Sunday, October 31, 2010

A New Creationist Cosmology

In the latest issue of Acts & Facts, D. Russell Humphreys and Larry Vardiman have the first article in a series on Humphreys' latest revision of his "white hole" cosmology.   They claim that they have found a solution to relativistic equations that permit time to go on in one part of the universe while it stops entirely in a large region: this would permit stars and galaxies to form and age, and their light to reach Earth, while no time at all passed on Earth.  Thus the entire mutli-hecto-giga-galaxy of the "host of heavens" could arise in what would be, on Earth, a single day (indeed, a single instant of a single day).  The article itself provides only a simplified preliminary for a simplified explanation of the new solution, and no details of the solution itself.

Of course, if it did, I -- with my "B" average in high school physics -- would not be the optimal person to evaluate the authors' work.  But I find it somewhat odd that the authors published their paper in a creationist journal, and don't mention even trying to submit it to, say, Science or Nature.  If they're right, they've revolutionized our understanding of physics; one might suppose that mainstream cosmologists would be interested in their ideas even if they didn't like the young-earth implications that Humphreys and Vardiman draw from them.

There are a few details in their article that strike me as rather implausible.  They suggest, for example, that at the start of creation, the matter of the universe comprised a single sphere of "probably ordinary liquid H2O" a few light-years in diameter (this is inspired by Genesis 1's reference to "the deep" and the Spirit of God moving over the face of the waters).  I lack a PhD in physics, but I'm pretty sure that the laws of gravity don't permit a sphere several light years in diameter to be made of ordinary water; the water's own mass (and consequent gravity) would crush it into degenerate matter and then keep going.  God would need a miracle (on a scale that made, say, the feeding of the multitudes look like a card trick) just to keep "the deep" from turning into a black hole before He could turn it into those hundreds of billions of galaxies.

Note that this conjecture also takes the same approach to scripture -- that its true, inerrant meaning would have been opaque to the first 300+ generations of its readers, and even then be discernible only by advanced scholarship -- as James J.S. Johnson's article in the same issue of Acts & Facts.  Since the Bible speaks of a "firmament," and since Humphreys and Vardiman interpret this as referring not to the weather sky but to the entirety of the visible universe, they argue that this is teaching that the vacuum of space is really a plenum, a solid mass filling at least the entire Hubble volume, citing quantum physics and estimates of the vacuum energy to support their point.  References in Isaiah (and also in Revelation) to the sky being rolled up like a scroll are interpreted as references to a fourth spatial dimension large enough for the known three dimensional space to be rolled up in (as I understand it, this is a departure for standard "string theory" cosmologies, that invoke several additional spatial dimensions, but require them to all be very small in extent).

Well, I suppose that Humphreys and Vardiman can hardly be expected to take the literal meaning of the text: that the sky is a relatively flat surface that is very thin in the third dimension, like the tent over the "circle of the Earth" that Isaiah compares it to, and that "the heavens" is limited to this dome or canopy, and not a space extending many billions of light-years in all directions.

Both Humphreys and Vardiman have played a role in the ICR's RATE Project, attempting to show that radiometric dating is valueless.  Even were their arguments not flawed; invalidating radiometric dating would not really be "evidence that the Earth is young;" geological data known for the last couple of centuries, from angular unconformities in the strata to intersticed layers of saltwater and freshwater sediments to faunal succession in the fossil record would argue for an Earth very much older than the 6000 or so years that Humphreys and Vardiman argue for.  They've come up with a cosmological Rube Goldberg contraption and a very strained biblical exegesis to provide a cosmology that permits the Earth to be young when stars and galaxies are old, but the geology itself does not permit the Earth to be young.

1 comment:

  1. Jason Lisle at AiG must surely be aware of Humphreys' work, yet he has recently "published" his own explanation. The full paper is available online here:

    I would be interested in your take on it. I don't think you need a strong background in physics to understand his argument. I would say it's written at about the same level as some of Hawking's popular books.