Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Boundless Ignorance of Certain Evangelicals

Fig. 1 (above) depicts how stars form from hot gas under the influence of gravity.

Reading some of the material put forth by fundies and evangelicals can either make one laugh or cry. Often the sentiments expressed are so bereft of even the faintest semblance of reason – and end up with such vast inanity and illogic- that one is led to bust a gut howling with laughter. As when they assert the Earth can be no older than 6,000 years despite measurements using the radioactive isotope delta C 13 (Carbon 13) showing the existence of primitive methanotrophs on Earth 3.85 BILLION years ago. (H.D. Holland, in Science, Vol. 275 – January, 1997, p. 38).

At other times, one is almost provoked to cry over the vast ignorance and boundless stupidity in evidence, that even the most elementary scientific facts are discarded like troublesome weeds and not given a thought.

Now, since not all evangelicals are of one mold – for example many now accept global warming, as many also accept the Earth is much older than a few thousand years – it makes no sense to criticize them in a generic way. This sort of approach allows the real offenders and their ilk to escape notice and attention.

Thus, when I criticize the claims made, it will be based on those from a particular person, my brother “Pastor Mike”, who seems to want to wage an endless battle though I sought to make peace and even offered conditions.

In his latest blog entry (‘More Evolution Stupidity’) the sheer volume of red herrings, strawmen, non sequiturs, ignotum per ignotius volations, post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies and others (scientific ignorance) is so vast it makes the mind reel and head spin. Simply to recount each violation or howler and rebut it might take the better part of a week, so I will focus on the major ones. Let's take his issues one by one, as he writes them:

1. Let me elaborate on the alleged "Big Bang " theory . I mean , if people are really stupid enough to believe this hogwash , I've got some good Florida Everglades swamp land I'll sell 'em real cheap ! (I'll even throw in "Big Foot" , heh,heh,heh ) . Now , my friends , try to think of ANY explosion that has produced order .

This is so rife with declarative nonsense it boggles the mind. First, here’s a throwaway trivia question for physics nerds: Who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978, and for what discovery?
If you answered Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, for their (1965) discovery of the 2.7 K microwave background radiation, you get an A! And what is the 2.7K radiation? It is none other than the RELIC radiation from the Big Bang. (Thus, evidence for the Big Bang). In other words, by extrapolating backwards one can use that temperature to retrace steps in thermal time to when the universe was hottest and most dense. (This is actually done in the excellent book, ‘The First Three Minutes’ by physicist Steven Weinberg, a Nobel Physics prize winner himself).

What one ends up with is a superhot and superdense photon gas at nearly 10 trillion degrees. But wait, PM asserts that this “explosion” allegedly produced “order”! HOW SO?

Using the basic expression for entropy: S = k (log g), one can ascertain that the entropy in the hot radiation era just after the Big Bang (within seconds) was on the order of 4 x 10^8 J/K assuming a temperature of about 10^13K and a photon density of ~ 4 x 10^21 /m^3 (per cubic meter).

If one computed the entropy now for the current era, it is ~ 4 x 10^4 J/K. Thus, Mike’s claim of “increased order” is specious, as we can see the level of entropy (disorder) was nearly 10,000 times greater right after the Big Bang. Thus, the Big Bang did not initially generate order but DISORDER.

What happened, is that as the initial temperatures cooled down, MATTER (nuclear particles) could at last begin to form from the radiation background. At some point later, we guess 300,000 years, this matter decoupled from the radiation and could then form separate material systems – starting with the atoms, which comprised the first material gases, then stars – which were shaped from the gases under the influence of gravitational forces. (See Fig. 1 for a brief overview of how this occurs for a star's formation.)

Thus, Mike has it exactly ass backwards. But in his impetuosity he continues:

2. Here is an intersting experiment : Empty your garage of every piece of metal , wood , paint , rubber , and plastic . MAKE SURE THERE IS NOTHING THERE . NOTHING ! Then wait for ten years and see if a Mercedes evolves . If it doesn't appear , leave it for twenty years . If that doesn't work , try it for 100 years . Then try leaving it for 10,000 years .

This is, of course, a stupid “experiment” and no one with any brains or common sense would try it. Of course, the entire basis is wrong because evolution doesn’t assert that life appears or emerges from non –life, especially ARTIFACTS already made by someone! Again, Mike demonstrates that he has not distinguished, or is unable to – the theory of Noogenesis from evolution! (And this is about the fifth time I have corrected him on this!)

3. What the evolutionists attribute to a Big Bang , where the universe simply "exploded" into existence , is actually the work of God who merely SPOKE and the universe came into being

Really, and what word(s) did he speak, Mike? Was it English words, Hebrew, Aramaic, Sanskrit, Chinese? Were you there to get the translation? Were your bible authors there to get it? Then HOW do they know? Moreover, how do you know? Also, who caused “God”? Where did he, she or it come from? As mathematician John Paulos has observed in his terrific little book, ‘Irreligion’ (p 4):

“So have we found God? Is he the Big Bowler, the first Cause or the Big Banger? Of course not! The argument doesn’t even come close! One gaping hole is the assumption that either everything has a cause, OR there’s something that doesn’t. The “first cause” argument collapses into this hole whichever tack we take. If everything has a cause, then God must too, and there is no “first cause”. And if something doesn’t have a cause it may as well have been the physical universe as God or a tortoise

One more thing, the Big Bang is not technically an “explosion” (though that's the way it’s most often described to non-physicists – in order to reference something they can relate to). Technically it’s more a rapid expansion – which we still observe today in the expansion of the universe, verified using the spectrographic red shifts of galaxy clusters and quasars.

4. Ask an evolutionist who believes in the Big Bang , "Where did space from the universe come from ? Where did the initial material come from ? What sparked the explosion ? " In order to have an explosion , there must be something to explode , and there must be a catalyst to cause the explosion . You cannot create SOMETHING out of NOTHING !

Well, Mike has numerous misconceptions and errors in this one paragraph –nearly five I can count, so let’s go through the major ones and hope at least this time he will LEARN them before publishing his next codswallop. First, evolution is a separate theory from the Big Bang. True, most evolutionists accept the Big Bang, but the Big Bang is not critical to accepting evolution, nor is it part of the theory of evolution. It is rather the Big Bang Theory. For example, before the discovery of the microwave background radiation in 1965, the steady state theory was the one(proposed by Gold and Hoyle), not the Big Bang. But there were still evolutionists, even though the Big Bang theory had not yet arrived!

Second, asking where “space” came from is ignorant, since the Big Bang incepted space-time, not just space. The expansion of the universe is thus an expansion of space as well as time. Figure 2 shows this clearly. In addition, Einstein’s special theory of relativity shows one cannot willy-nilly divorce space from time but must use space-time, especially for cosmic events. As for the “initial material” as I noted in (1) it arrived after the hot radiation cooled by actual material particles now being able to form.

Now, though I did say the Big Bang is not technically an “explosion” I just have to take the pastor up on his claim that you can’t just have an explosion or “create something from nothing”. I guess here he has forgotten his general science lessons that one can have something called “spontaneous combustion” . For example the element sodium is an example of a pyrophoric material which can undergo a kind of spontaneous (and potentially very violent) explosion when exposed to oxygen, water, or moisture in the air. No one needs to light a match and no one needs a “catalyst” (i.e. merely having Na in the presence of excess moisture can cause the explosion). Another example: compost piles and unprocessed cotton may self-ignite because of heat produced by bacterial fermentation. No specific "catalyst" is required, meaning an external agent.

In the same way, unstable dark energy was in existence in a conformal quantum space –time before the actual universe existed. When the energy density reached a critical threshold – probably via the action of the surrounding volume on the dark energy (which acts as a kind of repulsive gravity), it incepted the universe.

As for not creating something from nothing, the pastor has clearly never heard of pair production, wherein a gamma ray (photon) for example, can instantly materialize into an electron and positron. Here, a brief fluctuation in time dt, is sufficient to precipitate a fluctuation in energy dE, which may be sufficient to produce the particles.

According to the energy-time Uncertainty Principle:

dE dt > h/ 2 pi

where h is the Planck constant (6.62 x 10^-34 J-s). Thus, all one needs is an appropriate energy of a size:

dE ~ h dt/ 2 pi

5. Each creature brings forth after its own kind . That's NO THEORY ; that's a FACT ! Why then should we believe that man came from another species ?

Well, because humans and chimpanzees have the exact same cytochrome- c protein sequence. In the absence of common (evolutionary) descent, the chance of this occurrence is conservatively less than 10^-93 (1 out of 10^93). In addition, the cytochrome –c protein sequence (a critical marker) in Man and the chimp differs by 10 amino acids from that in ALL other mammals. This is remarkable and discloses that Chimp and man are literally cousins on the evolutionary tree – apart from all other mammals. The chance of THIS occurring is less than 10^-29.

On another note, it is clear Mike has never read or learned a thing about cloning. For example, we can now theoretically use somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning to obtain a lion from a lamb (e.g. get the lamb to give birth to a cloned lion via somatic lion cells) if all the technical details are attended to. This alone destroys his simplistic claim that "like brings forth like".

It is clear from this, as I noted before, that Mike never ever processes new information that might help him tailor and elevate his arguments to make them more in synch with the actual science, and more sophisticated. Instead, he simply regurgitates the same worn out canards and errors over and over hoping no one will notice or point them out. But some of us do.
On that note, we will leave the Pastor to his own devices for now, and hope his blog doesn't clog up from excess bunkum and bilge.


Unknown said...

I just had to show this to you, on Pastor Mike's latest blog. It's the biggest "howler" - to use yur word, I think we've ever seen.

"Hence God is eternal, having never been created. The only possible escape for the atheist is the invention of a kind of super universe, which can never be confirmed experimentally "

Now, earlier (since I don't want to repeat it all) he actually gave a definition of "God" based on two dimensions of "time". He offers this definition without one single bit of evidence or experiment that time does have two dimensions. (Though he's at least smart enough - or his astrophysicist that he's copying from) that the one dimension is for time's arrow and that involves disorder. Thus ANY entity in time is subject to limitation.

Now, what he leaves out is the only two dimensional form for time ever given was by Stephen Hawking where he showed the axes:

!________ (t)

where the vertical dimension is imaginary time (function of the imaginary no. i = sqrt(-1)) and t is real time for time's arrow.

Hawking also described how the imaginary time is purely useful for detailed quantum computations, but doesn't exist in itself. So the only time left is real time. There is NO actual "two-dimensional time).

He then has the absolute nerve to call the multiverse a "metaphysical concept" with no experimental evidence (actually there is, since as Stephen Deutsch showed in his work one can show it using interference pattern or diffraction experiments. Certain shadows show the intruding multiverse.

So the REAL metaphysical concept is his God which as you showed:

can only be proven otherwise by giving the necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence. WE can do that for the multiverse but the Pastor can't do it for his deity. At least he hasn't done so up to now and I suspect he never will.

Copernicus said...

Actually, I did an entire blog on imaginary time including how it's defined. You can find it here:

Hawking, in his 'Brief History of Time' (p. 142) notes that "A space-time in which events have imaginary values of the time coordinate, is said to be Euclidean".

He adds(ibid.)

"In Euclidean space-time there is no difference between the time directions and directions in space"

I showed examples of imaginary time in the link above. (Lower part of article).

By contrast for REAL time, Hawking notes (ibid.)

"the time directions at all points lie within the light cone, and space direction lie outside"

From this it is easy to see any "two time dimension" God would not be "eternal". The reason is that the t -dimension would always ensure it is defined within the light cone and hence within the framework of measured time. But an "eternal" entity must be outside the time frame.

Now, the only alternative is to remove the t-dimension and confine the deity exclusively to the imaginary time dimension. This works to make the entity eternal but at a huge price - that is it cannot operate or influence events within the time cone! Thus, again, Mikey can't have it both ways - he can have a god that messes around in earthly affairs, but then it's not eternal, OR he can have his eternal deity, but then all interference in temporal-earthly events is foreclosed.

As for the multiverse, his calling it a "metaphysical concept" without experimental support is laughable since physicist David Deutsch - in his book 'The Fabric of Reality' - actually gives the basis of interference experiments using real photons to disclose the presence of "shadow photons" which he regards as coming from the multiverse (or at least one universe from within it). He actually gives images of different shadows resulting from emerging through different barriers with different slit numbers (pp. 41-42)

In effect, Deutsch is literally light years ahead of Mike. Because Mike has not offered any experiments to deduce or expose his God - whether it subsists in two time dimensions or not. Thus as you point out it is Mike's God that remains the metaphysical concept.

I am also impressed by Mike's ability to copy and paste by googling and amassing all the citations and quotes he does. What a thing Google is! To enable so many millions to appear as adroit researchers when the opposite is clear. Minus Google, I doubt Mike could find one reference to back up any of his claims.

It's also intriguing he references Justin Martyr - a CATHOLIC -when in other contexts he easily consigns ALL Catholics to Hell! Amazing guy, Mike!