22 April 2006

Stars (and other ancient creatures)

Not sure why this has been on my mind lately, but this feels like a good time to write a post about it. The stars are a major problem for any claims that the universe was created 6000 years ago. Why? Simple. There are many stars that are more than 6000 light years away. There simply hasn't been time for their light to reach us.

So, let's look at this. Supposing that the stars and everything else were made 6000 years ago, we have to assume that God created the light that comes from those stars in situ, en route. So the light was created at the same time as the stars. Problem: the light contains information about the elements that make up the stars. Thus God also created a false record of information and planted it within starlight. Conclusion: God is a liar. Thus the whole reason for thinking the stars were made 6000 years ago vanishes.

Aside: Is it preferable to think that God built lies into his Creation or that those who wrote down his words got a few things wrong?

Now, Answers in Genesis has an "explanation" which avoids the difficulty, at least so far as the stars go. They argue that there could have been a time dilation effect around the earth, so that the stars are the milliions and billions of years required, but the earth is not. More specifically, there may have been an "event horizon" around the earth (and presumably the whole solar system). Okay... Let's try to visualize this. The stars seem to have been visible to Adam and Eve. So several billion years must have been compressed into the space of a day or two.

Well, there are two ways for time dilation to occur. Gravitational time dilation is the result of being within any gravitational field. Gravity on earth is weak enough that this is a fairly minor effect. The equation for time dilation is T = t * sqrt(1-R/r), where T is the observed time, t is the time outside the system, R is the Schwarzschild radius for the amount of mass involved and r is (basically) the distance from the center of the mass (see wikipedia's article). Setting T to one day (or 1/365 of a year), and t to 12 billion years, we find that R/r = 0.9999999999999999999999999 That is, our position would be barely outside the Schwarzschild radius of the mass. So supposing that SOMEHOW the mass of the earth were increased enough to have this effect, and assuming that the radius of the earth itself was the effective Schwarzschild radius, the earth would need to be roughly 4.3 * 10^33 kg (about 2000 times more massive than the sun). This should REALLY have wreaked havoc with the orbits of the other planets, and we ought to be able to observe perturbations even today. We don't.

Right then. The other way for time dilation to occur is to move at a speed very close to the speed of light. Here, the equation is t = T * 1/sqrt(1-(v/c)^2), where t and T are as above, v is the speed of the system, and c is the speed of light. Solving, we find that the earth would have to be moving at 0.999999999999999999999999997*c, while the rest of the universe stayed, more or less, stationary. Okay, not buying this one either.

I can't think of any other known mechanisms that would result in time dilation. There may be some that I haven't heard of, but the primary problem is that this is an ad hoc hypothesis. It is not proposed on the basis of evidence, but to explain away evidence. Any supposed explanation that spends most of its time explaining why massive amounts of evidence are not valid/useful/meaningful is automatically suspect.

Oh yes. I did promise other ancient creatures. Two links from Pharyngula. The first is about a Snake with legs. Here is where evolutionary theory shines. It predicts that an intermediary between legged lizards and legless snakes should exist, and here one is. It predicts we should see a steady parade of gradual changes in the fossil record, and we do (see talkorigins, search for fossil record). Going by Creation "theory", we ought to see a random assortment of jumbled parts (ever been in ANY inventor's lab?).

The other link is Pharyngula's examination of AiG's response to said snake fossil.


Aunt Bee said...

It seems like you are very swift to call God a liar. I would submit that just because He created the beams of light from the stars so that they reached the earth immediately with information about the stars they were coming from does not make Him a liar, but rather, makes Him a stickler for details. If He had made those beams without information from their stars of origin, that would be false information. It says clearly in Genesis 1:!4-17 that He created them "to give light on the earth". Having the light already shining when He created them fulfilled exactly what He set out to accomplish, and just because they have an appearance of age does not make Him a liar. He never claimed that they were (are) billions of years old. The problem you are having is in your interpretation of the evidence available. Adam and Eve had an appearance of age also, but He made it clear that He created them at that level of maturity. The same can be said for every adult plant and animal that He created.

Qalmlea said...

They contain evidence for events that never happened. For elements that never existed. That makes him a liar in my book. (So would fossils of creatures that never existed, since there simply wasn't room for them to exist in the Genesis timeframe)

Your argument (appearance of age) is also known as Thursdayism (the world could have been created in its exact state, false history included, last Thursday). It is generally not considered sound theology, for the reason that it does make God a liar. (If it doesn't, what about criminals who plant false evidence at a crime scene? Is that not lying?)