Posts Tagged ‘Physics’

As promised, I’m following up on my previous blog post where I revealed the first video I’ve produced here at TheSkepticalMagician.com – “Genesis Creation Visualized – Scientifically.”  I put a considerable amount of thought and energy into creating this video, and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look into the reasons why I made it the way I did.

Why re-write Genesis?

A common response one gets when talking to Christians about the origins of the Universe and the lack of specificity and accuracy of the Genesis account — is that the complex laws of physics would have been lost on bronze age peoples, so God had to dumb it down so humans could comprehend all that he had done.  In other words, the divine creator had to be vague, and not quite as accurate because the concepts were not there to explain it fully.  This seems to make a lot of intuitive sense to believers, and it is something that enables them to continue believing what they want to believe, so they don’t take that next crucial step that everyone should take when determining whether or not something they believe is true… They don’t try to prove themselves wrong!  And just like a scientist who submits something for peer review without first trying to disprove their ideas, if they don’t do it — someone else will.  By re-writing the Genesis account as I did (and I could have been far more detailed were it not for my time limits), I was able to show that one could give a scientifically accurate portrayal of the evolution of the Cosmos that a bronze age human could understand, while still maintaining certain poetic liberties.  Had the first 18 verses of Genesis been something similar to what I created, we in present day would have to stop and ask, “How in the heck did these bronze age illiterates know about things like fusion and the forging of the elements within stars?”  “How did they know the Earth orbits the Sun, and how did they know it rolls upon the fabric of space like it does?”  Instead of having to answer difficult questions like these, we’re left with undeniable evidence that the Genesis account of creation is just one more in a long line of creation myths.

Now, I fully admit that the Genesis account as currently written could have happened just like the Bible says, and I say as much in the video.  There is no way for me to disprove this, though I don’t think most Christians would be comfortable with what this would tell us about the creator.  If the Genesis account of the Bible is a literal, historical account of the creation of the Universe, then the creator is a deceiver.  He’s a trickster.  He’s a hoaxer.  In order for the Genesis account to be true, it would mean that creator would have had to intentionally alter time and space itself to make it look like things had occurred completely different than they actually had.  In essence,  that God is one who not only tricks people, but tricks people into not believing in him, or in his written text, which plainly goes against the idea in 2 Peter 3:9 that God is “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

A track that many liberal Christians take is that the Genesis account is not a literal history of creation, but that it’s a symbolic or metaphoric account of man’s relationship with his creator etc, etc, etc.  Again, I can’t disprove that either, though I don’t think people who follow that line of thinking consider the greater negative theological implications for the Christian faith later on down the line.  Without a literal Genesis, or a literal Adam and Eve – there is no basis or necessity for a literal 2nd Adam (i.e. Jesus) to undo what they did in Genesis.  For these types, much of the Bible is looked at as metaphorical or symbolic, and these issues aren’t of any great concern to them, and they are happy to believe just the same.  Again, trying to disprove their perspective is a bit like trying to nail jello to a wall, and there are so many ad hoc fallacies, and so much special pleading injected into the conversation that one can find themselves quickly frustrated.  In general, these types of believers aren’t usually trying to get Biblical creation crammed into science classrooms, and are often times just as against their fundamentalist brethren in that regard as secularists are.  So while I don’t agree with their conclusions, and can no more disprove their claims than I can disprove Russell’s teapot, I can at least respect their ability to accept the clear evidence of origins instead of dogmatically clinging to ideas that are either false (my position), or the product of an omnipotent trickster. (more…)


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And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for — I give you the first video production for TheSkepticalMagician.com…

Blog post to follow in the next couple of days talking about what went into the making.  Enjoy!

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“In the beginning there was God, and he created out of nothing the vast and dark expanse of the heavens.  After brining forth the darkness of the heavens, God created the first light.  He created great balls of fire called stars, and the one that would be closest to the Earth and appear the largest was called the sun, and it would be the greater light to govern the day.  The other stars in the heavens God set at a great distance from the Earth — further than the east is from the west, and so the light of those stars is small, like a man coming from a long journey appears small on the horizon.  Then, God used the stars like a mighty furnace to bake like one bakes bread, and he did so for epochs upon epochs. And from the stars, God brought forth that which he had baked, and he formed the Earth from that which he took from the stars, and other heavenly bodies like the Earth, that were also made of rock, but on them he did not put man. The Lord did this, and he saw that it was good. Then the Lord took part of the Earth and crafted the moon from it, and He deemed that it should serve as the lesser light that governs the night. And the Lord set the moon to roll around the Earth like an apple rolls upon the ground, and likewise he set the Earth to roll around the Sun, like an apple rolls upon the ground, and he saw that it was good…….”  

That’s how Genesis 1 would read (or something similar) if it were trying to be an accurate representation of actual events in history.  We don’t need to continue on to the creation of living things, because if the account of how the universe and solar system was created is so demonstrably wrong, there is no reason to think the remainder is any more accurate.

I tend to avoid conversations with creationists centered on the evolution of species because inevitably someone will want me to show them a “monkey turning into a human.”  The proof and evidence for evolution is rock solid (no pun intended), and anyone who is willing to take the time to investigate it can see as much.  To conclude that evolution is not the culprit in explaining how we have arrived in our present form, is akin to finding a murderer innocent, despite having video footage of him at the scene, his prints on the murder weapon, and DNA evidence linking him to the crime (see The Greatest Show On Earth for a further expansion of this illustration).  However, again, this post is not about the evolution of species, but instead it is about the evolution of a universe, which unlike human evolution, we can directly observe how it occurred because we happen to have a time machine — the Hubble Telescope.

Due to the unique nature of space-time, when we look out into space, we’re actually looking backwards in time, and we can see how the universe developed.  When we do this, there is no doubt that it did not happen like the book of Genesis says it did.  In fact, the book of Genesis gives us the following order of creation: (1) Earth/Heavens, (2) Sun, (3) Moon and Stars.  However, when we look back in time, we can see that the early universe was comprised primarily of hydrogen and helium, which birthed the first stars.  That’s right — stars were the first stellar objects born in the cosmos, and not the last as is portrayed in Genesis.  Through the process of fusion, stars “baked” and created new elements which were ejected via supernova, amassed into new stars, creating new elements,  and repeating the cycle until we had everything you see on the periodic table of elements today.  Without the process of fusion taking place in stars over billions of years, planets like the Earth would not even be possible, and yet Genesis says it was the first celestial body created.

Even within our own solar system, Genesis has things backwards.  We’ve established that stars are responsible for creation of the elements, but all evidence when we peer out into space also indicates that solar systems are born out of protoplanetary disks that surround stars.  In other words, first comes the star, and then comes the planets — not the other way around.  So, if you were to play the first few verses of Genesis backwards like an old Black Sabbath album, you’d be a whole lot closer to having things in the right order.  Some might say that Genesis can’t be accurate because the people of the time would not have understood “the real way” God made things.  They certainly would not have understood concepts like gravity or fusion, but I don’t see how anyone in Old Testament times would not have been able to understand my Genesis account above, and it would have made a whole lot more sense to us today.

Now let me say here that the Bible does not claim to be a science book, nor do I expect it to be one.  What the Bible does, however, is make explicit claims about reality, which can be empirically tested to determine their reliability.  As a result, the first 14 verses of the Bible are shown to be totally incorrect, and an untrustworthy account of our origins.  The argument could always be made of course, that God just makes things look that way, but he really did things the way the Bible says.  This would make God out to be a deceiver who purposely fools people into unbelief, and  I don’t think many Christians would want to sign on with that kind of God.  There are many Christians who have taken what I would consider a more reasonable approach to things, though it is certainly a position that I would not take.  They view Genesis as a creation myth that is told with a bigger idea in mind.  They accept it as an allegory or illustration of a “greater truth,”  and as a result, they are able to keep their faith intact.  Like I said, I wouldn’t be able to accept this position, but many Christian’s do, and I have to give them credit for not clinging to dogma in the face of undeniable evidence.

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I finally got around to watching this lecture by Lawrence Krauss entitled: A Universe from Nothing.  The lecture was filmed at the Atheist Alliance International 2009 conference, and Lawrence presents the current picture of the universe, how it will end, and how it could have come from nothing.  The talk itself is around 50 minutes or so, and then there is a brief question and answer period.  If you’re someone who cares about the origins of the Universe, the video is well worth 50 minutes of your life.  Enjoy!

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In case you missed the premier episode of Curiosity on the Discovery Channel last week, here is a playlist in three parts where Hawking explains how a universe can “come from nothing.”

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