It doesn’t take a rocket scientist …
An interview with missile researcher Joe Sebeny
First posted on homepage: 27 January 2006 (GMT+10)
Re-posted on homepage: 29 June 2022 (GMT+10)
Chatting with someone who designs rockets for a living and soundly rejects evolution makes it hard to resist this variation on a common quip: ‘It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something’s wrong with evolution/long ages.’
Joe Sebeny really is a rocket scientist. An aerospace engineer with over 20 years of experience in the defence industry, he works for Raytheon Company, the world’s largest tactical missile producer, in Tucson, Arizona. Somewhat of a child science prodigy, Joe graduated from high school three years early with special honours. He earned two degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one in physics, the other in aeronautical/astronautical engineering, when barely 19. After this came a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of New Hampshire.
The incredible design and complexity exhibited by living things is a major plank for Joe’s firm rejection of evolution. He stresses that, as the leader of a project team, he is responsible for designing things that work. As he says, ‘I know how complex and difficult that is. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars and loads of intelligent man-hours making something work that is nowhere near as complex as a living thing—say, a bird. Yet the seeking sensors on our best missiles pale into insignificance next to the incredible sensory abilities of the eyes of, say, the Peregrine Falcon as it hunts. But people today, even many of my engineering colleagues who really should know better, are conditioned into switching off their brains and slipping into the belief that these things are undesigned, that there is no ultimate, historical information source for all the incredible information in those living things.’
Joe says that he believes in a young Earth for both Biblical and scientific reasons. ‘The best way to read any part of the Bible is straightforwardly, the way it was meant to be understood.’
‘I was raised in a Christian home,’ he went on, ‘and reading Genesis as a child, the meaning was very clear—what God did, how long He took, what order He did things in. Also, it told me that the original creation was very good, before man’s sin messed it up and so death entered the world. Long-age thinking doesn’t add up, as it has God calling millions of years of death and bloodshed “very good”?.’
We asked Joe how, as a person with solid credentials in physics, he responds to the claims that radiometric dating proves an old Earth. He says, ‘Science tells me that it is absolutely impossible to age-date anything without knowing something about the history of what you are trying to date. You need to make a whole bunch of assumptions, but without someone to tell you to some extent what the history was, you have no idea whether your assumptions are correct or not.’
So why do so many make the assumptions they do? Joe says, ‘2 Peter chapter 3 basically tells us that there are two important events in history that you mustn’t ignore, but predicts that a time would come when people would willingly ignore them anyway. One is special creation, the other is the Flood. Any type of age calculation that doesn’t take those two things into account is bound to come up with wrong answers.’
Rockets being associated with space issues, we asked Joe for his views on reconciling a young world with stars that are huge distances away. He said that, scientifically, he feels drawn to the hypothesis put forward by Dr Russell Humphreys in the layman’s book (with technical appendices) Starlight and Time. (This model starts with different philosophical assumptions to the atheistic assumptions used in ‘big bang’ thinking. Using the same equations, i.e. Einstein’s general relativity, a different cosmology emerges. As a side-effect, one sees how the experimentally demonstrated effect of gravitational time dilation means that light could traverse billions of light years while the whole universe is created in six normal-length days.)
‘I’ve become somewhat of a fan of Humphreys, and think he is likely onto something here’, says Joe, who adds that relativity was one of his favourite university subjects.
He has enjoyed watching ‘the debate’ as Humphreys has been dealing with his long-age critics in our peer-reviewed science journal, Journal of Creation.
Flying telephone poles
Light-heartedly, Joe says, ‘I like to describe myself as someone who makes telephone poles fly. Our missiles have proportions not too dissimilar to telephone poles.’
More soberly, he recalls reading about a framed quote hung in a missile-making executive’s office in the 1960s: ‘The technical axiom that nothing is impossible sinisterly conditions one to the pitfall corollary that nothing is ridiculous.’ Joe sees that as a great statement about evolutionism, especially if one were to add, after ‘nothing is impossible’, the commonly heard phrase ‘given enough time’.
‘If it were true that time makes all things possible,’ says Joe, ‘then indeed I could interpret the laws of thermodynamics any way I wanted to, and it would be conceivable that energy from the sun could, given enough time, transform telephone poles into the most complex of flying machines. But it won’t happen, and the same laws make the evolution of a living thing from lifeless raw ingredients equally impossible, no matter how much time is imagined.’
We asked Joe whether people ever said that it was inconsistent for him as a Christian to be involved in making weapons of destruction. He replied, ‘I haven’t had that problem much. Just once in a while. I believe the Bible makes it very clear that we are allowed to defend ourselves.’
Joe Sebeny loves handing out copies of Creation magazine widely. He has been involved in personal creation outreach for some years, often in close collaboration with [ministry] personnel. For instance, he often goes to Home School conventions, taking along materials supplied from [a US creation ministry].
He says, ‘The theme of my ministry is that the Bible and true science are in perfect harmony, but the church has, I think, been very lax in defending Scripture, especially the first few chapters of Genesis. The compromise with “science”? that has gone on for the last 150 years or so has done great harm.’
Joe sees creation ministry as an extremely useful tool for showing people that there is a Creator, and says, ‘It also points them to the entire Biblical flow of history which is focused around Jesus Christ, his death, burial and Resurrection.
‘That’s why I’m looking forward to being able to hand out copies of this article when it’s finished, hoping it will engage folks with the Gospel message woven throughout your magazine.’