the size of the induced dipole in our theory and convert it into a bulk velocity dispersion, we will see that for the constrained values of our parameters we arrive at a velocity dispersion of order 670 km/sec, remarkably close to the observed value of 700 km/sec.

          • Rowland Reeves

            You are so right I “extrapolate” everything. I’m always projecting forward from current evidence / speculation. Very much a believer in Einstein’s, “I think that only daring speculation can lead us further and not accumulation of facts.”

            Agree not much evidence for a multiverse or life beyond our planet. Possible evidence; information regarding the Great Attractor indicates that thousands of galaxies are caught up in a flow caused by the gravity of the galaxies in and beyond the Great Attractor region (Norma cluster of galaxies) in an area over one billion light years away. Speculation is that dark energy is flowing toward something super massive and is dragging all galaxies in that dark energy stream along with it. Speculating and extrapolating. Could that super massive object be the collapsing mass of a nearby “universe”; a nearby volume of space. Included link.
            http://www.iflscience.com/space/scientist-claims-there-evidence-other-universes-cosmic-microwave-background/
            My only support for possible other life in the universe, or at least in our volume of the multi-verse, is just the shear number of possible planets. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 X 10^22.

          • rationalobservations?

            The response to all this wild and fanciful speculation may be summed up in the last sentence of the article you link to:

            “The paper suggests also a more commonplace and perhaps more realistic explanation as, in 30% of the cases, the emission is consistent with foreground sources which have not been exactly taken into account in the map.”

            The hypothetical multiverse appears to be (nearly?) in the same league of improbability as all the many thousands of imaginary super-spooks.

            The probability of extraterrestrial life is another matter and that is almost certain according to several leaders in cosmology and microbiology. The possibility of intelligent life of an equal or more advanced level than our own is yet another matter.

            Best wishes to you and yours.

          • Rowland Reeves

            Good discussion and not a wimpy pat each other on the back type. Definitely have some differing points of view and opinions. Just remember you’ll owe me a beer in a 1,000 years on the first planet colonized in Alpha Centauri.

  • myklc

    Also failed to answer the question!

    • Rowland Reeves

      She partially answered the question. She just didn’t provide evidence in the form of references to back up her statements.

      • summers-lad

        She didn’t provide evidence in any form, and therefore didn’t answer the question.

        • Rowland Reeves

          She seems to be a very young person that has not been properly trained to provide evidence for given answers. But in my opinion the concepts she presents are correct.
          Do you feel that her basic premise is incorrect (regardless of evidence)?

          • summers-lad

            I have read with interest your discussion with arcseconds, and find that I am very close to his/her position in the post beginning “Would you not expect that if she is being examined on something…”
            As for the girl’s age, I would hope that the question set was age-appropriate for the students being asked it. It is also possible that we have only been shown part of her answer.
            I have not studied multiverse hypotheses in any depth so I am not in a position to agree or disagree with the implied premise of a multiverse. (I will follow the links provided above later.) I agree with you that her reference to a “sky-man” was probably flippant, but I disagree that scientific causation and divine creation are mutually exclusive. I totally accept the evidence for the big bang that I am familiar with (its observable after-effects, which are what I would have expected in the answer), and I totally reject young-earth creationism, which is not only anti-scientific but also bad theology. I would say, however, that “God said ‘Let there be light’ and there was light” sounds pretty much like a big bang to me, so I agree with James McGrath’s comments (subject to checking out multiverses).
            I hope this answers your question!

          • arcseconds

            It’s really difficult to imagine this question was posed to anyone of an age where it’s fine to describe them as “a little girl”. My guess is this kind of question would be posed to people around the age of 14 or even older. The answer does sound a bit naïve, so that gives the impression of someone younger, but I really don’t think it’s a 10-year-old sitting this test.

          • Rowland Reeves

            I didn’t mean to imply that divine creation and scientific causation are exclusive to each other. I also do not believe they are. To me they work hand in hand.

            However, I have some speculative ideas of my own based on our knowledge of the size of our universe or an even larger multi-verse. For example there have been recent observations showing that there may be as many as one trillion galaxies in our universe alone. Those numbers are so staggeringly large that it seems that life must exist in many places around the cosmos. There must be planets with only primitive life forms while others have advanced civilizations perhaps billions of years older and much more advanced than our own. I’m speculating that some of those super advanced civilizations on occasion visit us less developed planets with the purpose of helping steer us in the direction.
            (For your convenience the following finish up on this post is copied from a prior post of mine.)

            Why would those advanced civilizations be visiting us lesser beings? It seems that they are trying to insure that the right kind of civilizations develop. One’s that are going to be peaceful and not pose a threat to them. They are making long term down payments on their own preservation. They are trying to make sure that hostile, violent, and militarily aggressive civilizations do not rise too high in weapons and transportation technology. It seem to me that “someone” / “they” are messing with our evolutionary development for a specific purpose. Is this too far fetched an idea?

          • summers-lad

            Interesting speculation. How do you think they might be messing with our evolutionary development?

          • Rowland Reeves

            Some possible examples of our planet being influenced by beings from a super advanced civilization: 1, They might be tweaking our DNA to breed more even tempered people. 2. They might be sending emissaries disguised as humans who present concepts and philosophies that promote peace and understanding. 3. They could indirectly or sub-consciously be passing technology information to individuals who then become the “inventors” of those items. 4. At key points they could sway the course of wars and political campaigns through a variety of what seem to us to be natural occurrences. One of the subjects I taught for many years was World History so I was always digging. History is filled with many very strange events etc. that seems sort of misplaced or miraculous.

  • Brian K

    You’re missing that it’s funny.

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

      I don’t find it funny. You do?

      • Brian K

        It is an extraneous aside to the test question, stated in an unusually polemic prose for the age of the writer. Yes, I find that funny.

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

          Maybe if the student had actually answered the question, and done so correctly, that part would have seemed amusing…

          • Rowland Reeves

            She did actually answer the question correctly. She just didn’t give evidence to support her claims. She either forgot or has not been taught that any statement without evidence is merely an opinion.

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

            Please stop spamming by writing the same thing on each and every thread here. She was asked to give evidence, and she did not. And what she says about the Big Bang involving gases is simply incorrect.

          • Rowland Reeves

            Sorry if it seems like spamming. But their are serious questions here that go far beyond this young ladies incorrectly answered test question. I agree that she did not answer the question correctly because she did not provide evidence. However there are greater issues here that she raises which are; 1. her basic contention that the Big Bang proceeded from a prior universe and 2. whether some “man in the sky snapped his fingers to create our universe”.
            It seems that she is basically correct on both of these questions and evolving scientific evidence supports her on both of them. As a retired Teacher I can say she would have gotten an “F” for her answer and also been required to research and rewrite her answers with the supporting evidence provided.

    • Rowland Reeves

      Maybe not “funny” but definitely sounds innocent and honest. Also correct.

    • Brandon Roberts

      as an atheist i do too.

  • Peter A.

    No, you’re not missing anything. It’s a self-evidently silly answer (well, it’s self-evident to those of us who actually understand the basics when it comes to what theists really do believe about God), and only makes atheists look like complete fools.

    • Rowland Reeves

      I would have to disagree. I don’t think the efforts of a young girl to answer a test question are going to make anyone look like fools. Besides it’s not a silly answer. She basically got it.

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

        Can you provide evidence that any physicist thinks that the Big Bang resulted from gases? Hannes Alfvén plasma cosmology is a denial of the Big Bang, and not at all mainstream. But even as a summary of that, this answer would be weak.

        • Rowland Reeves

          I agree the terminology of this young person -“gases” – is incorrect. But poor terminology aside she basically described a multi-verse type scenario where prior “universes” provided the mass for the continual creation through big bang processes of follow up “universes”. Alfven’s cosmology theory was a reaction to the Big Bang theory as purely a mathematical model. The evidence for that model however has continued to build. (Cosmic Background, receding galaxies, dark energy, etc.). None other than Sir Martin Rees, 1998, Astronomer Royal of Britain has proposed that there is not one but a plethora of “universes” – a multi-verse. http://www.astronomy.pomona.edu/Projects/moderncosmo/Sean's%20mutliverse.html
          He among many other astrophysicists and astronomers are coming to the conclusion that the multi-verse is infinite in terms of mass, volume, and time. If time allows please also see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39qmbl7mpJQ there are many others. There was not one all creating Big Bang but there have been an infinite number of big bangs in the past and there will be an infinite number into the future each one creating a “universe”. Evidence is building for these conclusions. If correct this fact would lend credence to the suggestion that over time very advanced civilizations have developed in multiple locals through time and space. Those super advanced civilizations are possibly inhabited by super advanced beings whose knowledge and powers would seem “godlike” to us.

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

            If one is talking about gases, one hasn’t understood what the Big Bang posits.

          • Rowland Reeves

            Agree.

      • Peter A.

        She basically got it

        No, she was miles off. Theists don’t believe in invisible sky daddies, or spaghetti monsters, in spite of what internet atheists may say.

        • Rowland Reeves

          Yes, I think her flip response was incorrect and irreverent relative to Theist concepts. As a young person she was obviously echoing the teachings of her parents or someone else. I would like to see if she is really interested in supporting with evidence her contention that the our big bang proceeded from a prior universe. If her statement that “some sky daddy didn’t snap his fingers etc.” is referring to her belief that there is no god or higher beings I would like her to also provide evidence for that statement. But in spite of the flip answer she does have some points that are supported by evolving scientific knowledge. As a retired Teacher I would have made her retake the test.

  • http://ChristAlmighty.net K.W. Leslie

    Mehta’s probably proud of it for much the same reason a young-earth creationist would be pleased if his kid answered, “I don’t care; God made it.” It means the kid’s knee-jerk reactions have been properly conditioned into her. Hard part’s over; all that’s left is to fine-tune the details of her argument.

    • Rowland Reeves

      It seems that Mehta is proud of the fact that girl put the answer that he would want her to write given the belief system she was raised in. Her answer however was correct given the most recent discoveries and astronomical observations. .

      • Lark62

        This was not written by Mr Mehta’s daughter, unless she is extraordinarily precocious being an infant.

        • Rowland Reeves

          Well actually whether it was written by her or not would probably be up to Mr. Mehta to determine. But non-the-less who ever wrote it seems like a very young person who got the basics correct.

          • Peter A.

            She seems to believe that “gases” existing in a prior universe somehow came together to create our own universe. This is wrong.

            She mentions a “floating man in the sky” snapping his fingers, which is something that NO theist that I have ever met has ever believed in.

          • Rowland Reeves

            Agree, really flip comments that she obvious heard from her parents or someone else.

  • Brian Westley

    But on the other hand, if one anthropomorphizes God as a “floating man in the sky,” then how would a powerful being of this sort snapping his fingers and creating a universe look different from the Big Bang?

    It wouldn’t, just as a floating man in the sky throwing lightning bolts wouldn’t look different. But when the question asks for “supported by scientific discoveries”, they both vanish.

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

      The question asks for that, but the answer doesn’t provide it. How is this answer better than one that says “God did it” while getting the science wrong in a comparable fashion?

      • Brian Westley

        I didn’t say it was better, just pointing out that adding gods does nothing to add understanding.

        • Rowland Reeves

          Actually adding “gods” is inherently a part of this answer. Specifically given the infinite age of the multi-verse it seems that at least within the realm of speculation that there might be super advanced beings who have developed the understanding and power to play with creation. Whether they played a part in our “universe’s” creation was addressed in the young lady’s answer. It seems to me that perhaps they didn’t “snap their fingers” to create our universe but that they are definitely playing a part in the development and evolution of life here on Earth and perhaps in many other civilizations across the galaxies.

          • Brian Westley

            “Anything’s possible, but only a few things actually happen.” — Rich Rosen

          • Rowland Reeves

            Completely agree. Anything is possible in an infinite multi-verse.

          • Peter A.

            Now why should anyone take the multiverse idea seriously? Where is the evidence for it?

            Anything is possible in an infinite multi-verse.

            Including God?

          • Rowland Reeves

            Anything is possible especially God. Any civilization that over time has managed to escape the bonds of its own self-destruction has had more than enough time to evolve its civilization to levels that would definitely be god like to us.

          • Peter A.

            That’s not what I meant, I didn’t mean “advanced civilisations”, which are entirely different. I didn’t mean “god(s)”, I meant God (i.e. the necessary foundational… something that allows any universe, up to and including the mythical multiverse, to even exist in the first place).

          • Rowland Reeves

            Actually I think we are in agreement. I should clarify. Anything is possible including beings that are so advanced that they would seem godlike to us. That is not negating or usurping the concept of God – the foundation of it all. I would suggest that even to civilizations with beings who would seem godlike to us that those same super advanced beings would still worship God as we do as the foundation upon which they built their civilization.

          • Rowland Reeves

            Actually I think we are in agreement. I should clarify. Anything is possible including beings that are so advanced that they would seem godlike to us. That is not negating or usurping the concept of God – the foundation of it all. I would suggest that even to civilizations with beings who would seem godlike to us that those same super advanced beings would still worship God as we do as the foundation upon which they built their civilization.

          • Brian Westley

            It hasn’t been shown that an infinite multi-verse exists.

          • Rowland Reeves

            Just suggesting that if you have time please look at these links and the many others that posit the existence or provide evidence that a multi-verse exists. http://www.astronomy.pomona.edu/Projects/moderncosmo/Sean's%20mutliverse.html
            and
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39qmbl7mpJQ
            These are presented in my other posts but just putting them here for your convenience.

      • Rowland Reeves

        I would suggest that her answer is better than saying “God did it” and then get the science wrong in a comparable manner”. Relative to recently developing discoveries her answer is correct. There have been and will continue to be “Big Bangs” which sprang from universes that came before them. Dark energy which comprises over 80% of all the mass in our “universe” is still expanding from our own Big Bang 13 billion years ago. Her basic premise is correct. Whether a “man floating in the sky” somehow had anything to do with it depends on how far along advanced civilizations have developed over the infinite time that the multi-verse has existed.

    • Rowland Reeves

      Perhaps there is no “floating man in the sky” but given that it is becoming widely recognized that we don’t live in the “universe” but rather in a multi-verse of “universes” the possibility of the existence of extremely advanced beings becomes within the realm of speculation let alone probability. Just last week NASA released theoretical posits with compelling evidence that there are possibly as many as a trillion galaxies in our “universe” as opposed to the one hundred million previously believed. The probability grows with each new discovery that other beings and perhaps extremely advanced beings exist throughout the our bubble of space: our “universe”.

      • Lark62

        If such extremely advanced beings exist, do you actually think it is plausible that they would in any way resemble the petty, genocide loving, tattoo hating despot of the bible who loves him the smell of burning sacrifice in the morning?

        • Rowland Reeves

          I wouldn’t completely agree with your characterization of the bible’s God but if that characterization is true I don’t think that super advanced beings would resemble that type of god in any way. Just to evolve to that level would probably require perfection in multiple disciplines and technologies. It seems that there would be no path for advancement for beings with the attributes that you describe. Hopefully the violent and petty civilizations of the multi-verse self-eliminate themselves from the gene pool. Oh, Oh, did I just describe us.

  • Rowland Reeves

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f642c2939599f164fbdf030b9b14a534c783513b9e19fe44f10298c806b056b6.jpg
    Hemant Mehta, you should be proud of your daughter’s Big Bang test question answer. I am not sure of the age of the young lady but her answer, what there is of it, seems very accurate to me. Specifically, she states, “It is a very probable theory”. Yes, given the evidence to date of receding galaxies and Cosmic Background Radiation. Also “Our universe was created from left over gasses possibly from a previous universe. These gasses reacted causing the Big Bang”. The realization is propagating through astrophysics and astronomy departments around the world that there is not just one but an infinity of universes, a multi-verse. It is speculated that the “universes” in that multi-verse evolve in and out of existence through repeated dark energy generated big bang type “explosions”. That dark energy is remnant mass from the “universe” that came before it.
    As to the remaining statement, “I know a floating man in the sky didn’t snap his fingers and create everything”. Perhaps that is correct. But consider that many now believe that the multi-verse never had a beginning but has always existed as bubbling volumes of space. That is, “universes” such as our own bubbling in and out of existence for an infinite amount of time. This lends considerable credence to the belief that over time various planetary civilizations have been able to evolve to super advanced levels of knowledge and power. Even within our own “universe” a planetary civilization just one billion years older than our own has possibly developed to levels where a proverbial “snap of their fingers” might be able to accomplish feats which would be beyond our comprehension and would seem “god like” to us. There are “floating people in the sky”; whether they can create whole universes with a snap of the fingers is doubtful but they can do things that we cannot even comprehend right now.

  • Brandon Roberts

    she’s a young child so yeah not surprising. hell there are adults that don’t understand it

    • Rowland Reeves

      Exactly.

  • arcseconds

    James, you’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter whether or not she understands the question or writes a correct answer: what is important is that she’s correctly insulted her parents ideological enemies in an amusing fashion! Why can’t you see how funny this is?

    • Scott Paeth

      And we have a winner!

      • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

        So let me get this straight. “Winning”, for you guys, is when you can mischaracterize a humorous article about what a child has written by pretending what the child wrote is both what all atheists think and also insulting to theists.

        Why am I not surprised.

        Also, it must be frustrating to be so thin-skinned.

        • Scott Paeth

          “It must be frustrating to be so thin skinned.” I’ll have to take your word for that.

        • arcseconds

          I think this illustrates the problem here: she hasn’t understood the question, but instead made a snide, ill-informed, and totally irrelevant remark about theism.

          And you think this is funny.

          Leaving aside as to whether ignorant and snide remarks should ever be considered funny, some of us actually care about education and ignorance across the board here.

          Apparently you don’t care about kids being unable to answer scientific questions, so I suppose you don’t care about scientific education, but there must be some topic you care about?

          Perhaps you might like to imagine an irrelevant and confused answer to a question on a subject you actually care about, combined with an ignorant and snide remark about some other subject you care about, to understand where we are coming from.

    • Rowland Reeves

      Arcseconds, it seems that the musings of a little girl should not be taken so seriously. I was a Teacher for 25 years. Kids change their minds on a daily basis and say things that they don’t really understand. As far as the insult goes. I would suggest that a comment is only an insult if the receiver of the insult actually thinks that others believe it. And even if they do that’s their loss not yours.

      • arcseconds

        Hyperbole can never be insulting? Great! Then you’re the stupidest person I’ve ever met, and this is the most pigheaded, inane, thoughtless response conceivable. Only the worst retired teacher in the entire universe could so easily pass over young people giving ignorant, irrelevant, and dogmatic responses on tests. Have you thought about whether this would be an adequate defense if a biology question was answered by “well, I know babies aren’t made by two men screwing” or a question about the law with “we don’t need to give trials to illegals, as they don’t respect our laws”? Or how about answering this question with “well, I know it can’t have come about by atoms randomly being thrown around and forming planets and human beings!”? No, of course you haven’t, because instead of a brain you’ve got a couple of blinking LEDs, the old red ones from the 1970s, winking in the darkness of your skull.

        Perhaps when you get your brain back from the cleaners you might consider that inability to understand questions, let alone answer them, and giving knee-jerk ideological responses instead, is something to be regretted, not celebrated, and it’s certainly not funny. Even if we think snide and ignorant remarks can be funny, then surely it’s eclipsed by the fact we’re seeing a child give a poor test response and having her parent cheer her on the internet for it.

        Is this the most important thing ever? No. Just one of the little tragedies of life: rather than being able to discuss science, she sees the Big Bang as being largely about responding to straw creationists. And her parent (who is plausibly the source of this dogma) rather than thinking her inability to understand a test question is a problem, thinks the dogmatic straw-man is hilarious and to the point.

        Yes, kids say things they don’t understand, so hopefully she is just thoughtlessly repeating the opinions of her parent here. That seems about the best we can wish for, but it’s not exactly something that makes me feel all fuzzy inside.

        • Rowland Reeves

          She would have definitely gotten an “F” if she had provided that answer in my class. But I don’t take flippant remarks by students personally because they say stupid things everyday. You just have to redirect that stuff or if need be talk to their parents. As far as my brain goes I can say that after a day in the classroom I definitely only have blinking LED’s in the space between my ears at the end of the day.

          • arcseconds

            I am not taking this remark personally, but I don’t think it’s great that a scientific question on a test provokes a piece of irrelevant straw-manning.

            Someone who thinks of the big bang largely in terms of a case against creationists is seriously missing the point.

            (and I don’t think a question about marginal utility in economics should provoke a rant about libertarians, and nor do I think a question about genetics should provoke a rant about eugenics. And I say this as someone who is not a fan of either libertarians or eugenics.)

          • Rowland Reeves

            I definitely agree with, “Someone who thinks of the big bang largely in terms of a case against creationists is seriously missing the point.” The student was obviously mimicking something she had been taught by or heard her parents say. I would have been very interested to further discuss the answer with her to find the source of her thought processes on the test.

  • Lark62

    And christian kids never say anything that comes across as humorous, that just make you smile? Lighten up.

  • Michael Wilson

    Yeah, the student doesn’t know what the big bang is and discuses no evidence of how it is supported by scientific discoveries. And nobody thinks a floating man in the sky snapped his fingers, but really nobody knows what caused that initial condition. its really beyond our current, perhaps even possible, ability to know. So a guy snapping his fingers is just as good a guess as anything

    • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

      No, it’s not. Because there is no evidence whatsoever supporting it. There is plenty of evidence for the big bang. But even if there were not, that wouldn’t make it reasonable to simply believe in some god. Without evidence, the rational thing to do is to disbelieve all claims until evidence comes along.

      • arcseconds

        So, you agree with Michael that it’s as good a guess as anything, then?

        • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

          No. I just said it wasn’t. If you’re going to make a guess where there IS evidence (and there is), you have to guess based on the available evidence, none of which points to a god.

          • arcseconds

            Yes, you said it wasn’t, but you also said that it was:

            Without evidence, the rational thing to do is to disbelieve all claims until evidence comes along.

            So you apparently do want to treat all claims the same, so one guess is as good as another in your view too, isn’t it?

          • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

            No. Maybe you need lessons in English comprehension.

          • arcseconds

            Well, there’s always that question as to whom the failing belongs when there’s an interpretative failure, isn’t there? Maybe you need lessons in English composition!

            In any case, no matter whose fault it is, your position is very unclear to me.

            You say you think all claims should be disbelieved without evidence. Yet you also deny one guess is as good as another.

            So apparently some guesses are better than others, even though there’s no evidence, and we should disbelieve all of them, according to you.

            In what way are some guesses better than others in the absence of evidence, and in the presence of disbelieve towards all of them?

      • Michael Wilson

        The conditions before the big bang are beyond our ability to observe so therthere is no evidence so all claims must be disbelieved, including genies snapping fingers or any other idea you care to imagin

    • Rowland Reeves

      Agree. In this case it’s a non-issue.

  • Scott Paeth

    Hemant likes it because it shows a kid being snidely and dismissively atheist without any real understanding of the issues. Gotta start ’em young!

    • Rowland Reeves

      I would agree. Teaching kids to give flippant answers is not socially acceptable nor academically defend-able