(Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXXVII: Wherein It’s All Relativity

The Science of the Physical Creation folks, having given us a rainbow of God nonsense, now buckle down to tackle relativity. Are you excited? I’m excited.

They do just fine explaining the basics. It’s not easy to unpack the oddness of relativity in a few short pages, but they do their best, including a helpful (and rather cute) cartoon:

Image is a cartoon strip showing a cute drawing of a blond astronaut boy floating above the moon with the Earth peeking over the horizon. In the top panel, he's drifting off to the left with one foot kicked out, looking very surprised. He's holding a stopwatch that says 00:01. Another stopwatch at the bottom right reads 00:10. There is an arrow below him pointing left, with 99.5%c written in digital-style letters beside it. The caption says Time dilation. In the second panel, the same astronaut boy has been squished into a narrower version of himself, and he is holding a ruler that has been squished with him. There is another ruler at the bottom right that is regular size. The speed is the same. The caption reads Lorentz contraction. The bottom panel shows the boy straddling a rocket that's flying to the left at 99.5%c. He's holding a sign that says 10 m/s squared, 100 kg. There is a computer hooked to an antenna at the bottom, and its screen says 1 m/s squared, 1000 kg. The caption reads Mass increase.

I was really hoping they’d tackle the speed of light in a young universe problem. See, in a young universe, we shouldn’t be seeing objects beyond around 10,000 light years (give or take a few millennia because God couldn’t be arsed to write down the actual date of creation). But we can spot galaxies and quasars and such that are billions of years old. Some of them we’ve even seen out to thirteen billion years and beyond. Everything we’ve found in the cosmos points to a very old universe indeed.

Young earth creationists have to explain that science away. Some of them claim the speed of light is slowing (c-decay). Unfortunately for them, the length of the year hasn’t changed since ancient times, as it would have if the speed of light was slowing. Even worse, if the speed of light was really that much faster in the past, “the earth would have melted during the creation week as a result of the extremely rapid radioactive decay.”

Oops.

Some YECs claim that God created everything with an appearance of age and light already in transit, but lots of other YECs hate that argument because it would mean we’re viewing things in the sky that never actually existed, and watching things like supernovae and galactic collisions that never happened. They don’t believe God would have made any part of the universe fictional, so that’s right out.

They come up with other semi-clever workarounds, but all of them fail to explain anything half so well as the secular conclusion that hey, the universe is just really fucking old.

So the SPC writers don’t even bother to try. They don’t address the problem at all. They say not a single word about it.

Instead, in the initially-promising “Relativity and God’s Universe” section, we get just two things.

The first is a correct explanation of how relativity relates to Newtonian mechanics:

Although the principles of relativity may at times seem to contradict Newton’s laws of motion, the two are actually complementary. Newton’s laws are accurate enough to chart the course of a comet or pilot a spacecraft to the planets; relativity merely modifies these laws to more accurately describe the behavior of objects at extremely high speeds or under the influence of strong gravity.

That’s a pretty good explanation, actually. Nothing to do with God, either. But, this being a young earth creationist Christian textbook, they must end the chapter with a bit of a sermon:

Although relativity stretches our imagination, it should also remind us that our Heavenly Father, who is the Creator of the Universe, is a very wise and intelligent Designer.

*Looks at the giraffe’s recurrent laryngeal nerve and human reproductive + waste elimination organs, nearly dies laughing*

He planned the universe, and He allows us to learn about it and thus “think His thoughts after Him.” Still, we remind ourselves of the words of David, “O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep” (Ps. 92:5).

Image is a Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey title from SNL. The background image is of an ocean at sunset. The golden sun is sinking low in a golden sky. There are seagulls silhouetted, flying, some of them landing on a rock in the foreground. Deep thoughts is written in fancy cursive in white at the top left. By Jack Handey is written in white at the bottom in plain typeface. Jack's name has been struck out in red, and God written in red above it.

We are grateful for men like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein who have helped us understand some of the deep thoughts of God

Image is a Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey title from SNL. The background image is a Midwestern sunset, with some pinkish-gold clouds above. The sun is sinking behind a few leafless trees and a windmill. There is a farmhouse at the left. Deep thoughts is written in fancy cursive in white at the top left. By Jack Handey is written in white at the bottom in plain typeface. Jack's name has been struck out in red, and God written in red above it.

as they are expressed in the physics of light, mass, and velocity.

Yep. They are going to just completely avoid the fact that all we know of those subjects, all of these great discoveries by outstanding scientists, all point toward a universe that is billions and billions, not thousands and thousands, of years old.

Je suis tres disapoint.

 

 

 

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(Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXXVII: Wherein It’s All Relativity
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