Creationist Cosmology Issues

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Technology from Cosmology, or “Can Creation Science Do That?”

As an astrophysicist who has dealt with issues and claims of “Creation Science” for nearly ten years now, I felt obligated as a scientist, American, and Christian to respond to some of the blatant scientific ignorance expressed by the supporters of the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

Contrary to the beliefs promoted by Mr. Ham of the museum, “origins” science has a very real impact on the science used to create the technology we use every day. I have collected and researched a number of these connections over my years in the field. These connections have not only yielded Earth-based applications, but have served as cross-checks on our interpretation of observations in the distant and ancient cosmos.

Numerous atomic and nuclear properties were identified originally in astrophysical environments, years and sometimes decades before they were reproducible in Earth-based laboratories. Atomic transitions seen in distant nebulae were initially not producible on Earth, and hence were initially named “forbidden”, because they were not visible at laboratory densities and pressures. Today, these “forbidden transitions” are used as plasma diagnostics in fusion reactor research. Even properties of the atomic nucleus have been discovered based on the requirement that the Universe is very old and the chemical elements heavier than helium are “cooked” in the cores of stars. Fred Hoyle’s energy resonance in the carbon-12 nucleus was discovered this way. If the Universe were young as Creationists like to claim, then the carbon had to be formed by other means and this energy resonance would not need to exist.

At the time of the “Einstein Letter” to President Franklin Roosevelt, the only actual evidence that an atomic bomb would work was the success in extrapolating nuclear reactions to similar temperatures and pressures needed to explain the energy generation and age of the stars. The success of the Manhattan Project was in large part due to the research of Jewish scientists, such as Albert Einstein, whose research was rejected by the Nazis. The failure of the Nazi nuclear weapons program was almost certainly related to the ignorance promoted by the more political members of the German scientific community under the dogma of “German Science”.

The General Theory of Relativity was initially tested on cosmological evidence going back to the 1920s in measuring the deflection of starlight, the gravitational redshift on white dwarf stars as well as the Sun, not to mention the expanding universe concept itself. It was not until 1960 that this redshift was measured in the laboratory. Today, timing corrections to accommodate general relativity are required in the Global Positioning System (GPS), a technology available in many automobiles and cell phones. It is really interesting to note that in the days when these satellites were being developed, there were those who did not believe the relativistic effects were real and the issue resulted in the satellites being launched with an extra frequency synthesizer to adjust for the relativistic effects if needed. It was. It is interesting to speculate how different our society would be today if those on the project had chosen incorrectly and the GPS project had failed.

Creationists like to complain that cosmology is the result of unreasonable extrapolations of science. This is surprisingly wrong. In the case of Newton’s and Einstein’s theories of gravity, they are actually interpolated from the cosmological scale to tests possible on the Earth.

There are no equivalent achievements by “Creation Science”. While creationists like to trot out the occasional engineer or similar who has obtained some patents, labeling them as scientists, their expertise outside of the specialty relevant to their inventions is severely limited. No creationist has yet made a successful observational or laboratory prediction based on a creationist cosmology, though many have claimed various anomalous observations as “predictions” of their theory, after the fact. Creationist cosmology is a sterile field when it comes to actual achievements.

The Soviet Union did not believe Darwin’s theory of evolution and believed they could essentially “train” plants to grow in inhospitable environments. This error resulted in many years of crop failures and this inability to feed their own people was definitely a contributor to their collapse.

Nations who ignore real science face real peril, not only in economic terms, but they give an advantage to enemies who can exploit that ignorance to defeat them. And if a nation is so willingly ignorant, then perhaps they deserve to be defeated, to become another entry in the dustbin of history, just like Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

Finally, as a Christian, I find the museum an example of bad theology in action. I find nowhere in the Bible that a literal interpretation of Genesis is a requirement of Salvation. Attempts to get this clarified from Creationists have been met with quote-mined theology and “You must believe it all to be literally true, or none of it can be true.” This is as ridiculous as claiming that you can’t believe American history if you don’t believe a youthful George Washington actually chopped down a cherry tree.

Christ made clear the actions required to be one of his followers - to love your enemies, particularly those different from you (Matt 5:43-47); to follow the Golden Rule (Matt 7:12); and to follow the example of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). Christ also cautioned those who invoke his name for other agendas, and their status (Matt 7:15-23).

The simple fact is that for Christians to actually fulfill their calling of making the world better, in order to succeed, we must understand how that world actually works.

W.T. Bridgman, Ph.D., May 31, 2007

Last Modified: Sat Dec 3 12:23:38 2011