Happy Jason Lisle Day! Celebrating Creationists’ Inability to Solve the “Starlight Problem” (And Willingness to Lie About It)

Happy Jason Lisle Day! Today is the second anniversary of the day when Jason Lisle, director of what passes for research at ICR (Institute for Creation Research), promised he would explain why his alleged solution to the creationist “Starlight Problem” wasn’t really demolished by the math of Einstein’s General Relativity– in spite of much proof to the contrary that had been shoved right in his face. Lisle had whipped up a convoluted, technical explanation for why Young Earth creationists [YECs] are right about the universe being created only 6,000 years ago, even though we can see galaxies that are millions of light years away, and their starlight must have been traveling towards us for much longer than 6,000 years. Subsequently critics confronted Lisle with a handful of different mathematical and observational arguments that refuted his alleged solution to the Starlight Problem, which he calls “ASC” [Anisotropic Synchrony Convention]– one point being that his ASC would in fact require a gravitational field that ought to be observable, but isn’t observed. In his only response, two years ago today, Lisle promised to explain why we’re all stupid and maths are all wrong and his shitty model actually rules.

Lisle: I’ve seen this criticism [observable gravity field] but I haven’t responded yet. It is very easy to refute. I plan on doing a series on this blog on the topic of ASC, in which I will refute this and other criticisms made by those who have not studied the topic.
[Jason Lisle, comment September 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm]

Uh huh. Sure you will Jason. Two years later, we’re still waiting. His comment has no content beyond the usual creationist combination of genetic fallacy plus ad hominem attack: ignore the math because it was “made by those who have not studied the topic”— as if Lisle’s toy model is so friggin’ hard! (For other entertaining examples of creationists who respond to the demolition of their faked evidence and/or terrible math with the very mature, “Wah, it don’t count because you’re all ignorant of my genius, ignorant ignorant!!“, without ever actually employing their superior intellects to show what’s wrong with the maths, you can peruse IDer William Dembski’s ad hominem “refutation” of Felsenstein and Shallit’s demolitions of his pseudomath, and creationist Jeffrey Tomkins’ infantile mental meltdown presented by him as a “refutation” of AceofSpades’ exposure of Tompkins’ incompetent huge overestimate of the genetic difference between humans and chimps.)

So on Sept. 11 of this year and every year, let’s celebrate not just the genius of Dr. Jason Lisle of the ICR, but the genius of all the YECs over the years who’ve said they could explain how starlight can get here from galaxies millions of light years away in a mere 6,000 years– all of whom subsequently crashed and burned, including Lisle, as we’ll see below.

In this blog post, I’ll review the math that shows why Lisle’s model is dead, dead, dead, and why his cosmogony is absurd on several levels, because contradicts Lisle’s assumptions. But first, for your entertainment, let’s review some previous, disastrous, failed attempts by YECs to “solve” the starlight problem.

Background: Previous YEC Attempts to Solve the Starlight Problem

The “Starlight Problem” has vexed Young Earth creationists for as long as there have been Young Earth creationists. Simply put, the universe cannot be 6,000 years old if we can see galaxies millions of light years away, and if light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second– not unless God is tricking us with phony light shows in the sky. Here are four dead proposals.

1. “Omphalos”, aka “Appearance of Age”: the Deceiver-God is tricking us with phony light shows in the sky that didn’t really come from stars. You might think that this argument is an evolutionist spoof of a creationist argument, but in fact it was promoted for decades by none other the most famous creationist in American history, Henry Morris, the “Godfather” of modern YEC, author of the influential The Genesis Flood (1961), and founder of the ICR where Jason Lisle now works. Morris never backed down over several decades but aggressively defended the idea of deceptive light shows in the sky, along with his ICR lieutenant and “star debater”, Duane Gish. These light shows must be extremely complex and highly contrived by Deceiver-God, due to the complexity of many observed astronomical events and structures. For example, from time to time a supernova comes into the news, and astronomers can detect both photons and neutrinos from the exploding star, and in years afterward they observed the expansion of the gas and dust clouds thrown off in a shell around it, e.g SN 1987A that exploded in 1987. All fake, all an illusion, according to the ICR when Morris and Gish were alive– fake photons, fake neutrinos, fake dust, fake clouds… if the object is more than 6,000 light years away. If it’s closer than that, it might be real. Some large astronomical structures are light-years across and in principle could cross the 6,000 light-year boundary, a topic the YECs discreetly avoid discussing, but in principle structures like large nebula could be half real and half make-believe, like Fox News.

Henry Morris used Deceiver-God to explain away both the starlight problem and also radiometric dating: In The Genesis Flood Morris said God just created rocks with a high ratio of daughter isotopes to parent isotopes, making them appear old by radiometric dating, because the Bible says “a thousand years is as a day to the Lord.” Morris never explained why God made deeper rocks appear older than rocks near the surface, or why volcanic intrusions appear younger than the strata they intrude into. In a debate against Ken Miller in 1981, Morris defended his “fake photons” argument for starlight but in a comical/pitiful performance, he seems embarrassed by it. In the Q and A session afterward, an audience member asks him, “[C]ould we not equally accept that the universe was created a millisecond ago with prepackaged memories of your
two-and-a-half-hour debate implanted in our minds?
” [a philosophy called Last Thursdayism]. Morris’ 1981 answer is still amazing.

[Henry Morris]: …obviously when you suggest the creator could create things with the appearance of built-in memories… yes, in principle of course as the creator he could do that, and if there is a creator then you can’t say “No.” …But when we suggest that there is creation, then the only way to say that there is no possibility of creation with an appearance of maturity, or completeness or appearance of age, or whatever, is to say that creation is impossible. And that’s to say that there is no creator, which is tantamount to atheism. [Henry Morris vs. Ken Miller debate, 1981]

So you have to like Morris’ Deceiver-God and his fake photons, fake supernovae, fake nebulae, fake light shows in the sky, fake geological evidence etc., or else you’re an atheist. This is the classical defense of Omphalos, still used by Jason Lisle today: flip the burden of proof onto the other guy by demanding, “Where is your evidence that my all-powerful God can’t trick me?”

2. The Speed of Light is Slowing Down. This terrible idea was the go-to answer in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Do I have to say that the method to “prove” this was a hoax, and that energy is converted into mass by the equation E = mc^2, so when creationists say that the speed of light c could have been, say, a hundred million times (10^8) faster in the past, that means that the energy released by nuclear fusion in stars would have been ten quadrillion times (10^16) greater back in the old days and the universe would blow up? Likewise all the radioactive uranium, thorium and radium in the whole Earth would release ten quadrillion times more heat, and in your own body the fraction of your potassium that is radioactive would friggin’ kill you.

This dumb idea of light “tiring out” from its long journey was concocted by Norman and Setterfield about 1969 and the method behind it was thoroughly debunked by the time of the 1982 book Scientists Confront Creationism. Norman and Setterfield took a historical value of the speed of light and a then-current measurement, then they drew a curve through the the highest end of the error bar of the first, to the the lowest end of the error bar of the second, and surprise!! The curve goes down over time!! And of course they used an exponential curve, so if you go back in time a few centuries, the speed of light would be vastly, exponentially larger than now. Also, al stars would explode, the Earth would vaporize and your own potassium would kill you.

This dumb idea was pushed by Flood fossil fraudster Dr. Carl Baugh (fake Ph.D.) and by Dr. Kent Hovind (fake Ph.D.), aka Federal Prisoner #06452-017. Naturally, Ken Ham, Andrew Snelling and Carl Wieland, in a precursor to Answers in Genesis ministry, pushed the idea in the 1990 edition of The Answers Book (pages 189-192).

3. Stars are Not Big and Very Far Away, They’re Small and Close Up. Again, this is a real creationist argument, not a parody of creationism.

[Carl Baugh]: One of the concepts of evolutionary consideration is that some of the stars appear to be much closer. The formula which calculates these distances is by no means proven. But even if God wanted them to be sixteen billion light years away, that’s no problem for an omnipotent… God. [“Dr.” Carl E. Baugh (fake Ph.D.), ‘Panorama of Creation’, (1992), p.11-13, 16, cited here]

The jury is still out!! The stars might be fifty feet away and just very tiny, who knows, scientists can’t prove a damn thing!

Henry Morris again, embarrassed to have to invoke this argument, but invoking it anyway, because what the hell?

[Henry Morris]: we can’t even be sure that these stars are billions of light years away. There’re very sophisticated esoteric sort of assumptions involved in calculating the distances. [Henry Morris vs. Ken Miller debate, 1981]

Ooh, them scientists are doin’ long division and my head hurts! So esoteric! No, scientists do have sophisticated methods to estimate the distances to stars, and the laws of physics don’t permit the stars to be shiny nails pounded in the dome of heaven like the Bible says. Here creationist Danny Faulkner summarizes and disputes other creationists who claim stars are small and close up.

4. Space could be Riemannian, then light from the most distant galaxies could get to us in 15 years! Bullshit, and the people who say it don’ t even know what Riemannian means.  They just want to use jargon. It means that space is curved in an invisible dimension, but negatively curved, like a saddle. Well, that would have observable effects, and they’re not seen. So this is a toy model of a hypothetical universe but we know from observation it’s not true of our universe.

5. Earth is at the Center of the Universe and We’re at the Bottom of a Gravity Well. This idea was concocted by Russell Humphreys and recently popular for a few years, then it crashed and burned due to its basic mathematical blunders. Humphreys denied the Copernican principle– that the universe looks about the same no matter where you are– and says that all the galaxies form a big sphere with the edge far away, and Earth at its center.  Anyway, Humphreys proposed that we’re at the center of a spherical universe so that Earth would be at the bottom of a big gravity well, and
in General Relativity, time runs slower at the bottom of a gravity well. So 6,000 years can pass on Earth while billions of years pass out in the Universe, get it? No, it sucks on many levels.

To start with, when light falls into a gravity well, it slows down, so the wavelengths get shorter; it’s shifted to the blue end of the spectrum. That’s the reason why the signals from GPS satellites have to be tuned to a slightly higher frequency than the receivers on Earth are tuned to– time runs slower in Earth’s gravity well, so the radiation is blue-shifted as it falls into Earth’s gravity. Thus if Earth were in a huge gravity well, the light from distant galaxies would be blue-shifted, but it’s actually red-shifted.

Also, there’s no solution for intermediate distance objects– what about nearby stars or planets in the solar system? They should be slowed down about as much as Earth, but instead they look very old: Mars and Jupiter’s moons have tons of craters, and among the asteroids there is considerable evidences of long-term processes: from the Kirkwood gaps in asteroid orbital periods, from the tumbling rate of larger vs. smaller asteroids, and from running the orbits of asteroid families backward in time until they coalesce on the partent body from which they were broken off, etc. we know the asteroid families are tens of millions of years old. Likewise, there’s no smooth way to say Earth is young, asteroids are a tiny tiny bit older, Pluto slightly older, etc. It’s dead.

This idea is often conflated with long-debunked claims that galaxies are found in concentric shells with gaps between them, like a set of Russian nesting dolls with Earth at the center. The alleged evidence for the shell game is a bit of pseudoscience called “quantized red shift” meaning that red shifts from distant galaxies supposedly come in fixed intervals, therefore galaxies distance must come in shells with gaps between them (they don’t, and they’re not). The problem here is hypothesis fishing: if you analyze a bunch of galactic distances and test them for, say, a thousand different periodicities, the odds are that at least one periodicity will pass a statistical test at a level of 1 in a thousand, even if the data you analyze is random.  Or if you test them for, say, a million different periodicities, at least one periodicity will pass a statistical test at a level of 1 in a million, even for randomized data.

Hypothesis fishing is a classic blunder and you have to reject it by doing the Bonferroni correction and trying to reproduce the exact same method on a totally independent data set.

Anyway, if it weren’t for the popularity of GPS technology, we’d still have to deal with Humphreys’ shit, but now even most creationists sweep it under the rug. Except that according to the recent Texas newspaper article on ICR, the long-debunked “shells of galaxies” crap is still one of ICR’s big current lines of research.

Now we’ll finally get to Jason Lisle’s idea, complicated yes, but smart, no.

Jason Lisle’s Solution: Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC)

Lisle’s solution is cobbled together from three different ideas, which we should not get mixed up together.

1. The Anisotropic Synchrony Convention. Here Lisle simply defines all events happening in the universe, no matter what the distance, as being simultaneous with what’s happening now on Earth. Simultaneity of any two events depends on the observer’s position, so I say events A and B are simultaneous, but if you’re in a different location, you say A happened before B (unless you are sitting on my lap.) Thus, God could create the whole universe simultaneously relative to Earth (see Point 3 below), and light from distant objects would instantaneously arrive at Earth no matter the distance — but note that all creation events would not besimultaneous relative to observers  not on Earth. Believe it or not, there is no way to falsify this because it’s just a convention, so it can’t be rejected on observational grounds. The problem is not terrible, but Lisle then combines it with the next two ideas, which are disastrous.

2. A variable speed of light that depends on the position of the observer, and the position and direction of travel of the photon, via the angle θ made between the eye-line from the observer to the photon and the photon’s direction of travel. For all observers in the universe, not just those on Earth, photons come straight at them at infinite speed. Photons moving perpendicular to our line of sight move at the conventional c. If a photon is approaching you at a glancing angle, it decelerates precipitously, then at closest approach to you it moves at speed c, and continues to slow down after it passes you, as it recedes away finally approaching one-half the speed of light (c/2). If you jump to the left, the velocity of every photon in the universe changes. If you send a light beam to bounce off a mirror on Alpha Centauri, 4.5 light years away, in Einstein’s convention it would take 4.5 years on each leg of the trip, 9 years total. But in Lisle’s convention, it will take 9 years to get there and zero time to bounce back. From the point of view of the guy on Alpha Centauri, your light beam came to him instantly, and then took 9 years to bounce back to you.

This idea of Lisle’s is disastrous as it would induce an observable gravity field in General Relativity (GR) and also mucks up two physical constants known from electromagnetic theory, the permeability and permittivity of free space, which must then become position-and-angle dependent instead of being constants. The variable, position-dependent speed of light (2) is a separate idea added onto the Synchrony Convention (1) above, though Lisle conflates 1 and 2, and incorrectly calls the combination a mere “coordinate transformation.” Falsely calling them both a mere “coordinate transformation” was at the point of Lisle’s promised refutation when two years ago he wrote “It is very easy to refute”, then never delivered. He can’t deliver, because (2) is not a coordinate transformation, because it sets the velocities of photons to be dependent on their position and on their direction of travel.  Lisle never writes down his alleged coordinate transformation as a matrix (which should be easy if he were telling the truth) nor differentiates the matrix as is necessary.

3. Lastly Lisle hypothesizes a Cosmogony in which God creates the universe in concentric shells, outward from the edge of the universe and coming in towards the place where Earth will finally be, with a black sphere of “uncreated” nothingness in the center that slowly contracts as God creates stars and galaxies one thin shell at a time at the inner edge of the sphere. The creation “wave” converges on the place where the Earth will be at a speed of 1/2 the speed of light (not the speed of light as some have thought, and as Lisle himself incorrectly wrote in an early paper.) The intermediate steps of creation involve one-quarter stars, half-galaxies, half-black holes, three-quarter relativistic jets, etc. etc., and all kinds of huge complex structures that are millions of miles or hundreds of thousands of light years across, that God sloooowly constructs slice by slice: imagine a 3-D printer constructing a living human baby slice by slice, while it cries, thinks, and poops, but somehow doesn’t die even when it has half-arteries and half-veins, half-loops of an intestine going in and out, half-brain etc. Same idea here, but with half-stars and half-galaxies instead of a half-baby. Lisle hypothesizes this cosmogony because if ASC is assumed then all creations by shells would then be simultaneous relative to an observer on Earth, if any existed (Day 4 of Creation Week, no humans existed to watch it); though the creation process would  be highly non-simultaneous, relative to the planets and stars getting created, and in fact it would all take ~80 billion years (relative to a distant non-Earth observer) before God got around to making Earth, because the observable univserse is ~40 billion light-years across and creation shells would converge at half the speed of light.

It is not sufficient to call this cosmogony absurd or counter-intuitive. It is wrong because it is non-falsifiable; because the scientific method requires a theory to be simpler than the observations it explains, but here Lisle’s “God made colliding galaxies etc. to trick us” hypothesis is always more complex than all observations; and because, significantly, it contradicts its own assumptions. YECs say that in principle, there can never be “Appearance of Age” (there is Apperance of Absence of Age) and their hypothesis is “Appearance of Maturity”, but “Maturity” has no definition except in terms of “function”. But this cosmogony has God slowly creating countless half-finished non-functional entities that he must intervene to prop up supernaturally when they’re half-finished or quarter-finished. A baby, as it is being printed by a 3-D printer, cannot be alive or functional when its half-finished and its half-loops of intestines and blood would squirt out, it can’t be “functional” without supernatural intervention. Likewise Lisle’s cosmogony, to create well-balanced stars and galaxies and black holes, which all have complex internal structures and internal balance of gravitational pressure and photon pressure, would require God to supernaturally create far more fake photons and fake neutrinos and fake phonons and fake convection currents etc., all with the appearance of being from events that never happened– far more fake photons and phony light-shows than Henry Morris ever conceived of.

More on Strange Conventions of Simultaneity.

Let’s return to 1. While this convention is counter-intuitive, this idea is not disastrous and does not by itself entail testable predictions that might falsify it. All of us has have heard that Einstein’s Special Relativity begins with the assumption that the speed of light is the same for all observers in the universe, so that if an airplane shoots out a light beam, the light beam still travels at only the speed of light c and not c plus the speed of the airplane. This assumption is experimentally justified by the Michelson-Morley experiment, which proved that light beams going along the direction of the Earth’s movement as it revolves around the sun, have the same travel time as light beams going perpendicular to the Earth’s movement.

However, Lisle and other creationists correctly and cleverly point out that the Michelson-Morley experiment only measures the total travel time for a light beam making a round trip, and there’s no experimental way to measure the speed of light going one way without some kind of round trip arrangement. What if (let’s say) the speed of light went faster when going north and slower when going south, or vice versa, and the round trip looked like c when averaged out? Or if light went instantaneously going north and travelled at c/2 when going south, which averages out to c?

In fact, there’s no rule against that, not by itself. Einstein’s convention was that the speed of light goes at c in all directions, which is simpler and makes the math easier, but it can’t be proven per se. You are permitted certain other conventions, e.g. if you just have all north-going photons go faster and all south-going photons go slower in a fashion that does not depend on the position of the photon. Where Lisle screwed the pooch was by making light speed depend on the position of the photon, which turns out to not be allowed, and is not a coordinate transformation as he claims.

For the permitted synchrony conventions, we must consider some bizarre (but not forbidden) consequences for the idea of simultaneity. The pre-Einstein idea of simultaneity was that it’s the same for all observers, so if events E1 and E2 are simultaneous for Bob, then E1 and E2 are also simultaneous for Julie, no matter where she is or if she’s moving relative to Bob.

But with Einstein’s convention, event E1 could happen before E2 for Harry, if Harry is moving relative to Bob. What matters for Einstein is direction of motion, not position. With Lisle’s convention, it’s position that matters, not motion: so E1 could happen before E2 for Harry, if Harry is in a different place that Bob.

Here’s the classic Einstein “train” argument: Bob is standing on an embankment as a train is passing; at the moment that the center of the train passes Bob, two lightning bolts strike, E1 at the front and E2 at the back of the train. Bob says, “Both light signals come towards me at the same speed c and traveled the same distance, so I subtract the same amount off the times when I saw each flash, and conclude E1 and E2 were simultaneous.” But Harry is riding the train in its center; he travels towards the photons from E1 and away from the photons from E2, so he intercepts the E1 photons before those from E2. Like Bob, Harry starts off saying, “Both light signals come towards me at the same speed c and traveled the same distance, so I subtract the same amount off both times”, but because Harry saw E1’s photons first, after subtraction he concludes E1 happened before E2. This is bizarre, but it’s basic Special Relativity.

In Lisle’s convention, what affects simultaneity is not velocity but position. All the “shells of creation” as God creates the universe are created simultaneously relative to some one point on Earth (Eden?), but not simultaneously relative to any observers not on Earth. This means that all observers outside Earth believe their planets were created long, long before Earth; and for millions of years, as they look in the direction where Earth will be, they see only a sphere of black nothingness because, relative to them, God hasn’t created Earth yet. Indeed, for stars sufficiently far away but visible now in our telescopes, we still do not exist relative to them, and we can see them but they can’t see us, because God has not created the Earth yet, Adam has not eaten an apple yet, and you don’t exist.

This produces strange hypothetical effects. [I owe this ‘mirror’ argument to Tim Reeves of Quantum Nonlinearity.] Now suppose Lillith blinks into existence at the center of the Andromeda Galaxy at the moment it is created (hint: not the same time Earth is created) and Lillith immediately picks up a mirror. Back on Earth, at the moment Eve is created, she thinks the universe is all created simultaneously and assumes light from Andromeda comes to her instantaneously too, so Eve immediately sees brand new, young Lillith, way off in Andromeda, 2.5 million light years away, picking up her mirror. Now suppose Eve sends light towards Lillith; Eve thinks her light beam recedes from her at speed c/2 and thus thinks it will take 5 million years to get to Andromeda.

When Eve is 5 million years old, her light finally reaches Lillith, while Eve sees Lillith as also 5 million years old at that instant; for Eve has been watching Lillith age the whole time, and for the whole 5 million years, Lillith’s mirror has been black reflecting nothingness because the Earth didn’t exist yet for her. Finally Eve’s light bounces off Lillith’s mirror and zips back to Eve at a speed Eve thinks is instantaneous by Lisle’s convention. So when Eve is really 5 million years old, she will finally see her reflection, far away, and will see herself young and newly created as reflected in a mirror held by 5-million-year-old Lillith.

What does Lillith see? At the moment she was created, she looked around and saw half of the Andromeda galaxy created (the side away from Earth), but the other half (in the direction where Earth will someday be) just black emptiness. Needless to say, the galaxy will not be “mature” or “functional” as creationists claim, because half a galaxy cannot be stable or functional; it will look like a multi-armed spiral chopped in half, with spiral arms all sliced up into disconnected half arc-circles or quarter-circles, etc. which are rotating all the time, but the rotation of disconnected half-arcs without gravitational balance will tear it to bits. Worse, at its center will be half a giant black hole, and no one knows what half a black hole would look like. If M31 had relativist jets squirting out of the galactic center (M31 doesn’t, but some do), the jets could be split down the middle like Robin Hood’s arrow, or part of a jet could be coming out of the black sphere of still uncreated space, phony particles contrived to look like the result of phony events that never happened: a vast, slow trick of the Deceiver-God. Then God will finish creating Andromeda slowly, relative to itself– slice by slice, at half the speed of light, so the second half of the galaxy (radius= 50,000 ly) will take God 100,000 years to finish, relative to Lillith; or no time relative to Eve.

Lillith at her creation picks up a mirror, but sees no light from Earth at all– just blackness in that direction– and waits until she is five million years old. When she finally gets light from Earth, that planet and Eve look young and newly created; but Lillith (like all observers, under Lisle’s convention) believes that photons approach her instantaneously, therefore Lillith subtracts zero flight time for photons coming from Earth.

Conclusion: Lillith concludes that Andromeda was created 5 million years before Earth, and that she is 5 million years older than Eve. Eve by contrast concludes that Andromeda was created (about) the same time as Earth, and that she and Lillith are the same age.

Also we see here why the shells of creation must be created at c/2 and not c: Lillith waits 5 million years before the empty black sphere in the direction of Earth get filled up with matter, but Andromeda is 2.5 million light years from where Earth will be; therefore Lisle’s cosmogony creates shells of matter at speed c/2, so all large-scale structures will be completely unstable, not mature and not functional, unless God supernaturally tricks us, filling up all stars and galaxies with fake photons and fake neutrinos and fake convection currents etc. that look like the after-effects of real processes, except the events never happened. The fake light show is not creation of “maturity”, so Lisle’s cosmogony contradicts his claim that his all-powerful god is limited by “appearance of maturity.”

In an earlier paper, Lisle, writing as Robert Newton (wow, humble), says creation will converge on Earth at lightspeed.

[Lisle]: So, we present the following picture of Creation as described in Genesis, but converted from observed time to calculated time… this creation process moves inward; space is created nearer to Earth… About 4.3 years before Earth is created, ‘the beginning’ occurs for the space near Alpha Centauri [which is 4.3 light years away]. …Finally the Earth is created. [Lisle’s early paper, writing as Robert Newton.]

Apparently wrong; it should be 8.6 years before Earth is created. Probably Lisle caught this error later.

Lisle’s Variable Speed of Light Creates a Gravity Field in General Relativity and is Not A Coordinate Change!

We move on to where Lisle really screwed the pooch, with his variable speed of light.

[Lisle]: The act of choosing a synchrony convention is synonymous with defining the one-way speed of light. If we select Einstein synchronization, then we have declared that the speed of light is the same in all directions. If we select ASC, then we have declared that light is essentially infinitely fast when moving directly toward the observer, and ½c when moving directly away. Under ASC, the speed of light as a function of direction relative to the observer (θ) is given by c(θ) = c/(1-cos(θ)), where θ = 0 indicates the direction directly toward the observer. [Anisotropic Synchrony Convention—A Solution to the Distant Starlight Problem. Jason Lisle. September 22, 2010. Answers Research Journal 3 (2010): 191-207. Emphasis added.]

First, it is not true that “The act of choosing a synchrony convention is synonymous with defining the one-way speed of light.” This might be true for some synchrony conventions where the speed of light does not depend on position. But Lisle’s variable speed of light, c(θ) = c/(1-cos(θ)), depends on θ, and θ depends the position {x1,y1,z1} of the observer and on the position {x2,y2,z2} and direction {v_x,v_y,v_z} of the photon.  

θ is the angle between your line of sight to the photon and its direction of travel: θ = 0 if it’s coming at you, so c(θ) is infinite, θ = 90 degrees if perpendicular to your line of sight, so c(θ) = c, and θ = 180 degrees if receding from you, so c(θ) = c/2. If you jump to the left, the speed of every photon in the universe changes. This is not a mere synchrony convention nor is it a mere transformation of coordinates, as we’ll prove below.

Valid synchrony conventions might be expressed as one or more permitted coordinate transformations, which could be written as 4×4 matrices (3 space dimensions plus time dimension). For example, you could say that all photons going north travel instantaneously and all going south travel at c/2; that is not dependent on photon position. But Lisle’s c(θ) = c/(1-cos(θ)) rule is not uniquely fixed by his synchrony convention– he does not derive c(θ) = c/(1-cos(θ)) from his convention, he merely shows that it is consistent with his convention, but “consistent with” is not a derivation or proof of uniqueness. He calls it a “transformation of coordinates” but never writes it down as a 4×4 matrix (Einstein does, that’s called the Minkowski transformation) and Lisle never differentiates it.

Now Lisle was confronted with this fact by Timothy Reeves to who I am indebted for this argument.

Because it depends on positions of the observer and of the photon, it induces a gravitational field and curvature of space time. I will explain this three ways: A. intuitively, B. by proving that Lisle’s rule can’t be written as a mere “coordinate transformation”, and C. from General Relativity and Jian Qi Shen‘s scientific paper on synchrony conventions and the Riemannian operator in GR.

Method A. The easiest way to see the problem is to note that in General Relativity, a speed of light that varies with position and a gravity field are the same thing. In Lisle’s rule, if a photon comes at you, just missing you and glancing off, it’s decelerating all the time– that’s a gravity field. This is not the case (for example) if we picked a synchrony convention where all photons going north travel instantaneously and all going south travel at c/2. Then lightspeed doesn’t varies with direction but not with position, so no gravity field.

There, that wasn’t so bad.

Method B. Just a Coordinate Change? At his blog, Lisle’s only response to Reeves’ critique was to claim that his ASC is just a mere “coordinate change.” Because he says this over and over, I have to prove that his rule c(θ) = c/(1-cos(θ)) cannot ever be just a coordinate change. This should not be painful even for those who hate linear algebra.

First, a real coordinate transformation could be written as a 4×4 matrix. Lisle never does this. We want to show how velocities of photons transform in Lisle’s case, but for comparison we’ll first show how velocities add (for different observers) in Einstein’s conventions; that’s easier.

Consider an Einsteinian, special relativity transformation between two observers, Unprimed Guy and Primed Guy, one of whom is moving at velocity u relative to the other. In all of this I will consistently multiply all time coordinates t, t’ and so on by the speed of light c, to give ct, ct‘, cdt, cdt’, etc. units of meters; and I will always define v’s and u’s as distance /(time x c), so that all u’s and v’s have no units. That just makes the equations easier.

To make it even easier, I’ll mostly use one space dimension x and time dimension ct. The first observer will see an event at coordinates {ct, x} while the second person “Primed Guy”, traveling at speed “beta” with respect to Unprimed Guy, will see the same event at coordinates {ct, x’}. (“beta” is a unitless velocity, that is, it’s the normal velocity u divided by c, = u/c.) The matrix is then 2×2.

We want to ask things such as: if a particle moves with velocity v with respect to Unprimed Guy, what is its velocity v’ with respect to Primed Guy? For example, if an airplane shoots out a light beam, and it goes at lightspeed relative to the pilot, will it go faster than the speed of light relative to a ground observer?

So first we build a 2×2 matrix. The Minkowski transformation gives us the matrix:

ct’ = Gamma* [ ct – beta * x]

x’ = Gamma* [- beta * ct  +  x]

Gamma == sqrt( 1 – beta*beta). If we write vectors in the form {ct, x}, then Primed Guys’ coordinates can be computed from Unprimed Guy’s by the usual multiplication of a matrix times a vector:

{ct‘, x‘} = M* {ct, x}

where M is a 2×2 matrix. That means that M’s elements M00, M01 etc. are defined by

ct’ =  M00* ct + M01* x

x’   = M10 *ct  +  M11* x

Of course subscript 0 is for time and 1 is for x.  The elements are easily seen from the above to be:

M00 = Gamma                M01 = – Gamma*beta

M10 = – Gamma*beta     M11 = Gamma

These matrix elements depend on velocity beta but not on positions {ct, x’} nor {ct, x}. As we shall see, Lisle’s convention can’t be written like this, because his M00, M01 etc. must depend on coordinates {ct, x} etc., which is his fatal problem.

We want to show how velocities add under Einstein conventions because that’s easier. So since velocities take the form v = dx/dt, or actually I will divide by c and write

v == dx/c dt

we have to differentiate dx/dt but don’t kill yourself over it. From the matrix transformation above:

cdt’ = M00 * cdt + M01* dx

dx’    = M10 * cdt + M11* dx

Dividing numerator and denominator by cdt to get:

v‘ == dx‘/cdt’  = [M10 * cdt + M11* dx] / [M00 * cdt + M01* dx]

=  [M10 + M11* dx/cdt] / [M00  + M01* dx/cdt]

=  [M10 + M11* v] / [M00  + M01* v]

Where I plugged in v == dx/c dt. Now we have our answer, because the matrix elements M00, M01 etc. were given above and we just stick them in:

v‘ = dx‘/cdt’  = = [vbeta] / [1 – beta*v]

There, that wasn’t so bad was it! You derived the relativistic equation for “adding” velocities. OK, now can we do this with Lisle’s rules? No.

We want a guess a matrix like M00, M01 etc. that transforms from a photon’s coordinates in Einstein’s convention to one in Lisles’ convention. What would matrix M look like? Lisle never tells us M, but we can guess some stuff about M from what he requires for photon velocities.

Consider a photon coming straight at you along the x-axis. Just like before, no change:

ct’ = M00* ct + M01* x

x’ = M10 * ct  +  M11* x

The only difference is that Einstein tells us M00, M01 etc. but Jason Lisle doesn’t. He makes us guess at M00, M01 by dropping hints about photon velocities. So we have to relate the photon velocity in Lisle’s convention, v‘, to the photon velocity in Einstein’s convention, v. With the same trick of differentiating and rearragning we get the same equation:

v‘ = [M10 + M11* v] / [M00  + M01* v]

Same as before, except now we don’t know what M00, M01 etc. are

Now you can see what’s very wrong with this. Consider a photon coming straight at you along the x-axis.  But problem, what happens when the approaching photon zips past you? In Einstein’s convention, v does not change; in Lisle’s convention, vis supposed to instantly decelerate to 1/2 (that’s c/2 divided by c). The right half of the equation above does not change as the photon passes you; the left half of the equation changes infinitely. This cannot happen unless the matrix elements M00, M01 etc. depend on coordinates of observer and of photon, so that they “know” when to slow down– but if M00, M01 etc. depend on coordinates of observer and of photon, that is no longer a mere “coordinate transformation” as Lisle claims, but instead a non-linear transformation of space-time. And a a non-linear transformation of space-time means space-time is curved. That means gravity.

Above I considered the simple case of one space coordinate and time. What if we do three space coordinates and time? Relax, I’m not going to repeat the whole thing. I’ll just skip to the end.

Consider a photon coming at you at an arbitrary angle and glancing off. But I have to define the velocity of the photon as a vector with three space components along three axes, plus time, that is, {ct, v_x, v_y, v_z} for Einstein’s photon velocity and {ct’, v_x’, v_y’, v_z’} for Lisle’s photon velocity. The rule for four coordinates is pretty obvious so I’ll skip the blah blah blah and jump to it:

v_x‘ = [M10 + M11* v_x + M12* v_y + M12* v_z] / [M00 + M01* v_x + M02* v_y + M02* v_z]

There are similar equations for v_y’ and v_zwhich I’ll skip. The speed of the photon is then

v’ = sqrt( v_x^2 + v_y^2 + v_z^2)

Problem: according to Lisle, the whole time the photon approaches it’s decelerating. That means, again, the left-hand side of the equation changes with position, but the right hand side cannot. Not unless M00, M01 etc. depend on coordinates {x, y, z} — but that would falsify Lisle’s claim that he’s only doing a coordinate transformation.

C. Jian Qi Shen’s Paper on Synchrony Conventions and the Riemannian.

For a more professional take,  Timothy Reeves cited a physics paper by Jian Qi Shen [PDF] on the subject of synchrony conventions in General Relativity. He emphasizes that some syncrhony conventions are kosher, but if you don’t follow the rules they produce a gravity field. Shen considers g, the spacetime metric tensor, which is used to measure distance between two points in a curved space time; the value of g tells you whether or not space is curved, and therefore whether or not a gravity field exists (more technical description below.)

Shen writes g in terms of a parameter X which in turn depends on in what way the speed of light is anisotropic– how c varies in all directions. A “kosher” synchrony convention would be something like: all photons going north move at infinite speed; all photons going south move at c/2. In these case X would depend on direction of travel, but not depend on coordinates x, y, z, so then the g takes on a value for flat space-time, no gravity.

Shen concludes:

To be more technical, what tells you if space-time is curved is the Riemannian curvature tensor [R] that is derived from g which depends on X.

But in Lisle’s convention,  X would depend on (1-cos(θ)) which in turn depends on coordinates {x,y,z} of the photon and of the observer. Thus metric tensor g depends on coordinates via X, and the Riemannian curvature tensor does not vanish, so space-time is curved, therefore Lisle’s convention makes a gravity field, but this is not observed.

Compare this to what Lisle wrote:

The anisotropic synchrony convention is just that—a convention. It is not a scientific model; it does not make testable predictions. It is a convention of measurement and cannot be falsified any more than the metric system can be falsified.
[Jason Lisle, 2010]

It makes testable predictions, it can be falsified, it was falsified.

Problems with Permittivity and Permeability of Free Space

Lisle has more problems with two physical constants that are important in electromagnetic theory, the permeability of free space μ0 and the permittivity of free space, ε0. These two constants are involved in electronics, setting the strength of electrostatic attraction and the relationship between current and and magnetic field. They are together intimately connected to the speed of light c, so Lisle mucking with the speed of light will mess with them too. In ordinary units c is determined by the identity  

c^2 = 1/ μ0ε0.

Since Lisle makes c depend on θ which varies with the position of the photon, μ0 and ε0 must depend on position as well. For this point I am indebted to a comment by Gabriel Hanna, who writes:

Nowhere does Lisle address this point, and I can’t believe he is ignorant of it. When you do experiments with magnets and capacitors, you always get the same value for the speed of light even though you have no idea what direction that light might be moving in… If you forget that light is an electromagnetic wave, then you can accept Lisle’s analysis.

…Einstein assumed the Maxwell equations were true. Lisle just abolishes them without mentioning that he did so. Every engineer and scientist has seen the derivation of the invariant speed of light from the Maxwell equations. [Gabriel Hanna comment]

Hanna emailed Jason Lisle and like so many, got no substantive response:

He [Lisle] says that e0 and m0 are tensors, different in every direction, and doesn’t say anything about how many experiments must now come out totally wrong. He also says that ASC is a convention and can’t be experimentally distinguished from Einstein’s. He also repeats that the speed of light can only be measured by a round trip, and that Einstein said that he was merely assuming light to be anisotropic, when Einstein explicitly said in 1916 that no experiment has demonstrated anisotropy of light. [Gabriel Hanna comment]

A Final Comment on the Deceiver-God and His Creation With “Appearance of Maturity”

Because Lisle is today’s most aggressive pusher of  “Appearance of Age” argument, I’m going to discuss its paradoxes in more detail. The term “Omphalos” means “belly button” and is used to describe generic creationist arguments in which God deceptively makes the universe look different then it actually is, typically by creating the appearance of an ancient
history that never really happened. The term was coined by Phillip Henry Gosse in his 1857 creationist book. Much like creationists after him, he argued by analogy: God had to create Adam with a belly button “omphalos” even though Adam had never been connected to an umbilical cord, because the function of the human body requires a belly button; and likewise, the function of the planet Earth requires fake fossils in the ground that look just like dead animals even though they never really lived.

Gosse’s “fake fossils” idea was received very negatively by all sides, and today all big-money creationists would deny that they employ it; but in fact, all YECs, especially Jason Lisle, still invoke Omphalos for countless things– for certain fossils, for starlight, or radiometric dating, or tree rings in ancient trees– they just grew sneakier about it, choosing their Omphalos targets by carefully assessing what their target audience would consider absurd and what they could get away with.

All big-money creationists today would deny that they believe dinosaur fossils are fake– but in fact, they only really assert the reality of fossils of complex animals and plants from the post-Cambrian era (e.g. dinosaurs). Many older or non-dinosaur fossils can still be tricks, for example, fossil stromatolites (multi-layered bacterial mats) and Grypania (multicellular algae) if they are pre-Cambrian are dismissed as not organic but made in some vague way, while post-Cambrian stromatolites that look just the same are indisputably organic. YECs treat dinosaurs and pre-Cambrian fossils differently because 1. Kids love dinosaurs but don’t know about stromatolites or Grypania, and YECs know what their audience knows, and 2. YECs say that Noah’s Flood started in the geological column at about the time of the Cambrian explosion, that is, with the first trilobite fossils. (By contrast the Ultra-Orthodox rabbi Menachem Schneerson did in fact teach his fanatical followers that dinosaur fossils are fakes planted by the devil; and some Jews in Israel demanded that dinosaur cartoons be taken off of kid’s milk cartons because dinosaurs never existed.) Furthermore, there are huge numbers of pre-Cambrian marks from long, long before the dinosaur era like sedimentary strata, raindrop impressions, water ripples, dessication cracks, granite intrusions, etc. that look like records of past events, but which YECs like Robert Gentry say were created directly by God during Creation Week to look just like events that never happened.

Tree rings in very ancient trees, like the bristlecone pines are up to 4,900 years old which makes the oldest 600 years older than Noah’s Flood. Tree rings don’t just look old, they record history, for example forest fires, droughts, climatic cycles, etc. and they agree with each other and with known cyclic variations in solar output. Observe how Frank Lorey, writing for Jason Lisle’s current employer, the ICR, bats away tree rings with a bit of Deceiver-God.

[Frank Lorey of ICR]: Also, creation had to involve some superficial appearance of earth history. Trees were likely created with tree-rings already in place. Rocks would likely have yielded old dates by the faulty radio-isotope methods in use today. Even man and animals did not appear as infants. This is known as the “Appearance of Age Theory.” [Frank Lorey, M.A. 1994. Tree Rings and Biblical Chronology. Acts & Facts (ICR). 23: (6)]

Note that Morris and his ICR colleagues all used to call it “Appearance of Age theory”, but later YECs later decided we must never call it that, we must only call it “Appearance of Maturity” since changing the name of a problem solves the problem. You see, the term “Appearance of Age” that they made up was a dirty trick played on them by evil evolutionists! And evolutionists even brainwashed Henry Morris, I guess, since he called it “Appaerance of Age” in The Genesis Flood.

Now they tell us, see, everything in the Garden of Eden was perfect, so any “Appearance of Age” can’t be real but is just a trick played on them by evolutionist brainwashing; and they’ve been tricked because Adam ate an apple in the Garden and “Fell” and that makes our reason and our senses unreliable, as creationism itself amply proves. Now YECs insist that appearance of Age cannot ever be objectively real, but Appearance of Youth is objectively real. Here’s Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis on fake tree rings.

[Ken Ham]: [on Creation Week] The various original plants, including trees, would have mature fruit… Perhaps trees even had tree rings, as a regular part of the tree’s structure. Adam and Eve and the animals were created mature and fully functional so they could reproduce. But none of these things were “old” or “looked old.” [Ken Ham. Mature for Her “Age”. AIG. August 25, 2008.]

Never looked old? His wife must love him. Again, everyone has to call it “Appearance of Maturity” now, with maturity defined in terms of “function”… but “function” undefined. This vagueness can be exploited to falsely claim observations as “predictions” of the creationist model, a business that Jason Lisle, Ph.D. has built his career on.

Lisle never claimed that dinosaur fossils are fake, and rejected Morris’ hypothesis that God created phony photons, neutrinos etc. en route from distant stars, so you might think Lisle rejects Omphalos. But you’d be wrong– he’s a presuppositionalist who defends “Appearance of Age” (don’t call it “Appearance of Age!”) more aggressively than any other YEC today. He just applies it to a huge number of other things besides Henry Morris’ fake supernovae, or Gosse’s fake dino fossils. Lisle’s “ASC” solution to the Starlight Problem requires a different kind of fake photons created directly by God, on a far larger scale than Morris ever imagined, but Lisle’s fake photons have to be way out in space and not necessarily the ones we see.

Here’s an example of how devoted to Omphalos Lisle is: at a creationist meeting, Chris Sharp asked Lisle to explain Kirkwood Gaps. What are those? Well, if you plot the time periods that it takes all asteroids to make one revolution around the sun, you get a big scatter plot of diverse time periods, but certain periods are conspicuously absent– those which are related to the period of Jupiter by a ratio of small integers. This can be easily explained by simple physics: over millions of years, Jupiter would approach those asteroids over and over, until its giant gravity field knocked them out of that orbit, clearing out the Kirkwood Gap. Simple– if the solar system is more than a few millions of years old. But Lisle, put on the spot, yanks Deceiver-God out of his ass:

[Christopher Sharp writes]: …I asked [Lisle] about… the Kirkwood gaps in the asteroid belt, showing irrefutably that the Solar System is much more than 6000 years old…I
pointed out to him that after a few hundred thousand or million years of
simulated time on a computer, asteroids in certain orbits are ejected,
which confirms the Kirkwood gaps, to which he replied that God created the Solar System to appear that way.
[Christopher Sharp on Lisle’s visit to Tucson]

Lisle especially demands that we must always call it “appearance of maturity” because if you call it a different name, that makes it plausible. He insists that “Appearance of Age” can’t be objectively real but claims “Apperance of Youth” all through the universe is objectively real, because the absence of age is real, but its presence cannot be.

They define “maturity”, if at all, in terms of “function”… but “function” is undefined. This becomes a big problem later when you ask what’s the “function” of colliding galaxies, or a supernova, or its expanding nebula; and if you can’t define “function”, how can you define “mature”?

Creationists of course invoke an infinite number of teleological arguments: if the moon reflects light, its purpose is to reflect light; if glaciers melt in the spring, their purpose is to melt in the spring– these are real creationist arguments, not parodies. So how do you define “maturity” or “function” of a supernova? Is its function to blow up?

Well, what Lisle does is, first he asks what real scientists have observed, and then he computes what scientific facts he can lie to his church audience about (some of Lisle’s favorite “ha ha sucker” lies: scientists never observed stars or solar systems forming! Spiral galaxies can’t last more than a few million years, because they’ll unwind!), and he takes the sum of those two sets and tells his church audience that those are the “predictions” of the creationist model. Fraudictions, more like it.

All YECs including Lisle also deny that their god is a deceiver, feigning to be angry about it, on the grounds that God said one thing in the Bible and contradicted himself in the rocks and bones and stars, but he told the truth in the Bible, and contradiction is not deception. Of course, in the Bible God makes no mention of minutely arranging the ratios of daughter and parent isotopes in rocks, so that the more deeply buried rocks look much older than the surface rocks, or making fake stromatolites, or arranging asteroids into the Kirkwood Gaps. So he never really told us what he did or how he did it, or when or how we will some more Appearance of A– excuse me, Maturity.

Conclusion: Lisle’s Magical Cosmogony Fails

I raise all these issues of how you define “maturity” and “function” because Lisle’s cosmogony, in which God slooowly creates the universe in concentric shells, contradicts all their jive about how God is required to create a “mature” universe, how their all-powerful God is unable to create a non-mature universe, like “mature” relativistic jets that are a hundred thousand light years long and would take at least a hundred thousand years to form, or the “mature” after-effects of galaxies colliding, or star clusters that penetrate our galaxy and in their “mature” form are torn up to shreds like shredded cotton run over sand paper.

In Lisle’s cosmogony, God creates quarter-stars, then half-start, then three quarter stars, etc. and he does so slowly. The intermediate stages are not mature and not functional. Some stars are 100 times bigger than our sun, and at speed c/2 it would take God a long time to finish one. A star is a complicated machine, and it depends on balance. In Lisle’s cosmology, when God has a star one-third finished, either the thing is not stable, not mature and not functional, and it will collapse or explode; or else God is supernaturally creating vast numbers of fake photons, fake phonons, fake convection currents etc. that appear to come from events that never happened: more Omphalos. The photons normally start from nuclear fusion in the core and take a very long time to work their way to the surface. The photon pressure pushing “up” is required to balance the gravitational weight pulling down, or else the whole shebang is unstable, and will either collapse or explode. But when God has a star is one-quarter finished, he would need to create fake photons that appear to come from the core of the star (which doesn’t exist yet) produced by nuclear reactions (that never happened) in order to balance the whole thing.

Stars have complex internal structures, including convection currents far larger than many Earths that swirl around the interior, spherical harmonic vibrations jiggling the surface like a snare drum, solar flares and vast magnetically-guided storms that burst from the surface. All of these are part of their function and thus, “maturity.” When God has a star one-quarter finished, they either collapse, or else God  supernaturally creates huge numbers of fake phonons, magnetic fields etc. from events that never happened.

Similar arguments apply for even bigger structures: colliding galaxies, relativistic jets a hundred thousand light years long, vast nebulae, star birthing regions, elephant trunks, the Great Cosmic Bubble in the Magellanic Cloud, and on and on. All these structures would take Lisle’s God a long time to slowly build, slice by slice, and the intermediate stages would not be mature and not functional, thus contradicting creationist blather about “Appearance of Maturity”.

Reading Jason Lisle’s blog, it’s clear he wants his acolytes to know as little as possible about large-scale cosmic structure: he wants church audiences to think there basically is no large-scale structure in space– like stars are just, you know randomly distributed or something! He knows the structure of the universe plus YEC requires an Omphalos Deceiver-God creating phony photons and phony particles in relativistic jets like records of make-believe histories that never happened.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Happy Jason Lisle Day! Celebrating Creationists’ Inability to Solve the “Starlight Problem” (And Willingness to Lie About It)

  1. Megalonyx says:

    Bravo! A stunning piece, indeed!

  2. Tony Jiang says:

    so have you read some of Lisle’s recent comments? they are filled with wall bangingly large amounts of circular reasonin

  3. Mark Joseph says:

    Superb. Will refer those who say stupid stuff like “well, the distant starlight problem is a problem for both old-universe and young-universe adherents alike” to this.

  4. Tony Jiang says:

    did you see jason’s recent boast of how “irrefutable” is his theory? I think is because no other physicists take him seriously enough to give a crap about ASC http://www.jasonlisle.com/2014/08/20/research-update/#comment-37469

  5. Tony Jiang says:

    so i take you follow lisle’s blog reguarly? what do you think of his “refuations” of people’s comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s