When skeptics ask
Big bang blowups and the moon age mystery
Published: 7 January 2012 (GMT+10)
Illustrated by Caleb Salisbury
We often get requests to deal with anti-creation arguments that our supporters are often faced with from their skeptic friends. One important lesson from the questions addressed below by CMI’s Dr Don Batten and Shaun Doyle is that skeptics don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt—the Bible does.
A skeptic wrote to a friend of CMI,
“The latest that I hear from AIG and CMI is that they are now invoking total and absolute sci-fi hocus-pocus like White Holes in a downright vain attempt to force creationist cosmology to make some kind of, any kind of sense. To force it to fit into a model of the 6000 year old, 6-day created cosmos.
“The scientific community is laughing at them because they couldn’t even get a basic fact like that even if white holes did exist (and there is nil evidence for them to date) then so time in the universe outside of one would dramatically slow down instead of speed up like the creation scientists are arguing in order to make sense of the fact that we are looking at 13 billion year old galaxies”
CMI’s Dr Don Batten replies:
It is clear that skeptic ‘Steve’ did not get his information about what we are supposedly saying from researching CMI’s website (or AiG’s view from AiG’s website for that matter) himself, but second hand, probably from some infidel website, because what he wrote does not accurately reflect CMI’s or AiG’s views.
Anyone who understands even the basics of cosmology will not laugh at other models of how the universe could have formed because when it boils down to it, there is no scientific way of knowing with any degree of confidence.
For a start, AiG is taking a quite different approach to CMI, not the same. AiG’s staff cosmologist (he has a PhD in astrophysics), Dr Jason Lisle, has a model that is quite different to either of the main ones given an airing by CMI. It involves time conventions and I frankly don’t pretend to understand it (but then I am not an astrophysicist).
Within CMI, there are two models: Dr Russell Humphreys’ gravitational time dilation model (which is different to the earlier ‘white hole’ concept, which Steve’s sources have misconstrued anyway) and Dr John Hartnett’s model. The latter applies a Carmelian cosmology, involving special relativistic effects connected with the speed of the stretching of the ‘fabric of space’, to a bounded universe with a centre (Carmeli was a prominent secular Israeli cosmologist, recently deceased, who assumed the usual atheistic unbounded universe assumption—see later).
Dr Humphreys is a nuclear physicist (retired from Sandia National Laboratories) and is no slouch when it comes to understanding cosmological models in detail. Dr Hartnett is a full professor of physics at the University of Western Australia and his specialty is the measurement of time. He has published many papers in secular journals on various aspects of time, cosmology and astronomy. I can assure you that the scientific community is not laughing at Dr Hartnett. In fact his (creationist) ideas make sense of various conundrums in cosmology—such as explaining the structure of galaxies without dark matter (another fudge demanded by the big bang for which there is no evidence). Dr Humphreys recently pointed out that the creationist approach to cosmology also solves the conundrum of the ‘Pioneer anomaly’. Steve seems to be confusing the atheist community with the scientific community. The former like to think that they are rational and scientific, but this is far from reality—for example, see Evolution preposterous and Who created God?
I wonder if Steve understands that the standard big bang cosmology itself has a light/time travel problem, the “the horizon problem”. See Light-travel time: a problem for the big bang. Big bang cosmologists invented “inflation” to account for this, whereby for a very short time very soon after the ‘bang’, the primordial universe expanded at many orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light. What caused this? They have no idea. How could anything expand faster than the speed of light? No idea. What stopped it? No idea. Hey presto—a ‘miracle’ to save the favoured model, but with no miracle worker to affect the miracle. Other secular cosmologists have even suggested that the speed of light might have been much greater in the past for an extended period (when a creationist suggested this possibility 20 years ago to accommodate distant starlight in the Genesis time-frame he was scoffed at, of course).
For the papers on starlight and time, see How can we see light from stars millions of light years away? Note particularly that Russ Humphreys’ model has been developed further, with more explanatory power and it no longer entails a white hole. See: New time dilation helps creation cosmology (included in the above section). That is the nature of these things; ideas are always developing (so much for the caricature that creation science stifles science because it is just dogma).
Anyone who understands even the basics of cosmology will not laugh at other models of how the universe could have formed because when it boils down to it, there is no scientific way of knowing with any degree of confidence (what experiments can be done on the origin of the universe?). As one commentator said some time ago, “You have to understand that first there is speculation, then there is wild speculation, and then there is cosmology.” (Martin Harris, Stephen Hawking; genius or pretender? in Focus on Science, Weekend Australian, July 4–5, 1992.)
Anyone who bases their rejection of the Bible’s account of creation on modern cosmology is basing their life’s decisions on a ‘mess of porridge’. See: ‘Cosmology is not even astrophysics’.
Cosmological models are actually driven by philosophy (religion), not evidence. George Ellis, a respected South African cosmologist said:
“People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations,” Ellis argues. “For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations.” Ellis has published a paper on this. “You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.” —Gibbs, W. Wayt, 1995. Profile: George F. R. Ellis; Thinking Globally, Acting Universally. Scientific American 273(4):28, 29.
Ellis here refers to the fundamental philosophical assumption of the big bang, that the universe has no centre and no boundary (there is no edge). No one can even imagine such a thing, but it ‘must be’ because the alternative has to have Earth in a special place, and no, we can’t have that because that sounds like … divine creation. In fact, various astronomical observations challenge the atheistic assumption that the universe has no centre: See papers under: Where is the centre of the universe?
Of course any model has to match reality (observations in today’s universe). Here the big bang model has failed again and again. See: What are some of the problems with the ‘big bang’ hypothesis?
The acceptable models on the big stage are those that are compatible with atheism; pure and simple. And of course atheists will laugh at anything that confronts their unbelief. But laughter and derision are no substitute for logic and scientific reasoning and discourse.
Justin L. from Australia writes:
I have a skeptic facebook friend who I recommended the creation.com site to, but has a problem with the moon receding article.
He says “As an example, the article about the recession of the moon makes one very basic but fundamental mistake. The moon is accelerating away from the earth, not slowing in its motion away from the earth. This single mistake invalidated the whole article, and doesn’t give me much confidence in the rest of their ‘science’.”
He goes on to say
“Creation.com’s calculations are wrong. They’re based on the idea that the moon was moving away from the earth faster in the past, an idea which geological evidence does not support.”
I’m not sure what to say other than the secular science is based evolutionary timescales, and they are assuming it was slower and only now accelerating to fit billions of years of evolution.
what does creation.com think?
CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:
Thank you for your email.
Such a continental arrangement is so contrived and unlikely that it looks ‘intelligently designed’ to give an age of 4.55 billion years!
Your friend is unaware that creationist calculations of the theoretical maximum age for the moon are consistent with secular findings (please see The moon’s recession and age). Even skeptics acknowledge that physics and maths used to get the ages is solid.1 However, the secular scientists disagree on the boundary conditions assumed in the calculations. They propose that the continents were arranged in such a way that allows for the theory to be reconciled with the ‘fact’ of a 4.55-billion-year-old Earth. The problem is that such a continental arrangement is so contrived and unlikely that it looks ‘intelligently designed’ to give an age of 4.55 billion years!2
The “geological evidence” your friend relies on to reconcile the moon recession data with the 4.55 Ga age of the Earth-moon system is actually a long-age interpretation of the geological evidence that we don’t grant—that tidal cycles are seen in thinly-laminated rocks called rhythmites. There is plenty of sedimentological evidence to suggest that laminations can be laid down in one event in a flood setting (please see Mud experiments overturn long-held geological beliefs and How can many fine layers of rock be formed very quickly?). Just the presence of beautifully-preserved fish fossils in these layers is sufficient to overturn the idea that the layers were deposited, one thin (< 1 mm thick) layer at a time, year-by-year over many years. Of course, if the deposition of the ‘tidal rhythmites’ has nothing to do with tidal processes in the first place (from which they draw inferences about the moon), then their use as ‘empirical data’ to ‘calibrate’ models of the recession history of the Moon is fallacious.
In summary, the ‘solution’ to the age of the moon problem (for long age beliefs) is to use dubious interpretations of layered rocks to overturn ‘rock solid’ physics.
For more information, please see our forum on the Green River Formation. This presents two different creationist perspectives on perhaps the most well-known ‘rhythmite’ formation in the world. Though the authors disagree on when the Green River Formation formed, they both agree that the formation couldn’t have formed over millions of years.
I hope this helps
Writer and Editor
Creation Ministries International
- Thompson, T., The Recession of the Moon and the Age of the Earth-Moon System, 2000, www.talkorigins.org/faqs/moonrec.html; accessed 6 October 2011. Return to text.
- Bowden, M., The Moon is Still Young, 2000, www.trueorigin.org/moonmb.asp, accessed 6 October 2011. Return to text.
Distant galaxies: God invented the time, He uses it as He needs it and everything has to go along with it. Yes, I know, it can be hurtful not to be in control.
Science is hammered out within the domain of science, not within popular sources aimed at the general public like CMI.
I’ll happily change my mind about the age of the earth or evolution once the scientific consensus changes. So that’s the area CMI should focus on–changing the scientific consensus.
Ah such ‘faith’ in ‘science’! Your approach is one of the games people play to suppress unwelcome ideas (Games some people play). Science has a chequered history of suppressing ideas, even where experiments could test things. ‘Canonical phase locking’ is a common phenomenon, recognized by philosophers of science. This is where a paradigm—a prevailing way of thinking—gains ascendency and is no longer questioned. All further work has to conform to this paradigm or not be accepted/published, thus further reinforcing the false paradigm. When it comes to history, such as the age of the earth or the evolution of life on earth, experimental testing is not possible, so science is poorly equipped to definitively answer the questions and is strongly driven by philosophical biases (“cannot allow a divine foot in the door” as Richard Lewontin said). See ‘It’s not science’. BTW, CMI also publishes the peer-reviewed journal, Journal of Creation, which is not “aimed at the general public”.