Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Meet David Rives, "Creationist Astronomer"

Meet David Rives. David is a contributor to World Net Daily(a flaming conspiracy theory "news" site) who runs a Young Earth Creationist ministry and claims to be an astronomer. David was featured a while ago on Eric Hovind's show "Creation Today", where he claims that the Big Bang theory is "bad science" solely on the basis that it contradicts the Bible.

He then further claims that if we look at the science behind astronomy, it matches up with the Bible.

The Bible on Astronomy

According to the Bible, the universe is geocentric, with a flat Earth and shaped like a tent(Isaiah 40:22). To maintain this view, David would have to reject: heliocentrism, the fact that our Solar System exists on the Orion-Cygnus Arm of the Milky Way galaxy(which we're fairly certain is nowhere near the center of the universe), the discovery that the earth is round, and that current data has eliminated the "tent" hypothesis for the shape of the universe. And the results of these scientific, empirical discoveries have helped enable us to walk on the moon, GPS, send rovers to Mars, discover exoplanets and eventually have the first interstellar space probe.

Big Bang vs. The Bible

Now let's go for the jugular of David's claims: that science backs up literal Biblical creationism. First, it must be noted that the Bible has two incongruent creation stories(Genesis 1 and 2). But we'll focus on the first story for brevity. The first problem we see is that planet Earth is created first, before anything else. No sun, moon or stars. No light-producing objects at all. From what we've observed in the formation of solar systems, this is impossible without a light-producing object undergoing stellar nucleosynthesis first and then ejecting the new elements, which eventually coagulate into planets and moons. And from the same observation linked above, it's obvious that it takes so much longer than a single day. And of course, the Bible runs into major problems with the creation of plants and animals. On the third "day", plants are created. But there's no sun to drive their photosynthetic processes until "day" four. Then on "day" five, all the sea animals and flying animals are created - simultaneously. This directly contradicts observation of the fossil record indicating that sea life came first, then land animals and finally flying animals.

Now let's take a look at the Big Bang Theory. Quoting straight from the Wikipedia entry(emphasis mine):"The Big Bang is the scientific theory that is most consistent with observations of the past and present states of the universe, and it is widely accepted within the scientific community. It offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of observed phenomena, including the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background, large scale structure, and the Hubble diagram."

To be sure, there are some problems with the Big Bang Theory, but that doesn't mean it's disproven and we should adopt the already disproven creationist dogma, as David suggests. It just means there's some problems that need to be accounted for. And even if we never get these problems solved, there's still more than enough evidence that the Big Bang or a similar theory is the most likely explanation of the origin of the known universe.

Why "creationist astronomer" is an oxymoron

So why does David lie if he's supposedly a "real" astronomer? The answer: He isn't a real astronomer. He's an invested creationism peddler who uses the fact that he owns a telescope to fool people into thinking he's a qualified authority on the subject of astronomy. It's a common tactic in creationist circles: Dress up in safari gear and people believe you're a paleontologist or archaeologist. Dress up in a lab coat and you look like a physicist/biologist/scientist. Show off a telescope and you're automatically assumed to be an astronomer. Right, David?