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ArrowJ
2007-Apr-16, 12:56 AM
Greetings,

Last week I found myself in a conversation with a young earth creationist that believes the universe is from 6,000 to 10,000 years old. I know that many (most...all?) of you will automatically classify this guy as a nut, but before you get too carried away I have to admit that I too, am a creationist. However, I am an old earth creationist, and while I do not believe in macro-evolution, I do believe the universe to be 13.7 billion years old and that it was brought about by the Big Bang.

The problem I find myself in time after time is trying to explain the evidence for an old universe. Much of the time young earth creationist believe that carbon dating is so flawed as to be useless. Furthermore, they believe a global flood can account for the geological appearance of age on our planet. (I know this is silly, but that's just the way it is.)

I haven't quite caught up to the latest Astronomy Cast, but after listening to the first 20 episodes I had a thought. For the sake of argument let us assume that God exists AND that He chose to create a universe that appears to be 13.7 billion years old, BUT is actually only 10,000 years old. What would a snapshot of the universe have to look like in order for this to happen? In other words if God snapped his fingers and the universe appeared 10,000 years ago what are the various stages of stellar development at which He would have been required to create in order to bring about the appearance of an old universe. For instance, if we know that there are stars that are x number of years old and other stars that are y number of years old, God would have had to create the two stars to appear as if they were different ages, AND of course he would have had to "fill in" all the light from those stars to the Earth in an instant so that we could see them without waiting millions of years.

What I would really like is a list of the different stellar ages of objects, and how we can tell that they are the age we claim or close to it. I really need to stick to the most concrete science we have because young earth creationist are typically very critical of science.

So for instance, you could say to me: "Well, we know that "x" type of stars are approximately "x" number of years old because..." and "We know that "y" type of stars (or other objects) are "y" number of years old because...

In the interest of full disclosure I feel it is only fair to state that I do believe that God could have created the universe 10,000 years ago and made it to look as if it were billions of years old, BUT I do not believe this is what He did.

It seems to me that if I can describe the complexity of issues involved for creating a universe that appears old that it would add credibility to the old earth view. It won't prove the view, but it seems to ask the question, "Why would God create a universe with x,y,z when He could have simply created it with a,b,c? To confuse us?

I know this is long, and I hope it is not too confusing. If you feel like helping me out I would appreciate it. I'm not interested in debating philosophical or religious matters on this board, I just want to have the best science available to present to my young earth friends.

Thanks in advance!

Occam
2007-Apr-16, 01:42 AM
My advice is don't try. You cannot fight a belief system with logic and science. If your associate was actually interested in the truth, or even an alternate point of view, a simple trip to the library would suffice. Ironically, though the Christian bible contains many inaccuracies, nowhere does it actually state the age of the Earth or the universe. That particular nonsense was promulgated by fundamentalists in one of their more ludicrous bits of circular reasoning - basing the age of the Earth upon the alleged ages of old testament characters from Adam and Eve onwards.

Ronald Brak
2007-Apr-16, 03:38 AM
I would start much simpler and see if you can get him to understand the difference between the statements, "I believe Angelina Jolie loves me," and "Angelina Jolie loves me."

This may take several hours.

ArrowJ
2007-Apr-16, 03:33 PM
So thus far I have the following lines of evidence:

1. The Christian fundamentalist hypothesis
2. The Angelina Jolie hypothesis

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks ever so much!

Yil_
2007-Apr-16, 06:29 PM
At the risk of sounding crass or glib, but...come on! (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8092395371217203993&q=Bull****) It's hard to discuss anything with you when there's so much fact backing up evolution, and so little backing up creationism or this 'young earth' foolishness. There's so much science backing up the idea that the EARTH is at least 3-4 billion years old, much less the Universe.

So I don't know, what you're asking is for someone here to describe to you a model of something they more than likely don't believe. I think the best thing you can do is get beyond a layman's understanding of evolution, and its concepts. If you don't want to do that, than I would ask a creationist to create for you a model of the Universe that is only 6000-10000 years old, not people who are interested in science fact. :shhh:

But that's just my opinion on it, I'm sure you can get another. :whistle:

ArrowJ
2007-Apr-16, 07:04 PM
It's hard to discuss anything with you when there's so much fact backing up evolution, and so little backing up creationism or this 'young earth' foolishness.

I'm not asking for information about evolution vs. creationism. I'm asking for lines of astronomical evidence that the universe is 13.7 billion years old.


So I don't know, what you're asking is for someone here to describe to you a model of something they more than likely don't believe.

I believe the universe is 13.7 billion years old, and that it began with the Big Bang. I'm not asking for information about before the Big Bang, nor am I inclined to debate that issue on an astronomy forum.


I think the best thing you can do is get beyond a layman's understanding of evolution, and its concepts.

I have studied this issue much farther than the average layman. However, as I mentioned above, I'm not looking for evidence concerning biological evolution. I'm new to astronomy for the most part and I needed some help.

I really enjoy Astronomy Cast. I enjoy discussing science. I read books on both sides of the evolution/creation debate. I have taken classes tailored specifically around this topic. I try to remain open minded and participate in the dialog. I was really hoping that a few people would simply look at my request and help me to create the set of information I am looking for. Instead I have had dozens of people read my thread, and three people respond with anti-information. :wall:

John Mendenhall
2007-Apr-16, 08:32 PM
As you've noticed, post #2 and #3 have reasonable suggestions. #4 is yours, and #5 demonstrates that mainstreamers can also have knee-jerk reactions to creationism.

I'm with you. Doesn't bother me one bit to have special creation 13.5 billion years ago. Drives the fundamentalist creationists crazy, though. Here's a suggestion for rattling their cages: ask them, "Which is the greater God? A God who can set things in motion 13.5 billion years ago, and have it come out right today, or a God who does a rush job 10,000 years ago?" I also add "And by the way, I can't get my planning for tomorrow to come out correctly."

I've done this. The usual result is stunned looks and silence.

ArrowJ
2007-Apr-16, 08:40 PM
Is anyone willing to lay out say five or six (or more) different lines of astronomical evidence for a 13.7 billion year old universe? Let's just pretend that I didn't right any of the other stuff, and that I'm just new to astronomy and need to know the facts. I thought it would be nice of me not to "use" your brains without disclosing the fact that I am a Christian, but obviously that was a mistake.

I really hate this. I didn't want to start this type of thread. I just wanted some information...is that too much to ask?

John Mendenhall
2007-Apr-16, 08:57 PM
Is anyone willing to lay out say five or six (or more) different lines of astronomical evidence for a 13.7 billion year old universe? Let's just pretend that I didn't right any of the other stuff, and that I'm just new to astronomy and need to know the facts. I thought it would be nice of me not to "use" your brains without disclosing the fact that I am a Christian, but obviously that was a mistake.

I really hate this. I didn't want to start this type of thread. I just wanted some information...is that too much to ask?

You're assuming the (fundamentalist) creationists are willing to listen to reasonable argument. In my experience, they usually aren't. Indeed, they're not usually into thinking at all. But . . . let me think about this for a while. If nothing else, it's a good exercise.

Your posts are excellent.

Occam
2007-Apr-16, 09:40 PM
Is anyone willing to lay out say five or six (or more) different lines of astronomical evidence for a 13.7 billion year old universe? Let's just pretend that I didn't right any of the other stuff, and that I'm just new to astronomy and need to know the facts. I thought it would be nice of me not to "use" your brains without disclosing the fact that I am a Christian, but obviously that was a mistake.

I really hate this. I didn't want to start this type of thread. I just wanted some information...is that too much to ask?
ArrowJ,
I mean no offense and respect your up front attitude but I think you have essentially highlighted the problem with this scenario yourself. Any proof or evidence for a universe billions of years old requires research and a willingness to learn, whereas acceptance of a universe created by a deity a few thousand years ago requires only dogmatic belief. The two are mutually exclusive. As a parallel, I doubt if there is anyone on this Earth who could convince me of the existence of the biblical God, when the only source of 'evidence' is a single much translated and interpreted book containing much that is apocryphal.

ArrowJ
2007-Apr-17, 12:38 AM
Trust me, I know about Fundamentalist Christians. I grew up as one. I am now scorned from both sides of the continuum. Many of the instructors at the Bible college I attend believe I am a fundamentalist, while many of the fundamentalists (including my own Father) believe I am a liberal heretic.

Still, the information I am seeking is to be used in a debate/dialog on The Sitter Downers (http://www.thesitterdowners.com) podcast. If you listen to the last 15/20 minutes of the next show (available Friday or Saturday) you will see what I'm talking about.

Who knows, perhaps someone will be listening that will change their minds about the age of the universe.

DDPP
2007-Apr-17, 03:35 AM
Look at Astronomy Cast's archives. The big bang was one of the first things they covered. (here (http://www.astronomycast.com/cosmology/the-big-bang-and-cosmic-microwave-background/) and here (http://www.astronomycast.com/extragalactic/more-evidence-for-the-big-bang/)) PBS also has a good documentary about this online here (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/origins/program-3114.html). They discuss the evidence pointing to the big bang. I don't see how a detailed list of stars, their ages, and how it was determined they were that old would help... here (http://www.astronomycast.com/cosmology/measuring-distance-in-the-universe/) is an astronomy cast about how scientists figure out how far away objects are.


For the sake of argument let us assume that God exists AND that He chose to create a universe that appears to be 13.7 billion years old, BUT is actually only 10,000 years old. What would a snapshot of the universe have to look like in order for this to happen? In other words if God snapped his fingers and the universe appeared 10,000 years ago what are the various stages of stellar development at which He would have been required to create in order to bring about the appearance of an old universe. For instance, if we know that there are stars that are x number of years old and other stars that are y number of years old, God would have had to create the two stars to appear as if they were different ages, AND of course he would have had to "fill in" all the light from those stars to the Earth in an instant so that we could see them without waiting millions of years.

Hypotheticals are meaningless. Assuming god is omnipotent, then there would be no sign of him having created the universe how it is just to fool us. Bringing god into science is pointless. If you want to argue that god exists and he chose to create the world how it is, you should probably go to a philosophy forum or something because there's no scientific answer to any matters pertaining to god.

as for evolution, go to talkorigins.org. Not accepting biological evolution is even worse than not accepting the universe is billions of years old. Biological evolution, like the germ theory of disease, the chromosomal theory of inheritance, atomic theory, and the theory of gravity and of relativity, is a fact.

ArrowJ
2007-Apr-17, 04:45 AM
Look at Astronomy Cast's archives...

Thanks. I have been listening to the shows.


I don't see how a detailed list of stars, their ages, and how it was determined they were that old would help...

I don't see why you replied to my topic if you don't see how a detailed list of stars...well, you get the point.


If you want to argue that god exists and he chose to create the world how it is...

I don't want to argue that God exists and that He chose to create the world how it is. I'm fairly sure I made that clear.


as for evolution, go to talkorigins.org.

THE definitive source for origins dialog...I wish I had known about that before.


Not accepting biological evolution is even worse than not accepting the universe is billions of years old.

I am not here to discuss this topic.

Could the moderator just delete this thread? What is the point. I thought that a Christian and non-Christians could just discuss the things they agree about. I am a Christian and that seems to automatically makes me unintelligent and unworthy of the specific help I asked for. I do not agree with atheists, yet I do not ignore their voices in a dialog or assume that they are dim-witted simply because they do not see the clear evidence that I see for the existence of God.

Instead of letting this continue in its completely useless form, can we just delete or close this thread? :wall: :wall:

DDPP
2007-Apr-17, 05:09 AM
I don't see why you replied to my topic if you don't see how a detailed list of stars...well, you get the point.

You specifically asked for... oh wait... I read that wrong. Sorry. That's still pretty specific, but I thought you were asking for specific stars :-P


I don't want to argue that God exists and that He chose to create the world how it is. I'm fairly sure I made that clear.

I know, but I was talking hypothetically too.


I thought that a Christian and non-Christians could just discuss the things they agree about.

We can and we are. We're discussing the big bang.


I am a Christian and that seems to automatically makes me unintelligent and unworthy of the specific help I asked for.

huh? I TRIED to help you. If you don't think my links are helpful then fine, but don't say I said/implied that you were unintelligent and/or unworthy of the help you asked for.


I do not agree with atheists, yet I do not ignore their voices in a dialog or assume that they are dim-witted simply because they do not see the clear evidence that I see for the existence of God.

Well, I'm not ignoring you... am I? ipso facto, neither is anyone else who replied.


I am not here to discuss this topic.

Well, you DID mention the fact that you don't accept biological evolution in the very first post you made. For everyone interested in science here, that's like saying you think the earth is flat. We simply can't just ignore something like that.

ArrowJ
2007-Apr-17, 05:29 AM
I TRIED to help you. If you don't think my links are helpful then fine, but don't say I said/implied that you were unintelligent and/or unworthy of the help you asked for.

"Not accepting biological evolution is even worse than not accepting the universe is billions of years old." I guess I made an assumption based on this statement. Sorry.


Well, I'm not ignoring you... am I? ipso facto, neither is anyone else who replied.

I guess I just wanted answers that were specific to my first post. Thus far I haven't gotten much help.


Well, you DID mention the fact that you don't accept biological evolution in the very first post you made. For everyone interested in science here, that's like saying you think the earth is flat. We simply can't just ignore something like that.

Again, if you believe that I believe something that is equal to believing in a flat earth then I would think it is safe to assume that you think I am an idiot. There sure seems to be an implication here to me.

I'm back to where I was a few posts ago. I'm sorry I ever posted. I'm sorry if I offended anyone. This is not the type of thread I wanted. I'll re-download the past Astronomy Cast episodes and do my best to put together my own evidence. Someone please shoot this thread in head!

DDPP
2007-Apr-17, 05:51 AM
Again, if you believe that I believe something that is equal to believing in a flat earth then I would think it is safe to assume that you think I am an idiot. There sure seems to be an implication here to me.

Not necessarily. Being ignorant about a subject or having been lied to doesn't make you an idiot.


I guess I just wanted answers that were specific to my first post. Thus far I haven't gotten much help.

Ok, let me tell you my rationale with more detail. At the end of your post, you said:


I know this is long, and I hope it is not too confusing. If you feel like helping me out I would appreciate it. I'm not interested in debating philosophical or religious matters on this board, I just want to have the best science available to present to my young earth friends.

So far I think I've done everything you said. I tried to help and give you the best arguments to present to your friend.

You also said you weren't interested in debating philosophical or religious matters, and I think that what you asked (like that "assuming god made the universe to look like it was older when it really isn't" hypothetical argument) IS inherently philosophical/religious, which is why I said science doesn't deal with hypotheticals involving god and stuff. If god wanted to do something then he did it and that's that, there's no science to prove or disprove anything because by definition god is beyond science, as god is supernatural. And it's impossible to change the mind of anyone who believes such things.

However, I did give you a couple of links which I thought explained the scientific evidence pretty well, especially in terms that a layman like your creationist friend could understand.

epitide
2007-Apr-17, 10:28 AM
Some people call God 'BB' (big brother).

I belive in 'BB' (BIG BANG).

When they say that the universe is 13.7 myo, we assume that this figure is fairly close and in time the exact figure will be adjusted and adjusted again as technology is updated. This is the logic of science. As scientists we are always checking and scrutenising the results. This is science! It makes it very hard if not inpossiable to argue with religious views as they seem not to reasses the situation. They also seem not to go in search of self faults and reject that thier data (the Bible) could be wrong or currupted over time.

It is the self analysis of science that strives to keep itself true which is the big difference.

We only have limited data and evidence regarding the big bang but we are constantly in search of more [evidence] as technology advances. I think that non-religious people would be more understanding if religion applied the same code of ethics to thier trade. We use the term Theory to describe many things that we have not proven beyond dought. Maybe the concept of God should be known as 'The Theory of God'.

John Mendenhall
2007-Apr-17, 03:40 PM
I'm back to where I was a few posts ago. I'm sorry I ever posted. I'm sorry if I offended anyone. This is not the type of thread I wanted. I'll re-download the past Astronomy Cast episodes and do my best to put together my own evidence. Someone please shoot this thread in head!

I rather you didn't. As long as we limit this thread to what you asked, it should work fine. At the moment, we seem to have a lot of mainstreamers who are frothing at the mouth.

O.K., you asked for evidence of the age of the universe. The number one item that comes to my mind is the cosmic background radiation. Given that the universe as we know it came into existence approx. 13.7 billion years ago as a point singularity, the calculated temperature of the residual background radiation matches the measured temperature of the cosmic background radiation within .1 degrees or so. Check Wiki for better figures. If you have to present this to an audience, the story of Arno and Penzias at Bell Labs is very entertaining. They had no idea what they were seeing when they found the background radiation. Excuse me for deviating, but it should be worth noting to your audience that the BB universe is dark - no photons, no light - for the first 100,000 years or so. Makes you think, doesn't it?

How about if we set a goal of seven good astronomical references for the age of the universe? There's #1, above. And we confine this thread to answering the questions, not to belaboring the theological issues.

A suggestion for #2: there are no stars older than the universe. I'm not familiar with all the issues on this one, but I know it was a problem for a while when stars with apparent ages of 14 billion + years kept turning up. Maybe someone else could help.

C'm'on, folks, give Arrow a hand!

edit: Wilson and Arno Penzias? This is the penalty for not looking it up.

Cougar
2007-Apr-17, 03:55 PM
For the sake of argument let us assume that God exists AND that He chose to create a universe that appears to be 13.7 billion years old, BUT is actually only 10,000 years old.
How can you prove this to be wrong? You cannot. It cannot be proven wrong. Nor is there any evidence to support such an idea. Similarly, some omnipotent being could have created everything 10 seconds ago, with everyone's memories, etc. in place. This cannot be proven wrong either. Nor is there any evidence to support such an idea. When evidence is completely lacking, science really has nothing to say.

Science can, however, measure the abundance of hydrogen and helium and other elements in the universe around us. There is about 75% hydrogen and 24% helium. This happens to fit very closely to what the abundances would be if there had been a "big bang." The small but specific abundance of deuterium is even more of a clincher. See here (http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/BBNS.html) for more detail on what abundances are expected and how such things are calculated.


Having been asked by Napoleon why he had made no mention of "God" in his book about the universe, Mécanique céleste (Celestial Mechanics), Pierre Simon Marquis de Laplace (1749-1827) replied, "I have no need of that hypothesis."

DDPP
2007-Apr-17, 04:16 PM
We use the term Theory to describe many things that we have not proven beyond dought. Maybe the concept of God should be known as 'The Theory of God'.

*cringes*

Mind you, the colloquial meaning of the word theory and how science uses the word theory are two completely different things. A theory in common parlance is an untested idea about how the universe works, a scientific theory is an explanation of how the universe works that has passed tests time and time again. So much so that it is basically what would colloquially be known as a fact. (like the chromosomal theory of inheritance, germ theory of disease, theory of relativity, theory of evolution, theory of gravity, etc. all scientific theories, all facts)

ArrowJ
2007-Apr-17, 04:55 PM
The number one item that comes to my mind is the cosmic background radiation. Given that the universe as we know it came into existence approx. 13.7 billion years ago as a point singularity, the calculated temperature of the residual background radiation matches the measured temperature of the cosmic background radiation within .1 degrees or so. Check Wiki for better figures. If you have to present this to an audience, the story of Arno and Penzias at Bell Labs is very entertaining. They had no idea what they were seeing when they found the background radiation. Excuse me for deviating, but it should be worth noting to your audience that the BB universe is dark - no photons, no light - for the first 100,000 years or so. Makes you think, doesn't it?

Wonderful! Thank you very much!

Cougar
2007-Apr-17, 05:00 PM
As far as evidence for the big bang, if you type into google ("big bang" evidence), there are over 1 million hits! Here is one (http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmology_faq.html#BBevidence) that is brief but pertinent.

Cougar
2007-Apr-17, 05:09 PM
Excuse me for deviating, but it should be worth noting to your audience that the BB universe is dark - no photons, no light - for the first 100,000 years or so.
Well, technically, there are plenty of photons. They just can't travel very far without running into an electron or nucleon. It's a big, opaque soup. The photons can't run free until things cool down enough to allow the protons to capture (and hold onto) the electrons. Then the soup turns "transparent," and the photons are free to travel through space. These are the same photons we detect as the cosmic microwave background.

ArrowJ
2007-Apr-17, 05:19 PM
It makes it very hard if not impossible to argue with religious views as they seem not to reassess the situation. They also seem not to go in search of self faults and reject that their data (the Bible) could be wrong or corrupted over time.

Is it possible that you are equating fundamentalist Christians with Christians in general? Could it be that there are huge numbers of Christians that spend vast amounts of times studying textual criticism, hermeneutics, history, culture, psychology, the Church fathers, etc. in an attempt to scrutinize their beliefs? Is it possible that you have never studied textual criticism, and that you do not understand how literature works at a deeper level?

Consider the following: I was born into a fundamentalist Christian home. I grew up believing that the universe was 10,000 years old, and that the apparent age of the earth was due to the global flood. I also believed that the Bible taught that drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco was a sin...always, without exception. Furthermore, I believed in the "Left Behind" theology. As a teenager I began to suspect that God did not exist or if He did, He was a *******. Then I had children of my own and began to study the Bible and Christianity for myself. I know have a much deeper understanding of how literature works. I have what I believe to be more developed hermeneutic. I no longer believe it is impossible for Genesis 1 to be referring to literal days AND for the universe to be ~13.7 billion years old (due to the theory of relativity). Furthermore, I realize that the prohibition of alcohol is an historical occurrence that began with women's liberation in America in the 19th century. Also, while the Bible is clear on addictions, it does not prohibit tobacco per say. Finally, I no longer adhere to "Left Behind" theology. I continue to study, and I am not afraid to admit that my worldview requires faith. Having studied the philosophy of science, I am also not naive enough to believe that science does not require faith as well.


It is the self analysis of science that strives to keep itself true which is the big difference.

However, the self analysis of science does not keep it firmly within the realm of truth (what corresponds with reality). If this were so, Dr. Pamela Gay would not be telling us week after week about the textbooks she has converted into kindling. It is wonderful to applaud the continual cycle of science's self-testing methodology as long as we also keep in mind that the result is the unavoidable fact that we know much less than we do not know.


I think that non-religious people would be more understanding if religion applied the same code of ethics to their trade.

Without God there is only a chimerical basis for ethics in the first place...but that is another discussion altogether. ;)


Maybe the concept of God should be known as 'The Theory of God'.

Interestingly enough, while I do believe without doubt that God exists (much as you believe without doubt that evolution exists), I am willing to admit that their is a step of faith involved in this belief. I will not KNOW that God exists until I am face to face with Him. Much like you cannot KNOW macro-evolution is happening until you see it happening (which is technically impossible because you won't live long enough to see it happening before your eyes...but you get the idea).

ArrowJ
2007-Apr-17, 05:25 PM
Science can, however, measure the abundance of hydrogen and helium and other elements in the universe around us. There is about 75% hydrogen and 24% helium. This happens to fit very closely to what the abundances would be if there had been a "big bang." The small but specific abundance of deuterium is even more of a clincher. See here (http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/BBNS.html) for more detail on what abundances are expected and how such things are calculated.

#2...Thank you!

If Pierre didn't believe in God, I must be wrong. :)

ArrowJ
2007-Apr-17, 05:32 PM
Science can, however, measure the abundance of hydrogen and helium and other elements in the universe around us. There is about 75% hydrogen and 24% helium. This happens to fit very closely to what the abundances would be if there had been a "big bang." The small but specific abundance of deuterium is even more of a clincher. See here (http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/BBNS.html) for more detail on what abundances are expected and how such things are calculated.

These calculations are way out of my mathematical skill set, but the information in general is good. Thank you!

If Pierre didn't believe in God, I must be wrong. :)

John Mendenhall
2007-Apr-17, 05:35 PM
Well, technically, there are plenty of photons. They just can't travel very far without running into an electron or nucleon. It's a big, opaque soup. The photons can't run free until things cool down enough to allow the protons to capture (and hold onto) the electrons. Then the soup turns "transparent," and the photons are free to travel through space. These are the same photons we detect as the cosmic microwave background.

Yes, you are correct, the problem is the free path distance. My mistake. At least it's dark. Sort of. Opaque, as you said, is a good description.

Cougar
2007-Apr-17, 05:39 PM
Without God there is only a chimerical basis for ethics in the first place...but that is another discussion altogether. ;)
Yes, another discussion. But let me offer a quick rebuttal:


"Ethical rules... were not originally invented by some enlightened human lawgiver. They go deep into our evolutionary past. They were with our ancestral line from a time before we were human." - Carl Sagan

I mean, think about it. Of course, if you believe humans didn't evolve, you'll have some trouble with this. But if they didn't evolve, where the heck did they come from? Some supreme being put them in place wholly formed? Boy, I should think that's a pretty hard position to sustain in the face of rational thought. That reminds me of another rather famous quote:



"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." -- Galileo

DDPP
2007-Apr-17, 05:43 PM
Having studied the philosophy of science, I am also not naive enough to believe that science does not require faith as well.

(much as you believe without doubt that evolution exists),

Science requires no faith whatsoever. Science is the antithesis of faith.
http://jesusandmo.net/strips/2006-03-29.jpg


Much like you cannot KNOW macro-evolution is happening until you see it happening (which is technically impossible because you won't live long enough to see it happening before your eyes...but you get the idea).

Imagine you hear screams coming from the kitchen. You run to the kitchen and a second after the screams cease, you enter the kitchen, where you find that your wife is lying dead on the floor, a big pool of blood surrounding her body. You also see a man who you know used to be her ex husband standing right next to her holding a huge, bloody knife. You can see the hate and violence in his eyes. You look around, and all the doors and windows are locked.

Do you "know" who committed the crime even though you didn't see the man stab your wife? yes, you do. If you don't think you can KNOW who committed the crime, then knowledge is a meaningless word. For all intents and purposes you are 100% confident that that man killed your wife. TECHNICALLY you could say that you may just be a brain in a jar and none of this really happened, but that's just silly.

We KNOW evolution is happening. You don't have to have directly seen it to know that. Besides, speciation (a population of one species turning into another species) HAS been observed.

Fraser
2007-Apr-17, 06:06 PM
Hi ArrowJ, as the other posters have mentioned, episode 5 and 6 of Astronomy Cast present all the different lines of evidence for the Big Bang. Scientists made predictions about what telescopes would see, and then observers went out and found them.

The whole archive of shows is available here:
http://www.astronomycast.com/archive/

When debating a Young Earth Creationist, just ask for evidence. Physical evidence in the real world that points to the possibility that the Earth is 10,000 years old. What they'll normally do is attack science and find flaws in theories. That's easy to do, all theories have flaws in them, but the strong ones have evidence. Which has more evidence? 10,000 year old Universe or a 13.7 billion year old Universe? Whichever has more evidence should be considered correct until something better comes along. When new evidence presents itself, change your mind.

John Mendenhall
2007-Apr-17, 06:06 PM
We KNOW evolution is happening. You don't have to have directly seen it to know that. Besides, speciation (a population of one species turning into another species) HAS been observed.



My, I don't remember a single question about evolution at the start of this thread. Indeed, Arrow was very explicit about requesting that we limit this thread to his questions on the age of the universe - for which he supports the mainstream view. I think there are better threads on which to discuss evolution, rather than highjacking this one; and just for reference, I'm a mainstreamer on evolution.

Back to topic, we're up to #3 for age of the universe. The Wiki article make much of the fit to cosmological models, but DM and DE make for a lot of handwaving right now. It fits, but it's a lttle hazy.

A potential #4 is the rate of stellar nucleosynthesis. If the rate is as postulated, then the ages of stars and the rate of stellar evolution fit well with the age of the universe. Old galaxies have old stars, young galaxies have young stars, first generation stars are metal poor, later stars are metal enriched (courtesy of supernovas in the first generation), and so forth. The model fits. If you have any chemists in the audience, remind them that astronomers use of 'metals' is very loose - as I recall, anything after hydrogen.

DDPP
2007-Apr-17, 06:17 PM
I think there are better threads on which to discuss evolution, rather than highjacking this one; and just for reference, I'm a mainstreamer on evolution.

I'm not hijacking anything. People keep bringing it up, especially Arrow. He is using evolution to attack science as well. It's not just about evolution, it's about how science works. A simple "what's the evidence for the big bang" would have sufficed, but he keeps talking about evolution, and I'm not going to let him get away with saying it requires faith or anything.

Arrow- if you don't want to discuss evolution, just ignore me (and others) but don't keep mentioning it either. It's that simple.

John Mendenhall
2007-Apr-18, 12:47 PM
I'm not hijacking anything. People keep bringing it up, especially Arrow. He is using evolution to attack science as well. It's not just about evolution, it's about how science works. A simple "what's the evidence for the big bang" would have sufficed, but he keeps talking about evolution, and I'm not going to let him get away with saying it requires faith or anything.

Arrow- if you don't want to discuss evolution, just ignore me (and others) but don't keep mentioning it either. It's that simple.

Arrow, I have just re-read the entire thread, and your alleged bringings up of evolution have consisted entirely of requests not to discuss it. For a person in your situation, living and probably working in a fundamentalist Christian community, your approach is correct. You're lucky you're not shunned for old creation views, no sense setting them off over evolution (I know, I know, you hold the Creationist view on e*******n). Other posters willing,
appreciate Arrow's position, let's stick to the original questions about the age of the universe. Which, by the way, are difficult to summarize concisely, see the following.

On topic, a point that hasn't been brought up, is the fine structure constant. This controls nuclear reactions, and if it is different by minute amounts, the universe is either cold and dark forever, or would have disappeared after a brief (but bright) time. I'm at a loss for how to explain this to an unsophisticated audience, but it's true.

Cougar
2007-Apr-18, 01:43 PM
On topic, a point that hasn't been brought up, is the fine structure constant. This controls nuclear reactions, and if it is different by minute amounts, the universe is either cold and dark forever, or would have disappeared after a brief (but bright) time. I'm at a loss for how to explain this to an unsophisticated audience, but it's true.
Many, if not most, of the physical constants appear to be similarly 'fine-tuned.' If the strength of gravity was slightly different, if the nucleon masses were slightly different, well, we just wouldn't be here. Why is our universe so perfectly suited for our existence? This is probably the strongest argument for the creationists or intelligent design proponents, although many scientists see this "anthropic issue" as tautological, meaningless, and not science.

One scientist who thinks otherwise is Leonard Susskind, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Susskind) who happens to be the 'father' of string theory. In his recent book, The Cosmic Landscape, he covers the history of the development of string/M-theory and notes its failure to settle into a single, unique solution. Not only are there many solutions, there are myriad solutions. There are something on the order of 10150 possible solutions! After much thought, he takes this not as a failure but a perfect and compelling explanation for the Goldilocks, just-right condition of our universe. He postulates that ours is just one universe in a megaverse of others that have different constants and masses, etc. Thus he removes the need of the idea that ours was 'intelligently designed.' (Well, he put it much more compellingly than I have!)

John Mendenhall
2007-Apr-18, 03:27 PM
(snip, but don't skip it, it's in the post above)

Thus he removes the need of the idea that ours was 'intelligently designed.' (Well, he put it much more compellingly than I have!)

How about "intelligently chosen"? Seems like such a waste to have all those other universes laying around . . .

"L'me see, Pete, where did I put that one with the fast burning stars? Oh, here it is, in behind the one with the massive neutrinos."

DDPP
2007-Apr-18, 11:12 PM
Why is our universe so perfectly suited for our existence? This is probably the strongest argument for the creationists or intelligent design proponents, although many scientists see this "anthropic issue" as tautological, meaningless, and not science.

I disagree with the very premise. Look around the universe. The vast majority of it would instantly kill any life form as we know them. The vast majority of the universe is a dark, cold place with practically no matter in it, or full of radiation, etc. There is only one planet which we know life exists in, and even then it doesn't seem particularly designed for anything, especially human life. Just think about it. 70% of the whole planet is covered with SALT water, 1/3 of the remaining 30% is covered by deserts, and of course there are also lots of mountainous regions, there's Antarctica, Greenland, etc... none of which are particularly suited for human life. I swear, if there IS an intelligent designer and whatever, he designed the earth to be home for bacteria. NOT humans.

Now, imagine you are this hypothetical, omnipotent, very intelligent being who created the universe. Why in the living hell would you ever even consider making the universe as it is? out of all the possible choices you had, all the possible universal constants (and all the possible NOT universal constants. Ever thought about that? if god made the universe, he chose to even make such a thing as an "universal constant". There's no reason why there should be any)... and you choose THIS? the one resulting in the overwhelming majority of the universe being so inhospitable to life that it would kill it INSTANTLY? ... I could go on and on, but I think you get my point- the whole "fine tuned" universe idea doesn't hold water.


How about "intelligently chosen"? Seems like such a waste to have all those other universes laying around . . .

one: same as above.
two: assuming the above didn't apply, you said you accept evolution. There was no choosing. Evolution can't happen out in the middle of space, which is why there is no life there (or in the universes not fit for life). What you're saying is like waking up one day as a puddle and being shocked that the dent in the road fits your boundaries EXACTLY. (to clarify: it is not the dent in the road that took the shape of the puddle, it was the puddle that took shape of the road. Similarly, it is not that the universe was chosen to allow for the evolution of life, it is that the evolution of life could not happen anywhere else, and took the "shape" of the universe)


... what any of this has to do with evidence for the big bang I don't know... John, could you please explain how you complain to me that I'm not staying on topic but then turn around and go COMPLETELY off topic?

John Mendenhall
2007-Apr-19, 12:07 PM
(snip, but read the previous post, the arguments are good)
... what any of this has to do with evidence for the big bang I don't know... John, could you please explain how you complain to me that I'm not staying on topic but then turn around and go COMPLETELY off topic?

My lengthy two sentence response was to Cougar. Amazing how such a short fuse can set off such a big bang. For a non-believer, methinks thou doth protest too much.

On topic: Arrow, what about impact craters on Earth? Some of them are very old. Breedevort Ring, Sudbury, etc?

Cougar
2007-Apr-19, 03:51 PM
I disagree with the very premise. Look around the universe. The vast majority of it would instantly kill any life form as we know them. The vast majority of the universe is a dark, cold place with practically no matter in it, or full of radiation, etc.
This is a good point, DDPP. But the argument usually goes: If, say, the gravitational constant was much stronger, the universe would have 'crunched' long ago, not giving enough time for life to evolve. Or some such. I think the whole strong anthropic argument is... well, it's not science. It's religion... or philosophy. It has no value for me. I should note that the full title of Susskind's book is The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design. It is his point that this anthropic argument and apparent "fine tuning" is a "problem" or embarrassment in physics. That's why I said this issue is probably the creationist's strongest argument -- not that it's a good or conclusive argument. I am 100% anti-creationism and anti-intelligent design. I only point to their strongest argument in order to focus a defense against it. Susskind has written an entire book intended to show I.D. is an illusion. I agree with his intent, but unfortunately I do not agree with a lot of what Susskind says. I really see no use in hypothesizing zillions of "other universes" that we will never be able to detect. Is that science? Highly questionable. Here is another very critical review of Susskind's book (http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=307).

Sorry for deviating from the initial topic. I do NOT want to discuss the anthropic principle!

DDPP
2007-Apr-19, 04:30 PM
But the argument usually goes: If, say, the gravitational constant was much stronger, the universe would have 'crunched' long ago, not giving enough time for life to evolve. Or some such.

and the very premise of that is that there HAS to be a gravitational constant. If god created the universe (all the laws of physics, the three dimensions of space and one of time, etc), then he could have just as easily made gravity NOT a constant. Maybe he could have made it only work for a certain distance, or maybe have like separate compartments in the universe where the gravities were different or they worked differently, or something to oppose the gravity (something like dark energy), I don't know. If there are no laws of physics or any kind of logic we can recognize (since the universe hasn't been created), literally anything is possible, and there are countless ways to address that issue. A "you planets orbit the star not because of gravity or some other force, but because I want you to" would have been enough. People believe in an omnipotent being, yet they keep confining him to the laws of physics and to logic. It's self-contradictory. according to them, god CREATED such silly notions as laws and logic, therefore he couldn't have been confined to them... since he hadn't created them. To say that god is confined in any way is silly if you truly believe in god.


I think the whole strong anthropic argument is... well, it's not science. It's religion... or philosophy.

Exactly. And not very good religion/philosophy either. String theory right now is not really science either though... it's also more philosophy than science.

John Mendenhall
2007-Apr-19, 04:37 PM
Check out the link in Cougar's post #38. It's a ripsnorter!

SSRedOctober
2007-Apr-21, 07:39 AM
Okay, so I tried really hard to pay attention at this part of the semester in Astronomy last semester. I believe it is something like this:

Stars ages are determined by a multitude of factors, but I believe they are mostly determined based on 2 things. The first thing that is done is the star is categorized somewhere on the star chart... for instance, is the star main sequence or is it a dwarf, giant, blu/red etc. After the star is categorized it can then be disected. What I mean is the stars composition is determined and studies based on the light being emitted will show what kind of material is being consumed to produce the light(done by looking at the spectra of the light being produced), which ultimately will tell the scientist where the star is in its life. If it is a dwarf it would burn everything that is can until it is left as an iron core (i think)... correct me if I am wrong there Fraser. If it is a star like our sun it will be burning hydrogen... and at what speed is hydrogen being burned? How large is the star in comparison to its consumption? Is the star slowing down and running out of hydrogen? etc etc... Basically scientists can tell how old a star is within a relatively small margin of error by observing its composition and its current properties based on its size and category.

Wow I hope that was right.. I pulled that out of the 10 month old filing cabinet that was mostly emptied out over winter break hahaha!

As for God creating the Universe... Absolutely. God created everything, everywhere. He created the big bang. The big bang did not create itself. The trigger was the doing of something out there, and the trigger could not have been nothing, right? =D

Did he do it to confuse us? yep lol.. If I were God I would throw a curveball outside on the 0-2, would'nt you? Why make it easy, whats the fun in that?

DDPP
2007-Apr-21, 06:53 PM
He created the big bang. The big bang did not create itself. The trigger was the doing of something out there,

What created god? some bigger god? and the bigger god was created by an even bigger god?

by postulating that non-simple things must have been created by complex things, you're only pushing the problem back and not answering anything. Just creating more problems.


and the trigger could not have been nothing, right? =D

Why not? before the universe there were no laws of physics, no such thing as "logic", no nothing. There wasn't even nothing. Since the rule of cause and effect only works for this universe at this present state, appealing to that kind of logic when discussing the non-existence of the universe is meaningless. Besides, time started at the big bang. To say that something had to cause the big bang is to say that time existed before the big bang.

Another answer to that is that something did cause the big bang, but we have no way of knowing it because it had no further effects. As Stephen Hawking put it (this took a while to find!):


At this time, the Big Bang, all the matter in the universe, would have been on top of itself. The density would have been infinite. It would have been what is called, a singularity. At a singularity, all the laws of physics would have broken down. This means that the state of the universe, after the Big Bang, will not depend on anything that may have happened before, because the deterministic laws that govern the universe will break down in the Big Bang. The universe will evolve from the Big Bang, completely independently of what it was like before. Even the amount of matter in the universe, can be different to what it was before the Big Bang, as the Law of Conservation of Matter, will break down at the Big Bang. Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut
them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang. Events before the Big Bang, are simply not defined, because there's no way one could measure what happened at them.
This kind of beginning to the universe, and of time itself, is very different to the beginnings that had been considered earlier. These had to be imposed on the universe by some external agency. There is no dynamical reason why the motion of bodies in the solar system can not be extrapolated back in time, far beyond four thousand and four BC, the date for the creation of the universe, according to the book of Genesis. Thus it would require the direct intervention of God, if the universe began at that date. By contrast, the Big Bang is a beginning that is required by the dynamical laws that govern the universe. It is therefore intrinsic to the universe, and is not imposed on it from outside.

http://img112.imageshack.us/img112/9331/a30cg.gif

DDPP
2007-Apr-22, 08:05 PM
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astronomy/bigbang.html

edit: Arrow, I just listened to the podcast. I'd like to address basically THE only thing your friend said that had any substance, which was the whole mt. saint Helens thing. Basically, scientists are people. They make mistakes. Some have biases. It is not surprising AT ALL that sometimes scientists get some very weird results. Specifically when talking about mt. saint Helens, what happened there is that as magma is coming up to the surface (remember, mt. saint helens was a very violent eruption), it drags rocks and stuff from the crust up and they come along with the lava. What happened in what your friend was referring to is that the scientist who performed the tests did them to the rocks that came along with the magma. What he tested really WAS millions of years old.

Besides, carbon 14 dating only works in dating things that are in a certain time frame. You should not even be trying to date things that are brand new. You also can't use carbon 14 dating on rocks. Just look it up. You simply can't BECAUSE it gives you crazy results. Carbon dating is NOT used to date the age of the universe! It can only date things that are within a certain range, and that range ends at less than a million years old.

How do we know the other results aren't crazy? easy. We test the age of things using different methods (other radiometric dating techniques not involving Carbon 14, tree rings, ice layers, sediment layers, etc.). They all agree with each other.

Of course, this guy won't pay any attention to this at all, because of what he said in the podcast. He didn't want to listen to Astronomy Cast because it wasn't from "a christian perspective". The first thing you have to do is show to him that facts don't have a religion. He should be evaluating whether an argument is true or not, not whether it came from christians or not. Ad hominem arguments are a logical fallacy.

Prince Abubu
2007-Jul-06, 10:16 PM
Just like the OP said, what if the universe was created 10,000 years ago, but evidence was placed so that it seems like the universe is much older. Taking this thought to the extreme, what if the universe were created three days ago, and everything that happened in the "past" are just memories implanted into our brains to believe these things did happen, and all the evidence that we have of the past is just planted by God.

I'm simply giving this extreme example to demonstrate that there is no way to prove your hypothesis. And you can ask, "why would God create the universe 10,000 years ago? Why didn't He just make it in the beginning of time if He existed forever?"

Basically, there's no REAL answer to that question. But they are very interesting questions to make you think...

EvilEye
2007-Jul-09, 07:23 PM
So far, (first page... I see two arguments) 10,000 year old EARTH

and 10,000 year old UNIVERSE.

The question becomes moot unless your friend believes that the Earth was created at the time of the beginning of the universe, and then he can easily be shown to be wrong without using the carbon 14 argument.

We know for a fact what the speed of light is.

We know how far we can see.

We can see farther in distance than light would have had time to travel in 10,000 years.

Simple.

AstroTodd
2007-Jul-19, 06:39 PM
Let's all try to stay grounded.
It's easy to let emotion run away with a topic like this. I'm not a creationist , and I find it very hard sometimes to keep an open mind on creation theories. I think where mis-commuication might branch from is the idea that science is sometimes seen as a religion or even a class subject. Science is niether a religion or a subject its a quest for answers using steps or a method. What's ironic about this little war between creation and evolution is that, it was probably started by our first ancestors looking up at the amazing sky and asking huge questions. Somewhere along the line some of us took the stories that where told to us and asked more questions. Eventually a percentage of people turned toward teachings , stories and facts in different ways becoming either content in what they found or content in continuing a search for somethig else. I guess what I'm trying to explain is; no matter how different a belief , idea , or fact someone is willing to embrace , we should always remember there was a time where we all walked the same path. We still do when it comes to looking skyward for anwsers.

Nesomimus
2007-Jul-19, 09:46 PM
To say that god is confined in any way is silly if you truly believe in god.

Personally, I don't believe in god, but I think that if you did, it would be silly to believe he (or she, or it) would not be confined in any way with respect to logic, something you reference repeatedly. Would god be able to make something both true and false?

If I understand what you are saying, then you are claiming that without the physical universe, there would no laws of logic. Were the rules of logic discovered empirically, through observation and experiment?

I happen to agree with arrow that faith is involved in science. Specifically, I have to believe that what I observe is real. Can I prove that? You give an example yourself of how it might not be true. Another is that some among us might be schizophrenic, and see things that aren't there. If those people believe what they observe empirically, they will believe things that are not true. Scientifically. It is a type of faith I find more reasonable than the religious type, and it is a belief I happen to hold, but it is nonetheless an unprovable belief position.

Finally, I don't interpret arrow as attacking science in any way, and think that the way people here react to posts from religious believers is likely to reinforce the hostility that some of the more radical types have towards scientists.

EvilEye
2007-Jul-21, 05:13 AM
Which "God" is more powerful.

A God that sets everything up for us?

or

A God that sets everything into motion and has the patience to watch it evolve?


I only believe in creation because we were created... no matter which side of the coin you are on. The big bang didn't "evolve".... but everything after it did.

Jerry
2007-Jul-28, 01:11 AM
Hi ArrowJ, as the other posters have mentioned, episode 5 and 6 of Astronomy Cast present all the different lines of evidence for the Big Bang. Scientists made predictions about what telescopes would see, and then observers went out and found them.

Some of them. A few surprises, but no winged creatures strumming harps.

justabloke
2007-Aug-01, 03:04 AM
The Problem with God.

The problem, as I see it, is that IF god exists and IF he is omnipotent then he can make the universe look anyway he wants too. It can look 13.7 billion years old, make the CMBR look how he wants it to look, make the rocks here on Earth look as old as they look, etc.

And IF he has done those things nothing we can do can prove it otherwise. He has used powers, magic if you will, well beyond our ability to understand.

However, if he has done these things we are confronted with 2 problems (at least 2). Why would he do such a thing is the first. And if he has, then he is an interventionist god and therefore everything, good or bad, is his responsibility. The only answer is that god is evil and actively working to conceal the real condition of the universe from us.

As you have probably guessed I don't believe in god and therefore I don't labour under the issues created by a god that hates me.

And as far as I'm concerned I don't get to believe or not believe in science. Everything I do is based on science and almost all science is interconnected. The microwave oven I use, the computer I'm typing at, the car I drive, the TV I watch, the food I eat, etc all demand a certain knowledge of how the universe works and that knowledge demands certain things and makes inferences about other things. We get to argue about what the data we collect means and we get to form theories about what that might mean, but the data doesn't suggest god, in fact it suggest that god doesn't exist or that the very least doesn't interfere in any way, shape or form.

You can't reconcile god and science, you can try but you won't succeed, but you might go far enough to make yourself happy. Good luck.

EvilEye
2007-Aug-01, 02:51 PM
In the very first Star Trek movie, the Nasa craft Voyager had become sentient, and spent the rest of its existence trying to find its "creator".

We were God.