Thursday, October 29, 2009

Decreasing Speed of Light?

A creationist I was debating recommended that we look at the web site '' and comment on it.

I looked at it.

Like all other creationist web sites, it is a fraud. It is actually worse than some others.

The creationist didn't reference any specific page on that site, I get to choose which one I want to comment on. One of them discussed one of my favorite topics - the speed-of-light.

Specifically the web page at talks about 'evidence' that the speed-of-light has been diminishing historically. For support it quotes the work of Barry Setterfield. A diminishing speed-of-light would help to explain why there are stars many light-years from Earth if the Earth is only a few thousand years old.

I like this example because it shows that creationism is wrong but it also shows what a fraud creationism is.

Setterfield is a fraud. Anyone who would use his data is also a fraud. I can support those claims.

First, a bit of background.

The way that you measure the velocity of anything is to see how long it takes for that thing to move a known distance. You then divide the distance by the measured time and you thereby calculate the velocity.

The speed-of-light is VERY fast - 300,000 kilometers per second (186,000 miles per second).

If you are using the distance of 1 mile to measure that velocity, then you must be able to measure about 5 microseconds accurately in order to correctly calculate the speed-of-light. So you either need very long distances to measure over or you need a clock able of measuring very small time increments. Clearly with older technologies measuring the speed-of-light accurately is very, very difficult.

When people first tried to measure the speed-of-light they didn't have an adequate technology to measure it anywhere close to accurately. Galileo tried to measure the speed-of-light by putting people with lanterns on mountain peaks fairly far apart and tried to measure how long it took to have one person open his own lantern when he saw the distant lantern turned on. But human reaction time swamped the actual time required for the light to travel from peak to peak. Galileo determined that the speed-of-light was infinite.

Was it?

No. (Even Setterfield says that it was much less than infinite during Galileo's lifetime.)

It's just that with Galileo's methods, the margin of error was larger than the thing that he was trying to measure.

It would be like measuring the speed-of-light as 300,000 kmps +/- 10,000,000 kmps. The measurement gets lost in the error of the measurement.

As new technologies - particularly those associated with measuring time increments - have improved the error margin has diminished. But up until recently the error margin has still been significant.

But you can use data points with significant error margins to show any sort of trend, depending on the points that you pick.

For example, if the error margin is +/- 10,000 kmps then you might expect to see readings between 290,000 kmps and 310,000 kmps. If the error margin diminishes later to +/- 1000 kmps then you might expect to see readings between 299,000 kmps and 301,000 kmps.

If you look at ONLY the highest readings you see the measured speed-of-light going from 310,000 kmps to 301,000 kmps to 300,000 kmps. In that case it seems to be decreasing.

If you look at the lowest readings you see the speed-of-light going from 290,000 kmps to 299,000 kmps to 300,000 kmps. So it seems to be INCREASING.

Within that narrow set of data, you can see all sorts of different trends due really to nothing but the margin of error of the particular data points that you decide to use.

Enter Barry Setterfield.

What does he do?

He looks at the historical measurements for the speed-of-light and tries to find a trend. But he does so in a very fraudulent way.

There is a long explanation for Setterfield's fraud at but in summary Setterfield:

1. Ignores many data points

For example, in the 17th century, Christiaan Huygens measured the speed-of-light as 220,000 kmps. In that same century, in 1675 Ole Roemer measured it at 200,000 Kmps. Setterfield doesn't use those data points. Why not? Because they are LOWER than the current speed of light so that they don't match what he is trying to prove. As I show above, if you arbitrarily ignore anyset of data points you can show any trend that you want.

2. Setterfield can't match his own data to his claims.

Setterfield claims to have found a perfect match to a proposed curve showing c-decay. But even he admits that not one of his 38 data points (selected after ignoring those that he doesn't like) falls on his "perfect fit" curve.

Setterfield also has problems with statistics and other things. The web page I referenced goes into the details.

In addition, there are some common-sense reasons to reject Setterfield's data.

1. Setterfield has no objectivity whatsoever. He actually states in his paper that one of his goals is to reconcile "the observational problems of astronomy and Genesis creation .."

2. Both the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and Answers in Genesis (AiG), two of the most prominent young Earth creationist organizations, say that this proposal has a number of problems that have not been satisfactorily answered and they both advise young Earth creationists against advocating the idea.

3. If Setterfield's curve is accurate then we should continue to see additional decay. We don't. The measured speed-of-light has not changed since at least 1975. In all that time technologies has been sufficient to measure the speed-of-light within a fraction of a kmps.

4. Relativity prevents any possible speed-of-light much larger than the one we measure now even in the past.

Einstein famously calculated that E = M * C^2. The 'C' in that equation is the speed-of-light.

Of course the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki show the validity of that formula on a macro scale. But that formula affects ANY atomic change. So when a radioactive particle decays, it releases energy at the rate of E = M * C^2. The energy released from each such a reaction is very small because the mass change is so small - sub-atomic. But the sum of all radioactive decay in the Earth's crust actually generates enough heat by the ration of E = M * C^2 to help keep the Earth from turning into a snowball.

Note that the energy released is proportional to the square of the speed-of-light. So **IF** the speed-of-light was ten times higher at some time in the past, then the amount of energy released from each radioactive decay was 100 times (C^2) higher. Simply put, any significant increase in the speed-of-light (and Setterfield actually says that it was 'infinite' in 4000 BC) would melt the Earth's crust.

This is especially ironic because another claim that some creationists make in order to explain away radiometric dating is that radioactive decays were SIGNIFICANTLY more frequent in the past. That claim would only increase the negative effects of a larger speed-of-light.

The bottom line: creationists cannot be trusted and the web site supplied by this creationist is worst than most. At least the ICR and AIG don't use this particular fraudulent argument (though they use many others).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Merely a Matter of Interpretation?

The web page at addresses one of the points that creationists often raise. You often hear them say:

"There are two ways to interpret the data. Evolutionists interpret it one way and creationists interpret it another."

The implication is that both interpretations are equally valid.

In fact, that is an incorrect way of how science works. As the web page says:

"In part, it [creationism] rests on a twisted Baconian vision of science that creationists adhere to. In this scheme, science is a process of gathering facts about the world, and letting those observations reveal underlying causes. Facts, in this system, are primary, and theory is secondary – mere interpretation. Creationists, in this vein, often say that they and real scientists use the same observations, but simply interpret them differently because of differing 'worldviews,' and there's supposedly no scientific way to say who is right.

"In science as we practice it 400 years later...

Roger Bacon died in 1294 so it's actually been more like 700 years.

" works the other way around. Bacon's reliance on induction proved impractical and error-laden. This isn't to say Baconian approaches are never useful, but their applicability is limited. A more general approach requires you to start from a theory. That theory (with miscellaneous auxiliary hypotheses thrown in) lets you generate certain predictions about what will happen under specific circumstances. You then either create those circumstances in the lab, or find a natural setting where those conditions apply, and you see whether your prediction bears out. If so, the theory stands. If not, you examine both the auxiliary hypotheses and the theory itself, testing various aspects of those propositions until you find out what was wrong.

"In this system, theory is central, and observations are inherently suspect. A given observation may be wrong for any number of reasons, from measurement error to biased sampling methods to faulty premises about what to measure. A theory explains results, and gives you a sense of what to look for and how to understand what you see. At the end of the day, that's a better reflection of how even Bacon operated."

Someone who says that it is simply a "matter of interpretation" doesn't understand science.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why Creationists Don't Love God

I have contended for a very long time that creationists don't love God at all. When I make that contention, creationists dismiss it and claim that they actually love God.

But they don't.

We know that because actions speak louder than words.

The Christian web site and specifically the web page at is titled "Actions Speak Louder Than Words". It gives this example of professed love vs. actual love:

"For example, a husband may assure his wife that he loves her, yet he is often late coming home from work and he seldom calls to inform her. When she questions him, he insists that he had to work late, or run an errand, or see a friend, or something. She explains to him that it is important for her to know when he will be late so she can plan dinner accordingly. But he fails to call again and again, and meal after meal is spoiled. While his words say, 'I love you,' his actions say, 'I couldn’t care less about your wishes or your feelings.' And she believes the actions above the words."

So a person's actions may show that they don't love something even when their words say that they do.

Similarly the words of creationists say that they love God, but their actions show that they actually don'tlove God at all.

The actions that show this are those that endorse a belief system that is only consistent with a God who is cruel, deceptive and not very competent.

Probably the worst of these characteristics is cruelty.

A creationist that I have been arguing with agrees that God did indeed kill babies when he did things like send a global flood.

That makes God cruel. Period.

If you call someone cruel, you don't love that person.

That same creationist has tried to defend God’s actions like this:

>> And as humans they are condemned under the inherent sin

>> nature. They are not innocent, except for the difference

>> betwen adults and them. But they are not innocent either.

>> Adam and Woman were innocent.

The creationist is arguing that God is justified in killing babies because babies deserve to be killed. They are "guilty" of original sin.

That argument is evil and perverted.

What this creationist is unable to see - as is the case with most creationists - is that the thing that he actually loves IS the Bible. Even more importantly, he loves his own interpretation of the Bible.

He doesn't care about God. He cares ONLY about the Bible. The idea that the Bible may NOT be the inerrant word of God never even enters his mind.

His interpretation of the Bible tells him that God did such cruel things. Therefore he is unable to ask himself whether they really took place. Doing so would mean questioning his interpretation of the Bible.

He doesn't think to even ask himself whether these stories diminish God. Clearly God's character has no importance to him. The ONLY thing that he values is his interpretation of the Bible.

God has no relevance whatsoever!

I don't mean to pick on this single creationist since that is the view of ALL creationists. They don't really care about God at all. All they think about is THEIR interpretation of a book.

In other words, they are primarily only thinking of themselves.

In the example I gave at the start of this post, the husband may have actually believed that he loved his wife. He might have passed a lie detector test. But his actions show us that he didn't.

Similarly creationists may actually believe that they love God. They may even pass a lie detector test. But their actions show us that they don't.

Actions speak louder than words. If there is a God and God is watching, God knows how evil and anti-God their actions are.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Proof that Creationism demands a belief in a Cruel God

Here is a valid logical argument:

People who "design" cruel systems are justifiably considered to be cruel themselves.

Creationists believe that God designed nature.

Nature is a cruel system.

Therefore creationists believe that God is cruel.

That is actually a valid logical argument. If the premises are true, then the conclusion is necessarily valid.

So let's examine the premises.

In regard to the first premise, I can even bring out the Adolf Hitler analogy.

I don't believe that Hitler personally ever killed a single Jew. Yet who gets, quite jusifiably, blamed for the Holocaust?

Adolf Hitler.


Because Hitler was personally responsible for the "design" of the Holocaust. (He didn't "design" all of the details, but the basic concept was surely his.)

Therefore, as that example clearly illustrates, "designers" who "design" cruel systems are justifiably considered to be cruel themselves as is the case with Adolf Hitler.

The second premise is: Creationists believe that God designed nature.

Since "nature" is a shorthand way of referring to the living things on Earth, that is surely true. Creationists truly believe that God "designed" nature.

Many creationists contend that God created a perfect nature - one that was not cruel - but that the fall of man caused nature to degenerate to what we see now through a series of "micro-evolutionary" steps.

That is a fallacious argument for two reasons.

First, nature is the cruelest to non-human creatures that live in nature. Things like parasitic wasps don't attack humans. Most of the parasites in nature attack organisms other than humans. Since the creatures that DO suffer are innocent of the fall of man, then **IF** they are being punished, the "designer" is cruel for designing a system that punishes innocent creatures.

Second, a simple case of "micro-evolution" DOES NOT and CANNOT explain much of what we see in nature. My favorite example remains heartworms. They cause pain and suffering in dogs. Dogs surely feel pain.

Yet heart worms are transported from host to host by another parasite - mosquitoes. It is impossible to even hypothesize what the original heatworm "kind" was and how they "micro-evolved" into what we see today.

Therefore that "explanation" by creationists is invalid.

The third premise is: Nature is cruel.

In a poem written about a decade before "The Origin of Species" was published, Tennyson famously talks about "Nature, red in tooth and claw".

More than half of all species of organisms on Earth are parasites. The vast majority of them cause pain and suffering.

We also see other examples of cruel things in nature such as male lions killing all of the young lions in a pride when they take over that pride.

Therefore all three premises are valid.

If you are a creationist and believe that God "designed" nature, then you are obligated to accept the belief that God is cruel.

If you are NOT a creationist then you DON'T believe that God "designed" nature. In that case premise 2 is false and you are not forced to come to the conclusion that God is cruel.

But, to emphasize, creationists, necessarily, believe in a cruel God

If creationists dispute this argument, they must explain which premise is false and explain why. If the say that nature has only gotten cruel since the fall, then they must explain a hypothesis for where heartworms came from in the Garden of Eden.

If they cannot show that one of the premises is wrong, then the conclusion is valid and creationists believe in a cruel God.

Logic doesn't lie.

Monday, October 5, 2009

More Hypocrisy by ID Advocates

In a discussion on another debate forum, I came across another example of hypocrisy by Intelligent Design advocates.

Judge John E. Jones III made the decision in the Dover, PA, court case. That decision went against the Intelligent Design advocates.

The Discovery Institute, the primary Intelligent Design spokesgroup, issued this statement about the decision:

"'The Dover decision is an attempt by an activist federal judge to stop the spread of a scientific idea and even to prevent criticism of Darwinian evolution through government-imposed censorship rather than open debate, and it won't work, said Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute, the nation's leading think tank researching the scientific theory known as intelligent design."

Activist federal judge?


BEFORE the Dover, PA, trial here's how William Dembski viewed Judge Jones on his blog:

"Judge John E. Jones on the other hand is a good old boy brought up through the conservative ranks. He was state attorney for D.A.R.E, an Assistant Scout Master with extensively involved with local and national Boy Scouts of America, political buddy of Governor Tom Ridge (who in turn is deep in George W. Bush’s circle of power), and finally was appointed by GW hisself. Senator Rick Santorum is a Pennsylvanian in the same circles (author of the 'Santorum Language' that encourages schools to teach the controversy) and last but far from least, George W. Bush hisself drove a stake in the ground saying teach the controversy. Unless Judge Jones wants to cut his career off at the knees he isn’t going to rule against the wishes of his political allies. Of course the ACLU will appeal. This won’t be over until it gets to the Supreme Court. But now we own that too.

"Politically biased decisions from ostensibly apolitical courts are a double edged sword that cuts both ways. The liberals had their turn at bat. This is our time now. We won back congress in 1996. We won back the White House in 2000. We won back the courts in 2005. Now we can start undoing all the damage that was done by the flower children. The courts have been the last bastion of liberal power for 5 years. It was just a matter of time. The adults are firmly back in charge. The few wilted flower children that refused to grow up will have to satisfy themselves by following the likes of Cindy Sheehan around ineffectually whining about this, that, and the other thing. They’ve been marginalized."

Dembski is clearly encourging Judge Jones to be "activist",but to do so in the direction of HIS side of the debate.

Mysteriously, this blog entry vanished after the Judge'sdecision. Fortunately before it was removed a number of people copy-and-pasted it into other web pages that still exist. A Google search found more than 60 examples. For example it can be found at: