Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Mangling Science Part 3: Continuing Our Diet of Worms

Jason Lisle's present to the Biblical Literalist community..

In this third part of my critique of the fundamentalist attack on science I open up another can of worms – this time Jason Lisle’s ASC model.  (See below for links to parts 1 and 2)

The Biblical literalist’s 6000 year cosmology means that for them star-light’s arrival upon Earth’s surface is a perennial problem with radically new Young Earthist “solutions” appearing every few years.  Russ Humphreys’ White Hole Model at least suggested a programme of calculation that could be tested against cosmological observations.  Once Humphreys had conceived his basic model the laws of physics limited the options as to how his cosmos was going to develop over time. This was because his commitment to known physical laws meant that he did not have at his disposal an infinitely malleable model that would enable him to fit his theory to any observations. He was therefore taking risks, just as someone advancing a scientific theory should. It seems, however, that this gallant effort to explain our perspective on the cosmos failed and once again Young Earthist star-light theory was in the doldrums. The least we could say was that Humphreys’ model was a genuinely scientific attempt at solving the problem. So perhaps at last the Young Earthists had learnt the lessons of scientific integrity. There was also a concession to cosmology: Whilst his model implied a 6000 year old Earth it actually conceded an ancient universe as measured using the ticks of cosmic clocks beyond Earth.

But then along came Jason Lisle with his “ASC model” and a return to the bad old days of “mature” creation where signals are created ad-hoc in transit, a notion which thoroughly compromises testable science and rational integrity. The infinite number of adjustable variables available to the mature creation "theorist" gives him a model so malleable that it can be made to fit almost anything. But not everybody could immediately see Lisle's need for in-transit-signal-creation; some were fooled by Lisle’s pathological coordinate transformation that by convention assigned all but infinite velocities to signals radially directed toward the Earth. Of course this radially directed coordinate system could just as easily be applied anywhere and everywhere in the universe. Therefore those whose science was weak, fazed by Lisle’s piece of sophistry, concluded that somehow Lisle had pulled an infinite speed of light out of the hat whereby observers anywhere and everywhere were able to explain the visibility of the universe using a nigh on infinite light speed. But no; one can only simultaneously use Lisle’s radial coordinate convention at one place at a time. This means that if the value of the speed of light toward Earth is set at infinity then it follows that there are large solid angles where light travels at speeds a great deal less than infinity; in fact there must be a whole hemisphere of solid angle where the velocity of light was between c and c/2. In short Lisle couldn't have his cake and eat it, although the scientifically challenged may have thought he could.

Big problem then: Lisle’s coordinate transformation still means that for by far and away the majority of solid angles light, when compared to cosmic dimensions, travels at pretty much the snail’s pace it always has. So how does Lisle account for interacting star masses which for the most part could only interact using snail’s pace signalling? For the fundamentalist’s mind that’s easy to solve; there is always the fall-back of mature creation theory. In fact the following is what Lisle says at the end of paper on his ASC model (Published on AiG)

We note that the ASC model only accounts for distant starlight and other earthward-directed phenomena that move at nearly the speed of light (such as neutrinos). It has been suggested that other celestial phenomena require billions of years: collisions of galaxies, jets of material from active galactic nuclei (AGNs), etc. However, I do not believe this is so. It seems to me that the mature creation argument works quite well on distributions of matter. Unlike light, the supernatural creation of matter in a specific configuration does not undermine any precondition of intelligibility; nor do we have biblical information that would be contrary to the idea that God may have created the matter in the universe very close to its present location. So, we should consider the possibility that galaxies currently in collision may have been created in collision. There is no reason to assume that they must have come from a previous state. The fact that it is possible to imagine a previous state which could have led up to the present state is logically irrelevant. After all, it is possible to imagine a previous state which would have led up to Adam’s adult state—namely a baby. Yet Adam did not come from such a state (My emphasis)

Notice that Lisle hasn't mentioned here that those “specific configurations of matter” created as is, just like that, must also include attributing speed and direction to the motions of the particles of those configurations.  Also, Lisle hasn't told us that photons, which deliver to our eyes the “Light experience” are simply one special kind of material particle in the standard model of physics that, like all the other material particles, obey the laws of physics. So one might guess (a guess that turns out to be wrong!) that photons, like other material particles are, according to Lisle, created as is with the appropriate configurations and velocities. Lisle has also not told us that matter interacts by communicating using signals that are, in fact, due to the motions of the particles of the standard model. So according to Lisle interacting star masses, such as colliding galaxies, require all the appropriate signalling particles to be created in the appropriate configurations of position and velocity as if they have emanated from distant parts of the star mass. So to avoid special pleading one might expect Lisle would have photons, which play a part in material interactions, be created as if they too have apparently (as opposed to actually) travelled from distant parts, just like the other particles of the standard model. But no!

Notice what Lisle has said above; “Unlike light”. So is Lisle excluding photons from his mature creation theory, a theory, (if such it can be called!) which allows the creation of signals in transit?  If so he may have a problem here because photons play a part in the interactions of matter: This would mean that photonic interactions which don’t involve motions radially directed toward the Earth, would be largely absent from Lisle’s cosmos as they would be barred from participating in Lisle’s mature creation theory, a theory that otherwise allows in-transit-signal-creation. As we shall see below it seems, in fact, that this is what Lisle is proposing. That is, he doesn't like photons being created in transit and unlike other particles, Lisle doesn't allow them to have an apparent bogus history of travel behind them. This means that according to Lisle photons must have a genuine origin of travel and not an apparent origin. Perhaps this is because we can see photons and therefore in this case creative integrity is manifestly an issue for Lisle. Perhaps! Who knows!

As I have already said, Lisle’s centralized coordinate system can be centred anywhere and everywhere in the cosmos and this may have distracted some from perceiving the radical geocentricity and cosmic asymmetry of Lisle’s ASC model. This asymmetry results because light moving away from us does so at a snail’s pace of not much over c/2. It would then follow from Lisle’s logic that those distant stars can’t see us now as we can see them now (“now” as defined using Lisle’s coordinate system); this follows, of course, because light from distant parts reaches us all but instantaneously, but light leaving us moves at no greater speed than c.  In fact Lisle himself confirms this logic: Sam Trenholm, a Christian contributor to Rationalwiki, came up with an elegant thought experiment to bring out the radical asymmetry and geocentricity of Lisle's ASC model. He then posted this experiment as a comment on Lisle’s blog. Below I reproduce this post along with Lisle’s reply.

Imagine, if you will, a large mirror in this young ASC universe of yours 5,000 light years from Earth. If one looks in this mirror from Earth in your young ASC universe, they will see nothing (well, OK, they will see whatever you consider “formless and void”) until 10,000 years after the universe’s special creation—4,000 years in the future should said universe be 6,000 years old.
[Dr. Lisle: Yes. Quite correct.]

According to the logic here we wouldn't be able to see the reflection of our Sun in this hypothetical mirror simply because the Sun was only created about 6000 years ago: Light travelling away from near Earth vicinity at around c/2 has yet to get to the mirror! Lisle could, of course, cut the Gordian knot by simply postulating the in-transit-creation of photons from Earth as he does other particles of interaction, but he doesn't; this mature creation “rescuing device” is, it seems, taboo for Lisle when it is photons that are doing the signalling and the interacting. The reason for the special exemption of photons from mature creation theory seems to be based on the requirement that photonic signals remain humanly intelligible; when these signals reach human eyes they appear to tell a compelling story about where they are from. If Lisle allowed these signals to be created in transit then the bogus history that mature creation posits would be all too apparent to the observer. Presumably other particulate agents of interaction such as the particles that mediate gravity, or gas pressures are allowed by Lisle to be covered by mature creation theory because no human eye can focus them to see where they are coming from. But then the human eye can’t focus gamma rays and radio frequencies so does that mean that these forms of electromagnetic radiation can be created in transit? Who knows!

Let me now re-quote Lisle:

….we should consider the possibility that galaxies currently in collision may have been created in collision. There is no reason to assume that they must have come from a previous state. The fact that it is possible to imagine a previous state which could have led up to the present state is logically irrelevant. After all, it is possible to imagine a previous state which would have led up to Adam’s adult state—namely a baby. Yet Adam did not come from such a state

No reason to assume they must have come from a previous state? Oh yes there is a reason, and that reason is called rational integrity. Moreover, it seems that Lisle does appreciate the need for rational integrity when it comes to photons, particularly photons that arrive at our eyes. According to Lisle there is a reason why photon configurations must have come from a previous state and this reason is because they would otherwise convey misleading information about their history thus subverting the rational readability of the universe. But of course when it comes to other particles of interaction Lisle compromises rational intelligibility and invokes mature creation theory which necessarily implies bogus histories having to be invented. If one is going to tolerate the ultimate fix-all “rescuing device” of Last Thursdayism, then one must also accept that it will imply bogus histories; that is, histories that don't exist but which material signals testify to; distributions of matter are ever changing, fluctuating, exploding etc. and those signals will testify to these histories of change, unless we are “Last Thursdayists”, who refuse to read the signals and make resort to the childish argument that “How do you know, you we weren't there last Thursday!”.  The inevitable consequence of "Last Thursdayism" is that it necessarily posits in-transit-signal-creation, signals which therefore entail a bogus history of events. In short Lisle’s theory is yet more anti-science from the fundamentalist stable and his concession exempting light from mature creation cosmology is just window dressing that has the effect of fazing the scientifically challenged.

The fact is we are never truly “there” for any physical process, but signals emanating from these processes are assumed to be rationally intelligible, a reliable indication of what has been; after all, a Christian should believe in the creative integrity of God’s work. Looking at the signals physical processes send out and interpreting those signals appropriately is as near as humans can ever get to being there as eyewitnesses; as far as humans are concerned our physical ontology provides no better concept of presence. In the final analysis all science is history and history is readable because our universe sends out intelligible signals whether they be photons or the hard matter signals of human inscribed texts, like. books, scientific papers or the Bible. Lisle's mature creation theory is a pile of ad-hocery, not least of which is the exclusion of photons from his mature creation concepts. This latter piece of ad-hocery is necessary to give the impression to the scientifically challenged fundamentalist rank and file that Lisle has addressed the problem of creative integrity. But in Lisle's cosmology the problem of creative integrity remains for signals invisible to the human eye!

If you challenge Lisle about his can of worms then at least one of his followers might tell you this: (See previous post here: 

Perhaps you should work on being humble, I am not making a proud statement such as I am more humble than you, however I would not condescend so obviously to someone so obviously my senior.

In patriarchal fundamentalist circles standing in awe of seniority makes up for the failings of a mangled threadbare philosophy that goes down as “science” amongst Biblical literalists.

1. Lisle’s coordinate transformation has the effect of changing the value of c under some circumstances. Here c is not so much the speed of something but a constant in an equation. The coordinate transformation that leads to this change is different again from Lisle appearing to assume the in-transit-creation of material signals (with the exception of photons it seems) which is an extra ad-hoc feature of his “theory”.

2. The following article may reveal a galactic example of the journey of material signals from an outburst from the galaxy's central black hole toward the Magellanic stream where these signals stimulate the stream to emit light. If this  is the case then in a rational and readable cosmos this is naturally interpreted as evidence of a genuine history longer than 6000 years.

3. For parts 1 and 2 of this series see here:
4. See also:

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