Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hunting for Creationism - Round 3 - The Universe Was Created Recently


I'm on the hunt for evidence for Creationism/Intelligent Design (hereby C/ID). Here, I set the ground rules and mission. Here, I have an index of my search.

Continuing on icr.org (they have a bunch of arguments). Today's argument, "The Universe Was Created Recently"
This one is a bit facepalm-worthy.

 The Argument

Many clock-like processes operating in the solar system and beyond indicate that the universe is young. For example, spiral galaxies should not exist if they are billions of years old.
Uh, what?

The stars near their centers rotate around the galactic cores faster than stars at the perimeters. If a cosmology based on long ages is correct, they should have blended into disk-shaped galaxies by now. 
Have you considered that you may be looking at galaxies that are currently in that process? You seem to be assuming that galaxies all formed at the same time, and form at the same rate, without anything like galactic collisions and excess material forming new ones.

(link to google image search of Galaxies from NASA)

Have a lookie at the wide variety of galaxies from NASA above... they're in all kinds of stages. Spiral arms of galaxies have revolution times of hundreds of millions of years. It may take a billion years for the outer swirls to do a complete revolution, let alone turn into one cohesive disk.

I don't think you're understanding how long these things take. In terms of a "Galactic Year" (the time it takes for our solar system to make a revolution around our average sized galaxy, from an mid-way position - about 225 million years), the universe is only 66 "galactic years" old... meaning if our galaxy existed as-is back then, we would only have revolved 66 times in about 13-14 billion years.

In a couple billion years, we'll probably be colliding with a nearby galaxy, Andromeda, which will pretty much tear our galaxies apart, and will probably form a new galaxy, and the spirals may start over.

Further, because we're looking deep into the universe, due to the speed of light, we're also looking deep into the past. Ignoring the expanding universe model, if we look at a galaxy 2 billion light-years away, we're essentially seeing how it was 2 billion years ago... so depending on which galaxy we're looking at, this further tosses your argument into a blender.

I'm sorry, but this doesn't need magic to explain.

Comets pose a similar problem. They lose material each time they pass around the sun. Why would they still exist after vast eons?
Maybe because there's new ones all the time? As you point out, they lose material as they pass around the sun - or, more specifically, near the sun. Many of the comets originate from the Oort Cloud, where they are knocked out of orbit, and start long elliptical orbits around the sun. Some is debris that's been flying around, that only came into a tighter orbit "recently".

Again, have you considered other possibilities than a young-universe model? For labeling yourselves the "Institute for Creation Research", you certainly don't seem to do a whole lot of that r-thing (as an aside, I've love to know hat actual scientific "research" they do, if any).

Keep in mind that our solar system is only about 5 billion years old... and some of the comet orbits are long (link to article about long-orbit comets). Some of their orbits are on the order of millions of years, and they could make the trip many many times before finally breaking up, especially the massive ones, also depending on how tightly they orbit the sun - there's all kinds of variables that play a role.

Again, you don't seem to have a grasp on the potential time scales here.

Saturn’s rings still look new and shiny.
Uh, okay. Is there any reason you can offer that they'd ever stop being "new and shiny"? What does that even mean? It's a ring/disc of rocks... how does that compare to the "new and shiny" of a new car? How do you know what they would have looked like before? How do you know that this is the "new and shiny" state as opposed to before? Were you there? (jab jab)

This one is just ... weird. The argument doesn't have enough content to form an intelligible thought, let alone refute.

And many planets and moons are very geologically active. Surely the energy they continually expend should have been spent long ago if they are as old as they are usually claimed to be.
Surely? What are you basing your numbers on? Based on the science, it's reasonable to expect that the Earth's inner heat will last for billions more years... and that's assuming that we stop being smacked by large meteors - each of which adds more energy.

Mars is already geologically inactive. Mercury and Venus are closer to the sun and can capture/retain heat for longer. The rest of the planets are gas giants, so "geologically active" makes less sense.

Do you realize that space is a considerable insulator? There's three ways to transfer heat - radiation, conduction and convection. Earth, flying around space in a vacuum, fails to be able to do two out of three of these energy transfer types. All that's left is radiation (mostly in the form of infrared).

In fact, when it comes to things like space shuttles/space stations, it's actually a problem of getting too hot when in the sun. They actually have to deal with "thermal management" (link to NASA article).

Also, the rate of transfer of heat within the Earth to the crust is slow, which traps most of it for huge periods of time. Think how long it takes for a hot cup of coffee to cool down (and that's with conduction and convection to help), and then consider the mass of the earth that's hundreds of times hotter with on the order of 10^24 times more mass without conduction and convection... then consider that Earth has only been meteor-bombardment-free for a couple billion years (all the impacts that pumped us up full of heat)...

... so yes, the fact we're still geological active 3.5 billion years later (after the thick of bombardments, about), is easy.

I really wish these arguments at least had some numbers, and not just vague, unjustified assertions.

Instead, the more astronomers learn about the heavens, the more evidence there is that the universe is young.
Shoo! Go back to your parallel universe where everything is the opposite of what you think it is here.

Meta Analysis

In a previous post, I was talking about how well a piece of evidence supports a claim. In short, the quality of a piece of evidence is directly proportional to how strongly it indicates one conclusion over the others. Put another way, if your evidence indicates several contradictory possibilities roughly equally, your evidence is crap. It doesn't help progress our understanding of the universe, which is kinda sorta the point.

The author of this argument attempted to solve this problem by simply ignoring the fact that other explanations/possibilities exist.

Along with this "prong" for evidentiary assessment, is the question of how well it works or cooperates with other substantiated empirical evidence. Does it fit with the preponderance of evidence, or is your assertion of what the evidence indicates contradicted by the overarching available evidence? If it's the latter, it's most likely that either something is wrong with your evidence, or your case.

This argument, as a whole, fails both prongs.

Not only are there non-magic (and well-supported by evidence) explanations for the issues he/she raises, but the conclusion is overwhelmingly contradicted by other evidence of an old-universe model.

For instance, in order to even look at some of those galaxies means peering back in time billions of years, which directly disproves that the universe is "young" (which I assume the author means on the order of 6-10 thousand years - it wasn't explicitly stated)... but that evidence was conveniently ignored while using the data to show that there are still spiral galaxies. The closest galaxies (excluding the dwarf satellites our galaxy has - link) are on the order of hundreds of thousands of light years, to a million (that's more than 6-10 thousand).

It's not unusual for these facts to be "countered" by unevidenced undemonstrated extraordinary claims, that, either the light speed was much faster before reaching us, or that the light was established that way in transit to us, 6-10 thousand years ago. You're in trouble if you have to take that route to fix blatant errors in your argument.

These arguments are rather silly. It'd be like me arguing that the universe is less than a thousand years old because there are no trees that are older than that - and if universe was 13 billion years old, where are the 13 billion year old trees? This argument can only appear to be germane to those who have no clue that trees tend to die after awhile (or are chopped down), and new ones grow. One way or another, these arguments can only work on those who are stammeringly ignorant, or staggeringly willfully-ignorant, because once one learns a few things about the world and universe, it becomes much easier to see right through the spin and idiocy of these arguments.

So, let me put it to you. Given the points this argument brings up, which is most likely true?:

  • The old-universe model that's overwhelmingly supported by multiple independent lines of empirical evidence, that requires no assumptions of magic or laws-of-physics-violating miracles.
  • A young-universe model that is contradicted by the preponderance of evidence, and can only be argued by undemonstrated unsupported evidenceless miracle claims, or cherry-picking scientific evidence, while ignoring many other less fantastic possibilities, to try to establish a logical connection to creation, that's quite tenuous.

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