Questions on the conventionality thesis and the one-way speed of light

The conventionality thesis and the asynchronous convention for the one-way speed of light (ASC) has been presented as a biblical creationist explanation for how light from the most distant sources in the cosmos reached Earth within the 6,000 years since the Creation, as determined from a straightforward reading of the Genesis account. There is no conflict with the true age of the universe because it simply is counted off by the years since creation.[1],[2],[3]

The conventionality thesis in Special Relativity relates to the synchronisation of clocks separated by a distance. It involves to the notion that the one-way speed of light, provided the two-way speed is c, can only be chosen by a convention, since it is impossible in principle to measure it. 

With respect to this subject, I address some issues raised from articles I have recently written on this subject.[4],[5],[6]

Innate bias

The first issue relates not so much to the science but to the mindset of the hearer when the topic is discussed. There seems to be in many of us an innate bias against accepting that the events (in light from stars, galaxies etc) we see in the cosmos are the same age as the earth and solar system. The idea is that all we see in the cosmos is occurring now, and not in some past epoch of time.  However due to our education among other factors we are biased into believing the starlight coming from the cosmos travels at a fixed speed of about 300,000 km/s and because of the distances involved it must have taken billions of years to reach Earth. We believe this even though it has never been measured.[7]

Last year I had the opportunity to share a PowerPoint talk titled “Can we see into the past?”[8] with a small group of friends who were all solidly biblical creationist in worldview. After I gave the PowerPoint presentation some questions were asked and one person, who does have some science training, said that he just could not get his head around it. I respect that but I believe it is a case where a little knowledge can be dangerous. In some cases a prior knowledge has led to a closely held belief, or an innate bias, which in turn can close off a person’s mind to new ideas without any logical reason. Such situations are well documented in science, particularly in fields that are undergoing revolutionary transitions. For example the case of phlogiston.[9]

Another man in that small group, who is physically blind and could not see my PowerPoint slides (so he did not have the advantage that the sighted people did), said that he had no problem understanding it. He said that he had had no science education and did not have any preconceived ideas (for example that the one-way speed of light must be finite, isotropic and equal to c, the measured two-way speed).

Continue reading

My current thinking on distant starlight

I suppose it had to come to this. Since 2003 I have considered many different potential solutions to the biblical-creationist distant-starlight problem. I presented a lecture in 2015 based on a 2003 summary of my five categories of where a solution might be found. In that list of categories I suspected that only timing convention and time dilation models had any hope of solving the problem.

By August 2015, when I gave the lecture, I had come to the conclusion that Jason Lisle’s Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC) model was better than my own Carmeli-Hartnett model.

In the years leading up to 2015 I had discovered several serious inconsistencies with Carmeli’s cosmology. Besides those, there did not exist a viable 5D (space-time-velocity) version that could be used to give a robust description of the early universe on a biblical timeline.

In 2003, I pointed out that there is a problem of the light-travel time within the Milky Way galaxy with white-hole gravitational-well ESC-based time-dilation cosmologies. They cannot provide sufficient time-dilation. That problem has not been solved, though Russ Humphreys has developed a much better model since his first ones. I suspect though that his current model is somewhat ad hoc in the details to get it all to work.

On this website you’ll find articles on my use of Carmeli’s cosmology. They will all remain, but note, that I no longer have much faith in such an approach.

So that brings me up to the present. I now believe that Lisle’s ASC model is the best solution by a long shot. It works when other ESC based time-dilation models fail. For example, the problem of the effects of the Curse in the universe, can be answered with the ASC model but not with a time-dilation model. I recommend Lisle’s new book if you are interested in a simple solution that works and is consistent with the 6-thousand-year history of the Bible.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has resolved the event horizon of a supermassive black hole

On April 10th the globally coordinated announcement was made of the first ever image of the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the distant galaxy Messier 87 (M87). The galaxy is at a distance of 55 million light-years and the supermassive black hole was confirmed to have a mass of 6.5 billion suns. See details of press release here.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration — was designed to capture images of supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies.

Figure 1: Using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the centre of galaxy M87, outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon. Credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

This is the work of many astronomers using millimetre wave VLBI radio-telescopes across the planet. By stitching together the power of 8 state-of-the-art mmWave radio-telescopes they essentially turned the planet into one giant radio-telescope. By using such a large telescope and millimetre wavelengths they gained never before obtained resolution to image the event horizon, which is about the diameter of our solar system.

Figure 2: Map of the EHT. Stations active in 2017 and 2018 are shown with connecting lines and labelled in yellow, sites in commission are labeleld in green, and legacy sites are labelled in red. Nearly redundant baselines are overlaying each other, i.e., to ALMA/APEX and SMA/JCMT. Such redundancy allows improvement in determining the amplitude calibration of the array.
Credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al

The results, so far, are consistent with all predictions of Einstein’s General Relativity theory.

From the biblical creationist perspective this is, yet again, good operational science. There is nothing new here that refutes the biblical timeline of about 6 thousand year because that is subject to historical science considerations. It is not an operational science question.

The distance to the galaxy is about 55 million light-years. Using the Einstein Synchrony Convention (ESC) (which assumes isotropic speed of light, c) the millimetre waves used in this measurement took 55 million years to reach Earth. But using the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC), where the incoming speed of light, one-way, is chosen at infinity, the black hole is essentially observed in real time. No delay. This is consistent with the biblical description of events in the cosmos. See Genesis 1:16-19, Psalm 33:9, and Isaiah 48:7,13.

The data was taken from the different telescopes and was assembled and processed over a period of about a year but those initial observations were taken over a period of 7 days in April of 2017. Assuming the ASC, over those days the supermassive black hole was “observed” in real time. In the same way over the 24-hour period Day 4 of Creation Week about 6000 years ago all the stars and galaxies (with black holes at their centres) were “observed” at the earth as God created them in real time (Genesis 1:16-19). God spoke and “it was so.”

The effects of the Curse visible in the cosmos present another biblical creationist starlight travel-time problem

Abstract: The notion that the Curse was applied to the whole universe creates another light travel-time problem for biblical creation. Even if we assume that God supernaturally instantly cursed all parts of the universe how do we see those effects now? Any biblical creation cosmology that assumes the ASC is the language of the Bible, which includes an infinite one-way speed of light to the observer on Earth, has an answer to this question. Yet, any cosmology that assumes the ESC is the language of the Bible, which includes the speed of light limited to c (approximately 300,000 km/s), appears to not be able to answer the question. This alone would appear to rule out all cosmologies that rely of the ESC as the language on the Bible.

Introduction

The Curse is an event that many Bible reading Christians know something about. We read in Genesis 3:14-17 that God cursed the earth after Adam and Eve sinned against Him by eating of the tree which He commanded them not to eat of. Their sin brought on them the serious consequence of death. God also cursed the creation, bringing about various forms of corruption, which resulted in life being much more difficult for Adam and Eve and the rest of all life on Earth. The Scriptures tell us that God cursed the whole creation—the whole universe. We may conclude this from Romans 5:12:

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world [Greek kosmos] through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men  because all sinned” (ESV, emphasis added)

The Greek word kosmos meaning ‘orderly arrangement’is translated ‘the world’ in this verse, but meaning the whole universe. (Incidentally, it is the word from which we drive our English word ‘cosmos’.) Thus it was not only humans that were cursed but the whole universe. This is standard biblical creationist doctrine. This conclusion is strengthened when we read Romans 8:19-23:

“For the creation [Greek ktisis] waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (ESV, emphases added)

In this passage the Greek word ktisis meaning ‘original formation’ is translated as ‘the creation’. From the context it has the meaning of the entire creation—animate and inanimate—with the exception of two sets of beings. From verse 23 we can conclude that the creation here does not include the saved children of God. Also it would not include the unbelieving humans as they are not eagerly waiting for the adoption as sons of God. It also cannot include the angels, because the good angels are not subject to futility and therefore the Curse. The bad angels ‘fell’ sometime before the Curse itself and many are kept in chains in prison (2 Peter 2:4) until the final judgement.  So the meaning is all other living creatures and all the physical universe. Continue reading

Can we see into the past?

Is it possible that when we look into the cosmos that we are seeing into the past?

Hubble Deep Field showing galaxies up to 10 billion light-years distant from Earth.

We hear all the time that we are looking into the past when we look out into space. But we can’t definitively say that! In the following I’ll explain why.

Astronomers say that because the speed of light is a finite value (c = 299,792.458 km/s ) it takes light 1 year to travel a distance of 1 light-year. On the surface of it that seems very reasonable.

That means that light leaving the star alpha Centauri, which is 4.3 light-years away, took 4.3 years to get to Earth and thus the information in that light is 4.3 years old by the time it gets to Earth. Thus they say we are looking back in time — into the past. And for distant galaxies this means we are looking back in time even billions of years.

But is that correct? Continue reading

Jason Lisle’s new book “The Physics of Einstein”

Today I have nearly finished reading Jason Lisle’s new book “The Physics of Einstein”. I highly recommend it to you if you ever wondered about any of the major questions it deals with:

  1. Does light from distant galaxies really take billions of years to reach Earth? 
  2. Is time-travel possible? 
  3. Are black holes real? 
  4. What are some of the weird effects of travelling at near the speed of light? 
  5. And how do we really know?  

The physics discovered by Albert Einstein allows us to answer all of these questions.  In this easy-to-read book, we learn how Einstein was able to deduce what happens when an object approaches the speed of light.  The results are as amazing as they are strange.  Designed for readers with no background in physics, this book explores one of the strangest and most fascinating branches of science.

Soon I will write a review of the book but before that I would strongly recommend you buy it and read it. It can be ordered from Jason’s website’s shop.

It is written for the layman and the sections that involve any mathematics are sectioned in boxes and can be skipped without losing the flow of the points being made.

The book explains in extensive detail, that a non-specialist can understand, the simplest solution to the biblical creationist starlight travel time problem.

By making the reasonable assumption, based on textual evidence, that the language used in the Bible for the timing of events, especially the creation of the stars, implicitly involves the scientifically valid Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC) the starlight travel-time problem disappears.

If the question of how do we see distant stars in an enormously large universe, billions of light-years in extension, has been a big problem for you, this book is a must read. Even if you only read the last 4 chapters of the book that deal with this question you would be greatly enlightened. If you are pressed for time, start with chapter 17 “The Curious Case of the One-Way Speed of Light”. But really you should read the whole book. The preceding chapters clearly explain the physics discovered by Einstein, which build the case for the arguments presented and the refutations of the criticisms against his main thesis.

New cosmologies converge on the ASC model

— a review of two cosmology papers presented at the International Conference on Creationism in 2018  (to be published in Journal of Creation)

Introduction

In 2001 Jason Lisle (under the pen name Robert Newton) introduced the idea of Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC) into the discussion amongst biblical creationists to solve the starlight travel-time problem.1 The ASC is a convention on clock synchronisation, or put another way, the conventionality of the simultaneity of distant events in spacetime.

This topic is relevant to the discussion of the creation of the stars in the universe on Day 4 of Creation week 6 thousand years ago. The ASC posits that an event occurs when an Earth observer sees, or could have seen, the event happen. And Lisle proposed that the ASC is the language used in the Bible. As such it leads to the initial simultaneous2 creation of all stars in the universe on Day 4, where, in principle, the event is timestamped3 as occurring when the starlight from all stars arrived on Earth for the first time. This means there is no light travel-time problem because the events were seen to occur (on Earth) simultaneously (or at least, within the period of one Earth day, that is, on Day 4). Therefore, there is no light travel-time problem.

In 2010 Lisle strengthened his original arguments with a discussion of the past light cone and Special Relativity.4 In that paper he introduced the ASC model, a model that uses the ASC. And his ASC model makes testable predictions.5

Lisle also carried further the notion of the one-way speed of light. Since the one-way speed of light cannot be measured it really has no physical meaning in the universe.6 Thus there is a free choice. And by Lisle’s choice of the ASC it follows that the incoming speed of light is infinite, and thus the outgoing speed must be ½ c (where c ≡ 299 792 458 m/s is the canonical isotropic—i.e. two-way—speed of light that we are very familiar with).7

Many people, biblical creationists included, have expressed disbelief, concern, and other emotions over the concept of the one-way speed of light being any different from the usually assumed isotropic speed c. Nevertheless it is important to note that concepts around the one-way speed of light are based on real physics.

The choice of a timing convention in no way affects any underlying physics. The physics is always the same no matter what convention one may choose.8 Einstein chose a value of the clock synchronisation parameter, known as the Reichenbach synchronization parameter (ε), in his equations for Special Relativity that defines the one-way speed of light as being equal to the two-way speed.9 Any value for the parameter ε between 0 and 1 may be chosen. Nature itself does not choose, nor impose any requirement on its value within this domain. The parameter represents our free choice of a timing convention. Hence we are free to choose any value of the Reichenbach synchronisation parameter ε, provided it is between 0 and 1. Einstein chose ε = ½ (ESC) and Lisle chose ε = 1 (ASC). Choosing a value for this parameter is in no way dissimilar to a choice of a different coordinate system. And regardless of which coordinate system one may choose the underlying physics is unaffected. What is different is only how we represent the physics in the different coordinate system. The equations of motion may be more complex in one coordinate system than in another but in all cases the physics is unaffected.10

Thus no amount of appealing to Maxwell’s equations (derived pre-Einstein)11 or any other well-known physics can refute the notion of free choice for the one-way speed of light, or more precisely, the conventionality thesis of distant simultaneity. Continue reading