Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Six Feet Above Contradiction

I recently got an alert that "Quantum Non-Linearity" had been linked to from a site named “Jasonlisle.com”, the blog of none other than Jason Lisle the author of one of the latest attempts to solve the Young Earth Creationist starlight problem. The link from Lisle's blog was to my critique of Lisle’s theory and was made in the comments section of a blog entry entitled “Research at ICR” dated April 20th. The person making the link is an astrophysics student named Jacob Harper who generally criticizes YEC, but includes the starlight problem in his criticism:

“The Starlight Problem” is your biggest problem. I’ve looked into it, and you claim to propose a solution. You infer a *changing* speed of light over time.
I’m not much of a physicist as of yet and even I can see the problems with such a baseless assertion. Just by googling this, I found quite the eloquent response:

Yes, I think Jacob is right in saying that this is their biggest problem, but my guess is that he seems to have confused my reference to “metric differentials” with a changing speed of light. One of Lisle's admirers who signs on as “Nick L”, does Lisle’s job for him and attacks Jacob’s points. In particular he defends Lisle on the starlight problem:

The supposed problem involving distant starlight is really not the ‘problem’ it is often presented to be by secular scientists. You said that you’ve researched Dr. Lisle’s stance on this subject, but you mistakenly attribute to him the theory of a change in the speed of light. If you’re interested in a more plausible explanation that Dr. Lisle has written on in depth, I recommend looking up his article on Anisotropic Synchrony Convention in the Answers Research Journal. I think you will find the ARJ more instructive on this particular point than Google.

Lisle backs up his supporter:

Nick – that was an excellent reply. Thanks for chiming in. Jacob apparently hasn’t read much on this issue or given it much thought, and you gave some great starting points for him to begin to study it.

Clearly Lisle isn’t going to enlighten Nick L as to the weaknesses of his starlight “solution” thus helping to perpetuate the general impression amongst YECs that the problem has been ameliorated.  At the end of my original article I wrote:

In the YEC community the scientific quality of its papers is less crucial than the role they serve in the wider YEC culture. The average fundagelical supporter who doesn’t understand science can, if challenged on the issue of Star light travel time, simply point to papers such as Lisle’s with the misplaced confidence that the matter is in hand. From his perspective this paper comes out of the stable that runs the impressive Ken Ham Creation Museum, a museum where no expense has been spared and whose lavish (if tacky*) exhibits must stun and awe the average Christian fundamentalist. When one is immersed in such a heady patriarchal culture it must feel that it just can’t be wrong. Any challenge to such an awe inspiring source must look as though its coming from somewhere near the gates of hell and need not be engaged; after all, it’s in the hands of people like Jason Lisle and his AiG reviewers – what better authority and assurance can one ask for? Thus, whether right or wrong, Lisle's work serves to act as an important community myth.

We therefore see the very process I have described in action: Nick L remains profoundly ignorant as long as his faith in Lisle remains steadfast. Nick L believes he has no need to consider the starlight problem because he is so sure Lisle has it sorted or at least ameliorated. And Lisle connives with this false impression by his failure to disabuse Nick L of his faith.

Jason Lisle has since left AiG and joined the Institute of Creation Research. His original blog space on AiG now has just this terse message:  “This user has elected to delete their account and the content is no longer available”. As there appeared to be no fond farewells accompanying this career move by Lisle it looks quite likely that some kind of acrimonious bust-up occurred; not an uncommon occurrence amongst fundamentalists who, on all sides, are so sure they know the voice of God and are in His Will. The gloss given this matter, as with the starlight problem, is all part of the general field of blarney and sophistry that surrounds and permeates YEC culture, attracting the ignorant and keeping them in their place.

* "Kitschy" may be a better description.

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