Stupid Creationist Quote of the Day

Over at Red State Rable I found a link to this newsletter which contains a priceless quote:

Recently, Dr. Russell Humphreys, as part of the ICR COSMOS program, reported that he has successfully developed a new solution to Einstein’s equation of general relativity which lays a foundation for a new creationist cosmology. His solution is based on using boundary conditions which place earth at the center of the heavens rather than at some insignificant position in a universe with no center or outer boundary. He had reported earlier in Starlight and Time that time would be slowed dramatically near the center of such a cosmos because of the gravitational effects of the mass of stars surrounding earth. In other words, a day on earth would be equivalent to millions or billions of years at the stars far from earth, resulting in sufficient time for their light to reach earth in only thousands of years of earth time. Dr. Humphreys has now formulated his model into predictive equations which can be used to explain other observations and validate his solution, such as the red shifts of stars, the rotation of galaxies, and the “Pioneer Anomaly.” He hopes soon to be able to explain the rapid formation of stars during the fourth day of creation, the source of cosmic background radiation, how we can see post- Fall events like exploding stars and colliding galaxies, and why all galaxies look the same regardless of distance.

Having a privileged frame of reference by placing the earth at the center of the “heavens” (afarensis thought the universe was isotropic which would make it hard to find the exact center) seems to me to defeat the whole point of relativity, but I could be wrong…
Update: Further research indicates this has been around for awhile. You can find more here. Apparently, even the OEC think the idea is flatly wrong…

22 Responses

  1. “In other words, a day on earth would be equivalent to millions or billions of years at the stars far from earth, resulting in sufficient time for their light to reach earth in only thousands of years of earth time.”
    Amazing how often creationist physicists reach this conclusion. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that this helps bring Genesis in line with modern cosmology.
    And if I understand a book I just read by Paul Davies correctly, the universe is not regarded by anyone serious about the field to have a “center.”
    (Shakes head, scratches groin, goes back to brooding over Tour de France doping scandals)

  2. what can a person say, It is hard to imagine ingnorance as an art form but there it is in black and white.

  3. the simple fact is that there is nothing anywhere in the bible that indicates the earth is the center of the universe. anyone who says different is lying.

  4. Yeah, that was my point, the universe looks the same no matter where you are. I’m no expert on relativity but I think it rules out a universe with the kind of boundaries the creationists seem to want.

  5. No, I think you can cobble up a cosmology with a center without breaking relativity.
    While we can’t have a privileged or preferred reference frame (i.e absolute rest), a screwy topology (perhaps with lower dimension) could possibly break the symmetry and pick a special>/i> frame.
    [After all, that is what the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) does in our universe – you can observe if you are at rest with respect to incoming isotropic CMBR, or moving with respect to it in which case it looks anisotropic. But moving with the CMBR frame is not absolute rest, it is relative.]
    But such a universe is not what we see.

  6. a screwy topology (perhaps with lower dimension)

    A bit got omitted; it was meant to say “a screwy topology (perhaps with lower dimension, say like a rotating disc)”.

  7. I suggest looking at the Wikipedia article “Hollow earth”, in particular the section on “Concave hollow Earths”:

    In a trivial sense, of course, one can always define a coordinate transformation such that the interior of the Earth becomes “exterior” and the exterior becomes “interior”. (For example, in spherical coordinates, let radius r go to R²/r where R is the Earth’s radius.) Such transformations would require corresponding changes to the forms of physical laws; the consensus suggests that such theories tend towards sophistry.

  8. It’s sad that creats have to lie about Earth being the center of the universe just to protect the fragile ego of their imaginary friend.

  9. For centuries, astronomers tried to reconcile the motion of the bodies in the heavens with the earth at its center. Each one of them failed in one way or another. When a heliocentric universe was proposed, everything fell nicely into place. So nicely, that things like “retrograde motion” and “wanderers” – aka planets were forgotten or given different meanings. Now, time has passed, and it has been long enough that someone can propose an earth centric universe again. They might as well make it flat as well…

  10. Pfff. Idiots.
    *I’m* the center of the universe. It’s obvious, really: everywhere I go, there I am.

  11. Do you suppose that Dr Humphreys is using the approximation that Newtonian mechanics makes for extended bodies, that is, that an object can be treated as if the entire mass is concentrated at the center of mass of the object? Of couurse this works if the size of the object is small relative to the system size, and more importantly, only at some considerable distance from the object. It looks like he thinks the entire mass of the universe can be treated as concentrated at the center of the universe… fine, for measurements outside the universe, I’d say, if you can locate a center, and get outside the universe.
    I wonder if Humphreys thinks that an object at the center of the earth experiences the effect of the entire mass of the earth as located right there?

  12. Hi Bob, I’m still working my way through everything I have found on the subject and since I’m not a physicist the going is slow. Bearing that in mind, this is from a critique of Humphreys:

    Confining our attention to universes which are spherically symmetric about Earth, there are two classes of bounded universes: those
    with a boundary within the Earth’s particle horizon, and those for which the boundary is more distant than the particle horizon. The presence of a boundary is manifestly irrelevant in the latter case, since gravitational influences from the matter distribution beyond the boundary, travelling at the speed of light,16 have not yet reached Earth. The observed
    interior properties of such a universe cannot depend in any way on the presence or absence of matter beyond the horizon. The standard Big Bang model is consequently an accurate description of what we are able to observe in such bounded universes, and it is for this reason that cosmology theorists do not worry about the very large-scale inhomogeneity of the Universe. Starlight and Time proposes that the boundary is within Earth’s particle horizon. This can be seen from the low value of the comoving radius of the edge proposed in its example model17 (which is actually too low, corresponding to a redshift of Zedge = 1.375, well below the largest redshifts observed for discrete objects, around Zmax » 5),6 and from its appeal to an optically thick boundary to preserve the thermal character of the observed cosmic microwave background radiation (this is not necessary if the boundary is beyond the particle horizon). Thus, in Humphreys’ model, there is sufficient time for gravitational influences from the matter distribution (or lack thereof) beyond the boundary to produce detectible effects at Earth. What are these effects? It is easy to show that, in fact, there are none. The arguments of Starlight and Time on this score are basically Newtonian, so we will first disprove this thesis using Newtonian arguments and only then cite the corresponding results from General Relativity.

    (from here).
    Humphreys, in a later paper says:

    A centre of mass is essential to my theory. The centre
    is gravitationally lower than the rest of the Universe, so
    gravitational forces point downward toward it. The
    resulting gravitational potential energy differences from
    place to place in the Universe affect space-time and clocks,
    as I explain in my book. I will show that in the early phases
    of the expansion of space, those differences were so great
    that they produced a spherical zone around the centre in
    which time did not exist. This zone was deep inside the
    event horizon and not connected to it. I demonstrate the
    existence of the timeless zone in sections 3 through 6 by
    analysing the mathematical foundation of my theory, a
    space-time metric published in 1961 by theoretical physicist
    Oskar Klein.6 According to the Klein metric, as the
    expansion proceeded, the timeless zone shrank until it
    disappeared at the centre. As section 9 will make clear,
    objects at the centre (such as the Earth) emerged from the
    timeless zone last of all, thus becoming the youngest things
    in the Universe.

    Hope that answers your question. At any rate I haven’t finished reading and absorbing it all so I may have missed the point of your question…

  13. Um, I am not sufficiently versed in general relativity to dig into and critique Humphreys, assuming he is really using it properly. I don’t think I’m going to bother to look (and the pdf’s were so slow leading :-).
    But I think his Wikipedia page is revealing.
    1. Humphreys worked in nuclear physics, not cosmology.
    2. His model is, appearance to the contrary, not geocentric in the religious “center of the universe” sense.

    … he changes the Big Bang model and proposes that the universe began as a white hole, with distant galaxies emerging and beginning to age billions of years ago, but with the Milky Way galaxy having emerged more recently, and the young earth and solar system having emerged in the last few thousand years. … The cosmology forms part of the overall creationist effort to diminish belief in evolutionary theory (whether theistic evolution or natural evolution) in favour of a “Young Earth” cosmology based on the literal interpretation of Biblical texts. It also attempts to place the Earth at the centre of creation, in line with pre-scientific and mythological views of the universe, though it stops short of a geocentric model of the solar system.

    The geocentrism is apparently contained in that the solar system is the latest spacetime volume to appear from (now the absent?) white hole.
    3. His astronomy is almost nonexistent.

    Others simply claim he uses arcane sources and misrepresents his sources. [7] For example, “in the eight years since, Humphreys has learned that ‘Kuyper’ is really spelled ‘Kuiper’. That is all he has learned – his astronomy knowledge is still abysmal.”

    SmellyTerror has eminently captured the religious ‘knowledge’ in this.

  14. “slow leading” – they are probably not leading anywhere. But they are slow loading.
    “now the absent” – the now absent.
    oops, time for some coffee…

  15. Do you suppose that Dr Humphreys is using the approximation that Newtonian mechanics makes for extended bodies, that is, that an object can be treated as if the entire mass is concentrated at the center of mass of the object?

    I don’t think so. He does make the mistake of assuming an infinite universe doesn’t have boundary conditions. This isn’t so. Newton’s law (divergence of gravitational potential = constant x mass density) underconstrains the gravitational potential, and crucially, underconstrains the gravitational field. The usual formulation of Newton’s law of gravity, with forces, is equivant with the formulation I’ve given here, with the addition of a boundary condition that the gravitational potential goes to a constant (conventionally, 0) “at infinity”. But this boundary condition doesn’t yield a solution in the case of an infinite universe of uniform density. (In the usual formulation, the integrals diverge). Some other boundary condition must be picked, and this boundary condition must necessarily break the symmetry of the universe. Dr Humphreys doesn’t realize the implications of the integrals in Newtonian gravity diverging in this situation, I’m not sure he even realizes they diverge.

  16. While we can’t have a
    privileged or preferred reference frame (i.e absolute rest), a screwy topology (perhaps with lower dimension, say like a rotating disc) could possibly break the symmetry and pick a special frame.

    I think the “big bang” topologies do break a few symmetries, as they are (generally) not invariant in “time”. I believe they have a natural choice of time coordinate, and with that a natural choice of “rest” velocity. Seeing as how we’ve already thrown out symmetry under time translation (no “steady state” models), I don’t think throwing out symmetry under spacial translation and providing a natural choice of “center” is entirely out of the question. But such a universe is indeed “not what we see”.

  17. Just for the record the Genesis account ONLY accounts for earth. It says nothing about the age of the universe or stars. So, it is ONLY a presumption by theologists that the rest of the universe came to being at the same time.
    According to the Biblical account, having existed for an eternity beforehand it is rather unlikely that everything that is known to exist came into being at one time. This TRANSLATION of the Biblical account is nothing more than man’s egocentric view of God and creation. This is also a major basis for this conflict and this unreasonable solution.
    In reality, according to the Genesis account and modern science it is reasonable to believe that stars predate Earth and thus giving ample time for light to travel to us.
    Theists and scientists have to understand that Genesis ONLY covers earth and humans. So believe the account or not, it has to be taken in proper context. The Bible says nothing about Venus, Jupiter, the Milky Way, and the rest of the known and unknown universe.

  18. What an amazing world the young-earth creationists live in. By reading ancient pre-scientific stories, they can deduce that we are surrounded by a large number of invisible stars that warp time for us but show no other evidence of their gravitational pull. What must it be like to be able to create evidence ex nihilo simply to bolster some aspect of one’s worldview?

  19. “Just for the record the Genesis account ONLY accounts for earth. It says nothing about the age of the universe or stars. So, it is ONLY a presumption by theologists that the rest of the universe came to being at the same time.”
    Actually, Genesis states plainly that the stars were created on the 4th day. It seems that by not reading this myth very carefully you have deluded yourself into thinking that maybe there is some truth to the story.
    Really, the creation story is a myth, pure and simple. Don’t try to put lipstick on this pig. There is no eternal truth in Genesis to be found and there is no chance of reconciling any of the sciences with it.

  20. Andrew, thanks. Your example was much better than mine since it works generally for all dimensionality, so I will probably remember that.

  21. Seeing as how we’ve already thrown out symmetry under time translation (no “steady state” models),

    Thinking about this, I think it is true for local symmetries only – the expansion (or equivalently red- or blueshift) tells us if we go forward or backwards in time. Eternal inflation is globally symmetric over volumes much larger than typical pocket universes.
    The distinction between global and local symmetries are connected to Noether’s theorem. A symmetry means a conserved quantity – for example, symmetry under time translation means conservation of energy. A global symmetry probably means conservation over the boundary, I have to study it up to get that.
    Anyhow, GR is known for not necessarily having global energy conservation, while locally it obeys Lorentz invariance so admits it. So the expansion we discuss breaks time symmetry and seems to break energy conservation over Hubble volumes (or rather, pocket universes), while it seems a large enough volume restores it.
    [The finer point is if it really plays out like this. The problem is the discussion of initial conditions for eternal inflation (EI). OT for this blog, but I would like to put it down for later usage:
    There is a theorem which says that one necessarily runs up against a singularity going backwards on a worldline in an expanding universe. Don’t know the details there either, but the gist is easy enough.
    Following a worldline one can use crossing photons as test particles to probe the expansion of the universe. Obviously we see a redshift going forward in an expanding universe. so going back we see a blueshift to higher energies. Sooner or later we run up against Planck energy and a singularity.
    I guess a distinguishable volume of worldlines will converge on a Planck volume in a semiclassical approximation (which the above is). Anyhow, the exponential expansion of inflationary spacetime will always have parts that continue to inflate, otherwise it would not be eternal. So going back, even if particular worldlines must end in a singularity, we can expect to push some such boundaries further back.
    Linde has the argument that there is no upper bound here. In effect, EI is eternal backwards as well. (Perhaps one can simply put inf(boundaries) to negative infinity and remove the initial condition instead of just pushing it unboundedly to infinity and pretend it doesn’t exist. Hmm.) That would guarantee the symmetry.
    Almost, because the expansion rate is set by vacuum energy. Each pocket universe can have each own energy and expansion rate, and perhaps a similar stochasticity also applies over the inflationary volume as well. This variation can extinguish or put a probability for extinction of EI going back. Hmm.]

  22. Re Humphries
    It appears to me that Sean Carroll and/or Rob Knop are the people most competent to debunk Dr. Humphries claims. However, the following argument occurs to me. If the gravitational forces are sufficient in the neighborhood of the earth to cause a dilation of time from billions of years to 10,000 years, they should also be sufficient to cause a huge blue shift in the light coming from other galaxies. Such a blue shift is not observed, indicating the absence of such forces.

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