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).

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The conventionality thesis on the synchronisation of clocks separated by distance

I recently read the book “Concepts of Simultaneity” by Max Jammer[1] where Jammer presents the history of concepts of simultaneity. Primarily he starts with the Greek philosophers and works through to the modern age—with philosophers and physicists. The book outlines that in regards to the concept of simultaneity the most significant developments occurred in the past 110 years, starting with Albert Einstein when he published his famous paper on Special Relativity in 1905.

Time is intrinsically linked with simultaneity. Simultaneity involves how we might synchronise distant clocks with our own local clocks. This issue then has an enormous bearing on some significant philosophical questions. How do we measure the speed of light coming from the distant cosmos? How old is the universe? How do we know how old the universe is?

We accept as fact, even consider it as empirical fact, something that is actually not fact at all but conventional. I explain below. But an incorrectly held notion has led to the idea that we can definitively know how old the universe is. Since we know the speed of light is finite (not infinite) and the universe is enormously large, then it is concluded that it must have taken light billions of years to travel to Earth from the distant cosmos. From that it follows that both theist and atheist have incorrectly concluded that the biblical timeline cannot be correct. The atheists even use this as an argument against the existence of the Creator.

In classical (Newtonian) physics, up to several hundred years before Einstein and any measurement of the speed of light, a distant event was considered simultaneous with a local event if the local observer saw them occur at the same time, as measured by his local clock. This is because the speed of light was assumed to be infinite. There was no delay between the light leaving its source and its reception at the observer. But that all changed.

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Israel’s lunar lander crashed on the moon

You may have heard of the epic failure of the Israeli moon lander “Beresheet” on Thursday April 12. Interestingly it was named after the first word that appears in the Bible in Genesis 1:1 – Beresheet, meaning “in the beginning”.

Below is a picture the lunar lander took just before it crashed.

Final shot from the Beresheet lander. Image Credit: SpaceIL 

The engine failed to reignite at 10 km above the lunar surface and the spacecraft crashed.

But note there are no stars visible in the dark lunar sky. What do the conspiracy theorists say about this one? This was one of the arguments that allegedly proved that man did not go to the moon under the NASA Apollo program. But it is due to the contrast of the dark sky and the surface of the moon. The starlight is too weak to be visible in the presence of the strong reflection of the sun’s light from the lunar surface.

The moon shot was funded by the company SpaceIL. It is a private company. Along with private donors it spent US$100 million on the attempt. So do the conspiracy theorist now say that all those non-NASA, non-government people also are in league with NASA conspiring a fake lunar mission? It becomes even more ridiculous.

Beresheet lander and an entire Hebrew Bible that are now lying on the lunar surface
(in pieces maybe). Image Credit: SPACEIL/GETTY

This moon landing (not controlled) means that Israel became the seventh nation to insert a probe into lunar orbit (on April 4) and the fifth nation to send a robot to the moon’s surface. It was a very good attempt because it only cost a mere $100 million, a far cry cheaper than the expensive NASA missions.

Also as part of the payload there was a Hebrew bible, which now must be on the moon. So those on the next mission to the moon will have something to read about how God created the moon on the 4th day of Creation only about 6000 years ago.

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.

How does a biblical creationist explain the fact that we see the sun?

Figure 1: The sun is 150 million km from Earth.

Genesis chapter 1 tells us that God created the sun on the 4th Day of Creation week and the chronology of the Bible puts that about 6 thousand years ago.

The sun is at a distance of about 150 million km and that means light travelling at about 300,000 km/s would take about 8.3 minutes to travel from the surface–the photosphere–to Earth.

But doesn’t the very existence of the sun present a problem for biblical creation? The idea is that the sun is no more than 6 thousand years old. Then how does light reach Earth in that short period of time?

No problem you say! It only takes 8.3 minutes to get to Earth so it easily fits into the 24-hour period of the Creation Day 4. And certainly into the 6 thousand years that have passed since Creation. You say there is no problem there.

In relation to the stars and galaxies, millions and billions of light-years distant, it is admitted by biblical creationists that there is a problem–a starlight travel-time problem–which some have suggested potential solutions for.

My current view is that the ASC model is by far the simplest solution to that problem (see list below). Continue reading

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

Einstein’s physics says there is no biblical creationist starlight travel-time problem

Review of the book “The Physics of Einstein” by Jason Lisle

Introduction

I would say that there is no other biblical creationist book like this on the physics of Einstein. Astrophysicist Jason Lisle explains the subject matter in a style that any educated non-specialist could understand. However, there are sections that contain equations, which are important, but they are sectioned off into boxes so that one may skip those without loss of the train of thought.

In the book Lisle addresses questions such as:

“Is it possible to travel faster than the speed of light? Will future human beings build spaceships that can travel at ‘warp’ speed like in Star Trek? Is time travel possible? If so, could we ever travel back in time to prevent a catastrophe from occurring? What does E = mc2 really mean? What are black holes, and do they really exist? What would happen to a person who fell into a black hole, and how do we know? Is the universe really expanding? How long does it take starlight to travel from distant galaxies to Earth? Does this distant starlight require the universe to be billions of years old?” (p.7)


Figure 1: The Physics of Einstein

The book starts with a short history of Einstein and his discoveries in physics. Though Einstein never performed any physical experiments to test his theory of relativity, today it is one of the most well established theories of science.

One small initial criticism I would make is how Lisle uses the word ‘prove’ in relation to relativity theory. He does qualify what he means:

“My point here is that relativity, unlike most branches of science, is actually provable, within the context of its foundational premises” (p.9)

I think it is unfortunate that he was not clear enough on this. He writes that the proofs involve basic logic, basic geometry and basic mathematics. This is a different sense to experimentally testing a theory. In an experimental sense no theory can ever be proved. It can be tested and even disproven, but never proven. Even so, relativity—both the special and general theories—has been extensively tested on Earth and in space and has be found to be exquisitely consistent with all results.  Nevertheless, there is a domain where it is expected to break down, and that is at the quantum level.

Newton and Maxwell

Chapter 1 starts out with a discussion of Newtonian physics, involving gravitation as well as the three laws of motion. Newton realised that all motion is relative, that is, that any speed and direction of a particle is only meaningful when quoted with respect to a particular observer. And this sets the scene for the rest of the book. One important aspect of that is ‘reference frames’. The outcome of any experiment will always be the same for all inertial reference frames, though the measured values may vary. An inertial reference frame is one where the observer is not accelerating—but either stationary or moving in a straight line. So Newton’s laws of motion apply only to inertial reference frames. The Earth is not an inertial reference frame but for some applications it is approximated as such.

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