Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Slagle on Omphalos

Here

I always thought Omphalos was a clever idea.. But these are decisive arguments against it.

26 comments:

Ilíon said...

I take it you didn't even notice my posts wherein I knocked most (or all) of the "oomph" out of the OP?

William said...

Illion,

Why did you think that the monophasic exponential model of paleomagnetism is better than the generally accepted cyclical model with polarity switching?

I think your model is less likely to be correct.

B. Prokop said...

I find the idea that God would somehow LIE to us in creating a universe that only appears to be older than it actually is completely abhorrent. To believe that we have been purposefully fooled by uncountable bits of evidence is perilously close to the variety of Eastern mysticism which declares all to be illusion. To say that we can't trust our senses (or our instruments, which are extensions of our senses) is to say we can be sure of nothing.

I'll be perfectly honest here. I cannot prove that the universe is illusory - but I most definitely choose to not believe it is. If our telescopes can see galaxies whose light took millions (or even billions) of years to reach us, then the universe has been around for at least that amount of time, and not a second less.

Just 3 days ago, I was up in Vermont observing (among other things) the Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Major, which is so far away that its light takes 21 million years to reach us. No one is going to (rationally) tell me that the universe is less old than that.

Ilíon said...

Willlliam: "Why did you think that the monophasic exponential model of paleomagnetism is better than the generally accepted cyclical model with polarity switching?"

You know, one major reason that I rarely honor demands that I justify myself is that in my experience such demands are rarely made with honest intent. How much less do you think I'm going to honor a demand to justify myself for something that I not only never said, but that is contrary to what I did say?

Willlliam: "I think your model is less likely to be correct."

Who cares what someone who doesn't even know -- who can't be bothered to know -- what he's talking about thinks?

Greg said...

By using the examples of water to wine or a full-grown Adam who is only a few hours old, a sensible young-earther is not concluding that God is deceptive but rather that He is capable of producing fully-developed entities immediately.

And from this, that someone without knowledge of God's intervention who came across a natural entity such as wine or an adult man would incorrectly conclude an older age.

Not that this rescues a young earth theory. But there is something to be said against the current secular natural sciences which seek to put God in a box or eliminate Him entirely from the picture of the world and then when anti-creationist conclusions are reached act as if they weren't begged.

Ilíon said...

!B.Thinking-it-through: "[Scientism Rulez!]"

I think that's an accurate paraphrase of your post.

!B.Thinking-it-through: "I find the idea that God would somehow LIE to us in creating a universe that only appears to be older than it actually is completely abhorrent. To believe that we have been purposefully fooled by uncountable bits of evidence is perilously close to the variety of Eastern mysticism which declares all to be illusion. To say that we can't trust our senses (or our instruments, which are extensions of our senses) is to say we can be sure of nothing."

Was God lying when astronomers' instruments (which are extensions of their senses) "told" them that it took about 14,000 years for light from stars in the Perseus Arm of the Galaxy to reach Earth? Or, is God lying *now* that astronomers' instruments (which are extensions of their senses) "tell" them that it takes about 6,2000 years for light from stars in the Perseus Arm of the Galaxy to reach Earth?

Or, were astronomers making (and continuing to make) certain assumptions that are themselves neither self-evidently true statements nor logically sound-and-valid rational inferences from self-evidently true statements, and then on the basis of these questionable assumptions making statements that some of them (and 'Science!' fetishists, of course) try to pass off as truth?

!B.Thinking-it-through: "I find the idea that [the Creator] would somehow LIE to us in ..."

... entering the creation as a helpless infant -- as though he were an element or member of the 'set' "the creation"-- who, upon reaching adulthood, allowed himself to be murdered by his created being, as though he (God) were helpless before them, to be "... completely abhorrent."

I'm presuming you hold to the view that 'Jonah' was never meant to be understood as history -- So, in that light, was Christ telling a LIE when he answered the demand for a sign by saying (to paraphrase), "The only sign you will get is the sign of Jonah: for as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of a whale, so the Son of Man will be three days and nights in the belly of the earth", and thereby gave those nasty, ignorant, deluded YECs ammunition?

Or, to put it another way: Is God lying unless he arranges the world in such a way that no one may misunderstand (or *choose* to misunderstand) any aspect of it? If you misunderstand or misinterpret "nature", does that make God a liar?

B. Prokop said...

"the examples of water to wine or a full-grown Adam who is only a few hours old"

Well, since I don't believe in a literal Adam, that particular example doesn't bother me one whit.

The wine miraculously produced at Cana (or the loaves and fishes in the "lonely place") has to be looked at in context. Christ was demonstrating that it is He that causes grain to grow in the fields, fish to spawn in the seas, and fermentation to occur in the wine vats. These miracles were signs of His greater and continual activity the He is doing every moment throughout the universe.

So Greg is correct in saying "He is capable of producing fully-developed entities", but we must look for there being good reason for His doing so. I can see the pedagogic value in turning water into wine at Cana. I see none in God fooling us into believing He has done something that He has not by planting false and misleading clues into creation itself.

Totally different contexts.

B. Prokop said...

"I'm presuming you hold to the view that 'Jonah' was never meant to be understood as history"

Correct. Jonah is one of the greatest works of literature ever written, deeply insightful into Man's character, and prophetic in character as to Christ. But "True History"? Doubt it.

There's no good reason to think that every word of the OT is history, or to be taken woodenly literally. Do you believe that when God tells the Israelites "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you upon eagles' wings and brought you to myself" that He literally turned Himself into an eagle, picked up the Hebrews in Egypt, and carried them through the air to Sinai? Thought not.

Crude said...

I find the idea that God would somehow LIE to us in creating a universe that only appears to be older than it actually is completely abhorrent.

But God didn't lie, according to these proponents. He flat out told us how old the world was.

Now, some of us may come to wrong conclusions thinking on our, speculating, etc. Did God 'lie to us' when basic observation and the 'science' of the day told us geocentrism was true?

B. Prokop said...

Crude,

So are you seriously suggesting that observational data does not tell us that we can see stars billions of light years away? (I.e., that it took billions of years for their light to reach us) Are you saying there is a real possibility that astronomers are wrong in saying they have evidential proof of a universe at least 13.7 billion years old?

Crude said...

Bob,

So are you seriously suggesting that observational data does not tell us that we can see stars billions of light years away?

Observational data doesn't 'tell us' anything. It's data. We interpret it. We're telling ourselves that we can see stars billions of light years away, and what this means in relation to history. God didn't 'tell us' all this is true. How in the world did anyone get that idea? Did God also tell us miasma theory was true? There was evidence for that at the time as well.

Keep in mind, I don't accept the Omphalos view. Or a young earth view. Hell, I believe in common descent, Big Bang, old universe, etc. Never had the young earth teaching, or the anti-evolution one, in my upbringing. Never embraced it.

But I still get bugged by objections I find to be wrong, even if I think the idea being objected to is also wrong. This is one of them. There is no lie in play here. There's people making assumptions.

Are you saying there is a real possibility that astronomers are wrong in saying they have evidential proof of a universe at least 13.7 billion years old?

Science doesn't deal in proof, I was always told. It deals in evidence, provisional stances, etc. And it's possible to have evidence for a wrong conclusion.

Let me throw a curveball out here, because I feel playful today.

Omphalos is possibly - maybe even likely - a bigger problem for the irreligious than the Christian.

One of the objections I saw against Omphalos was that we have no experience of God creating things looking older than they really were. I think this isn't slam-dunk with God...

But for anyone into simulation hypotheses? It's frightening. Because -man- does these things constantly. So often we probably are barely conscious of actually doing it anymore.

To which I'd say... even if someone is an atheist, if they take the simulation hypothesis seriously, they must - logically must - take seriously the prospect our universe is younger than it appears. YEC is a live possibility for some 'naturalists'. And given the spread of the evidence, it's - at first blush - quite likely.

William said...

I don't like Omphalos theories because I don't like skeptical scenarios in general, but I do admit they can be made to fit the data.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Young-earth creationist astronomers know there's difficulties if you look up into the night time sky and every bright object that is further than 6,000 light-years away is merely an illusion of cosmic history that never took place. Mere light created "in transit" to make it look like that bit of cosmic history took place when it never did. HA.

In response, they suggest that maybe light travels instantaneously when it is travelling in the direction of our particular solar system. I'm not kidding, that's what some YEC's now suggest. Such a suggestion tries to take advantage of the current debate in physics as to whether or not the speed of light is a convention or a law. And the fact that measurements of the speed of light are only made in one direction, not both.

B. Prokop said...

Crude,

I'm sorry, but I just can't go down this route of faux uncertainty concerning basic, well established facts about the physical world. We know the Earth goes round the Sun. (I know, I know, I'm using convenient shorthand for "The Earth and Sun revolve about a common center of gravity, which lies deep below the surface of the Sun - in fact, which is located very near to its geometric center.") We know the Milky Way is more than 100,000 light years across. We know that distant galaxies are up to billions of light years away. We can have every confidence in our instruments, our measurements, and our interpretation of those measurements. * Saying that in no way makes one a "Science!" fetishist - it makes one not a kook.

* We also know their limitations and their uncertainty factors.

B. Prokop said...

Totally off the subject, but for those always bashing the so-called "Dark Ages", take a look at THIS.

Crude said...

Bob,

I'm sorry, but I just can't go down this route of faux uncertainty concerning basic, well established facts about the physical world.

What 'faux uncertainty'? I've nowhere expressed any uncertainty about those facts. I am disputing your claim that, if the universe turned out to be young, then God would be a liar.

That doesn't stand. And you're not giving me any replies to counter what I've said.

We know the Earth goes round the Sun. (I know, I know, I'm using convenient shorthand for "The Earth and Sun revolve about a common center of gravity, which lies deep below the surface of the Sun - in fact, which is located very near to its geometric center.")

I thought we 'knew' that relativity theory was true, that according to modern science there is no preferred reference frame, and therefore - as far as 'science' knows or can show us - it makes as much sense to say the Earth goes round the Sun as it does to say the Sun goes round the earth?

We can have every confidence in our instruments, our measurements, and our interpretation of those measurements.

Were we able to have every confidence in all of the scientific theories that, at the time in the past, stood in opposition to these modern interpretations and measurements?

Let me quote you earlier: I'll be perfectly honest here. I cannot prove that the universe is illusory - but I most definitely choose to not believe it is.

Now you're telling me that these are facts, and we can have every confidence, etc. Then you said you can't prove this or that, but you choose to believe it. Okay... but what does that do to your facts? Hypothetically - and it's hypothetically possible, if (as I believe) quite unlikely - you're wrong. Are you still dealing with facts?

Look, Bob. I reject Omphalos too. But the move you're making here - the one I'm disputing - does not work. It's very popular, I know. But it's wrong.

This doesn't impact your scientific beliefs, or religious ones. But I say you're mistaken on this point, and I've clearly explained why. You call me wrong? Then give me something! Give me an argument. Or just say you choose to believe that, evidence be damned. But keep on-target, and on-subject. Please.

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

"Are you still dealing with facts?"

Yes. There's really only one thing that I can definitively prove, and that's that I personally exist (cogito ergo sum). But notwithstanding my complete inability to prove anything else whatsoever, I choose to not be a solipsist.

"according to modern science there is no preferred reference frame"

That is a gross misrepresentation of what relativity says. No (rational) scientist will say that the universe actually revolves about the Earth every 24 hours, even though every (rational) person will agree that it makes perfect sense to act as though it does (say, when aiming a telescope at an object and then tracking it as it "moves across the sky").

And I say that a 6000 year old Earth would make God out to be a liar, solely on the grounds that there are so many lines of irrefutable evidence that it is far, far older. For the Creator to have "planted" such details within creation would make Him out to be a Master Deceiver - an intolerable notion.

Crude said...

Bob,

But notwithstanding my complete inability to prove anything else whatsoever, I choose to not be a solipsist.

Great. But we're not debating solipsism here - we're establishing just what you mean by 'fact'. And it turns out to mean, for you, that a fact is something that in principle may not be true.

Totally fine. I mean that. But it also means that, if the goal is to argue that it's not possible for X to be wrong because X is a fact, your logic has a problem.

That is a gross misrepresentation of what relativity says.

Really? It's a gross misrepresentation to say that there is no preferred reference frame?

You said that we *know* the earth revolves around the sun. I pointed out a problem with that statement.

And I say that a 6000 year old Earth would make God out to be a liar, solely on the grounds that there are so many lines of irrefutable evidence that it is far, far older.

So God is a liar whenever considerable evidence at a given point in time strongly points towards one or another conclusion, and this conclusion turns out not to be true?

For the Creator to have "planted" such details within creation would make Him out to be a Master Deceiver - an intolerable notion.

Alright. So, when it looked to the naked eye, and all manner of investigation, that the sun revolved around the earth - God was lying then?

See, I don't think so. I think that was a case of fallible humans working with the evidence they had, making a sincere attempt, constructing models, and ultimately making a mistake. No lies to speak of. God is quite mum on the age of the earth.

But your position - think about this, Bob - turns science textbooks into the Word of God. You really think that's reasonable?

Ilíon said...

!B.Thinking-it-through: "There's no good reason to think that every word of the OT is history, or to be taken woodenly literally. Do you believe that when God tells the Israelites "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you upon eagles' wings and brought you to myself" that He literally turned Himself into an eagle, picked up the Hebrews in Egypt, and carried them through the air to Sinai? Thought not."

Like I-pretend and that Australian gnat, you have a finely honed talent for missing-and-evading the point when you do not wish to be cured of your pig-ignorance.

Once again: was Christ -- was God -- lying when he made reference to "Jonah in the whale"? For that matter, was God lying when he insiped the authorship of 'Jonah' and set or ensured its canonicity ... and allowed wooden-minded Gentiles to forget or overlook or never learn that the book was never meant as history?

Ilíon said...

!B.Thinking-it-through: "I'm sorry, but I just can't go down this route of faux uncertainty concerning basic, well established facts about the physical world."

Indeed: pig-headed faux certaintly about "facts" is so much better than a humble admission of ignorance.

!B.Thinking-it-through: "I'm sorry, but I just can't go down this route of faux uncertainty concerning basic, well established facts about the physical world. We know the Earth goes round the Sun. (I know, I know, I'm using convenient shorthand for "The Earth and Sun revolve about a common center of gravity, which lies deep below the surface of the Sun - in fact, which is located very near to its geometric center.")"

According to Relativity, the entire universe is revolving around the point that is your head.

!B.Thinking-it-through: "... We know the Milky Way is more than 100,000 light years across. We know that distant galaxies are up to billions of light years away. We can have every confidence in our instruments, our measurements, and our interpretation of those measurements. * Saying that in no way makes one a "Science!" fetishist - it makes one not a kook.

* We also know their limitations and their uncertainty factors.
"

Every single quoted claim is literally false: we know *none* of these things.

Just a few years ago, we "knew" that (the near stars) of the Perseus Arm were about 14,000 light-years distant. Right now, we "know" that (the near stars) of the Perseus Arm were about 6,200 light-years distant. Next week, we may well "know" that they are 5,000, or 15,000, light-years distant.

And, having shrunk -- by more than half -- our "knowledge" of how far the Perseus Arm is, what does that do to the claim that we "know" the Galaxy to be 100,000 light years across? What does that do to the claim to "know" that the Pinwheel Galaxy is 21 million light-years distant?

This just over the transom -- The Milky Way Galaxy May Be Way Less Massive Than We Thought It Was‏.

Then, there is the "Fingers of God" effect that I brought up in the linked blog entry -- by which we "know" due to redshift values that certain cosmic "structures" are "smeared" out over billions of light years ... and pointing toward us.

Crude said...

Bob,

Let me try another tack here.

Instead of trying to insist that such people are committed to God lying, here's my own reasoning.

I do not think the age of the earth is stated in the Bible, nor does it particularly matter in Biblical teaching. We know God created the heavens and earth, we know the extent of God's control and planning of Creation.

From that point on, we investigate the world in order to determine answers to the sort of questions you're talking about. Here are our current investigations, methods, their limitations, and findings X. X would be here 'scientific research', etc. Provisionally, right now we have these answers A-N on these questions. It's reasonable to take these answers and regard them as true or likely true given what we know.

There. This gets to the conclusion you're at, but it doesn't take on baggage and, frankly, mistakes that I think your route does.

Is there a problem with it?

B. Prokop said...

"a fact is something that in principle may not be true"

Not quite. A fact is something you know to be true, despite not being able to prove it. And as I said, it's precious hard to prove anything other than your own existence. So yes, yes, yes. The alternative to believing things you cannot prove is solipsism.

"But your position ... turns science textbooks into the Word of God."

Not really. Bit of an overstatement there. But (and you think about this) nature is the word of God, according to Romans. "Science" is merely our best attempts to understand nature. No science worship here - just putting it in its proper place without going to the opposite extreme of denigrating it. I don't pooh-pooh my hammer when using a screwdriver. They both have their uses.

"was Christ -- was God -- lying when [H]e made reference to "Jonah in the whale"?"

No. And neither would I lie were I say something like, "I was pursuing that goal like Ahab went after the white whale." I don't have to believe that Moby Dick is literal history for that statement to be true.

"According to Relativity, the entire universe is revolving around the point that is your head."

From personal experience, I can say that that's only true for small children (and for some not so small).

Crude,

Will have to ponder your last comment. In the middle of creating a bit myself right now - some home-made vegetable soup.

mattghg said...

I think we should distinguish between the following claims:

1) God made the world thousands of years ago, and he made it the way he did *so that* it would look billions of years old to our best science now (which it does).

2) God made the world thousands of years ago, and the way he made it means that it does look billions of years old to our best science now.

I think that claim 1 makes God out to be a deceiver, but claim 2 doesn't.

Maybe I'm sort of saying the same thing as Crude. In fact, compare the following claims, inspired by Crude's posts:

3) God made the solar system, and he made it the way he did *so that* it would look to most humans for most of history as though the sun orbits the earth.

4) God made the solar system, and the way he made it means that it has looked to most humans for most of history as though the sun orbits the earth.

Again, claim 3 makes God out to be a deceiver, but claim 4 doesn't. In fact, claim 4 is pretty obviously true!

But suppose someone wants to defend claim 2. The obvious question then is: why would God do that?

One possible response is that this is a presumptuous question. God might have his own inscrutable reasons. It might simply follow from some other intention, and so on.

Can we do better? Perhaps, with respect to some examples. Why would God create stars along with beams of light billions of light years long emanating from them? Well, perhaps because he wants us to be able to see that far into the cosmos, perhaps in order that we might better appreciate our own finiteness.

Like Crude, I don't actually believe all this, but it's worth turning the ideas over.

Ilíon said...

Let us pretend that we really do know -- rather than compute on the basis of a whole raft of non-self-evidently-true assumptions (and overlooking that those same assumptions seem to lead to absurdities elsewhere) -- that the Pinwheel Galaxy really is 21 million light-years didtant from earth.

Now, the question I have for you is this: from the "point of view" of the light spreading out from the Pinwheel Galaxy really -- using the frame-of-reference of the light, rather than our own frame-of-reference -- how long does the journey take?

And, if you get that answer right (given modern physics), then what does that (possible) knowledge do to you claim to "know" that the universe *must* be 13+ billion years old?

B. Prokop said...

Ah, Ilion. You have fallen into the "One True Perspective" fallacy. The fact that from the light's perspective, its passage from M101 to the Earth was instantaneous, does not invalidate the time that, without any contradiction, it took from our perspective.

This is a variant of a discussion I have on occasion felt it necessary to have with fellow astronomy club members who might feel overwhelmed by the scale of the universe, and thereby fall into the trap of thinking that the Earth (and therefore they themselves) are insignificant. I point out that ofttimes you'll hear a person with some knowledge of atomic structure say something like "You know that chair you're sitting on isn't really solid. From an atom's perspective, it's mostly empty space." Conversely, you all too often hear people say stuff like, "There are uncountable galaxies out there, each with their hundreds of billions of stars, so our puny little Earth can't possibly be important in the cosmic scheme of things."

The problem with both of those (partially true, yet ultimately fatally false) statements is that they assume there is only one "correct" perspective, and that in any case the Human Perspective is "wrong". Not true! All three are correct in their appropriate context. Yes, from the galactic standpoint, the Earth is an invisibly small dot amongst trillions of other similar dots. And from the subatomic viewpoint, this solid seeming chair is indeed almost entirely empty space. Yet from my perspective, my chair is solid enough to support my (unfortunately massive) weight, the ocean is indeed vast, the stars are indeed far off, and truth and falsehood, good and evil, beauty and ugliness, right and wrong, indeed have genuine meaning.

All three perspectives are correct.