Creation Science

Parableman put up Christian Carnival CXXXVI yesterday and one of the posts caught my eye: Dr. Hovind and the Age of the Earth from Imago Dei. I wanted to write my thoughts on it here for a few reasons: firstly, Christianity and science are very near and dear to me, and secondly, the writer was getting a decent amount of persecution from non-Christians about the subject and I wanted to throw out my Christian perspective on the subject that (hopefully) won’t be seen as persecution but an alternate position. Also, I have written on some of this way back in my post Science vs. Religion (with the original post and comments at my old blog here), so feel free to check that out as well. I will be linking to many different sources in their post including Wikipedia. I recognize that Wikipedia is not the best source for information, but it is often easier to understand than other sources and they have links to other sources if you want additional information.

Before I start, I feel I should make this disclaimer. I am a devout Christian. I am a Bible believing Christian. I also have degrees in Physics and Astronomy. I am perfectly okay that some Christians will reject this, that is their prerogative and salvation does not depend on what we think about these things. However, I think that, as Christians, we are called to use the things that God has given us, this includes our minds and our “powers” of observation. Science is a wonderful thing and it can be used to tell us about the amazing universe that God did indeed create (just maybe not in the way that some Christians think). On with the post!

Amanda’s post starts with a look at different forms of evolution:

1. Cosmic Evolution – the origin of time, space, and matter. This is the big bang. 2. Chemical Evolution – the origin of higher elements from hydrogen. (If the Big Bang produced hydrogen and some helium, how did we get the others? 3. Stellar and planetary Evolution – the origin of stars and planets. (No one has ever seen a star form. What you see is a spot getting brighter and you assume a star is forming. It could be the dust is clearing and there’s a star behind it. No one has ever proven the formation of a single star. Yet it’s estimated that there are enough stars for every person on earth to own 2 trillion stars.) 4. Organic Evolution – the origin of life. Somehow life has to get started from non-living material. (But spontaneous generation was proven wrong 200 years ago.) 5. Macro Evolution – Changing from one kind of animal into another. (Nobody has ever seen a dog produce a non-dog. Big or small it’s still a dog. Dog, wolf, and coyote may have had a common ancestor, but they’re still the same kind of animal.) 6. Micro Evolution – Variations within kinds (big dogs and little dogs). Only this one has been observed.

I would like to take a look at each one of her statements.

“1. Cosmic Evolution – the origin of time, space, and matter. This is the big bang.” Yeah. And numerous independent studies lead in the direction of supporting the big bang. This isn’t just one group suggesting the big bang is what happened. This is numerous physicists and astronomers showing that their work supports a singularity some 13-14 billion years ago.

“2. Chemical Evolution – the origin of higher elements from hydrogen. (If the Big Bang produced hydrogen and some helium, how did we get the others?” This is “simple” nuclear physics. Happens all the time. This is called stellar nucleosynthesis. (Info links: Wikipedia, Astronomy Notes, Science Week, and there is lots more out there.) The larger scale of this would be Big Bang Nucleosynthesis. (Info links: Wikipedia, Berkeley Astro, Berkeley Cosmology, and many more.) Also check out Wikipedia’s articles on the Proton Proton chain and the CNO cycle.

“3. Stellar and planetary Evolution – the origin of stars and planets. (No one has ever seen a star form. What you see is a spot getting brighter and you assume a star is forming. It could be the dust is clearing and there’s a star behind it. No one has ever proven the formation of a single star. Yet it’s estimated that there are enough stars for every person on earth to own 2 trillion stars.)” This is also a very well evidenced science. There are numerous places where star birth can be seen, check out The Eagle Nebula (and Proplyds on Wikipedia). I am not really sure what the number of stars has to do with anything, but yes, there are lots of them. Our own Milky Way Galaxy has somewhere between 200 and 400 billion stars in it. Even looking at a TINY sliver of space thousands and thousands of galaxies can be seen. The number of stars in our own galaxy and the number of galaxies in the universe suggests that there are easily 2 trillion stars for each person (some 70 sextillion are suggested).

“4. Organic Evolution – the origin of life. Somehow life has to get started from non-living material. (But spontaneous generation was proven wrong 200 years ago.)” I am no biologist and have not studied this extensively. It seems to me that evolutionists have yet to suggest how life actually started. What supposedly caused amino acids to combine for form proteins and then eventually form DNA? I understand that there is a chemical process there, but what makes something go from inert to life? How did life actually start?

“5. Macro Evolution – Changing from one kind of animal into another. (Nobody has ever seen a dog produce a non-dog. Big or small it’s still a dog. Dog, wolf, and coyote may have had a common ancestor, but they’re still the same kind of animal.)” While simplistic, I tend to agree with Amanda here. Macro Evolutionary theory seems to be lacking in support. I think that any honest evolutionist would admit that this is just a working theory and that it has a long way to go.

“6. Micro Evolution – Variations within kinds (big dogs and little dogs). Only this one has been observed.” Yes this has been seen. But it is not the only one that has been observed. #4 and #5 are the ones that lack scientific support.

Amanda goes on to say: “There are two options: 1. Somebody made the world (In the beginning God…) 2. The world made itself.” Okay, that is fine. But I am not sure why believing in the Big Bang automatically puts me as a #2 believer. That doesn’t follow.

Then: “So…we all came from a dot and the dot came from nothing. This is what they teach in schools. All of the dirt in the universe was in the little dot and it started spinning faster and faster until one day it exploded. The pieces became galaxies and stars.” There was nothing, then God created the universe: how is this different from “we all came from a dot and the dot came from nothing”?

“I believe that 6000 years ago God created everything” – but on what basis do you ignore scientific evidence? “I believe In the beginning God… (Gen. 1:1) You believe In the beginning dirt…” No, I believe that In the Beginning God… and God created dirt.

So where did the laws come from? Gravity, centrifugal force, intertia, etc. Where did the energy come from? It takes energy to make something move. And what about the conservation of angular momentum? That means that if a spinning object breaks apart in a frictionless environment (like the big bang) the pieces that fly off are going to spin in the same direction as the original object because the outside is moving faster than the inside. If the universe began as a spinning dot, shouldn’t everything be spinning the same way? Venus and Uranus spin in different directions than the other planets. 8 of the 91 known moons are spinning backwards. Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune have moons orbiting in both directions. Some galaxies spin backwards.

Firstly, I am not sure why she thinks that the Big Bang would be frictionless, it wasn’t. If nothing had interacted with anything, then yes, everything would be rotating the exact same way. But that is not that case at all. Everything interacts with everything else. Gravity is an extremely small force, but will still have a huge impact. Microscopic variations in the smooth early universe caused clumping to occur. Clumping of matter eventually caused it to coalesce into larger bodies. As the continued to occur, the smooth early universe became more clumpy with voids.

“Dr. Hovind believes things are spinning backwards because God created everything and He did it on purpose to make the big bang theory look stupid.” That makes me sad. That statement just makes me think that Dr. Hovind (whom I have had no experience with) hasn’t actually studied astronomy or physics.

I am not going to comment on her mention of the 2nd law of thermodynamics because it doesn’t really make sense. Nor will I comment on her look at macro evolution, not because I agree with everything she says, but because I by and large agree with her conclusions (that macro evolution is lacking and doesn’t seem to work).

I know I am picking on this particular blogger. I do not doubt her faith or salvation, I just think she is off the mark in this belief. It seems like the rejection of science often completely stems from a literal reading of the beginning of Genesis. I cannot see any other reason to reject a 13 billion year old universe (cosmic evolution, #1). (And I don’t see any reason to reject chemical [#2], or stellar and planetary [#3] evolution.) But why is it seen that a literal reading is to be had? It seems that many Christians are perfectly willing to use a poetical reading at some times but not others. It comes down to good exegesis. We can’t blindly say one passage is literal and one is poetical. We have to find intent and purpose. Genesis was not trying to give a science lesson: six days of creation was never meant to literally be six days. Genesis is a narrative of how God brought us into being, the details of how long that took are not included because they were not relevant. I want Christians to understand that their reading of the beginning of Genesis is a particular interpretation that not all Christians need to follow. In my view, it is actually inappropriate for Christians to follow that reading. Science and the scientific method came out of Christianity and Christians’ desire to know more about the world that God gave us, why would we reject that now just because it happens to go against your particular interpretation?

In summary: Christians can and should embrace science, they are not opposing belief structures. Believe the Bible, yes, but don’t reject science out of hand. God has given us glimpses into how the universe was made and what goes on there, embrace those things as gracious gifts from God. Again, I also want to point out that salvation is not dependant on your take on this issue. I just want you to move beyond a rigid understanding of what you think the Bible says, it probably was not intended that way. Exegesis is a good thing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

Are you a Christian?

I have a somewhat sociological question for the blogosphere. What make someone (YOU) decide to call himself or herself a Christian? This question can be applied to many things, but I am specifically interested in its relation to Christianity.

To YOU, what is a defining characteristic that would lead you to say, “Yes, I am a Christian!”? I am assuming for many “devout” Christians this will be a fairly simple question. I would really like to hear from people who consider themselves “marginal” Christians (not marginal people, mind you), those who don’t consider themselves devout.

Why do some people consider themselves Christian if certain Christian beliefs aren’t held? I am guess that many people would consider Jesus a good person but if asked about his divinity, they might shy away. Or if pressed about Christianity being the Truth and therefore nothing else could be, there are Christians that might distance themselves. My question, then, is why is there the need to call yourself Christian?

It seems there are many “church-goers” out there, but it is always difficult to have an accurate representation of “real” Christians. Of course this brings up the problem of what a “real” Christian is. Far be it from me to say who is and who isn’t. For this “exercise” I am more concerned with why people feel they have to fit into that category if they don’t consider themselves devout. Is being a Deist not inclusive enough?

I am quite curious to hear what people have to say about this.

Shalom

UPDATE: The discussion has been great in the comments section, I would love to hear from more of you!

UPDATE: Glenn (hope you don’t mind the link Glenn!) has posted some more insightful thoughts on this subject over here.

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MACHOs and WIMPs

This is something I wrote a while back, if it is too long, that’s ok, don’t read it. :)

When thinking of our universe, there are a few things that people normally think of: galaxies, planets, gas, nebulas, and maybe even black holes. All these objects seem pretty normal and complete. Astronomers were perfectly happy with trying to figure out how all the above-mentioned things worked and interacted together when a large kink came into all the theorizing. Why were the velocity curves of galaxies showing that there should be more mass than was seen in all the “normal” or baryonic matter? All the data did not make sense. To most people, it still does not. After analyzing data from velocity curves and studying the dynamics of how galaxies interact with each other, it was determined that approximately 90% of the mass of the entire universe can not be seen. What does that mean and how is that possible? This indicates that previous notions about what the universe was made of must be rethought. The only way for this to be possible is if there is some form of baryonic matter that we cannot see or some new from of exotic matter that has not been thought of before. A few of the current theories about what the missing matter is in the universe are MACHOs, WIMPs, neutrinos, and annihilating particles. Until final proof about what dark matter is virtually any of the theories could be right, wrong, or a mixture of both. As time progresses theories will change, fail, and new ones will arise. Current theories are very interesting and many astronomers feel very strongly about one theory or another. Evidence for and against should be looked at in a case-by-case matter in order to formulate new postulations that can in turn be tested and researched.

After realizing that the majority of the mass of the universe is unseen, it became the task of many astronomers to figure out what this missing mass is and where it resides. There has been much debate about what the mater really is between astronomers. Those supporting MACHOs, Massive Compact Halo Objects, and those supporting WIMPs, Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, have strong ideas and both hold true to their theories and will continue to do so until they have been completely disproved. MACHOs are exactly what their name suggests, massive objects that reside in a galaxy’s halo. The halo is a spherical region centered at the middle of a galaxy’s bulge. Globular clusters (large groupings of up to hundreds of thousands of old stars within in a small volume of space) that are already seen in this region of a galaxy are letting astronomers know that matter can and does exist in that area. Velocity profiles suggest dark matter is present and lead astronomers to believe that there could be a large amount of mass in the halo region. Since the globular clusters in the halo, in addition to the stars and other visible material in the plane of the galaxy, are not enough mass to account for the velocity curves, there must be some other mass somewhere in the galaxy, including the halo. MACHOs are what astronomers have come up with to account for this matter.

What is needed is normal baryonic matter that could be very massive and reside in the halo. The first thing that comes up is a star that did not have enough mass to ignite. A brown dwarf is a star similar to the sun, but less massive, made of hydrogen but could not ever get the nuclear furnace going. If they aren’t brown dwarfs, MACHOs are most likely black holes. (Lewin 1997) A black hole is a star that has collapsed down from sizes larger than our sun to smaller than a small rock. A black hole is so dense that not even light can escape from it. Black holes have been theorized to exist in many places and there is a theory that suggests that there could be many so-called primordial black holes left over from the Big Bang. A black hole is a great example of what dark matter could be as no light can escape from it. As a result they are impossible to directly detect (but can be detected in other ways). So how do astronomers go about detecting objects that give off no or very little light? The first method is to just look into the sky. It is much harder because objects like brown dwarfs are very faint. With newer technologies such as adaptive optics and newer generation space telescopes it is easier to directly observe these objects. Data taken from the Hubble Space Telescope suggests that brown dwarfs only make up around 6% of the matter in the halo. This is a good start, but obviously not the 90% that should be there. Consequently astronomers must move on to another detection method. The primary method being used and studied currently is strong gravitational lensing. Sound like optics? It is actually a very good analogy to optics in that mass, and therefore an associated gravity, can bend light to a point, effectively lensing starlight.

Gravitational Lensing

Figure 1: Gravitational Lensing

As seen in the image (Fig 1), light from a very distant galaxy emits light in all directions, some straight at us, some away from us. Since matter causes gravity, very massive objects are able to bend light. The next image (Fig 2)
shows the effects of this light bending.

Gravitational Lensing of a Galaxy

Fig 2: Gravitational Lensing of a Galaxy

Instead of seeing one bluish galaxy in the center, a bluish (because of the color of the galaxy) light or smudge will show up in a ring pattern around the center. So what does this do for the search for dark matter? After studying the images of candidates for this lensing, density maps can be plotted. By studying how the light has been bent and by how much, these plots are created. When the mass distribution has come out of that it can be compared to what is actually seen visually. If there is a discrepancy between how much mass we physically see there and how much mass should be there to cause the lensing, dark matter has been found (in theory). From this lensing exact placement of the dark matter can be determined even if it is not known exactly what it is (i.e. a back hole, brown dwarf, etc.). In the pictures the dark matter of the central cluster outweighs all of the combined mass of the cluster’s galaxies by 250 times. Similar to strong gravitational lensing, weak lensing is another method to detect dark matter MACHOs. The presence of an unseen object can distort the light coming directly from a galaxy. The warping of a distant galaxy is a good indication that there is some gravitational force acting on the light between the galaxy and the earth. There are other methods for detecting MACHOs but the three mentioned above at current time are the most interesting and the most promising for actual detection and finding much of the missing mass. (Bell Labs 1999)

The next interesting possibility are new, exotic particles called WIMPS (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles). WIMP theory is currently the most popular among astronomers. To many it has the most promise to account for all the missing matter. Astronomers suggest that these new particles do not interact with matter like other particles do. However, if they have a slight amount of mass (on order of a few hydrogen atoms), because of suggested amounts, they could account for much of the missing mass in the universe. (Lewin 1997) The hard part, once again, of this theory is to figure out how to detect particles that very rarely interact with normal matter. Particle physicists now get involved to help astronomers determine what these particles are and how to detect them. Since WIMP interactions are very rare in normal matter the idea is to set up a very sensitive instrument that can detect the slightest interactions and also be able to get rid of data from cosmic rays that have slightly similar interactions. One such project involves cooling a crystal to near absolute zero (to reduce motion of the atoms) and registering interactions in the crystal by detecting a heat rise. (Miller 1995) So detection of WIMPS will come with updating and inventing newer and better detectors that can discriminate between the new, rarely interacting, particles and particles that we already know the physics for.

Astronomers have opened up a very popular and extremely interesting new area of study with advances in dark matter research. MACHOs and WIMPs are only two of the theories surrounding the enigma of where all the mass is. Even if it can’t be decided which theory is correct, the drive to figure it out will keep bettering theories and inspiring people to come up with new ones. Down the road it will probably be figured out that the dark matter in our universe is made up of many different things, probably incorporating aspects of many different theories. The striving for understanding about how our universe will ultimately lead to better and better theories that will hopefully bring us closer to the truth. It is now known that dark matter is out there, but now the task is to pinpoint what it is.

References

“Bell Laboratories Physical Science Research: Dark Matter” 1999. http://www.bell-labs.com/org/physicalsciences/projects/darkmatter/darkmatter1.html (29 Nov. 2000)

Lewin, J.D. “CLRC RAL Open Days 1998. Dark Matter.” April 1997. http://hepwww.rl.ac.uk/ukdmc/pop/galactic-dm-exhibit.html (4 Dec. 2000)

Miller, Chris. “Cosmic Hide and Seek: the Search for the Missing Mass.” 1995. http://www.eclupse.net/~cmmiller/DM/ (4 Dec. 2000)

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What is wrong with people? (x3)

Over the past few days I have stumbled across a few things that make me wonder “what is wrong with people?”

(1)

Let me start with Michael Moore. The Guarding is reporting that Michael Moore has stated that “Fifty-one percent of the American people lacked information [in this election] and we want to educate and enlighten them. They weren’t told the truth. We’re communicators and it’s up to us to start doing it now.” Moore is planning a new “documentary” called Fahrenheit 9/11 1/2 so he can “enlighten” us and give us that information we were painfully without.

What is wrong with this man? Seriously. If anything, I think the democratic party should do everything in their power to shut him up. I think his mocking of the American people and and calling people uneducated for their vote is very damaging to them. People can see through his false humility and lies to see what he really is. Why is he making this film? Two reasons that I can see: to spit some more on the American population and to fill his large pant pockets with even more money.

Speaking of money…

(2)

Latrell Sprewell is a guard for the Timberwolves. They offered him a three year, $21 million contract that was a reduction of $7 million of yearly salary. I don’t know their reasons specifically for this reduction, but probably relate to him “aging” (in terms of playability) as well as choking his coach (nice guy). I can understand he might be a little upset as a loss of 7 mil a year is a significant loss, but here is what this guys says along with his request for a trade: “I’ve got my family to feed.”

What is wrong with this man? $21 million over three years (not to mention all that he has earned thus far) isn’t enough to feed your kids? Obviously he can’t literally mean that, but what was he thinking? If he did really mean that, he is very sad person.

Speaking of feeding people…

(3)

There are many agencies in the world that offer sponsorships of children in third world countries in order to help feed them, clothe them, offer them medical help, and educate them. Compassion, World Vision, and Christian Children’s Fund are three such example that seems to be pretty legit. There are, of course, many out there that are not on the up and up and just take advantage of people and not much money actually reaches the child. That being said, child sponsorship can be a very worth while endeavor and a worthy charity to support. Although I am not a big fan of some of their commercials, they serve there purpose and are needed to get the word out. The just really aren’t my thing though. I always wonder how much aid the camera crew has offered to the people they are filming. Toyota has decided it would be a lovely idea to parody these commercials to sell a truck.

What is wrong with Toyota? This is one of the most insensitive commercials I have seen in a long time. Even if you disagree with the child sponsorship organizations, there are still many needy children around the world that have next to nothing and Toyota has decided it wise to take this $20,000 or so truck and somehow equate it to a child that hasn’t eaten in days? This is pathetic. “If you can give up one coffee a day (holding a Starbucks cup) you can have one for your own.” Seriously, what is wrong with Toyota and more importantly, why are other people not enraged by this? I don’t care if you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Satanist, or Atheist, I would hope you have enough compassion for starving children that to see feeding them equated with the need for a truck as something to be abhorred.

(This is really stupid of me, but I was so annoyed by the commercial that I actually forgot who the maker of the truck was, when I see the commercial again, I will fill in the XXXXXs. Why is it I can see a commercial over and over when I don’t want to see it and then when I DO want to see it, I don’t see it for 3 days? UPDATE: XXXXXs are now Toyotas, thanks Division!)

Shalom

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

Osama and Arafat

I am wondering what has happened to Osama? He has made some pretty big threats on those blasted red states (Now, being from a “blue” state and also living in Canada I should be ok, how lucky am I??). The lack of terrorist “happenings” on US soil since the elections should be a pretty clear indication of the “power” bin Laden has. I am actually wondering if some of his followers are pulling a “Weekend and Burnies” type thing, possibly really advanced 3d animation that they have been working on the their caves?

Either him being dead or just inept, doesn’t seem to be much of a concern right now. Him and the rest of his cronies will eventually be tracked down. I am sure they all wept for Yasser Arafat.

Speak of the devil… as a Christian I do indeed mourn for his lost soul. I can’t say the world won’t be a better place without him but it is sad to see a soul lost to the Evil One. Mr. “Peace Prize” Arafat has been a horrid ruler. I agree that with the history of the Palestinians, they deserve their own nation. But Israel does as well. Both sides have been brutal in their “interactions” with each other so neither are blameless. But Arafat made peace impossible. Even with the peace talks under Clinton, Arafat essentially said its not enough. For him it was all or nothing, taking the notion of “jihad” to the extremes, just as Osama does. They only way there can be peace there is if both sides recognize that they are both going to be there. Peace can not come if one wants to completely rid the other from the planet. Both Israel and Palestine should be their own state, they don’t have to get along, they just have to exist together. Hopefully Arafat’s replacement will attempt to make peace instead of pretending to be for it. Bush seems to be ready to help if both parties are serious about it. I guess we shall see what happens.

Shalom

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

The epitome of sloth and glut

I am continually amazed at how american culture can take sin to the next level. “The Seven Deadly Sins.” Of course no sin is more deadly than any other but those seven are probably the most obvious of personal sins. Apparently we, as a society, are tired of keeping those sins separate. “What we REALLY need to do is figure out how we can combine sins so I don’t have to waste time on individual indulgences.”

A few refrigerator companies have figured it would be a good idea if they merged sloth and gluttony. They have figured that people are just not lazy enough (or maybe they think we are already this lazy and want us to keep up the good work), and have built a refrigerator with a television built in. I saw this about half a year ago at Fry’s, and am now seeing it on television commercials. What is going on? Walking five or ten feet from the kitchen to the television was just too straining? I REALLLLLLY need that cheese log, if only it was near the tv. How have things come to this? I want my kids to have complete access, all hours of every day to the least amount of movement possible. What I am working on now is building a bed on top of the fridge with the tv, oh and don’t forget the internet!

Shalom and happy eating/watching.

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Lunar Eclipse

I finally remember that I took pictures of the lunar eclipse last week so I figured I would post a few of them. They were taken with an Olympus C-5060 Wide Zoom camera – 5.1 MegaPixels and 4x Optical zoom with a 1.7x telephoto lens attachment (along with some digital zoom and cropping). If you want to know any more details about the pics or see any others let me know.

Here is the Moon at totality. The red of the moon is caused by refraction of the sun’s light around the earth. Essentially looking at all the sunsets of the Earth all at once.

Here the Earth’s shadow is receding and the sun’s light can be seen again.

Most of the the sun’s light can now be seen reflected off the moon with a small portion of the Earth’s shadow remaining.

View of Stanley Park in Vancouver with North Vancouver in the background.

Hope you enjoy. If anyone needs a lesson about what is going on during an eclipse, let me know!

Shalom

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“War President”

“War President”

This picture was created by “American Leftist” and was created as an attack against Bush essentially. But as many conservatives are noting, it is actually a great homage to those that have given their lives for the cause (such as Michelle Malkin who led me to write this entry – link). Malkin said it well: “If ever there were an image that served as a poignant reminder that freedom is not free (something liberals like Moore adamantly refuse to grasp), this one is it.” Indeed.

Shalom