Archive for July, 2010

July 31st, 2010

“No Big Bang? Oh, I’m All Over That!”

by Max Andrews

I hopped on Twitter this morning and found a tweet by Answers in Genesis, a well-known young earth creationist think tank, linking an article to problems of the big bang.  I thought it was interesting because the title of AiG’s article was “Is the big bang a scientific ‘fact’ rejected only by young earth creationists?  A new physics paper shows otherwise,” when the original article by PhysOrg was titled, “Model describes universe with no big bang, no beginning, and no end.”

When you read the articles, AiG appears to be grasping for something just to help substantiate their claim.  Of course, there are many scientists who have problems with the big bang model.  That’s all AiG sees though, “Oh, you don’t like the big bang? We’ll cite you!”  The problem with that is AiG only agrees with the initial premise, that is, that there are problems with the big bang model.  Are there problems? There are a few unresolved problems, but big bang’s predictions are well supported and the leaks in the air tight case are mostly with dark energy/matter, which, in my opinion, there is good reason to believe they exist.  The author of the paper cited in PhysOrg, Wun-Yi Shu from Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, makes the following conclusions with his paper:

  1. The speed of light and the gravitational “constant” are not constant, but vary with the evolution of the universe.
  2. Time has no beginning and no end; i.e., there is neither a big bang nor a big crunch singularity.
  3. The spatial section of the universe is a 3-sphere [a higher-dimensional analogue of a sphere], ruling out the possibility of a flat or hyperboloid geometry.
  4. The universe experiences phases of both acceleration and deceleration.

Doh!  This is almost embarrassing… 1) if the speed of light, c, were to change it would be very unlikely that life would exist because it would drastically change the relationship with gravitational and electromagnetic models, which most likely would not permit life.  2) Time having no beginning is incredibly incoherent.  If there were an infinite past why didn’t today arrive yesterday?  It would be impossible to arrive at the present point in time if time were actually infinite.  Take a look at Hilbert’s Hotel, it makes it quite simple to add and subtract from infinity, and still have infinity, which has its obvious problems.  Now, with time having no end, that is certainly possible as long as it is viewed as a potential infinite.  3)  The flatness of the universe is pretty well-established.  Though there are, of course, models that are no flat universe models, but there are incredible problems associated with non-flat universes. (I will simply cite references for further reading).  4)  The universe experiencing acceleration and deceleration is highly problematic.  The speed of light and its relationship to gravity (Oh, hi Einstein’s brain child!), is coupled together in a quite interesting.  Not only is c not an actual constant but the gravitational constant really isn’t constant at all and fluctuates with c.  All fine-tuning goes out the window.  Even Shu’s conclusions for 3 and 4 (which could also imply 1) don’t seem to get around the BVG theorem.  All that is required is for any inflation greater than 1 had an absolute beginning.

My point behind all this is that I think AiG may have cited a source that doesn’t help their case at all.  I doubt that AiG would use any of the evidence and arguments that Shu uses to get to his conclusion, rather he just likes that his conclusion is not-big bang.  Now, of course the metaphysical implications and conclusions based on other scientific conclusions is acceptable, but in order to do that your scientific evidence has to be founded.  You can’t skip all the evidence and arguments and then approve of the conclusion (which, by the way, is no where near a young earth model).  Not only is this an origins problem, but it’s also a fine-tuning problem.

I would be interested to see what would happen if AiG evaluated all the evidence and arguments in Shu’s paper and still come to his conclusions (non-metaphysical conclusions).  I think they might have a problem with, oh, time having no beginning?  After all, I’m pretty sure Genesis 1 says “In the beginning…”

Recommended Reading:

Creation Out of Nothing:  A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration (Copan, Paul; Craig, William Lane)

The Privileged Planet:  How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery (Gonzalez, Guillermo; Richards, Jay)

A Briefer History of Time (Hawking, Stephen)

In The Beginning:  And Other Essays On Intelligent Design (Sewell, Granville)

Many Worlds In One (Vilenkin, Alex)

July 30th, 2010

Intelligent Design & That Cheap Tuxedo

by Max Andrews

Is it a fair assessment to charge ID theorists that ID is only creationism with witty scientific language?  I’m going to evaluate the claim that intelligent design is religion, that it’s nothing but “creationism in a cheap tuxedo.”  My position is that ID is a scientific theory and that it is not religion.  A scientific case for ID may be modeled as:

  1. Observation:  ID begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce high levels of CSI (complex specified complexity).
  2. Hypothesis:  Design predictions.
  3. Experiment:  Do they contain CSI?
    • Irreducible complexity, knock out a part, does it still function?
    • Mutational sensitivity tests to determine how finely-tuned protein sequences and enzymes must be in order to perform their cellular functions.  (Doug Axe found that sequences yield functional protein folds may be as rare as 1 in 1077).
  4. Conclusion:  Because X exhibits high levels of CSI, a quality is known to be a product of intelligence.  Life was designed.

There are a number of other testable scientific evidences that can be substituted into this method of reasoning:

Cosmological Origin and Fine-Tuning

  1. The universe had a beginning (Big bang)
  2.  Einstein’s general relativity -> general property of FLRW
  3. Hubble expansion
  4. Gamrock’s prediction of CMB (1948)
  5. Penzias and Wilson CMD (1965)
  6. Hawking Penrose Theory (Late 1960s)
  7. Thermodynamic arguments
  8. Nucleosynthesis of light elements
  9. Inflation Cosmology, BVG theorem (2003)

Biology

  1. Irreducibly complex molecular machines
  2. Irreducibly complex molecular/metabolic pathways
  3. The origin of biological information (The DNA enigma)
  4. The insufficiency of unguided material processes (Darwinism etc.) as an explanation for certain biological structures
  5. The Cambrian explosion
  6. Causal circularity
  7. The failure of gene recruitment (the repurpose of genes for new functions)
  8. Junk DNA functionality
  9. Epigenetic information and higher information processing in the cell
  10. The rarity of functional protein folds in the sequence space of amino acids
  11. Population genetics constraints
  12. The limits of constructive mutation for adaptive complexity
  13. The smuggling of active information into computational evolutionary modeling (AVIDA, eV, weasel ware)
  14. The collapse of the “Icons” of evolution
  15. Generative entrenchment
  16. The waiting time for mutations (Haldane’s Dilemma)
  17. The sugar-phosphate backbone of DNA is indifferent to the order of nucleotides (failure of self-organization)
  18. Optimization of genetic code and reduction in error properties
  19. The biological/embryological and paleontological obstacles to common descent
  20. Sanford’s idea of genetic entropy
  21. Convergent “evolution” (independent appearance of same structures, molecularly and morphologically, in biological history)
  22. Lack of evolutionary detritus (vestigial organs)
  23. Lack of transitional forms in paleontology
  24. Biological arms races degrade rather than improve function
  25. Universal genetic code?

None of these arguments are religiously based.  This is public evidence that does not require any religious presuppositions and uses commonly accepted reasoning.  To charge intelligent design with creationism (to start with a religious text and fit science into the text) is unfounded.

July 10th, 2010

Objection by Implication

by Max Andrews

All too common with the debates on intelligent design, evolution, the existence of God, the historicity of the resurrection, string theory, quantum mechanics, and many more, many people object to theories and conclusions because they don’t like the implication.  For example, if the resurrection of Jesus is true, there is an immediate implication to the existence of God if it cannot be accounted for by naturalistic means.  If intelligent design is true there is an intelligent causation to the order in the universe.  There are certainly theistic implications associated with ID.  Conversely, there are many problematic implications for certain quantum interpretations.  If the level three or four multiverse exist then there are deleterious implications for the existence of mind/body dualism.  Objecting to anything based on a rejection of implication is fallacious, it commits the fallacy of an illicit conversion.

Illicit conversion makes an illicit ordering of propositions.  For a statement to be true there must be logical sequence of propositions.  Statement A-B-C contains the necessary sequence of propositions to have truth value.  If the statement is ordered A-C-B there is an illicit conversion in the reasoning.  To give this some illustration:  there is evidence for a level three multiverse (A), the level three multiverse exists (B), and there are implications that humans do not have minds because the particle interactions that spawn new universes may eliminate immaterialism (C).  One cannot object to the logical conclusion of an argument based on implications.  That would be illicitly placing the implications logically prior to the conclusion.  So the next time anyone says that intelligent design isn’t true because the implications are that there’s a God don’t forget about the illicit conversion.  Though the objector may not explicate their objection this way, dig it out from the argument and show the fallacy.

July 2nd, 2010

Thoughts on the Third and Fourth Level Multiverse

by Max Andrews

Level III Multiverse:  Many Worlds Hypothesis (MWH) of quantum mechanics.  Every possible particle interaction outcome actually happens.  Every particle interaction that is not observed in the universe that we observe actually happens  in another that is “split” from this one.

Level IV Multiverse:  The Ultimate Ensemble.  This consists of any conceivable parallel universe and any set of mathematical descriptions to describe the physical laws.

These theories are quite interesting in and of themselves.  It is very thought-provoking within the fine-tuning realm of discussion, where it tends to get the most attention.  What’s more interesting is how this would pertain to dualism (materiality and immateriality) and divine omniscience.  I have not seen any research on the issues I have, which is why I intend to study this for my graduate thesis.  I have a few questions and problems concerning these multiverse interpretations…

  1. How can dualism be true if either third or fourth level multiverse interpretations are true? (From here on when I refer to “multiverse” I am referring to the third and fourth level).  Let’s assume that there is an immaterial self and a person is not merely an ensemble of physical reactions.  If I am a mind then there is a non-physical aspect that relates to my physical body.  If every [physical] quantum interaction actually happens then how would that relate to the [non-physical] mind?  If my body exists in other universes/dimensions then where is my mind? If the multiverse is true, is it a defeater of dualism?
  2. Suppose there is no conflict with dualism, does the multiverse make salvific universalism actual?  If every possible circumstance happens do all come to repentance and trust  in Jesus Christ?
  3. Follow up to 2, does the multiverse make salvation impossible?  If every possible circumstance happens, did Jesus die making salvation possible?
  4. Is the multiverse a defeater of divine middle knowledge?  Moment 1 of God’s knowledge (natural knowledge) God knows every necessary truth and possibility (moments are logical moments not chronological).  Moment 3 (free knowledge), God knows what is happening and what will happen.  In between the two moments, middle knowledge, God knows everything that would happen given any set of circumstances (everything in the subjunctive mood, usually associated with human free agency).  If in the multiverse every possible outcome actually happens are there no logical moments other than God’s first moment, natural knowledge?  Perhaps God knows what would happen given a particular universe but that only seems to push the question back one step.