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 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

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.

Update on the ASC model and the one-way speed of light

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. For full understanding of those issues read here, here and/or watch this.  With that came the notion of the one-way speed of light. Many people, creationists included, have since expressed disbelief, concern, and other emotions over the concept, but what is important to say at this point is that it is based on real physics. The point is that the one-way speed of light cannot be measured and as a result it really has no physical meaning in the universe. And this might sound crazy, but as a result, we are free to choose its value. In the ASC model, proposed by Lisle, and supported by myself, the incoming speed of light is chosen as infinite and the outgoing speed as ½ c (where c ≡ 299 792 458 m/s is the canonical speed of light that we are nowadays familiar with).

I note that at the 2018 International Conference on Creationism (ICC) two papers were presented that largely boil down to the same model that Lisle originally presented. Those papers are

  1. T.G. Tenev, J. Baumgardner, M.F. Horstemeyer, A solution for the distant starlight problem using Creation Time Coordinates. (PDF available here)
  2. P.W. Dennis, Consistent young earth relativistic cosmology  (PDF available here)

This is all quite significant because, since 2001, I have largely supported the ideas that Dr Lisle has presented. Others within the creationist community have ridiculed them. Personally I now take the position that a biblical creationist model based on the ASC or at least the concept of defining an initial creation scenario which involves the ASC or a variant of that, such as Tenev et al have suggested in their paper, is the best solution to the creationist starlight travel time problem. In such a case, there is no problem.

Many months ago I received a paper wherein the authors attempted to show that the one-way speed of light could be measured by an experiment sending a light signal around a ring bouncing it off a few mirrors.  (See the figure to the right) But any such experimenter who thinks it does that assumes the conclusion (begs the question) by not properly understanding the physics and the underlying assumptions of such an experiment.  There are components (relative to the Source measured at the Timer) of outbound and inbound light vectors that must be considered. So no such experiment is ever only one way, it is always two-way, and as such it can never measure the one-way speed of light. (Besides the ASC is a convention, it is not something that can be refuted. We use a convention to define the basis under which we make a measurement, not the reverse.)

The authors of the same paper(s) also must have sent it to Dr Lisle for a review. He sent me his response to their paper(s) and I publish it below with his permission. Continue reading

Synopsis: A biblical creationist cosmogony (Japanese translation)

The starlight-travel-time problem has been a difficult issue for biblical creationists for a long time. Big Bang cosmologists also have their own starlight-travel-time problem but creationists have proposed various solutions to this problem in the past decade or more. Recently I proposed an expansion on a solution, first proposed by Jason Lisle, in an article entitled “A biblical creationist cosmogony.” It is somewhat technical so I thought I’d write a very short layman summary here.

星の光が届く時間の問題は、聖書的創造論者にとって長い間難題でした。ビッグバン宇宙論者にとってもやはり星の光が届く時間は難題となっています。しかし創造論者は、過去数十年にわたって、この難題に対する答をいく通りか提案してきました。近年私が提案しているのは、最初にジェーソン・ライルが提案した論文「聖書的創造論者の宇宙論」を発展させたものです。これは多少専門的なので、一般向けにこれを説明しようと考えました。

Hubble Deep Field: Extremely distant galaxies on the edge of the visible universe. Credit: NASA/Hubble

ハッブル深部:観測可能な宇宙の端にある。非常に遠い銀河。提供・NASA

創造主が、創世記1章に記されている順序通りにご自身がすべてを創造したなら、そこに記されているすべての出来事は、その示す通りに約6000年前に24時間を1日とする連続した6日間で起こったはずです。ライルは、これらの出来事(星の創造)は光が最初に地球に到達した時点、あるいは、仮に地上に観測者がいた場合にその観測者が光を最初に目にした時点で起こったと提案しました。その要点は、星や銀河の創造で、ある光は100億光年以上もの距離から到達したというものです。もし私たちが観測者の視点(どう見えるか)のみを考慮するなら、これらの銀河やすべての星の光が最初に届いたのは、創造の第4日のどこかの時点です。

もし、光の速度は一定(c)であるという視点からこれを見れば、光は1年で1光年の距離を進むので、遠い星の光は100億年以上もかけて地球に到達したということになります。したがって、この視点から宇宙を考えるなら、すべての銀河は創造主が創造の第1日に地球を創造するはるか前に造られたということになります。しかし、これも単に観測者の視点(どう見えるか)の問題なのです。「光の速度は一定(c)である」という仮定は、(始点と終点にある)複数の時計の時刻が一致していることを想定しています。私たちは同様に、これとは別の想定、すべての出来事は観測者が目撃した時点で起こったとする想定を選ぶことができるのです。そうすると、「新しく」造られた星々や銀河の光が、創造の第4日に地球に到達したのです。それは、本当にこれらの銀河が造られた時に発せられた最初の光です。 Continue reading

Lecture: A biblical creationist cosmogony in Japan

An illustrated lecture I presented on March 19th, 2017, at Saidaiji Christian Church in Okayama, Japan. It was translated into Japanese by Mr Toru Yasui. The lecture covers the issue of the need to assume a worldview before we can interpret any observational data from the cosmos. Two worldviews are contrasted: The biblical creation worldview and the pagan big bang worldview. Biblical creation cosmogonies are explained and how they provide an answer to how we see distant starlight, from galaxies billions of light-years distant, in a 6000 year old universe. Running time 1 hour 14 minutes.

Recommended Reading

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Questions on the ASC model

The following I received in an email in relation to the ASC model. The ASC model, I believe, answers the biblical creationist starlight-travel-time problem. Actually it eliminates it, because there is no light-travel problem, of any sort, in that biblical cosmogony. I do agree though that people not familiar with ideas of relativity and the speed of light measurement may have confusion or misunderstandings on this topic. The writer’s words are in blue text and my responses in grey.

Hello.  I appreciate greatly your ongoing contribution to the creation-science cause.  However, I find I just don’t get ASC. I’m sure the following will expose a misunderstanding, but when you suggest ideas like celestial events being ”time-stamped” only when seen on Earth, that comes across as if God really created the stars earlier than Day 4, but their light was only visible on Earth on Day 4.  ASC also sounds to me like it’s not describing actual reality, but only appearances. Thus it seems (again, to my confused perspective) that straightforward biblical statements about actual celestial events are not trustworthy.

Firstly let me define ASC model. It is the biblical creation model where the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC) is assumed as the clock synchrony convention for timing all events. The ASC model was developed by Jason Lisle (references below) and I have developed my own model as an extension of his using the exact same ASC convention.

If starlight travel is to fit within 6 Earth-days, then it confuses me even further when you say that the ASC model doesn’t require time dilation.

I suspect you may tell me that my reasoning “assumes the ESC model,” as I’ve read you telling several others.  In case you would say the same to me, I don’t see how that could be the case, since I’d never heard of the ESC before an hour ago.  No, my only assumption here is that Genesis statements about celestial events are statements about actual reality, not mere “time-stamps.”  I don’t see how the ASC model can be squared with Exodus 20:11.

sun-big-solar-flare-100910-02

Massive solar flare imaged with NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: NASA

Quite obviously not having heard the term, or even the reason, for something does not exclude the use of it from our experience as it could be something we have been taught all our lives but never known what it was called. Does the average person, who keeps their food cool in a refrigerator, actually know why it preserves food better than being left in a room temperature box? And does the average person even know the term ‘thermodynamics’ and how it works? Have they ever heard of ‘Gibbs free energy’ without which the fridge couldn’t do any ‘work’? Do they even know that refrigerators do ‘work’? Ignorance is not necessarily a valid argument.

Just never having heard the expression “Einstein Synchrony Convention (or ESC)” does not mean that a person doesn’t automatically assume it when thinking about an event connected to the reception of a light signal.

When the light from this massive solar flare left the sun we had our eyes closed but when we opened them, 8.3 minutes later, the light entered our eyes and we saw it at the moment of the eruption.” Continue reading