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PhD Astronomy Prof: Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang

  1. Oct 21, 2011 #1
    PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    an acquaintance of mine who holds a PhD in physics and teaches astronomy at a university says the is "a paucity of evidence for Big Bang theorizing". After I close my gaping mouth how should I respond?
     
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  3. Oct 21, 2011 #2

    phinds

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    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    Well, try telling him this:

    There are TWO meanings to "the big bang".

    The first is what is also called the "singularity". Singularity is a shorthand term, the longhand for which is "we have not a CLUE what happened". So for this meaning of the big bang, he is right in a way, although not in a meaningful way since he's just agreeing with everyone else.

    The second is every thing that has happened since the Plank time (about 10E-43) and THAT has been studied 6 ways from Sunday and is absolutely rock solid and if he doesn't think so, he's a crackpot.

    EDIT: by the way, there ARE physics PhDs who are crackpots, so he wouldn't be alone.
     
  4. Oct 21, 2011 #3
    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    Yes - I understand. He's referring to the second. He is advocating that I explore "Biblical creation" for a more 'satisfying" explanation of existence...
     
  5. Oct 21, 2011 #4
    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    Why do you think that Big Bang cosmology should give you any "explanation of existence"?
     
  6. Oct 21, 2011 #5
    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    I don't. That was his assertion. I'm just wondering how a PhD prof. can possibly argue a paucity of BB evidence.
     
  7. Oct 21, 2011 #6

    phinds

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    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    So, he's not JUST a crackpot, he's a RELIGIOUS crackpot. That's the worst kind. I suggest you just avoid him as much as possible, since talking to him will get you nowhere.
     
  8. Oct 21, 2011 #7
    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    Don't. It may be a waste of your time to argue this issue with him.
     
  9. Oct 21, 2011 #8
    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    Just because you have a Ph.D. and a are a professor doesn't mean that you can't be a crackpot and generally clueless and incompetent. Also, things are very specialized, and having a Ph.D. in physics in one area doesn't make you competent in another.
     
  10. Oct 22, 2011 #9

    Chalnoth

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    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    I can think of a few responses that, to me, would be proportionate and reasonable given the situation:
    1. Laugh in his face and say, "Wait, you actually believe that ****!? And here I thought you had to be smart to get a degree in physics."
    2. Complain to the department head that he is promoting religion over science, which, as a science teacher, means he isn't doing his job.

    Of course, you could get into a drawn-out rational discussion on epistemology and how the god hypothesis cannot possibly actually explain anything at all, as because it is more complex than what it explains is always going to be less likely than simply "it happened". But the chances that is going to work are slim to none. At least the two responses above will make you feel better...
     
  11. Oct 22, 2011 #10
    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    In fact I've found that it's sometimes useful not to argue, but to listen. If I find myself talking to a young earth creationist outside of a forum in which I'm supposed to argue, I'm not going to argue. I'm not going to dispute anything they are saying. If I'm in the mood to talk with them, I'm just going to politely listen to what they are saying and understand their view of the world.
     
  12. Oct 22, 2011 #11
    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    I agree. Rather than trying to prove him wrong, let him prove himself right.
     
  13. Oct 22, 2011 #12

    phinds

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    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    Yes, but those nut cases NEVER need to prove themselves right, they already KNOW they are right. I think Chalnoth's advice is better.
     
  14. Oct 22, 2011 #13

    Chalnoth

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    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    One other thing that I personally would really like to do is see if I could convince him to let me give a talk in front of his class (with him there) on the Big Bang theory. Then, I would structure the talk so as to set him up to throw out objections and present his ideas at exactly the wrong moment (for him), because the Big Bang theory just cannot describe the very early universe. And setting up the talk, I'd explain why it can't describe the very early universe, why some bits of it just make no sense at all.

    Then, if I draw him into that trap, he'll start going on about how his god explains some bits of that (or at least hint to that effect). Then I'd plow forward with a description of how we can solve these problems (with cosmic inflation), and how his god-bothering nonsense is inherently anti-science because it assumed an answer before investigating.

    But that is not something I would suggest a person who doesn't really know their stuff try to do.
     
  15. Oct 23, 2011 #14
    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    I wonder whether he knows anything about the history of the subject. You could say, yes the term Big Bang was invented as a derisory term by Fred Hoyle, who spent a long time trying to devise a better theory. If he begins to think there might be something in what Hoyle was doing, you tell him 'Of course Fred Hoyle was a militant atheist who thought the Big Bang was thinly veiled creationism'.
     
  16. Oct 26, 2011 #15
    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    Update from the OP: I just received a follow-up correspondence which included the statement " Almost all fossils on earth show catastrophic water burial from the global flood which occurred about 4500 years ago".

    This pretty much says it all.
     
  17. Oct 26, 2011 #16

    phinds

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    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    Sure does.
     
  18. Oct 27, 2011 #17
    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    I must admit that I have a soft spot for crackpots. They might be the ones who discover that the emperor wears no clothes, at least, they may demonstrate us how little we understand the scientific models and the associated evidence we usually take for granted.

    Having said this: an important component in science is validation. Validation by repeated measures, by independent research groups, but also validation by independent methods. Sometimes, what is sold as "validation", is but circular reasoning.

    As for the age of the earth, I would mistrust dating if it were to rely on a single radionuclide. But there are many different methods of dating, all of which seem to yield pretty consistent results. What of the age of the universe? How many really independent methods are there to determine its age?
     
  19. Oct 27, 2011 #18

    Chalnoth

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    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    Well, there are basically two overall methods to determine the age of the universe:
    1. Lower limits on the age that come from the age of specific objects within the universe. Our universe, after all, must necessarily be older than everything in it. These measurements tend to be highly uncertain, but serve as a reasonable consistency check.
    2. Model extrapolation from parameters estimated such as the normal matter, dark matter, and dark energy density. These measurements tend to be far more detailed, and are themselves checked in a number of independent ways. For example, the parameters we get from supernova studies agree with the parameters we get from CMB studies and baryon acoustic oscillation studies.
     
  20. Oct 27, 2011 #19

    DevilsAvocado

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    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    I think the correct term is creationist.

    200faf7.jpg
     
  21. Oct 27, 2011 #20

    DevilsAvocado

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    Re: PhD Astronomy Prof: "Paucity of evidence for the Big Bang"

    In this case, where he is an 'open' creationist, I think it should be fairly easy to bring him down with some basic arguments.

    Science is about facts, knowledge, testability and refutability in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the world. Religion is about belief systems, which relates to spirituality and moral values.

    Ask the PhD in physics to write a testable mathematical equation that proves or disproves the moral value of my statement above...

    And if he still persists; ask him for a testable explanation of God’s existence...

    It doesn’t work.

    In science, explanations are limited to those based on observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Explanations that cannot be based on empirical evidence are not a part of science. — National Academy of Sciences

    Evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered. — Stephen Jay Gould
     
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