Intelligent Design

The Illusion of Knowledge II

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In Illusion of Knowledge I, I discussed dark matter and dark energy.  Even though neither has ever been observed (i.e., confirmed by experience), the Standard Model of cosmology posits that 21% of the universe is comprised of the former and a whopping 75% of the universe is comprised of the latter.  I quoted skeptical cosmologist Mike Disney:  “The greatest obstacle to progress in science is the illusion of knowledge, the illusion that we know what’s going on when we really don’t.” 

Some people took the point of my post to be a criticism of big bang cosmology.  That was not my purpose.  As I said before, I have absolutely no qualifications to judge the merits of the Standard Model.  But I do know a thing or two about epistemology – the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of knowledge and knowing.   

The point of my post was that cosmologists who accept the Standard Model are a lot like biologists who accept the Neo-Darwinian Model.  Both theories are based in large part on inferences that are in turn based upon assumptions that may – or may not – be true.  To say that we “know” the universe is made up of 21% dark matter and 75% dark energy is just silly.  We know no such thing.  Scientists infer the existence of dark matter and dark energy because they are both necessary if their assumption about an expanding universe is true.  Scientists infer dark matter and dark energy for the same reason scientists 100 years ago inferred the existence of the ether – their theory needed it. 

But as David Berlinski points out in his article about the Big Bang (thank you Salvador for the link), there have been a number of observations that tend to disconfirm the assumption of an expanding universe.  These anomalies may ultimately be accounted for, and the universe may actually be as the cosmologists assume it to be.  But this is not NECESSARILY the case.  Next month new discoveries may compel cosmologists to reject their current assumptions about an expanding universe, and 100 years from now physics students may chuckle about the quaint 21st century notion of dark energy and dark matter the way physics students today chuckle about the quaint 19th century idea of the ether.  Or next month that guy who has spent the last 20 years trying to detect dark matter in a mine in England may actually catch some, thus confirming the theory by direct observation. 

My point is that it is a species of hubris for cosmologists to say we “know” that dark matter and dark energy exist even though the existence of neither has been confirmed by experience.  They are blurring the distinction between directly observed fact and inferences compelled by their pet theory. 

In the same article Berlinski says this:  “Until recently, the great physicists have been scrupulous about honoring the terms of their contract [to provide a true account of the physical world].  They have attempted with dignity to respect the distinction between what is known and what is not . . . This scrupulousness has lately been compromised.  The result has been the calculated or careless erasure of the line separating disciplined physical inquiry from speculative metaphysics.  Contemporary cosmologists feel free to say anything that pops into their heads.”  

Similarly, the Neo-Darwinian model is based upon inferences that are in turn based upon a key assumption.  That assumption is that blind physical forces are the only forces available to do the work of imbuing living things with the staggering complexity and diversity we observe.  If this assumption is true, something like NDE simply must have occurred.  The problem is that while the assumption may be true, it is not necessarily true.  Nevertheless, Darwinists treat the assumption as if it were necessarily true, and it is no longer considered critically (if it is even considered at all).  It has become part of the intellectual landscape.  This makes Darwinists blind to two things.  It makes them blind to disconfirming data.  If NDE or something like it MUST be true, disconfirming data, by definition, cannot exist.  It also makes them blind to alternate explanations that the disconfirming data, if they could see it, would suggest.  This blindness is the price they must pay for their hubris.

40 Replies to “The Illusion of Knowledge II

  1. 1
    DaveScot says:

    It’s more than assumption that the universe is expanding. It’s direct observation. Light decreases in frequency if the source is moving away from the observer just like the sound of a train whistle decreases as it moves away from you. This is directly measurable. Distant objects in space exhibit the same decrease in frequency and the farther away they are the greater the decrease. It doesn’t matter which direction we look – everything very distant is flying away from us. This is also directly measurable. The assumption is that the speed of light is constant across time and space. If that’s true then expansion of the universe is as true as anything that can be directly observed is true.

  2. 2
    David Heddle says:

    This is, in my opinion, fairly simple pontificating. For dark matter, we are now at the stage where an experiment was proposed (observe colliding clusters) and the results were as predicted by a universe with 25% dark matter. Could it have been a deviation from standard gravity? No longer very likely, because independent dark matter effects (rotational speeds and the aforementioned experiment) while both explained by the same simple dark matter picture would have to be supplanted by a rather ugly, complex modification of gravity contrived to explain both.

    There is nothing even close to such a unequivocal, falsifying, doable, real experiment in say String Theory, evolution, or ID that from a purely “what is science as we know and love” aspect, cosmology should not even be mentioned in the same breath. Come back when ID (or evolution) proposes a real experiment that could falsify it (not one that says you’ll never find this or never explain that) gets the experiment approved and funded, performs the experiment and publishes the result.

    Although Dark Matter may someday fall, it passed this actual scientific test. As such, it represents the scientific process at its best. I long for the day when ID is anywhere close to the actual predictive and experimental science that cosmology is.

  3. 3
    BarryA says:

    DaveScott writes: “It’s more than assumption that the universe is expanding. It’s direct observation.” You then go on to describe the familiar Doppler effect.

    What you say is true to an extent, but the point of Berlinski’s article is that while, on the one hand, the expanding universe hypothesis is supported by confirming observations – most notably the Doppler effect you describe – on the other hand there are not insignificant problems with the hypothesis, and the dogmatic confidence many cosmologists show is simply not warranted.

    Again, neither I nor Berlinski has denied the Big Bang or the expanding universe. I am merely pointing out that institutional assertions of certitude when certitude is not warranted are inquiry-chilling and thus not helpful to science.

    I urge you to read the article. It was a real eye-opener for me. Examples of the problems with the expanding universe theory Berlinski points out include: (1) the theory depends upon ad hoc theories of “inflation” to account for the homogeneity of cosmic background radiation; (2) the nature of scalar fields upon which the inflation theory depends cannot be deduced from known physics, so their properties must be hypothesized to support the theory; (3) there are places where the expected relationship between Doppler red shift and distance simply fails, most notably in the massively red shifted quasars in nearby (relatively speaking) galaxies; (4) recent studies by I.E. Segal of the relationship between red shift and flux or apparent brightness in numerous samples casts substantial doubt on the theory as a whole.

    This is Segal’s conclusion: “[Big Bang cosmology] owes its acceptance as a physical principal primarily to the uncritical and premature representation of [the redshift-distance relationship] as an empirical fact . . . Observed discrepancies . . . have been resolved by a pyramid of exculpatory assumptions, which are inherently incapably of noncircular substantiation.” Sound familiar?

    I am not able to judge Big Bang cosmology. But I take it that if Mike Disney, the longest serving member of the Hubble Space Telescope advisory committee, and I.E. Segal, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, are skeptical of its claims, I am satisfied that skepticism is not wholly unwarranted, and the Big Bang does not have the status of empirical fact.

  4. 4
    BarryA says:

    David Heddle writes, “This is, in my opinion, fairly simple pontificating.”

    Mr. Heddle, you seem to have missed the entire point of my post. You imply in your comment that I am denying the Big Bang and dark matter/dark energy. I deny neither.

    You point out that the existence of dark matter, while not directly observed, is consistent with some empirical observations. I never said it was not. All I have said is that its existence has not been demonstrated CONCLUSIVELY. Then, despite your assertion that I have pontificated, you AGREE with me. You write: “Dark Matter may someday fall.” Since even you agree that the existence of dark matter has not been demonstrated conclusively, I am sure you will also agree that dogmatic assertions of its existence are premature and inquiry-chilling. My point really is that simple. Now don’t you feel silly.

  5. 5
    Hawks says:

    BarryA wrote: “That assumption is that blind physical forces are the only forces available to do the work of imbuing living things with the staggering complexity and diversity we observe. If this assumption is true, something like NDE simply must have occurred. The problem is that while the assumption may be true, it is not necessarily true. Nevertheless, Darwinists treat the assumption as if it were necessarily true, and it is no longer considered critically (if it is even considered at all). It has become part of the intellectual landscape. This makes Darwinists blind to two things. It makes them blind to disconfirming data. If NDE or something like it MUST be true, disconfirming data, by definition, cannot exist.

    Even if “Darwinists” assume that there are only “blind physical forces”, it does in no way follow that it makes them blind to disconfirming data or that disconfirming data, by definition, cannot exist. There is no logic to that conclusion.

  6. 6
    mike1962 says:

    Readers may find this interesting:

    “UA Astronomers Report First Direct Evidence For Dark Matter”

    http://uanews.org/cgi-bin/WebO.....leID=12956

  7. 7
    David Heddle says:

    BarryA,

    No we are not in agreement, not even close. You wrote: “Even though neither has ever been observed (i.e., confirmed by experience)”

    Which, for dark matter, is utterly false. We see things by their interactions; we have now seen the interaction of dark matter with normal matter in at least two impressive ways. No, we don’t see dark matter directly (yet). But there are many things in physics we don’t see directly. Quarks, for one. Gravity (so far) is another.

    When most scientists say: “we now know dark matter exists” they are really saying “there is now such spectacular evidence that it exists that it will take a huge overturning of current thinking to change our minds.” Anyone who is a scientist understands the unspoken caveat. To make a big deal of a scientists saying “we know dark matter exists” is simple pontificating.

    And you wrote: “that cosmologist who accept the Standard Model are a lot like biologist who accept the Neo-Darwinian Model.”

    Not even in the same ballpark. Cosmology makes bold predictions that can and are tested. In the recent experiment, the existence of dark matter could have been falsified. This happens over and over–cosmology is not just successful as an experimental science, we are in fact in the era of precision cosmology. For example, the tiny degree of nonuniformity in the microwave background was predicted before it was measured. Accepting the standard model (by which I assume you mean the inflationary big bang) is nothing at all like accepting evolution (or ID).

    Come to think of it, you may be right. Upon rereading, it seems that all you are really saying is that the standard model of cosmology is based on assumptions that may ultimately prove wrong. You think so? What science isn’t based on assumptions that may ultimately prove wrong? If that’s all you mean, then yes, we agree.

  8. 8
    Leo1787 says:

    Kudos to DaveScot for pointing out that the expanding universe is an observable and proven idea.

    BarryA, your point is an unfair generalization at best, it would be similar to me saying that because some of those in the ID camp “know” that the earth was created 10,000 years ago, they must now find facts to fit their assumption. Of course, this does indeed happen, with people like Duane Gish saying the Grand Canyon could have been cut in just a few days with the right amount of water (ie a great flood). It doesn’t make the generalization fair however, and although many Darwinists (including me) DO believe natural forces are the only viable explanation for life as we know it, that does NOT imply that evolution is no longer considered critically, as you assert.

    There is a difference between considering an idea critically for the purpose of improving it, and considering an idea critically for the purpose of disproving it (and thereby injecting your own idea).

    You posed a challenge to me on a different thread regarding Mt Rushmore (which I responded to, by the way, the post didn’t appear to make it). I won’t reiterate that response here, unless you’d like me to, but I do have a challenge of my own for you:

    Let’s assume for a moment that ID is true, and that a “designer” created the earth and life on it. What comes next in the study of life sciences? Please explain a test or series of tests that would allow us to understand the methods the designer used, and how those methods would apply to modern biology.

  9. 9
    BarryA says:

    Nothing in the article cited by Mike1962 is inconsistent with what I have said. The article describes an experiment that tends to confirm the existence of dark matter. But the article itself suggests that the existence of dark matter is still not conclusively established. One of the researchers is quoted as follows: “The bottom line is, there really is dark matter out there,” Zaritsky said. “Now we just need to figure out what it is.”

    This quotation demonstrates that the researchers are equivocating when they use the term “direct evidence.” If one has “direct evidence” of something, one would not still be in the dark (pun intended) about what it is. No, AU’s “direct evidence” falls into a category that most of us would call “strong inference.” And the article as a whole has the triumphant tone of researchers preaching to the research fund-granting choir. This demonstrates, as if further demonstration were necessary, the distorting effect our grant funding system has on science.

  10. 10
    BarryA says:

    Hawks writes: “Even if ‘Darwinists’ assume that there are only ‘blind physical forces,’ it does in no way follow that it makes them blind to disconfirming data or that disconfirming data, by definition, cannot exist. There is no logic to that conclusion.”

    First, one wonders why Hawks puts scare quotes around the word “Darwinists,” as if to suggest that is somehow an improper classification.

    Second, Hawks is in error. The logic is flawless. If one assumes a priori that blind physical forces are the only forces available to do the work of creating living things, then, by definition, only blind physical forces are available to do the work of creating living things. Therefore, any data that suggests that something other than blind physical forces have been involved – an intelligent agent for instance – must be disregarded.

    Don’t believe me. Believe Dawkins: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (New York; Norton, 1986), 1. The rest of the book is devoted to proving that this appearance is an illusion.

    Why is Dawkins blind to even the possibility that living things actually are as they appear to be? Because disconfirming data – such as the overwhelming appearance of living things – is inconsistent with his blind watchmaker hypothesis which is, in turn, not based on the evidence, but on his a priori assumptions.

  11. 11
    Patrick says:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_.....090606.php

    [Patrick, please do not burden the thread with lengthy quotes. The link is enough]

    That\’s fine, but you deleted the 2nd link:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....104549.htm

    –Patrick

  12. 12
    BarryA says:

    Mr. Heddle writes:  “No we are not in agreement, not even close.”

    This statement is bizarre. You wrote: “Dark Matter may someday fall.” The point of my post is that dark matter may someday fall. It is simply not in the same epistemological category as, say, the heliocentric solar system. I am sure you would never write “the heliocentric solar system may someday fall.” The reason you would never write that is the heliocentric solar system has been conclusively established by direct observation, which is not the case with dark matter.

    “We see things by their interactions”

    No, actually, we don’t. We see things by seeing them. We “infer” things by their interactions. This is a simple and obvious distinction. I am surprised someone as obviously intelligent as you has trouble grasping it.

    “we have now seen the interaction of dark matter with normal matter in at least two impressive ways.”

    No, we haven’t. We have inferred the interaction of dark matter with normal matter.

    “When most scientists say: “we now know dark matter exists” they are really saying “there is now such spectacular evidence that it exists that it will take a huge overturning of current thinking to change our minds.”

    I don’t disagree with this statement. All I am suggesting is that “spectacular” is an essentially aesthetic judgment. It is not the same as “conclusive.” And, as Berlinski points out, maybe the evidence is not as spectacular as many cosmologists would have us believe.

    “To make a big deal of a scientists saying “we know dark matter exists” is simple pontificating.”

    I don’t think it is a pontificating to point out that scientists are playing fast and loose with the word “know,” by suggesting they “know” something when they really don’t.

    \”And you wrote: “that cosmologist who accept the Standard Model are a lot like biologist who accept the Neo-Darwinian Model.” Not even in the same ballpark. Cosmology makes bold predictions that can and are tested.\”

    You misunderstand. I never meant to suggest that cosmology and evolutionary biology have the same epistemological standing. Cosmology is a “hard” science, and as you say evolutionary biology is not even in the same ballpark. My statement was not about the respective disciplines per se. My statement was about the similarities between many cosmologists and many biologists. They both tend to blur the distinction between what they know as empirical fact and what they suspect as predicted by their theory.

    \”Come to think of it, you may be right. Upon rereading, it seems that all you are really saying is that the standard model of cosmology is based on assumptions that may ultimately prove wrong. You think so? What science isn’t based on assumptions that may ultimately prove wrong? If that’s all you mean, then yes, we agree.”

    Then yes, we agree, if you will also grant me the further point that it is ill-advised for a scientist to imply that something has been conclusively demonstrated as empirical fact when it has not.

  13. 13
    Hawks says:

    BarryA wrote: “Second, Hawks is in error. The logic is flawless.”.
    Your claim was: “That assumption is that blind physical forces are the only forces available … This makes Darwinists blind to two things. It makes them blind to disconfirming data. If NDE or something like it MUST be true, disconfirming data, by definition, cannot exist.”

    Disconfirming data does not has to be anything remotely to do with the opposite of “blind physical forces”. Your logic is not flawless.

  14. 14
    todd says:

    Hawks wrote:

    Even if “Darwinists” assume that there are only “blind physical forces”, it does in no way follow that it makes them blind to disconfirming data or that disconfirming data, by definition, cannot exist. There is no logic to that conclusion.

    Barry’s statement makes good sense, Hawks. If one believes purposeless physical forces are the only mechanism for life on terra firma, there can be no alternative without a change in belief. Observation is theory laden – one’s philosophy shapes the way one interprets sensory input. When disconfirming observations are in conflict with beliefs, we all seek to reconcile what we see with what we believe. We either change what we believe to match the data or interpret the data to match our beliefs.

    Our individual conclusions of the ultimate HowWhyWhatWhen questions are all faith based. And humans don’t seem to like having deeply held beliefs challenged. For instance, it seems to me the YEC crowd suffers the same disconfirmation bias as the NDE crowd, from the opposite side. I don’t hold a literal interpretation of 7 days because what we seem to have observed (red shifts, etc) indicates a vast and old universe. However, I’m not wedded to it. I remain open to be convinced otherwise.

    The same is true with NDE vs YEC vs ID. ID seems the most sensible, has the best answers and even better questions. However, if the leading lights of IDT begin to employ ad hominem, genetic and strawman fallacy to discredit or answer NDE critiques, I’ll smell weakness. That is largely what I smell of the ferocious and (dare I say?)primal reactions of many NDE types.

    The point remains – assumptions are not bedrock truth and when one takes inferences as such, one closes down perspectives which may show the inference to be in error. Such is the case with the NDE crowd and ID: The fact that we share 90-99% of chimp DNA can mean we share a common ancestor or common designer. When one rules out design before observation takes place, the cart is before the horse. Design is the parsimonious answer to ‘apparent’ biotic design, unless one has ruled out design before investigation.

  15. 15
    BarryA says:

    Leo1787 writes: “Kudos to DaveScot for pointing out that the expanding universe is an observable and proven idea.”

    I say kudos to David Berlinski for pointing out that the expanding universe is a theory. A theory that may ultimately be proven to be true to be sure, but a theory nevertheless, and one that has substantial problems that cosmologists have consistently underestimated and/or disregarded entirely.

    “and although many Darwinists (including me) DO believe natural forces are the only viable explanation for life as we know it, that does NOT imply that evolution is no longer considered critically, as you assert.”

    Don’t believe me? Believe Dawkins. See my response to Hawks in 10.

    “Let’s assume for a moment that ID is true, and that a “designer” created the earth and life on it. What comes next in the study of life sciences? Please explain a test or series of tests that would allow us to understand the methods the designer used, and how those methods would apply to modern biology.”

    OK, here are four experiments I can think of off the top of my head:

    1. If one could demonstrate a plausible mechanism that would provide a detailed account (note “wishful speculation” does not equal “detailed account”) of how, for instance, the bacterial flagellum could have evolved though purely natural forces, that would tend to falsify ID.

    2. If one could demonstrate a plausible mechanism to account for the transition from pre-biotic matter to biotic matter, that would tend to falsify ID.

    3. If one could demonstrate how a Darwinian system that depends on random mutation of genetic information could have started before genetic information existed, that would tend to falsify ID.

    4. If one could even begin to account for the staggeringly complex information content of DNA on purely natural grounds, that would tend to falsify ID.

    If you could do all four, ID would be dead in the water.

  16. 16
    BarryA says:

    Hawks writes: “Disconfirming data does not has to be anything remotely to do with the opposite of “blind physical forces”

    If you will translate this sentence into English I will try to respond.

  17. 17
    Carlos says:

    I’d like to offer several brief and unrelated comments. in no particular order:

    – metaphysics: although Dawkins is committed to some kind of metaphysical materialism, that doesn’t show that it’s held a priori, since one could hold a metaphysical system that’s justified a posteriori. There needs to be an argument that Dawkins’ metaphysics is a priori, not a posteriori. It would clearly be a priori if he stepped into the territory of possibility and necessity, but unless he’s stepped into that territory, there’s no case to be made against him.

    Now, BarryA reads Dawkins as having stepped onto the terrain of apriority. But has he? BarryA quotes Dawkins as saying: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Barry then asks, “Why is Dawkins blind to even the possibility that living things actually are as they appear to be?” (my emphasis).

    But Dawkins does not deny — at least not here — the possibility of design. Rather, he denies that biological structures actually were designed. It’s an a posteriori claim. No doubt Dawkins is a metaphysical materialist, but one could hold metaphysical materialism on the grounds that it has been a phenomenally successful research program, justified a posteriori countless times. By contrast, suppositions of intelligent design have not yet baked any bread. There’s no good reason to believe that they will not bake any bread in the future, but I don’t yet smell anything warm and tasty cooking in the ovens over at the Discovery Institute. I, at any rate, am not going to hold my breath.

    – theory change: at what point is a theory no longer “the same theory”? In the past several years we’ve invented whole new branches of science, such as complexity theory and “evo devo.” I’m reading Sean Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful and Wallace Arthur’s Creatures of Accident: The Rise of the Animal Kingdom. Carroll and Arthur, along with Stuart Kauffman and Brian Goodwin, describe a way of thinking about biological structures and transformations which would be utterly unimaginable to Darwin himself, and probably even so to the architects of the Modern Synthesis. Are we dealing with “the same theory” as the neo-Darwinism of the Modern Synthesis? Don’t theories themselves ‘evolve,’ shall we say? (Although one can only hope that the theories are intelligently designed!)

  18. 18
    DaveScot says:

    Barry

    You conflated the big bang with an expanding universe. The universe IS expanding as surely as we can be sure about anything. The big bang is a backwards extrapolation of the observed expansion and it could be wrong. I don’t know of any other hypothesis that explains expansion except for those which posit that the speed of light isn’t constant in all places at all times. C not being constant requires extraordinary evidence and there’s no evidence at all that it isn’t. If the fundamental laws of physics as we know them now don’t apply everywhere at all times then all bets are off.

    Inflation doesn’t break any laws of physics. C is a limit on how fast matter and energy can propagate. Expansion of empty space does not violate that rule. As far as we know the universe goes on forever in the same form as that portion of it which we can observe. We simply cannot observe it past a certain point because of the lightspeed limit. I urge you to read the article I referenced here over a year ago about common misconceptions about the big bang. Berlinski should read it too. The point about anomalous quasars is easily explainable. The objects we think are quasars aren’t quasars or their location as determined by methods other than the Hubble constant is wrong. Determining great distances via methods other than applying the Hubble constant to recognizable objects is tricky business. Parallax measurements, eclipses, gravitational lensing, etcetera aren’t 100% reliable and objects we think we recognize and know what their spectrograph should look like may be cases of mistaken identity. The preponderance of evidence still supports expansion and the reliability of the Hubble constant. Also I should point that redshift caused by the expansion of space is not a true Doppler effect and the Hubble constant is different than what the Doppler effect predicts but I don’t understand the difference so I conflate the two when I really shouldn’t.

    Leo

    Let’s assume for a moment that ID is true, and that a “designer” created the earth and life on it. What comes next in the study of life sciences? Please explain a test or series of tests that would allow us to understand the methods the designer used, and how those methods would apply to modern biology.

    We study what we can study and pin a question mark on things we can’t. There is no rule in science that all avenues of investigation must lead to complete understanding from beginning to end. There are limits to what can investigate and we shouldn’t be surprised or go into a state of denial when a limit is encountered. There is plenty to study in life sciences other than origins billions of years in the past. Perhaps we can’t ever know how life was designed. The evidence may simply be lost to the ravages of time. We can however gather evidence on the possible methods of design and I would point out that modern genetic engineering is providing with one possibility – intelligent agents with sufficient mastery of the chemistry involved. This is a demonstrated possibility as far as I’m concerned and it’s the ONLY demonstrated possibility so far.

  19. 19
    Leo1787 says:

    Note that the challenge was to demonstrate the methods the designer used, not to explain tests that would falisfy ID, a complete dodge, but I will address these anyway:

    1. If one could demonstrate a plausible mechanism that would provide a detailed account (note “wishful speculation” does not equal “detailed account”) of how, for instance, the bacterial flagellum could have evolved though purely natural forces, that would tend to falsify ID.

    Here is a more detailed explanation of the evolution of bacterial flagella, please do READ the entire article:

    http://www.millerandlevine.com.....ticle.html

    2. If one could demonstrate a plausible mechanism to account for the transition from pre-biotic matter to biotic matter, that would tend to falsify ID.

    Define plausible? I’m sure the word means something different to you than it does to me. Of course this is the $64,000 question, and because we do not NOW have a definitive answer, does NOT mean we won’t ever have one. In addition, there have been several experiments demonstrating the ability of amino acids to form independently, finding a connection to living cells may happen in a year, or 100 years, but I’m not willing to stop investigating the issue and concede that “we’ll never know, must have been a designer.”

    3. If one could demonstrate how a Darwinian system that depends on random mutation of genetic information could have started before genetic information existed, that would tend to falsify ID.

    You’re missing the point of evolution entirely, the idea is that life (including genetic material itself), did evolve from more basic materials, like amino acids. Naturally, as genetic material became more advanced, so too did the process of natural selection combined with random mutation.

    4. If one could even begin to account for the staggeringly complex information content of DNA on purely natural grounds, that would tend to falsify ID.

    I don’t understand what “test” you’ve outlined here, modern science can do far more than account for the information in DNA, if you choose to ignore that accounting, there’s little good in me attempting to explain it.

    Back to my original challenge, please don’t dodge it this time, what specific tests would you use to determine the methods of the designer? I’m not asking you to outline more tests to falsify ID, or evolution for that matter. I’m simply asking you to name ONE test that can demonstrate HOW a designer produced life.

  20. 20
    BarryA says:

    DaveScott writes: “You conflated the big bang with an expanding universe . . . The big bang is a backwards extrapolation of the observed expansion and it could be wrong.”

    Agreed. The difference, though, is immaterial to my point.

    “The universe IS expanding as surely as we can be sure about anything . . . The preponderance of evidence still supports expansion and the reliability of the Hubble constant.”

    This juxtaposition makes no sense. We don’t talk about “the preponderance of evidence” with respect to things we are sure about. Which is it? Is it a case where the evidence preponderates or is it a case where we are as certain as we can be about anything? Yes, I agree. As far as I, a layman, can tell, the evidence probably does preponderate toward an expanding universe. My point is that this is simply not the same thing as being as sure “as we can be sure about anything.”

    “Inflation doesn’t break any laws of physics.”

    I don’t think Berlinski said it did. He just disparaged it as an ad hoc hypothesis that was dreamed up to save a theory in trouble.

    With respect to the rest of your comment, I respect your opinion and I respect David Berlinski’s opinion. You are two of the smartest guys I know, and I cannot judge between you. I can, however, judge when there is a reasonable dispute about the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence.

  21. 21
    Leo1787 says:

    DaveScot, I agree with you about a “preponderance of evidence” and despite Barry’s apparent confusion, I would equate that with a statement like “as surely as we can be sure about anything.”

    While I appreciate your honesty about limits, and agree limits do exist and we can’t necessarily expect complete understanding, there have always been limits to what we can do and know, and we are continuously breaking those limits. That is my primary complaint with ID, its a dead end. To say, “we’ll never know” is not acceptable to me, if humanity had adopted that attitude millenia ago, we’d still be digging in the dirt with stick for something to eat.

    Who would have thought even 50 years ago what we’d be able to see what we can today, with the Hubble for example. Who knows what the next generation of telescopes will allow us to see, and how far back in time. I don’t want to just give up and concede we’ll probably never know some things about the universe, that may be true, but if we stop looking we’ll never find out.

  22. 22
    DaveScot says:

    Barry We don’t talk about “the preponderance of evidence” with respect to things we are sure about.

    In science we are absolutely sure of nothing. All conclusions are tentative and subject to revision by either better explanations of existing evidence or by new evidence that doesn’t fit.

    I was careful to qualify my statement by saying we are as sure of expansion as we can be sure of anything. By that I meant that nothing is absolutely certain. I know a thing or two about the nature of knowledge myself. I took Philosophy and Formal Logic courses at the State University of New York in 1980. A perfect score on every test in Formal Logic was effortless for me while half the class failed. Most people are illogical. Applying formal logic to questions in epistemology is quite helpful in understanding the thinking of the notable names from the past. I also took Human Anatomy and Physiology that semester plus something else that escapes my recall. I had to complete at least 12 units every semester to qualify for full payment under the GI Bill for Vietnam veterans. Those three courses only add up to 10 units.

  23. 23
    BarryA says:

    DaveScott writes: “In science we are absolutely sure of nothing. All conclusions are tentative and subject to revision by either better explanations of existing evidence or by new evidence that doesn’t fit.”

    Yes, that’s the standard Popperian line. But surely you will agree that there are degrees of certainty. I will use the same example I used with Mr. Heddle. The expanding universe is not in the same epistemological category as, say, the heliocentric solar system. I am sure it would never occur to you to write “the preponderance of the evidence is that the earth orbits the sun, not the other way around.” The reason you would never write that is the heliocentric solar system has been established with far more certainty than the expanding universe about which you did use the term “preponderance of the evidence.” This is not to say that I deny the universe is expanding. Again, my point is a modest one – we are practically (if not absolutely) certain about some things; about other things we are less certain. The expanding universe falls into the latter category.

  24. 24
    Karl Pfluger says:

    As DaveScot pointed out, absolute certainty is never attainable by science. Every internally consistent, non-tautological scientific theory or statement exists somewhere on the continuum between “Absolutely False” and “Absolutely True”. Its position on the continuum may change as new observations are made and as competing theories arise.

    When we say we “know” something in science, we don’t mean that it is absolutely true. We do mean that it is so far toward the “Absolutely True” end of the spectrum that it is highly unlikely to be disconfirmed by new evidence.

    You can argue about how far toward the true end something must lie in order to warrant the use of the word “know”, but it is quite irrelevant in terms of how science is actually practiced. Scientists continue to test even the theories we all “know” are true. General relativity has been accepted for decades, but we’ve never stopped testing it (Gravity Probe B being a recent example). Quantum electrodynamics is spectacularly successful at predicting the magnetic dipole moment of the electron, but that hasn’t stopped physicists from testing every aspect of the theory and proposing replacements (e.g. string theory).

    Berlinski’s offhand remark that “cosmologists feel free to say anything that pops into their heads” is laughable. If cosmologists were really unconstrained by physical reality, then nobody would have bothered to make the recent observation that confirmed the existence of dark matter. They would have just assumed its existence. And the discovery wouldn’t have raised even a ripple of interest, because the cosmologists would all be saying “oh, we knew that already.”

  25. 25
    DaveScot says:

    Leo
    That is my primary complaint with ID, its a dead end.

    Possibly, but what if it’s true? Do you deny the possibility that it’s true?

    To say, “we’ll never know” is not acceptable to me, if humanity had adopted that attitude millenia ago, we’d still be digging in the dirt with stick for something to eat.

    I said we might never know. I’m an enthusiastic supporter of further inquiry into the possible origins of life. I follow space exploration with bated breath wherein many of the onboard experiments are looking for signs of pre-biotic and biotic life in our solar system. SETI something else I’ve been following for 40 years and I’m deeply disappointed that it’s come up empty so far. I’m not disappointed that abiogenesis inquiry has been more or less fruitless because I don’t believe it happened in our solar system. Fruitless is what I expect but I don’t disparage continuing efforts very much. At worst I think there are more important things to be investigating that impact the quality of life for us and our fellow inhabitants on this third rock from the sun so in that regard we should be a bit niggardly when we divvy up the available public funds between the practical and impractical.

    Who would have thought even 50 years ago what we’d be able to see what we can today, with the Hubble for example. Who knows what the next generation of telescopes will allow us to see, and how far back in time. I don’t want to just give up and concede we’ll probably never know some things about the universe, that may be true, but if we stop looking we’ll never find out.

    Actually we pretty much know what we’ll be able to see with each successive generation of telescope. The next generation’s main goal is the ability to resolve earth-size planets in near orbits of other stars and get spectroscopic analyses of their surface composition. Giant Telescopes of the Future Interestingly most of the proposals are for earth based scopes with adaptive optics that can eliminate atmospheric disturbances. These can be constructed hugely larger than space based scopes for the same cost and acheive commensurately higher resolutions.

  26. 26
    scordova says:

    In the late 19th century one of THE greatest scientist of all time by the name of James Clerk Maxwell helped usher in the era of modern technology by his equations of electro dynamics which unified the equations of magnetism, electricity, and optics. Maxwell was regard by Einstein as one the 3 greatest.

    Maxwell envisioned electromagnetic waves travelling through space, and today the fundamential aspects of his theories are confirmed every time one uses a cell phone or similar device. He postulated that for these waves to travel through space an Aether was needed. It was very reasonable speculation. Einstein, Michelson-Morely basically shattered the original conception of the Aether. It was when Michelson-Morely actually tried to detect the Aether, it became brutally apparent everyone’s idea of physical reality needed some serious revision. Probably the great irony in all this is Maxwell’s equations still work, but probably for reasons which he did not envision!

    Sure, Dark Matter may exist, we may infer it for whatever reason. But bear in mind, Electro-Magnetic theory seemed to also infer an Aether once upon a time. Perhaps a little caution is in order. Science should welcome skepticism.

  27. 27
    Patrick says:

    Berlinski’s offhand remark that “cosmologists feel free to say anything that pops into their heads” is laughable.

    Perhaps…though this is what a regular columnist for Astronomy magazine had to say in 2004:

    Suddenly, we’re imbedded in a frothy quantum foam of unlimited possibilities. It’s a free-for-all where each solemnly presented theory is soon changed or rebutted.

    In one sense, it’s very cool. Imagination rules! It’s a unique period in cosmology’s history. Throw the math this way, that way, tweak the equations, set fire to the physics building, nothing matters. It’s Alice in Wonderland meets Stephen Hawking.

    Unfortunately, cosmologists are starting to resemble naked emperors parading before the mass media. Hey, we love you, but you have no clue about the universe’s true origin or fate, and little knowledge of its composition. Yet each pronouncement is delivered with pomp and flair. Maybe you need a serious “time out.”

    So how do we relate to all this? We should divide this magazine into two sections. The first deals with optics, gadgets, software, planets and nebulae, observations, beauty, and real science – like always.

    The other section has a disclaimer: “Warning: The following contains contemporary cosmology. Reading it can produce disorientation and confusion. Nobody knows what’s going on and nothing you read here is likely to be true.”

    Bob Berman is Astronomy magazine’s “Strange Universe” columnist. He’s also been Discover Magazine’s astronomy columnist for years.

  28. 28
    Patrick says:

    Speaking of Aether, some believe it’s worth the time to bring back a modified form of it:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_.....082306.php

  29. 29
    Leo1787 says:

    DaveScot-

    I don’t deny the possibility that ID is true, would you deny the possibility that life arose by chance? I don’t think you can assign a zero probability to either, what I have always said is that there isn’t a shred of hard evidence for ID. If god or whoever the designer is spoke to the world at large explaining how he/she created the world, I’ll be a believer.

    I too am a great believer in SETI, though I’m not surprised we’ve come up empty so far, given the distances involved in any possible communication. I think its of tremendous importance to discover how life arose on earth, if for no other reason than to determine how it may have arisen on other planets. Understanding, from a purely naturalist perspective, how life first came to be on earth may even help us determine if there is life on other bodies within our solar system (Europa seems to hold the most potential right now).

  30. 30
    mike1962 says:

    BarryA: “Nothing in the article cited by Mike1962 is inconsistent with what I have said.”

    I didn’t think so either. I just thought y’all would be interested in it.

  31. 31
    Hawks says:

    BarryA,

    In regards to: “This makes Darwinists blind to two things. It makes them blind to disconfirming data. If NDE or something like it MUST be true, disconfirming data, by definition, cannot exist.”

    Hawks writes: “Disconfirming data does not has to be anything remotely to do with the opposite of “blind physical forces”

    If you will translate this sentence into English I will try to respond.

    —————————————-

    Seems I misunderstood what you were trying to say. You seem to be saying that disconfirming data has to be data disconfirming the existence of purely “blind physical forces”. I understood it to say that nothing could possibly disconfirm “Darwinism”. My sentence was in English, it was just difficult to follow.

  32. 32
    P. Phillips says:

    Again, I think that Dave Scott, with no offense, sounds like Panda’s Thumb on I.D. He totally ignores contrary evidence, observations, and opinions, even from Hubble himself and Carl Sagan.

    Allow me to quote from this essay from Thunderbolts.info Picture of the Day Essay:

    Public relations in the sciences did not always work this way. A quarter-century ago, when America’s favorite astronomer, Carl Sagan, published his book, Cosmos, he addressed the redshift question:

    “There is nevertheless a nagging suspicion among some astronomers, that all may not be right with the deduction, from the redshift of galaxies via the Doppler effect, that the universe is expanding. The astronomer Halton Arp has found enigmatic and disturbing cases where a galaxy and a quasar, or a pair of galaxies, that are in apparent physical association have very different redshifts….”

    Sagan’s acknowledgment here showed a candor rarely found in standard treatments of astronomy today. He continued, “If Arp is right, the exotic mechanisms proposed to explain the energy source of distant quasars—supernova chain reactions, supermassive black holes and the like —would prove unnecessary. Quasars need not then be very distant. But some other exotic mechanism will be required to explain the redshift. In either case, something very strange is going on in the depths of space.”

    It is astonishing to realize that, for a quarter century after Sagan wrote these words, an ideological interpretation became increasingly entrenched in astronomy, even in the face of growing evidence to the contrary.

    # # # # # # # # # #

    Again, even the Bullet Cluster “evidence” can be interpreted differently. Again, from Thunderbolts:

    Optical and x-ray images of the galaxy cluster named 1E0657-56 have provided direct proof that these clumps of disturbed galaxies are small, faint, and nearby. These and many similar observations directly contradict the foundational assumptions of the Big Bang, which place the objects far away.

    What we have stated in the headline and abstract above is, of course, an interpretation, not a fact. But the distinction between interpretation and fact has become so muddled in the sciences that we felt obliged to underscore the point rhetorically. Unbending theoretical assumptions have wrought havoc on popular astronomy, which could not recognize our interpretation of the Bullet Cluster based on the known electrical behavior of plasma.

    According to the authors of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory website, the galactic cluster imaged above “was formed after the collision of two large clusters of galaxies, the most energetic event known in the universe since the Big Bang.” Though the announcement by the Chandra team never uses the words “theory,” “hypothesis,” or “interpretation,” its every sentence rests on a jumble of assumptions, from supposed galactic “collisions” to wildly conjectural “gravitational lensing,” all wrapped around the discredited notion that redshift is a reliable measure of velocity and distance. The capper is the announcement appearing in numerous scientific media that the image “proves the existence of dark matter.”

    In electrical terms, the Hubble optical image shows the many distorted galaxies and filaments of plasma that have been identified by the astronomer Halton Arp as the fragments of a quasar (QSO, or quasi-stellar object) after it has moved through an evolving, highly redshifted and unstable “BL Lac” phase. The BL Lac transition breaks up the increasingly massive plasma of the quasar as it progresses toward becoming a companion galaxy.

    From an electrical vantage point, the Chandra x-ray image (pink) clearly shows the bell-shaped terminus and following arc of a plasma discharge “jet.” . The strong magnetic field of the current causes electrons to emit the x-ray synchrotron (non-thermal) radiation captured in the image. Synchrotron radiation is a normal electrical discharge effect.

    But popular astronomy, oblivious to electrical phenomena, sees only “hot gases colliding.”

    See here for Big Bang problems:

    http://www.metaresearch.org/co.....top-30.asp

  33. 33
  34. 34
    P. Phillips says:

    Links on alternative interpretation, and on Hubble’s own position:

    http://home.pacbell.net/skeptica/edwinhubble.html

    Excerpt:

    Big Bang critic, and radio astronomy pioneer Grote Reber desires to make it known that Hubble expressed “grave doubts about red shifts being caused by relative motion.” Reber asks us to see pages 2, 21, 26, 31, 43, 44, 54, 63 and 66 of Hubble’s 1937 book The Observational Approach to Cosmology. This book is excellent in showing Hubble’s doubts about redshifts being due to the Doppler effect. In a 1934 lecture with the title “Red-Shifts in the Spectra of Nebulae,” Hubble writes:

    The field is new, but it offers rather definite prospects not only of testing the form of the velocity-distance relation beyond the reach of the spectrograph, but even of critically testing the very interpretation of red-shifts as due to motion. With this possibility in view, the cautious observer refrains from committing himself to the present interpretation and prefers the colourless term “apparent velocity.” (4)

    The field was still young, but not so new by the time Hubble died in 1953, so perhaps Hubble dropped his doubts by then. Yet even in 1953, in his last lecture before he died, Hubble still treated the linear velocity-distance relation as an apparent velocity-distance relation. In his George Darwin Lecture of 1953 with the title “The Law of Red-Shifts,” a graph is provided showing a linear relation of several galaxy groups. On the bottom corner of the graph are the words “NO RECESSION FACTOR.” In other words, if the dimming factor for recession of the galaxies is not used, the relation between redshift (usually expressed as velocity) and apparent magnitude will be linear.

  35. 35
    P. Phillips says:

    Oh, and as the Politically Incorrect Guide to Science makes good points about dogma and science, so too (even if you find some of the views untenable) is KICKING THE SACRED COW by Hogan. He credits Dr. Dembski; the entire chapter on Darwin is here:

    And Spetner, not using Darwin, gives his him a good kick too!

    http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner2.asp

    So, let me conclude that Barry A makes excellent points.

    Scientists are Only Human
    —and Not Immune to Dogma.

    A New York Times Bestselling Writer Examines the Facts in the Most Profound Controversies in Modern Science.

    Galileo may have been forced to deny that the Earth moves around the Sun; but in the end, science triumphed. Nowadays science fearlessly pursues truth, shining the pure light of reason on the mysteries of the universe. Or does it? As bestselling author James P. Hogan demonstrates in this fact-filled and thoroughly documented study, science has its own roster of hidebound pronouncements which are Not to be Questioned. Among the dogma-laden subjects he examines are Darwinism, global warming, the big bang, problems with relativity, radon and radiation, holes in the ozone layer, the cause of AIDS, and the controversy over Velikovsky. Hogan explains the basics of each controversy with his clear, informative style, in a book that will be fascinating for anyone with an interest in the frontiers of modern science.

    http://www.baen.com/chapters/W......htm?blurb

    Introduction

    Engineering and the Truth Fairies

    Science really doesn’t exist. Scientific beliefs are either proved wrong, or else they quickly become engineering. Everything else is untested speculation. —JPH

    http://www.baen.com/chapters/W.....88___2.htm (On Darwin, Humanistic Religion)

  36. 36
    P. Phillips says:

    Oh, and as the Politically Incorrect Guide to Science makes good points about dogma and science, so too (even if you find some of the views untenable) is KICKING THE SACRED COW by Hogan. He credits Dr. Dembski; the entire chapter on Darwin is here:

    And Spetner, not using ID, gives his Darwin a good kick too!

    http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner2.asp

    So, let me conclude that Barry A makes excellent points.

    Scientists are Only Human
    —and Not Immune to Dogma.

    A New York Times Bestselling Writer Examines the Facts in the Most Profound Controversies in Modern Science.

    Galileo may have been forced to deny that the Earth moves around the Sun; but in the end, science triumphed. Nowadays science fearlessly pursues truth, shining the pure light of reason on the mysteries of the universe. Or does it? As bestselling author James P. Hogan demonstrates in this fact-filled and thoroughly documented study, science has its own roster of hidebound pronouncements which are Not to be Questioned. Among the dogma-laden subjects he examines are Darwinism, global warming, the big bang, problems with relativity, radon and radiation, holes in the ozone layer, the cause of AIDS, and the controversy over Velikovsky. Hogan explains the basics of each controversy with his clear, informative style, in a book that will be fascinating for anyone with an interest in the frontiers of modern science.

    http://www.baen.com/chapters/W......htm?blurb

    Introduction

    Engineering and the Truth Fairies

    Science really doesn’t exist. Scientific beliefs are either proved wrong, or else they quickly become engineering. Everything else is untested speculation. —JPH

    http://www.baen.com/chapters/W.....88___2.htm (On Darwin, Humanistic Religion)

  37. 37
    mentok says:

    The Higgs field theory is popular amongst physicists today, it’s little different then aether theories.

  38. 38
    P. Phillips says:

    Sorry for the duplicate posting. Going back to the original article by Berlinski, I think his conclusion is brilliant. He writes about science and myth; I find that I like/respect the writing of such dissidents, including Wallace Thornhill, whom I cited about, and talks about emotional intelligence. Each man shows a totally suitable humility about human concepts and the extent of our knowledge.

    The thrust of my argument: I do not believe the evidence shows what Dave Scott wrote: “It’s more than assumption that the universe is expanding. It’s direct observation. Light decreases in frequency if the source is moving away from the observer just like the sound of a train whistle decreases as it moves away from you. This is directly measurable.”

    Thus, if I.D. scientists do in fact obtain evidence that contradicts Darwinina dogma, do not be surprised by the denials and alternate interpretations.

    I think it takes a lack of insight and humility to believe we can observe “creation”; nor do I understand the appeal of the Big Bang.

    Berlinski writes:

    # # # # # # # # #

    This scrupulousness has lately been compromised.
    The result has been the calculated or careless
    erasure of the line separating disciplined physical inquiry
    from speculative metaphysics. Contemporary
    cosmologists feel free to say anything that pops into
    their heads. Unhappy examples are everywhere: absurd
    schemes to model time on the basis of the complex
    numbers, as in Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History
    of Time; bizarre and ugly contraptions for cosmic
    inflation; universes multiplying beyond the
    reach of observation; white holes, black holes, worm
    holes, and naked singularities; theories of every
    stripe and variety, all of them uncorrected by any
    criticism beyond the trivial.
    The physicists carry on endlessly because they
    can. Just recently, for example, Lee Smolin, a cosmologist
    at the University of Pennsylvania, has offered
    a Darwinian interpretation of cosmology, a
    theory of “cosmological natural selection.” On
    Smolin’s view, the Big Bang happened within a
    black hole; new universes are bubbling up all the
    time, each emerging from its own black hole and
    each provided with its own set of physical laws, so
    that the very concept of a law of nature is shown to
    be a part of the mutability of things.
    There is, needless to say, no evidence whatsoever
    in favor of this preposterous theory. The universes
    that are bubbling up are unobservable. So,
    too, are the universes that have bubbled up and
    those that will bubble up in the future. Smolin’s
    theories cannot be confirmed by experience. Or by
    anything else. What law of nature could reveal that
    the laws of nature are contingent? Yet the fact that
    when Smolin’s theory is self-applied it self-destructs
    has not prevented physicists like Alan Guth,
    Roger Penrose, and Martin Rees from circumspectly
    applauding the effort nonetheless.
    A scientific crisis has historically been the excuse
    to which scientists have appealed for the exculpation
    of damaged doctrines. Smolin is no exception. “We
    are living,” he writes, “through a period of scientific
    crisis.” Ordinary men and women may well scruple
    at the idea that cosmology is in crisis because
    cosmologists, deep down, have run out of interesting
    things to say, but in his general suspicions
    Smolin is no doubt correct. What we are discovering
    is that many areas of the universe are apparently
    protected from our scrutiny, like sensitive files sealed
    from view by powerful encryption codes. However
    painful, the discovery should hardly be unexpected.
    Beyond every act of understanding, there is an abyss.
    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.

  39. 39
    P. Phillips says:

    I really didn’t want the “last word” on this thread, but here’s the latest on discoveries that contradict the “Big Bang”:

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/w.....erglow.htm

    EXCERPT:

    Big Bang’s Afterglow Fails an Intergalactic Shadow Test
    Press Release

    In a finding sure to cause controversy, scientists at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) found a lack of evidence of shadows from “nearby” clusters of galaxies using new, highly accurate measurements of the cosmic microwave background.

    A team of UAH scientists led by Dr. Richard Lieu, a professor of physics, used data from NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) to scan the cosmic microwave background for shadows caused by 31 clusters of galaxies.

    “These shadows are a well-known thing that has been predicted for years,” said Lieu. “This is the only direct method of determining the distance to the origin of the cosmic microwave background. Up to now, all the evidence that it originated from as far back in time as the Big Bang fireball has been circumstantial.

    “If you see a shadow, however, it means the radiation comes from behind the cluster. If you don’t see a shadow, then you have something of a problem. Among the 31 clusters that we studied, some show a shadow effect and others do not.”

    Other groups have previously reported seeing this type of shadows in the microwave background. Those studies, however, did not use data from WMAP, which was designed and built specifically to study the cosmic microwave background.

    If the standard Big Bang theory of the universe is accurate and the background microwave radiation came to Earth from the furthest edges of the universe, then massive X-ray emitting clusters of galaxies nearest our own Milky Way galaxy should all cast shadows on the microwave background.

    These findings are scheduled to be published in the Sept. 1, 2006, edition of the Astrophysical Journal.

    Taken together, the data shows a shadow effect about one-fourth of what was predicted – an amount roughly equal in strength to natural variations previously seen in the microwave background across the entire sky.

    “Either it (the microwave background) isn’t coming from behind the clusters, which means the Big Bang is blown away, or … there is something else going on,” said Lieu. “One possibility is to say the clusters themselves are microwave emitting sources, either from an embedded point source or from a halo of microwave-emitting material that is part of the cluster environment.

    “Based on all that we know about radiation sources and halos around clusters, however, you wouldn’t expect to see this kind of emission. And it would be implausible to suggest that several clusters could all emit microwaves at just the right frequency and intensity to match the cosmic background radiation.”

  40. 40
    P. Phillips says:

    This last, from an e-mail response of Wallace Thornhill, regarding Berlinski’s statement on myths; he wrote me:

    “However, the problem with his view of myths, which is almost universal, is that they do have common truthful elements. We view them collectively as false because they relate to cosmic electrical events in the past that are totally outside our experience.

    “It requires a scientific approach to myth to uncover the truth. Only then will we recover our real history and that of the Earth. meanwhile geology and astronomy remain a modern fairy story (not a myth, because there is no truth in it). The era of myth-making occurred once and once only at the dawn of civilization. Civilization sprang up, ‘like a thunderclap’ on the ruins of a battered Earth.”

    Wal

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