No More Stars?

Molecular cloud gives creationists the fingerIt’s time to return to another of the missed DpSUs. This one, as usual, is by Brian Thomas, and is called… No, don’t close the tab – it’s not another genetics article, I swear! It’s called Study: Star Formation Is Virtually Finished – so it’s about astronomy instead. Much better.

The topic is a study that inspected the quantity of light at a certain frequency associated with star formation from galaxies at different red shifts. They determined that star formation reached its peak eleven billion years ago (for context, the universe is in the order of 13.75 billion years old), and that from current trends it looks like only a further 5% of stars than those that exist today are yet to form. A sobering thought, but one that was apparently predicted – not that Thomas will tell you that.

Instead the young Earth creationists have mixed feelings on the findings. On the one hand, of course, they dispute the very premises that the study is based on (after all, how can you have star formation peaking 11 billion years ago if the universe is only 6 thousand years old in the first place?). On the other, however, they so desperately want the results to be more than true – they maintain the fiction that star formation is impossible and doesn’t happen, and so try to make capital out of this regardless. The result is an article containing a whole host of creationist PRATTs, both relevant to the subject at hand and not.

Key among these is the idea that, while Thomas concedes that redshift translates to distance, he insists that it does not also mean time:

Higher redshifts are also supposed to indicate that more time has elapsed since that light departed from the faraway glowing clouds. However, this assumes that light travels at the same speed in all directions—an assumption called the Einstein synchrony convention. No experiment has verified this assumption. Nobody has yet invented one that could.

Occam’s razor would suggest, however, that it were true (or at least the preferable working hypothesis). Instead Thomas is championing Jason Lisle’s Anisotropic Synchrony Convention, last discussed in brief back in July. He protests:

Second, the Monthly Notices authors assumed that high redshifts equaled billions of years. One could, with equal validity, assume that starlight travels instantaneously from its source to the viewer, as long as it travels at half the measured round-trip speed of light in the other direction. This way, starlight represents what is happening right now, albeit trillions of miles away.

The concave hollow EarthOne could, with equal validity, construct a model of the universe where everything that we see above us really exists inside the hollow Earth, by thoroughly screwing up the usual coordinate system (though no more than Lisle does). Mathematically speaking it works, but it’s also very silly. Crucially, despite attacking the well-founded premises of the study Thomas never gives an alternative explanation for these and other trends measured that correlate with red-shift and distance.

The next trope is that, as I said, star formation is impossible:

[S]tar formation has never been observed, even in the hot gas clouds in galaxies where it supposedly occurs. Stars could only form in theory through an unlikely nearby star explosion. And then that exploded star would need another earlier nearby star explosion. Clearly, the first star would never have formed.

We saw this idea last in an Acts & Facts article by Jason Lisle, though the crucial difference is that Lisle would not even concede that stars could form if there was a disturbance to the equilibrium of the gas cloud (which isn’t all that rare). In brief, one of the problems with this is that the gas clouds that formed the first stars need not have been at equilibrium, instead collapsing to create stars as soon as was possible. The other is that you don’t necessarily need a supernovae to do the disturbance. A collision with the jet of material being expelled from the vicinity of a black hole would probably do it – and come on, we only need it to happen once.

Thomas also adds:

There is no good scientific reason to think that these distant glowing gas clouds are star nurseries. But calling them that is the only way to justify the existence of stars in a naturalistic worldview—one in which a universal Creator is universally ruled out of bounds. Scripture says that God made the stars all on one day and then completed that creative work. Based on this, one would not expect to find stars forming today. Star formation is an assumption, not an observation.

As I said earlier today, to a creationist everything is about disproving God. I couldn’t tell you why we think that certain interstellar gas clouds are stellar nurseries, but this is because I am not an astronomer and not because there is no evidence.

Another assumption, or rather prediction, based on what we really know about he universe and not the Omphalos theories of the creationists was that neutron stars would exist. If “God made the stars all on one day and then completed that creative work” these stars need not exist, but they do. It seems a safe bet from observation that even if God made the universe as-is, and quite recently, He nevertheless made it with the appearance both of age and of being a dynamic, changing process. He would not have needed to have done so, but this is the only remotely tenable position if His involvement is accepted as a premise.

Another trope mentioned offhand is this one:

Instead, it is as clean as a whistle, which is a big problem for secular astronomers looking for missing supernova remnants.

It’s been a while, but it’s possible you might remember this one from the last time it came up. If not, suffice to say that it is very wrong indeed.

Returning to the aforementioned Lisle star-formation article, there seems to be some confusion over the “blue stars” that Lisle was talking about. Thomas seems to think they are the same as what are being indirectly measured here – so far as I am aware, they are not.

The final PRATT does not fit with the others:

Spiral galaxies are also like cosmic egg-timers, still ticking away as though they are young. Because they are also distributed near and far throughout the universe, they refute the secular notion of billions of years of cosmic history.

The non-issue that is galactic spiral arms is also irrelevant to the issue at hand, but it’s chucked in regardless. The 2011 DpSU cited to back this claim up is also not very relevant, as all it does is make the same assertion.

To conclude this hodgepodge, Thomas confidently claims:

The study authors claimed that star formation has dramatically slowed. But their observations are more consistent with Scripture, which teaches that star formation has totally stopped.

As usual the bible doesn’t say anything of the sort, the merest concept of stars forming themselves out of other celestial bodies being entirely alien to its authors. Instead we once again have a case of the ICR distorting both science and scripture to fit their bizarre conception of the universe and its processes. He is wrong both where it matters, and where it matters to him.

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2 thoughts on “No More Stars?

  1. The YECs reject the most obvious interpretation of observations made through telescopes. So much for ‘observational science’.

  2. “…Einstein synchrony convention. No experiment has verified this assumption.”

    It’s not an assumption, it is a convention; clue – it is called a ‘convention’.

    If some anisotropic synchrony convention was chosen, the equations describing the universe would be different. What is more, it would be different for different observers, this however is merely inconvenient. None of this actually changes the nature of the universe – it remains as big and as old as it is. We might as well get around the problem by defining a billion years as ten minutes.

    “But rejecting the Einstein synchrony convention…means that although stars are billions of light-years away, they are not necessarily billions of years old.”

    Light-years? I think that he needs to find some other unit – cubits perhaps.

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