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Cosmology Creation/evolution Meaning of life Physics

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself? Part 9

Part 9 of my review of the book: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself,” by Sean M. Carroll. Part 8 is found here.

Purpose without a Creator

The next chapter entitled “Emergent Purpose” is about finding some sort of ‘purpose’ as an emergent property of evolution. He is quite clear that evolution itself is undirected but suggests that we humans can find some purpose in it.

He starts out with a question “Why do giraffes have such long necks?” and gives 4 possible answers, 3 of which evolutionist would believe. Option 1 he declares incorrect, which is Lamarckian, yet actually closer to Darwin’s original idea. Options 2 is the common way of explaining neo-Darwinian evolution, with mutations conferring better fitness. Option 3 is about sexual selection and option 4 is in line with his overall message of the book.

“Given the laws of physics, and the initial state of the universe, and our location in the cosmos, collections of atoms in the shape of long-necked giraffes came into existence 14 billion years after the Big Bang.” (pp.291-2)

None of this sentence has any credibility. Only by assuming everything to be true in the evolution story from the big bang to current day could you write this. So it is not a science statement but a theological statement. He says it avoids any particular evolutionary story, but it is not hard to imagine that the words “came into existence” does not mean at the hands of the Creator, but rather is a big bang. Otherwise there would be no need to start in the big bang, nor include the words “our location in the cosmos”. He says this is a poetic-naturalism way of speaking about emergent properties of the biological world. But that could only be true if you could demonstrate experimentally that each requirement in the statement is true.

Then from this sort of story, which he calls “the fundamental description of reality” (p.292) because of the big bang, expansion of the universe and the increase in entropy with time, he says

“… these emergent pictures invoke words like ‘purpose’ and ‘adaptation,’ even though those ideas are nowhere to be found in the underlying mechanistic behavior of reality” (p.293)

And

“How could evolution, which itself is ultimately purely physical, bring these utterly new kinds of things into existence? It’s a natural thing to worry about. The process of evolution is unplanned and unguided.”

“There is no general principle along the lines of ‘new kinds of things cannot naturally arise in the course of undirected evolution.’ Things like ‘stars’ and ‘galaxies’ come to be in a universe where they formerly didn’t exist. Why not purposes and information?” (p.293)

Categories
Chemistry Creation/evolution Physics Science

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself? Part 8

Part 8 of my review of the book: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself,” by Sean M. Carroll. Part 7 is found here.

Darwinian Evolution

In his next chapter “Evolution’s Bootstraps” Carroll starts by describing Richard Lenski’s experiment, which he labels as evolutionary biology. I am thinking that Carroll must have gotten the creationist message that evolution (in the goo-to-you sense) cannot be science because there is not one experimental demonstration of any process which changes microbes into molecular biologists. I say this because he states:

“Evolution is the idea that provides the bridge from abiogenesis to the grand pageant of life on Earth today. There is no question that it’s a science: evolutionary biologists formulate hypotheses, define likelihoods of different outcomes under competing hypotheses, and collect data to update our credences in those hypotheses.” (p.273, emphasis added)

In the first sentence he uses one definition for the word ‘evolution’ (the bridge from abiogenesis to the grand pageant of life) but in the following sentence it is different (mutations and selection though not explicitly stated). After the word ‘science’ what follows implies ‘evolution’ is observable in the lab, by carrying out experimental science. This is changing of the definition is called equivocation, and demonstrates very poor logic.

Very strangely Carroll does not see the point he makes himself in terms of the weakness of equivocating on the meaning of the word evolution when he admits that chemists and physicists have an advantage over evolutionary biologists because they can perform repeated experiments in their labs. The latter defines experimental science but nowhere in his statement (above) does he indicate that the evolutionary biologist carries out an experiment that “provides the bridge from abiogenesis to the grand pageant of life”.

The data collecting and formulating of hypotheses is in relation to what they believe happened in the past. At best this is historical science, a type of forensic science that tries to unravel the sequence of unseen past events. But experimental science or operational science, which is the usual definition used for science, depends on repeatable experiments to test hypotheses. This the evolutionary biologist cannot do and he admits it.

“It would be very hard to set up a laboratory experiment to see Darwinian evolution in action, just as it would be hard to create a new universe.” (p.273) (emphasis added)

Nearly correct, but not quite! It would be not “hard” but impossible. But like all evolutionists, he then equivocates at this point saying:

“But it’s not impossible. (At least for evolution: we still don’t know how to create new universes.)” (p.273)

Categories
Age of the Earth Belief in God Cosmology Creation/evolution Meaning of life Physics Science

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself? Part 4

Part 4 of my review of the book: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself,” by Sean M. Carroll. Part 3 is found here.

Understanding the World

Carroll devotes a few chapters to assessing how well we understand the world. He introduces us to Rev. Thomas Bayes who, in the latter part of his life, studied probability. He was published posthumously on the subject. His work has become widely used in mathematics, principally statistics, and also in physics. The subject has become to be known as Bayesian inference or Bayesian probability.

Bayes’ main idea involves how to treat the probability of a proposal being correct in the light of new evidence becoming available. In physics we rely on what we already know, or what we think we have established as foundational and we build upon that. When we get new information that could change our view we need to update what we believe is the probability of the hypothesis being correct in light of that new information. That probability is what is called a credence, or the degree of belief that we hold that we are correct.

So Bayesian inference attempts to apply a quantitative value to what we might infer from our attempts to explain the physical world. It is the basis of scientific investigation. In terms of experimental discoveries it is easy to see how this might apply. We can never prove any hypothesis or theory correct. All we can hope to do is update our credence, meaning to increase the probability of a theory being correct.  In physics a threshold is established of 5σ (5 sigma) above which it is said that a discovery has been made. Statistically that is like saying there is only 1 in a 3.5 million chance that the signal isn’t real and thus the theory is wrong. That is a very low probability indeed. But some discoveries have been made at the level of 3σ or less.I know of one hypothesis that had a 6σ probability yet it turned out to be wrong.2

But things don’t always work out to be correct, even with a statistical probability above 5σ. Any hypothesis may be refuted but it can never be proven. Do you remember the claim of faster than light neutrinos in 2011? The OPERA team’s experimental results indicated a 6σ level of confidence, which is much higher than the 5σ usually required for new particle discoveries. But in the following year, as many expected (because we don’t expect any particle to break the speed of light limit), an error was found in the experimental analysis resulting from a loose fibre optic cable, and that meant those neutrinos obeyed the universal speed limit. When the new information came in the Bayesian credence could be updated to nearly zero.

Categories
astronomy Cosmology Creation/evolution hermeneutics Physics

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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astronomy Cosmology hermeneutics Physics

More on our eternal universe

Journal of Creation Volume 31 Issue 1 2017

In Our eternal universe I laid out the biblical and scientific case for an eternal created universe sustained by the Creator.  That article was published in the Journal of Creation 30(3):104–109, December 2016, which has a wider readership than here, my personal web/blog site. And it attracted some comments via Letters to the Editor.

The ‘standard’ biblical creationist view has been that at the New Heaven and New Earth stage at some point in the future God wipes out the whole starry heavens and recreates a new universe of stars and galaxies. I am convinced the Creator will renovate the earth and its atmospheric heavens in that event but what do the scriptures really tell us?

Below I reproduce the letters arguing against my hypothesis and my responses.

Letter I

J. Creation 31(1) page 41 and page 42

Letter II

J. Creation 31(1) page 43 and page 44

After you have read both sides of the debate I welcome your comments below.

Related Reading

Categories
Age of the Earth Aliens astronomy Creation/evolution Meaning of life

Why search for life in outer space?

dawn-at-ceres
Figure 1: A gamma ray and neutron detector on board Dawn was used to determine the elements in the subsurface of the dwarf planet. It found water on the dwarf planet Ceres, located in the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars. Ceres. Credit: LA Times

In a recent LA Times news item it was reported that NASA’s Dawn spacecraft mission found life’s building blocks on the dwarf planet Ceres.1  However, the reality is that all that was found are possibly some biochemical molecules, molecules that are pre-cursor molecules to form the more complex chemistry in living cells.

Organic molecules are carbon based molecules and the chemistry of life is a special subset of those but from the spacecraft data no biochemical molecules were identified.  Those would be molecules like carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids.

The news item reports that this new spacecraft

… using its Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer instrument, … has spotted organics lying on the surface.1

That is the only real fact in the report, that organic molecules of some sort have been found on Ceres.

While the scientists aren’t sure exactly what the compounds are, the fingerprint is characteristic of material containing carbon-hydrogen bonds, and may include components like methyl and methylene.(emphasis added)

But they don’t even know what the molecules are, and the research is hyped up in hope that scientists may find life–even just microbes–living on worlds other than our own.

We can now add this dwarf planet Ceres to other ‘space rocks’ that have been so hyped in the past few years in the quest to find life out there in the solar system. Examples are Mars,2 Enceladus (the sixth-largest moon of Saturn),3 Titan (the largest moon of Saturn),4,5 Europa (one of the 4 Galilean moons of Jupiter),6 and the asteroids.7

Categories
Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics

Quantum theory to eliminate the beginning of the Universe

Genesis begins with “In the beginning God …”. But those who deny the creation of the Universe by God, the self-existent Creator, as described in Genesis–the book of beginnings–the first book of the Bible, would very much like to eliminate the beginning itself.

singularity
Mathematical illustration of a fictional singularity

I have reported before on various attempts to eliminate the beginning, even a big bang beginning in a singularity.1,2 Those who do attempt such a thing, think if they can find a mathematical description by way of some quantum gravity theory then it must also follow that the Creator is not needed and that that somehow eliminates Him.  As an example of this the following was stated in 2015 on the Phys.org news site in relation to some theoretical research, which I have previously reported1 on, but it is worth reiterating. It was stated that

The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.3 (emphases added)

The desire is there for an eternal universe because it eliminates the Creator. What is interesting in this case is that it also intends to eliminate the need for dark energy and dark matter, which I have long said are fudge factors. There is no laboratory evidence for their existence; they are only invoked in cosmology and astrophysics because the standard model just does not describe what we observe without them. This is an admission that that is the case.

The other big big bang problem is the singularity itself. No one has a clue about the physics that should have operated if the fictional singularity was once reality. The mathematical descriptions used in modern cosmology—developed from Einstein’s general relativity—just don’t work when time and space no longer exist as is believed to be the case in the alleged singularity.4

Categories
astronomy Cosmology Physics

Now the expansion of the universe is not accelerating

In 2011 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, as part of two separate teams which published their results around 1998 that they claimed showed that the Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. Also they claimed the existence of some sort of mysterious ‘dark energy’ that was driving the expansion at a faster and faster rate.

Hubble image of supernova remnant N 49 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Hubble image of supernova remnant N 49 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The interpretation of the 1998 data depended heavily on the big bang cosmological theory they applied and the assumption that it was the correct theory to describe the structure and time evolution of the Universe. It also depended heavily on the assumption that the type Ia supernova explosions that they used are reliable standard “light bulbs”, i.e. that those stellar explosions all were accurately chosen to have the same characteristic intrinsic absolute brightness.1 The latter, however, we now know is not the case.2

It has been shown that the stellar masses of the stars that result in the type Ia class of supernova are not so well-defined that they all fall within a narrow range as to give a clear standard in terms of the intrinsic brightness of the resulting explosions and hence the type Ia are not a uniform reference. Also as I have previously indicated circular reasoning was employed in the choice of the candidate supernova to be considered.2,3 The cosmology under test was used to choose the candidate Ia supernovae and then those chosen were used to test the same cosmology.

A new study, published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, on a data set ten times larger than the original studies used (5 years ago) has been carried out.4

Now, a team of scientists led by Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University’s Department of Physics has cast doubt on this standard cosmological concept. Making use of a vastly increased data set – a catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae, more than ten times the original sample size – the researchers have found that the evidence for acceleration may be flimsier than previously thought, with the data being consistent with a constant rate of expansion. (emphasis added)

Categories
astronomy Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics

A cosmic dragonfly

A galaxy, known as Dragonfly 44, first detected in 2015 using the Dragonfly Telephoto Array in New Mexico by Professor Peter van Dokkum is now claimed to be made of 99.99% dark matter.1 It is a galaxy where very few stars can be seen. It took a two-hour exposure using one of the very biggest telescopes on Earth, one of the Gemini telescopes at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to get a picture of this wispy galaxy as shown in Fig. 1 below.

cosmic-dragonfly
Figure 1: Astronomers photographed the ultradiffuse galaxy Dragonfly 44 using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) on the 8-meter Gemini North telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Credit: Pieter van Dokkum, Roberto Abraham, Gemini Observatory/AURA

Professor van Dokkum from the Astronomy Department and the Physics Department of Yale University is not only an astrophysicist but also a photographer of insects, particularly dragonflies.It is a strange coincidence, or is it, to find that one of his particular interests in the cosmos are these ultradiffuse, or “fluffy” galaxies. One of them is named Dragonfly 44, which van Dokkum and team determined to be at a distance of 300 million light-years from Earth, in the Coma Cluster.3  That distance is easily close enough for a big telescope to see, which can see galaxies at billions of light-year distances but no one had previously noticed these fluffy galaxies before even though they are ‘so close’.

Dragonfly 44 was like “a dirty smudge on a photo of deep space.”1 And it was one of the largest and brightest galaxies of those they found. From its distance its size was determined and it was concluded that it is as big as our Milky Way galaxy, yet it only emits about 1 percent as much light. So I suppose to van Dokkum the galaxy is reminiscent of the very fragile, lightweight and transparent wings of dragonflies he likes to photograph.

Categories
Belief in God Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics

Does Dark Matter matter?

Cosmology and astrophysics nowadays is dominated by the need for the inclusion of Dark Matter at every scale, from galaxy size, to cluster size, to super-cluster size, to the size of the whole Universe. It is needed at every scale size to get the physics to agree with the observational data. After 50 years of looking in local laboratory experiments there has not been a single trace of it found anywhere. And it would not be overstating the case to say Dark Matter is in serious crisis!

dm-livesThis situation reminds me of a current political trend in America, that is, “Black Lives Matter”, which has turned into a major movement. The proponents of it, describe it as a response to virulent anti-Black racism that they claim permeates the US society.

With that in mind, and in response to a discussion on Dark Matter, a friend sent me this graphic (see Fig. 1), quite obviously as a joke. It is funny but on another level it highlights a problem in the cosmology/ astrophysics society that is not so funny. The problem is that the majority are saying “Dark Matter Lives”. And they are saying that despite the actual experimental evidence to the contrary. In their minds it only “lives” because without it the standard paradigm is “dead”.

Big bang cosmology and the dynamics of galaxies and clusters of galaxies require that “Dark Matter Lives”. Those who voice the obvious fact that Dark Matter is not real, or, should I say, is “dead”, are sidelined or ridiculed. The secular physics community hold that those who express such opinions are expressing a sort of anti-science bias because it ultimately involves a rejection of the big bang paradigm.

Recently the Dark Matter crisis has deepened even more. The admission by a group of theoretical physicists that the physics theory called supersymmetry (SUSY) has been all but disproven by 10 years of experimental searching with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has made matter worse.1  That meant one of the last hopes of a dark matter particle was the expected lowest mass supersymmetric particle, which has not been detected. Other searches for dark matter particles among neutrinos have also not been successful. After 50 years of searching no Dark Matter has ever been found. It existence is purely a matter of faith.