Creationists, Now at your Local Planetarium

| 66 Comments

By Greg Fish, http://worldofweirdthings.com/

If you’re a creationist, astrobiology is probably your nightmare. While there are only a small handful of astrobiologists out there today, the search for life in space is being funded with multi-billion dollar mission plans and the field is bound to grow. Combining the basic principles of evolution with theories about how stars and planets are formed, biologists, chemists, planetary scientists, and astronomers are dedicating a great amount of time, effort, and cash to answer the question of whether we’re alone in the universe. The core of their project is the idea that Earth isn’t unique, and if life arose here following certain rules, other life arose on other worlds in a relatively similar way from basic building blocks found throughout the universe.

But they’re worried and upset that creationists are making big strides towards developing a potential brain drain in their nascent field by constantly trying to undermine the teaching of evolution and basic astronomy in the classroom. If you want to be an alien hunter, you have to be well versed in the theory of evolution and understand that planets are billions of years old, not thousands.

If you believe that the only way life can come about is through divine intervention, you can’t pick the right places to aim your telescopes or send your probes because you’ll either dismiss potential habitats out of hand or keep looking at some manifestation you think is the supernatural producing life when in reality, it’s just a pretty cloud of gas. You also have to know that our planet is probably not the only one with life on it and that we’re all results of chemistry, something many creationists find obscene and try to politick out of standard science education.

Worse yet, what if a generation of legislators who were raised with almost institutional disdain for the theory of evolution and modern cosmology pulls the plug on all alien hunting projects like another Martian Science Laboratory or another Kepler because they disagree with scientists on religious and ideological grounds? How would we try to find alien life then? And how would we feel being trapped in a bubble of willful ignorance that perceives looking for life on other words to be a ridiculous pursuit of deluded people who should be searching for God instead? Maybe this is a bit of a hyperbole, but it’s a scary thought nonetheless.

And scientists hoping to track down extraterrestrials aren’t the only ones getting irritated over creationist tactics of corrupting education. Physicists, who study how our universe came to be and how it works, are exasperated when they have to listen to school boards taking votes on what they think about the Big Bang—usually from an uninformed opinion taken from the talking points memos of the Discovery Institute and Uncommon Descent.

In a jaw-dropping case of religious beliefs being forcibly crammed into science class, Texas SBoE member Barbara Cargill, a former high school biology and Sunday School teacher, recently got the typical “teach the controversy” rhetoric into the astronomy curriculum of Texan public schools with an 11 to 3 vote in her favor. The controversy she had in mind? Redshift and Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, two of the most easily observable phenomena in astronomy known for several decades and key parts of understanding the Big Bang and the formation of our observable universe. She’s basically asking Texan students to close their eyes and pretend they can’t see other galaxies moving away from us when they look into a telescope and measure the light.

Physicists are already putting up with various cranks telling them that the particle accelerators they use to learn more about how our universe is built will destroy the world. Now they have to go into classrooms and board meetings and have to explain to kids that we can actually see the things that their school board members and teachers are telling them no one truly understands and that the observations have been made over decades with pretty definitive results. Like my colleague and friend with a PhD in solar physics says when the subject comes up: “Oh come on! You’ve got to be kidding me!”

If you’re keeping a list of all the places where creationists aren’t welcome, be sure to add space to it because alien hunters, astronomers, and physicists certainly don’t want them to undo all the progress made over the last century by proselytizing a new generation into rejecting the science that makes space exploration possible.

But all this does beg a little question. If there’s already a Museum of Creation, will someone build the Creation Planetarium next? And what exactly would this creationist version of astronomy be like?

66 Comments

But all this does beg a little question. If there’s already a Museum of Creation, will someone build the Creation Planetarium next? And what exactly would this creationist version of astronomy be like?

Here you are, Greg. Of course, it’s tolerable to watch only because the Darwin Finches are giving it their expletive-peppered MST3K take on it.

If we are alone in the universe they’ll have to throw away every statistics book ever written.

But all this does beg a little question. If there’s already a Museum of Creation, will someone build the Creation Planetarium next? And what exactly would this creationist version of astronomy be like?

I know it’s nit-picking, but surely you mean raises the question?

Hey! Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, Redshift of Galaxies, _and_ Elemental Abundances!

Yeah, Ned Wright!

http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmolog.htm

No matter how many times we have to revisit this issue it becomes very disturbing. Why is the debate about various scientific theories being waged in high schools. The only thing creationist are doing is undermining students education, where university and college instructs have to spend time reteaching students what they should have learnt in high school. The reason that the board of education revisits standards is to improve the education of that jurisdictions students. People like Barbara Cargill should understand this or resign.

What form of creationist spin can possibly be applied to CMB and Cosmic Redshift? The closest thing I can possibly imagine is the YEC’s taking up Shapely’s position that the Milky Way is the entirety of the Universe, and thats been debunked since the 1920’s.

What form of creationist spin can possibly be applied to CMB and Cosmic Redshift?

One thing creationists have had time to do, since they don’t actually research anything, is to make a lot, and i do mean A LOT, of shit up:

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-a[…]ig-c005.html

scroll down to “a New Creationist Cosmology”, and recoil in horror at the abject stupidity, because it burns brighter than the brightest sun.

I suppose silly things like the law of conservation of energy shouldn’t get in the way of the truth.

ryanl: A simple combination of quote mining, making stuff up, and sciencey sounding technobabel. All the usual suspects (AIG, Walt Brown etc.) have their own special flavor of this particular burning stupid.

I’m all too familiar with that. School board personal in my area justified a “Teach the controversy argument” through citing specific examples in the past were scientists have been mistaken. The named example was how scientists once thought we could not travel faster than the speed of light, something NASA does everyday. apparently.

Ichthyic said:

What form of creationist spin can possibly be applied to CMB and Cosmic Redshift?

One thing creationists have had time to do, since they don’t actually research anything, is to make a lot, and i do mean A LOT, of shit up:

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-a[…]ig-c005.html

scroll down to “a New Creationist Cosmology”, and recoil in horror at the abject stupidity, because it burns brighter than the brightest sun.

That website is absolutely grotesque! It tells us that these con artists have no scruples whatsoever. They just throw around terms they don’t understand and pretend that it calls physics into question. They don’t seem to know or care that what they are claiming is self-contradictory. Preaching to rubes is so easy!

The named example was how scientists once thought we could not travel faster than the speed of light, something NASA does everyday. apparently.

Whaaa? that’s a new one on me. You have specifics on that? what on earth (pun intended) could they be interpreting as NASA bypassing basic physics on a daily basis?

That website is absolutely grotesque! It tells us that these con artists have no scruples whatsoever.

which of course, is exactly why I linked to it. These are the BEST of the “creationist cosmology” arguments.

Note how they continually utilize expressions that make it seem as though they are actually “scientifically” rejecting the more ludicrous notions (light was created “on the way to the eye”), as to make their less (??) ludicrous notions seemingly more palatable. For example, see the sections immediately proceeding the one I mentioned in the previous post.

It might surprise some that the credulous buy their arguments, but not myself, after seeing how they couch their arguments amidst an army of even bigger strawmen and red herrings.

someone without even a high-school level of education in physics might easily buy into the arguments presented there.

The stupid, it burns…

all of us.

http://www.wjct.org/online_video.html

About three-fourths of the way through the first segment on the video entitled “First Coast Forum - Schools, Science, and the State”

rpenner said: But all this does beg a little question. If there’s already a Museum of Creation, will someone build the Creation Planetarium next? And what exactly would this creationist version of astronomy be like?

They have already done it at AiG’s Creation Museum. You can’t have a fake science museum without a fake planetarium can you?

More like two-thirds through on the above video. The look on the face of the Professor sitting next to her is priceless.

Ichthyic said:

The named example was how scientists once thought we could not travel faster than the speed of light, something NASA does everyday. apparently.

Whaaa? that’s a new one on me. You have specifics on that? what on earth (pun intended) could they be interpreting as NASA bypassing basic physics on a daily basis?

I dunno about ryanl’s specific case, but I do recall that some people used to say, with plausible-at-the-time reasoning, that it would be impossible to travel faster than the speed of sound… With just a little conceptual synaesthesia, that fact could “debunk” all of physics, by creo standards anyway.

More like two-thirds through on the above video. The look on the face of the Professor sitting next to her is priceless.

“There are theories which men believed to be true, which were proven to be untrue. That you can go faster than the speed of light. We wouldn’t have the space program, now, if that theory hadn’t been disproven.”

so she’s not saying NASA is going faster than light, she’s saying that somehow, if we hadn’t DISPROVED that we could go faster than light, NASA wouldn’t even exist.

WTF??

still, it was said by Patricia Weeks.

many here might recall that name…

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]e-by-de.html

I had a long discussion with a High School biology/physics teacher from her county. He implied the demographic there is heavily biased toward her way of thinking and that any teachers who defied an “unspoken” anti-evolution rule there wouldn’t last long. Needless to say, he also indicated that the science programs there are sub-par, at best.

Oh, nevermind, I watched the rest of the vid, and while she did say what I quoted above (I checked it 3 times), she really DID think that we now travel faster than the speed of light, and this is how NASA can get spacecraft to other planets.

*sigh*

I really didn’t think anyone was that stupid. I gave her credit for being only dumb and confused, and I really shouldn’t have.

She really IS that ignorant. She really does think that we proved ftl travel, and star trek is a drama/documentary.

WOW. Well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that people who think the Flintstones was an animated documentary think the same of Star Trek.

must go take icepick and clean out ears now.

Thanks, though, I’m saving that vid for the next time her name comes up.

He implied the demographic there is heavily biased toward her way of thinking and that any teachers who defied an “unspoken” anti-evolution rule there wouldn’t last long.

send a letter to the ACLU.

seriously.

Mike, help! I read that creo site and their “new creationist cosmology” on the time dilation effect and an edge to the Universe. I know it’s nonsense, because I trust the people who say so, but I haven’t got the knowledge to refute it myself, and I suspect that few people do. Is there some way of explaining the truth that makes sense to a math moron like me?

Here is another statement by her concerning evolution. Note how she has been seated for the past 16 years.

First they came for the biologists but I was not a biologist.…

The creos are going after neurobiology as well. Despite billions of dollars thrown into brain science, no one has been able to find the soul.

Not making a joke either. The idea that our brains are just organic computing devices and there is no spirit or mind running the synapses is upsetting to the usual suspects. Dualism has made a comeback in some circles after I can’t even recall how many centuries.

Next up on their list are history and social sciences. Followed by geology, paleontology, archaeology, and of course, astronomy and biology.

Really, for the fundies to support their mythology, they will have to destroy most of modern education and our civilization. And they would wonder why 1-2 million people leave xianity every year if they weren’t so damn busy wrecking everything.

Since this post is about creation astronomy, the creos also have rediscovered an old fact. The moon is a self illuminating object.

It says it right in Genesis. God put up two lights in the sky, the sun to illuminate the day, the moon to shine at night.

Which means that only atheists believe the moon is just a reflector of the sun’s light. They’re all going to hell for that.

Some of them get real upset at the moon reflector theory, which is just a theory after all.

Of course, the shining moon doesn’t explain the phases of the moon or why it goes out for part of a month. Or why the astronauts on the moon didn’t notice light coming out of the ground. I’m sure they have some sciencey technobabble to explain that.

Next up. The stars are just lights stuck on the dome over the world.

Geocentrism is making a comeback too although it never really went away. Still at 26% of the fundies.

He implied the demographic there is heavily biased toward her way of thinking and that any teachers who defied an “unspoken” anti-evolution rule there wouldn’t last long.

If they are at all smart, they don’t fire teachers for explaining evolution. They make up charges and fire them on pretexts. The teacher was coming on to the girls or boys. The teacher made fun of their religion. The teacher is gay. The teacher is an atheist or a yankee. The teacher turned in the grades late and marked xians down.

When you “worldview” doesn’t consider reality or truth to be important, making up stuff becomes the norm and easy.

Bitterman at the Iowa community college was fired for disagreeing with the notion that a walking, talking snake started Western civilization off. He did get a settlement, wasn’t much about 20K USD.

The teacher is an atheist or a yankee.

yeah! wait, wut?

don’t the pretexts have to be legal in some fashion?

don’t the pretexts have to be legal in some fashion?

This is Texas and fundies we are talking about. Reality or legality doesn’t matter That teacher is East Texas somewhere was fired for being…too liberal.

This is Texas and fundies we are talking about. Reality or legality doesn’t matter

if that were the case, they wouldn’t need pretexts though, right?

Dave Luckett said:

Mike, help! I read that creo site and their “new creationist cosmology” on the time dilation effect and an edge to the Universe. I know it’s nonsense, because I trust the people who say so, but I haven’t got the knowledge to refute it myself, and I suspect that few people do. Is there some way of explaining the truth that makes sense to a math moron like me?

Well, I can’t do a course in general relativity here, but basically the con game on that site is an ad hoc mixing of Newtonian physics with relativity. You just can’t do it that way, especially with the entire universe.

It has to be general relativity all the way; along with any modeling of the universe that takes into account its “curvature”. It is general relativity space-time coordinates throughout, and all the calculations are carried out using these coordinates.

Time and space are intertwined in such a way that one cannot treat them separately as we do in Newtonian mechanics. General relativity includes the matter and energy as well. All this affects the calculations.

We have had good evidence for dark matter for several decades now. Dark energy has been suspected for a long time, but the evidence has become much more convincing in the last few years.

The rest of the crap on that website about using GR and a universe with a “center and an edge” is again an oxymoronic mixture of a “Newtonian-like” picture of the universe with GR. And a little thought about what lies “outside” this universe reveals its problems.

As usual with creationist literature, they manage to work in some kind of “disclaimer” that, in so many words says, “This might not be true”, as they do in their Caution section. In other words, there is no evidence whatsoever that supports their claims.

Ah, so. It’s like that dickhead Sal and his Newtonian particle physics. I knew that was wrong, and I had an inkling why, but general relativity has always defeated me. I’m still scratching my head over the fact that it doesn’t matter whether you’re going towards or away from a beam of light, it approaches you at the same speed. But at least I know it’s a fact.

I remember one Christian fundamentalist who claimed that intelligent extraterrestrial alien civilizations cannot exist.

The reason, he said, is that God so loved Earth that He sent His only begotten Son to Earth to redeem us from our sins. Therefore God has no more Sons left to send to other planets to redeem aliens from their sins. Therefore, aliens do not exist.

Creationist astronomy is thriving at http://www.bethlehemstar.net/ A beautifully produced, and thus seductive, movie full of crap.

And if anyone has the stamina (mine is ebbing) I could use some help on this topic at http://wow-really.blogspot.com/2006[…]ch-moon.html.

The post was about DNA but was hijacked by a bright and bamboozled believer proclaiming he has the answer to everything thanks to the movie.

sinz54 said:

I remember one Christian fundamentalist who claimed that intelligent extraterrestrial alien civilizations cannot exist.

The reason, he said, is that God so loved Earth that He sent His only begotten Son to Earth to redeem us from our sins. Therefore God has no more Sons left to send to other planets to redeem aliens from their sins. Therefore, aliens do not exist.

Wow; that’s the first time I heard that God became sterile after his first impregnation. That must have been some VD.

The reason, he said, is that God so loved Earth that He sent His only begotten Son to Earth to redeem us from our sins. Therefore God has no more Sons left to send to other planets to redeem aliens from their sins. Therefore, aliens do not exist.

Well, what’s little ‘J up to these days anyhow?

For all we know he might be on Alpha Centuari II right now lecturing the locals about loaves and 3-eyed fishes under a beautiful purple sky.

sinz54 said:

I remember one Christian fundamentalist who claimed that intelligent extraterrestrial alien civilizations cannot exist.

The reason, he said, is that God so loved Earth that He sent His only begotten Son to Earth to redeem us from our sins. Therefore God has no more Sons left to send to other planets to redeem aliens from their sins. Therefore, aliens do not exist.

Proving once again that sexism is a strong, if subtle underlying current in Christian fundamentalism.

Therefore God has no more Sons left to send to other planets to redeem aliens from their sins. Therefore, aliens do not exist.

Maybe they don’t have original sin.

Maybe they listened when God told them not to eat the apple and they still have their rent-free lease in Eden.

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