Exposing PseudoAstronomy

October 20, 2011

Does the “Doom and Gloom” from a Show About the Universe Mean We Should All Be Christians?


Introduction

About two and a half months ago, when I was getting back to blogging and starting up my own podcast, I found an article from Creation Ministries International entitled, “Doom and Gloom from the BBC.” I was intrigued and I wondered if it had anything to do with the BBC four-part series, “Wonders of the Universe.”

Indeed, it did! And now that I’ve finally gotten around to watching the first (and second) episodes of the BBC production, I thought I could legitimately comment on it and get this CMI article out of my queue.

Wonders of the Universe

Disclaimer/Bragging: I’m very peripherally involved with both this series and its prior cousin, “Wonders of the Solar System,” for the BBC purchased several lunar photographs from me to use in the production.

“Wonders of the Universe” is a four-part, roughly four-hour (total) production of the BBC that, in my opinion, is very well done and a cinematic experience. It’s a bit more non-linear than I would like, but I think that it’s quite well done overall. The series is hosted by physicist Brian Cox, a fairly famous popularizer of science these days.

Each “wonder” of the universe that is discussed falls under one of the four episode’s themes: Destiny, Stardust, Falling, and Messengers. (For more detail on each of these, you can check out Wikipedia’s page on them.)

In the first episode on “Destiny,” the theme is the evolution of the universe from start to possible “end.” Cox goes through the first stage of the universe (birth and expansion) and concentrates mostly upon the “stellariferous” (or some such spelling) stage, which is now. This is the time when stars are forming and their energy allows life like us to exist.

Cox then describes how the second law of thermodynamics works (entropy can never decrease) with what I thought was a brilliant example with a sand pile versus a sand castle. Along with this, he goes into the “arrow of time,” basically that we know time is progressing as entropy increases. Otherwise, all of the laws of physics do not contain an actual “direction” of time, but they work equally well forwards or backwards.

This means that as the universe ages, things die. Eventually, there will no longer be stars. Even further in time, black holes will evaporate. Protons will decay. Nothing will be able to exist in this “heat death” of the universe. The amount of time that life like us can exist is vanishingly small — Cox wrote a heck of a lot of zeros in the sand with a teensy little “1” at the end to show the fraction.

It’s a somewhat bleak picture. Occasionally (once every few years?) I lie awake at night thinking about it, and then I realize that it’s stupid to worry about it, so I turn over and go to sleep. Maybe that’s why I’m not a cosmologist.

Doom and Gloom, Therefore God

Enter Creation Ministries International and the author of this particular article, Russell Grigg. The CMI article starts out noting that Dr. Cox “is a ‘Distinguished Supporter’ of the atheistic British Humanist Association” and this “is par for the course for the BBC, long known for its anti-Christian bias.”

I’m not going to bore you with the standard young-Earth creationist apologetics with rehashed arguments that have been shown to be wrong many many times (such as, they repeat the wrong idea that spiral galaxies should wind up).

The conclusion of the CMI article – I know, you’re going to be shocked – is that all the apparent problems for us evolutionists (somehow Dr. Cox, a physicist, is now an evolutionist) are resolved by the young-Earth Christian biblical worldview:

  • We don’t need to figure out how the universe began, Genesis states Goddidit.
  • A distant gamma ray burst isn’t the oldest object we’ve ever seen ’cause all the stuff in the sky on Day 4 of Creation Week when Goddidit.
  • Stuff that seems far away and therefore billions of years old isn’t actually billions of years old because the heavens were “stretched out” when Goddidit.
  • We don’t need to worry about the end of the universe described by physics because believers are going to have an eternal life in Heaven when Goddoesit.
  • Death doesn’t matter because after it, we have eternal life ’cause Godsaysit.

Et cetera.

Final Thoughts

This isn’t a long post because there really isn’t’ too much to say. It’s a great TV program, and I highly recommend that anyone interested in cosmology or astronomy in general finds it at their local Blockbuster looks for it on Netflix or your DVD procurement location of choice. (If you’re interested in planetary / solar system astronomy, then its predecessor, “Wonders of the Solar System,” is also definitely worth watching.) The creationist response to it was predictable and gratuitous. The BBC series provided them another opportunity to complain that on a science show based in observable evidence and testable theories, their special Godwroteit book wasn’t given any notice.

I will freely admit that the Christian worldview presents a much more warm, cuddly feeling and outlook on the future of the universe. Would I want to be embraced by my Creator for all time and know He loves me? Sure. I don’t know many people who want to die and simply cease to exist.

Does that mean that I’m going to convert? No. All because it may be something I want, that does not mean it’s true or is going to happen. I want a chocolate bar right now. I’m closing my eye (I can touch type) and I’m wishing that a chocolate bar is going to materialize in front of me. Opening eyes … NOW. (looking around) Nope, no chocolate bar. I wanted it, but it didn’t happen. No evidence for it. Similarly, I’m not putting faith into a manuscript written millennia ago that contradicts basic science, logic, and reason.

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