March 31, 2014
An Interesting Argument against Creationism
Episode 4 made a point I had never thought of, namely, that were the universe only 6,600 years old—I think I have the number mentioned right—we could see stars only 6,600 light years away. Yet we can see stars billions of light years away. In other words, one only has to look at the sky to realize that creationist theories are wrong.
What Cosmos failed to do in episode 4 and has failed to do in earlier episodes is to justify some of the scientific facts that it promulgates. This would be difficult in some cases, to be sure, but often a credible case can be made for a scientific idea without offering an absolutely convincing proof. That may not be true in quantum mechanics, but it is certainly true for, say, the speed of light.
We have gone to the moon and therefore have fairly direct evidence of how far away it is. Moreover, we have bounced laser light off a mirror on the moon, and we know how long that took. There may be simpler ways of measuring the speed of light, but the average viewer ought to be able to appreciate such a measurement and, assuming some honesty among scientists, that that speed is what it is represented to be. I’m not sure what is the easiest way of establishing that many stars are very far away—I suspect that an argument involving trigonometry would work—but I cannot imagine that such an argument would be too difficult to construct.
Whereas I find the argument from the nature of what we see in the sky quite convincing, I have no doubt that a creationist could devise some cockamamie alternative explanation. (Creationists have never heard of Occam’s razor, apparently.) In any case, I appreciate the ideas presented in Cosmos, but I wish that the series would go at least a little deeper into its subjects.