Thursday, March 8, 2018

AFA confuses faith with science on the origins of the universe

American Family Association's blog is running with “A brilliant mind fails to trace 'nothing' to a creator.” I am surprised that they give due deference to Stephen Hawking. I guess that they are smart enough not to call Hawking a crackpot — at least not up front. They do, however, manage to get there. Creationists lecturing Stephen Hawking. It is quite remarkable. But first:
Brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking was interviewed recently about the "Big Bang," the theory that the universe exploded suddenly from a single point of origin billions of years ago.

"Nothing was around before the Big, Big Bang," Hawking said.
AFA's explanation of the Big Bang Theory is simplistic and incomplete. Moreover, it omits some detail. According to the Big Bang theory, the early universe was very hot. As it expanded (and continues to expand) the gas within it cools. The universe should be filled with radiation that is literally the remnant heat left over from the Big Bang called cosmic background radiation. In simpler terms it is the afterglow of the big bang. We can actually measure this radiation. Invisible to the human eye it fills our universe. You can learn more about the Big Bang Theory at NASA's site.

As expected, AFA goes to the absurd:
Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe, who is an astrophysicist and a "Big Bang" believer, tells OneNewsNow that Hawking and others run into real trouble with their "nothing" theory.
[…]
And the nub of the problem with that belief, Ross continues, is that Hawking and others are "deifying the physics."

"They're attaching properties to the physics of the universe," says Ross, "that only God possesses."
We have evidence that the Big Bang happened. The scientific theory goes back to Einstein and relativity. The Hubble telescope (and others) continue to observe the continuing expansion of the universe. We have evidence that the universe is expanding. If a deity got the universe started then the same deity is responsible for its continuing expansion. We have no evidence of either. Therefore, the deity is part of a belief system which is supported by faith.
The theory of a big bang can be traced back to a Belgian priest, Georges Lamaitre, who observed in the 1920s that the universe was expanding and other galaxies are moving away from our own.
Rubbish. It was Edwin Hubble who observed, in 1929, that the galaxies were receding from us. That gave rise to the Big Bang theory.

We go from the absurd to outright preposterous:
Danny Faulkner of Answers in Genesis says mainstream scientists, even the really bright ones, have one fatal belief that keeps them from the truth: science can't answer faith questions and faith can't answer science questions.
Faulkner is a young earth creationist who believes that the universe is less than 10,000 years old. He presumes to school Stephen Hawking. That is not only stupid but crazy. Faulkner has more corrections for Hawking:
"If you come to a question or a problem that has no physical answer, then what are you going to do?" Faulkner observes. "Well, if you stay consistent to that worldview, you'll make up something."

No matter how illogical or improbable the answer is, he says, the skeptic has ruled out the real answer.

So what is Faulkner's theory about what existed before the Big Bang?

"My theory of the beginning," he replies, "is that God made everything just like the Bible said He did."
One Faulkner quote is quite correct if he could appreciate its application: “Well, if you stay consistent to that worldview, you'll make up something.” That seems to perfectly capture the extension of faith to explain real-world events.

According to the Bible, which seems to serve as Faulkner's owner's manual, God made the sun and the rest of the universe orbit around Earth. What about that part? According to the Bible, stars are tiny objects that will fall from the sky when Jesus returns. Seriously? The moon is also an independent lesser light which does not appreciate that the moon merely reflects the sun's light. What about that part?

To put it crudely, Faulkner and like-minded religious zealots are forced to make shit up. And they do, day after day after day. It is all rather depressing.

But I am confident that Hawking will read Faulkner's treatise and adjust his thinking accordingly.

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