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Jun 12 2013

They always surprise you

Creationists most powerful weapon is their ability to catch you off guard with their unbelievably stupid answers to questions, and here’s a beautiful example. Someone tries to get creationists to explain how they reconcile deep space with a young earth.

I would like to discuss what appears to be a major body of evidence against young earth creationism – astrophysics.

The distances to a large number of astronomical objects have been measured by a variety of methods. Astrophysicists consider the distances to galaxies to be of the order of millions of light years, and the majority of stars within the Milky Way to be up to 100,000 light years away. If this were true, and given the invariance of the speed of light, clearly YEC is false (irrespective of the status of evolution).

Just as one example, a cepheid variable star in the galaxy M81 was observed by the Hubble telescope and measured at about 11 million light years away. See here: http://outreach.atnf…e_cepheids.html

So what is the YEC position in regard to this. Is it:

a ) The speed of light is not invariant, or

b ) All of the objects observed by astronomers, from stars to galaxies to quasars, do in fact exist within 6000 light years of Earth?

I read that, and thought, I know! I know! It’s c) they’re distant, but the light was created en route! I’m so smart.

And so wrong. Surprise! Here’s the answer one creationist gave.

If it takes 11 million years to travel to earth, how can i see it now? I’m only 20.

If it takes 11 million years to travel to earth then the viewer would need to be 11 million years old.

Aaaaaand…we’re done here. I’m gonna go close my eyes and rest a bit.

123 comments

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  1. 1
    J B

    Brought this up with a co-worker. He seriously maintains that, indeed, the speed of light is not invariant.

    Not that it really matters, because he’ll fall back to the idea that the only reliable testimony is eyewitness (“were you there?”), but if light’s speed actually did vary, I presume there would be evidence. What would change about how the universe looks in such a circumstance?

  2. 2
    Amphiox

    But PZ, if you close your eyes, wouldn’t the stars stop existing?

  3. 3
    Amphiox

    J B, by varying the speed of light you could make the universe look like anything and be any age whatsoever. It just depends on how you do the varying!

  4. 4
    sugarfrosted

    Honestly, if they’re going to ignore other parts of modern science, they might as well stick with the emission theory of vision.

  5. 5
    J B

    OK, so it’s more or less as I thought: giving up on c is pretty much giving up on the entire project of learning the physical properties of the universe, just like “oh, it’s beyond logic and reason” gives up on the entire project of, you know, communicating. Thanks for the laughs though, I got a particular chuckle out of the emission theory bit.

  6. 6
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    If it takes 11 million years to travel to earth, how can i see it now? I’m only 20.

    Augh, take the stupidity away!!!! *facepalm right, facepalm left, headdesk, bodyfloor*

  7. 7
    Inaji

    If it takes 11 million years to travel to earth, how can i see it now? I’m only 20.

    I, I, uh…there just aren’t enough facepalms.

  8. 8
    PZ Myers

    #2: Yes. All I have to do is close my eyes and the stupid disappears.

  9. 9
    zaoldyeck

    I… I cannot comprehend that thread. It makes no sense. Their concept of time doesn’t make sense from a newtonian standpoint, let alone the modern relativistic standpoint.

    The concept of time being emitted “now” and “I have to be 11 million years old” might make more sense if they had a TARDIS, but afaik, they don’t.

  10. 10
    zaoldyeck

    Err, light being emitted now*

    Bleh. I am incompetant.

  11. 11
    screechymonkey

    Well, when that light left the star, were you there? Or here? Or anywhere?

    I hesitate to ask for fear of the black hole of stupid that may be opened, but …. does this mean the Bible must have been written within my lifetime?

  12. 12
    zaoldyeck

    @JB

    “Not that it really matters, because he’ll fall back to the idea that the only reliable testimony is eyewitness (“were you there?”), but if light’s speed actually did vary, I presume there would be evidence. What would change about how the universe looks in such a circumstance?”

    I suggest you look up the Michelson-Morley experiment. Light was assumed to travel in the aether even though Maxwell’s equations directly implied something a bit bigger (that light travels the same in any reference frame).

    A bit of vector calc is all you need to derive a constant c from Maxwell’s equations, but the implication of that was a lot LOT harder to accept. Relativity’s math had all been derived before Einstein, after all, the Lorentz factor is named after Lorentz for a reason.

    It wasn’t really until Michelson-Morley’s experiment (where they used the orbit of the earth around the sun to have different opposite relative velocities) that we had the final nail in the coffin.

    And we all know Einstein’s famous 1905 paper which sealed the grave.

  13. 13
  14. 14
    depsilor

    In my younger, naive years, I sent a note to Rupert Sheldrake (forgive me, I had just finished reading one of his books and I thought I’d tease him a little) telling him that the speed of light could not be consistent. He responded that in fact, the speed of light is consistent. This was five years ago.

    I understand now that Sheldrake maintains that the speed of light is NOT consistent. What could have changed his mind? Maybe he is not selling a lot of books lately.

    Anyway, the “I am 20 years old…” comment just made me laugh out loud at work, and co-workers are curious. What should I tell them? (Difficulty: I live in Texas).

  15. 15
    footface

    How can that tree be over a hundred years old? I’m only 46! The math just doesn’t work!

  16. 16
    zaoldyeck

    … They don’t understand light period. Apparently our eyes see not because it takes light in. No, apparently sight is something that comes out of our eyes, and so you need humans to see light.

    Yep, Maxwell’s equations are lies. “Intromission” theory they call it. Actually, Newton would be quite a liar, since he did describe light as a wave.

    I… I really hate physics education.

  17. 17
    Ysanne

    I guess any rebuttals to this amazing argument need to be typed really slowly, since the author probably can’t read fast.

  18. 18
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    I actually recommend reading the linked post. The stupid gives way to the silly, then the hilarious.

    I don’t believe light travels at all, i’ve looked at various models and worked on many but none of it works. The basics of visual perception is often overlooked. When we look at something what is actually going on? The emission theory states that the light emits (not a travelling speed) from our own eyes not from the object we look at.

  19. 19
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Regarding some scientific evidence against the speed of light, from what i remember when i studied science a while back i was told that light can not travel through a vaccum (as sound cant). Therefore i have no idea why people believe starlight travels through space. Astronomers knew this for many years which is why they were searching for some kind of aether.

    OK, I’m leaving this alone now. No further mocking. ;-)

  20. 20
    Stephen Roberts

    Proof of the “Nature just creates better fools” line…

  21. 21
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The emission theory states that the light emits (not a travelling speed) from our own eyes not from the object we look at.

    *Checks Einstein’s Nobel Prize winning work* I don’t think so Tim…

  22. 22
    Inaji

    The emission theory states that the light emits (not a travelling speed) from our own eyes not from the object we look at.

    In that case, I guess staring at the sun would be just fine. Uh huh.

  23. 23
    Glen Davidson

    The key to creationism, of course including IDiocy, is not to understand things in context. Everything is separate–at least everything they claim is magic is separate–and so not only allows for a unique cause, it nearly requires it. And because minds are magic, then minds, or The Mind, just has to be the cause.

    There’s nothing really stranger about YECs failing to understand earth in its context than in the IDiots’ failing to understanding wonderful evidence of relatedness as actual evidence of relatedness (a few do understand it so–yet it makes no sense when they deny the causes of said relatedness). Just chant “common design” over and over again and you needn’t trouble yourself that even they understand that kind of evidence to show descent until matters suddenly break irrevocably from context and mean something completely different.

    Glen Davidson

  24. 24
    Menyambal

    So what’s the difference between light being of variable speed, and the light being created on the way? I mean, if God made everything, with the speed of light set to infinite, then instantly switched it to the current speed, that’s the same as creating it on its way, innit? And how could anybody detect the difference?

  25. 25
    Peter Weal

    Not even wrong.

  26. 26
    billgascoyne

    “But these go to eleven…”

  27. 27
    hypatiasdaughter

    Perhaps we can have a contest for stupidest CreoID comment. I can add:
    - dragons were really fire breathing dinosaurs. You see, they had to breath really fast in the oxygen poor post flood atmosphere and the friction caused their nostrils to catch on fire
    - Hovind disputing Lucy as a human ancestor because we cannot know if she had any children
    I have also seen people who deny that our sun is a star.
    I only hope they are home schooled because I hate to think any product of the professional school system would turn out someone so dumb.

  28. 28
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    I’m gonna go close my eyes and rest a bit.

    Butbutbut, then we won’t exist!!1!

    I guess staring at the sun would be just fine.

    Casseritides has the answer!

    Look up sungazing.

    http://solarhealing.com/
    http://www.sungazing.com/652.html

    Many early Christians practiced sungazing. It’s a form of breatharianism or inedia (extreme fasting), where you fully abstain from eating or drinking. There are many Christians who believe Adam and Eve were originally breathatarians and sungazers (there was no meat before the fall).

    Ratan Manek achieved no eating or drinking for 211 days via sungazing. Nicholas of Flüe [wut ~cm], the patron saint of Switzerland achieved fasting for 19 years. There are other accounts of where people have survived for very long periods without eating or drinking because of sungazing. Sungazing is not only apart of eastern teaching, but is something everyone was originally doing. How it was done however became lost like most other ancient knowledge. If you look up the accounts of Christian mystics who lived for tens of years without eating or drinking. How did they do it? They did it through the sun.

    At some level, I actually want to find out what “breatharianism” is. As a parallel to “inedia”, I suspect it means not breathing. This is the kind of mystic practice I want demonstrated by a yogi before I sign up.

  29. 29
    sigurd jorsalfar

    @28 Breatharianism and inedia are essentially the same thing. I think it’s called Breatharianism because adherents believe one can live entirely by absorbing or breathing in some divine substance called ‘prana’.

  30. 30
    ThorGoLucky

    Another answer is that Satan is so sneaky at getting ungodly brains to see lies. Consistent, measurable, corroborated lies!

  31. 31
    The Mellow Monkey

    Like a vegetarian lives on vegetation, a breatharian lives on…breath?

  32. 32
    hypatiasdaughter

    Ohh, I forgot the newest CreoID dumbfuck – Ian Juby**, who claimed that dinosaur eggs were laid in two parallel rows (rather than in a circle) because the dino was running from the flood waters. (They are from 2 different species of dinosaurs on separate continents).

    **It brings me shame that Juby is a Canadian – but then why should Americans be the only ones to suffer?

  33. 33
    carlie

    Waaaay back when I was in high school/college, sometime in the Pliocene, I remember reading a book positing that the speed of light had been slowing down ever since creation, and this somehow accounted for EVERYTHING that was “wrong” about all of the evidence for the age of the earth and universe. There was some math, and I think also some Bible verses.

  34. 34
    chrisevo

    Similarly, if a travelling man or ‘wise man’ were to take several months or years to cross a continent, it would be physically impossible for him to meet anybody at the other end that’d been born during his journey because of low-speed relativistic effects. Time does not pass at the destination during a journey and oh geeze I can’t even do this by pretending to be terrible. How do they keep this up all the time?

  35. 35
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Indeed! I sorta knew it already but forgot the word.

    It’s Prana. TW for psy trance. ;-)

  36. 36
    tbrandt

    Ah, an excuse to highlight cool science! We actually have parallax measurements to a black hole 2,400 parsecs (7,800 light years) away using radio interferometry. You don’t need to make any assumptions about the speed of light. In fact, you need nothing more than high school geometry. Soon, we should have a parallax to the black hole in the center of our galaxy, which is a little less than 30,000 light years away. Creating the light en-route seems (to me) to be the creationists’ only solution.

  37. 37
    sigurd jorsalfar

    Cassiterides, the 20 year old genius, was banned from that site. I wonder why?

    Was he unmasked as a POE? Or was he too stupid even for YECs?

  38. 38
    Randomfactor

    What should I tell them? (Difficulty: I live in Texas).

    Tell them some Yankee is being an idiot? Close enough to the truth.

  39. 39
    jimnorman

    And…
    E=mc2
    … Rubbish. Pure “liberal claptrap”.

  40. 40
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Rubbish. Pure “liberal claptrap”

    *Puts in titanium fang* Hope you are trying for failed satire. Your SCIENTIFIC evidence is where?

  41. 41
    imthegenieicandoanything

    11, indeed.

    When Nigel Tufnel is born again (Spinal Tap: Smell the Jesus!), the line will become: “B-but, God goes to eleven!”

  42. 42
    machintelligence

    The emission model of vision was a contender for several thousand years, losing out to the current model only about 1000 years ago.This was too recent to have made it into the holy books.

  43. 43
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    PZ:
    I thought the YEC position would be c) Last Thursday
    ****
    cm:
    My scientific knowledge is minimal but even I can laugh at light being emitted by our eyes (how boring though, that all humans have the same mutant power).

  44. 44
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Nerd:
    I thought the scare quotes were the giveaway.

  45. 45
    zaoldyeck

    Not sure how many people have seen this, but check out creationist math…

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/assets/pdf/tj/v17n2_cosmology.pdf

    I’m honestly not even sure what to say. My favorite part is the partial derivitives cause it makes it look all fancey.

    Proof, any time you use an integral sign, you’re doing real science. Yep.

  46. 46
    Jafafa Hots

    In that case, I guess staring at the sun would be just fine. Uh huh.

    Don’t tell people that!!
    If too many of us look at it at the same time, we could burn it out!

  47. 47
    sethcran

    Damn, having spent quite some time myself researching various YEC arguments, I was quite surprised to see one that I hadn’t ever heard before. Of course PZ, you’ve succeeded in nothing other than destroying my hope for humanity :(

    That being said, I’m kind of jealous. That’s the kind of argument that obviously means “walk away and stop trying”. I end up arguing with the YECs that would say something like this

    Because the earth is the center of the universe, it is inside a giant gravity well and therefore gravitational lensing causes time dilation which means that while 6 days passed for creation on earth billions of years passed elsewhere in the galax.

    Not that this is particularly difficult to debunk, but those types of people make me feel like I have to keep trying instead of just turning and walking away because maybe, just maybe, they have an ounce of intelligence and the capability to grasp the truth, if only I stick with it. Ugh.

  48. 48
    StarStorm

    Man, I ought to read FSTDT a little more, heh.

  49. 49
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I thought the scare quotes were the giveaway.

    Too subtle for my overtired eyes (the Redhead woke me up too early this morning). A wink emoticon or /snark would have been good…

  50. 50
    MrFancyPants

    zaoldyeck @ 45 said:

    Proof, any time you use an integral sign, you’re doing real science. Yep.

    Pfft. Shows what you know. It’s the partial derivatives that make it science, not the integrals. “Integrals are science” is just a theory, not a fact!

  51. 51
    CPS100 LCJ

    Erm…

    “Astrophysicists consider the distances to galaxies to be of the order of millions of light years”

    I think that’s “billions.” Some galaxies are millions of light years away, but most are much farther.

    And as for our galaxy, it is 100,000 light-years across, but we are not at the edge, so no part of the galaxy is 100,000 light years “away.” Even if we were at one far end, to say that they consider the “majority of stars within the Milky Way to be up to 100,000 light years away” is weird. Would you say, “The majority of Americans are up to 100 years old”? For the purposes of measurement, better to note that many observed features of our own galaxy are tens of thousands of light years distant. If YEC were true, we would not be able to see the galactic core or know that there’s a black hole there.

    The only answer YEC creationists provide that even has any coherence at all is the one mentioned in the post, that god created the universe as if it were old, in order to test our faith. Which is stupid, as (a) god is supposed to be omniscient and therefore tests are redundant, and (b) it means that the vast majority of creation is a lie, and anyone using reason is being tricked by god in a test of whether they believe, as the old joke goes, “me or your lyin’ eyes.”

  52. 52
    mikeyb

    I thought the answer is always refuting chance + time = everything: it violates the 2nd law; I didn’t come from a monkey; QED.

  53. 53
    oaksterdam

    “Evolution Fairy Tales…..Civil Discourse On The Questions Of Origins”

    Yeah, I didn’t get past the header before a headdesk related incident.

  54. 54
    cicely

    *eyeroll*
    Well, duh! That light was created “old”…like rocks, and fossils, and other Inconvenient Things.
    -

  55. 55
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    footface

    How can that tree be over a hundred years old? I’m only 46! The math just doesn’t work!

    It’s worse than you think. I’m only 47, so my mum cannot be >47 therefore I am uncaused. Only one being has ever been defined as uncaused…

    I AM GOD!

  56. 56
    markr1957

    [snark] Come on now, you know very well that god cranked up the light speed dial just after he hid the pillars that hold up the sky. Pretty shameful, really, about just how ignorant god was about the nature of the universe he created just a couple of days earlier – you’d think he’d have remembered that he built it so planets orbit stars, and not the way those ignorant Iron Age humans thought it worked – with everything revolving around them on their nice flat earth. [/snark]

  57. 57
    jimnorman

    @Nerd #40

    Hope you are trying for failed satire.

    I suppose my satire was, indeed, failed if you thought for a even moment that I was serious. Seems like the quotes around “liberal claptrap” would’ve been enough.

    BTW, isn’t there a ban on linking to that site? Right after posting, I recalled something about a blacklist, and presumed that my ‘failed satire’ would be filtered.

  58. 58
    bassmanpete

    Honestly, if they’re going to ignore other parts of modern science, they might as well stick with the emission theory of vision.

    When I was about 5 I was out after dark with my father who was pointing out certain stars and telling me how far away they were, about the speed of light and how nothing could travel faster than it. I closed my eyes, opened them again and blurted out “Sight can travel faster than light!” The words were no sooner out of my mouth than I realised how daft that was and that my eyes were perceiving the light at the end of its journey.

    Having since read of the above mentioned emission theory, I don’t feel quite so silly after discovering that smarter people than I held a similar idea.

  59. 59
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    The emission theory states that the light emits (not a travelling speed) from our own eyes not from the object we look at.

    Amazing how that lets me read stuff on this smooth, plastic surface. (But only when the backlight is on.)

  60. 60
    PDX_Greg

    Wait, they told me Earth has been around for 6000 years, but I am only 48. How can I see it now?

  61. 61
    stanton

    Wait, they told me Earth has been around for 6000 years, but I am only 48. How can I see it now?

    Because GODDIDIT with magic.

  62. 62
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    At the church I attended as a youngster, almost of all of the kids were homeschooled. My best friend’s father was an engineer for Lockheed Martin and therefore considered the “scientist”–he even had a doctorate! Wow! So he would give all the homeschooled kids “science lectures” (much like the woman with 17 kids–all homebirths!–taught our “sex-ed” class). Sorry about the scare quotes, but I just can’t pretend they were anything approaching real science or sex-ed.

    Anyway. The answer he gave to that question (why, if the universe is only 6,000 years old, can the stars be so far away):

    They aren’t. The science is flawed, you see. The scientists already had their conclusion in mind before they did their experiments, and so they altered the data and/or the instruments to prove their per-determined ideas. Besides, have they ever traveled to a star? Or has anyone actually ever traveled at the speed of light? How can they know the speed of light is constant? Plus, the bible proves that God can stop the sun, hold the light. He controls everything, he’s all-powerful, do you really believe that some silly humans in a lab with the toys they’re so proud of are smarter than God? JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS FOR YOU. HOW DARE YOU QUESTION THAT ULTIMATE SACRIFICE!

    (And this is the part where I would feel horribly guilty, shove down my doubts, re-commit myself to Christ, perhaps promise to do devotions twice a day, and beg God to forgive me.)

  63. 63
    kreativekaos

    Hmm,…. stars, galaxies, quasars, (and presumably all other astrophysical phenomenon)… all within 6,000 light-years. Hey,.. I mean that certainly proves Gawd for me.

    I mean really,… how could life on Earth possibly continue to exist, being bombarded by all the immense high-energy EM radiation emission from all the supernovae, magnetars, pulsars, quasars, black holes, etc., within a 6K L-Y universe.
    (He’s protecting us,… Gawd love him! *snark*)

  64. 64
    Galactic Fork

    In that case, I guess staring at the sun would be just fine. Uh huh.

    No, the sun is very bright, so when you look at it, you overload your eyes by emitting the required light to make the sun that bright. Now, if you gathered hundreds (maybe thousands) of people together to all look at the sun at the same time, there’d be a combined effect and all could look at the sun freely without harming their eyes. I haven’t tested this, but I’m sure it’s true.

  65. 65
    nathanloudon

    Nah, they’re taking the piss surely. It’s simply not possible to be that stupid.

  66. 66
    Lofty

    Nah, they’re taking the piss surely. It’s simply not possible to be that stupid.

    The spectrum of stupidity hath no bottom.

  67. 67
    Gvlgeologist, FCD

    I sometimes read crap like that and think to myself, “don’t some of them just laugh at the others?”

  68. 68
    Menyambal

    It’s simple, really. God created light first, so he’s obviously good at it. And, at first, the planets were simply lights in the sky, as the bible says—nothing there, just a source of divine light. (He didn’t bother to make planets real, because he might have decide to drown everybody, or something.) Later, when people started making telescopes, he went ahead and made things real as needed. It’s easier to have real objects to be seen than to screw around with details in the light.

    The Moon has always been real, just to manage the tides, by the way. And the Sun.

    But that reality only extends out a certain distance—the Andromeda galaxy isn’t there, there’s just some light on the way in. And that light wasn’t sent until telescopes were good enough to see it. (That’s what God does all the time, he plays with light, and ignores us poor bastards entirely (which is where Superman steps in).)

    My point is that reality, solid physical objects we can see, only extends out the distance needed to keep real, proper, non-divine light getting to us until the end of the world. The rapture, or whatever you call it. The time when Jesus comes back, the lion lies down with the lamb and we don’t need telescopes no more.

    So, if the world is going to end in 4 years, reality only needs to extend out for 4 light-years in any direction. Which required that God to make Proxima Centauri and nothing more. The more years, the more stuff, but assuming that Jesus is halfway to making good on his promise to be right back, reality need only extend out 2000 light years—a bit more, but doable.

    So, let’s start developing a way ti detect the difference between reality and divine light, and determine once and for all the date to expect the Rapture. If the boundary is 20 light-years out, your liver might need to be coddled along, if the boundary is 3 years out, partly like it’s 2016.

  69. 69
    Azuma Hazuki

    I can’t laugh at this. The stupid is too strong. This is half of the US here, people. Half of Americans, approximately, think this way! Black humor even for me…

  70. 70
    grumpyoldfart

    zaoldyeck @ post #16 got it right:

    … They don’t understand light period. Apparently our eyes see not because it takes light in. No, apparently sight is something that comes out of our eyes, and so you need humans to see light.

    They think “sight” goes out to the stars and it does so instantly. Look up into the sky and bingo, stars everywhere – no waiting 11 million years for the light to get here because “sight is faster than light.”

  71. 71
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Surprise! Here’s the answer one creationist gave.
    If it takes 11 million years to travel to earth, how can i see it now? I’m only 20.
    If it takes 11 million years to travel to earth then the viewer would need to be 11 million years old.

    Wow. *facepalm*

    @51. CPS100 LCJ

    Erm…“Astrophysicists consider the distances to galaxies to be of the order of millions of light years.” I think that’s “billions.” Some galaxies are millions of light years away, but most are much farther.

    Actually galaxies range from as close as being part of galaxy -actually merging with it for the Saggitarius dwarf with the Large Magellanic clouds as the nearest bright and large satelllite being 163,00 light years all the way to outside the observable universe at around 46 or 47 billion light years. (See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observable_universe )

    The most distant galaxy known record is one that changes a bit with observations but the record is currently MACS0647-JD or proto-galaxy UDFj-39546284 both 13. 3~4 billion ly off.

    See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_distant_astronomical_objects for source & more.

    This specific galaxy – Messier 81 – is about 12 million light years ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messier_81 ) majking it one of the closer and better studied ones.

  72. 72
    coffeehound

    The emission theory states that the light emits (not a travelling speed) from our own eyes not from the object we look at.

    Right. So the fact that half the earth is always in the dark is due to all of those people on that side going to sleep at night and closing their eyes. Then it gets dark. What don’t you people understand!?

  73. 73
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Its thought globular cluster Omega Centuari – now part of our Milky Way – among others started life as a separate small galaxy too FWIW.

    See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_Centauri

  74. 74
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @51. CPS100 LCJ :

    Erm…“Astrophysicists consider the distances to galaxies to be of the order of millions of light years.”I think that’s “billions.” Some galaxies are millions of light years away, but most are much farther.

    I guess it depends on what is meant by “most galaxies” because whilst the majority of the galaxies are billions of light years away such as shown by the Hubble Deep Fields (see : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble_deep_field ) the majority of the familiar, well-known, well studied galaxies such as the Magellanic Clouds, Andromeda, Leo Trio (M65, M66 & NGC 3628), etc ..are located much closer and within millions of light years not out to billions.

  75. 75
    Mobius

    [headdesk]

    Oh, the stupid. It hurts so much.

  76. 76
    bastionofsass

    So trying to learn here.

    If my eyes emit vision, am I seeing something different than everybody else? Or does god implant some kind of standard vision output controls?

    And when I die, will the stars created by my vision go dark for everyone else?

    And, OK, I presume the good people in heaven can still see stuff happening on earth, but what about the people in hell?

    This religious stuff is just so hard for me to understand. I need to go pray on it.

  77. 77
    mvemjsun

    Even if all stars were within 6000 light years it would still show their god up as an idiot. If a person builds a habitat for a pet they do create parts of that habitat that is unreachable to that pet. If the universe was created by their god for humans: Placing stars more then a few dozen light years away is like a human putting a kennel for his/her dog on the moon.

  78. 78
    lochaber

    wow, that’s sorta amazing in its…

    stupidity?

    Anyways, so, given this ‘model’ how do they think cameras work? or how are ants burned by not-very-nice kids with magnifying glasses? and whats up with the colorblind folk? -can they contaminate ‘normal’ folk’s vision if they both stand really close and look at something far away? through the separate eyepieces of a binocular?

  79. 79
    lochaber

    and that conservapedia page on E=mc2 was incredibly amusing… and they even had a Neil deGrasse Tyson quote (plus they even have a page on him – it really doesn’t say a whole lot, but mentions (twice) that he’s the director of the Hayden planetarium. – maybe if we can help give these conservapedia kids some helpful scientific writing tips (like, say, concision…), they will manage to get some of their incredibly sound beliefs in some peer-reviewed lit, or something).

    although, to their credit, I didn’t get any hits when I did a ctrl-F on the E=mc2 page for “jew”

  80. 80
    playonwords

    Perhaps some physicists here might confirm, doesn’t messing with the speed of light cause problems with all sorts of other things, such as nuclear fission and fusion?

    Also do YECs ever look at some of the Hubble “deep field” photos
    http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/pr1996001a
    and think that all those galaxies aren’t really that big.

    Are YECs really Father Dougal?

  81. 81
    NelC

    How did the emission theory explain shadows?

  82. 82
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Fuck… Me…

    That’s it. That’s all I got.

  83. 83
    Jafafa Hots

    If I’m only 20 years old, why are there still monkeys?

  84. 84
    kevinalexander

    Honestly, if they’re going to ignore other parts of modern science, they might as well stick with the emission theory of vision.

    It’s why the blessed can’t see in the dark. Only Satan can cause nocturnal emissions.

  85. 85
    prfesser

    zaoldyeck @ post #16 got it right:

    … They don’t understand light period. Apparently our eyes see not because it takes light in. No, apparently sight is something that comes out of our eyes, and so you need humans to see light.

    They think “sight” goes out to the stars and it does so instantly. Look up into the sky and bingo, stars everywhere – no waiting 11 million years for the light to get here because “sight is faster than light.”

    I recall smugly pointing out to my teacher (a while back) this same claim, that sight is faster than light. Of course, I was ten years old at the time, so I had some excuse.

    Jeez. The stupid really burns.

  86. 86
    sundiver

    Heard the “c decay ” bullshit from a (thankfully) former co-worker. Problem is a) the speed of light is derived quantity from Maxwell’s equations and b) since E=mc^2, if light was travelling significantly faster 6,000 years ago we would have burned up from the enegy released by natural radioactive decay way before the 600 year-old man could have started building his boat. What the creobots don’t seem to comprehend is that when you change one part of an equation something else has to give. To me, all of this is beside their point; the solar system is too big for the tawdry little play that they call the Bible. Remember the shot Voyager 2 took as it departed the solar system, where Earth is, as Carl Sagan put it, a pale blue dot. Maybe the reason some people are creationsts is they just can’t wrap their minds around the concepts of deep space and deep time. Maybe they can’t, as Whitman put it, let their souls “stand cool and composed before a million universes”. Pity to not be able to fully appreciate the spectacle nature has put before us to observe.

  87. 87
    Lofty

    In other news, I recharged my torch batteries today by staring at the lit globe for half an hour.

  88. 88
    Anri

    So, should I go invest in some ruby-crystal lenses to control the beams of energy being emitted from my eyes?

  89. 89
    drbunsen, le savant fous

    If I’m only 20 years old, why are there still monkeys?

    Dear Jafafa Hots, I baked you a chocolate-cookie internet. If you walk out to your mailbox and open it, it will appear.

  90. 90
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    If you can read the bible, then obviously it was written during your lifetime!

  91. 91
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    “But if the sun were a star, then the stars would be very big!”

    Do you know how long biblical literalists have been resisting this knowledge?

    I have been reading some new arguments to prove that the world is very old, & that the six days of creation were six immensely long periods. For instance, according to Genesis, the stars were made when the world was, yet this writer mentions the significant fact that there are stars within reach of our telescopes whose light requires 50,000 years to traverse the wastes of space & come to our earth.
    —Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) in a letter to his fiancée, Olivia Langdon, in 1870

  92. 92
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    Maybe the reason some people are creationsts is they just can’t wrap their minds around the concepts of deep space and deep time.

    Bingo.

    So much of YEC, I think, is exactly that. They cannot deal with the numbers involved, the timescale, the vastness of space. So they decide, well, this part of the bible we are going to take totally literally (for a given value of the word “literal” of course), this part cannot be metaphor, it has to be totally true, because God creating the world in seven days 6000 years ago is a hell of lot easier to understand, and psychologically more comforting, than accepting the truth of what science teaches us about the universe. After all, the way creationists reconcile the two totally different creation stories is this: the first chapter of Genesis is the “literal” story, while the second chapter is a metaphor that shows man is the centerpiece of creation, and everything was created for him; the first chapter shows that man is the pinnacle of creation, the crowning piece, so it all feeds that egoism. (Of course, when it comes to the creation of women, creationists then decide that the first chapter is the metaphor while the second chapter is literally true, because the rib story helps justify their sexism a lot more than a story where men and women are created together, both in the image of God.)

  93. 93
    sundiver

    EEB: Egoism, that’s a big part of the issue, the feeling that “I AM important, I AM significant. They’re some deity’s special snowflake and they and those who think like them are the only ones who’ll get to whatever paradise they envision. Just seems a bit conceited to me. I can understand reveling in making some sort of deep scientific discovery, Hans Bethe’s comment after working out how stars fuse hydrogen comes to mind. But the attitude many fundies have seems contrived, as though even they have serious doubts and so compensate by braying loudly.

  94. 94
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @JB and Amphiox
    No.

    The proposition that the speed of light has been slowing down over time (commonly known as the “c-decay” hypothesis) is not unfalsifiable. It has been falsified.
    http://www.evolutionpages.com/SN1987a.htm

    The proposition that the speed of light varies by direction in this specific context is also not unfalsifiable. It has been falsified.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Anisotropic_synchrony_convention

  95. 95
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    *Checks Einstein’s Nobel Prize winning work* I don’t think so Tim…

    Einstein won his Nobel prize for his work in the photoelectric effect, not for his work on relativity. At the time, relativity was still quite controversial. We did not get good confirming evidence for relativity until several decades after relativity was discovered.

  96. 96
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Einstein won his Nobel prize for his work in the photoelectric effect, not for his work on relativity.

    I know. I was responding to the concept of light for vision being emitted by eyes. Nothing about relativity.

  97. 97
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls
    I fail to see any relevance of Einstein’s work on the photoelectric effect with the earlier conversation.

    I suppose you might have done an argument from authority fallacy, that because Einstein won a Nobel for his work in the photoelectric effect, we should trust him on another topic, but I assume this is not was intended.

    The only reasonable reading of your post is that you were referencing the speed of light under relativity, and referenced Einstein’s work in relativity, and wrongly implied that Einstein won the Nobel for his work in relativity. Please admit that you were in error about Einstein winning his Nobel for his work on relativity, and let us move on.

  98. 98
    carbonbasedlifeform

    One thing I do not understand about the “God created the light on its way to the earth” thing. As I understand it, Creationists say “the Bible is true because God cannot lie.” However, they are saying “God made it appear as if the light originated from distant objects, even though it actually did not.” In other words, God lied.

    They can’t have it both ways.

  99. 99
    consciousness razor

    Do you know how long biblical literalists have been resisting this knowledge?

    You could go back to at least Galileo, etc., when it comes to apologetics dealing with distances to the stars. Also, the problem isn’t always literalism but inerrantism. Like in your Twain quote, you get “the six days of creation were six immensely long periods.” A day-age interpretation isn’t a literal interpretation (it says “days” and it means days), but it finds some convoluted way to make sure the Bible is somehow or other telling some obscured form of The Truth™. Some parts may be literally true, others not literally but still “true,” so inerrantism in general doesn’t need to be a more specific kind of interpretation than that. It’s more adaptable to doubts about the veracity of the Bible that get raised as people learn one thing, then another, then another…. Christians like that have been around since the beginnings of Christianity.

  100. 100
    hypatiasdaughter

    Ohh, I knew I would find it. This is a video by Shane Killian where he explains that if the speed of light were faster in the past, the Universe would have to be OLDER than it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRmJbP25m-Y
    The ring of light around Supernova 1987A, is .658ly from the nova, meaning that it is 168,000 ly from Earth and went nova 168,000 years ago, based on the current speed of light. Meaning the Universe has to be at least 168,000 years old.
    If light was faster in the past, the supernova and ring would have to be bigger and farther from Earth to keep the relative radius between the ring and nova the same. (i.e. if you move an object twice as far away, it looks half the size; to look the same size, it would have to be twice as big).
    He calculated that the speed of light would have to have been 28 times the current speed for this to happen. At this speed, supernova1987A would have to be 4.4 million ly away and thus the Universe would have to be at least 4.4 million years old.

    The CreoIders seem to have no explanation as to why God choose to make a path of light between a star and Earth that looks like a star then a supernova that happened before He created the star…..

  101. 101
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The only reasonable reading of your post is that you were referencing the speed of light under relativity, and referenced Einstein’s work in relativity, and wrongly implied that Einstein won the Nobel for his work in relativity. Please admit that you were in error about Einstein winning his Nobel for his work on relativity, and let us move on.

    Sorry I meant to be responding to something other than relativity, and you seem to be unable to move on. You can think what you want, and you can move on. But you are wrong in what I said, and what I meant to say. You deal with that as you move on.

  102. 102
    Amphiox

    re @94;

    That is true, but only for a scenario of continuous variation that follows itself some form of uniform law – ie the rate change is describable by a mayhematical equation such that you can predict the speed of light for any given time on the future or past.

    But if you can vary the speed of light at discrete intervals, instantaneously and randomly (or by whim) such that you can have it at say 100c for some few billions of years, flip it to 0.6c for twenty minutes, flip it again to 8c for another 176.4556 years, flip it again the 1 million c for another twenty days, and so forth, all at the whim of an unpredictable creator or simple stochastically at unpredictable intervals, then it is unfalsifiable and you can make the universe to appear any age you want.

  103. 103
    Amphiox

    Re 77;

    But you see, the stars aren’t habitat – they’re enrichment. Pretty lights to amuse the pets. Like playing Van Halen for your Gerbil. You don’t put the stereo within reach of the cage….

  104. 104
    Amphiox

    Re @68;

    So God is a MMORPG programmer. The game world is rendered only when the PC gets close enough to observe it.

    Unfortunately all the PC’s have proven rather bad at the game mechanics and are still stuck in the beginner’s first town area.

  105. 105
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Sorry I meant to be responding to something other than relativity, and you seem to be unable to move on. You can think what you want, and you can move on. But you are wrong in what I said, and what I meant to say. You deal with that as you move on.

    Ok, do tell. When you said this:

    The emission theory states that the light emits (not a travelling speed) from our own eyes not from the object we look at.

    *Checks Einstein’s Nobel Prize winning work* I don’t think so Tim…

    Exactly what did you mean to communicate? I am really curious what Einstein’s work on the photoelectric effect has to do with the emission theory of sight. I must not understand my quantum theory well enough, because I don’t see any connection whatsoever here. Could you explain, or possibly provide links, to explain the connection please?

    /snark

  106. 106
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I must not understand my quantum theory well enough, because I don’t see any connection whatsoever here. Could you explain, or possibly provide links, to explain the connection please?

    I might have been obscure, but that is your problem, not mine. If you don’t think I made any sense, you can always move on. I moved on.

  107. 107
    playonwords

    106, Enlightenment

    Einstein’s photoelectric theory shows light to be discrete quanta absorbed by the substrate, not emissions from the eyes or anywhere else on the human body. I actually think that Nerd’s response was partly to another sarcastic post.

    Personally I saw nothing in his OP that referred to relativity

  108. 108
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Not sure how many people have seen this, but check out creationist math…

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/assets/pdf/tj/v17n2_cosmology.pdf

    I’m honestly not even sure what to say. My favorite part is the partial derivitives cause it makes it look all fancey. — zaoldyeck

    *gobsmacked*

    And they forgot “+ C”!

  109. 109
    grobertson55

    I volunteer at an observatory and every now and again someone comes along with question that is so ridiculous that I have no idea how to reply for several seconds. It’s a real “The Stupid, It Burns” moment. That 11 million year comment would qualify as such a question

  110. 110
    Lyn M: G.R.O.S.T. (ADM) -- Membership pending

    If it takes 11 million years to travel to earth, how can i see it now? I’m only 20.
    If it takes 11 million years to travel to earth then the viewer would need to be 11 million years old.

    If this is my grandfather’s gun, how can I see it now?
    If it’s been 41 years since he died, how can I shoot you with it now?

    Not that I would, of course! But maybe we want to test this one. I mean, that would be studying the controversy, right?

  111. 111
    mvemjsun

    Re: Amphiox @ 103

    What about the planets around thos stars. And the 96% of the universe that is dark matter/Dark Energy those things are not pretty lights to amuse the pets. Small lights close up would be just as pretty and be far more efficient then gigantic lights far away

  112. 112
    alwayscurious

    @111
    How dare you question the design choices of the Creator! Prepare 20 lbs of spaghetti in the finest marina and offer it as penance to the Flying Spaghetti Monster lest you invoke his anger!

  113. 113
    alwayscurious

    *marinara

  114. 114
    thebookofdave

    Hasn’t anyone else even thought of mentioning that he is 13.8 billion years old (at least his ingredients are), and ask him to try harder to recall events in his existence over twenty years ago?

  115. 115
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls
    You were talking out of your ass in a snarky tone about a topic which you seemingly know nothing about. You through out a big name – Einstein and the Nobel prize – in order to look intelligent. You need to acknowledge you were talking out of your ass, admit you were making shit up, apologize, and then we can move on. That’s what adults who care about the truth do.

  116. 116
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Err, throw* out.

  117. 117
    Amphiox

    Re: Amphiox @ 103

    What about the planets around thos stars. And the 96% of the universe that is dark matter/Dark Energy those things are not pretty lights to amuse the pets. Small lights close up would be just as pretty and be far more efficient then gigantic lights far away

    Sure that would be more practical. But what’s the fun in practical? Why own a Jaguar when a Prius is all you need?

    If you have infinite omnipotency and power, does it even make sense to talk about “inefficiency” and “practicality”? If you can do anything, everything is equally easy for you.

    Maybe he needed to show of to all the other gods who make other universes how powerful and extravagant he can afford to be….

  118. 118
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    You were talking out of your ass in a snarky tone about a topic which you seemingly know nothing about.

    You are talking out of your ass and your inability to move on tells me you know are a poser with delusions of adequacy. Your inability to understand isn’t my fault. And NOBODY has to explain anything because you ask. Get over yourself.

  119. 119
    depsilor

    I am new here. Can someone tell me how you reply to a comment and quote the original?
    Thanks.

  120. 120
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls
    The hell is wrong with you. You post something obviously incorrect, and I correct you. The proper thing to do would be to say “oh, thanks, you’re right”. Instead, you say “I can say whatever I want without the need to defend my assertions as factually correct, or even coherent”. Are you a skeptic? Are you honest? Do you even know what the photoelectric effect is?

  121. 121
    chigau (違う)

    depsilor #119
    <blockquote>copy/paste whatever</blockquote>
    causes

    copy/paste whatever

    You can also copy/paste the ‘nym of the commenter and the number.

  122. 122
    depsilor

    You can also copy/paste the ‘nym of the commenter and the number.

    Thank you!

  123. 123
    chigau (違う)

    You’re welcome, depsilor.

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