Fairy tales for adults

Richard Lightman richard at nezumi.plus.com
Wed Feb 12 11:43:29 PST 2003


* Steve Bougerolle <steveb at creek-and-cowley.com> [2003-02-12 18:53]:
> On Wed, 2003-02-12 at 22:14, Ian Molton wrote:
> 
> > Please do give some examples. for example, how do they explain how light
> > from stars has taken billions of years to reach us?
> 
> That's easy, Ian.  It's a deduction that light has taken billions of
> years to reach us from other stars, based on all sorts of observations
> AND assumptions.  Cosmology in particular is rife with unproven details,
> even more so than evolution.
> 
> You CAN safely deduce that both the 6-day account and the current
> cosmological view can not be true, because they contradict each other. 
> But cosmology, frankly, is probably the most speculative of all areas of
> science so you'd have to be either brave or foolish to insist on any
> theory of cosmology as being proven or "true".
> 
The distance to the nearer stars can be measured with parallax -
one of the methods humans use to judge distance by sight, and used
with mathematical precision by the ancient greeks to predict the
arrival of ships.

In the past christians have argued that "What you see through a
telescope is created in the telescope" when moons orbiting
jupiter were discovered despite religious dogma to the contrary.
I hape we do not have to go through that again - since some
people with excellent eyesight can see four of the the moons of
jupiter directly.

One of the ways of measuring the distance to distant gallaxies
is by measuring cepheid variable stars. These flash with a period
that depends on their absolute brightness. The apparent brightness
and distance to local cepheids can be used to determine their
absolute bright, so you can plot a graph of absolue brightness
against period for local cephids. You can look up the period of
a distant cephid on that graph to find its absolute brightness,
and use that, and the apparent brightness to calculate the
distance.

This is not the only method of finding distances to stars, and
other methods agree (within experimental error). Cepheids are
one of the best understood types of star in the universe. Computer
models of these stars show the same period, bightness and
spectum that we observe in with telescopes.

Distant galaxies are far more than 6000 light years away, and
light has never been made to go faster than the speed of light
in a vacuum, so it appears that light from distant galaxies
has taken many thousands of years to get here.


Why would a creationalist god create such a detailed illusion of the
universe being very old?


Richard
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