# Kairos, Chronos and Theodicy – Bill Dembski on Premier Radio

I want to kick-off a discussion here following Bill’s very interesting interview on Premier Radio.

I’ll add my first thoughts below.

## 55 Replies to “Kairos, Chronos and Theodicy – Bill Dembski on Premier Radio”

1. 1

I want to question first how we understand time as Kairos and Chronos in relation to Einstein. Einstein removed the idea of a fixed frame of reference and replaced it with the idea that we all have our own separate and different frames of reference. In order to interpret between frames of reference we use Lorentz Transformations of Time Dilation and Length Contraction.

Time Dilation Y1 = Y/(SQU RT(1-(V^2/C^2))

Russell Humphrey’s (and others) work involves the use of time dilation so the earth may be 6000 years old, while the universe appears, from our frame of reference, billions of years old. Humphrey’s has also done some work on achronicity.

The easiest way to get light from the edge of the universe to the earth is to allow a photon of light its own frame of reference. A photon then doesn’t experience time because for the photon V = C. Light from the edge of space in its own frame of reference doesn’t age and arrives on earth at the same time it is sent. We then see light from the edge of space when its reference frame interacts with our own, but interpret the light’s travel in our reference frame thus saying it took 15 billion years, when in its reference frame it hasn’t even aged one second.

However, physicists deny that a photon can have its own reference frame. But this in itself leads to a paradox, because sub-atomic particles that travels slower than C, will be detected before a photon that travels at C if both are emitted from the same source at the same time.

Personally speaking, I am not convinced that general relativity is the final word, but I think this line of reasoning needs to be taken seriously by old earth creationists.

2. 2
wombatty says:

Dr. Terry Mortenson (AiG) has published a critique of Dembksi’s theodicy (as Dembski initially published it on the internet [Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science]). Mortenson makes a very strong case, IMHO, that Dembski is off the mark. One point he makes is that Dembski is inconsistent in which consequences of the Fall actually took place before the Fall. In other words, Mortenson’s point is that it’s either all or nothing; no picking and choosing (apart from, I suppose, a solid exegetical reason for whatever distinction one would choose to draw):

So, on Dembski’s view, animal death, disease and extinction plus thorns and thistles existed for millions of years before Adam sinned (and even before he was created) by the preemptive work of God. But if this is so, then given the future tense verbs in Genesis 3, the following also must be accepted as true events in actual time-space history (and not merely as foreknowledge thoughts in the mind of the eternal God) before Adam was created. In other words, if Dembski’s view is correct, then the following events, which Genesis says occurred as a result of Adam’s sin, also would have actually occurred in history before he sinned. To be sure, Dembski does not say these events actually did occur before the Fall, but he gives no basis by which we could say that some natural (and all moral) evils actually occurred after Adam sinned but that most natural evils occurred preemptively in time before Adam’s Fall. So, following his argument, we would have to conclude these events actually occurred before the Fall.
1. The serpent and the animals were already cursed before the serpent tempted Eve.
2. The serpent had already been crawling on his belly and eating dust before he tempted Eve.
4. Eve already had greatly multiplied pain in childbirth before she ate the fruit and so already had at least one child before the temptation—a child that is never mentioned in Scripture.
5. The ground had already been cursed with thorns and thistles for at least 300 million years (according to the evolutionary dating methods which Dembski accepts as reliable).
7. Adam was already physically dying before he ate from the tree, in which case Paul was utterly mistaken in Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22 when he said that death came into the human race through and after Adam’s sin.
8. Adam and Eve already knew (before Eve was tempted and they ate the forbidden fruit) that they were naked and were ashamed of the fact and hid from God (for some reason other than disobedience to God). And this would be the case even though Genesis 2:25 says that they were not ashamed of their nakedness before the Fall. In this case also, Adam’s rationalization of his disobedience misrepresents reality (Genesis 3:11–12).
9. The causal clauses “because you have done this” (Genesis 3:14) and “because you have listened to the voice of your wife” (Genesis 3:17) become truly meaningless.
Using Dembski’s way of reasoning about history, the events in points 1–8 should be understood to have happened preemptively before Adam and Eve sinned and in a creation which God declared six times was “good” and which at the end of the creation period He described as “very good.” In this case, Genesis 3 becomes meaningless and all our Bible translators have mistranslated the Hebrew verbs with future tense verbs in Genesis 2:17 and 3:14–19. Is this really possible?

Another point where Mortenson takes issue with Dembski goes to the heart of Dembski’s theodicy; the putative distinction between the Greek terms chromos and kairos. In part:

Also, Dembski’s reference to the BAGD lexicon reveals a failure to note that the lexicon’s general definition for kairos is “time, i.e. point of time as well as a period of time” and chronos is “time, mostly in the sense [of] a period of time.” And the lexicon’s many examples in both cases show that this is time in our time-space world. The lexicon simply does not support Dembski’s distinction of kairos from chronos.
Furthermore, Dembski offered no analysis of the New Testament uses of chronos and kairos. When that is done, a very different picture emerges, one that shows that Dembski’s definitions (as well as Tillich’s definitions on which Dembski relies) are utterly false. Whatever the nuanced differences in meaning these two Greek words have, their use does not support the dichotomy that Dembski and Tillich assert. Both terms refer to our time-space reality.

Mortenson goes on to demonstrate that the two terms are used interchangeably in the NT and concludes:

There is simply no biblical basis for Dembski’s (and Tillich’s) differentiation of the significance of chronos and kairos. All time is God’s time, not just some events in time-space history. He created time, sovereignly rules over time, sees all of time in one eternal moment, entered time, in Jesus and will bring time (as we know it now) to an end.

There is much more, but these are two of the central theological critiques Mortenson offers. Read the paper for the whole deal.

3. 3
SCheesman says:

The problem with any theory that tries to explain how we can see a 15-billion light year universe with 10,000 year-old light founders on the fact that light carries the history of the emitters with it. Everything would appear to play in slow or virtually stop-motion by the time the light arrives at us.

Yet we can observe the motions on stars revolving inside globular clusters, and the motion of the globular clusters around our own galaxy, and no slow-down is visible. In fact things fequently move faster than expected, hence the need for “dark matter”.

We can even now trace the 2.6 billion year orbit of the Triangulum galaxy, which intersects the Andromeda galaxy, and left a trail of orphaned stars in its path from the collision. No playing with photon reference frames can disguise the old-universe history associated with that event.

4. 4
andyjones says:

>> physicists deny that a photon can have its own reference frame

No we dont. Its just that this reference frame is not very interesting because no time passes within it. Besides, it is the **Earth’s** frame of reference that matters if you want to measure the age of the earth.
Those new G.R. ideas are perfectly valid scientific hypotheses. Until they are fleshed out into detailed or rigorous theories, we cant say much more about them.

But I am concerned that Dembski is jumping deep into these theological questions. The whole purpose of the ID movement has been to reintroduce a measure of common sense into discussions of origins: reminding us that no one has any evidence that natural selection can create designs of its own accord, that there exist a variety of good reasons for this, and that although intelligent design is not a material phenomenon, it is a familiar, ordinary (dare I say ‘secular’) explanation.

Secondly, I am concerned that Dembski is introducing ideas as weird as any materialist or theistic evolutionist might. Like the multiverse theory, this idea is logical possible, but it destroys the notion that reality can be read from natural evidence. The cost is too high. In other words, I don’t think God would do that.

The real problem, I feel, is in the theology of the Fall; specifically the fact that animals die. It could be said that this is not a pleasing aspect of Creation, but can it be said that it is **evil**? Why do we think that God would create a world in which no animals grow old and expire? A world in which no animals compete or do battle? Sure it is a nice idea, but God did not set eternity in the hearts of animals. Neither do we have any reason to think they live in existential fear or angst. The Fall is about **human** death, both spiritual and physical.

In practical terms, if rabbits bred like rabbits and did not die, then the earth would quickly be too crowded to sustain life. Are we suggesting that animals were originally pre-programmed to stop breeding? If so, we would need evidence.

With Dembski’s way, we end up suggesting that the Fall was a 2nd, quite different Creation from the 1st, into which Adam and Eve were transplanted.

5. 5
VMartin says:

What I have found quite interesting recently were ideas on time by Henry Bergson. Bergson is known most for vitalism, “Elan vital” and his thoughts on memory, matter and time are almost forgotten. Yet he correctly pointed out -in my opinion – that time is only property of memory and cannot be presented in space. Yet this is exactly what sciences do – making graphs where time is presented like lines etc. In fact in Universe exists only present moment. In order to make science you need to imagine time as “fourth dimension”.

Time is only our inner perception and we need words to present it. Benjamin Whorf also noticed that we use “spatial” words for time description like “long time”, “short time”.

Confusing time with space is something flawed thinking brought about. The consequence is that also are deeds are considered to be “determined” when we draw our life experiences like a line.

Bergson considered two types of memory – physiological one and pure memory. The last one is the spirit itself and is not stored in brain.

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mentok says:

God didn’t “create time.” God has always experienced timei.e. the continuation of reality. It is impossilbe to see “all of time in one eternal moment” because it is impossible to see time. Time isn’t something which can be seen, events in time can be seen, but not time itself since time is conceptual, not something which can be seen. It is the nature of reality that time is eternal. There is no beginning and no end of time. Time is a concept which is used to differentiate one moment from all others. God as an intelligent being had to have a beginning because intelligence is the result of a conscious entity interacting with experience. God’s intelligence had a beginning because knowledge has to be acquired in order to be understood. Therefore there was a time before God had acquired knowledge. Time existed before God developed experience and knowledge. It took time for God to acquire knowledge from experience.

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andyjones says:

mentok

Time is defined by physics; it is a physical creation, and all our knowledge of cause and effect comes from our experience of events in time. We cannot imagine any other way things could be, but that is our limitation, not God’s.

You might be right that there is something like time that differentiate moments in eternity, but how do you know?

So God needed to learn … but how do you know that?

8. 8
Rude says:

I have always—at least since I learned of it—been a doubter of Einsteinian relativity. Then back in the Sixties in a small library I discovered Arthur S. Otis’ (1963) Light Velocity and Relativity, and now more recently Tom Bethell’s (2009) Questioning Einstein: Is Relativity Necessary?.

Though it may be more crucial to confront Darwinism because of its implications, it is still not healthy for science to defer to Einstein if his theory too is known to be wrong. The great scientific myths of our time—Darwinism, Einsteinism, and the Big Bang—I think they’re all suspect—and that until the fog of them clears science is stiffled.

9. 9
tragic mishap says:

From Wikipedia:

“The age of the Universe is about 13.7 billion years, but due to the expansion of space we are now observing objects that are now considerably farther away than a static 13.7 billion light-years distance. The edge of the observable universe is now located about 46.5 billion light-years away.”

Source cited:

http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wri.....aq.html#DN

Just curious if this is credible or not since I’m not a physicist.

10. 10
tragic mishap says:

Also wondering if this is credible. I heard Cornish’s numbers, 78 billion light-year radius and 156 billion light-year diameter, cited by creation scientist Dr. Jason Lisle in a video from 2005.

http://www.space.com/scienceas.....40524.html

At the bottom of this article, Cornish responds to objections about the speed of light and the age of the universe. If the universe is only 13.7 billion years old, how can the universe be 156 billion light years wide since nothing can move faster than the speed of light?

11. 11
tragic mishap says:

For instance I often hear stuff about cosmic background radiation (CMB) being measured from a time very close to the big bang. Do cosmologists have a location for the big bang? If so how far away would it be from us? Would it be farther away than 13.7 billion light-years?

12. 12
SCheesman says:

tragic mishap: Do cosmologists have a location for the big bang? If so how far away would it be from us? Would it be farther away than 13.7 billion light-years?

The answer is that there is NO center at all; that the universe has always been infinite and expanding everywhere. This is how you could see events that are currently 150 billion light years away, looking like they are 12 billion light years away (say) even if it has only been expanding for 13.7 billion years. The expansion of the universe has taken those points that far away from us, but they were only 12 billion light-years (say) from us back then.

13. 13
tragic mishap says:

I see. Have events that are currently 150 billion light-years away been observed? I was not clear on whether or not that was the case. I posted a mathematical equation showing how light from ~47 billion light-years could reach us even if the universe is only 13.7 billion years old. If that’s the case, then anything from 156 or even 78 billion light years away could not be observed by us according to that model.

Also, I was under the impression that the Big Bang started as a singularity of infinite mass, exploded and has been expanding ever since. If that’s the case then there would be a center corresponding to the point at which all edges of the expanding universe are equidistant. Am I wrong?

14. 14
SCheesman says:

tragic mishap:

Also, I was under the impression that the Big Bang started as a singularity of infinite mass, exploded and has been expanding ever since. If that’s the case then there would be a center corresponding to the point at which all edges of the expanding universe are equidistant. Am I wrong?

This is a common miconception, not helped by the “balloon surface” explanation. There is/was no center. The singularity is in regards to density, not the “full size” of the universe, so we start with infinite density over infinite volume, and expand it all equally, everywhere. (Some suggest space may fold over on itself, so it would be bounded, but infinite at the same time, but that’s another story). The universe is not expanding out into nothingness, and no matter where you are in the universe, the expansion looks the same, with no “edge” in sight.

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tragic mishap says:

So there was infinite density at a single point or infinite density throughout infinite volume? If the latter, then how does infinite volume expand in such a way as to reduce the density? The universe is more infinite than it was before?

16. 16
vjtorley says:

wombatty (#2)

Thank you for your very thoughtful post. Mortenson’s review, which you cite, is a substantive one, but as you correctly point out, it is a response not to Dembski’s book, The End of Christianity, but to an earlier online essay (formerly available at http://www.designinference.com but now superseded by Dembski’s book), entitled Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science, which was last updated by Dembski in 2007. Dembski’s book is an extremely well thought-out theodicy, and probably the most ground-breaking one to appear since the time of Leibniz. I say that as someone with a background in philosophy.

Dembski’s original essay attempted to explain the prevalence of suffering in the animal realm millions of years before human beings even appeared on Earth, by using an idea like that in the movie Minority Report. God knew that the first human beings would freely choose to reject him, and in anticipation of that fact, created a fallen world, filled with the natural evils that resulted from their wicked choice. Although these natural ills temporally predated the Fall, they were an inevitable moral consequence of the wicked action of the first humans, who turned against their Maker in an act of arrogant pride. In other words, the Fall had retroactive consequences.

How so? Well, as guardians and gatekeepers of God’s earthly creation, our first parents, by their act, severed the golden thread between Creator and His earthly creation, thereby bringing creation into ruin and causing untold suffering not only for the human race but also for countless sentient animals, past, present and future. In other words, our first parents had a vital cosmic role to fill in the drama of God’s creation and they blew it.

The first human beings, however, were shielded from the awareness of the suffering they had wrought in the natural realm – suffering that commenced hundreds of millions of years before they were born – by being placed in an earthly Paradise (Eden) until after they had been tested by God. After failing the test (the event we know as the Fall) they were released from this Paradise and could witness for themselves the terrible carnage they had brought about. The essay by Dembski thus made human beings (retrospectively) responsible for animal suffering, rather than simply blaming the fallen angels, God, or the laws of nature.

In his book, Dembski expands on the themes he developed in his original 54-page essay, and responds to many of the points he anticipated that his critics would raise. In fact, he even includes a reference to Mortenson’s critique in his footnotes (see footnote 12 to chapter 6), and he also graciously thanks Mortenson for his insightful comments on Dembski’s original essay in the Acknowledgements section, on page xviii of the book.

I’ll be honest: when I first read Dr. Dembski’s essay, I thought it was ingenious, but just too crazy to be true. After reading the book and mulling over it, however, I have to say that it makes a lot more sense. Like any highly original work, the book is not without its problems. All I will say here is that the theological problems raised by Mortenson don’t wound Dembski’s argument. (The exegetical problems are another matter: but as I’m not a Scripture scholar, I can’t comment on whether Dembski’s exposition of the difference between chronos and kairos is correct, except to say that if he was clearly wrong, someone would have surely picked him up on it, as Dembski acknowledges the assistance of literally dozens of scholars of various disciplines, who offered helpful comments on his original essay.)

Mortenson seems to have partially misunderstood Dembski’s original essay, so I’ll just go through the nine points he raises, and address them, one by one, in bold type.

So, following his [Dembski’s] argument, we would have to conclude these events actually occurred before the Fall.

1. The serpent and the animals were already cursed before the serpent tempted Eve.

VT: Correct. Animal suffering chronologically predated the Fall by hundreds of millions of years. As Dembski writes in his book (p. 132):

For beings like us embedded in the causal nexus of nature, the logic of cause and effect seems inviolable. In contrast, God as omnipotent and omniscient, transcends the physical world and is therefore not bound by this logic… Because God knows the future and can act on this knowledge by anticipating events and directing their course, divine action follows not a causal-temporal logic but an intentional-semantic logic…. The causal-temporal logic is bottom-up and looks at the world from the viewpoint of physical causality. The intentional-semantic logic is top-down and looks at the world from the vantage of divine purpose and action.

2. The serpent had already been crawling on his belly and eating dust before he tempted Eve.

VT: Correct, if one were to believe that Satan spoke through a literal serpent. In any case, the suffering of snakes predated the Fall.

VT: Incorrect. Nowhere does Dembski claim that Eve had given birth before the Fall. And as Dembski explains on pages 35 and 154, the seed of the woman is Christ.

4. Eve already had greatly multiplied pain in childbirth before she ate the fruit and so already had at least one child before the temptation — a child that is never mentioned in Scripture.

VT: Incorrect. Nowhere does Dembski claim that Eve had given birth before the Fall. According to Dembski, pain in childbirth would not have occurred, had the first human beings not sinned, although he does not specify how this would have been avoided.

5. The ground had already been cursed with thorns and thistles for at least 300 million years (according to the evolutionary dating methods which Dembski accepts as reliable).

VT: Correct.

VT: Incorrect. As Dembski envisages it, prior to the Fall, the first human beings (let’s call them Adam and Eve, although Dembski in his book does not commit himself to only two first parents) lived in a microcosm free from natural and moral evil – the Garden of Eden. Nothing disorderly or unpleasant existed in this state.

7. Adam was already physically dying before he ate from the tree, in which case Paul was utterly mistaken in Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22 when he said that death came into the human race through and after Adam’s sin.

VT: Incorrect. While he was in the Garden of Eden, Adam was living in a perfect microcosm, free from suffering, as Dembski asserts in his book (pp. 152-155).

8. Adam and Eve already knew (before Eve was tempted and they ate the forbidden fruit) that they were naked and were ashamed of the fact and hid from God (for some reason other than disobedience to God). And this would be the case even though Genesis 2:25 says that they were not ashamed of their nakedness before the Fall. In this case also, Adam’s rationalization of his disobedience misrepresents reality (Genesis 3:11–12).

VT: Incorrect. Dembski asserts in his book (pp. 152-155) that the Garden of Eden as a safe haven, which was perfect and free of evil and suffering until the Fall.

9. The causal clauses “because you have done this” (Genesis 3:14) and “because you have listened to the voice of your wife” (Genesis 3:17) become truly meaningless.

VT: Incorrect. The “because” refers to the intentional-semantic logic of choices, as explained above.

Mortenson must realize this is not what Dembski meant, for he qualifies his assertions:

To be sure, Dembski does not say these events actually did occur before the Fall, but he gives no basis by which we could say that some natural (and all moral) evils actually occurred after Adam sinned but that most natural evils occurred preemptively in time before Adam’s Fall.

On the contrary: finding such a basis is easy, if you keep in mind the philosophical distinction between logical and temporal priority. One thing has logical priority over another if the latter is logically dependent on the former. However, this logical dependency does not imply temporal order. For instance, A could be logically prior to B but simultaneous with B. And an omniscient being can create situations where A is logically prior to B but temporally posterior to B.

First, no moral evils could precede Adam’s Fall, because Adam (as head of the human race) was by definition the first human being in history, and the Fall was the first bad choice he made – indeed, it may very well have been the first moral choice he made. Thus all other moral evils were not only temporally but logically posterior to the Fall of Adam.

Second, Dembski makes it clear in his book (pp. 152-155) that no natural evils were experienced by human beings prior to the Fall. Why? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Anticipating a crime and taking steps to ensure that once it is committed it is dealt with effectively, is perfectly just, as Dembski argues (p. 138). That’s what God does. But punishing someone for a crime they are going to commit at a future date make no moral or legal sense. Not even God could justly do that. As Mortenson himself asserts elsewhere in his essay, “it would be grossly unjust (and therefore completely out of character) for God to execute judgment before the crime was committed.”

On Dembski’s theodicy, the suffering that non-human animals endured as a result of the Fall was not something they deserved; indeed, as non-rational beings, they could not have “deserved” it. The animals were not judged by the Fall. Humans were. However, because humans are the guardians of God’s earthly creation, wicked choices made by humans can have catastrophic consequences for animals. That does not make God unjust, and it makes no moral difference if the tragic consequences occurred temporally prior to the evil acts that brought them about.

I conclude that Dembski’s successfully avoids Mortenson’s charges of inconsistency.

Finally, in response to Mortenson’s charge that Dembski, as an old-earth Christian believer, is letting anti-biblical scientific assumptions (e.g. uniformitarianism) determine his interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2, I’d like to close with a few quotes from chapter 6 of Dembski’s book, regarding young-earth creationism, which gives the flavor of Dembski’s views on the subject:

The young-earth solution to reconciling the order of creation with natural history makes good exegetical and theological sense. Indeed, the overwhelming consensus of theologians up to the Reformation held to this view. I myself would adopt it in a heartbeat except that nature seems to present such strong evidence against it….

De Young’s need to tinker with nuclear decay rates reflects a larger difficulty confronting young-earth creationists: to preserve a young-earth interpretation of Genesis, they must question the constancy of nature…

In ascribing constancy to nature, I am not smuggling in the materialist assumption that nature is a closed system impervious to divine action… Causal closure means that no divine finger can get into nature. Constancy means that when the divine finger gets into nature, having assimilated the divine activity, nature resumes behaving as it always has. The constancy of nature reflects the covenant faithfulness of God that just as God has a consistent character that we can count on, so God has given the world a consistent character that we can count on. Divinity may help nature accomplish things that, left to her own devices, nature never could; but divine activity does not change the course of nature…

To say that nature’s constancy is a presumption means that the burden of proof is on those who would contend that it is inconstant. Thus, given independent evidence that nature has acted inconstantly, questioning nature’s constancy could be entirely appropriate…

Young earth creationists give up both causal closure and constancy, embracing instead an inconstant nature…

The layering of ice cores, for instance, admits a straightforward interpretation suggesting tens of thousands of annual layers. Young-earth creationists argue that this interpretation is incorrect not by presenting a compelling vision of what actually happened but by raising doubts about the interpretation. Maybe they are right – I’m not an expert in the relevant fields. But as an expert in logic and critical reasoning, I find this mode of argumentation troubling…

…[T]hese [archeological – VT] methods give evidence of human activity that should not have survived a universal flood (which young-earth creationists place around 2500 BC or 4,500 years ago). Accordingly, archeologists claim to find evidence of human writing at Uruk going back 5,000 years, well before Noah’s flood on a face-value reading of Genesis 6-8. Moreover, they claim to find evidence of artifacts, such as dolls, going back 7,000 years, well before the creation of Adam on a face-value reading of Genesis 1 and 2…

In the absence of strong countervailing evidence that nature has changed its ordinary course of operation in the last few thousand years, to question the constancy of nature smacks of special pleading…

Dembski’s thoughtful attempt to reconcile Scripture, science and the reality of suffering has resulted in an extraordinarily fruitful theodicy which should provoke discussion for decades to come. I would invite people to read his book carefully and mull it over at their leisure, before pronouncing judgement on it.

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vjtorley says:

tragic mishap

Cosmology currently leaves it open as to whether the universe is finite or infinite in size. The following papers may be of interest:

Observable universe (Wikipedia)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observable_universe

Excerpt:

Both popular and professional research articles in cosmology often use the term “Universe” to mean “observable universe”. This can be justified on the grounds that we can never know anything by direct experimentation about any part of the Universe that is causally disconnected from us, although many credible theories require a total Universe much larger than the observable universe. No evidence exists to suggest that the boundary of the observable universe corresponds precisely to the physical boundary of the universe (if such a boundary exists); this is exceedingly unlikely in that it would imply that Earth is exactly at the center of the Universe, in violation of the Copernican principle. It is likely that the galaxies within our visible universe represent only a minuscule fraction of the galaxies in the Universe. According to the theory of cosmic inflation and its founder, Alan Guth, the entire Universe could be at least 10^23 to 10^26 times as large as the observable universe.
It is also possible that the Universe is smaller than the observable universe. In this case, what we take to be very distant galaxies may actually be duplicate images of nearby galaxies, formed by light that has circumnavigated the Universe. It is difficult to test this hypothesis experimentally because different images of a galaxy would show different eras in its history, and consequently might appear quite different. A 2004 paper [4] claims to establish a lower bound of 24 gigaparsecs (78 billion light-years) on the diameter of the whole Universe, making it, at most, only slightly smaller than the observable universe. This value is based on matching-circle analysis of the WMAP data. However, if the recent discovery of dark flow proves to be accurate, it strongly suggests that there is matter beyond the observable universe.

Constraining the topology of the Universe

http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/astr.....0233v1.pdf

Dodecahedral Universe

http://luth2.obspm.fr/~luminet/physworld.pdf

http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0310253

http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0412569

http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/p.....509171.pdf

18. 18
vjtorley says:

tragic mishap

Metric expansion of space (Wikipedia)

19. 19
Rude says:

Folks, I’m not a YEC and thus have no dog in the fight over the age of the cosmos. But, as I said in 8 above, all this precision and consensus on the Big Bang makes me wonder if perhaps David Berlinski is right to doubt it. Some of you are physicists—would y’all say that the Big Bang is as sure as the Darwinists think materialism is?

And how about Einsteinian time dilation? Are we right to doubt? Or is the consensus on it as secure as the Anthropogenic Global Warmingists assure us theirs is?

If not, if we laymen are right to doubt, then it might be helpful were the experts to couch their proclamations in a few more maybes. Maybe just once in a while as a multicultural gesture so we doubters won’t feel so totally out of it.

Atheists historically preferred an infinitely old universe—but what if the universe were infinite—can’t we still defeat materialism? Of course Darwin fails because no one would say the planet is infinitely old—so Darwinism wouldn’t stand up even if you started on this planet a few billion years ago with a whole colony of single celled organisms having streamed in on some of Fred Hoyle’s cosmic dust.

Though I think there is plenty of evidence for an old cosmos, I don’t think ID should depend on the verasity of however young Big Bang theory says the cosmos is.

20. 20
Collin says:

vjtorley,

Concerning pain in childbirth, my wife read a book that showed that a small minority of women have orgasms when they give birth. Alas, she did not, but she did give birth without meds, which gave her a great sense of accomplishment.

Tragic Mishap,

I don’t know if your question has been answered, but I’ve heard it said that even though objects cannot exceed the speed of light, the universe can expand faster than the speed of light.

21. 21
bevets says:

I appeal to Dembski, and all other Christians who are inclined to accept the millions of years of natural evil as fact, to become informed on the creationist geological arguments for a global Flood and a young earth, especially the arguments relating to radiometric dating methods. The earth and the cosmos are increasingly yielding their evidence that our Creator has given us the literal truth about history, beginning with Genesis 1:1. As we stand on the authority of God’s Word, we will always find sooner or later that true scientific knowledge confirms His Word. ~ Terry Mortenson

VJTorley@16

Dembski’s thoughtful attempt to reconcile Scripture, science and the reality of suffering has resulted in an extraordinarily fruitful theodicy which should provoke discussion for decades to come.

You said “science“, but I think you were referring to contemporary sceintific consensus regarding radiometric dating methods.

22. 22
wombatty says:

Thanks vjtorley (#16) for your detailed response; lots of food for thought. Onward:

To say that nature’s constancy is a presumption means that the burden of proof is on those who would contend that it is inconstant. Thus, given independent evidence that nature has acted inconstantly, questioning nature’s constancy could be entirely appropriate…

Young earth creationists give up both causal closure and constancy, embracing instead an inconstant nature…

[…]

In the absence of strong countervailing evidence that nature has changed its ordinary course of operation in the last few thousand years, to question the constancy of nature smacks of special pleading…

I don’t think this is a fair characterization of the approach YECs take to the uniformity of nature. Dembski’s charge of special pleading insinuates that they invoke departures from the principal willy-nilly whenever the evidence seemingly conflicts with a 6,000 year time-scale (a species of the ‘God-of-the-Gaps argument). But this is not the case. YECs invoke departures from uniformity only when scripture clearly and unambiguously states that God intervened in nature to alter the normal course of events; this is not at all arbitrary. Indeed, as Morris & Whitcomb pointed out in The Genesis Flood, such departures from uniformity (e.g. creation & the Flood) only gain significance against a backdrop of such uniformity. So to give up the general principal of uniformity would rob departures from that principal of their significance.

Further, as we don’t presently see processes anywhere near the scale that would be required to create the sedimentary record of the past with all its attendant massive coal beds, sedimentary deposits, fossil beds and the like. The evidence itself suggest a radical departure from uniformity in the past; a departure that is consistent with the Flood narrative of Genesis 6-11.

For YECs the bible serves, among other purposes, as a historical constraint on their theorizing. This happens in other contexts as well. For instance, if igneous rocks from a volcanic eruption within recorded history (say, 300 years ago) are dated radioactively at 1.8 billion years, then we know something is wrong with the dating process, at least in that instance. At that point, the geologists will invoke some explanation to reconcile radiometric-dating theory with the historical data (the historical data taking precedence, all other things being equal); among such explanations are excess argon, reworking, etc.

De Young’s need to tinker with nuclear decay rates reflects a larger difficulty confronting young-earth creationists: to preserve a young-earth interpretation of Genesis, they must question the constancy of nature…

This is a gross over-simplification of the RATE project. It would be one thing if there were no data to support the hypothesis of accelerated decay, but such data exists. Humphreys’ work on helium retention in biotite is a very clear example. While there has been billions of years of radioactive decay, nearly all of the product of the decay (helium) is still there when it shouldn’t be, , suggesting the helium hasn’t had time enough to escape. If there were billions of [real] years of decay there should have been billions of years of diffusion. Snelling’s work on polonium halos (categorically different and rather contrary to Gentry’s earlier work), especially his hydrothermal-fluid transport model also gives clear evidence of accelerated decay. Both of these YECs (to name only two) proposed hypotheses and made successful predictions based on those hypotheses; spectacularly so in Humphreys’ case.

All of this is not to say that the RATE guys are necessarily correct or that all of their problems have been solved (they haven’t). It is only to say that their work isn’t nearly as arbitrary as Dembski would have it; they invoked departures from uniformity only when ‘authorized’ by scripture and amassed solid, scientific data consistent with said departures.

23. 23
Collin says:

Let me ask you physicist guys a question. Does an expanding universe (space-wise) have any effect on the rate of time in the universe? For example, the larger the universe gets, the “speedier” time gets.

24. 24
vjtorley says:

Rude

Thank you for your post. I’ve been doing some hunting around, and I think these pages should answer your questions about evidence for time dilation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation (Wikipedia article)

http://galileo.phys.virginia.e.....lwhat.html (fairly straightforward)

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/.....ments.html (sections 4 and 5) (very comprehensive)

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/ (scroll down to Relativity)

I agree with you that ID should not be tied to a particular cosmological theory, such as the Big Bang. It appears to be very well-supported, thanks to the COBE data, and Ned Wright has admirably summarized the experimental evidence for the Big Bang in his Cosmology Tutorial , as well as the observational evidence that it has a finite age:

Age of the Universe

However, I agree with you the Big Bang theory still has several major unsolved problems, as I am sure you are well aware.

If the cosmos (or the multiverse) were infinitely old, as you suggest it might be, then one could still make an excellent case that it was designed, based on the unexpected mathematical beauty of the laws of physics in our universe. This beauty is an objective and pervasive feature of the laws of nature, and it is something that would not be expected even in a life-friendly universe, as Robin Collins argues:

Universe or Multiverse? A Theistic Perspective

Thus the cosmological version of ID would remain intact.

However, it would be harder to argue for the biological version of ID in an infinitely old universe. The problem is that given enough time, even astronomically improbable events can happen. Nevertheless, given the fact that life on this planet had a definite beginning, it might still be possible to argue for biological ID even in an infinite universe, if the alternatives (undirected panspermia, abiogenesis) could be rigorously shown to be less probable scenarios than intelligent agency. But to do that, you would need a way of calculating the probability of intelligent agency creating life. Such probabilistic calculations could conceivably be done for the scenario of intelligent aliens (as natural entities) seeding the universe with life, but it would be impossible to calculate the probability of a cosmic Designer doing so.

bevets and wombatty

Thank you both for your responses. Let me begin by saying that I’m not a scientist. However, my impression as a layperson is that the experimental evidence cited by young-earth creationists to date is nowhere near strong enough to persuade me that the Earth is young. For those who are curious, here are some links:

Age of the Earth and Universe

Helium Diffusion in Zircons — Does it show that the earth is young?

Astronomy: Age of the Earth and Universe – Resource Pages

To be fair, I will acknowledge that creationist geologists appear to have uncovered some curious anomalies that do not fit well with the prevailing scientific picture of the Earth’s origin and history. This raises the philosophical question of how many anomalies make a real problem for a scientific theory, or how severe these anomalies have to be. (No scientific theory is altogether free from them.)

But even if the anomalies sufficed to overturn the prevailing scientific consensus, that of itself would be no reason to accept young-earth creationism. What bothers me about YEC is its lack of comprehensiveness. It does not offer a satisfactory overarching theory of cosmology, physics or geology.

If I were trying to make a case for a young Earth, I’d proceed like this. First, I’d look at the cosmos. If you can establish that it’s young, then the Earth must be young, too. Second, I’d try to identify several major long-standing problems for cosmologists. Third, I’d attempt to develop a grand theory which made all of these problems disappear in an elegant fashion, and which either posited or entailed that the universe must be very young. Fourth, I’d attempt to narrow down the age of the cosmos, at least to the nearest order of magnitude.

Now if creation scientists could do THAT, then I’d be impressed. Until then, I have to say that the evidence for an old earth and an old cosmos seems to be so massive as to be incapable of being dislodged – even by the discovery of oddities like polonium halos, or unexpected helium or carbon-14 levels in supposedly ancient deposits.

Young-earth creationists also have to deal with the observational evidence that the cosmos is about 13.73 billion years old, summarized in the article by Ned Wright:

Age of the Universe

Additionally, YECs need to decide where they stand on the matter of distances to celestial objects, which can be reliably measured by at least 26 different techniques:

The ABC’s of Distances by Ned Wright.

Far be it from me to say dogmatically that young-earth creationists are wrong. All I will say is that they have a lot of work to do to convince most unbiased observers that they are right, regarding the age of the cosmos.

25. 25

Hi I present the Premier Radio show “Unbelievable?” that Bill Dembski has guested on the last two weeks. The show won’t remain on the front page beyond this week so if you want a direct link to the show here it is:

You can also get the mp3 podcast via http://ondemand.premier.org.uk.....oFeed.aspx

Or subscribe via itunes
http://tunes.apple.com/WebObje.....=267142101

26. 26
bevets says:

As we stand on the authority of God’s Word, we will always find sooner or later that true scientific knowledge confirms His Word. ~ Terry Mortenson

vjtorley @ 16

Dembski’s thoughtful attempt to reconcile Scripture, science and the reality of suffering has resulted in an extraordinarily fruitful theodicy which should provoke discussion for decades to come.

bevets @ 21

You said “science“, but I think you were referring to contemporary sceintific consensus regarding radiometric dating methods.

vjtorley @ 24

Let me begin by saying that I’m not a scientist. However, my impression as a layperson is that the experimental evidence cited by young-earth creationists to date is nowhere near strong enough to persuade me that the Earth is young. For those who are curious, here are some links:

Do you also consider the ASA’s position to be the final authority on Intelligent Design?

27. 27
Collin says:

vjtorley said:

“The problem is that given enough time, even astronomically improbable events can happen.”

Is this an expression of faith?

“Third, I’d attempt to develop a grand theory which made all of these problems disappear in an elegant fashion, and which either posited or entailed that the universe must be very young.”

This is hard to do when the theorist wants to argue that the universe was an act of special creation. This is the main difficulty for creationism and maybe for intelligent design too (although not fatal, it’s a psychological stumbling block for many).

28. 28
Rude says:

VJTorley in 24, thanks much and good points on this Big Bang business.

But remember, if David Berlinski is correct then the BB really has little going for it except,

Like Darwin’s theory of evolution, Big Bang cosmology has undergone that curious social process in which a scientific theory is promoted to a secular myth. The two theories serve as points of certainty in an intellectual culture that is otherwise disposed to give the benefit of the doubt to doubt itself. It is within the mirror of these myths that we have come to see ourselves. But if the promotion of theory into myth satisfies one human agenda, it violates another. Myths are quite typically false, and science is concerned with truth. Human beings, it would seem, may make scientific theories or they may make myths, but with respect to the same aspects of experience, they cannot quite do both.

Also according to Tom Bethell—an ID supporter—Einsteinian time dilation is another secular myth. Paul Johnson, who didn’t doubt Einstein, began his Modern Times in 1905 because—conceding that Einstein never meant his theory to be taken this way—it was indeed taken to validate a new moral relativism—all is relative—hooray! So I’m not really interested in more articles championing Einstein’s theory—I want to see Petr Beckman’s objections addressed. Until then I remain, yours truly, a time dilation denier.

29. 29
Pan Narrans says:

Rude writes (27)

I remain, yours truly, a time dilation denier.

What are your thoughts on the Hafele and Keating Experiment that demonstrated time dilation in accordance with Einstein’s theory?

30. 30
Rude says:

Pan Narrans (29),

I don’t know—I’m not a physicist. Have you read Tom Bethell and Petr Beckman on it?

31. 31
Pan Narrans says:

Rude writes (30):

I don’t know—I’m not a physicist. Have you read Tom Bethell and Petr Beckman on it?

No, but I’d be happy to if you have a link to a summary of their positions rather than another book for my evergrowing Amazon wish list.

In the meantime, though, the Hafele and Keating experiment pretty clearly demonstrates time dilation occurring. Within the limits of experimental error, the amount of dilation measured is what is predicted by relativity. Given that, why do you deny time dilation?

32. 32
Rude says:

Wait a minute! I remember now—Einstein never predicted a difference in time dilation dependent on direction—it was Petr Beckman who predicted that.

33. 33
Rude says:

Ah, just Google Beckman Hafele Keating and lots of stuff comes up. Check it out and see what you think.

Pan Narrans—is that Baltic?

34. 34
toscents says:

Dembski attempts, and accomplishes with yeoman duty articulating his main point. That is, that time seems to have two paradoxically opposite characteristics, yet the two may be compatible.
Theologically, his theodicy is complementary to the teachings of Orthodox Christianity. This simultaneously addresses any exegetical issues, as Orthodox Christianity has a unique way of explicating Scripture. I won’t go into that here.

Dembski uses metaphysical spectacles to resolve a problem that is simultaneously theological, cosmogonical, anthropological, and biological. These spectacles are the wrong instrument. He might do better to don the spectacles of a topologist.
Chronos, with it’s analogue in Dembski’s causal-temporal logic, is home in Minkowski, or pseudo-Euclidian space. It is vector space with vector time. Relativity fits and functions here. Lorentz transformations function here too, as Galilean Transformations function in Newtonian physics.

Kairos is time in Dembski’s intentional-semantic logic. This should be referred to as scalar time. It is simply values or fields, and is not changed by Euclidian, Lorentz, or space-time translations.

While chronos can wake us up on time, or even get us to the Moon, it has serious problems. As a vector, it’s origin is unknown, and its values do not readily commute with other vectors. This is true, especially with Minkowski’s Proper Time, even though relativity clumsily calculates spacetime intervals. Then there is the problem of squaring coordinate and Proper Time with sidereal time. Not so bad when one uses just the Earth, but the rest of the universe keeps changing.

Kairos is much harder to wrap the fallen human head around. I would say impossible. It is infinitely recursive; it just sits there, unpackable. When a scalar is added to a vector, the sum is a quaternion, which then requires a fourth dimension of Euclidian space. Dembski’s theodicy therefore may not only allow a multiverse, it may require it.

35. 35
toscents says:

In the Orthodox Christian Church, the first service of the day is called the Kairon. Before the Liturgy, the Deacon says to the Priest “It is time for the Lord to act.” He is referring to Kairos time. Most of the parishioners will have removed their watches. The service will last 2 hours or more, and though thier feet may hurt, and they’ll likely be hungrier, they will have experienced Heaven on Earth. This is the closest one can get (in this world) to experience time as Adam and Eve did.

William Kingdon Clifford and Sir William Rowan Hamilton attempted to calculate the incalculable in the 19th century. Roberto Casati and Achille C. Varzi try to turn the map into the territory today. Bill Dembski, using the tools of a metaphysician, tells us that ultimately “God [is] omnipotent and omniscient, transcends the physical world”. He is right.

Kairos and Chronos correspond to a core concept in Orthodox Christianity, the concept of polarity without duality.

The Energy and Essence of God correspond directly with Chronos and Kairos respectively.

Chronos, being more easily apprehended, is part of God’s created aspect, his Energy. It is knowable and immanent. Closer than our own heartbeat.

Kairos, corresponds to God’s uncreated Essence. It is completely unknowable and transcendent. Eternally ‘other’.

Where these two poles meet is Christ. When the Other became Man, through Him we may attain to a better understanding of the Other, and be admitted back to Eden.

36. 36
Pan Narrans says:

Rude writes (33):

Ah, just Google Beckman Hafele Keating and lots of stuff comes up. Check it out and see what you think.

My Google-Fu is not strong today. I found some references to Piotr Beckman, but nothing that claims to refute special relativity.

I guess my question boils down to, given that time dilation has been observed, both in the case of atomic clocks on jets and in particle accelerators, why would you doubt it?

Pan Narrans—is that Baltic?

It’s Pratchett!

37. 37
Rude says:

Here, I don’t have time to read these now, but when I Google up comes chapter 6 of something called Relativity Revolution and chapter 4 from a book called The Restoration of Space and Time, both of which mention Petr Beckman.

Petr Beckman predicted, not that time dilates but that molecular clocks would slow up when moving through a gravitational field, and assuming the earth’s gravitational field does not move with the daily rotation then a clock in a satellite moving east should slow up by whatever millionth of a second but not so when moving west. According to Einstein’s theory it is relative velocity and not direction that affects time. Thus Hafele & Keating confirm Beckman—not Einstein.

38. 38
Pan Narrans says:

Rude writes (37):

Petr Beckman predicted, not that time dilates but that molecular clocks would slow up when moving through a gravitational field, and assuming the earth’s gravitational field does not move with the daily rotation then a clock in a satellite moving east should slow up by whatever millionth of a second but not so when moving west. According to Einstein’s theory it is relative velocity and not direction that affects time. Thus Hafele & Keating confirm Beckman—not Einstein.

I’m afraid that’s simply not correct. The results of Hafele and Keating’s experiment are readily available on the web, as are the results of Vessot’s more precise measurements. All confirm special relativity.

These experiments are just a tiny fraction of those with results supporting special relativity. Do you have any peer reviewed articles describing experiments with results that contradict Einstein’s theory?

Questioning dominant theories is certainly important to the progress of science, but those questions should have some basis in the empirical evidence.

39. 39
Rude says:

But if time dilation is one of those things, like Darwinism, that you must believe to be considered educated, then peer review and consensus may be as worthless as with Darwinism.

Tom Bethell covers all the supposed evidence to the contrary and comes down on the side of Beckman. If one is a skeptic of scientific elitism, and interested in this issue, then I should think he would read Tom Bethell, and if he’s a physicist he would read Petr Beckman. But then if he’s worried about his career … maybe not.

40. 40
Pan Narrans says:

Rude writes (39):

But if time dilation is one of those things, like Darwinism, that you must believe to be considered educated, then peer review and consensus may be as worthless as with Darwinism.

Do you have references to any articles detailing results that contradict the predictions of special relativity but that were rejected by the peer reviewed journals?

Actually, I’m more interested in why you reject Einstein’s theory than in discussing special relativity itself. If you’d rather not answer, just tell me to sod off — I won’t take umbrage. If you have the inclination, though, given the significant number of observations that support special relativity, why do you prefer the claims of someone who could most charitably be described as on the fringe of the scientific community? Is there something particularly compelling in his presentation or something particularly off-putting in the mainstream literature?

Thanks, and I’m quite sincere about being willing to sod off.

41. 41
Zach Bailey says:

Several commenters upthread are asking questions about astrophysics in a blog that does not appear to have many resident experts. Why not ask an astrophysicist?

42. 42
Rude says:

OK, that’s fair—you’re more interested in me than in this.

The whole thing is suspicious—it’s admitted that no one can understand it (though we must accept it) and it’s generally touted as evidence against any kind of naïve realism. I find it ugly and distrust anything that I’m told we cannot understand but must accept. I’m highly suspicious of what I’m assured is the scientific consensus—just as this from Michael Crichton:

Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

Also I find Tom Bethell’s book well written and rather convincing. But I’m not a physicist—just distrusting—and unlike those wedded to the “scientific consensus” I’ve got nothing to lose.

43. 43
Pan Narrans says:

Rude writes (41):

OK, that’s fair—you’re more interested in me than in this.

Well, more interested in your thought process. I don’t know you well enough to be interested in you personally. 😉

The whole thing is suspicious—it’s admitted that no one can understand it (though we must accept it) and it’s generally touted as evidence against any kind of naïve realism.

I think you may be talking about quantum mechanics rather than special relativity. Special relativity is actually rather easy to understand, even if it lies outside our normal experience. The mathematics isn’t particularly difficult (by physics standards) and the amount of evidence is pretty overwhelming. It would be impossible for physicists to interpret the data they get from particle accelerators without using special relativity, for example.

Thanks for taking the time to respond. Apparently your pseudonym is meant to be ironic.

44. 44
Rude says:

I wonder—are you a physicist? or just impressed with scientific consensus and uninterested in what the “cranks” say?

Anyway it’s not the math but imaging the theory—I’ve never met a physicist who says he can understand it or visualize curved space and space-time. My own gut feeling is that quantum theory perplexes the materialists because of their insistence that mind is nothing but mechanism, but if it turns out that some kind of telekinesis obtains on the quantum level—well maybe that could not only destroy materialism and ultimately integrate all the sciences—it would be intuitively beautiful to the unindoctrinated layman.

45. 45
toscents says:

@Rude @Pam Narrans

You’re both right.

Rude – Scientific consensus has always been a racket. There are reasons for this. AGW science notwithstanding :), the most notable relevant example is Maxwell’s Equations, which were forcefully co-opted into invariance partly as a result of the well-conceived but poorly-conducted Michelson-Morely experiment. This resulted in Einstein’s imperfect, yet transitionally functional special relativity. Historically, man has only been allowed to advance in baby steps.

Pam Narrans – Special relativity, with time dilation, as classically defined, has been repeatedly confirmed experimentally. It explains a lot, and allows us to calibrate GPS signals with reasonable accuracy, among other things. Still, no cure for cancer.

Dembski’s book may give some a lot to talk about for decades as vjtorley points out. Kairos-Chronos time has been a subject of interest to scientists and for a couple centuries. I submit, and pardon my vulgarization, that, absent the theory, people have been engineering it for ages.

46. 46
toscents says:

@Rude @Pam Narrans

You’re both right.

Rude – Scientific consensus has always been a racket. There are reasons for this. AGW science notwithstanding :), the most notable relevant example is Maxwell’s Equations, which were forcefully co-opted into invariance partly as a result of the well-conceived but poorly-conducted Michelson-Morely experiment. This resulted in Einstein’s imperfect, yet transitionally functional special relativity. Historically, man has only been allowed to advance in baby steps.

Pam Narrans – Special relativity, with time dilation, as classically defined, has been repeatedly confirmed experimentally. It explains a lot, and allows us to calibrate GPS signals with reasonable accuracy, among other things. Still no cure for cancer.

Dembski’s book may give some a lot to talk about for decades as vjtorley points out. Kairos-Chronos time has been a subject of interest to scientists and for a couple centuries. I submit, and pardon my vulgarization, that, absent the theory, people have been engineering it for ages.

47. 47
Collin says:

Relativity has been confirmed multiple times, but it does fall apart as an explanation for subatomic particles. Also not one aberration: http://www.space.com/scienceas.....41018.html

48. 48
Collin says:

that’s “note” not “not”

49. 49
Rude says:

The assumption seems to be that Tom Bethell is some kind of crank. Well, I’m anxious to hear from some physicist or knowledgeable dilettante who has actually read Bethell and is willing to take up his challenge. Evidently Einstein’s theory does not so easily predict the outcome of these time dilation experiments—at least not without “epicycle” like complications—whereas Ockham’s razor rests with Petr Beckmann. So unless you’ve read Bethell (or Beckmann before he went out of print), what more can we say?

Some folks take a liking to the notion of time dilation, a few others like me find it ugly, so apart from such subjective responses, is a “scientific consensus” the answer? Of course not! What we need is a vigorous debate out there and not an elitist put down. Darwinian dogma, remember, was uncontroversial until ID could no longer be ignored.

50. 50
Pan Narrans says:

Rude writes (48):

Some folks take a liking to the notion of time dilation, a few others like me find it ugly

That’s interesting. I find the math of special relativity quite aesthetically pleasing, but that’s not why I accept the theory as the current best explanation. What do you find “ugly” about it?

so apart from such subjective responses

We have to be careful to distinguish between the scientific theory of special relativity and the actual objective observations that support it. Take the muon flux experiment, for example. The objective observation is that muons, traveling at 0.98c, experience time dilation.

If Bethell has a theory that explains these observations and makes better predictions, the physics community will be very interested. That doesn’t change the observed evidence, though. Time dilation is a real phenomena.

51. 51
Rude says:

“If Bethell has a theory that explains these observations and makes better predictions, the physics community will be very interested.”

What a complacent and dangerous view—that somehow scientists are immune from human nature—or that “the scientific method” or “the system” makes science different than, say, religion. Technology is self corrective—but not government supported “science”.

My years in academia taught me that academics are no less territorial, vindictive, pecuniary and uninterested in truth than Joe Six-Pac—in fact I’d say on average they are less so because they tend to be so utterly ignorant of their own human nature.

It’s the same as in government. W. F. Buckley, Jr., was right when he said he’d rather be governed by the first five hundred names in the Boston phone directory than by the faculty of Harvard.” But I’m an optimist—I believe in progress—but I also know that it doesn’t come without kicking you know what.

Tom Bethell, by the way, is a science writer—the theory is Petr Beckmann’s.

52. 52
Pan Narrans says:

Rude writes (51):

“If Bethell has a theory that explains these observations and makes better predictions, the physics community will be very interested.”

What a complacent and dangerous view—that somehow scientists are immune from human nature—or that “the scientific method” or “the system” makes science different than, say, religion.

Oh, I’m by no means complacent about it. Scientists are no less human than anyone else and that, unfortunately, sometimes impacts their work.

However, unlike religion and most other human endeavors, the scientific method is self-correcting. Sometimes it takes more time than it should and sometimes the practitioners are less committed to that self-correction than they should be, but ultimately data trumps orthodoxy.

A good example of this is Lynn Margulis and endosymbiotic theory. Dr. Margulis struggled for acceptance of her theory for decades, and finally was successful because she focused on research, finding new data, publishing in the peer reviewed literature, and honing her theory to have more explanatory and predictive power. That is exactly how the scientific method is supposed to work.

If Beckmann’s theory provides greater explanatory and predictive power than special relativity, it will not be ignored by physicists looking to make their mark.

I’m still a bit curious though, if you don’t mind. What do you find “ugly” about time dilation?

53. 53
Rude says:

Pan Narrans,

You express faith that “the scientific method is self-correcting”—well here I am the skeptic—I don’t even accept that there is such a thing as “the scientific method.” All we have are observation, reason, and authority—the same in physics as in linguistics, checkers, golf, paleontology and farming—and none of it works without honesty.

As for Einsteinism—my sense is that what we have here now is a kind of religion where few are curious enough to seek out the devil’s advocates. It’s like Darwinism but less dangerous. Sure, Einstein just like Darwin may someday fall into disrepute—but this will be more a Kuhnian development than the believers would like to believe.

Now, before I explore my soul for why I find the notion of time dilation less than beautiful, might I ask you how you define “beautiful” and “ugly”?

54. 54
Rude says:

Prof. Pan,

You express faith that “the scientific method is self-correcting.” Well let me hereby declare myself the skeptic—I don’t even accept that there is such a thing as “the scientific method.” All we have are observation, reason, and authority—the same in physics as in linguistics, checkers, golf, paleontology and farming—and none of it works without curiousity and honesty.

As for Einsteinism—my sense is that what we have here now is a kind of religion where few are curious enough to seek out the devil’s advocates. It’s like Darwinism but less dangerous. Sure, Einstein just like Darwin may someday fall into disrepute—but this will be more a Kuhnian development than the believers would like to believe.

The only way you personally can know whether “Beckmann’s theory provides greater explanatory and predictive power than special relativity” is to study it. If you wait till it is no longer ignored by those lacking the courage to question the consensus you may die never knowing.

Now, before I search my soul for why I find the notion of time dilation less than beautiful, might I ask you how you define “ugly” and “beautiful”?

55. 55
Pan Narrans says:

Rude writes (53 and 54):

I don’t even accept that there is such a thing as “the scientific method.”

You’re in good company with some very credible philosophers of science. There are always cases on the edge where the demarcation problem lurks. It is also the case that, sometimes, scientists don’t follow the method chronologically.

That being said, in the vast majority of cases you can see from the peer-reviewed literature that the standard observe-hypothesize-predict-test-repeat cycle is followed. That process is self-correcting.

Now, before I search my soul for why I find the notion of time dilation less than beautiful, might I ask you how you define “ugly” and “beautiful”?

Hey, you used the word first!

I find scientific theories and mathematical formulas elegant (I hope that’s close enough to “beautiful” to be answering your question) when they are concise yet expressive, when they suggests avenues of research or learning that I hadn’t considered before, when they explain disparate observations and provide new links between previously disjoint sets.

The equations of special relativity are certainly elegant, by my standards,and they have been supported by direct observations. I’m still curious to know why you find the underlying concept ugly.