Heart of Dimness- Part 3


This is the third post in my continuing review of creationist David Buckna’s page on the Truth.Origin Archive. Before I could get into David’s 31 items I had to dispose of his quote from creationist Phillip Johnson. That’s done now. Here is a bit of analysis on David’s item number 1. First the item:

Dr. Danny Faulkner, professor of astronomy and physics at the University of South Carolina (Lancaster) commented: “The Ptolemaic model (of the solar system) stood for 15 centuries, but ultimately was rejected in the 17th century because of the huge complexity it had. The real problem with that model was you couldn’t falsify it. No matter what new data, new observations came along, you could always patch it up with a fix of new epicycles or other effects.”

“Over the past three decades the Big Bang model has been changed tremendously. They changed the expansion rate, hence the age of the universe. They’ve thrown in dark matter, dark energy…inflation, …string theory… and it’s starting to look more and more like the Ptolemaic model…. So at what point does the Big Bang model become as unwieldy as the Ptolemaic model, that caused people to reject it?” (unpublished interview, May 15, 2010)


I’m sure everybody is wondering who Dr. Danny Faulkner is.

Danny Faulkner is a creation scientist and educator specialized in Astronomy and Physics. For over 25 years he was on the faculty of the University of South Carolina Lancaster, where he taught physics and astronomy. He was Chair of its Division of Math, Science, Nursing, and Public Health (2009–2012). In 2012, Dr. Faulkner retired as a full professor and now holds the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus. In January, 2013 he joined Answers in Genesis as a full time scientist and speaker.

And Dr. Danny Faulkner’s point is?

Despite what Faulkner appears to think, scientists are satisfied with the basics of the modern cosmological model. Specifically, the Universe is expanding, and it has been expanding for around 13 million years, apparently from a single point.

The next question we’re tempted to ask is, “Of what interest is this to a creationist?” Easy answer: Creationists of the first kind insist the Universe was created about 6000 years ago by a mythical person in the sky. Modern cosmology, in addition to just about every field of modern science, contradicts this notion. Unable to demonstrate creationism of the first kind by way of fact or formal logic, creationists of the first kind need to do damage to a number of fields of science. This time around it’s the turn of modern cosmology. Faulkner’s argument—comparing the modern model with the Ptolemaic model and all its problems—does not accomplish any damage. None of the problems with modern cosmology leave a Universe only 6000 years old.

How about the two links David left us with? Let’s take a look.

Surprise! The first is a link to a Faulkner article posted on the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) site. The title is The Big Bang, Multiverse, and Other Tales about Outer Space. This should be interesting. Faulkner taught astronomy, among other things, at the university level. This makes him knowledgeable on the topic of modern cosmology. He should know what he’s talking about. But what does he say?

For four decades, the dominant cosmological theory has been the Big Bang, the belief that the universe abruptly appeared 13.7 billion years ago in a very dense, hot state, and has been expanding ever since. Interestingly, some Christians see a need for the Creator to initiate the Big Bang, and hence use the Big Bang as an apologetic, but this ignores at least two important points. One is that the Big Bang does not conform to the Genesis account of creation, differing in many details such as the order of events. The other point is that cosmologists of late have developed ideas of how the universe could have come about on its own, such as a quantum fluctuation or as a part of a multiverse or the latest event in an eternal cyclic universe. As with any evolutionary theory, these are attempts to explain the world apart from a Creator.

I guess the operative word in my previous statement is “should.”

David wants to convince readers of the truth of his views. And he trots out stuff like this? I invite readers to go through all four pages of Faulkner’s post. And that’s my argument. Sometimes the thing speaks for itself.

Now to David’s second link.

It’s a page by David Berlinski.

Berlinski, along with fellow Discovery Institute associates Michael Behe and William A. Dembski, tutored Ann Coulter on science and evolution for her book Godless: The Church of Liberalism(2006).

If you are not familiar with Coulter, here’s a leg up:

Ann Coulter writes things designed to bring distress to liberals. Her comments typically contain enough truth to make liberals squirm but not enough to make them change their evil ways.


Berlinski’s posting is titled Was There a Big Bang?, and it’s posted on the Discovery Institute site, likely in the 1995-1996 time frame. Again, the Discovery Institute is the leading organization in this country promoting Intelligent Design, creationism of the second kind. It’s a few pages, and I can’t review all of it. That’s going to wait for a future post. Keep reading.

I did skim down to the end to confirm what I suspected: Berlinski does not think there was a Big Bang, and he goes to lengths to explain why. Trust me, few can explain so meticulously and with such poetic flair as David Berlinski. I advise readers to take some time to read through Berlinski’s argument.

One thing that comes out is that Berlinski has trouble with the “something from nothing” implication of the Big Bang hypothesis. He might have done well to wait a few years for A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence Krauss. Krauss, and others like him, work earnestly trying to figure out how the universe came into being. I put emphasis on the word earnestly. Past experience indicates Berlinski, although he is certainly a sharp fellow, tends to spread himself thin. His analyses are miles wide and only an inch deep. This became manifest when he popped onto my radar screen in 1997 in an episode of Firing Line. This show featured a debate on the premise That the Evolutionists Should Acknowledge Creation.

Berlinski was on the team with William F. Buckley, Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson, arguing the affirmative. Opposing were four notables, including Kenneth Miller, author of a popular biology high school text and a notorious promoter for teaching evolutionary biology.

My introduction to Berlinski was less than favorable. He liked to challenge without knowing. A particular excerpt illustrates. KM is Kenneth Miller. DB is David Berlinski. Copies of the transcript can be found on the Internet. I have a copy:

KM: First, thank you for complimenting my work. The answer is no, that’s not correct. And the reason for that is, a few years ago an investigator discovered a very interesting microorganisms of prokaryote called prochloron. Prochloron turned out to be the very first prokaryote — organism without a nucleus discovered — that had both chlorophyll A and B. This suggests very strongly that in an evolutionary sense, prochloron is the evolutionary ancestor of the chloroplasts of higher plants. This organism was sent to me because of the kind of structural work I do, with the idea, “let’s put it to the test.” Because what we did in my lab was to investigate the structure of photosynthetic membranes, and lo and behold
we found out that they were enormously similar to higher plant chloroplasts. If they had been dissimilar, it might have been an argument against evolution — it turned out not to be the case.

DB: I am certainly persuaded that you’ve been invigorated by the shade of Charles Darwin. But the fact is that in your published scientific papers, the term “evolution” occurs as frequently as the term “Presbyterian” which is to say, not at all.

KM: Well, I have to tell you once again sir, you are wrong on the fact.

DB: All right.

KM: None of my 75 plus published referred papers uses the term Presbyterian, at least three of them use the term evolution.

DB: I stand corrected. [audience chuckles]

Apparently Miller’s lack of the use of the word evolution was, to Berlinski, indication that evolution was not being researched. Further, it would appear Berlinski got his facts from an unreliable (probably creationist) source. To those who complain I have given only a trivial example, be warned. There more.

As I said, I did not diagnose Berlinski’s posting in detail. His diagnosis is much broader than my background can cover. However, reading it is a pleasure, as Berlinski has a good handle on language. Here’s one paragraph that perked me up:

A statistical inference is compelling only if the samples upon which it rests are objectively compelling. Objectivity, in turn, requires that the process of sampling be both reasonably complete and unbiased. Segal and his colleagues have taken pains to study samples that within the limits of observation are both. Their most recent study contains a detailed parallel
analysis of Hubble’s law across four wave bands, one that essentially surveys all stellar objects within each band. The analysis is based on new data drawn from the G. de Vaucoleurs survey of bright cluster galaxies, which includes more than 10,000 galaxies. Hubble’s own analysis, it is worthwhile to recall, was limited to twenty galaxies.

That’s something that took me back nearly 50 years. My first job out of college involved working for Gerard de Vaucoleurs. That is, working for him in the sense that sometimes he would want something done, and he would tell somebody, and that person would tell me to do it.

He specialized in the study of galaxies and was co-author of the Third Reference Catalogue of Bright Galaxies, along with his wife Antoinette (1921-1987), a fellow UT Austin astronomer and lifelong collaborator. His specialty included reanalyzing Hubble and Sandage’s galaxy atlas and recomputing the distance measurements utilizing a method of averaging many different kinds of metrics such as luminosity, the diameters of ring galaxies, brightest star clusters, etc., in a method he called “spreading the risks.” During the 1950s he promoted the idea that galactic clusters are grouped into superclusters.

After all of this Berlinski has made no attempt to dispute the age of the Universe. Short version: No Big Bang. Earth and the Universe are billions of years old. Genesis is contradicted. By Berlinski. Finally, Berlinski is not religious. He does not appear to believe in creationism of either kind.

My next post will take on David Buckna’s item 2. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.


3 thoughts on “Heart of Dimness- Part 3

  1. Pingback: Heart of Dimness | Skeptical Analysis

  2. Pingback: Heart of Dimness | Skeptical Analysis

  3. Pingback: Heart of Dimness – Part 6 | Skeptical Analysis

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