Re: It's no joke!

From: <>
Date: Wed Apr 06 2005 - 02:23:49 EDT

Hi Vernon,

You wrote:

> Hi Christopher,
> In response to my request for details of the technique(s) used for the
> remote measurement of decay rates - as in supernovae, you wrote:
> "The light curves of supernovae during the postmaximum decay phase
> are powered by the decay of radioactive nuclei, in particular Ni-56
> and Co-56. Not only that, but we can see the spectra of these and
> other radioactive nuclei, and the gamma rays given off when they decay.
> The decay rates are exactly the same as observed in the lab. No
> uniformitarian assumptions there, just direct observations."
> I still have some difficulty getting my head around the quantitative
> implications of all this. Is it your claim that _no_ assumptions of any
> are
> involved in the procedure?

Why is it so difficult to accept that, the only assumption, if you could
even call it that, is objective reality? If you see a star exploding about
169,000 light years away, it obviously really exploded, and that was
about 169,000 years ago. We can see isotopes decaying in the
remnant at exactly the same rate as the same isotopes decay here
on the earth. This is direct observation and no assumption, unless as
I said, you consider objective reality to be an assumption.

> In response to my further questions, Do you discount the possibility
> of _local_ changes in these rates (as suggested by Baumgardner et al)
> as a result of a global cataclysm (e.g. the Noahic Flood)? If so, on
> what basis?, you wrote:
> "As to any global Noah's flood, which is a figment of imagination of
> the 7th Day Adventist Church, and the YECs who picked up on that,
> such a global catastrophe, even if it had taken place, would not
> have effected decay rates. With the exception of electron capture,
> which can be affected to some extent by the environment, regular
> alpha and beta decay are totally unaffected by the environment the
> atom is in. I suggest that YECs should take a course in nuclear
> physics 101."
> Whether or not one is a 7th Day Adventist, I suggest a straight reading of
> Genesis 6-9 inclusive fosters the understanding that the Noahic Flood
> was _universal_. Remarkably, you then appear to imply that there is
> nothing left to know about sub-atomic particle physics, and further assume

A straight reading of the Genesis story indeed implies a universal flood,
whatever "universal" means, but not necessarily a global flood. But no
matter what the ancient Hebrews knew about geology or hydrology, it is
irrelevant to modern science, which cannot be held hostage to what one
group of bronze age people believed. Be that as it may, no known
mechanism could have altered the decay rates, so the argument about
the flood is irrelevant on that count also.

There is and always will be a lot more to learn about sub-atomic particles,
but so what? We know enough about them to state that there is no
KNOWN process in a terrestrial environment that can alter their
properties. If you can propose a mechanism that can be tested, and
is found to be supported by the evidence, then you are in line to win the
Nobel Prize, and I will even pay your airfare to Oslo! Otherwise you are
just engaged in epistemological nihilism, which is one of many creationist
rhetorical debating tactics.

> that the local environment during the Mabbul via-a-vis decay rates was much
> as we experience today. Can you prove that it was? If not, then I suggest
> the matter (including the universality of the Flood) is hardly _closed_ ,as
> your words suggest, but wide open to further careful inquiry - which is
> what the RATE program is all about.

The matter of a global flood was investigated by many geologists about 200
years ago, many of whom were Christians, and they had to come, reluctantly
in some cases, that there was no global flood because the geological
evidence contradicted that, at least a global one less than 10,000 years
ago. This was arrived at about 150 years ago, so flogging the dead horse
of a global flood is no more meaningful than flogging the dead horse of
geocentricism. They are both obsolete arguments that had their day in
court, but lost out to the evidence, and in science evidence is what counts,
not what people believe or like.

If John Baumgardener can provide a testable theoretical model to explain the
decay rate changes, and that model is backed up by evidence, then this
would be very exciting. If I were in contact with him, I would encourage
him that once he has worked out his model, it should be submitted to a
refereed journal in geophysics, or even theoretical physics.

Christopher Sharp
Received on Wed Apr 6 02:26:16 2005

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