Friday, July 25, 2014

Exotic Cosmology Part 1: The Balloon Model of the Universe

Imagine for a moment a very large, flat meadow of grass with a crowd of people standing in it. You are somewhere in the crowd. Through just simple observation, it would not be hard to guess where you are in the crowd. If all the people are on one side of you and no one on the other, you would be on the very edge of the crowd. If there were more people on one side than the other, you would be toward the edge. If there were about the same number of people everywhere you looked, you would be closer to the center. It's not hard, right?

As we look around in the universe, we observe about the same number of stars no matter which direction we look. Just as in my crowd analogy, it would be very reasonable to conclude from this observation that we are somewhere near the center of the universe. Of course, the universe is very, very large and since we cannot see the edge of it in any direction, it makes it hard to be sure that we're in the center. It would be like being in the ocean with no land in sight; you would really have no idea if you're in the middle of the ocean or just outside sight of the shore. To really know we're in the center, we'd have to have more information.

In the mid-19th century, Dutch physicist, Christian Doppler noticed that sound waves changed frequency relative to the observer when the source was in motion. He dubbed this phenomenon, “the Doppler Effect” and believed it would apply to all waves including light and radiometric waves. In the beginning of the 20th century, we were able to observe this phenomenon in the light from distant stars. The light from the stars was “redshifted” indicating that the light wave was being stretched and that the star was moving away from us. As we began to survey more and more stars, we realized that the stars uniformly seemed to be moving away from us at a constant speed.

The implications of what was being observed was huge. Obviously it meant the universe was expanding but more than that, the general movement of the stars directly away from us further seemed to confirm our position near the center of the universe.

To help visualize this, let's go back to my crowd analogy for a moment. If everyone in the crowd – including you – began running away from the center, you would notice a couple of things. Someone running right next to you at the same speed would barely seem redshifted at all. However, someone who was running in the opposite direction would be moving away from you very rapidly so would appear highly redshifted (see my illustration). If we were anywhere else but the center of an expanding universe, this is how the redshifts of different stars should appear to us.

Now imagine you were in the center of the crowd and everyone was running directly away from you. As they got further away from you, they would also move further away from each other, but each runner's redshift in relation to you would be approximately the same. This is exactly what we observe. So the simplest explanation (and most secular scientists claim to prefer the simplest explanation) is that we occupy the unique position of the center of the universe.

In this enormous universe, the odds of us coincidentally being in the center are mind numbingly small. I'm not sure how to describe how impossible it seems. I read one source that estimates there are 1 septillion stars (1024). So that would mean the odds of our star being in the center would be 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. It would seem impossible if we believed were here by mere chance.

If God had intended us to be in the center of the universe, then the remote odds of it happening randomly don't matter. However, scientists, because of their bias toward natural explanations will not allow themselves to consider that we're here by design. Still, accepting that we occupy this special place by mere coincidence is too incredible to believe. So what is the solution?

Scientists have put forth a model of the universe where there really is no center – or rather everywhere is the center. Space is like a flat surface that is being stretched. All points on the surface would be moving away from each other. They also suggest there is no edge to the universe. Instead, space is curved like the surface of the earth and if you started in one direction and headed in a straight line, you would eventually end up where you began. In other words, no matter where you are in the universe, we would observe exactly the same things that we observe on earth.

To help visualize this strange explanation, many people have compared the universe to the surface of a balloon painted with stars. As the balloon expands, all the stars would move away from each other at about the same rate. Also, any point on the balloon would have the same amount of surface surrounding it so no particular point is the center. It's actually a very clever analogy that paints a vivid picture of the theory it attempts to explain. And the theory seems to cleverly explain how we can look like we're in the center of the universe yet not really be in the center.

No matter how clever the analogy, there is still one, huge, nagging problem I see with it – namely, the balloon really has three dimensions. To believe that the universe somehow exists on an immensely curved plane resembling just the 2D surface of a balloon seems a stark contrast to everything else we experience. It seems an unnecessarily complicated solution, especially when we know a much simpler explanation exists.

In my crowd analogy, if I saw the same number of people on every side of me, I would conclude that I was close to the center. I could test that theory by walking to the edge and seeing if I was right. However, if I had no way to walk to the edge, I would simply have to trust my conclusion as being reasonable. What I believe is unreasonable is if I suggested there really is no center to the crowd and if I tried to walk to the edge, I would eventually end up where I started. Such an idea seems insane. Yet scientists would have us believe that is the correct way to view our universe.

Does the universe have an edge or not? Does the universe have a center or not? The problem with either theory is that we can't really test it. There's no way we could fly to edge of the universe to see if it's there. We can't stand back from the universe and see if it resembles the surface of a balloon. We can only picture the universe based upon we can observe from the earth. What I'll do instead is appeal to what seems the most reasonable explanation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Use of Exotic Explanations to Perpetuate Flawed Theories

In his reply to a recent post, a frequent visitor to my blog, Steven J, mentioned epicycles. It reminded me of another practice often engaged by scientists, namely the use of “exotic” explanations employed to prop up flawed theories. For people not familiar with epicycles, let me give you a thumbnail description of what they are. In the geocentric (earth-centered) model of the universe, Ptolemy used the notion of epicycles to explain the apparent motion of planets. If a planet simply circled the earth, it should appear to move across our sky in a straight line at a steady speed. However, the planets seemed to move at different speeds and sometimes even seemed to move backward. Ptolemy suggested planets also made smaller orbits around an invisible point called the deferent. It wasn't a terrible idea, really, and it seemed to explain the motions of the planets very well. After all, we could see the planet moving and sometimes it really seemed to be moving backward so the epicycles were “observed”. However, we've since learned that the planets don't circle the earth. What looked like changes in speed was caused by the differences in relative speed between us and the other planets. Epicycles and deferents did not even exist at all!

In a similar fashion, people once believed in a fiery element they called phlogiston. Objects that would burn easily were believed to be rich in phlogiston and objects that didn't burn easily were had little phlogiston.  As an object burned, the phlogiston was released into the air and the object was turned to ashes.  But if it was the phlogiston that allowed the object to burn, then why did objects considered rich in phlogiston not burn in an enclosed space? To explain this, it was suggested the air could only hold so much phlogiston and once the air was completely saturated, it could not receive any more, thus the object could not release any more and so would stop burning. Again, the theory seemed to explain reasonably well what was being observed but we've since learned that it is the oxygen in the air that allows objects to burn. Phlogiston did not even exist at all!

Things like epicycles, deferents, and phlogiston were the symptoms of flawed theories. They seemed to smooth out problems with the theories but the real problems laid in the theories themselves. Yet as long as the underlying theory persisted, more and more fanciful sub-theories had to be invented to keep the failed theory afloat. You might call it the “fudge factor.”

So where am I going with all this? Well, when it comes to secular theories of cosmology, I've seen a lot of same behavior among scientists. There are several crazy, er... I mean, “exotic”... explanations that have been invoked in order to hammer down stubborn difficulties with their theories. Actually, I'm only using the term “exotic” to be nice. These theories are so insanely ridiculous that I suspect that deep down even their most staunch proponents don't sincerely believe them. They merely cling to them because without them their entire worldview completely fails.

There are several crazy ideas put forth by the long-age scientists. If I wrote just a couple of paragraphs on each one, it would make one very long post yet would still not give each idea enough explanation. What I thought I would do instead is make a short series where I spend a few paragraphs discussing each one. Here are some of the ideas I intend to discuss:
  • The “balloon model” of the universe
  • Hyperinflation cosmology
  • Dark matter/energy
  • The Oort Cloud
If I think of some other, extreme examples, I may include them too but at the very least, I will include these. Keep checking back!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Their Smugness Kills Me

So, I was perusing Yahoo! Answers again, hoping to be inspired with something to write on my blog when I came across this gem:

Can religious people (Christian's and Muslims) Survive an education invasion?
In the past thousand of years ago people belive that god created the first man and women adam and eve.

Now when people are getting, better education and scientific studies on top that we know that Adam and eve. Was fake and human evolution tells us there was homo erectus neanderthal cro magnon and modern human homo sapiens which came out of Africa and spread all over the world.

Since more people are getting smarter they now know that religious myths and. Superstitions are just to keep people down, Christian's how will you stop people from becoming smarter the next. Generations of people who will become doctors scientists and so on?

Do I even need to explain why questions like this annoy me? This person stereotypes all Christians (actually all religious people) as uneducated simpletons who fear education – and not only for themselves, this person alleges we fear anyone becoming educated. He goes so far as to suggest we're trying to stop people from “becoming smarter.” Why do critics have to resort to such tactics? Beyond the straw man representation of Christians, the whole question reeks of snobbery.

By the way, the user who asked the question was posting under the name, “southasiangurung.” English is probably his second language so I'm going to excuse the terrible grammar – the misspellings, the random use of capitalization, inappropriate punctuation, verbs not agreeing with nouns in number, sentence fragments, etc. Even so, I cannot excuse the premise of his question – namely that generations of “educated” people (by “educated” he obviously means “non-religious”) will go on to be doctors and scientists and Christians won't be able to stop them.

I've mentioned before that Yahoo! is a bunch of liberals and on several occasions my answers have been removed for allegedly violating community guidelines. I was a little surprised the first time it happened but I later realized that many liberal people are just offended by religious/conservative viewpoints because I certainly don't include any offensive language in any of my answers. Yahoo! certainly doesn't have time to sit and read every question/answer posted in their forum so they rely on Yahoo! members to report inappropriate comments. So why is it that same type of people who flag my comments as inappropriate see no problem in asking inappropriate questions like this?

The Yahoo! community guidelines says, Yahoo Answers is a diverse community of people with diverse opinions. It is up to each of us to be polite and treat each other with respect. I believe this question violates that point so, just for fun, I reported the question as a violation. It's the only time I've ever done that. I'm more curious to see if Yahoo! handles comments against Christians the same way it handles comments made by Christians.

In the meantime, let me just say that liberals are an intolerant lot. For all their talk about inclusion and equality, you certainly can't see any of it in their attitude toward Christians. They have this attitude that they're the enlightened ones, the educated ones, and the champions of “fairness” while all religious people are just stupid. I need to sign off and get some fresh air. Their smugness stinks.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Monopoly on the Evidence

I guess all writers have their own style. I know I do. For example, I know that I often begin sentences with “I” and “For example.” Anyway, when dealing with a subject that is often misunderstood – like evolution is – I constantly try to seek out new ways to explain the most commonly misunderstood parts. I sometimes try putting my arguments into different words hoping that I strike upon a way to make my point clear. In a recent comment I made to a visitor, I happened upon still a different way to make a point I've made many times before.

I've said over and over that evidence is neutral. It isn't “for” any theory. Rather, theories are invented in order to explain the evidence. A theory might seem to explain the evidence rather well but then later, the theory could still be rejected in favor of a new theory. As theories come and go, the evidence is always the same. The universe just keeps chugging along like it always has and nothing has changed except the theory.

For centuries, the prevailing model of the universe was that the heavenly bodies circled the earth. It's not an entirely unreasonable conclusion. When we look into the sky, the sun, moon, and stars appear to be moving around us in predictable patterns. At the same time, we don't feel like we're moving. The geocentric model seemed to explain well what we were observing. Of course, as we began to observe more of the universe, there were things that weren't explained well and the Ptolemaic model was eventually replaced by our current understanding. In all this time, though, the “evidence” didn't change; we just found a better way to explain it.

What is true of the sun, moon, and stars, is true for all of the evidence for any theory. Every phenomenon simply is and we invent theories to explain what it is, why it exists, and why it behaves the way it does. That's science.

Does anyone disagree with anything I've said so far? Certainly I've made it all very simple and there are some things I could elaborate on but I can't see any point that could be contended. Right? Okay, then. Creation and evolution are no different than any other theory. The scientific evidence for creation is the same evidence that is used for any secular theory of origins. It's the rocks and the fossils and the oceans and DNA and everything else that exists in the physical universe. So, keeping what I've said in mind, why do evolutionists repeatedly say, “There is no evidence for creation”?

Let me try to explain in still a different way how ridiculous that comment sounds. Take something like rock layers. Evolutionists believe that the strata were laid down gradually over millions of years. Where fossils appear in the strata supposedly approximates the time the creatures lived. Therefore fossils found in lower layers represent creatures that lived before the those found in higher layers. Now, because secular theorists have explained the rock layers this way, it seems to be their contention that rock layers cannot be explained any other way. In other words, because evolutionists have explained rock layers with their long age theory, the layers can no longer be used as evidence for a recent creation!

Evolutionists are playing a game of “dibs” on the evidence. Once they explain anything according to their theory, they refuse to let it be considered in any other light. That is why the rock layers can't be young because they've already said they're old. Similarities in features on different animals can't be because of design because they've already said it's because of common descent. There is no evidence for creation because they've already used it all as evidence for evolution!

Admittedly, some theories seem to explain certain things better than other theories do and if evolutionists want to say their theories explains the evidence better than creation does, we can have that discussion. In the meanwhile, I refuse to sit back and let evolutionists pretend they have a monopoly on all of the evidence. I will not be shamed into silence by the absurd statement that there is no evidence for creation. Perhaps Daniel Patrick Moynihan said it best when he said, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Friday, May 23, 2014

Typical Evo Rant

I've mentioned before that I sometimes post on Yahoo! Answers. Many of the questions asked there are on topics that I've already written about on my blog so I usually just copy what I've already written here and paste it there. I then paste a link to my blog so that people might visit if they want to read more. Anyway, one Yahoo! poster (who posts only under the name “Richard” with no avatar) asked the following question:

Why do creationists say there's no evidence for evolution? Is it possible they don't know what they're talking about?

He then cited 4 books he's read about evolution (Wow! Four books!) and concluded his question with this remark:

Countless dozens of evidences for evolution in each book with virtually no overlap. But still creationists say there's no evidence for evolution. Why do they say this even though they're completely wrong?

On my blog, I've written many times about the nature of evidence. I've explained many times that evidence is neutral and isn't “for” any theory but, instead, theories seek to explain the evidence. I had many posts that I could have used to respond to his question but I chose my post, “Evidence for the Tooth Fairy.”

You might visit that post and read it but here's the point I was making: a “Tooth Fairy” might seem to explain all the evidence (the missing tooth, the money under the pillow, etc) but it's still not true. Likewise, the theory of evolution might seem to explain some of the evidence reasonably well but that still isn't “proof” the theory is true.

Richard did not like my answer and posted this comment:

You just compared DNA sequencing and the other powerful evidences for evolution to evidence for the tooth fairy fantasy. Do you have any idea how f*cking stupid that is? Grow up you bloody moron.

Hmmm. Not a very thoughtful rebuttal, wouldn't you agree? As always, I remained calm and tried to respond with substance. I said to Richard:

Do you not understand the concept of analogy? I gave you an obvious example of how "evidence" can support an obviously false theory (like the tooth fairy) in order to demonstrate how theories can seem to explain the evidence yet still be wrong.

It was here that Richard completely blew a gasket. His responded with two more comments:

You compared the tooth fairy fantasy to the strongest fact of science. Take your complaints and your supernatural magic to the world's biologists. You disgust me. Drop dead.

"God made the world as described in Genesis." BULLSH!T. Where's your f*cking evidence? What kind of magic wand did your fairy use? You reject science supported by tons of evidence and instead invoke your Magic Man which has zero evidence. Obviously you're a f*cking idiot. Grow up or shut up tard boy

I got a little chuckle from Richard's rant. I was going to respond again but found that he had blocked me so I couldn't. Discussion and reason are the enemies of liberalism. Unfortunately for him, he can't block me from posting his rant on my blog. I was going to say something like, “You're obviously a very enlightened thinker. Do you persuade a lot of people with arguments like this? 'Grow up or shut up tard boy.' Brilliant!” The funniest thing is that I suspect Richard is probably 12-13 years old judging by how impressive he thinks having read 4 books is, yet he tells me to grow up.

So why am I posting this here? One reason is because I really did get a chuckle from it and thought maybe some of my readers would also. But beyond that, I wanted to show readers the kind of response I often get from militant evolutionists. Certainly, I wouldn't say this is representative of all evolutionists, but Richard has resorted to many of the same arguments I've heard and wrote about many times before. You could say that his is a typical rant.

Besides the scarcely censored profanity (Richard himself had typed it that way, obviously to hide his foul language from Yahoo! Answers) let me spend a few moments pointing out a few of his logical failings.

First, we see the oft use argumentum verbosium or “argument by verbosity,” sometimes called “elephant hurling.” This is where a person throws out lists of terms or lays claim to “mountains of evidence” without ever really making a specific argument. Richard has said there are “countless dozens” [that's an odd term, don't you think?] of evidences for evolution yet in all his rant, he fails to cite a single one. He did say, “DNA sequencing” but that is a simply a method of determining the order of nucleotides in a DNA molecule (per Wiki). It's not “evidence” for evolution. That would be like saying, “digging” is evidence for evolution because that's how paleontologists find fossils.

Did you notice too how he said, evolution is “the strongest fact of science.” I'm not sure if I should include that in with his fallacy of elephant hurling or count it as a separate fallacy. I'm not sure how to label it, though. Some have identified “overstatement” as it's own logical fallacy. If so, this would certainly qualify as such.  "The strongest fact of science?"  Tsk tsk.

Richard also conflates “science” with all of evolution, a tactic I just recently had addressed. He used the term “science” instead of “evolution” when he said, You reject science supported by tons of evidence.” I don't reject science at all. Yet, as I've already said, if I reject “evolution,” I'm accused of rejecting all of science as though science and evolution are the same thing.

Do I even need to point out the obvious use of ad homenim? This is where a person attacks his opponent rather than addressing his argument. I made a valid point, namely that evidence can seem to support even a false theory. Richard never addressed my point but, instead, merely called me names. Likewise, should I mention the frequent use of loaded words? Richard didn't make a case against creation; he merely described it using unflattering terms like “magic” and calling God a “fairy” and “Magic Man.”

I could go on but I've gone on too long already. Let's wrap this up with some life lessons. It's because of people like Richard and Human Ape that I have to moderate my comments. Without it, my comments would be filled with rants and profanities worse than theirs. The simple presence of moderation causes most visitors to reflect on what they will say before they write it. But it's also because of people like Richard and Human Ape that I blog. I want people to hear the truth. People as bitter as they are usually hardened against the truth but I still want them to hear it. Remember the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-7). The Sower didn't just sow in the good earth, he sowed in the hard earth as well.

I also want to encourage other Christians. You will encounter people like this. Don't let them bully you. Don't let them shame you. Be reminded of Jesus' instructions to His apostles: Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).